And all this is from God who has reconciled himself to us through Jesus…2 Corinthians 5:18
A long time ago I had a co-worker who was difficult to work with. She was a bigger challenge than putting on panty hose on a hot August day! It seemed that no matter how hard I tried, how friendly I was or how efficient I became, I just couldn’t please her. Every day before work I would ask God to give me a heap of patience so I wouldn’t have boiling blood by noon. Most days I was at a slow simmer by 10 am and I would feel like God wasn’t listening or I just wasn’t trying hard enough. Luckily, it was just a summer job but I have never forgotten that experience. I remember it because just like that summer, there have been plenty of other times I have found myself in a pickle and I go into prayer asking God to give me patience or understanding or whatever the necessary grace might be and then I trot off to fix the situation. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I didn’t have it quite right. In his book God Help Me, Jim Beckman offered a thought that spun me around like a top!
“I was using a self-help approach to Christianity. I would diagnose myself and then, like a good doctor, prescribe myself a prescription like patience. Then I went to God and told him to fill the prescription. Is it any wonder nothing ever changed? The language itself is all wrong anytime we find ourselves telling God what to do we’re in trouble. At the very center of this self-help approach to prayer was ME, not GOD.” He goes on to explain that the whole mystery of our faith is realizing Jesus is the center, not us. We can never live a perfect life as humans but we can through Jesus. “God doesn’t want you to live the Christian life; if that’s what you think the invitation is, you’ve got it all wrong. He wants Jesus to live the Christian life in you! And through Jesus you are to become the very righteousness of God.”
When I did some serious thinking about this information, I realized that it wasn’t at all about the behavior of that tricky woman one summer a long time ago. It was about what Christ was trying to teach me about myself through her. He was inviting me to look deeply at myself so he could reveal and teach. I discovered looking back that I was angry and hurt at that point in my life and he was trying to get me to turn those things over to him, but I couldn’t or didn’t want to deal with that, I wanted to find another way out. Looking back it was like riding my bike into a wall every day and expecting it to move! He was trying to mend my heart and show me some truths, but I was wasting all my prayer time demanding he give me the tools to fix somebody else.
I’d like to say that I’m much older now and I’ve moved past such silly prayer mistakes but the truth is I needed these words right now just as much as I needed them that summer long ago. I need to stop complicating things and let God be God. I need to stop approaching prayer with a self-help attitude and begin to let God reveal and teach and love me; that takes an honest and open heart. Whew…I’ve got some work to do!
A Seed To Plant: Listen to your prayer words this week. Are you self-prescribing or letting God be the center?
Blessings on your day!
…for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
Sometimes it’s all in how you look at it! That little thought popped into my head as I was walking out the west facing living room door to hang up some laundry Saturday afternoon. It’s late September and that means the sunny west side of the house, including the screen door is plastered with box-elder bugs. I don’t know why they come every fall, I don’t know why they like the west sun and I certainly don’t know why they gather by the hundreds on my door.
As I was swatting my way through the cloud of bugs with my wet basket of wash, I had to giggle and realize it could be worse. Other than being annoying and puzzling those bugs don’t really harm anything. As I was hanging sheets and towels I began to think about how awful it would be if those pesky little things stung or bit or were filled with venomous spit or something…that would really be awful. I soon realized it really wasn’t such a bad thing at all. As I finished my task and headed to the house, I wondered how many other thing I was looking at all wrong; here’s my list.
*Teaching in 90 degree heat with a room full of kids that smell like sweaty pencils isn’t so bad when I consider what the folks who were in Harvey, Irma or Maria’s path are dealing with.
*Getting up to go to the bathroom a few times a night isn’t so bad when you consider all the folks that don’t have clean water to drink.
*The world if full of problems and knuckleheads. My concern should be not causing more problems, not worrying about the ones I can’t do anything about and certainly trying everything I can think of in order not to become another knucklehead!
*Lots of folks say we’re going to hell in a hand basket…I’m not gonna grab one of those baskets…I’ll just pick up a bag and keep on trying to head for heaven.
*Just because someone says so doesn’t make it true. I can waste lots of minutes trying to pick a side or I can just remember God is the author of truth and I only need to worry about picking his side.
*I’m rounder than I’d like, I’m shorter than I’d like, my life is not glamorous, I’m not rich, I don’t have a fancy anything but I have WAY more than I need, and WAY more than I deserve because I’m loved by a Father who spoils me rotten with his grace and mercy and love.
*Hot coffee, green grass, freedom to pray on my front porch, a clothes line to hang wash, a family I love and a job that challenges and delights me daily…I’m rich and more privileged than royalty!
Oh wait…I forgot…I am royalty because I am the daughter of the King of heaven and earth. It’s all in how you look at it!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the things that “bug” you and then flip them over and look at them another way.
Blessings on your day!
I have called you by your name, giving you a title, though you knew me not. Isaiah 45:4
I had an amazing mom! However, she did sometimes call my brothers and I by the wrong name; which was highly curious since I look nothing like a Jim or a Joe. This little habit was something I said I’d never do as a mom. Unfortunately, I did it too, more times than I could count. Thank goodness we are loved by a Father who created us and calls us by name; the right name.
There is power in our name and we take pride in our titles; they’re a big part of our earthly identity. If I speak to my class and say “hey you” the response is very different than if I call a student by name. The Father doesn’t just know our name, he knows us; every gift, talent, struggle, sin and quirk. The title he has given us declares boldly and mightily his love for us; our title is; HIS beloved child. We don’t have to take a test, write an essay or prove anything to claim the title. We simply have to recognize that we are his beloved and spend each day getting to know him more deeply and love him more adoringly.
Our Father is so amazing we should set aside some time each day to discover something new about the One who created us, inspires us and calls us by name. The Father doesn’t call us by name because we’re famous or popular, he is personally inviting us to go forth and share his good news and demonstrate his love and mercy to others.
A Seed To Plant: Thank the Lord for loving you enough to know you by your name. Lord, help me remember how precious I am to you and grant me the grace to proclaim your name to those around me. For bonus points; say hello to ten people today and use their name.
Blessings on your day!
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