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FALLING, RISING, AND PRESSING ON!

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The school bell rang, hardly coming to a silent hum before the school exploded with children from every door. Lunch time! Some would be staying inside to eat in the cafeteria, some had brought their lunch and were allowed to eat outside, while the ones who lived near the school were allowed to walk home. The bright, warm sunshine just invited one to hurry home and see mom for a few moments.

We lived about a mile away, but I could still half-run, half-walk, long enough to make the trip quickly. Mother would have my sandwich ready, and I could enjoy a slower pace going back. The exercise felt good after sitting most of the morning.

It went just as I had envisioned: reaching home, my sandwich was ready, with milk and a cookie on the side. After a quiet time with Mother, I began the walk back to school. The first part of our “dirt” road after leaving my house was the beginning of an upward hill, then the ground became fairly level with only slight fluctuations until just before the school, where there was another slightly smaller hill. I had to do something to break the monotony, so I decided to walk the center of the road with my eyes shut. Cars came down the country road very seldom, so there were no safety issues, and this was “in the old days,” in any case!

Eyes clinched shut, I hummed a tune as I walked. Each step was sure. It never occurred to me that my “straight line” might not be so straight. Neither did it occur to me to check my path–it felt like it would be cheating if I so much as squinted. Half-way to the top of the hill, my right footstep hit air! The step was followed by my body also hitting air before landing with a thud in wet mud. I had stepped completely off the road and fallen into the fairly large ditch running along the right-hand side of the road. Unaware that I wasn’t staying in a straight line, I had been going at a diagonal as I walked; I had been sure that my steps were staying right on target along the center! The unfortunate thing was the rain we had had the night before: the ditch was not yet dried, and the mud coated my dress, shoes, and socks.

As badly as I hated to go back and face my mother, what choice did I have? Wow, I was really going to have to hurry now! Back at home, I did my best to make my blunder not seem quite so stupid; looking back, I can imagine that Mother spent quite a while that afternoon trying to get the West Virginia red clay out of my clothes. I didn’t get into (too much) trouble, but probably only because Mother knew I had to get back to school as quickly as possible.

How like modern day life that experience seems now! Even though I’ve tried to walk the Christian walk for so many years, yet I still find myself closing my eyes to God’s design, and straying off the path. In the real world, it doesn’t take much to get us off the straight and narrow, and we end up falling into a ditch. Because we cannot see Satan, we assume he isn’t bothering us, when, in fact, one or more of his demons are following us most of the time, waiting to tempt us with the best bait he can use–the one he knows we’ll respond to. What’s your weakness? Someone being nice, when you’ve had a fight at home? Someone buying the ____ (fill in the blank) that you’ve been wanting? Someone who seems to have no problems in their life, and they treat you with condescension? Whatever your button is, he knows, and will push it to get you off the straight path. And it is so very, very easy to get your halo out of the glove compartment in the car on Sunday or Wednesday, and put it on before entering church, while leaving your dirty laundry at home.

When is the last time (especially if you’re a mother or wife) you went to another room for an item, saw the washer in the side room, remembered there was a load of clothes that needed to be thrown into the dryer, then recalled the dryer had a load that needed to be taken out and folded? As you turned around with a load of folded clothes in your arms, there wasn’t much to do with them except take them to the rooms to which they should go. Entering the last room, the vacuum cleaner was sitting in the corner since you had intended to vacuum that rug; stopping to do that, and finishing, you return the machine to the linen closet, only to remember that you had started for something twenty or thirty minutes before; what was it? Now you have to retrace your steps, trying to recall what you had needed. Not that you’re off the path, but just the constant mind game of how hard it is to keep your focus on your original goal!

That’s what the Christian life is all about: keeping our eyes, as Paul says, “pressing on toward the goal, to win the prize for which God has called (us) heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14 NIV). We get sidetracked so easily even when we’re committed to doing the best for Christ that we can. It may be something so innocent as a busy schedule that leaves no time for devotions, or a bad driver who cuts us off in traffic; someone who criticizes our work ethic when we’re doing our best–so many things can push that button. But we need to remember that it’s very possible we are the only Bible someone else may be reading, so we need to keep our testimony as pleasing to God as possible. Proverbs 14:16 tells us that the righteous man may fall seven times, but he gets up again.

We have His promise that if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us the sin, and the cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). We tend to carry the sin on our back for awhile, (or a long while), yet God sees the white robe of Jesus Christ laid across our shoulders when He looks at us. We don’t have to let Satan use it against us, for if God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31).

