Answering The Questions

It’s Monday morning. A new start to the week and the beginning of new patterns for me. I am posting this to create a space for accountability, and to invite you to walk with me on this path.

I’m going to be reading more. When I read I write because I need to reflect. The books I read seem to beg for conversation. I don’t remember when I decided, but the reason I write so much in the books I read, dog ear the pages, scribble in the back pages stems from my need to process what I’m reading.

I started reading last night. I pulled a book from my TBR (to be read), sat there in the dimly lit room and began to digest Eugene Peterson’s book, Working the Angles.

ASIDE: At one of the first writers conferences that I went to a highly respected writer stated that introductions are unnecessary. It didn’t sit right with me then…still doesn’t. If the introduction doesn’t grab me and get marked up, I’m just not sure I want the book.

So last night, I tripped into Peterson’s intro. I was captured boy his illustration (something I’m definitely going to refer to when I teach Pastoral Care again) of the “angles” need to be working: prayer, scripture, and spiritual direction. He goes on to describe how instead of tending to these internal things, pastors focus more on the externals and pleasing the people, often leaving God out of the script completely.

As I consider moving back into pastoral ministry, I want to be sure I’m building on the angles. So that’s why I grabbed John Dear’s book, The Questions of Jesus. And the first question he lifts up Jesus’ question of his potential followers: What do you want?

Sitting here in my favorite coffee, with people milling about, grinders whirring, and country music blaring, I melted into a puddle of tears. Jesus cares what I want…do I?

God. It’s Monday. New day. New week. Thanksgiving in a few days. Big changes may be coming my way. Family stress brimming and threatening to overflow. And you slip into the chair across from me at my local coffee spot. You skip the small talk, the meaningless chit chat about how cold it is in Ohio and what pie I’m taking for Thanksgiving dinner. You lean in and in a quiet voice ask me what I want. How much time do you have Jesus? I don’t always know. Don’t know how to put it all in words. And you smile and let me know you have eternity to figure it out. Thanks, Jesus.

(Be sure to come back. We’ll be looking at Jesus’ questions for a while together.)

Thankful For Facebook Memories

This note came up as a memory on my Facebook page. Perhaps you need to know you’re enough…I did today.

M: MVNC, Michigan, Misfits, and Maturity

One of the greatest enemies to my relationships is thinking I’m not worthy or I don’t belong.  I have spent my life battling with “I-don’t-belong-syndrome.”  So, the irony that M should land on this day is not lost on me.  Today has had plans in it for a very long time, plans that God made that superseded anything that could have been done by me.  Today is the 30th class reunion of my college graduating class.  I was excited to go and see people and reminisce at my Alma Mater.   Trouble was I didn’t write the dates on my calendar.  I read material from the Alumni Association, but the dates never penetrated my brain.  In the meantime, a friend from high school came up with a wonderful idea to travel to Michigan to see another one of our high school friends.  When the miracle happened that we all had a Saturday off together I rejoiced and marked that date on my calendar.  A final piece of material came from MVNC that was meant to remind me of the reunion and it hit me that I had made the mistake of not marking my calendar.  Now what a mess that was!  Or was it?  Today seems to be a day to deal with my own demons of feeling like a misfit and wanting instant maturity.  

Feeling like a misfit goes way back into my childhood.  I recognized it most at Christmas each time when I watched the Rudolph Christmas special.  I would sit and listen to the misfit toys sing their woeful song and then get all excited when in spite of their differentness they were able to find joy and love when they were reunited with the other toys.  Even the “Bumble” found usefulness and meaning.  As I grew I seemed to always find ways to lock into the group where I never felt like I fit in: I was never quite smart, talented, pretty, rich, or loveable enough.  Those were terrible monsters to battle and  I know that those feelings are a part of teenage angst and from a developmental psychology perspective I was struggling to find my identity.  Throughout the process I felt like David in Saul’s armor: nothing seemed to fit.  But unlike David, I didn’t know how to throw it off and find myself.

The other component that made life that so difficult for me was that I wanted instant maturity.  I remember standing on the stage at the end of the Miss Teenage Columbus Pageant.  I had actually made the top five.  I was now going to have to answer a question that would determine my place among the winners.  I was given a list of characteristics and told to chose the two I felt were most important and why.  I distinctly remember that one of my answers was wisdom and I think the other was happiness.  I wanted wisdom because I knew it was knowledge well used.  At seventeen I wanted to have all the answers and the ability to function wisely.  Now perhaps that seems like a good thing, but in my answer I see my propensity to want to short-circuit the process.  It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that someone finally helped me realize the importance of process, the need to value the process not just to strive for the end result.  So now in my fifties, I feel like a kid just sucking the life out of the process and it feels weird and people look at me even weirder.

