We are studying the book of Revelation for the Youth and Young Adult Retreat for Louis’ Church this weekend. In prepping for this study, I have learned much. This is a book of the Bible is most people stay away from….even Pastors don’t preach on it much….because it can be confusing and controversial. I look forward to diving into it some more.
The biggest thing I have learned during studying it so far is to “live like you were dying!” I know it is a morbid subject to think about…but what would you do if you thought you were dying? How would you live? What would you change? Would you be willing to face your maker and answer for your decisions and your life?
Recently, I thought about Frank….dying on the street outside my house. He didn’t know what was coming. But, God has given him another chance to live in a way that brings Him glory. Unfortunately, even after EVERYTHING that he and his family went through…the pull of the street was too strong. He went back to his old life and landed himself in prison for about 10-11 years. So far…it’s 1 year down…10 to go! I pray that he meets Jesus in a powerful way and is changed…for good! Jesus makes ALL things new!
But, we are not to judge! Every day…we go back to our lives as we knew them. It’s that constant struggle that Paul referred to. While we are on this earth…there will always be the struggle. But, there will come a day when we will struggle no more. Like Francis Chan’s wife said in the Surrender video…I want to hear him say “Well done, Marti!! Well done!” I WANT to hear…
Well done, Marti! You listened to me…you didn’t move to St Louis even though you don’t know what is next.
Well done, Marti! You obeyed Me. You moved into SBH and stayed even after some really crazy and scary things occurred…because I called you there.
Well done, Marti! You lived on mission with me in spite of what others thought and said.
Well done, Marti! You take my commandments seriously. To love God and love your neighbor. Your neighbors are everyone you meet…at work, at home, in the grocery store, at church, on the corner filled with drug dealers and prostitutes.
Well done, Marti!!! Come on in!
But, I must confess…there are many days that I do NOT rise to that challenge. There are days that I want to pack up and move. There are days that I fail miserably in my marriage and not love Louis like I should. There are days when I just don’t feel like stopping to fix Everett a sandwich because he is hungry. There are days when I’m “too busy” to hang with the kids and listen to them. There are days when I don’t spend time in the Word and in prayer like I should. There are days of being a “pastor’s wife” that are a little too much to ask! (Just to name a few of my many, many faults!!! Don’t see this as me “beating myself up”. This is just the plain reality of it…..life here on earth. I am sinful…)
I am so thankful God knows my HEART! That He doesn’t have a checklist of aaaallll the things we on earth call religion that are not Biblical. The long list of man-made “do’s and don’ts” that so many of us think we won’t and can’t live up to….so we stop trying.
I appreciate that I am Saved by Grace and NOT by works. I could NEVER do enough good works to earn his forgiveness and salvation!
I am grateful for a loving, merciful, holy God who loved me way before I loved Him and just wants a relationship with me…not that routine checklist surface relationship….but an intimate, deep, close relationship.
And, you know what?!?!?!? IT’S FREE!!!!!
Come…all who are thirsty….
Take a long deep drink of God’s Perfect Love….
After a few days of posting on other stuff…let’s get back to the story….
Back at work downtown and on the road, divine appointments were occurring on a regular basis. At this point, I was beginning to expect them…to actually look for moments that God was orchestrating. I was beginning to wonder were these opportunities there all the time? I had been just missing them? Some…I didn’t even know they were occurring until much later.
There was this one time…when I received a call from a work colleague from several states away. This was not unusual because I worked with people all across the nation and talked to them daily. But, this call was different. I really didn’t know the person, but he acted like he knew me. I haven’t talked to him about this post…so I will just call him “George”.
So…George calls me to tell ME a story. It was not unusual for people to ask ME to tell them a story…something that had happened in my community. But, he was going to tell me HIS story. George was calling to see how he could help my “kids”. He had gotten a significant bonus and wanted to share it. After giving George the name and address of Commonwealth Chapel, he promptly wrote a check to my church, designating it to m2h (Miss Marti’s House). He had remembered hearing my story about the kids at one of our company gatherings and wanted to give back. I was really shocked, surprised yet grateful, because I, for the life of me, could NOT remember who he was.
Months go by and it was time for me to attend a regular dinner meeting for work, where lots of people come from all over. Work was demanding my attention that evening and I ran a little late, so I stood at the door waiting for the opening remarks to conclude and checking out the full room for empty seats. After quietly slipping in and dinner started, I met the people around me. Go figure…who did I sit next to, but GEORGE! It was crazy…in a good kind of way. We continued our conversation from the previous phone call.
I confessed that I was embarrassed to admit that I had NO remembrance of meeting him or telling him about my kids, as I attended many corporate functions. George then said, Marti…you shouldn’t feel embarrassed. I am the embarrassed one. After we figured out where we had been and who we had been with, he stated…that he had WAY too much to drink that night and could remember very little from the evening. Very little except meeting me and hearing about what I was doing in SBH. At work, I couldn’t actually say…How God was moving in SBH, but that is what I alluded to when I talked about my calling.
George went home, touched by what he had heard and decided to give back to the community. He started to volunteer and give of his time, but soon realized that this wasn’t what he thought he should be doing. He then felt called to go back to church and went to Mass for the first time in years…or decades. George picked up the Word and it leapt off the page. At one point it felt like he was being literally pushed in the middle of his back…to go and do something. Being pressed so hard in the back that he turned around to see who was pushing him, and no one was there.
George felt this overwhelming urge to give of his finances and that is when he called me. The timing could NOT have been more right. The youth group was planning their first youth retreat and my kids couldn’t afford to go. But, the money that George provided was the PERFECT amount to cover every kid! Only GOD can provide like that. I’m so thankful for George and his timely provisions that came several more times after that. May God richly bless him for his generosity and obedience.
This wasn’t the only time that God was at work on my job. There have been so many times when I ran into people “for such a time as this”…where I could encourage and bring hope. I can think of distinct times on flights, in the lunchroom, on the phone, and outside a courtroom. Work isn’t the easiest place to openly share your faith, for fear of being accused of religious discrimination. I was faced with that at least once and again, it was unfounded.
I don’t push my faith on others, but it IS a part of my life. So, when people ask why I wasn’t moving to StL or why I lived where I did, I can tell them. It was great to have like-minded colleagues to talk to at a time when the market was crashing, financial companies were folding, and times were scary for many people. But we knew…Who sat on THE throne.
I am reminded that we ALL need Jesus! Regardless of what our status is in life. I realized that I had (or have) 2 mission fields…at home in SBH and at work (until further notice, anyway!). Both…the spiritual “least of these”.
In addition, I learned that if God can use a snake, a donkey, a burning bush….He can certainly use ME! I just have to be open…and willing…to be used. There really seems to be a theme in the posts, doesn’t it?
Do you recognize any other themes I might be missing? And…what themes do you track in your OWN life? Is God trying to tell you anything?