Don’t let getting off the path, falling into a ditch, letting the stains of the world, or sin, cause you to quit. Get up, confess it, and God will cleanse you of it and make your relationship beautiful once again.

 

 

 

MUD, MUD AND MANURE…

I looked at my watch: there was just enough time to run home during lunch, not to eat, but to check on the cow who had given birth in the night. She had seemed “not right.” It was still freezing cold, late February, and I had worn an off-white wool suit to work, needing the extra layer of warmth.

As I pulled into the yard, I looked out over the rolling hills, trying to spot that particular cow. The herd was about half way down the back pasture, at least a quarter of a mile from the house. I threw off my heels, pulled on tennis shoes, and took out, knowing I had to to ease my concern before heading back to work. She was a beautiful cow, and worry would be in the back of my mind all afternoon if I went the rest of the day not knowing if she was doing well.

Ten minutes later I was among the herd, looking desperately until I located her at the back fence, far from the others. Hiking up my skirt, I quietly hurried toward her, trying to talk calmly as I got closer. She was gently shoving the babe with her nose, pushing to get him to stand up. It was obvious that he hadn’t been on his feet yet, even hours after his birth, or been nursing as he should have.

Looking down at my suit, then back at the baby, it was a no-brainer. Still talking quietly to the momma, I carefully lifted the baby, and began the long trek to the barn. She followed, understanding her little one (ha!) was in no danger, and lowing to me as we walked. I didn’t think I could make it. The pasture was wet from melted snow, and the calf was heavy. Nothing but sheer determination forced one foot in front of the other as I made the long journey up the slight hill.

Finally I reached the barnyard, walked through the gates that were open into the barn so the cows could get shelter if they wanted, and headed for a stall to set down my burden. At the very last moment, almost the last step, when I could “lay my heavy burden down,” (as the song goes), I slipped. Every ounce of energy suddenly focused on getting that baby down carefully as I went down as well–backwards, flat on my back, in the mud and tons of manure, in my off-white suit.

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There wasn’t much I could do; after making sure the little one was standing and nursing, I ran back to the house, showered, changed clothes and grabbed my suit. Putting it into a bag, I rushed out, heading back to work. I ran into the dry cleaners, gave them the bag with the smelly suit and gamely said, “Don’t ask.”

What good are trials, accidents, and things you wish had never happened unless you look for the lessons they can teach you? Not much, so I did. Suddenly I saw several.

In Matthew 18, Jesus illustrates a parable where a shepherd has a large flock, and one goes astray. He said the man would leave the “ninety nine” to look for the one. Are you possibly the one Jesus would look for, who has strayed away? This wasn’t  a sheep belonging to someone else, this was one of his own. The animal had chosen to walk away from the others, doing his own thing, looking for greener grass. The shepherd went to bring it back to himself. I went to find the one who had given birth, and bring her, now with her calf, back to the herd. Is Jesus looking for you, even though He has thousands of other followers?

I also thought about the mud–well, let’s face it, the manure. Smell? Wow! Any farmer knows how overpowering it can be, which is why stalls have to be mucked out on occasion! But I didn’t care about the mud, the manure or the weight of my burden: I was concerned with bringing the little one to safety. Did I wait for a warm, sunny day, when I had “barn” clothes on? Or wait for the rain to wash the baby clean? Hardly. I was concerned only with bringing him to shelter while there was yet hope. Jesus is waiting for you, just as you are, with all your past sins, present lifestyle, and “hurts, habits, and hangups,” and holding out His arms to gather you to Himself, and bring you back to the safety of His love. He doesn’t care that you are covered with the sins of the world–He will clean you up. Wash you, so that you will be “whiter than snow.” Would you, in your hurry to run from Him, scorn His love? You’ll never find safety outside of His care.

It was also a matter of urgency. The longer the calf was without sustenance, the less chance he would have. With the signs of the times indicating major turmoil ahead, we have so little time to find the lost ones and show them the Savior who loves them. Are you one being sought, or one who is seeking? We may not have much time.

Lessons are on every hand. Are you looking for them as you go through your day–or are you just going through the motions? Don’t be like the man in James 1: he looks in the mirror, sees himself, but then goes away and forgets what he saw. Look for the Love Notes God is sending you today. You will surely see them.

 

© Sandra Day, by Kessler Photo

TRUSTING.. OR NOT

WORRY2 Don’t get me wrong–I love my son dearly. I’m just saying… sometimes there are lessons we miss that illustrate how to live the life of a Christian, and sometimes we actually get them. This time I got it. I don’t always connect the dots, do you?