As I was thinking about all of this I was prompted to pick up my copy of Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life.”  I was required to read this at work several years ago and while I found pieces of it interesting, I was at such a different place spiritually than my co-workers that it wasn’t a good experience for me.  I chaffed against it to be quite honest.  So this morning I was flipping through some of the pages and I found a section on the misfits of God—imagine that! 

Here’s what Warren writes:

“What matters is not the duration of your life, but the donation of it.  Not how long you lived, but how you lived.  If you’re not involved in any service or ministry, what excuse have you been using?  Abraham was old, Jacob was insecure, Leah was unattractive, Joseph was abused, Moses stuttered, Gideon was poor, Samson was codependent, Rahab was immoral, David had an affair and all kinds of family problems, Elijah was suicidal, Jeremiah was depressed, Jonah was reluctant, Naomi was a widow, John the Baptist was eccentric to say the least, Peter was impulsive and hot-tempered, Martha worried a lot, the Samaritan woman had several failed marriages, Zaccheaus was unpopular, Thomas had doubts, Paul had poor health, and Timothy was timid.  That is quite a variety of misfits, but God used each of them in his service.  He will use you, too, if you stop making excuses.” (p. 233)

Speaking of maturity, Warren also refers to the process of maturing fruit and vegetables.  He writes: “When you try to ripen fruit quickly, it loses it flavor.  In America, tomatoes are usually picked unripened so they won’t bruise during shipping to the stores.  Then, before they are sold, these green tomatoes are sprayed with CO2 gas to turn them red instantly.  Gassed tomatoes are edible, but they are no match to the flavor of a vine-ripened tomato that is allowed to mature slowly.” (p. 217)

So what does this all have to do with going to Michigan instead of MVNC?  I’m glad you’re still with me to ask the question.  Today I’m spending the day with the woman who was class president and so popular I didn’t realize she even knew my name.  She has a life that I used to dream would be mine.  And today by the grace of God I call her my friend.  And we’re going to visit the woman who won that Miss Teenage Columbus Pageant when I was fourth runner up.  She is one of the smartest, most gifted women I know and God has blessed my life with her friendship as well.  Today I’m marveling in a process that has taken way more than 30 years to effect.  Three of us will enjoy the day together, but there are multitudes who have made it possible for me to do so.  I can’t name you by name here, but know that you will be in my heart there.  Today there is no misfit.  Talk about maturity.

Staying Thankful

Here’s the context for the meme verse: Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance (Ephesians 1:15-18, NLT).

There are three dogs living in my house. Two belong to my daughter with whom we share the house. And one is mine. Half the time we walk the dogs together, but some days I walk them by myself. Our walks together are full of conversation and much laughter. When I walk alone, I occasionally talk to the dog, or myself. Sometimes I talk to God.

A friend of mine used to live in one of houses I pass often. She moved away this year. I miss her. A few walks ago as I walked past her old house I told God I missed her and asked for a special blessing to fill her heart. Without missing a beat, I felt God nudge me that I should let my friend know I thought of her and prayed for her.

That’s what Paul did here. Beyond that, he also listed what he would ask God for his friends. Consider his list: spiritual wisdom, growth in knowledge of God, understanding of the hope God offers to those who believe and follow.

The friends Paul prayed for “unceasingly” were seeking to walk in faith in a new way. Some were building on their Jewish roots, but others were building as they went. The things Paul asked of God represented how the Ephesian believers hearts and minds needed to be equipped for the persecution they faced for choosing to walk in a different way.

The world doesn’t understand our choice of following the way of Christ. Our friends need prayer for strength and wisdom.

One other thing jumps out at me from Paul’s prayer. Appreciation. It’s not a big thing, but expressing our gratitude for others can go a long way, and deliver a huge blessing. Today let’s make a point of telling someone how much they mean to us. Let’s thank God for them, and let them know we’re holding them in our prayers.

Gratefulness

Hi. If I told you this year’s been hard, it would be an understatement.

Words, thoughts, creativity…they’ve been tough to come by.

Right now I’m feeling cautiously optimistic. That’s not how I like to be. I want to be all in and enthusiastic about everything. Just not there right now.

So it’s not surprising to me that while I intended to write 30 devotions about gratitude and thankfulness this month…I’ve only gotten as far as creating a few memes and picking out Bible verses to reflect on.

