What’s In It For Me?

7 12 2012

I have a stubborn dog. He is cute, and relatively well-behaved. Adopted from a rescue shelter, he has been a part of our family for two years now. Yet, no matter how much training he receives, how many treats are offered, or how much attention is lavished, he still has a stubborn streak.

We were trying to get ready to go. The last to-do before we headed out the door was to put our pup in his crate. My husband called the dog’s name and told him to go to his box. Our dog heard his voice, took measure of the moment, and planted himself on the blue mat under my desk. He was trying to decide if obedience was worth it. ‘What’s in it for me?’ was written all over his face.

I recognize that look.

Everyday God calls for my obedience. In obeying, He protects me, provides for me, teaches me, cares for me, and transforms me. Sometimes I get stubborn. His call to obedience requires me to go somewhere unexpected, or hard, or someplace I just don’t want to go. I dig my feet in and try to decide if obedience is worth it. What will it cost me? Why should I go? What’s in it for me?

We could make a list of all of the blessings and benefits of obedience, but that might mean missing the point. ‘What’s in it for me?’ points my eyes in the wrong direction. It steers my heart to think only of myself. It sets up my benefit as the standard for submission.

Obedience, by its very nature, is a gift that we learn how to give. When we learn to obey God, we are learning to give ourselves away in order to make room for His presence and purpose. It is a step of faith, an act of worship, and an open door to transformation.

My Jesus Resolution today is to see obedience differently. Every opportunity for obedience is a chance to step closer to God’s heart. God will use every act of obedience to bless and transform me, but I want to let go of the ‘what’s in it for me?’ mentality.  Jesus’ life is a gift wrapped in obedience. He whispered, “Not my will, but yours be done,” not for what He could get out of it, but for what He could give by it. Through obedience, He gave Himself away. To me. And to you.

Lifting Weights

5 12 2012

It happened again. The teenager and the toddler. The teenager got up to lead singing, a little nervous, still stepping outside of his comfort zone as he learns how to serve. The toddler, barely containing his excitement, pulls at his mom as his big brown eyes take measure of the near-man standing close by.

The teenager opens the song book and announces the first song. The toddler picks up a book, turns and faces the crowd, lifting his arm in readiness as he prepares to imitate his teenaged picture of Jesus. He tries to balance the weight of the book in one arm while preparing to keep a beat with his other hand. But the book is too heavy.

In steps Mom. Gently, the little boy’s mother lifts the weight of the book with her own hand. With his book now in the right place, the toddler stands straight and tall through the verses of the song, his little arm keeping time with the older boy’s shadow.

The song ends, and a split second of silence fills the air. Those privileged to see sit in hushed wonder at the holy moment. Humbled, tears fill the eyes of the teen. A big grin splashes across the face of the toddler. Yet, it is the actions of the mother that pull at my heart. In a quiet move motivated by love, she lifted a weight and opened the door for her son to learn to be more like Jesus. With one simple movement, she freed her son to imitate, explore, and be transformed.

My Jesus Resolution today is to lift a weight. Someone I know is doing their best to imitate the heart of Jesus. Someone I will meet today longs to take a step into transformation. But the burden is too heavy. The weight is too much. Their balance is off. They can’t do it by themselves. I can help. I can hold a book, give a hug, write a card, make a call, take a step, give a smile, or say a prayer. Sometimes a small gesture is all that is needed to lift the weight, inspire transformation, and spark joy.

Sufficient Grace

3 12 2012

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” – 2 Corinthians 12:9a

My heart is raw with the pain. Gone is the polished exterior, the have-it-all-together mask that I usually wear. My reality is brokenness. Crushed, overwhelmed, frightened, and exhausted frame the borders of my heart. I can’t see a way out. Crashing waves of despair find me gasping for breath.

I pick up my Bible, hoping for a shred of hope to wrap around my weary soul. It is the present tense nature of Jesus’ words that throw out a lifeline to my heart. “My grace is sufficient for you…” Not was. Not can be. Not will be. Not might be. Is. I AM steps into my pain and offers to change my reality with His little word ‘is.’

No matter how desperate the situation, how deep the pain, how disappointing the answer, Christ’s grace is able to cover the moment. Today, right now, whatever you are experiencing, whatever pain you bear, whatever darkness you are fighting, whatever struggle is engulfing you, there is sufficient grace to carry you through. It won’t ever run out, dry up, or fall off. It is sufficient, more than enough, to see you through.

My Jesus Resolution today is to hold onto 2 Corinthians 12:9 with both hands. His grace will sustain my heart when it feels too broken to take another beat. His grace is strong enough to hold me together in my weakness. There will be no moment so low today that His grace will not reach even deeper and lift me up. Grace is the tether that binds me to His heart. It is the lifeline that will help me hold on for another minute, hour, and day. Sufficient grace is His promise and my best hope.