Let Me Do It

14 Sep

Waiting for a friend, I watched a rambunctious little girl at the mall, obviously in the throes of stubborn independence. Everything was “no” this and “no” that. Then suddenly, she took advantage of her mom’s focus at a kiosk to reach up, grab the handlebar of the baby stroller and take off running.

HatchingAPlan“I do it! I do it,” she yelled with glee.

The mom, clearly upset, chased her daughter as the little rebel barely missed hitting a couple. The baby in the stroller woke up and started crying.

“No, Emi. Stop,” the mom yelled.

It’s amazing how a little one can run. The mom caught up with her daughter, swept her off her feet and plopped her down on a mall bench. I watched as she emphatically explained to little Emi why running off with the stroller was wrong and even dangerous. Emi wasn’t ready to listen.

“Look at me,” the mom said.

The little girl never actually looked her mom squarely in the eyes. She sort of glanced sideways at her. And I thought I saw an impish smile … a plan hatching.

Believing she had won, her mom turned back to shopping.

“I do it. I do it!” The little rebel was off and running as the baby in the stroller wailed in protest.

Poor mom. It was going to be a long day.

Aside from my own thoughts about parenting that day—how I might have handled the situation and stubborn child differently—my mind drifted back to my own childhood.

That phrase “I do it” reminded me of an attitude-altering story.

I won a sewing contest in grade school. The Sears store near our home in Chicago sponsored the contest, and winners in different categories also had to model their creations in a store fashion show. My peach-colored dress and short cape, all edged in peach and turquoise floral trim, was cheerful and elegant (lovely for Easter).

I won … But I wasn’t happy at all.

You see, while I was sewing the garment, my mom repeatedly took the material out of my hands. “Here, let me do it,” she’d say. I stood by her at the machine with a frustrated frown.

When the outfit was completed, I figured Mom had sewn most of it. She deserved the prize, not me.

[I wonder how many children feel the same way when moms or dads take school projects out of their hands. And yes, I was guilty of that ... surprising, considering my own story.]

After the fashion show, I was determined not to let ANYONE take things out of my hands. My “I do it” spirit was alive and thriving. I just didn’t make a big deal out of it. When people offered to help, I responded with an simple, “No, thanks.” It wasn’t that I thought I could do better; I just wanted control.

Even if I failed, I wanted to be in charge.

Although I had prayed for wisdom as a young girl, I wasn’t willing to listen to anyone’s advice. I didn’t have a teachable spirit. I was proud and stubborn.

Outwardly I cooperated. Inwardly, not so much. It was like the little boy who, told to sit down, obeyed. But he told his mama, “I’m standing up on the inside!”

I was acting like the Israelites in the Old Testament. They proved over and over again the foolishness of their obstinance and disobedience; and under the law, this stubbornness was a serious matter (Deuteronomy 17:12Zechariah 7:11-12).

It’s still a serious matter; but I am so thankful for the grace of God. I’m glad for the covering of Jesus for my sins—including stubbornness.

For so long, God wanted full control of my life, and I resisted Him. It was like I wanted salvation; I even said, “Jesus is Lord.” But the truth was, I thought I could run my own life.

I’m glad God showed me my heart after I joined a revival team in my early 20’s. One day, listening to a revival message on stubbornness, I was deeply convicted of my secret rebellious attitude (1 Samuel 15:23a). (Yes, even a “good girl” can be stubborn and rebellious in her heart.) And I discovered stubbornness is linked to a “stiff-necked” lack of belief (2 Kings 17:14).

How? When we are stubborn against our Father’s will for us, we don’t believe He knows best.

That day, it was as if the Lord was saying to me: “Here, my child … let Me do it. Let me have control. Let Me change your life. Let me live out My life in and through you.”

My heart broke and I stopped resisting.

The years of “Leave me alone; I can do it” arrogance melted away in sweet surrender to the Sovereign Lord.

I determined to follow Christ (Matthew 16:24-27) with a teachable spirit (Psalm 25:5; 86:11). And I discovered a powerful truth: when we surrender everything to Him (our plans, dreams, strengths, weaknesses, frustrations, habits—everything), He can run our lives infinitely better than we can.