Here’s the first meme:

I referred to this verse in my FB Midweek Refresh lesson. I have felt like addressing the different verses which point to giving thanks and being grateful, while frequently discussed, are not always given a honest interpretation when it comes to application. Why? Because life is tough and we need more than Pollyanna platitudes.

On a scale of 1-10, I would give this verse a 10 for difficulty. My reasoning lies in the phrase “in all circumstances.”

Before we pick this verse apart, let’s drop it into context for a moment. Paul wrote the letter of 1 Thessalonians in response to the heavy persecution the believers were facing. He wanted to encourage their faith and hope. To do this he directed them to look to the future, and specifically to Christ’s return.

When do we lose hope? For me, hopelessness creeps (and often floods) in when my focus is on the direness, bleakness of the situation. Feelings of overwhelming lack and negativity block out the positive…the hope.

Paul’s words and intent reminded me of the old hymn: “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” The encouragement of the hymn writer syncs with Paul’s message, for when we look full into Jesus’ wonderful face “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”

Nothing about this verse diminishes the awfulness or pain we might be going through. It certainly didn’t for the Thessalonians. Our hope is not in the circumstances changing. So what does? Our focus.

It is God’s will for us to give thanks in all (each and every) circumstances because we experience the presence and promise of God through it all. We never face the test or difficulty alone. We never have to do it in our strength alone.

And look…just thinking about this enabled me to write a blog post. Thank you, God, for your presence and promise. Forgive me when I lose focus. Remind me where to keep my eyes. Amen.

How Will You Enter the Door?

Day 3. 5 at St. Davids Christian Writers Conference

I was walking to breakfast this morning, and I began to notice I was walking differently. I felt alive. The air was invigorating. I felt an unusual spring in my step. I must have grown at least an inch taller. And then I heard my mother’s voice, “Stand up straight. Put your shoulders back. Walk with confidence.” The memory made me chuckle.

Why was it always so important to walk confidently, to walk like I was getting ready to enter into an important meeting?

As I reached for the door to enter into our gathering spaces, with this memory and question fresh in my mind, a new awareness came to mind: Mom was encouraging me to always be ready. I couldn’t know who I would meet. I wouldn’t know what important contact would be waiting ahead. The what or who didn’t matter as much as the how.

Our keynote speaker, Eva Marie Everson, drew her morning message from Exodus 3 and 4, The Calling of Moses. There were so many good points, but the one that struck me was the reference to Moses’ response to God in 3:4, “Here I am.”

Moses wasn’t giving a childlike response to a school teacher’s role call. Moses’ answer was clearly, “I’m ready.”

As much as my mother would deny her admonition was God’s message for me, I heard it that way this morning. God used that memory, that feeling as I walked to breakfast to remind me how each time I enter a door I need to be ready. This reminds me of the wise counsel of an elder pastor speaking to a group of us newbies, once upon a time, how we should always have a sermon, a prayer, and a song ready each time we enter a church.

At the very first writers’ conference I attended one of the people I heard speak was Torry Martin. Torry is an actor, writer, comedian, and very wise speaker. He introduced me to the phrase, “divine appointments and holy introductions.”

What would happen if we would walk through every door, enter every interaction with an “I’m ready God for whatever divine appointment or holy introduction you bring my way” attitude? Imagine for a moment that God has people who need your readiness, your message, your encouragement waiting for you to arrive. Truth is: they are there, and they need what you bring.

B Kind 2 U

It’s just too gorgeous a day to sit inside. I worked outside this morning:

The bush at the end of the driveway was becoming a hazard, not to mention an unwieldy monster. There was a maple tree growing amongst the hostas along with other odd weeds. I cleaned out the front flower beds, too. It felt good. Warm, but good.

After lunch I was about to fall asleep…a nap might be nice…when several thoughts clamored for attention, and suddenly I was wide awake. Not wishing to waste any of them, I grabbed a few books, my flowers, Ipad, bottle of tea, and headed to the porch.

I needed to write about my flowers.

Yesterday, I went with my hub to get groceries. He loves to invite me, but then always rues the experience, because we always spend massively more money than what he’s allotted with his list…I never go with a list.

The first item off-list was my $5 bouquet of colorful daisies.

To be clear, I had absolutely no need for a bouquet of flowers. There was no holiday or celebration meriting a bouquet. The only reason my husband even suggested the purchase came from 43+ years of shared life with a woman who adores daisies. The more colorful, the better. And he knew they would bring me smiles for several days.

