Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My run-in with Bob.

I had a very interesting run-in with a homeless person today. Actually, I am realizing that it happens a lot in a city. :)

The encounter occurred while I was putting gas in my car. A gentleman kept walking around the car... as though he were a bird, circling his landing, trying to see what all was around before approaching. It was kind of cute actually, he was obviously a shy type, and wanted to come in slowly, as to not scare me. Thoughtful guy I thought.

Anyways, he approached me and asked me if I had any spare change for food. Of course, my immediate reaction was the thought, "food... right...", and at first I got a little miffed - did he really think I was that gullible, to fall for money for "food"? (I am so ashamed that this was my very first thought). But then I looked at him for a minute. Usually I use the line, "Actually, I don't have any cash on me, I'm sorry" While this line is usually true (I just don't carry cash anymore), I knew it would be a lie, as I did actually have a few dollar bills.

I realize how wrong my heart was. Why was I so hesitant to help him out? Sure, I thought he was going to probably go buy cigarettes or something else with it instead of food -- but was it right for me to withhold help because of my distrust of the stereotype?

After giving him a couple dollars (he was so sweet and gracious when he accepted it), I went on my way to grab lunch before heading back to work. But I kept thinking about it. I have no idea who this man is, what he did, his situation, or his heart. But he came specifically to me for help. You know, I could do a lot of things to prepare for this since I know it happens often. I could put some food in my car to give to people, some bottled water, something to help out those in need without handing out cash. But, I didn't have that at this time. I was told by many growing up, "Help when you can, but NEVER hand out cash - you're helping them destroy their lives." I understand this mindset, I really do, but I have to question it. Yes, it isn't the best form of help, but where is my heart in it?

God is CONSTANTLY trying to pound it in our heads throughout His Word that we are not obligated, but COMMANDED to help those around us in need. My heart wanted to help, but was considering witholding the only thing I had to give at this time because I didn't want to be that "chump". He was standing there asking for help for food. Suddenly, I realize that it was about my pride that kept me from wanting to hand him cash. It wasn't all about him making mistakes what he would purchase with it. So, lets go with the worst case scenario. Lets say he would use it for drugs, cigarettes, something less 'wise' then food. Or, perhaps he lied to me, and really wasn't hungry, but was desperate for something else. Maybe my money just got him deeper and deeper in a fix.

It is not mine to fix. All I can consider was that in that moment, I needed to make a decision about what would show God's love more brightly, more beautifully. How could I help show the love God gave me to him? Goodness knows I take God's love so many times and try to use it for my own gain and glory. Yet... He still goes on giving and loving me.

I hope to get to the point of constantly carry some granola bars or some sort of food and water around with me. Yes, sometimes just handing out money is not the wisest thing. Sometimes, it is all we have on hand. Sometimes, perhaps "no" is the best answer - I am not the Holy Spirit for others' hearts and minds. (Thank goodness... what a mess THAT would be...) But I do know that I need to help. Maybe volunteering time, giving to a fund, or just handing out to random people that need it. Jesus is so clear with this in the New Testament, and God's heart to the needy is all over His word. Love your neighbor - Be a light to the World - "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" How little I take this to my heart.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Who are you... REALLY? Why?

QUESTION: Why do you do what you do?

This past week a nagging question has been going through my mind, who am I... really? What makes me tick? Why do I do and say the things that I do? Do I ever think about what impact I'm having on others... should I care? By living the way that I am, what story am I giving to those around me? Am I giving a story at all? It is almost a search for what my identity really is... and why. (And is that what it is supposed to be?)

This has been a constant question in my life, but became a lot more real to me this past week. I've been really struggling with self worth - and the realization of God definitely not needing me, but wanting me, wanting to hold my heart, wanting to guide me through a story that HE wrote for me before I was born.

