Saturday, January 21, 2017

Better Is One Day

For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
Psalm 84:10

We sing this song all of the time, but until last Sunday I hadn’t really considered whether I believe it. Of course, when things are running amok, I can say with my whole heart that I believe it. You might even hear me ask the Lord to come on any day.

But, what about the good days. I mean the REALLY good days, the BEST days? Do I really believe that one day in the presence of God is better than 1,000 of those really good days?

I love how The Message puts it:

One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship, beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches. I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.

Now, I have never been to a Greek island, but I have been to a Caribbean island called Nevis. It was beautiful. The temperature was perfect. No stress, except driving on the wrong side of the road. We were there for a week, and I would go back in a heartbeat. Have you ever been somewhere like that? Someplace so absolutely perfect with nearly perfect days?

The question must be asked: would I trade not that one week, but 1000 days on Nevis for 1 in God’s court? Let’s put it in perspective, that’s almost 143 weeks or 3 years. I would love to say with a resounding YES I would. But sadly, I find this concept very challenging. We love this earth and its beauty.

But here is what I know. God loves us so much, He would never ask us to give up something beautiful for something second rate. While we were on Nevis, there was a full moon. I remember thinking how amazing the moon looked that much closer to the equator. Shining onto the ocean, it was breathtaking and led me to worship Him. If something can be so beautiful down here, how much more breathtaking will heaven be? Can a beautiful moon on a beautiful night even come close what is in store for us? THAT is not how our GOD does business.

I want to be better at keeping this in perspective. This world has its good points, but the best is yet to come.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Let's Get Uncomfortable

This morning, Beth kicked off the new sermon series called “Better”. The idea that “normal” is what keeps us from being great really resonated with me. Beth made the point that normal is easy and takes no effort. We will even stay in painful situations because normal is comfortable.

This past week I did something I have never done before. I gave blood. Why have I never done this before? I am not sure. It is not like I don’t have a good example. My husband, Dave, has given regularly for years. And I understand the need. I have relatives who have needed blood due to accidents or cancer treatments. I would like to say I overcame my fear, but really, I am not afraid of needles. I’ve had multiple IVs and vials of blood taken.

I have given this a lot of thought this week and I am embarrassed to say I rationalized my decision to NOT give blood. I have low blood pressure, I’m borderline anemic, blah, blah, blah. The reasons all seem kind of silly after the fact. It was not painful. Uncomfortable, but not painful. I did not feel horrible. Maybe a little tired that evening, but not horrible. On the other hand, I felt like I had done something amazingly good and selfless when I walked out of the center. And just to keep it all in perspective (and keep me humble), I have a nephew who is donating his kidney to someone he doesn’t know.

The sermon this morning just confirmed what I had already concluded. Most of my life I have shied away from doing certain things, not because I was afraid, but just because they took me out of my comfort zone or were not “normal”.

Why do we do this? Why do we try to insulate ourselves from being in uncomfortable situations? What would life look like if we embraced that idea that somethings are just uncomfortable – yes, even painful. Because lets face it - to love is to open ourselves up to uncomfortable situations – even pain and loss.

Ask the new parent who is happy to get 3-4 hours of sleep at a time. Let’s not even talk about changing diapers. They love their child, but any parent will tell you that to be a parent is to be thrust into uncomfortable situations at the very least. And then there are those parents who have lost a child due to disease or an accident. I’ve never heard a parent say they wished they had never had the child they lost.

Here’s the thing. We should expect to be uncomfortable at times. We should not expect to live life without any pain. We should expect it because, well, not to sound trite, but this world is not our home! Especially as followers of Jesus, we should expect to be called beyond the normal or comfortable.

So, what if we really got this? What if we embraced being uncomfortable? And what if we also embraced the positives that could come out of our being uncomfortable?

  • What if, instead of being afraid of a needle or being uncomfortable, we embraced the idea of saving a life?
  • What if, instead of being afraid of rejection, we reached out to that lonely person?

  • What if, instead of worrying that we don’t know what to say, we just went and sat with someone who was grieving?

  • What if, instead of going on our yearly trip to the coast, we spent that money to go to Guatemala and love on some orphans?

  • What if we opened up our home and hosted a child from Belarus for six weeks?

  • What if we volunteered to make coffee at church one week a month?

  • What if we just quit thinking about ourselves so much and thought about the other person more?

There are so many things I have felt prompted to do in life, but I have allowed myself to be shackled by comfort instead of walking freely in obedience. I know – that just doesn’t sound normal. We don’t think about obedience being a way to freedom. But that is what I have found.

During 2017, I want to be better at walking in obedience to the Holy Spirit instead of being shackled by my own comfort or what the world considers normal. Some of these things may be big, like hosting a child from Belarus. Others may be small, like giving blood.

What about you? Beth ended the sermon with two questions:

  • What is your normal?
  • What can you do today to start to change that?

I will add one more to the mix:

  • Are there things you don’t do, not because you are afraid, but because you just like to be comfortable?
As always, you can listen to the entire sermon here:  Listen On Line