Knowing that I don’t NEED flowers, ever, has helped me develop the ability to deny myself this indulgence. I can talk myself out of a purchase quicker than anyone I know. The only reason I didn’t balk this time came from my awareness that “letting” my husband buy me flowers that would make me happy would make him happy and that was more important than even having the flowers. (Go ahead and read that again. It seems a bit convoluted at first, but I was going to let him be happy thinking I was happy.)

However, that’s not why I needed to write about my flowers. (But I love how we “take care” of each other like that.)

I love to buy people flowers. I’m thrilled to find places like Walmart, Kroger, and even Aldi have impulse bouquets at their checkouts—mostly because I can afford them. I’ve purchased flowers for single friends who have no one buying them bouquets. Beyond that, I have fun surprising people—for no apparent reason.

One time when I visited Mom, while her second husband was still alive, I was there over Mother’s Day weekend. I splurged a bit and bought a large spray of mixed flowers. She was surprised and pleased. We found a vase and set them in a central spot where she could enjoy them. Her smiles and child-like appreciation made my heart soar.

At one point, her husband came by the vase with its color and fragrance, and he scowled. He looked at me and grumbled, “Why’d you do that?” I was surprised by his saltiness. It took me a moment to gather my words, “Because it’s Mothers’ Day and I love my mom.” As if I needed a reason. With a hrumph, he headed to the door.

I get it. Not everyone is moved by flowers like I am. But truth was, nothing moved him to kindness, or sweetness, or selflessness. I’m sure he had it in his mind how the money could have been spent in a wiser fashion, more practical, less wasteful.

I know how to be frugal. I know how to live on less. But I’ve come to believe that a little whimsy and serendipity in life is necessary. So if it’s not flowers, what will make you smile? Have you left room for whimsy? Are you open for serendipity to work it’s magic in your otherwise monotonous life?

You don’t have to break the bank, or totally shred the schedule. You don’t need a reason or a season to break out of your routine. Take the long way home. Walk barefoot in the grass. Listen to the birds. Soak in the sun. Let the breeze blow through your hair…that last one may end up needing its own post for you to understand how freeing that can be…

Whatever you do today, make sure you don’t miss the opportunities to B Kind 2 U.

Home Part 3…Unpacking

Confession: I hate unpacking. I’m not a fan of moving either.

Growing up, one of my mother’s favorite Momisms was: a place for everything and everything in it’s place. Trouble for me was I had too many things and never enough places.

Not much has changed.

But I don’t just haul boxes from state to state, town to town, and house to house. There’s this emotional baggage I cart from place to place. And those boxes can be big, and extremely heavy. I’ve been carrying some of those boxes since childhood. And my kind husband has been kind and mostly quiet about the weight and the amount.

I’ve come to understand some of this baggage in new ways over the past two years, and more recently, thanks to Noom.

One of the things in my life that has been skewed and generally out of control has been my response to food and my propensity for overeating and eating unhealthily. It’s not that I haven’t known better (and taught others to do better), but I have lacked both the understanding of why and the willpower to stay committed to eating for health. The lessons provided with my Noom program fee, helped me to see what distortions and unhealthy rules I had adopted and lived by.

And while this isn’t a post about eating rules that sabotage health, the very thought that I continue to live by rules (aka unhealthy baggage) leaves me discouraged and waffling in my hope for things to get better. Unless I decide unpack the boxes, and get rid of the stuff, the thinking, the believing, holding me back from healing and happiness.

But what does it take to unpack the boxes I carried for a lifetime?

Grace. And by this I mean absence of judging and shaming. I’m referring to a gentleness that understands how beliefs are formed, and how they often necessary for survival.

Courage. I don’t see courage as the absence of fear, but as the commitment to move ahead in spite of it. The realization that the goal is important, but so is the process of achieving it.

Support. We were created for relationship. Not a one of us needs to go this alone. I love the biblical image of how during the battle the Israelites were winning when Moses lifted up the staff. When his strength wavered, his friends and family came alongside him and held up his arms. We need to find those who will offer strength and support when feel weak and vulnerable. And we need to find those we can lend support to.

Hope. We have to have that spark that encourages us to keep trying. We have to believe things can be better. One of my favorite movie lines comes from the movie “As Good As It Gets.” The main character wants to see his therapist, but without an appointment. When the therapist holds the line, the character walks out into the waiting room and looks at the other patients and asks, “What if this is as good as it gets?”