As this has been on my mind, I've been reading through the New Testament, looking at the stories of those Jesus had a personal impact on. The story of Martha and Mary really hit me. At a first glance, I didn't really understand the rebuke Jesus gave Martha. I mean, in all honesty, had I been her, I would have done the same thing. "Hey ... seriously... are you going to just let my sister sit on her butt, while I'm trying to prepare food for you people?" Interesting how she did not in fact go to Mary to rebuke her, she went straight to Jesus - "Lord, do you not care that I'm doing this on my own, when the responsibility should not be mine alone?"

I'm a doer... I like to do things. Constantly. I feel that may be Martha's way as well. It is how she serves... she does things. She did not have the time to sit down and listen with all those people (Notice the words in Luke 10:39 - Mary sat at the feet of Jesus) I read this and my first instinct is that Martha has a right to be stressed - she's there doing all the work alone... how frustrating. God rebuked her.

This verse has been on my mind constantly throughout the week. I'm grateful to have a job, but this is not exactly where I feel like I should be. Where should I be? What should I be doing? As I said, I'm a doer, I like to constantly be busy - it is how I serve. I like to meet with lots of people, pray with lots of people (which if you know me is a big improvement - prayer has always been a scary thing for me ... trust me, I'm sure it will turn into a post some day :) ), I like to speak to large groups, do important things... but I have these nagging questions - WHY? WHY do I do these things? WHAT am I trying to portray to others? AM I trying to portray? If so, WHY am I trying to portray it?

Martha wanted to serve, wanted to provide for the people. But I have to wonder... was it really more important than sitting at the Lord's feet, grasping, yearning to know who HE is? How much of her serving was just worrying about what people thought, how much there would be... where was her heart? Jesus knew hearts, and he rebuked her "Martha... Martha... you are worried about many things, but there is only one thing that is needed. Mary has chosen the right thing, and it will not be taken from her."

To figure this out, all week, I've been asking this question, trying to discern my motives. Where is my heart in talking to this middle schooler? Where is my heart in talking to this random person I met at the grocery store? What am I trying to accomplish throughout the day, in this conversation, in this action, in this job?

There is nothing wrong with being busy -- but so, SO often, I tend to lose sight of God. I'm too busy to sit at His feet and yearn after who He is. Sure, I can serve doing all these things -- but I need to be honest with myself, many times what I do hinges on the reaction I'll get, or what other people think.

YES, as a follower of Christ, I am there to be an ambassador, working for His kingdom, making an impact on those around me. Spreading His love and word. But when I do these things -- is that TRULY my motive?

If I sat at the Lord's feet, and let HIM direct my steps - I will be busy. We all have different gifts that He will use - one is definitely my energy. But so often, I use it for my gain, not anothers. What can I accomplish through this? What will people think of me.

Shouldn't I be dying to myself (ROMANS!!), and living for Christ? Suffering for HIS kingdom - not my own? If He's my God - do I let Him be sovereign in my life - COMPLETELY surrendering to His reign?

One of my cousins (one of the coolest guys EVER) walked up to the podium church one Sunday, and shared with the entire congregation that he had a confession. He felt like he needed to repent of a selfish, self-seeking heart. He is one of the most profound, God-fearing men I know, who every time speaks in church makes an impact in hearts. Yet, he was confessing that when he did speak, so many times he spoke to "sound godly" to show that he had the answers. It was so humbling. If you are reading this cuzzy -- THANK YOU. THANK YOU for your humbleness and committment to keeping it real FOR CHRIST. You thought about who he was speaking for -- and he was humble enough to admit that it was for your own glory. GOD USED THAT. You put your own reputation down - to give glory to God's amazing grace, to His leading - wanting to live for Him, and only Him. What he said was not bad, and impacted many in a good way -- but you knew where your heart was.

So why do you do what you do? I'd love to challenge you to think about things throughout the week. Even simple things like what you are going to wear, who you spend your time with. What makes you, you?

Again, I don't want to say that God does not want you to be doing what you're doing. I will always be a busy person. But I honestly feel as though sometimes we should be sitting at the Lord's feet, praying a prayer much like David's in Psalm 139.

"Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

So who are you? What really makes you tick? Why? What story are you trying to tell with your life - through that, what are you really portraying in your heart?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Running the Race Together

Hello All -- Welcome to the first post of my blog!

hm... that sounds so official, and completely unlike me, let me start over.

I hope this blog finds you resting in or struggling to find God's grace and peace - because it is only in Him that we will find real rest, real peace, and real grace - even among (and through) all the suffering and pain in the world.

(What a weird way to start a blog you might say)

Perhaps it is... I am a very strange person :)

I would like to take this first blog to state clearly what my intention is for this blog. I used to have one previously that just stated my day, what was happening, and what God was doing. However, this is not a daily blog to just state what is happening in Meggie's life (that's what the phone and email is for :) ), but to hopefully share what God has been speaking to me recently. I am VERY introspective, and have a very hard time explaining my feelings and thought processes on God - and I felt this would be a good way to start growing. I have recently realized that I need to practice articulation. (Don't worry, I will not constantly be talking about everything that is going through my mind :) I will practice discernment as well ;) ) . Also, please FEEL FREE to respond to any/all of the postings. We are all on a journey, and I long to share with you my struggles and questions, hoping that God doesn't use it for my glory, but for His, and that perhaps, it will either trigger a question or desire to know God more, or perhaps confirm something He has taught you. He is constantly making me through His grace, so I do not and never will have all the answers. Even if no one reads this blog, it is a way for me to see God's work in not only my life, but those around me - that His name may be glorified and praised. Only our Father and His word is faultless.

You may also find this post specifically oddly worded and a little confusing. Those who know me, know how hard it is for me to communicate thoughts well, and I hope to grow in this as time goes on, that God helps me learn how to clarify my mind in my speech :)
(this is also a good way for me to work on my grammar, that so desperately needs help)

I hope the name of my blog states the purpose well. It is a race we all are running. Notice the relationship - it is not just about ME or YOU, it is about WE the people of God, running the race of Righteousness. It has already been marked - so let us put our eyes on the finish line, the eyes on our Heavenly Father, Our Saviour, our Creator, and RUN WITH ALL OUR MIGHT - TOGETHER - UNIFIED - Fighting for Him who deserves all praise, honour, and glory. I love what I heard once, which is - God does not NEED any of us. AT ALL. But He wants us. He so desperately loves and wants us to be in His presence. He gave his life - the ultimate gift, so that we could run this race. How marvelous. How wonderful. HOW BEAUTIFUL is His everlasting love and faithfulness. He is constantly there to help us on this race, giving us EVERYTHING that is needed. As it says in Hebrews, the AUTHOR and FINISHER. We cannot finish this race on our own, it is His race.

Recently, I have been struggling with just wanting the race to end. Wanting to give up because of the pain and the burden of life. But my focus was on the initial speed of my progress, but I overlooked one far greater factor of successful athletic competition: consistency. We may start out in the front lines, leading, but if our progress is not consistent -- if we become entangled with the affairs of this life (2 Tim 2:4; Gal 5:1) -- we will fall back as we weary with the stress of the race. I was letting baggage lay heavily on me. A few months ago, I didn't want to run anymore, all I saw was the immediate struggle and exhaustion. But as I sat there, on the track, crying out in pain, God came, lifted me up, took on my baggage, and in the way only He could, whispered to me His glorious words of hope.

So I do pray that God gives you peace, and that you are resting in His grace and will. BUT, know that one can still rest amid suffering and pain. In fact, I will say that those times of suffering and pain are NECESSARY. That is when we truly start seeing who God is and who we are not. We see what Grace means and what faithfulness looks like. It is when we grow. It is how I feel so completely in love and in awe of my Saviour, my Saving grace. It is how I knew what it meant to have Him living inside of me, through the Holy Spirit guiding me. It is how I learned to pray. So "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2-4) Only by running the race will we find the finish line, only at the finish line will we know the FULL presence of God. But, let's run together, in unity - helping, encouraging, and loving one another and those around us, just as God loves us.