Hey, friends. if you haven’t seen this post, I urge you to read it. It’s something we all need to remind ourselves of on a regular basis. Just click the link at the top of this post to get to the original one. Be a “will” please! We need more of them!
Interesting how we find ourselves reacting to the unexpected and how often a startling occurence can make us temporarily senseless. I say this because last night was one of those nights. I was lazily watching television and sipping ice water, laptop and cell phone nearby since even tired and blurry, I need to have my finger on the “pulse” of cyberspace. Lol Sadly, it is during those times that my ability to type and worse yet my ability to proofread my efforts suffers greatly. Oh, dear. “Oh, bother” as Pooh would say. So, when the phone rang I jumped. Literally. A dear friend called to say he’d injured himself and thought a trip to the emergency room was called for. As I drove down familiar streets I realized that my tax rate is lower here than where I used to live because they DO NOT HAVE NEARLY ENOUGH STREET LIGHTS. Not only that, but THEY RARELY CONSTRUCT ROADS WITH SIDEWALKS, and worse yet THEY ALL HAVE CURVES AND TWISTS. Okay, the curves are meant to slow us down as we drive through the neighborhoods, but lights would be helpful, particularly since our pretty neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks . . . I don’t drive at night too often. The economy, both the nation’s and my own, requires close watching of expenditures so being home at night is recommended over being a party girl about town. I thought of all this as I drove down streets which just hours before seemed beautiful, bright, and beckoning. All this came rushing to my mind as the friend inches away from me said “oh, crap” and realized he was REALLY bleeding at that moment. We got to the ER. We waited a long time, then he was taken to be stitched and I waited and waited and watched. Interesting how folks handle waiting in ER waiting rooms. One or two go off alone and hold tattered newspapers without reading them and jump every time they hear footsteps. Most others sit close to the strangers around them, make occasional small talk, giggle over nothing in particular, and take some relief in the presence of other humans playing the same waiting game. There are also a few who’ve made this late night trip and played this waiting game so often that they just get comfortable in plastic chairs, sip coffee brewed hours ago from foam cups, and have their own books and such from home to read knowing the “routine” entirely too well. “I’ll be fine” my friend said, with a bandage much larger than the cut that was just stitched. Smiling and tired, his pain shot hadn’t worn off yet and I hoped he’d be asleep before it did. Minutes later he was home and so was I. This morning those same streets are well-lit with the late summer sunshine and the dark skies are now an amazing shade of blue. I’m sipping coffee once again but it’s freshly brewed. My “good sense” or what passes for it has been restored. The wound will heal. Life is good.
Our Lord does NOT call the enabled, He enables the called. It’s so true and yet so hard to swallow. Hard because surrendering to Him and trusting is something we must remind ourselves to do so constantly, or at least I do but I don’t believe I am alone in this. In a post I made here a long time ago (here’s the link: http://inlovewiththelord.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/let-your-light-shine/) I touched on this but I feel led to revisit it because it’s so important for us to lead others to Christ and even when we surrender and say “lead me Lord, I’m ready” we find that while He does have work for us to do, it sometimes makes us feel inadequate. Perhaps I’m preaching to myself here, but as I said He wanted me to write this and I’m trusting and following through.
Just last evening, I was at a prayer service at church and during quiet time was full of self doubt concerning the direction I feel He’s leading me toward and found a small voice inside me saying “you’re wrong. You’re not listening correctly. You’re not the one He’d choose for that.” Suddenly, all the things He’d been putting in front of me and in my heart suddenly seemed in question. Then someone else at the prayer service began to pray and his words betrayed the same small voice telling him the same lies. As we broke up for the night, yet another friend at the service spoke of her own path and the fact that she’d also been in a touch spot in her life and the need for provision led her in a direction that seemed crazy. She said “I never did that before. I’ve never studied it. How can it be for me?” But He enabled these people. He placed people and other resources in their life which gave them more that what they needed. I’m thinking He will enable me as well. He needs us. There are so many in this world whom He loves so much but they don’t know Him and are hurting. We are His body in this world. When He asks you to follow, say yes. He will be there and will give you more than you need. If you’re asked to step into the sea with Him, don’t worry that. Like me, you know you can’t swim. He’ll simply enable you to walk on water. He will en ABLE us!