Because of the devastation of COVID-19 pandemic, many people are asking when things will get back to normal? When will things get easy and familiar again? When will things stop being so difficult? Why do things have to be so difficult?

Just as there is little sense in carrying around belief baggage that no longer serves, there is very little logic in trying to back in time. Life and time are always moving forward. We can choose to not go along with that, to carry unnecessary baggage with us…but why?

And therein lies my hope. Life is ever moving forward. I was made for life. I was made to move forward. That my friends is what is normal. Not reaching back. Not trying to fix today with outdated strategies from yesterday.

Here’s a terrific piece of good news! The roadmap I choose to follow, the Bible, teaches that God is making things new…every day. And for each day there is a promise: because of God’s great faithfulness, each new day is met with new mercies (Lamentations 3:23-24, author’s paraphrase).

So while I hate unpacking, I’m ready for a lighter load. And looking forward to what tomorrow will bring.

Cooking and Writing

(I wrote this several years ago, but find the truth still applies…at least for me.)

Recently, a friend of mine warned me not to sit on my gift.  Just prior to that, she had asked me if I had written anything lately.  I hadn’t.  I haven’t felt inspired to write.  It was like I had nothing to say.

Last week I was going through emails and I came across one that was advertising next year’s Writers’ Market.  I remembered back to January of this year.  I had begged Nelson for an updated copy.  I told him that if he would buy it for me I would send out at least ten pieces to publishers.  He did and I didn’t.

In the past few months, I have begun to enjoy cooking.  Not long ago, Nelson posited that I was cooking to avoid writing.  Seemed ridiculous to me.  He had cooked most of our married life—mostly because he was very good at it, but also because I worked non-stop.  Now, Nelson is working long days and it just makes sense for me to pick up that responsibility.  I dove into the task by hunting for potential recipes and then began experimenting with combinations that I knew we liked.  I went quickly from having three recipes that my family enjoyed to a couple dozen.  It felt good.

This morning as I was washing the pot that I had made a really good soup in yesterday, I had an epiphany.  It was about cooking and writing. When Nelson and I got married I was afraid to cook.  I was such a novice that my mother-in-law bought me an illustrated cookbook.  My repertoire included macaroni made in a hot pot and peanut butter sandwiches.  To avoid embarrassment, I acquiesced to Nelson’s expertise and over the years discovered three recipes that I did well and stuck with those.  I was afraid to do any more than that because if I couldn’t do it perfectly I wouldn’t do it all.

What I realized as I stood at my sink scrubbing dishes was that Nelson was right in part.  I needed to cook so that I could write.  I hadn’t contacted any publishers with my writing because, though I knew I could write, I didn’t consider myself a writer.  Throwing myself into my cooking showed me that.  For years I had avoided cooking because I didn’t see myself as a cook and therefore I couldn’t.  It wasn’t enough to say that I could cook, I had to be the best cook.  I knew I was far from that so I didn’t, and wouldn’t cook.  This was reinforced by the ridicule I took when I tried to cook.  I was the brunt of many a family joke.  Why should I continue to prove them right and give them something new to laugh at?

My recent successes at cooking have forced me to rethink this.  I may not be a “James Beard Chef”, but I can cook.  Nelson has really enjoyed my newly found and developing love for being creative in the kitchen.  He raves about the meals and shows them off at work.  I’m not going to be Top Chef anywhere, not even in my kitchen.  That honor will always be Nelson’s.  But it’s not going to keep me from cooking and experimenting.

I still have a few months left in this year.  I will probably never win an award for my writing, but why should that keep me from developing my craft and sharing my thoughts?  The obvious answer is that it shouldn’t—and based on what I learned from cooking recently: it won’t!

Oh, and while I’m at it, I realized something else about my writing that makes it more imperative that I push past my reluctance to face rejection.  Recently while I was preparing for a retreat I led on spirituality and personality, I read that most devotionals are written by “N” types (think MBTI).  I mulled that over for a while and realized that is one of the reasons I feel so compelled to create a devotional series, one that is more appealing and appropriate for “S” types.  Not everyone relates to the intuitive style and needs to engage their senses more completely to engage them spiritually.  Maybe I’ve found my niche!

In Rembrance…In Unity

Today is Worldwide Communion Sunday. I love this Sunday. I loved it when I was a pastor. I observed it in all the denominations I worked with. The thought and feeling of partaking of the Lord’s Supper along with believers all over the world moves me, encourages me, humbles me. Today was no exception.

