Why don’t we see our awful?

The light switch flipped and the light went out.  They had been so warm and friendly but one word I said and all signs of warmth disappeared.  I have never seen them since and none of my communication attempts have been answered.  That was nine months ago.  He had been affable and friendly and seemed impressed with me.  But on that day I had been critical of his bad behavior towards subordinates like myself.

Often, when I speak with the Lord it is not conscious but a wondering about something in His Presence.  The answer comes through Scripture or thoughts in my mind usually.  The answer may be a long time coming but this morning His returned answer through my thoughts was almost immediate.

“They have nothing to do with their sins.  Their sins are awful.  They are afraid to look at them because they have nothing they can do with them.  They do not know the Redeemer.”

Much, if not most of the time I have encountered this through self-proclaimed Christians!  Perhaps not a surprise since I was a pastor for almost three decades.  But then I thought about the reason for this and it is that people in church have heard the Good News so often that they have become deadened to its daily, living reality in their own lives.  Perhaps God was never alive to them.  Perhaps He was but now they have fallen away as in the parable of the soil types in Mark 4.

Thanks be to God for His great, unfailing Friendship.  Our Redeemer, Friend, Counselor, and Oh…. so very much more!

Uncommon Privilege

This morning I began my day after breakfast full of plans for the day.  As I rounded the corner at home to carry one of them out I stopped dead in my tracks, remembering I had not had my long conversation with God yet.

As I began I reflected on what an uncommon privilege this was.  God on high, creator and master of the universe, all that can be seen and all that is beyond sight and yet He thinks of me!  I thought of how many mornings I have gone off on my way without even talking with Him and my eyes filled with tears at the thought of how often and how much I have hurt His loving, kind heart.  As our conversation continued I thought of this prayer from an unknown confederate soldier.

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve,  I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey…

I asked for health, that I might do greater things, I was given infirmity, that I might do better things…

I asked for riches, that I might be happy, I was given poverty, that I might be wise…

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men, I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God…

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life, I was given life, that I might enjoy all things…

I got nothing that I asked for – but everything that I had hoped for,

Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.

I am among all men most richly blessed.

Git ‘er Done!

sum2007_hand_toolsGit ‘er Done!

Cleaning stalls, cutting the grass along fence lines, mowing grass, cutting down trees, putting up hay … Growing up working on the farm where my horse was kept to earn his keep was hard work! To this day it is the hardest physical work I have done. There was a lot that just had to be done. Horses were hungry. Hay could not be left out to mildew and become worthless so it had to be put up in the loft. Daily during cold winter days we had to break the ice in the water troughs so the horses could drink. It didn’t matter what the weather was or how you felt these animals looked to us for their needs, and no matter what we had to ‘git ‘er done’!

In doing my job there I had tools to get the job done: a hay hook, sickle, sling blade, bush ax, lawn mower, rake, pitch fork, gloves, sharpening file, etc. I needed to give priority to those tools because without them I could not ‘git ‘er done’.

Today in an age of unemployment, downsizing, and competition for job creation we see people as a means to an end. We use people to get things done.

God has a different way of looking at things. God uses things to get people done. From Abraham to Joseph. From Matthew and Peter to Paul the Apostle, God used family, circumstances, weather, foreign governments and even terrible injustices to shape these men and women into who they needed to be. God used things, all sorts of things, to ‘git’ THEM done.

When times are lean, or competition is great it is easy to equate human value in dollars and cents. It is easy to think of people in terms of productivity. But people are the most precious commodity in the universe. One human being was worth the price of God’s very own Child. May we be mindful of people in our lives and handle them with care and prayer.

Bugs and Weeds

gardenerBugs and Weeds

It’s a nice idea.   Going out to the garden and just pulling off the vine or out of the ground fresh, healthy, wholesome food.
I wish it were that easy!  Bugs know how to hide.  Those clever little squash bugs, flea beetles and grass hoppers know how to hide and avoid you like the plague.  How can it be that a creature smaller than a bread crumb can confound our best efforts to feast on the summer’s produce?
And then there are weeds! Even as my first grape vine emerged from near extinction, only a foot or so away another vine emerged looking exactly like my grape.  Which one was my grape and which was an impostor?  Was it an impostor at all?  I honestly could not tell the difference.  Sometimes I think bugs and weeds are smarter than we are!
Losing weight, finishing school, getting that degree, finding a job, finding reconciliation in a failing marriage, reaching a rebellious son or daughter.  It seems life is filled with bugs and weeds that threaten to steal from us our dream of a summer harvest.  We can be tempted to just give up and let the bugs and weeds win.
In our ‘war’ on weeds and bugs here is what we have learned:
1. There will always be problems, bugs and weeds.
2. Reality is not as easy as it seemed when you were dreaming about it.
3. If you want to eat, prepare for the work to be harder and longer than you thought.
4. A garden requires constant vigilance.  You can’t rest until the harvest is in.
5.  It’s easier to go to the grocery store but not nearly as satisfying.
6. If gardening were easy, everyone would do it.
7.  If you quit, ‘fess up that you never wanted it bad enough to begin with.  Admit you didn’t have what it takes and don’t blame the bugs and weeds in your life.  Recalculate your goals, aim elsewhere or look within and find something more.

Nothing worth having is easy.  Choose what you are going to give your life to carefully and then be prepared to spend more than you dreamed and work longer than you thought to reach it.  If it is worthy of your best effort and good for you, then God will help you, in the end, to eat the good fruit of a life well lived.