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!
Brothers and sisters: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:
As a teacher, I know there are some things kids enjoy. No matter what the age, glitter glue, paint and wet glue are always met with enthusiasm. The hesitation on my part is the inability of most of the students to comprehend the concept of “use just a little”. When I moved from little lovelies to middle lovelies, I thought they would get it; not so much! I still get projects that weigh 3 pounds and take 4 days to dry! It seems if a little glitter or paint is good, then a lot makes the project awesome! I suppose it’s later in life when we realize that very often a little can go a long way! Just like the kids and their glitter glue, we adults can sometimes go overboard on things and loose track of the concept “enough”. We are a society that likes our “stuff” aren't we.
As I was looking at the insane number of cucumbers in my garden the other day, I thought of this verse from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. In the spring we dumped jut a few extra seeds in that little hole just to make sure we would get a nice amount of cucumbers. Sheesh…is seems we sowed bountifully and now the reaping from that one plant is crazy! As I was cleaning and planning what in the world to do with all these green little beauties, I began to think of the places we could use more bountiful sowing and reaping. I’ve decided these are some places we could benefit from sowing as abundantly as school kid with a fresh bottle of glitter glue!
A Seed To Plant: As you sit in quiet prayer this week, think about the areas of your life where you have sowed sparingly and the places you can bump up the sowing and then ask the Father to bless you with his abundant bounty.
Blessings on your day!
…My grace is sufficient for you…2 Corinthians 12:9
I read an article once about a family that had a special tradition. Each time someone got something new, they had to give something away to make room for it. To tell you the truth, I thought that sounded a little crazy at first. As the days passed and I continued to think about that family, I realized that they understood the concept of “enough”.
We live in a world that has us programmed for bigger, better, faster, easier and over the top. It seems like those concepts apply to everything from the size of our living room TV to the speed of our technology. It’s no wonder we as a society have lost track of the concept of “enough” and have become a restless people. We worry about investments, savings accounts, college funds and retirement plans. The pressure of getting, keeping and managing all of our “stuff” is stressful! I’d like to suggest that we all “back up the truck” and think for a minute about enough.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul was trying to explain that God and His loving grace is sufficient, or enough. When we make our list of what we need or what we want, how often do we remember to take inventory of God’s graces and blessings? Do we need 15 pairs of shoes, 20 outfits and a bigger TV, or do we have enough? Could it be that what we really need is to spend more time building a relationship with the Father and trusting in His goodness, compassion and grace? Do you suppose a bigger chunk of our day spent connecting with God will make us more successful and comfortable than money and things?
God loves us and wants us to be happy, but He doesn’t want us to lose track of the important things in life. He is the designer of generosity and He wants to bless us with good things, but He encourages us to trust in Him and realize that He is enough…the rest will fall into place as long as we have Him.
A seed to plant: Make a list of the things you have “enough” of, then find ten things you have more than enough of and share them with those who don’t have enough.
Blessings on your day!
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