I love how God never gives up on us. He’s so patient with us as we learn to hear Him leading and guiding us. It’s a lifelong journey that doesn’t end until we return to the dust from which we were made. I’m so thankful for all the chances He offers me to show others His love and mercy. I miss way too many. If I were witty and quick enough to get it right every time, the blessings I could leave in my wake would be immense; but, I’m not and I don’t, so I can’t. And I miss an opportunity to be like Jesus.
Often it’s just a faint impression He gives. A little whisper in our hearts. A peek into the lives of others as they wrestle with the demons that plague their circumstances. A chance to be light and love. Even when it seems insignificant to us, it can mean the world to them. You don’t know the impact a kind word can have in the life of another. It can literally save a life. We just might be the one who shows them that they do matter. Don’t get me wrong, He whacks me over the head at times and it’s clear that I need to do something specific. But, in the heat of the moment with emotions gone wild or if I’m on autopilot and wrapped up in my own thoughts God can have a hard time getting through to me if I don’t stay sensitive to Him.
It’s the little things in life, our daily routine, that we need to be careful of. I can let that person trying to turn left into traffic go before me if I’m across the street, turning right; I might show them selflessness in a world drenched in selfishness, instead of leaving them stuck while I keep going (and so do all the people who turned behind me). Or if I tell the salesperson at the mall who offers free yoga classes on Sunday morning saying it’s a “spiritual” equivalent for church, that I don’t go to church to be “spiritual” but to have a relationship with my Creator and to serve my fellow church members. I might change her view on church fellowship completely.
But, I don’t always hear that little voice until it’s too late and I’ve left that person to battle traffic as I move happily through the traffic light seeing them stuck, in the same place, in my rear view mirror. I don’t always feel merciful when offended at the idea that the saleslady inferred that a workout class was a fair trade to gathering with my church family and learning more about God.
I missed those chances and can’t get them back, but I can learn from them. I need to be obedient to His pokes. Sometimes they are subtle, but there nonetheless. At times I have but a millisecond to choose right or wrong; love of others (what Jesus did here on earth) or love of self; to say “me, me, me” or “Him, Him, Him”.
What He meant when He said we are to die to self is that we are to put His will above ours, to serve others to our best ability, to love those who don’t necessarily love us back, to offer hope in a brutal, hopeless world.
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me[believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].25 For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will[eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity]. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world [wealth, fame, success], but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory and majesty of His Father with His angels, and THEN HE WILL REPAY EACH ONE IN ACCORDANCE WITH WHAT HE HAS DONE. (Matthew 16:24-27 AMP)
24-26 Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (MSG version)
I don’t always choose correctly, but it’s a lifelong battle and I will go on striving to be a more loving, merciful, forgiving person. It can mean giving up what I want most for something better, even if I can’t see it or don’t agree at the moment. The world tells us we’re missing out if we don’t do what we want. The bible and my life experiences prove to me we are missing out on vital blessings for us and others if we don’t listen to God.
This world will one day perish, but our souls will not. I want to take people to heaven with me and not worry about what the world thinks. It’s flawed, broken and dying. The reason we’re here to begin with is to love God and to spread God’s love and I want to serve my purpose. After all, I was bought with a very high price;the blood of Jesus.
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
9 Honor the LORD with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.
11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the LORD reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.
Proverbs 3:1-12 (ESV, read the whole Chapter…it’s a good one)