Tuesday, May 19, 2009

ministry moments

I missed the ministry moment, I was a half an hour late. The details are not as important as the simple lost moment. I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit to move sooner and instead I leaned back in my chair of comfort (okay, not that dramatic, I was in a meeting). This fact is resting heavy on my heart. Thirty minutes on the clock remind me bitterly how "inadequate" I am at doing God's work sometimes. 
This is the conversation God and I were having when I returned from my evening walk (gotta get the 7,000 steps) when I noticed the message light blinking on the answer machine. The message is "a heads up" about a ministry need. 
Any other time, it would have waited for tomorrow. "I don't know the number, it is in the office". "I have 12 billion pages to read for my upcoming class". "I just started eating this mint ice cream sandwich" (that one is real). Several excuses for putting off the "uncomfortable" can come to mind quickly. 
However, this time I was not going to let my "inadequate self" or a mint ice cream sandwich get in the way of a ministry moment. I knew in my insecure heart of hearts that God was giving me another shot. A chance to get "God's work" right this time. 

I often question God's plan for humanity to serve humanity in ministry. There has got to be a more efficient way for God's people to feel God's love. Donald Trump would not leave his "business" up to a group of broken misfits like God does. (No matter what you think of Joan Rivers).
However, as pastors we get this incredible opportunity to be used by God in the most precious of moments.  And I think that is why God uses those of us that miss the ministry moment every once in awhile. So, when we do "get it right" we know how completely humbling and an honor it is to be used by God.
I was reminded in a very tangible way that I serve a God who is all about second chances, redemption and following the heart. 
In tender moments of life, God allows me to step in under the name of Christ. What is that about? I mean, God really knows me. The resume God sees is not typed on fancy paper and only includes the shining highlights of my career. My true resume shows those missed moments, those "foot in the mouth" experiences and the trip-ups. 
Except that really isn't the resume in which God sees. For, Christ's blood is spilled all over my resume. It is all seen through the blood of Christ.  
Yes, even the missed moments of ministry are covered.  
It is not about me. It never has been. It is about God, who never misses a ministry moment. Especially those when I learn the most. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What does love have to do with it?

I have this theory that I have expressed often when it comes to living life together. I think how we merge in traffic says something about how we live life. To merge from James River Expressway onto Highway 65 without smashing up your car, you have to be aware of those around you. You have to understand when someone needs you to speed up or slow down, to move over or to stay put. Some people merge well, some do not and seem to escape the auto body shop by the skin of their teeth. There are times in our lives when we merge well and sometimes we are just going to crash.

To live life well, we must be aware of others. We must look around and take into consideration another’s needs.

I found a new analogy this past Sunday. At lunch in a busy restaurant, one where you order first and then find your seat, all the tables were taken. We planted ourselves with our drinks by a booth to spy out an empty table. Nearby set a man with his newspaper spread out and his full glass of ice tea and his empty dishes. The employee cleared his dishes and he got up…to get a cookie. With no plan to depart anytime soon, he unwrapped his sugar cookie and nestled in for some refreshing alone time.

I really can’t blame him. Though there were many awaiting an empty table. He was completely unaware of the need that existed all around him for his four-seat booth. He probably doesn’t merge well in traffic either.

We are several weeks into our sermon series “Amazing Love” as we walk through the book of 1 John. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for loves comes from God”. I know I don’t always love well. I know if you were honest, you would have to admit the same. Sometimes we merge well in traffic…sometimes it is best to stay off the road. However, God does not leave us there. God is love and the more time we spend with God the better we love.

Here’s another analogy. Several, several years ago my driver’s education teacher took me driving on the highway for the first time. I can guarantee I did not merge well in traffic. I didn’t drive well (period). I almost hit my driver’s education teacher’s garage once. (Good story, though not as good as Mary’s tulip story!) I did hit my parent’s garage (a couple times). However, I drive much better now. I haven’t hit a garage in decades. I currently merge into traffic with great ease. Why, because I have spent some years behind the wheel of a car learning how to drive.

God is love. When we spend time with God, we love better. 

Seems rather basic to me.