How foolish to resist His loving guidance and help.

There may be an area of your life where the Lord is whispering, “I care and I want to help you. Will you let Me do it? Will you trust me with your heart?”

How will you respond?

- Dawn

Photo adapted, Image courtesy of arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The ‘App’ We Really Need!

6 Sep

This so-called “App Generation” loves shortcuts designed to accomplish specific tasks. There are “apps” (applications) for practically everything these days.

For example:

  • “Weather Whiskers” is an app that delivers your local weather forecast with cute little kittens.
  • According to a NPR story, an app can help you track roadkill, if finding animal carcasses makes you happy.
  • There’s an app to help you design your own soda – you may have already seen it in dispenser form at some restaurants!
  • An app can help you watch out for invasive and dangerous lionfish – yikes!
  • Another app locates the presence of jellyfish populations. (I wonder if there’s one to help me find jelly beans? No, MelonMeterApp_adaptedI’m not talking about the Android Jelly Bean.)
  • The Melon Meter app allows you to put your phone on a melon and give the fruit a good thump. The app analyses the sound to help you determine if the melon is ripe.
  • If the melon is rotten, you might find it at the PareUp app, designed to help people buy restaurant garbage.
  • Lose your phone often? There’s an app that lets you shout “Marco!” and your phone will respond, “Polo!”

It’s estimated that 26% of all downloaded apps are used only once.

Just because there’s an app available, that doesn’t mean you actually need it. On the other hand, there’s one “app” that we all need!

Remember the story of the original Passover? (See Exodus 12:12-13, 26-27.) Blood from sacrificial lambs was applied to the  doorposts as a sign for God’s death angel to “pass over” the homes of the Jews, saving the firstborn of Israel while all of Egypt’s firstborn died.

Today, the yearly Passover ritual represents the death of Jesus, the innocent sacrifice – the Lamb of God (John 1:29). He shed His blood so we may be saved from eternal death and separation from God. He paid the penalty for our sins (Romans 4:23-25; 6:23; Isaiah 53:5-8).

When we trust in Christ’s sacrifice for us, God is APPLYING His shed blood to cover our sins (Acts 3:19; Romans 4:7).

We receive forgiveness of sin and come into a right relationship with the Lord. He lived a holy life to become our pure sacrifice, and then He died to save us; so Jesus bears our sins, and we receive His righteousness (1 Peter 2:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

It is a one-time application (Hebrews 9:12-14), but we must have it. Nothing, not even our good works (Ephesians 2:8-9), can give us eternal life.

Friend, do you have this life-changing app?

Christians – Can you share the Gospel using your phone? Jesus Film Media has an app to help you. Go to app.jesusfilmmedia.org on your smartphone, or search “Jesus Film Media” in the app store. (Story about the app here.)

-Dawn

Image, adapted, courtesy of sippakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sand in My Eyes

30 Aug

What is there about someone falling in front of us that makes us laugh? Oh, we might check to see if they’re injured, but if they’re not hurt, we chuckle or explode into giggles.

Comedians like Dick Van Dyke made pratfall humor famous! (But most of us don’t get paid to humiliate ourselves for a laugh.)

One of my most embarrassing moments was at the Michigan sand dunes. When the wind picked up, blowing sand into SandInMyEyes_LOL_Framedmy eyes, I couldn’t see for a few moments.

Instead of being sensible and standing in place until my vision cleared, I walked forward – mummy-like – toward my friends. Or at least, I thought they were my friends.

I ended up falling over a cement bench, bending forward into something of a somersault. I landed on my rear end. A perfect pratfall.

Friends and others nearby rushed to my side, concerned. But then they started laughing.

“That was great!” one said. (Ha, ha, ha.)

“You did that with such grace,” another added. “We should sign you up for the circus.” (Ha, ha, ha.)

Humiliated, I asked for water to help clear my eyes of remaining sand. My hair and clothes were filled with sand too.

“Maybe we should nickname you ‘Sandy,'” a friend suggested.

I only suffered a few bruises, but the joke lived on for years.

Have you ever noticed that our spiritual eyes can fill up with things that don’t belong there? Believe me, when that happens we can “fall” into embarrassing, even hurtful situations.

