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Saturday, August 18, 2012

A real-life life-lesson


Have you ever been asked to do something you weren't really willing to pay the price to do?  Perhaps someone riddled with cancer asks you to go with them to the doctor for their next update - while secretly you are dreading the long waits and the fact you are surrounded by sick people with waning hope.  Maybe you have been asked to give of your time to a ministry at the local church - all the while wondering just how much this is going to "cut into" your "free time".  Regardless of what you are asked, you probably struggle a little with the "price" associated with it, huh?  We all struggle when it comes to the price - it is only natural.  What we fail to recognize is Christ wants us to move from responding in the natural and beginning to respond in the spiritual.

"If you want to give it all you've got," Jesus replied, "go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me."  That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crest-fallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn't bear to let go.  (Matthew 19:21-22 The Message)

This rich young ruler was having a hard time with Jesus' response.  He has the desire to follow Christ, but the "price" is too high for him.  He leaves "crest-fallen" because he was "holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn't bear to let go."  You know, we hold onto a whole lot of stuff - not just the physical stuff, but the emotional stuff, too.  Stuff we hold onto tightly becomes that which we just consider to be too great a price to pay.  

I remember getting my first brand new car.  Dad helped me secure the best deal, then he watched me drive home, following carefully behind while I got used to my shiny new blue Ford Escort.  I had never owned a truly new car myself, so this was a big step.  I was probably close to 30 or a little older at the time.  I was so delighted with the reliability of my new transportation, having had cars which I regularly had to replace parts on (many times with my own two hands).  

Then came the fateful day when my new car got its first "boo-boo".  I took it to one of these oil change places where they do the oil then check every fluid and level known to man.  As I drove home, I did not notice a thing, but when I got out of the car and walked into the house, I was stopped in my tracks.  There on the front left fender was a huge drip pattern where the paint had begun to come off (well, actually it was the top shiny coat).  I immediately panicked and began to wipe furiously with a soft cloth.  What I came to realize was no amount of rubbing was going to change the fact - the brake fluid carelessly dripped there had eaten through the paint.  I spent some hard earned money on some various types of polishing cremes and waxes, and in time, it was "almost" perfect - but still flawed.

Now, I tell this story about myself because I want you to know my response.  I was "crest-fallen" - my "possession" was now less than perfect.  I remember even asking God how HE could have let this happen!  A dangerous thing to ask unless you really want the answer!!!  In a matter of a few days, he eventually opened my eyes to the fact I was more "proud" of the car than I was in giving him the glory for providing the finances to actually buy it!  In fact, I was so focused on showing off the car - with an attitude of pride - I forgot totally to give any honor to him for the job he had miraculously provided which not only provided well for my household as a single mother of two, but allowed such "extravagances".

Often, we know we have a little bit of a wrong focus based on our response to an event which affects the objects of our affection.  If our focus is on the object first, what has happened to it and how this affects US, we might just have a little bit of a wrong focus.  Often, we hear the last thing we expect to hear - "Ummm....I think your eyes may have been a little more focused on that object than on me."  These words are Christ's - deeply affecting our world.  Sometimes rocking us to the core.  The object of our affection is also the object of our attention.  We stand there dispirited, discouraged, and often depressed.  Why?  Simply because we realize we are not in the place we want to be as it comes to our relationship with Christ.  

As I looked at the car fender that day, my eyes began to open to the truth of my pride - a constant companion with me in this journey we call life.  If I got less than an "A" on a paper in school, I struggled with my response to it - pride.  If I found myself unable to keep up with the demands of a job which could require 12-14 hour days from me AND raising two children on my own, I got down on myself - pride.  If my spiritual life was not where I wanted it to be, I bought more books, read more of the Word and prayed harder, but still did not grow much - pride.  Now, who would have thought one event could have opened the door to so many issues?  Well, just know this - when God begins to speak, he rarely stops until it is ALL said!

In short order, God began to bring balance into my life.  All through the tiny streaks created by an "abrasive" fluid on the fender of my car.  Huh....I wonder if God intended something "abrasive" to be that which began to "eat away" at my overwhelming pride?  Maybe!  You never know the lesson God will use - you just need to be open to the possibilities!  I am not saying the battle is won, but today failure is an opportunity for me to learn, not a tragedy to be avoided.  Life balance involves time for God (first thing each morning), time for family, and time for others.  Work is a means to "finance" my life's enjoyments - ministry, family fun, and even a new video game once in a while!  

We never know what life-lesson is being taught - but if we are open, he will teach us.  Rather than turning away crest-fallen, we will be transformed by his Spirit within us.  We just need to be open.  Just sayin...