I want to pose a question to the readers today. When was the last time you took notes on a sermon? It could have been something kind of formal like typing them into your iPad or even the app you use on your smart phone, or even a paper journal of sorts. It may have been "on the fly", such as when you take a portion of the bulletin and write in the margins or something, just to not lose track of that poignant point the preacher made. It doesn't matter how you made those notes, I want to ask each of us what we "did" with those notes once we were finished recording them. I think we'd all have to agree it is the "doing" which actually made those notes important - not the "taking" of them. When we actually "used" those notes to change something we were about to do, had been doing a while, or just didn't realize was a habit we might not want to be doing any longer, we benefited from the note-taking. Taking is one thing - doing is another. Receiving is one thing - putting what we receive into use is very different.
Do what God’s teaching says; don’t just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves. (James 1:22 ERV)
I received a lovely gift from my son this Father's Day. Yep, before you wonder if this is a guest blogger today, my son gave his Momma a very nice gift on Father's day. Why? As he put it, I was the best father he ever had and he just wanted to remember me for being both parents for him. As a single parent, you often worry you haven't done the right things for your children - as you can only be "one side" of the parent equation. Yet, you tend to "compensate" in some ways you may not really know until one of your children tells you somewhere down the road that you did a pretty good job with the circumstances you had to live through. So, as I opened my set of Ryobi power tools, complete with battery charger and even the tool bag, I was delighted. It was not just that he had honored me with such kind words and a tremendous gesture of love, but that he met one of my unspoken desires.
Before you think too hard on that one, I know most women wouldn't be delighted to receive power tools at any time of the year, much less on Father's Day. I like using my hands to create things and one of my newest passions is to turn my backyard into place where there is comfort, color, and creative expression of my passion for nature. I want to garden, but Arizona soil doesn't lend itself well to gardens - unless they are raised. So, he has been reclaiming all kinds of wooden pallets for me and bringing them by on occasion. As they have been accumulating, I take a few hours here and there to disassemble them and place the wood in neatly stacked piles. I was doing all this by hand - until he brought me the nice reciprocating saw, circular saw and power drill! Now I can disassemble quickly and have all the wood neatly stacked in a matter of minutes instead of hours!
That wood is being recycled into my raised beds. It may be a little marred in spots and not perfectly even like all that wood I could buy at the local lumbar yard, but it has tremendous character and I am recycling to boot! I tell you all this to bring us to the point I started with. My son could have given me this tool set and it could have joined a variety of other tools on the shelves in the garage, just being a gift I have received, but not really used. I have a food processor I rarely use. It is in a cabinet above the stove, but it takes up so much space on the counter, I don't bring it down very often. It is easier for me to spend a little time chopping up the veggies by hand than bringing it out and then cleaning it all up after I am done with it. It wasn't really one of those things I wanted - I just inherited it when my uncle passed away and there it sits. It was "received", but never put to use. It is kind of like when I take notes at church on that one salient point and then forget about it when I get into the car!
I am not unlike the rest of us, as I take notes, tuck them away carefully, and once in a blue moon, I actually go back to them to see what I wrote. If something really catches my attention, I may spend a little time recalling why I took those notes at that time with such attention to detail, often realizing those words spoke me through a tough time. What we put into action in our lives is what we have come to value the most. I am a little sore this morning, and find a few mosquito bites on my body, with a bruise here and a scrape there. It isn't because I spent the weekend camping or hiking. I put those tools to use again this weekend, building another one of those beds with what wood I had piled up from those pallets I had been taking part little by little. I still have a long ways to go to realize my dream for my yard, but I am getting closer and closer. The tools received have become a blessing to me because they have made the job much easier. Mom watches as I take on the projects with determination. She worries about me losing too much fluids as I sweat in this summer heat, but as she sees what I accomplish in the end, she realizes the effort brought me much satisfaction.
It is the effort we apply to a matter that makes the difference. We can be hearers of a great many teachings and then simply walk away unchanged. We have the opportunity to just receive pallets, tools, and ideas - or we can spend the time "taking apart" those things which can become the building materials for great things in our lives! We have the "supplies" and "tools" to do great things and realize tremendous blessing in our lives, we just need to do more than receive them! Just sayin!