We, indeed, are one body in Christ. Alone we can do nothing but together we can inspire each other, support each other, and share our talents which collectively and with His grace can bring His light to those in dark places. If you would like to be a part of a group of supportive loving Christians sharing the love of Jesus with your brothers and sisters in Christ and sharing the ups and downs of your life with other believers, I encourage you to come to my new Yahoo Group just set up today. All Christians welcome regardless of denomination. Together we can pool our talents and be His beacon! Check it out at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/christians_inspiring_sharing_together
Wow, our Lord’s amazing love for us never ceases to lift me up and just blow me away! No matter what life smacks me in the face with, when I actually turn it over to Him and ask Him to fill me with His Holy Spirit, to guard me and to guide me He never fails me. I don’t always ask and that’s when I fail, but even then He is there with His arms outstretched in love. The same arms that stretched on a cross to die for me are also stretching out to envelope me in a love like none I can feel from any other source. Today as I set off for church and found the bad attitudes of some in my path bringing me down, I felt cheated and thought “but it’s Easter!” only this time I didn’t fail. I invited Him in . . . and He came! Church at 9am, the contemporary service and my first of two contrasting services I attend on Sundays, was inspiring beyond belief. I got there early enough to sit in “my pew” but chose not to. I sat on the other side and toward the back rather than toward the front and on the right . . . didn’t think about why. A stranger sat next to me and other strangers were all around me and initially I found myself thinking “twice a year Christians” but my heart took over and I thought of different things. Initially I thought “I wish I had this much trouble parking every Sunday.” Then I found myself thinking that while these may be once or a twice a year Christians, how awesome that our Lord placed something in their hearts to come and maybe just one heart will be changed, but won’t that be worth the added noise, the trials in parking, the crowds, the longer service . . . the answer is yes and honestly aside from needing to go home and get Mom to bring her back to the 11:15 more traditional service, and thus leaving church early and missing the end of the service, I didn’t mind any of those things. I really didn’t want to leave that sanctified space. I also know now that one heart was changed at the 9am service. My own heart was changed.
One of the greatest blessings in my life is my hour long weekly meeting with some Christian friends who get together to encourage each other to stay on His path for our lives and at those meetings we are always asked the question “when did you feel closest to Christ this week?” I find myself noticing Him all the more as a result of that weekly question. There was a time before my heart was His that I was hard put to come up with a single blessing or joy filled moment in a typical week, and now I find the hour long meeting on Tuesday night far too short because He blesses me so abundantly that I just want to share it all and find it hard to hold it in! I know what my answer to that question will be this coming week. It happened during one of the praise songs at the 9am . . . I closed my eyes because I needed to be alone with the Lord in that crowded room. I had my hands raised. These things that used to seem odd and uncomfortable are as natural as breathing for me now and I find it hard to restrain myself at the more conservative 11:15 service. I hardly find myself aware of my body in the earlier service though these days. I am free to love and serve the Lord! So, as I sang and praised and was lost in love with the Lord something unexpected happened and it took a moment to come down to earth and realize what it was. Suddenly there was a hand in mine. No, it was not the cute and handsome stranger sitting next to me. A man I never got to introduce myself to as I missed my chance. It was the infant in her Mom’s arms in front of me. She was perhaps 16 months old if that – walking but not talking. Her Mom held her and she was watching me. During that praise song, she slipped her tiny hand in mine and raised her tiny arms too. I wondered if she knew she was praising Jesus? She was so tiny and so young, did she know Him yet? My answer came during the next song. I had my eyes open and as soon as the music played, she lifted up her tiny arms just as I’d done during the song before and while she doesn’t yet talk, I just knew that tiny babe knows Jesus and knows His love. It’s something we can never deserve and never outgrow. I hope receiving that love and giving it back is always so natural for her.
