It’s the little things

I’m concerned. It seems like God’s children are losing their purpose. They are getting so tied up with doing they are neglecting the gift of being. I have heard more often than I can let slide the words, “I feel like I’m wasting my time. I’m not sure I’m fulfilling my calling.” Okay, side-note: I have also had that thought. And, it bothered me. The truth is as we look around us, there is more and more to do. I think we get overwhelmed. Those of us that feel we need to take on every task or mission that is set before us are worn out, and those that are just dwelling in grace with an air of apathy are missing out. There is a balance. That balance is His Spirit.

I don’t think we put enough confidence in this gift, the gift of the Spirit. We are trying to do things on our own, when He does indeed have a plan and a purpose for us, and it isn’t some huge mystery that He has hidden and requires a treasure map and a key to unlock. More than that, it doesn’t necessarily mean fame and money and popularity. It’s absurd to think that, and yet we do, if we are honest, think that our obedience will bring about blessing in all it’s worldly forms.

Sometimes the simplest acts of obedience bring eternal blessing. I keep hearing “I need to show more love,” “I need to give more,” “I need to spend more time with my family,” and the same sweet souls that are saying this spend time dreaming up expressions of grandeur when it’s so much easier than that! Let’s break that down.

“I need to show more love.” Then make love the over-riding thought in everything you do. If you need a refresher on what “love is,” check out chapter 13 of 2 Corinthians. Love always requires compassion. Seeing others as more important than you. More love will require more of you, put simply. It will require sacrificing what you want for what they want. It will require more work not less. It will require giving when you are more comfortable with receiving. It will require becoming less as His Spirit in you takes over. If you want to show more love, make this your prayer: Father, today show me how to love like you love us.

“I need to give more.” Ok. So, do. The excuse is often that we don’t have the means or the time, well, that’s part of the gift. Instead of taking those clothes to the consignment store, find a family that lost everything in a house fire, or a church that takes up collections, or simply donate it to Goodwill. If you have been holding that pamphlet from World Vision or Compassion International in your hands and thought, “Maybe I should..” Do it. You will be surprised how quickly you get accustomed to that small amount deducted monthly. There are any number of gifts we can give…be creative, and make this your prayer: Father, today show me who I can help, and give me the willpower to assist them.

“I need to spend more time with my family.” This doesn’t require you to plan a 7 day cruise. This can be as simple as instituting a “family night.” Cook their favorite foods, or order them in for those that don’t like to cook. Pick out a game, a movie, or put up a tent! If that isn’t your thing, go out as a family to eat…no friends just family, and visit, talk, share. You will be surprised how much more inclined they are to talk when you are investing in them. Incorporate mother/father/daughter/son dates. These are great! My youngest loves this! She already gives me the stink eye because I married her daddy before she could… who better to show her how to act on a date and how she should be treated than her daddy? Sometimes these one on one moments of investment open up more communication and affection than you will ever discover talking over your laptop or texting to their iPods. There are a million different ways to show your love for them, to give them more attention and to spend time with them all at the same time! Make this your prayer: Father, help me to make time for my family. Prioritize my life to invest in them, and give me grace to deal with the drama. ☺ (Maybe that last part doesn’t apply to you as it does me.)

Maybe you are wondering, “But, what of our purpose, our calling?” This is our calling. God sets aside two things as the purpose of mankind in various forms and places in the Bible, but it boils down to basically two things: Love God and love others. In that order, and with intensity! Whatever gifts you are given – and there are any number of gifts that we each possess – He placed them in you to do these two things. And when you love others and share His attention and affection with them, this is an act of worship!

