Tag Archive: Pleasing God

BUT GOD …

P1090285Like most of us, I want to live with purpose. And yet at times I find my purpose wavering … I’d like a rest; I’m not equipped to deal with that issue; that person’s pain is too much for me to handle.

But that’s the beauty of God’s empowering. Many challenges are too much for me to handle. I am inadequate. I don’t know what to do. But our pastor reminded me this weekend that God will enable me if I take one step at a time, believing He will meet me at the next one.

I experienced many God-moments when my first husband was waiting for an organ transplant in Florida. Three thousand miles from home, we needed housing, local support, and insurance approval. In one email to friends I expressed the challenges we faced, then listed some of the ways we had seen God’s empowering.

“We are in big trouble on our own (health, costs, housing, ongoing tests) … it isn’t a bed of roses …

BUT GOD … allowed Jerry’s test results Friday to be positive, removing a potential obstacle to transplantation …

BUT GOD … ensured final dollar authorization for the dual transplant …

BUT GOD … led our California pastor to connect us with Pastor X here in Gainesville, with whom we’ve already started to have wonderful fellowship and support …

BUT GOD … led Pastor X to follow up with us and to allow us to share with his church body, which is actively responding to our needs.

BUT GOD … has shown us His faithfulness over and over through people we’ve met, the kindness of strangers in antique shops who’ve offered us housing or suggested resources, and by giving us incredible opportunities to connect with people and share our lives and His faithfulness with them.”

Dr. Helen Rosaveare was a single missionary working in the Congo from 1953 to 1973. During the political instability of the 1960s she was brutally gang-raped by rebels. As she tells it, during that terror one word kept recurring in her mind. “Privilege.” She had the privilege of suffering for Christ. That is truly beyond one’s capability, strength or adequacy.

But GOD empowered her to survive that and continue to minister for Him.

Grace. It’s all God’s grace. It’s not good when someone is raped, murdered, terminally ill, depressed, or insecure. But it is grace, the grace of God that shows up when we most need it, that empowers us to take one step at a time, experiencing His presence which then empowers us to take the next step. Sometimes I think I’ve done something of value … but Rene reminds me that it is all about the grace of God. He uses our availability even more than our ability.

So what are the “But Gods” in your life? I’d love to hear.

“As We would Like to be Treated”

Downtown Los Angeles. Business professionals, highrise office buildings, hustle and bustle surrounded me as I walked toward my destination. A few yards ahead, I watched a well-dressed woman pass a homeless man who sat on the sidewalk, asking for help. “Good morning!” her cheerful voice rang out as she looked directly at him, smiled, and kept walking. While she didn’t give him what he asked for–money–she did acknowledge him rather than treating him as if he were invisible.

The respect and dignity of her response spoke volumes to me. And yet Jesus also tells us that if someone is in need and we tell them “be warm and filled” but do nothing practical to help, what good is that? “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” How often have we heard that phrase? How often have we acted on it?

The other day I was in Burger King’s drive-through lane. Out of the corner of my eye I saw an unkempt man walking toward the car. From about 15 feet away, he asked, “Would you buy me the cheapest hamburger they have? I’m starving.”

"I'm hungry. Can you help?"

“I’m hungry. Can you help?”

From the safety of my car, I responded. “Sure, I can do that. Do you want fries?”

“Yeah. I really appreciate it.”

“I’m happy to do it. God loves you!”

He smiled and pointed his index finger at me. “Jesus loves you. The Holy Spirit loves you.”

I grinned and told him I’d meet him at the end of the drive-through, then ordered for both of us. After paying, I handed him the food and coke, and a packet of protein bars, juice, wet wipes, etc. that I keep in my car for such an occasion. “Here’s a little something for later.”

“Really?”

“Really.” I asked his name (Thomas) and told him mine, then, “Is Jesus your Savior?”

“Yes. I love him.”

“God bless you.”

He raised his elbow to touch mine. “And you … peace up!” as his thumbs pointed upward.

It’s easy for me to judge someone who is homeless…to think they must not be trying hard enough, might be using the system. And while that may be true, Jesus didn’t tell me to check someone’s worthiness before giving. What if he required me to be ‘worthy’ before he would love me? I don’t know what caused Thomas to become homeless. I don’t know about his family, education, the experiences and relationships that have made him who he is. But his request gave me an opportunity to serve–and his response about Jesus made us family.