You see, it started when he decided to take his wife on a surprise trip to Europe. The first thing he did was to make certain that we would be looking at an empty calendar that week, so that the children would be cared for. Brownie point–or, in this case, Scout point. Then all the arrangements started being put into place, passports, luggage, hotels, cities… the whole “nine yards.” She realized he was planning some type of trip, so the question was “Where???” “Colorado,” he replied. (Off the top of his head. Who goes to Colorado when they can’t ski?) She didn’t believe it, but figured, like Delilah, she could wear him down. Thirteen years of marriage hasn’t taught her she can’t. She didn’t.

The weeks have gone by and the time was arriving. He meanwhile gave us tons of instructions for the kids: when they had this practice, that test, did their homework, had their showers–a whole list. Scout point 2. Great dad.

By the time the day before leaving arrived, he had gone over every list conceivable to raising children. They are not babies, but 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. And we raised him. But the details were written down, talked about; food for the week was bought (would grandparents let them starve? Ok, so he doesn’t feed them junk food, but we eat reasonably healthy). I was amazed that their mom, his wife, had said nothing–and I mean NOTHING–to me about the kids!

The morning we picked them up to take them to the airport, I asked her, “Why haven’t you given us any instructions for the kids?” She just looked at me. “I’m leaving the kids with you two. It didn’t occur to me to worry about anything.”

As I pondered her reply, the spiritual aspect hit me between the eyes. What an example of the way we should trust God! Our daughter-in-law knew we would have the kids, and whatever happened–even a crisis–they and their safety would be our first priority. When we give our greatest possessions or worry to God, we should have complete confidence that He will place a priority sticker on it. We don’t have to fret about it any more. Our son, on the other hand, did what we usually do with God: he made sure that we understood how their schedules ran, what they ate, when they slept. That’s fine–and good that he was so concerned, because ultimately he was trying to make it as easy on us as possible. But still, I believe we do that with God: we give Him the details of how we want Him to take care of a situation, and make sure (in our hearts) that He understands this is how is usually works.

Did we follow his schedule? Well, we tried to. Sometimes we did, and sometimes we wanted to build a memory, not just a regular week. Ok, maybe a little bit more pizza, or fun, but we’re the grandparents, so there’s a latitude that is unwritten. I’m sure God does the same thing. There’s our schedule–then there’s HIS schedule. His takes precedence when we’re turning it over to Him.

The thing is, we need to let Him do what we’ve asked, with complete confidence that He will do it His way. And it will be right–and maybe fun.

Just like our week has been!

 

© Lisa James | Dreamstime Stock Photos

THE HOMECOMING

I’m sitting in a hotel room, looking out on a teeming, busy city in America. I’m not used to the amount of traffic, pedestrians walking on every street, bicycles or noises. It was supper time when I arrived, and I got up the courage to walk to a street with delis, but chickened out (no pun intended) after a few blocks. That’s what living in a small “burg” does for you.

There’s an embankment across the street from the motel, between the street and a wall that protects the populace from an expressway. The trees on the embankment are rather large, as if they’ve been there for several years. But underneath the trees, all along the wall, protected both by the foliage and the bricks, are tents. Small tents, pup tents, larger ones, worn ones affording very little protection, and some not so worn. It didn’t take but a second to realize these are homes–homes for those who have no home. It was one of those moments of making a memory, when you have just seen something that will stay in your mind’s eye for a long time.

Probably because the refugees in the Middle East are so uppermost in the thoughts of many people, these homeless Americans provided a strange comparison. Here they are, in the what has been until recently the wealthiest country in the world, living in a tent that will soon be snow covered. Yes, there will be food lines, shelters for the bitterest of days, but how long can they be away from their “home” without someone stealing it? Not long.

Yet how different from the refugees who are fleeing for their lives! The ones going into other countries in long lines, babies on their backs, trying to get safe before their lithrhtle girl or boy is taken for prostitution. Trying to find a bite of something that will keep death away one more day. Trying to eat something in the dirt for a bit of protein. Not because they have lived wrong, hurt anyone, or been active in criminal circle but because they call themselves Christians. We have moved back to the middle ages, when hatred and war were a way of life. We are no longer becoming more “civilized,” but are becoming more barbaric. Why are we allowing this, our hearts cry?