So don’t get bogged down in the world of “success” and wondering if you are missing something more. Instead rely on His Spirit inside you that beckons and impresses and inspires. Listen to that still small voice, and as you do you will realize that it is louder than you ever realized, and you will feel your life swaying with its energy, and as you give into the current and power you will find that you are doing better. You are loving better. You are giving better. You are spending valuable time with those that are your family. And, as a reward you will see that the world around you is doing better…your circle of influence is more peaceful, more enjoyable, and more fulfilling. One simple offering at a time, and your purpose will be made complete even if you never do anything spectacular! Who defines spectacular or grand, anyway? The God who came to earth in a feeding trough and died on a splintered cross, was buried in a borrowed grave and gave over the Good News to a ragtag bunch of fishermen and sinners. I think He knows better than us.

Love came down

As the sun came up over the horizon, she knew that today was the day. She’d tried to dismiss it, but as the pains got stronger and the heavens seemed to swell, she couldn’t mistake what was happening. Even the donkey beneath her seemed to be excited and hard to still.

Joseph was worried. She could see it on his face. This was all new to him, and as much as mama had tried to prepare her for this day, and the many talks she’d had with Elizabeth, she was afraid, too. What if something went wrong? What if there were complications? Midwives could be hard to come by on short notice, what if she had to deliver on her own?

 As they entered Bethlehem, the rich history of the town, brought her a smile. She thought of the beautiful Rachel, Israel’s favorite wife, this was her resting place. Did she know that this was the place God had chosen to bring forth His child? His Child. Even as she thought it, it was never common to pronounce. Everyday as her stomach had swollen with life, the words of the angel, became stronger and the meaning greater. As if on cue, the baby within her rolled with expectation.

 The sun was beginning to dip and the night air was getting colder. Joseph had been turned away at every inn. There was no room, especially for a poor carpenter and his young pregnant wife. She tried not to get anxious, no inn meant no shelter and likely no help. She whispered a prayer to God, “This is your child. Provide a place fit for Him. A place where we can rest, and God of heaven, please, let me find help.” Joseph looked at her, “This is the last one.” She smiled to hide her greatest fear and nodded, “And here we will find favor.” Joseph returned her smile, “So young and yet so wise, my love.”

 She waited for what seemed like hours. Each pain intensified, and she wondered if she might try to get off the donkey if for just a minute to stretch her legs and possibly relieve the cramping. Just as she was gathering the strength to do just that, Joseph appeared, nervous but relieved. “I’ve found a place.” Mary smiled with delight even as another pang hit. His face dropped, “It’s in the stable.” A stable? He couldn’t be serious? The child of God that came to save His people couldn’t be born in a stable! She looked at him; this was no time to joke. He wasn’t smiling. She choked down disappointment, and forced a smile, “It’s going to be the most famous stable in the world.”  Joseph marveled at her strength, “Little do they know,” he whispered with a wink.

 She looked around her as she lay waiting for the midwife. “God,” she prayed, “You are in control. You have a beautiful plan, and You will change the world forever with this night. May it be to me as You have promised.” Another pang hit, and she bit down. This would not be easy, but it would be worth it, more so than any delivery in the world. “Joseph?” She moaned. “I’m here, Mary.” She resisted the urge to bear down, following the advice of her mama. “Joseph, thank you.” He wet the cloth that he held and placed it on her head, “For this fine stable?” he teased. “No,” she said with sincerity, “for believing me, for marrying me, and for taking this journey with me.” He hushed her, “What fool would miss out on this?” She smiled and reached up to hold the hand that bathed her forehead, “I love you.” Joseph choked back emotion and replied, “And my sweet Mary, I love you.”

 The midwife had arrived just at the point when there was no holding back. With each beckoning of a push, the world seemed to grow brighter. Out of the corner of her eye she glimpsed the bright star that had appeared in the east, just in view of the only window in the stable. Everyone in Bethlehem had remarked at its brightness, never had they seen such a light. The young mother seemed fixed on it and seemed to draw strength with each contraction. In good time, the baby was in her arms. She had delivered hundreds of babies but this one seemed to glow with life. He was a perfectly healthy baby boy she announced as she handed him over to the girl. The mother almost seemed amazed to touch Him, and when the midwife pushed Him to her breast, she stopped her to take in His face. Even the father was in awe. After so many years of this, she no longer asked questions, but nothing seemed normal about this pair. Such a peace that filled the air, and a love like no other, she would never forget this birth.

