Monday, January 20, 2014

I Blew It

Noon today, I went into one of my favorite fast-food joints. Good food. Good price. Great lady who works behind the counter. She's hard of hearing, but works extra hard to please her customers, taking their orders and payments. She makes extra effort, and cares about the result.

I love Mexican food. Even good
fast-food variety. But it's not always
the only reason to be there.
I got my order back into the far southwest corner of the place. Back there, I could be more free with Boomer and how he must behave. More selfishly, I had started week three of chemo treatments this day, and it's so nice and warm at that sunny table!

Having finished my meal, I had my paper plate and napkins on the tray, ready to drop in the trash. Boomer was curled up around my feet, and I was reading in my phone's Bible app. Jesus sent out a bunch of witnesses and servants, and gave them instructions. "When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house." (Luke 10.5-7)

While I was reading this, a nice young man who works there came to my table. "How was everything?" he asked. "Can I take your trash for you?"

"Sure," I said. "Thanks."

And about 5 verses later, that passage above felt like it hit me right between the eyes. It's not about the guy getting paid properly for his work. Not at all. It's about our relationships with Christ, and with each other.

Nice young man. Did I acknowledge his service? Barely. Did I recognize him as the gentle young servant he was? No. Did I greet him or acknowledge him in any valuable way? Not at all. What if...? What if I had looked up, and greeted him eye to eye? Or smiled at him? Or greeted him as a real man with feelings, family, and life? What might the Lord have for me to do for him, right then and there? Is he dissatisfied with his life, but puts on a good show in the place? Does he know Jesus? On every possibility, I blew it. Even if he was one who needed me to be gentle and subtle, any chance to introduce or encourage him was gone.

And I came to realize, I blew it. Whether it was an opportunity to save him through Christ, or just a friendly guy who would be nice to say "Hi" to. I blew it. And worst of all, I blew it by being buried exactly in what God was telling me to do, right then and there. How could I not even look up at the young man, from Bible text that was telling me right then and there to do it?

I looked for him on my out. But he was busy, back where I couldn't go. I prayed for him, that all was well for him. I prayed that he had simply been used by God right there, in order to teach me.

Well next time, those greetings won't fail again.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

A lot of folks made New Year resolutions, making all sorts of plans for how they’re going to change this and improve that. Millions of people across this country are vowing to lose weight, read their Bibles, go to church. And once we're a couple months into 2013, millions of people will still be overweight, underfed, and unchurched.

Back about 1985 or so, I made my last New Year resolution. Very simple and easy to keep. I resolved that I would never again make a New Year resolution. I've managed to keep it every since.

The true reality of that resolution, though is that I just resolved not to focus on New Year's Day to resolve important things. For instance, if I am hit with a need to change something, and it's actually May, I don't make a note of it and wait until mid-winter. No. I think and pray it over, then resolve right then and there to make changes. My biggest resolution this year happened in August. And I'm keeping it.

Sometimes I’m asked what would be a good resolution to make. Well, here’s one, Colossians 1:21-23: "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-- if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant."

The best resolution that anyone can make actually needs to be made every day. If we go off on our own, follow the world's so-called good ideas, pursue petty pleasures that might arise, then we are off on that “evil behavior” that Paul mentioned. And since we are all imperfect, we should each resolve to continue in strong faith that comes through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

As followers of Jesus Christ, we have a blessed hope that no one else can claim. Lay hold of that hope and stand firm as you enter this New Year. And resolve yourself to it every day.