Today, because of God’s grace, I was able to treat Thomas as I would like to be treated if I were in his shoes–with dignity and compassion. The experience reminded me of something I just read. If I try to do something on my own, it doesn’t quite cut it. I may do the “right thing”, but without joy, without grace. But if I allow Jesus to respond through me, then it’s truly an act of joyful service.

Dr. Kenneth Brantly of Samaritan’s Purse ministered to patients in Liberia and contracted Ebola; Mother Teresa used up her life in service to “the poorest of the poor.” These are just two examples of individuals living out the Golden Rule and treating others as they would hope to be treated.

Service often brings great joy; sometimes it brings suffering. But it is Christ’s call. I struggle with putting others before myself, especially when I’m tired, preoccupied, running late, or just focused on my own needs or wants. In my selfishness I don’t necessarily want to reach out to give to another in meaningful ways. But when I do, I am reminded that the act itself is often energizing.

Can we think of a time when we were treated in a respectful, compassionate way? Have we had, or missed, opportunities to treat someone else as we want to be treated? Let’s ask God to help us be open to situations where we can treat someone as we would like to be treated–and even more, as Christ has loved us.

No Dice

If I have to listen to this audio message one more time ...

If I have to listen to this audio message one more time …

Twelve days ago I phoned our cable service provider. Our grandsons were over and wanted to watch On Demand, which wasn’t working. During my first call the customer service rep walked me through some steps to reset the modem and said the reset would take hold in 30-45 minutes. Later that night I rechecked. No dice.

We repeated the process each of the next two days – still with no success. A manager was to call us back Saturday for escalated service. No call.

Last week I was too busy to call again, tired of getting their automated messages and of being given advice that didn’t work. Twelve days later, we still can’t get our On Demand service.

So tomorrow I’ll try again, asking God to control my temper while I go through the automated links once more.

What irritates you and makes you ask for help in your response?

Pleasing God

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Bonnie walked into the Intensive Care Unit, carrying a box of Krispy Kremes for the nurses. Everyone but me seemed to know this tall, lovely woman whose spouse was being treated at the same hospital where my husband fought a terminal illness.

One day I arrived to learn Jerry had been moved from Intensive to Transitional Care. He lay in the bed nearest the door, in a room with a man neither of us knew. Walking into the room, I pulled the curtain between the beds. As I sat by my hubby, I saw Bonnie enter the TCU, obviously looking for her own husband. She walked all the way around the unit and entered our room.

“Is that your husband?”

“Yes … and yours?”

“Yeah!”

She walked past us to George’s side. Quietly, holding Jerry’s hand, I began to sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Seconds later, from behind the curtain, I heard an alto voice join my soprano. Bonnie’s and my heart bonded during our husbands’ illnesses and subsequent deaths.

George was developing a significant medical breakthrough. While Bonnie had worked with him, the inventiveness was George’s. But the Lord took him home with his work incomplete.

Bonnie stepped into the gap with George’s partner. She often told me, “Carol, this is so far beyond me. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. But I keep telling the Lord, ‘I’m out of my league here. Please show me the next step.’” And He did. The process is getting closer to providing its life-saving properties. Bonnie is an example to me of stepping out in faith, going far beyond her comfort level, trusting in God’s promise to guide her.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

Bonnie’s sacrifice of faith is one aspect of being pleasing to the Father.

After my first husband died, I went through a crisis of faith. What if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? What if everything I believed was a lie and I would never see Jerry again? After several weeks of darkness, God reminded me of Peter’s response when Jesus asked if the disciples would also turn away from Him. “Where else would we go, Lord? You alone have the words of eternal life.” With that scripture, God lifted my spirit and restored my hope.

God isn’t pleased when I think I can “do life” on my own. He’s not impressed with my abilities or depressed because of my inabilities. Rather, it is often in my pain and authenticity–when I acknowledge my deep need for Him, when I throw myself on His mercy and grace, that Christ meets me and is pleased to respond.

“Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Where do you need to trust, thereby pleasing Him?