22 August, 2011

Are You Rich?

Do you ever get a song stuck in your head? Have you noticed that sometimes it’s the most random song and maybe not even one you especially like! So this story I share today has been rolling and rolling around in my head for the last few weeks.

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Mark 10:15-22

I’m fifty-three years old and have been a Christ-follower since I was in the 7th grade. I’ve attended bible study, developed a prayer life, been in fellowship with other believers, gone on mission trips, served in local outreach, loved my husband, parents, children and my fellow man. But I am the young man in this scripture reading.

I feel winded as I run up to Jesus and fall on my knees. “What must I do”, I cry out. I’ve done these things that build me up spiritually, things that make me devout and more Christ-like, I think. But today, today I feel empty. Today my mind and heart are in search for the next answer as this one I’m living seems just off the mark somehow.

I hear your answer, “sell everything you have, give to the poor, then come follow me”. So I’ve been thinking about what I have as I too am “rich” in many things. Is it true that you want to use all these things for others to come to know you? Is that part of your plan? If so...I can offer all of the following: a broken spirit and broken children. My role in motherhood has fractured occasionally. I have regrets. I’ve hurt those I love. I have a heart accepting your love and needing more of your love. I have many earthly “things” that surround me or overwhelm me and disguise my need for You. I have a house with plenty of bedrooms to share and plenty of food to share. I have a life with plenty of time to share. I have Hope as you are Saviour. I have ideas and dreams that revolve around your dreams for me and for your world. I have a heart aching to be used by you in this day. Can I sell all of that or just give it all to you? Can you use it? Could you use me?

I do not want to go away sad because I have great wealth and can’t let it go. I want to join you, Lord, and follow you. So, joyfully, what you have given me is what I give back to You today!

04 August, 2011

The Gift

The father sat down his grown children and said, “I want to talk with you for five minutes. I have something to give you”. The young adults looked nervously at each other as the dad continued, “You both are on rigorous journeys this year. You’ve come a long way but this year will be one of challenge, change and growth. I wanted to give you something to help you know the truth. This is a gift from me, your dad. I handpicked each one for you. It was my decision in every way but only with you in mind. If you do not like this gift or are not ready to use it, it’s ok, I can wait”.

With those words he stepped forward and gave each of his children a name engraved, leather study Bible. These were not their first Bibles but they seemed to represent a newness I’d not before seen. He was acknowledging each of them and their special place in his heart and their special place in this world and his dream for each of them.

They received the gift differently…one was eager and exclaiming joy, excitement and thanks. The other was silent. This young adult was gently touching and rubbing the outer leather and slowly looking through the pages. The words that came were humble, honest and quiet, “Thank you for this but I’m not sure I’m ready for this yet. For you see, I know of people hurt by those who believe in these words. Dear friends of mine have been judged, condemned, and cast out by people claiming these words. How can that be?”

How can that be indeed? When have I or am I that person who condemns or casts out people by their looks, their choices, their zip code?

I went to China in May and found myself surrounded by millions of people. People our North American culture would consider poor and unsophisticated…not up to our standards. My daughter was in Haiti in July and experienced a people also impoverished with struggles different from you and me. They want and need clean water…plumbing, education.

In these travels we found the people interesting, we took pictures with them, we offered them trinkets from our great country. We gave and served without thought, without judgment. We loved the unlovely. We loved the impoverished; we served when we were long tired and exhausted. Are those travels different from my day today? Was I in mission-trip mode so the serving came easy? Have I received the Book from my Father and accepted it with joy and delight and live it accurately? Or have I received the Book and lived a life that is not reflective of the Book? Have I read the Book but lived a life of judgment and condemnation?

When our family evening was ending, one of our children said, “I want to serve. I want to be the one that welcomes the stranger and hangs out with him after the meeting. I want to make him feel that my time is all his and not be worried about what I’m missing with my friends. It’s that person who lives this Book.”

And our heavenly Father says to us today:

I want to talk with you for five minutes. I have something to give you”. You are on a rigorous journey this year. You’ve come a long way but this year will be one of challenge, change and growth. I want to give you something to help you know the truth. This is a gift from me, your Dad. I handpicked each one for you. It was my decision in every way but only with you in mind. If you do not like this gift or are not ready to use it, it’s ok, I can wait”.