As I’ve been appreciating the clouds over the past few days the analogy between clouds and hardship has reminded me of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Just as the most beautiful skies are the result of clouds, the greatest and most precious gift of all time came at the greatest and most painful cost.
The most beautiful things come with hardship, and the most valuable things come at a cost. That is why we treasure them, because we recognize either the sacrifice we had to make to gain it or the sacrifice someone else made in order to give it to us. And I wonder… would we treasure God’s gift of salvation had it not come at some cost to Him? Had He not undergone such utter horrors for our sake, would we see any value in the salvation He offers us?
Like a vehicle needs maintained, treasuring God’s gift requires work on our part. And it can be hard. It’s no fun to drag yourself out of bed earlier than your body wanted and struggle to focus and read His word and spend time with Him in quiet and prayer. I certainly fail at that time and time again. But isn’t that what you do when someone gives you a valuable gift? You treasure it. You maintain it. You take time and effort to keep it in good condition. I never want to stop treasuring God’s gift to me.
I get awkward in new surroundings, especially if I don’t know anyone. Today was my first day at my new job. (Lunch monitor at the local school; nothing impressive, but it will help fill in the gaps until the end of the school year.) As I was preparing mentally to head out the door this morning, I remembered what I’d jotted down on my bulletin at church just yesterday.
“If you go everywhere with an attitude of hospitality you will never be alone among strangers.”
The internet definition of hospitality is “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” Hospitality is not limited to location – aka, something you do when you invite folks to your house. It’s a friendly and generous attitude towards people, which you can carry with you wherever you go. When you smile and ask people how they’re doing, you don’t leave much room in yourself to be awkward and shy.
How appropriate that God brought it to my mind right as I start a new job where I will be in constant contact with people and sorely tempted to withdraw into myself like my depression-induced non-sociable self so often wants.
This is my prayer as I finish out the last few months of the school year, that God would grant me a heart of hospitality and teach me to be hospitable even in situations where the other people are the ones who are in comfortable surroundings and I’m not. I want to be hospitable no matter where I am, whether I’m taking a plane to Georgia or hanging out helping kids with their lunch or having people in my own house or going through the checkout at Walmart.
I was digging through quotes from Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love. Here are a couple that have challenged me as I’ve been wading through the scary waters of college preparation…
“But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”
“Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.”
Trusting God that far doesn’t make sense to the human mind, and it’s not meant to. My question for myself is this… Am I living in a way that doesn’t make sense to other people because I’m trusting in the unseen Creator of all to such an extent that they think I’m nuts?
…Because if not, then I need to get more uncomfortable.
The problem with dreams is they often take years to accomplish. Even though I know what I want to do my goals seem far-off and only semi-real because they’re set in the future. After I do this or that, then I will reach my dream. Of course. And it will be great, and all that fluffy stuff.
Here’s the thing: God didn’t give us our special dreams and goals just for later. It’s not enough to assume that later will come and then we will get to do what we were made for. If tomorrow the world comes to an end will you be okay with that, knowing that you already lived your dream and you already did what God put you on the earth to do? Or will you feel disappointed or guilty because you never did it?
God never promised us a later; He only gave us a now. If you woke up breathing today you have a now. So the question is, what are you going to do with your now? If tomorrow never comes, how can you live out your dream or your “someday ministry” on a small scale today? What are the key aspects of your “someday ministry” that you can incorporate into what you do with your family, or how you go about work, or how you fill your free time, or what you say to the person behind the cash register? If tomorrow never comes (and it’s not guaranteed that it will), what will you be glad you did today?