I’ve been thinking about spiritual blindness. The Bible speaks of those who do not know the Lord as being “blind” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The famous hymn, “Amazing Grace,” says: “I once was was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.” God wants to open unbelievers’ eyes (Acts 26:18).

But it’s not just unbelievers who have a blind-eye issue.

Though their eyes have been opened, God’s children can sometimes live as though they’re blind.

2 Peter 1:3-7 explains some qualities (or virtues) that believers should exhibit in their lives as partakers in the divine nature; these are qualities that will make us useful for the Kingdom of God.

But verse 9 says, “… whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having FORGOTTEN  that he was cleansed from his former sins.”

The “nearsightedness” Peter is talking about may mean that when we lack these virtues in our lives, we can only see earthly things. We aren’t focusing on eternal truths and values. We don’t see the spiritual realities of the unseen world. Our perspective is cloudy. We don’t see far off to our heavenly King. And when we fail to focus on Him and what He has done for us, we act like we are spiritually blind.

What cause did Peter offer for this blindness? He said we “forget” what Jesus did on the cross and in His resurrection to cleanse us from our sins.

We who have the light of Christ need to live in that light … to walk in the light (Ephesians 5:7-9). In other words, we need to remember the cross, remember the power of Jesus’ resurrection. Every single day.

I’ve thought about what kind of “sand” might blind me to the power of the Gospel in my everyday life.

This S-A-N-D includes:

S – Stubbornness and Sinful Habits that get in the way

Stubbornness is a serious offense against God (Jeremiah 7:24). He wants His people to fear Him, love Him, and obey and serve Him completely with a cheerful heart (Deuteronomy 10:12-13; 1 John 5:3).

Also, when we cherish sinful habits or addictions, we exhibit a spirit of rebellion against God. Why should He show us more light, more truth, if we refuse to obey Him? Luke 6:46 challenges us – Why do we call Him “Lord” when we are unwilling to do what He says?

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown’s Bible Commentary says (of 1 Peter 1:9), there may even be “a degree of wilfulness in the blindness” (implied in the Greek) with “closing the eyes.” Sometimes even Christians can rebel against the light shining around them.

A – Attitudes and Affections that don’t please the Lord

1 Peter 1:3-7 lists some of the attitudes we should have as believers. But too many of us display exactly the opposite attitudes: impatience, ungodliness, selfishness, etc. How interesting that Peter says, “… if you practice these things [the positive virtues/attitudes], you will never fall.” (To push my analogy a bit … unlike the sand in the eyes that causes us to stumble, clear vision of what Jesus has done for us encourages a steady walk with God.)

Also, what do we love? Do we love anyone or anything more than God? We must love Him with our entire being (Matthew 22:37-38). He is a “jealous” God – deeply desiring our love and worship (Exodus 34:14), which is entirely His due.

N – Negativity and “Neediness” that hinder progress

If we are an “I’m ag’in it” sort of Christian, always focusing on the negative, it’s hard to move forward into opportunities for ministry. Perhaps our negativity comes from focusing on the splinter in others’ eyes while excusing the log in our own eyes (Matthew 7:3-5).

We all have needs, and the Lord is more than sufficient to meet our needs (Philippians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 12:9), but when we are “needy” in the sense that it’s all about us (only focusing on our needs), our selfishness stunts our usefulness. God wants us to love, encourage and serve others and we are, ultimately, to do it all for Him (Matthew 25:40).

D – Double-mindedness and Deceit that keep us in the dark

A double-minded Christian will be unstable, stumbling around in confusion (James 1:8); cp. Psalm 112:5-8). A single-minded person is stable and established, discerning and mature.

And lying to ourselves is as serious as lying to others (Ephesians 4:25), because it influences our walk with Christ. We must fill our minds and counsel our hearts with God’s truth (an example: Psalm 42:5). We are to walk in truth (Psalm 86:11; 3 John 1:4).

I’m sure there are many other ways Christians can act as though they are blind. 

Can you think of any “sand” that gets in our eyes, impeding our walk in love, truth and wisdom?

- Dawn

 

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