 After the baby suckled, Mary watched Him sleep. There were no words to describe all that she was feeling. Joy, love, amazement, and fear. He was here! The Christ child, the Savior of the world, lay resting in her feeble arms, dependent on her! She looked at Joseph and noticed those same fears echoing in his eyes, what if they failed? What if He didn’t need them? What if all the prophesies of death and hatred were true? What if all of that was directed at this child? How could they ever protect Him? A tear escaped her eyes, “What if…?” she started.  But even as she spoke it, the bright light emanating from the window fell across all three of them and warmed them, and in it’s light there was peace and love and the words of God took on a melody that seemed to echo to the hills, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to those on whom His favor rests.”

 Mary and Joseph lay side by side, smiling and forgetting all together the stench of where they were. Even the cattle seemed mesmerized by the baby, each leaning in for a closer look. After they had offered prayers and praises for this baby they had been given, the young couple started to drift off to sleep, but Mary, she longed to do one last thing. “Joseph?” she whispered not wanting to wake the baby. “Mmhmm,” he mumbled. “Do you think I can kiss His face?”  He rolled over almost asleep, “Of course, He’s a baby.” Her heart jumped! This was the moment that she had dreamed of, the moment that for years she had longed for, her moment with God in the form of a baby, finally she could express her love for Him! She cuddled His small, fragile frame, and rested His face close to hers. She nuzzled His nose and felt Him squirm, then, rubbing her lips together to make sure they were warm, she kissed the face of God. And, Joseph would deny it, but she would always remember His first smile.

 

Little Drummer Girl

One of my favorite songs this time of year is “Little Drummer Boy.” I love the cadence of that song, the tune, and the story. But to be honest, I always felt sorry for the boy; he had nothing to give but a song, on his drum. Doesn’t seem like much does it? Or maybe that is how shallow I was or how little I understood until I met the little drummer girl.

To have nothing to give is honestly a foreign concept to me. Though I didn’t grow up in exceeding wealth, I was by no stretch of the imagination poor. Growing up on the mission field had its hardships, but worries about finances never seemed to get to us kids. Daddy handled it well, and he always trusted that God would provide. And, He did, over and above what was necessary to live. Somewhere, always, there was something extra…and charity often took the form of currency. I gave it willingly and freely…but not altogether sacrificially.  I gave out of abundance, but the little drummer boy gave out of necessity.

The little drummer girl I know can identify with the little drummer boy. Emancipated at the age of 16 and living on her own with the provision of God and only those He has faithfully placed in her path, she has lived in want before. She lives in want now…but her needs are met. I can see her, on that beautifully starlit night, gathering her courage to stand before the manger to take a peek at her Savior. With a shrug and a frown, but with eyes all aglow, I can hear her say, “I don’t have much, but I have this drum…and I will play it for you.” She would smile, and pause, and then she would play. It wouldn’t be some haphazard beat that would erupt, but a passionate piece, resonating from her very heart of love. She would play her drum for Him…she would play her best for Him. And, He would know it was the best she had to offer.

It is what she offers Him daily. In so many ways, for so many hours, she trains and practices and learns, not only so she can be better, but so that her offering can be the best. I love this about her. She plays her heart out! She has taken every blow and unkind word that life has thrown at her, and she has willfully pushed that into music for her Savior.  And it isn’t a gift to be pitied; it is a gift to be envied! She expresses more love and devotion with each beat than many will ever dare to express in mere words or thoughts. She sees the drum as His gift to her…and she has made that her gift to Him.

I can never listen to that song again and not think of her. Our little drummer girl…and if she reads this, she will throw her hands up and say something tough followed by, “Whatev,” but this chick is special. As special as they come…and her Father knows this…her heavenly Father…and He is blessed by her songs.

“Then He smiled at me…me and my drum.”