What was it like in the garden that day? What was the weather? Was it seasonable? Were there people about Gethsemane? Did they have any idea of what was to come to pass? Were there dark clouds in the sky as though a storm was brewing? Was there an odd stillness in the air? Did they catch their breath in an uneasy sense of “something just doesn’t feel right?” Without radio, television, newspapers, computers and the like, how much was known of what was planned? There was no water cooler down the hallway where “everything important” was shared among those who clustered and whispered there . . . were there children wandering about happily playing? Was it a pretty day with blue skies and sunshine and a gentle breeze? What was in the minds of those who were there?
What was in the minds of Jesus sleepy companions that night? Were they confused? Did they anticipate that “something” was up? When Jesus awakened them and spoke to them “can you not watch and pray with me for an hour” did they have any inkling of something life changing that was to come in just a few short hours? Was it a dreadful night or a beautiful one? Did they sleep well or toss and turn, their souls in an uncertain and undefined distress? Did they think their world was coming to an end? Did they know their friend and Savior was about to die to save them and grant them eternal life with Him? Did they think it was “just another day?”
My friend Mary and I were emailing back and forth about an upcoming picnic we’d both been invited to. I admit I’m a bit of a wallflower and wasn’t planning to attend and did indicate this to her. Her response was quite compelling! In reply, I said “Wow! I didn’t know you were in sales!” Quoting from her reply to that statement, she said “it works best when you have passion about something.”
Passion. We think of that as a romantic relationship, a heated moment alone with someone we love . . . we hear the story of the Passion of Christ this time of year at church – our Lord’s death on the cross to save us, but for the rest of the year, most of us really only think of passion in the other more secular and limited frame of reference. We see movies where the main character “fakes” passion to attain a desired response. But what does it mean to be passionate? Can it truly be faked? The dictionary defined it as compelled by intense emotion and strong feeling. In my view, this cannot be faked. My friend wasn’t really trying to twist my arm into going to a picnic. She was expressing strong feelings about the group hosting it, and a cause she so strongly believed in. Her reaction to my hesitation to go was impossible to ignore not because of an attempt to convince me, but because of an honest passion deep within her that was coming to the surface.
Some things have come to my mind as a result of her email. Passion sells! We cannot, in my view, fake it but I am certain that we can hold it back. Are you passionate for Christ? Do you let your soul dance? Do you allow His light to shine through you? We never know who we may pass during our daily life who might see our passion for Christ and be drawn to Him by it. One such example was a priest friend who spoke a few words about a conversion moment in his life. Tears in his eyes, he spoke of it’s importance to him on the anniversary of this occasion in his life. As a result of this, my own personal relationship with the Lord has grown HUGELY. My friend wasn’t trying to change me. He was just letting his soul dance and my heart and soul wanted to dance too!
I fell in a parking lot and was a bit cut and dazed. A total stranger came to my rescue, cleaned my wounds and asked if she could pray for me? She took a “risk” many of us wouldn’t have taken. She blessed me more than she will ever know. Her passion changed me.
I went to a retreat a while back. I told a friend about my experience. I don’t know what I said. I was so excited by my weekend and the way the Lord touched me that I couldn’t talk or think of anything else in those days just after I returned. He told me recently that he was going to attend the next retreat because of what it did for me. I had no idea anything I said touched him. I wasn’t trying to. However, I didn’t hold back and did allow my passion to come through.
Like my friend Mary said, it works best when you have passion! Do you have passion for Christ? Please don’t hold it inside you – let it shine!
