Friday, July 27, 2012

Parking Lot Offenders

Matthew 5:44(NIV)
 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
It’s not that I’m really all that protective of the car itself.  After all it’s an older high mileage vehicle that’s fairly well-worn inside and out.  I just like to make it easy to get in and out and less likely to bump someone’s car with our doors.  I like the same consideration from others too.
So I have these parking lot strategies I live by.  I usually pull through so I can avoid backing up with the risk of bumping into another vehicle.  I always park far enough out that I can have empty spaces on both sides of my car making it more convenient to load my purchases and get my kids in and out of the car without giving someone a door ding.
The other day I was picking my daughter up at day care and my plan backfired.  I always park on the end next to the handicap spot and I usually edge over a few inches.  Stepping out of the car I  proudly admired the wide margin I had left for myself.
The door to the daycare had hardly slammed shut when I gasped at what I saw - a car parked up against my driver side making it impossible to enter from that side.  I frowned, thinking to myself, “Two rows of empty spots and some inconsiderate Bozo blocks me in.”  Admittedly my thoughts were less than kind. 
I remembered being challenged once to use these kinds of annoyances as opportunities to pray for those who offend us.  So I did just that – right after I confessed those vengeful thoughts. 
Today’s verse challenges us to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us.  I supposed it could apply to inconsiderate people too and we never know what someone else’s day has been like or what might be distracting them from giving consideration.   

Friday, July 20, 2012

Interests of Others

 …not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:4 (NIV)

I was a little out of my element, and I didn’t feel particularly equipped for the task. But I stepped up.

You see, my wife was overdue for a night out with her girlfriends, and a parent needed to accompany our 5-year-old daughter to her ballet recital dress rehearsal. This left me on deck. The questioning glare of the moms backstage left no doubt that I was out of place.

I’m sure my daughter, Anne, would have rather had her mom with her, but I could tell she also enjoyed having me experience this part of her world. And it was clear she needed my moral support on this exciting and intimidating evening. So, I faced my fear of bows, ribbons, and lace…and in true male character, I soldiered on.

Still, I felt significantly under equipped and tellingly out of my element. But it was my love for my daughter that kept me focused on her needs and concerns instead of on my shortcomings. She needed me on this nerve-rattling evening, and so I was there.

I’m reminded that this is just what love does. Whether it’s for a friend or a neighbor or a daughter, love looks to the needs and concerns of another even at our own expense, even when it’s inconvenient.

This kind of love is the reality of the Christian experience. It is the substance of our faith. Ridiculously inconvenient love is what brought the Son of God from the splendors of heaven to the reality of a sinful earth. When we needed Him most, He showed up. He gave Himself for us…even though we didn’t deserve it.

Coincidentally, this kind of love is also the foundation of strong earthly relationships. As we receive this amazingly inconvenient love from our Savior, let’s remember to share it with those around us.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds… Hebrews 10:24 (NIV)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Peace Through Difficulties

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

Recently I was having one of those days.  I was having a difficult time trying to maintain my Christian walk. In a moment of frustration I put up a post that said, “Sometimes the Christian life is just hard.” What followed was a firestorm of conversation. It seemed everyone has something to say about the matter. I heard everything from agreement to condemnation for my lack of spiritual depth.

In reality, sometimes I’d rather yell at my kids than lovingly guide them in their faith. And humanly speaking, I’d much rather spend my Sunday mornings in the yard rather than sit through another sermon challenging me to love my neighbors as myself.

The truth is that if we find the Christian life a piece of cake we probably aren’t living it. Jesus Himself said that we would be persecuted because they persecuted Him. That doesn’t sound too easy to me.

On the other hand Jesus also said that His yoke would be easy and His burden would be light. This is hard to understand but somehow in the midst of the challenges of the Christian life Jesus gives us strength for the times when we find the Christian life challenging. When I am weak he makes me strong. So in this I find great peace and contentment knowing that He will be beside me all the way.