Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I'm His Favourite!!!

Do you ever have those days where you truly feel like if God had a favourite it would be you? Well, today is one of those days for me.

Our oldest son, Benji, leaves for college next Friday. I felt like I had been doing pretty well with the whole idea until this afternoon...in the grocery store...over a gallon of milk. Yes, a gallon of milk made a lump form in my throat and tears well up in my eyes. A gallon of milk dated August 28. Seems innocent enough, right? It does if you're just a person buying milk for whom a date 5 days before August 28 means nothing. For me, it meant by the time that milk expired Benji will have been at college for 5 whole days. 

I promise I'm really not a helicopter parent who hovers around my kids and doesn't want them to have a full and exciting life filled with lots of adventure apart from me. I am, however, a Mama who loves her babies deeply and is keenly aware that life as we know it is about to change. Those big size 15 feet won't be clumping around the house anymore. The little kids won't start squealing with excitement because his truck just thumped it's way into the driveway. I won't get to fix him runny eggs and bacon for breakfast or have him shake me to let me know he's home at night. I know...I know...he'll be home to visit for holidays and such...but it won't be the same and I am sad.

I decided to go sit in my sanctuary, otherwise known as my back porch. It's my "secret place" and sitting there is always special for me. As soon as I walked out to the porch Papa had a surprise for me...

Yes, Papa loves me so much that, even though we had no rain at all, He put a rainbow there to remind me how much He cares!!!

With a slightly more contented sigh, I decided to sit down and pick up my copy of Jesus Calling that I keep on the table on my back porch because I like to read out there. I sensed that rather than flipping to today's date, August 12, I was supposed to turn to August 23...the day we move Benji to college. I began to read and before I got more than a few words in I felt myself begin to shake for this is what it said...

Can you believe it? Isn't that just like Him? He had just given me a big rainbow-wrapped hug and now He was getting down to business. He was reminding me that I could either have each finger pried off my boy one-at-a-time when it came time to drive away or...I could release him with an open hand knowing that the safe embrace I think that I provide is a mere shadow of what He can offer. Gulp!

Lord, Thank You that You love me the way that You do and thank You for making me feel like I am Your very favourite girl tonight! Thank You for loving Benji even more than my finite mind can comprehend and thank You for the mind-blowing ways you encouraged my heart tonight. I love my boy more than life itself, but I know You love Him that much more! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Why Not?

I sometimes wonder about the random thoughts that rumble around in my brain, but here goes one of them...

It seems within the church that people have a mindset that church folk should be above reproach and that we should never be hurt by others within the church. I think this must be the mindset anyway because I have encountered many people who were shocked that someone didn't meet their expectations or that someone had hurt their feelings. It was almost a, "How dare they treat me like that?", way of thinking.

The question I have been pondering this morning is actually, "Why not? Why shouldn't I expect to be hurt by church people?" The reality is that they are just people...infallible, human, sometimes self-protecting, jacked up (to quote my husband), apt to make mistakes kind of people. I should never expect perfection in someone else when I can't live up to that standard myself.

I do realize there is the odd person who is just way out there and is totally self-consumed. They give little thought for others and trample people wherever they go. People like this, in my experience, are rare, though. Most of us really do want to honour the Lord, but we will make mistakes.

One of my favourite quotes is, "Expectations are premeditated resentments of the heart." The first time I heard it it stopped me in my tracks. Let's break it down...

Expectations ~ the act or state of looking forward to or anticipating something

Premeditated ~ characterized by fully conscious willful intent and a measure of forethought and planning

Resentments ~ a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult or injury

So if we put it all together now it looks something like this...

When I look forward to or anticipate that someone is going to willfully and with a measure of forethought and planning do something that I do not like or agree with then I am going to feel indignant displeasure or persistent ill will toward what I see as an insult or wrong committed against me. 


You know what's crazy about all this? Often times the offender has no clue and is rather oblivious to the fact that anything has even happened. The only indication is a cold shoulder or hearing that we have taken our toys and gone to another playground. And we wonder why people look at the church and want no part of it!!!

When are we going to grow up and realize it's not all about us? When are we going to extend grace as an overflow of the overwhelming grace that has been extended to us through a Savior? When are we going to learn to give others the benefit of the doubt or at least have the decency to talk to them and hear their heart? Instead, in this day of social media insanity, we de-friend or block someone on FB and think, "Good riddance!" Instead of practicing the act of forgiveness, we make people pay by dirtying their reputation and seeing how many people we can take to the new playground with us. People are dying and going to hell and we are spending all our time trying to find as many people as we can to be sympathetic to our cause which is essentially...ourselves.

What would happen if we grew up? What would happen if we realized the Body is just that...a living organism made up of many parts with different roles and giftings. What would happen if we viewed other churches as partners instead of the competition? When a friend of ours was killed (a year ago yesterday, in fact), our church went and ministered to the body of believers which our friend had been a part of. We fixed food and fed family members, we parked cars and prayed for the grieving. One of the men from the funeral home stopped my husband and asked him if our 2 churches had a "partnership" because he had never seen anything quite like what he had seen that day. 

Isn't that a crazy question? Isn't the fact that it had to be asked even crazier? Why does that have to be so unusual? Why don't we see ourselves as a huge body of believers who minister to each other anywhere and everywhere instead of our own little entities, as if we are the only ones who have figured out how to get it right? You know what I know? I know if we ever have a crisis in our church family that this church will be by our side. 

Let's keep our eye on the goal and not allow the enemy to trip us up as we near the finish line. Let's extend grace and forgiveness and actually live out what we are called to do. Let's quit trying to insulate ourselves and protect ourselves so we can't possibly be wounded by anyone. Let's get out there and remember that Jesus CHOSE Judas as a disciple even though He knew how it would all end up!!  Let's be intentional and inclusive and let's just learn to grow up and quit acting like 3yo children instead of people maturing because of the work of Christ going on inside us.

Lord, may we be a pleasing fragrance to You as we go about our days. May we learn to look to You and obey You instead of looking to our own self-interests and needs. Please help us view the Body as as an inclusive fellowship, not an exclusive club,  full of people who are "for" us and aren't "against" us. Lord, would we talk to You and listen to You and then be willing to do whatever it is You show us out of a heart of love and devotion to You! Amen!

P.S. I do want to add that this is in no way an area in which I think I have "arrived"!!! I am "preaching" to myself more than anything because choosing not to be offended is a discipline I still have to work at every single day!!!