1 Peter 5:6
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
I’ve often heard people speak of humbling experiences, yet with a tone of voice that betrayed a great deal of excitement. This used to puzzle me. I thought the two feelings were in contrast, yet when a certain friend so often shares his personal experiences with me on his walk with the Lord and showed himself to be at once both humbled and excited, I had to wonder what I was missing. My friend is an inspiration to me both personally and spiritually and his sharing of himself with me in this way has greatly helped me to grow in my personal relationship with the Lord. I did wonder, however, as I found myself feeling the two seemingly contrasting emotions, how this could be?
The dictionary defines humble as modest and subservient and excited as eager and enthusiastic. There was a time when modest and subservient would not have been something I’d strive for but as my personal relationship with the Lord has grown more and more intimate, He has revealed things to me about myself. Since our Lord loves us so much and since it is His will to provide for us in ways so far beyond anything we can desire or pray for, why be anything but subservient to Him? As to modesty, when I’m inviting the Lord to use me, the works He performs through me are so much more than any I could do on my own.
It is my greatest delight and desire to draw others to Him by reflecting His light to those in darkness! When I remain on the path for my life that our Lord has set for me, and when I release myself to Him, He carries my burdens! Why, then, would I want to be anything else but His humble servant? When others respond to the Lord through words and deeds I’ve done through Him who guides and strengthens me, I am so excited! I can’t wait to share His “Good News.” Gosh, we get excited over a new DVD, a new restaurant, or a new boyfriend and can’t wait to tell our friends . . . all these are fine things to share, but we mustn’t forget how humbling and exciting it is to share the Lover of our soul!
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Psalm 30:5 tells us that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Oh, joy! Sure. You know, sometimes life deals us moments of spectacular and sometimes not so much. It seems to me that it’s easier to hold onto the “not so much” than it is to hold onto the joy. Why is that? It seems simple enough to understand that some of the things that make us weep, and these relate to the Psalmist’s words here, are anger, hurt, and discouragement. We may not wish to admit to our tears, and we may try to hide them, but they do come. These things certainly would make us “weep for a night.” Why, then do we tend to hold onto these negative feelings and worse yet share them so eagerly? Why, also, does joy seem to be so fleeting? Why do we tend to jealously keep it to ourselves rather than share it?
These questions bring us back to the initial question of why we seem to be more able to hold onto our “not so much” feelings and less able to hold onto our joy. When we’re happy we tend to feel much more independent, don’t we? I do. Happiness and joy make me feel like “I’ve got it” and “it’s all under control.” When I’m hurt, angry and discouraged, I am far more likely to share those feelings with those around me. I guess on some level we feel as though if we share our feelings, it’ll “get better” but when it comes to the negative ones, that’s not how it works. How often do you go about your day and encounter comments like “I hate it when . . . “ or “did you see what he just did?” or “that’s not fair!” or “I have such a headache” to name a few, but how often in your typical day do you hear “wow, I am so full of joy today!” It sounds rather trite, but it’s true that our attitudes are contagious. What we share with the person next to us, they pass on to another.
Joy, on the other hand, is fleeting and like a garden, it needs to be cultivated. Complaining, like weeds, grows easily and quickly consumes not just our little garden patch, but soon overtakes the entire yard and then spreads to neighboring gardens as well. Complaining is habitual. Negativity. We hold onto it. We allow it, like the untended weeds, to spread. It’s easier that way, but is it better? I don’t think so. Words have power in them. In the book of Genesis we learn this in a wonderful way. Genesis 1:3 tells us, “and God said “let there be light,” and there was light.” Those four simple words yielded power and a wonderful world was created yet; words can also destroy. Proverbs 10:11 makes this clear, telling us “the mouth of the righteous man is a well of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” God lives in us. We reflect God outwardly to the world around us. We want to be good disciples. We need to pull those weeds of anger, discouragement, and hurt out of our gardens even though it’s hard work sometimes. We need to cultivate joy. As we are told in 1 John 4:12, “when I walk in love, God is present.” Glory be to God!