What can we do? For those in American, we can see that the churches or humanitarian organizations are manned with volunteers who will help feed or shelter, or give counsel, or even a second chance. But for the refugees, ah–what can we do? Very little, but there’s an old, old song, “Little is much when God is in it,” and it applies today as much as it did then. We can intercede for them in prayer, that God would put a hedge of protection around them. We can pray that the one’s under Satan’s rule would be eradicated, just as they are eradicating. Give to the many foundations that are funded by people who are not pocketing any of the money, but seeing it goes directly to the refugees. Voice of the Martyrs is one of those important organizations. Give generously.

LOVE IS A CHOICE…

TOWERS2The news came suddenly: mothers started running to the nursery at church, grabbing their little ones, fear full-blown on their faces. It was a Tuesday morning in September, and what we were hearing was bits and pieces–something about an attack in New York. We were in central Virginia, many hours away from NY. One woman was trying to hold herself together, for her husband had a meeting that morning in NYC. She was desperately trying to reach him. My daughter and I left the nursery once the babies were all picked up and headed for a television in the church, where the news had interrupted regular programming. Everyone was shocked speechless, some crying, some stunned. Over the next hours I can so well remember my feeling: how can anyone hate America this much?

It is said that those of us who are old enough to remember when John Kennedy was shot, know exactly where we were when the news came, and it’s true. It’s also true we remember where we were when we first heard of the attack on the Twin Towers. These moments in our past will never fade.

Recently, I was reading a news article on a well-known American family who were blind-sided by a media attack, after news that they were not perfect was made to look like something the whole family should be executed for. I read some of the tweets under the article–something I never do. As I read the venom that poured out of people’s computers, I was once again struck by the hatred that was spewing forth. Stunned and sickened, I considered the truth that, had a Christian written those verbal attacks on a  family of another religious persuasion, it probably would have been labeled a “hate crime,” and they would have been interrogated by the police. Such is our culture today. The hatred is becoming greater and greater.

Now we are watching Lincoln’s prophecy come to pass: America will never be destroyed by outside forces; when it falls, it will fall from decay within. How true his words are becoming! Having been raised in the mid 1900’s, I have seen the black/white racism from A to Z. Well, maybe not yet Z. It’s still heading there.

I was one of the fortunate ones growing up: my mom, a naive West Virginia “hillbilly,” never saw color, only character. She raised me to look at the person, not the color of their skin or the slant of their eyes. I remember in a Sunday night class in the early ’60’s making the remark, “I’d rather my daughter marry a Christian black man who worships the ground she walks on than a white man who beats and abuses her!” I can still remember the shock and disbelief on the faces of those die-hard Southern folks who sat in the chairs. Later, I was outspoken at Dr. Martin Luther King’s tactics, and recall saying, “I would do exactly what he’s doing if I thought my children and grandchildren were going to be treated the way most whites treat blacks.” I wasn’t popular for saying so.

Today we see the hate again becoming an issue between whites and blacks. Haven’t we gotten past this? Have we learned nothing from history? Strip away the skin and what do you have? God said He looks on the heart, not on the outward appearance. That, I have always believed, is why He chose a Jewish mother–so that He was neither white nor black, but of Middle-Eastern appearance. One pastor whom I love once said to me, “A lot of ‘Christians’ are going to be surprised when they see the human color of Jesus!” How true. What we need to be asking is, who is the one who is stirring up this hatred? There is someone who is at the bottom of all of it, I’m convinced.

There’s no excuse for hatred. It cannot be the heart condition of anyone who calls themselves Christian. If you hate someone because of the color of their skin, you are condemning someone made in the image of God. How sad. Sad that we treat brothers and sisters in the Lord as if they are less than we are. Sad that people of the world, whose morals equal that of Sodom & Gomorrah, condemn and judge as if they should be executed, those who are Christians but commit a sin, repent and seek healing. Hatred is a choice, just as love is a choice. As Jesus said, “If you don’t love your brother, whom you have seen, how can you love God, who you haven’t seen?”

Sin is a fact of life: Jesus tells us through John that if we say we have no sin, we lie and the truth (Jesus) is not in us. Once we accept that fact (that we have sin), we are accountable to God as to what we are going to do with it. Are we going to continue living with it, enjoy it, and judge others, or are we going to recognize our right to eternity in heaven depends on our asking forgiveness for what we do that is wrong, asking Jesus to come into our lives and save us–not that we will never sin again, but that we will have someone in our lives who has paid the debt of our sin–and run to Him when we sin again. That’s the difference between love and hate. Hate continues to hate. Love makes a choice to ask for forgiveness when sin rears its ugly head, be cleansed, and continue living with a happy heart, knowing He has forgiven again! That’s what the world does not understand, because their eyes are blind to God. That would scare me to death!

