“You see, the short-lived pains of this life are creating for us an eternal glory that does not compare to anything we know here.” 2 Corinthians 4:17
“Physician, heal yourself!” Luke 4:23
Have you ever been going along spiritually, humbly and holily, just minding your own business, when a voice inside says, “Teacher, teach yourself!” or, in other words, “Practice what you preach.”? Ouch!
I had just finished a conversation with my daughter, Katherine, when I heard that sentiment.
I’m fortunate to have a daughter who speaks into my life like a close friend. She probably knows me best, next to her father. 🙂 I’d made a comment and she gently corrected me. She was referring to a very humble and holy point I’d made; valuable spiritual insight and wisdom concerning a friend. Honestly, my point had truth; it wasn’t devoid of wisdom. But it’s not my job to point out other people’s potential mistakes. Right after she made her comment, Katherine arrived at the site for her photo shoot. And we abruptly ended our chat.
The phone went quiet and I instantly heard that still small voice telling me in so many words, “You were speaking under the guise of “helping and teaching” but really you wanted to appear better than the other character in the story. You wanted to make sure your daughter knows you’re the #1 spiritually mature woman in her life.
How did I reply? “Yes, Lord! Thank you so much!” “This stuff really DOES work!” I can rejoice over His correction because I know He loves me. Not only was I glad; I also laughed. It’s good to have a sense of humor and see the irony. I’m nothing if not a life-long student. I know there will never come a day when I finish learning and graduate from “God School”.
I recently had the privilege of speaking at a couple of women’s events. I’m still slowly shaking my head as to why those people trusted me. Actually, they trusted God.
Anyway, among the points I made was this one, more or less: Jesus left the Holy Spirit to His disciples as a compensation for His departure. The good news for us is that we Christ followers have that same Holy Spirit living in us; the same power who raised Jesus from the dead! The Holy Spirit, among comforting, teaching and all the other benefits, also convicts us of sin and enables us to live victoriously!
So there I was; finding out again how Christ- following works! HE IS IN ME. He showed me my heart. It goes a lot deeper than my lovely sounding words. He not only showed me my heart, but He’s already giving me ideas as to how I can alter my thoughts, pray and act redemptively towards someone I love whom I don’t always agree with.
Remember that young shepherd boy, David? The prophet, Samuel was sent by God to Bethlehem, to a man named Jesse. Samuel’s task was to find and anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be the future king. Samuel observed the “tall, dark, handsome” sons, thinking that one of those must be the chosen one. But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Finally, the youngest son, David came in from tending the sheep. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” 1 Samuel 16:12
After all, what matters most is what’s in our hearts. That’s what God sees; not our outer shell. God looks on the heart.
In our new neighborhood we have a lovely walking path that I’ve referred to as “hilly” and “good for the legs”.
Last week I took out an instrument of torture on the lovely path— the instrument I formerly referred to as my bike.
The lovely hilly path was today, Mount Mitchell, NC, as far as my heart and legs were concerned. Any pretense of fitness on my part vanished in thin mountain air.
My legs fatigued oh so quickly. How long had it been since I’d been in the saddle? Apparently quite a bit longer than I’d remembered!
As I huffed and puffed up the
mountain incline, in second gear, I was comforted by three thoughts.
- I know how to gear down and ride very slowly.
- I know how to walk the bike.
- If all else fails, I have my phone for a 911 call.
Then, I started to realize how my maiden bike ride parallels my current life story.
I’ve been permitted to gear my life down as I am gradually adjusting to our move and big life transitions. To be less busy and move at a slower pace. To focus on deep and important things; investing time in relationships with people and God. I may appear to be covering less ground, as a lower gear indicates, but, sometimes the progress is deep and unseen by others. Considering what I’ve acquired from this time, I have no regrets.
Even at a slower pace consistency creates momentum. “Slow and steady wins the race”. One walk and conversation with my new neighbor. One letter written. One invitation for lunch to a single woman I’m getting to know. Baby steps count. Momentum becomes progress. Progress encourages me to keep going. Eventually my confidence is strengthened. I know I’ll fulfill my purpose if I keep going in the right direction. There will be habits and character created that will be with me for the long term. As I avoid obsessing over results, the results will happen.
I identify with Oswald Chambers’ take on purpose:
“We have no right to judge where we should be put, or to have preconceived notions as to what God is fitting us for. God engineers everything; wherever He puts us our one great aim is to pour out a whole-hearted devotion to Him in that particular work.” “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might”. Ecclesiastes 9:10
I can call for help when I need it! We lived in our home in Wilmington for so many years; longer than any other place. It has been very hard for me to adjust to not being there. When I think of going home I still think of that house. There will always be a map in my heart that leads to that special place.
Sometimes I need to share my feelings, however awkward I may feel, with another person. I’ve been encouraged countless times by loved ones who’ll listen and empathize. Life is never meant to be navigated alone! We need each other. I’m adapting to our new home in Columbia and I have joy and anticipation—knowing it’s God’s plan for us to be here. I couldn’t have done it without the support of people who care.
My husband says after about ten more bike rides, I’ll laugh at how difficult my ride was. I’m not looking forward to checking those off my list! I wonder, will I also laugh one day at how difficult the move was for me? We shall see! His point rings true.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius
I rushed to my sister’s side as soon as I could get there. Sisters of the heart, if not by birth. I told Dolly, “I must really love you to drive seven hours to see you!” She’d come close to death after a long hospital stay in her home town. (See http://tranquiliving.com/true-blue-the-splendor-of-friendship/.) Through the help of a caring friend, who just happened to be a cardiac nurse, she was admitted into Birmingham’s UAB Extreme Heart Failure Unit. When she arrived, the doctor had little hope for her survival.
She’d been there about five days when I entered her room on a Tuesday afternoon –I sensed an atmosphere of celebration. All eyes were on the doctor standing at the foot of her bed. Seconds earlier he’d agreed to the procedure she’d hoped for—a defibrillator/pacemaker would be implanted for her heart and her very life. Hope!
Dolly—my friend of over forty years. It’s funny that when you’re young and nonchalantly making friends, you don’t think ahead to how a friendship might play out. How you’ll find yourself years later, thinking like that person or even talking like her. I realize today that I’m pretty much a compilation of all my relationships plus the Grace of God.
One thing we remembered together is how people, through the years often asked if we were sisters. My husband even confused us when he and I first met! Then, it happened again in the hospital! “Are you two sisters?” We smiled and said, “Yes”, and then told our story.
A few years ago, our son John was about to be married. I called Dolly and said,” I don’t think I can get ready without you.” She answered, “No, you can’t, I’ll be there!” She did my makeup and hair just as she’d done for my wedding thirty years earlier. The celebration was a dream, and I never worried about how I looked!
At UAB, I was with Dolly for most of four days. I was there when the Doctor Without Hope stood again at the foot of her bed and said she was doing GREAT and would soon be released!
Rather than drudgery, as it sometimes seems during hospital visits, my time there was a pleasure. We reminisced and caught up on each others’ lives. We gathered around, held hands and prayed with her husband, Jack, and close friends. We shared together deeply and believed for what we asked. I sensed an unnatural peace wash over me. I’m using the term loosely, but I felt like I was on holy ground. Our talks and prayers were so weighty and real and heaven-focused. I could exhale and relax, knowing that everything would be alright. While praying for Dolly I kept pondering the word immortal.
adjective: living forever; never dying or decaying.“our mortal bodies are inhabited by immortal souls”