Sunday, September 21, 2014

Are You The Pearl Or The Irritant?

"Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear and that they may learn . . ."  Deuteronomy 31:12

We are surrounded on all sides these days with ministers and lay people reminding us that we are where we are right now because God wants us here to learn something.  Sometimes  --  but not always  --  this is true.

I once asked God what my role on this earth actually was.  Clearly and distinctly I got the response.  "You are a catalyst."  Lo and behold when I look back on my life, I have found situation after situation where I have been used to effect change.  So, you see, I believe that not all lessons are meant for us.  Sometimes we are placed in difficult situations because our boss, our neighbor, a casual acquaintance needs to grow stronger.

Now that I know my role, I can take a little more relaxed view of my world.  I probably need to quit bellyaching so much about some situations, and when I find myself doing so, I'm reminded that sometimes the lessons are meant for me.

The time I was told my role, I reminded God that sometimes I can be vulnerable to pain also.  I don't mind being used to bring change where it is needed.  But is there any way it could hurt a little less?

I'm reminded now of the "birthing" of a pearl.  We know that a pearl's very existence requires a grain of sand or other irritant to cause an oyster to secrete the substance that surrounds the grain and turns it into a pearl.  Sometimes the pearl turns out to be a perfect size and shape.  Sometimes it turns into a baroque.

When I was very young, I saw a movie about discovery of a pearl that showed great promise.  In order to be sure, a pearl specialist had to polish and rub it down to find it's worth.  There was a big to do about it.  The specialist sat at a wooden table out of doors with a breathless audience watching.  In the end, the specialist dropped the irritant, not a beautiful pearl, into the pile of unusable nacre.  I suspect it was an honor that nature had chosen that oyster to attempt to make a pearl from an irritant, whatever the final outcome.

Perhaps we should feel honored when we find ourselves in situations where we are being used for others to learn and grow.  In the end, it is for God, our specialist, to determine the value of the pearl, just as it was His judgment as to whether our life experiences were meant for us to learn or teach or both.  We can accept our roles or fight them.  I suspect either way, student or teacher, we will have learned from each other.  Is there any other way?  And, by the way, God, I am honored to serve, even if it hurts.

Monday, September 15, 2014

I Am With You

". . . and lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world."  Matthew 28:20

How many times as a child did the words "I'm here", from your parents, give you comfort?  Think how much more of a comfort it was when Jesus said it to his disciples.  I am with you alway  . . .  I will be with you until the end of the world . . . You will have my help and support through thick and thin . . . until I return at the end.

Do we call on him for solace when we need help?  Do we thank him when it's done? To God, the Father, God, the son, and God the holy spirit do we give our thanks?  I am lonely, I am scared, I need your healing touch.

To God, the son, the holy spirit . . . thank you so much for your help.  I feel my anxiety lessened.  My fear is subdued.  My pain has numbed.

I praise your name for your help.  Amen

Sunday, September 7, 2014

How It Will Be

". . . That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  Two men will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left . . ."  Matthew 24:39-41

My sense some weeks back was that I should read about prophesy right now, and that I should begin with Matthew, not the Old Testament.  My NIV Rainbow Study Bible makes this easy, as the passages are color coded.  Coincidentally -- or not --  I've reached prophesy about the end days just as our world seems to be experiencing some of the signs of them.  Part of me hopes not, because I think I still have a lot left to do here.  But, of course, I also look forward to being in the presence of our maker and his son.

The passage today says people working side by side could see different fates at the end.  One could be taken and the other left -- men and women alike.  Imagine that.  People could disappear before our very eyes, or we could disappear before theirs.  Of course we expect to join our family and friends as they collect around God's throne.

I'm reminded of the joke about the individual who arrives in heaven only to be shocked to see others he had expected would be sent to the hot place.  He inquired why everybody was so quiet.  God said not to mind them.  They were just surprised to see him there.

Good reason to get ourselves straight with the Lord before the real end is nigh, don't you think?

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Word To The Wise And Myself

"He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."  Proverbs 16:32

If you read my Issues blog today, you will know that I let myself get riled this weekend.  I wish I had prepared this devotional before, rather than after, the experience.  But I don't know that it would have prepared me for the evil onslaught of the strangers with which I was dealing.

Circumstances can surely blindside you sometimes and if you don't wander around with your shields up, you sometimes take one in the gut.  And you also sometimes deliver one to someone else's as well.

I guess it's not possible to be on guard at all times, but it would probably help if we at least try to hit our center before we start our days.  We might be better armed if we would do that.

Now, I'm not concerned about the friends of my friend.  They didn't behave any better than I did.  In fact, they probably behaved worse considering they knew nothing about what was going on and acted like they did.  But if I lost that long-time friend it would be sad.

I guess when we are dealing with a load of junk ourselves, it would probably be advisable if we remembered others are probably dealing with a load of junk, too.