If I realized that the God who will one day be my Judge, whom I will stand before, as someone who has rejected the offer of salvation, if I KNEW that He had crossed me off His list, wiped me out of His Book of Life–it would scare me so badly I would run to Him, gasping for mercy.

Hell is not going to be a party. But stomping on the mercy, grace, and love of Jesus–when it was still a possibility in your life–is a choice only you can make. Before it’s too late.

 

DOES GOD STILL SPEAK?

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Her Christmas sweater was finished: a beautiful pink, with inlaid floral print. Rounding up my sewing items, I missed my needle. I looked everywhere, checked the sweater, checked the floor–and finally gave up. I was so happy with what I had made, and could hardly wait for her to open it, even though I wouldn’t be there. You see, she was so upset with me, not on her own account, but taking up the offense of someone else. I did everything I could to be sure I was kind, but she was so angry. This gift was my way of telling her I still loved her. As I lay down to sleep, I knew my mom and dad would be taking the gift home the next day; it was packed in the car, and waiting. As I slept, I dreamed of the sweater: I saw the sleeve, with the needle stuck in it. When I woke, I thought about the dream. I knew that if that had really happened, she would never believe that I had not left it there on purpose, in order to hurt her for being angry. All morning I thought of it. Finally, minutes before my folks left, I told my mom. We went out to the car, and I felt so stupid! I got the package out, unwrapped it, and carefully checked the sleeve. There, right as in my dream, the needle was stuck. I never doubted the Lord was keeping me from a worse relationship with my beautiful niece.

You’d have to know me, you see. I can be obsessively, compulsively, disordered! If I cross stitch, it is not enough to have the thread colors I need: I get them all–someday I might need them. I sell on eBay, big time. Seven a.m. comes, and I boot up the computer, and by 8 a.m. begin work. I shut it down at 8 p.m., and so it goes, 6 days a week. Sunday mornings before church I answer questions, and after lunch, begin work. OCD. ADHD. If I have to list twenty, I list fifty. OCD. I never meet my goals, all self-inflicted.

This year, as a study focus as I read my Bible, I began early looking for the answer to one question: WHY did the apostles ask Jesus to teach them to pray? Nehemiah prayed “HELP,” so why did the apostles feel insecure?

Genesis began my conflict, but not with prayer: as the Creation took place, God rested. It was before the fall, before anything bad had entered the garden, and He rested. I struggled with the why. He seemed to be saying, “Sandy, when do you rest?” At night, Lord. Not good enough. He rested at night as well. I tossed and turned, metaphorically speaking. Uncomfortable with the computer on Sunday. Not because of the computer, but because I knew I was addicted to working. Workaholic. So I asked my honest husband. “Are you concerned about the work you do on Sunday?” His answer shook me, for we had not discussed this. “Yes. The past two or three weeks, I’ve been trying to cut out my work and rest.” Ugh. Now I was really uncomfortable. I turned the radio on a couple of days later. Sure, the preacher I “happened” to turn to was preaching on resting one day a week. I called a minister’s wife, an older-than-I-am woman whom I know to be godly, and put it to her. Yes! She and her preacher husband take a day a week to rest–if they can’t get a whole day in, they take two half-days. My discomfort turned to churning. I was recognizing that God was choosing my path. The Bible Study began in September. Hebrews! Great, I love that book! Lesson 2: resting one day a week as God did. Are you seeing a pattern? Everywhere I turned, I was facing giving one day to God. Talk about sacrifice! For me, to not work, to not be productive, is a sacrifice! But I was hearing, and I was listening. Struggling big time, but knowing I was going to have to be obedient. My main concern? What am I going to do? How can I fill hours doing nothing? Daunting. To a couch potato it probably sounds like heaven, but to me it sounded terrifying.

A month ago, the call came. Would I take on a project for church, listening to the sermon, and then writing a discussion for people who want to use the sermon as a topic to teach their children, to discuss and grow as a family, or to have a group meet in their home. I can’t begin to say how honored I felt. How amazed I was. And how I saw that God had been preparing my heart to leave eBay alone on Sundays, and do this for His glory.

The first and second Sundays took all afternoon, until evening. Today was not quite as long, but the joy in knowing that He loves me so much that He “spoke” to my heart about the lack of resting from my work, and then filling the gap with His work was so awesome I was speechless as I ever get.

