I’m not in charge and it’s not about me!

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Haven’t you found this to be true, that the Lord can teach us via a variety of His sources, such as Scripture, books, podcasts, nature or counsel from other mature believers?  If we seek Truth and Wisdom, Jesus provides. One caveat, for other than the Scriptures themselves, we must evaluate and compare, as did the Bereans, all advice and input about spiritual matters with what the Bible says. This week, I’ve chosen a vignette from a conversation and one from Scripture.

Now, I’m praying I retain AND apply both.

The Lord is my shepherd….he leads me. Psalm 23: 1-2 ESV

I caught up with Cousin Terry today. Bible-saturated with God’s wisdom, she’s the spiritual mother of our family.  She described how she knows when God wants her to take on a ministry.  He never pushes, He invites. “Maria, God never drives His sheep!” 

We mentioned the difference between cattle herders, those men who herd their stock toward grazing fields or to the stockyards. They use dogs and men on horseback to push toward the intended destination.

Jesus is not our herder, He’s our shepherd.  Shepherds position themselves ahead of their little flocks, calling to them personally, gently guiding, encouraging and sometimes pulling them out of danger spots with the hook of their staff.

“How does it feel to you, Terry, when God is leading and guiding you to a place of service?” She paused, then mentioned, “I sense a growing interest that energizes and excites me, plus a sense of immediacy. As in ‘get on with it!’.”

Aren’t you glad our Father doesn’t push us around?

***

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;” Luke 10:41 NASB

Here’s a painful diagnostic question I read in some Sunday School material for our middle school girls: ‘What would those who know you well say is your focus?’

And just how would they know?  One way to discern would be from your conversation.  Everyone’s favorite topic is themselves, but what aspect would stand out?

Like Martha I often elevate tasks and having ‘enough’ time to that number one place in my life.  When I struggled with bulimia and body obsession, I would talk a lot about food and exercise.

Recently, I asked Mike to stop asking me about my sleep.  Good rest has eluded me for years. But Holy Spirit conviction is changing my focus.  I don’t want my daily goal to be about optimizing life for Maria.

That new desire has its roots in something I read in Vaneetha Risner’s latest book, Walking Through Fire. She described a Holy-Spirit thought that caused her to pivot.  She had been churning over the future when unbidden He communicated: ‘It’s not about you!’.  Those words have continued to settle me with His peace and recalibrate my day.  Life is meant to be about God. 

I sin against our Holy God when I place myself ‘front and center’.  I want to be like Martha’s sister Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him.  It would have been easy to spot what she valued most. I hope others will be able to know that about me as well.

Grappling with my identity and some bothersome feelings

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Grappling with my identity and some bothersome feelings

How freeing it is to know that Jesus’ door is always open. He has unlimited time to listen to me.  Theologian A.W. Tozer once wrote something to the effect that: ‘What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us’.

So, if we wrongly believe that we have to edit our communication with Jesus or even keep back sharing of shameful feelings, we damage His reputation and deprive ourselves of much needed correction and comfort.

Here are two meditations from this week’s writing and thinking project.

But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. Matthew 2:6 NIV

‘But I’m only a _____!’  Have you ever said that to yourself?

Consider those shepherds described by Luke, busy doing their shepherd-thing the night Mary was birthing our ‘Shepherd-Ruler’.

This morning in my reading, I noticed that Jesus’ rule is likened foremost to a protector and caretaker of sheep. In Jesus’ day, people despised and minimized this lowly profession. But God, the ‘re-orderer’ of status, calls shepherds fundamental.

Maybe angels first appeared to these rough-hewn men to correct THEIR identity. I can imagine God’s message: You shepherds serve in the same profession as the Messiah, the Divine Shepherd, who will govern my people. Don’t listen to what the world says about you.  Continue to be good shepherds, for this is a noble calling, worthy of honor.

Whose voice are you listening to when you repeat: ‘I’m just a ____’?

**

Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lamentations 2:19 NIV

Buying Christmas gifts for adult kids is challenging.  I thought I had found something creative and different when I read about a local Alabama man who crafts custom bowties.  Neither of my sons has a bowtie. Why not choose a fun accessory, to be worn on a special occasion?  I picked a themed pattern, and through in some novel socks.

Elder son didn’t mention our gift.  When I asked him, he said: “Not something I will ever use; I haven’t even worn a regular tie in nine years, but thanks anyway.” I felt hurt.

Michael comfortingly empathized with me.  Resolving just to let the hurt go, I mentioned to Jesus what I felt and invited His input.  Unsurprisingly, He agreed I should forgive. What He then brought up gave me pause.  ‘What about all the times you have ignored my gifts, failing to thank Me? How do you think I have felt?’

It helps to release and receive from Jesus!

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