Thursday, July 27, 2017

Means to an End


 

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:44-45

Seeing people as a means to an end sounds just awful, doesn’t it? A few things have happened in the last few weeks that have made me wonder how many of my relationships are good and solid, containing loyalty and truth and how many are just a case of me being the means to an end for someone else.

          As usual this led me to examine my own heart. Who are the people in my life that I see as a means to an end. I was feeling okay about it; admittedly there are a couple of people who seem to serve more of a purpose than with whom I have an actual relationship. I prayed about that and asked God to help to know what I might need to do in response to that information. His response startled me.

          First I was clearly reminded of the days, thankfully many, many years ago when I saw Jesus simply as a means to an end. That led me to pray with great thanksgiving for the change in my attitude toward God. Feeling much better I decided to move on in my chat with the Lord but He had other plans.

          I was led to a few verses on service and grace and then the light dawned. Everyone, every single person in my life is a means to an end. The difference now, as opposed to my years of total self-serving, is this, now the end is to serve and the people God allows to be part of my life are all opportunities for service.

          To see someone as your entrĂ©e into a social setting or as the person who will always foot the bill, always listen to your complaints and always tell you you’re right, is wrong. It’s a heinous way to view another person. To see someone as an opportunity to serve God is a blessing.

          Just about every day I have an opportunity to do something for my husband. Often I have opportunities to bless my children, grandchildren, friends and co-workers. Occasionally I am blessed to be given the chance to serve a stranger, to perhaps entertain an angel. (Hebrews 13:2) Those are the best days.

          In all of this I tried to see where I was serving without benefit to myself. Well, bad news, that never happens. Every time I serve I bring honor to God’s name, which brings me joy. In the end I have learned, am still learning, the truth of the words, God is never outdone in generosity.

Friday, July 14, 2017

No Second Opinion


 “I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” John 5:41-44

If you are a parent of a child over the age of four, then it is my guess that you’ve had this experience.  Your child tells you all about his calamity. You offer sage wisdom and sound advice. You offer it in the face of explanations and sputtering that give a pretty fair indication that no one is hearing your words except you. Now, flash forward a few days, a week or maybe a bit more, to the next phase of the conversation when your darling comes to you so excited because he now has a solution to his problem. He’s garnered said solution by listening to the learned perception of; choose one or more of these, his friends, the parent of his friend or some celebrity on the internet. AUGH! At this point you’re thinking, “Seriously? That’s exactly what I said a week ago and you acted as if I were a moron!” Wisely, you don’t say quite that but most likely some version of it comes out of your mouth.

          I’m very guilty of the passive aggressive, “Well, that sounds familiar.” It’s a not so nicely veiled version of, “that’s exactly what I said!” For my part I’ve gotten a blank stare, as in my child has no recollection of me ever saying anything remotely similar. Or I get the “yeah, but Mrs. Authority Because She Is Not You, said it in better words.” To quote that same precious brat… Whatever! I walk away wondering why I waste my time and breath.

          Read the verses from John again. This is Jesus talking, Jesus Christ, the One who died to save us, the One who told as clearly as possible that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one gets to the Father if not through Him. Here He is explaining that perhaps His words should carry a bit more weight than those of mere mortals. He is saying that heavenly wisdom far outweighs current understandings, beliefs or trends.

          How often do we respond the way Jesus’ disciples responded? How often do we respond the way the child I described responds. “Well sure God said it and it sounded okay but then I read it online and saw it on a magazine and then I believed it.” Yipes! That may sound contrived but if you’re honest with yourself, how often do you pray but then seek worldly wisdom instead of listening to God? Or worse, how often do you seek worldly wisdom and ignore God?

          Jesus said it; He is the Way and the Truth. We may need confirmation that we’re hearing Him correctly but we never need a second opinion.

 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

God's Perfect Plans



 
"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."
James 4:14-15

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

There is an event that happens in my life almost every year. Some years I look forward to it and other years it just feels like too much effort. I've prayed to be able to modify it, have a tad more control over it but for the past few years, it's gotten completely out of my control.

This year, as in years past, as the date loomed closer I felt myself getting anxious, trying to find tactful ways to say, "Folks, this just doesn't work for me." None was forthcoming. Then God stepped in and made a way.

The event is going to happen but not the way I anticipated. Enough change has happened that not only does this new style work for me but now my anticipation is one of great delight. I'm so looking forward to the event, with no dread in sight.

I would love to say that I "let go and let God" but the truth is too many other things crowded my thought process and I just didn't have time to obsess over it. So today when I woke up and realized that I'm excited, eager for what is coming, I felt so blessed.

Then I wondered. Why can't I do that in all things? God is in control. My Abba knows what is good, right and best. So why don't I just trust in Him? The top of my head answers are awful. Fear, selfishness and control issues seem to be the things that get in the way of trusting God. Oh and arrogance, that's another one.

I am grateful for these moments when God shows me that His way is best. I'm just praying that I learn from them and that my trust grows and grows. It may be over worked and now sound trite but "let go and let God" really is the best thing to do.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Belongings


 

If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Romans 14:8

For the past several years I have worked in a school where the principal made all of the decisions, somewhat arbitraily. At the end of each school year teachers and staff are shuffled around without much thought to how that might impact those individuals. Bad as it was for the teachers, it worse for those of us in paraprofessional positions. Often we would not know where we would be placed until the day we returned for the new school year. Several of us have commented over the years that it makes us feel like furniture. We can be picked up and moved without comment, question or thought. It's not a nice feeling. It would seem that each of us should have some say in where we work.

          That principal is retiring this year and as it occured to me that her replacement might not treat us like her belongings, I realized that that is exactly how I want God to treat me and He won't.

          My biggest problems occur when I think I know what is best. When I use my  pesky free will, that is when things tend to spin in an ugly direction. Why?  I don't know what's best for me but my Abba does and yet, He is the one who gives me choices.

          Back to the principal, she placed us wherever with no thought to whether we were suited to the position or not. She did not know what was best for us. She knew what worked for her; what made sense to her. She knew what was easiest for her. She didn't consult with us at all. Just last year she placed me in a position which was absolutely a wrong fit. I was there for most of the school year, until a shift in student numbers offered me a ticket out. It was eight long, hard, uncomfotable months. That placement was not good for me but Abba worked it for my good.

          The perspectives and blessings that came from that time are for another message. The point here is that I resented her lack of concern for my thoughts and opinions but I beg Abba to disregard what I'm saying or praying and let His will be done.

          I love, love, love, when God picks me and plunks me down somewhere, anywhere. When I can see His hand in my circumstances I'm thrilled. I pray for opportunites to submit, to obey and He graciously gives them. I want Abba to control me, my life and every aspect of it because I know that He is for me. Not to say that my principal was against me, but I certainly was of little consequence to her. My value with her was negligible but my value with my Abba is something I can't begin to understand.

          I resented the principal treating me like a belonging but I pray every day, "Abba I belong to you" and I dearly want Him to treat me like His belonging.