So for me, and for many others, yes! He does speak, He does love, and He is active in our lives, in our dreams (yes, there will be those who doubt that, but not me!), and He gets all the glory! His grace, as always, still amazes me.

 Holy Father, that You can take someone who is so taken up with meaningless things, and use us, is totally beyond our comprehension! Thank You for Your love, Lord. Thank You for using vessels of clay to hold Your marvelous works. Amen

picture compliments of © Dennis Sherman | Dreamstime Stock Photos

“IF…………….”

2GIRLWHATIF

Our family had just finished memorizing James 2:1-13, where James instructs us to pay attention how we treat those who have less than we do–or for some reason do not meet our standards. We were doing well at homeschooling but–“Sunday was a-comin’!” Morning service was special, as always, and suddenly it was time to go back for the evening message. As we sat down, our six year old daughter said “Ewww, Mommy, look over there: look how dirty those people are!” She was right. It was a young couple, girl and boyfriend, and they were dirty. I’m not sure what brought them in, but they had entered our little Baptist Church that normally had maybe 30 in attendance on Sunday night and sat in the back. Our daughter’s face was scrunched up in disgust as she observed the couple. I leaned over and gently reminded her of the verses we had just learned about how to treat people who have almost nothing, and God used His word to break her heart. She immediately was shocked to put the truth of the Bible up against her actions.

That next week she busily worked on projects. When Sunday rolled around again, Rachel took her gifts to church, hoping the couple would come. They did, that night. She went up to them and told them she had made them some gifts–I don’t even remember what they were. The couple was overwhelmed that a small child had thought of them all week, and prepared gifts she felt were a representation of what Christ would have done. It made such an impact on them that they made an appointment with the pastor, told him they were living together but after that night would sleep in separate areas (the bed and the couch), and set a wedding date. They had a time of cleansing their little place, throwing rock albums in the trash, and came to know the Lord. Rachel made them something for their wedding, and decorated the communion table where they would say their vows before the pastor and his wife.

“What if” our daughter had not been moved by her callousness at someone’s “dirty raiment”? A small phrase–what if– but one that changes the course of human thinking. A new sermon emphasis in our church is causing many of us to question our “what if’s!”

You may have lived a great life. I seriously know people who have: they have married high school sweethearts, their family came along, the job was secure, and life was good. I’ve often wondered what they did that made God give such grace in abundance to some, while others are born into a family where abuse prevails, vulgar language is the norm, learning in school is difficult, and by teen-age years everyone in the community has labeled him/her one to be avoided. Did either of them ever wonder, “What if..?”

For the majority of the rest of us, our life is filled with “what if….”! What if… I had had a mom who guided me; a dad who loved me; a mentor in my life who encouraged me to do my best. What if… I had used wise judgment throughout life; had made wise choices; had taken advantage of life’s offerings?

Or are you straddled with “If only’s”? …. you had not taken that job, your marriage wouldn’t have failed, your daughter wouldn’t have rebelled at a new school and gotten into the wrong crowd; if only … your extended family had tried to eat healthy so your husband didn’t have a heart attack; your friend didn’t drink so heavily that he killed someone with his car?

We can live with the “What if’s” and the “If only’s” and drive ourselves crazy. So we do what the apostle Paul told us, and “forget those things which are behind,” because they can become traps Satan uses to make us ineffective as we live our lives for Christ.

So “What If” turns from being a “sin that so easily besets us” and becomes a role model, if you will: “What if” we saw the person in front of us at WalMart counting their pennies to pay for some vienna sausage, and we reached in our wallet and told the clerk, “Here.” What if we carried tracts that were simple, beautiful, and designed to help any adult discover that Jesus loves them, and gave them to the person when we did an act of love like paying for their small amount of food? What if we really did become the person God had in mind when He hung on the Cross?

We may not be able to change the world, but we can impact our neighborhood, our community, or–to some extent–our town. What if the person who visited in the service or in Sunday School was invited over for Sunday dinner? What if they weren’t dressed well? Would we still have them? Would Christ have still died for them? Then prepare something extra and ask them if they can come share your meal. Scary, isn’t it? But what if you did? You may be entertaining angels unawares! More importantly, what if you asked your neighbor of ten years to share a meal? Or the new hire at work that is in a lowly job? Don’t do it for someone who can return the favor–do it for someone who will be shocked at your love.

What if our actions caused two people to come to know Christ this year?

Father, help me to be willing to be used. In Your Name, Amen.

Image:© Paul-andré Belle-isle | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Sunday’s a comin’, SM Lockridge