Thursday, November 19, 2009

Parable of the Two Salads

The Christian life is a journey. We accept Christ as our Savior, realizing we are sinful and then give our life over to His teachings and transforming love and grace. What follows is a constant learning, growing and changing at a pace our own ‘will’ will allow. I was 40 years old when I experienced the Parable of the Two Salads and though it was a heart changing, life changing experience I had already been on my Christian journey for many, many years.

In reflection this was my Jeremiah moment. Jeremiah 29:12-14 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and will bring you back from captivity. Although Jesus became my savior in grade school it took over thirty years of stuttering growth through stubbornness and selfishness to reach the spiritual development where He revealed Himself in a powerful way.

It was Thanksgiving, 2001 and the atmosphere was tense. No family or guests were expected but I was planning the meal, the day, the whole school break. There were two particular salads from David’s childhood that we always included at the Thanksgiving meal. Groceries were purchased, food made and served. Questions were raised about the salads. Something was different. What does that matter they are present on the table. Tensions rose, words were snapped, feelings hurt; the silence was deafening.

I bustled around the littered table cleaning up the remnants of a not-so-perfect meal while having a boisterous discussion with God in my head. “Why is he being such a . . . ? Why can’t he . . .? Why isn’t he . . .? Why doesn’t he . . .?” And in the midst of my tirade God asked, “Why don’t you?” I was dumbfounded. He proceeded to open my heart and flood it with David’s point of view, what my actions looked like and how, as a child of His, I should be choosing to act instead.

Like individual playing cards my negative, selfish behavior of the day was laid out for me to see. How I ignored what David was wanting, the good, childhood memories the salads evoked, for my desire of penny saving and expediency. How my unenthusiastic, rushed manner reflected on everyone else and created the tension. Where were the fruits of the spirit? Where was my Christ like behavior? Where was my thanksgiving?

I asked God, and David, to forgive me and made Psalm 139:23-24 my daily prayer. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (NIV) I asked God to give me the desire to seek Him and He planted that desire deep in my heart.

In the past eight years of consciously, deliberately seeking God I have enjoyed a deeper personal relationship and He has restored my joy in life. I was on the journey but often taking my own path and finding frustration and dissatisfaction but, when asked, He showed me a much narrower path that brought me closer to Him and understanding what He requires of me as an agent of the kingdom.

Do you have a personal parable that allowed God to reveal Himself to you in a powerful way? I would be honored to hear your story if you would like to share.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Writing on the Wall

I was sitting in church yesterday immersed in the worship and music and pushing through a continuing conversation with the Lord when I saw the writing on the wall, literally. It was the words to the song that everyone in the congregation was singing but as I sung the words the Lord spoke to my heart and His meaning was clear. The conversation was at an end and it was time for me to be obedient.

Many of you are familiar with the saying "the writing on the wall". It originates from the Book of Daniel when God wrote upon the wall the words that predicted the downfall of Babylon. As an idiom it has come to mean one can see the end of an event or thing. Personally this was the end of a discussion I began with God in August.

As is with most spiritual journeys the end result of the conversation was evident before yesterday but looking back it is clearer to see the other prayer markers in place. My situation will allow for the work, it is biblically sound and, most importantly, David is like minded. It is also clear that the holdup was due to the answer not being the fun and exciting answer I was negotiating for but an unglamorous job that will take much work, effort and discipline. I was delaying the inevitable by arguing under the guise of seeking God's guidance; hence, the writing on the wall.

There is a history in this situation which brings evidence to the personal relationship we can have with Jesus Christ. Very clear in my memory is a Sunday morning in April, 1992 of sitting in the church service at Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. I was in fervent prayer pleading for the Lord to provide an answer. "Lord, put the writing on the wall. Let me know what to do and I will do it," and I searched the wall behind the pulpit willing the Father to give me a word. There was no writing that day but the moment was poignant enough that the point of the writing on the wall, yesterday, was clear. I will do it.

Now begins the work. Ironically I anticipate my work for the Lord will be sitting eating chocolate bars and never gaining any weight when it is always harvesting the cocoa beans in the hot, humid tropical sun. The overwhelming proof in my personal journey that my joy will be so much more compete in the harvest should keep me from negotiating but my spiritual immaturity and strong will fight every time.

I am starting with this blog. The focus is changing from my intent to provide wisdom to Logan and my college friends to providing a window for those the Lord will send and the path that will unfold before me. Pray for me as I will pray for you that we be obedient in everything.

The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 2 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)