Today I worshipped outdoors with a group of people I have only met with twice before. The weather was perfect. The message clear and inspiring. Two of the pastor’s points stuck out to me.

First, he described a study that was done in which people were asked what their favorite phrase in the English language were. The number one response was, “I love you.” Understandable. Don’t we all love to hear that? Also high on the list, and pertinent to the message, “Dinner’s ready!”

Time to eat. Come and get it. Come and dine. Come to the table. Do you remember how you were called to dinner as a child? I don’t have particularly fond memories of dinnertime as a child–but oh how precious those shared meals became when shared them with friends in college, and later with community in the church.

The pastor’s text was Jesus invitation to the crowd as recorded in John 6. Everybody was invited. Everyone was included. Y’all come.

Who doesn’t want to hear that? We may need a bigger table.

The second thing that hooked my heart was the concept of remembrance. Living with Mom I’m daily dealing with issues of memory: odd rememberances, distorted memories, lost memories. Hers and mine!

As I sat in the gathering on Sunday morning, one question percolated to the top: What do you want me to remember today God? It seemed like a simple question, but it brought on a whole slew of recollections. They came in waves: communion services from across the years; faces of clergy mentors and friends; different places; and different times.

Sitting alone, in a gathering where I knew no one, I drew comfort in the sense not only of God being present, but with me–speaking my name. Just as the bubbling memories spoke to the how there had been people all along in this journey of faith, the Spirit gave clear assurance that even now when I felt so incredibly alone…I was not, and would never be.

Remembering this, hearing this, feeling this prods me to wonder if you, dear reader might be feeling alone. Jesus calls you to the table. There is clearly not just space, but a space for you. As you take your seat, please remember the times and places where God has brought you into the company of others as a means of assuring you of your place in the family, and God’s great grace and provision for us all.

yes magazine.org

Y’all, come.

Purpose

(I wrote this during Lent in 2009. Even more true today)

For a while I thought I was depressed.  Life changed drastically for me when I lost my job.  In part, I think the trauma was due to the to the fact that I found my identity in what I did.  The challenges of the work gave me purpose.  I felt vital and alive.  Losing my job meant I lost my sense of purpose.

I used to teach groups of people how to write their mission statements.  We didn’t start with that.  We would back up and talk about finding their passion in life and for life.  When it came to putting that passion into a working purpose or mission statement, I would teach to the difference between a goal (short term) and a mission statement (life- long driving force).  A mission or purpose statement is something you can see devoting your whole life to.  It is true now and will be true in twenty, thirty, even fifty years.

Reflecting on this, I wasn’t really depressed.  I was just adrift and going nowhere because I had taken my eyes off the map.  I thought that without the job I wouldn’t be able to follow my purpose and mission.  I forgot that the job wasn’t the only vehicle to get me where I needed to be.  I forgot that the whether I’m teaching or cleaning toilets, it is the purpose or mission God has for my life that matters and he will provide me with the opportunities I need.  I forgot that it is God who gifts me and directs me to use those gifts.  

I was reading about John the Baptist in Mark’s gospel.  I don’t think there are many who would sign up for John’s job—especially if they knew how it was going to end for him.  Yet, even in the briefest of ministries, John paved the way by preparing the people for the emergence of Jesus’ life-changing ministry.

It reminds me of relief pitchers in baseball.  They will never pitch a whole game.  That’s not their job.  It’s not why they were hired.  Some of those guys will only throw a few pitches and the next thing we see is the coach headed to the mound.  Those couple of precisely placed pitches are what the reliever gets paid the big bucks for.  It’s their purpose.  

Now, dust off your imagination and try to picture this: your favorite baseball team has made the playoffs!  They did this not just on their bats, but because of their pitching.  But now that they’ve made it to the biggest games, the team’s relievers and closers have decided they want more playing time and have threatened to not play at all if they don’t get the opportunity to pitch a whole game.  How crazy is that?  How dare they hold the game hostage for their whims?

The apostle Paul, in his discussion of gifts, makes this statement: But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it (1 Corinthians 12:18, NLT).  Right there with the assurance that we all have a part, we’re told that we are placed right where He wants us. 

That’s why we really need to bloom right where we’re planted!

Prayerfully ponder: How’s the soil where you are? Are you focused on how you want to use your perceived talents? Are you more concerned with what you want than what God needs from you? Are you discouraged because you feel like you’re riding the pine and you can’t understand why God is wasting your abilities? Are you aware of what God’s doing around you so that when the time is right (God’s specialty) you’ll be ready to pitch your inning?

%d bloggers like this: