Built to serve

car-3189771_1920Car commercials crack me up. 

There are the luxury cars that try to evoke images of ecstasy by a voluptuous female draped over the hood or a tuxedo’d movie star falling backwards (slo-mo) into a swimming pool.  You want to be cool?  Drive this car.

Then there are the manly truck commercials with the deep, disembodied voice talking about ratios and torque (whatever those are). You want to be studly?  Drive this truck.

The ones that appeal to family make much more sense to me.  The safety factor of “your-child-is-more-likely-to-survive-a-crash-in-this-car” is a brilliant advertising strategy in my book.  You want to be safe?  Pick this one.

I’m more of an SUV gal myself.  Being 5-foot-12 makes a sport car a bit challenging, and I like the thought of having more steel around me anyway.  All-wheel drive, stowing capacity and towing strength, it’s all on my check list. Continue reading “Built to serve”

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Take me, break me, make me

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Now here’s a character I really relate to—Saul.  No, not the apostle, unfortunately.  His story turned out pretty well, considering he wrote over half the New Testament and all. 

I’m talking about the Old Testament Saul, and the making of the erstwhile monarch of Israel.  It’s not like he asked for the position, after all, and despite all the positive social markers, he had a serious fear-of-man-self-preservation complex going on.

Thus, I can relate.

Here’s what’s going on:

The prophet Samuel has told Saul to wait for him seven days at Gilgal.   Samuel will arrive, present the offerings to God, and then Saul and his army will go wipe out the enemy de jour. This was a clear mandate, unmistakable in its direction and timing.  No discussion needed.

But there was a problem.  Samuel didn’t show up.  And on top of that:

“The Philistines mustered a mighty army of 3,000 chariots, 6,000 charioteers, and as many warriors as the grains of sand on the seashore!”

Which, granted, would be a bit intimidating.  It certainly was for Saul’s men, who suddenly must have heard their wives calling them home for lunch or something. Consequently, Saul’s army began thinning out, and fast.  The king made a decision:

“So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself. 

Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived.”

Oops.

Needless to say, Saul’s explanation was less than effective, and Samuel’s edict was unfortunate, as was the rest of Saul’s reign.

“’How foolish!’ Samuel exclaimed. ‘You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. Had you kept it, the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart.’”

Saul didn’t know it, but God had had him uniquely positioned for a serious breakthrough.  But Saul blew it.

Whereas our modern-day markets and media value tangible results, heavenly success is measured in terms of obedience.  If Saul had remembered his history, he could have leaned on the exciting story of Gideon and his paltry three-hundred, or even Moses at the Red Sea before the onslaught of Egyptian chariots.  Instead, the first king of Israel decided to interpret his situation by his own (very limited) appraisal. 

Sadly, his assessment left out one incredibly big Resource.

Because our God specializes in seemingly no-win situations.  He will bring me to a breaking point where I have a clear choice between obedience or expediency. When that happens, it can mean that sometimes—or many times—He will actually let me be broken, shattered, shards on the floor.  Careful where you step.  Part of the dream is over there; a piece of my heart is in that corner.  Where’d I put the broom?

What I desperately need to remember in those periods, (and they do come), is that obedience proceeds breakthrough.  That is, God will do the breaking, then I have to walk through it.   This gets a bit uncomfortable for a time; nevertheless, I am never alone.  Ever.

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.”

There’s that word “through” again.  (Selah…)

I also need to remember that the condition of my heart in obedience before God is more important to Him than the size of my “army”…or church…or bank account…or any relationship.  My focus needs to be, and stay, on the clear directive.

Because God will show up; He always does. 

1 Samuel 13:5,9-10,13-14; Psalm 23:4 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved

SAY NOT THE STRUGGLE

quill

Here’s one I fell in love with, tucked away in a small used book I picked up somewhere.  The author sounds like a pretty cool guy, not only because of the hopeful tenor of the poem, but that he was the assistant of one of my heroines, the one and only Florence Nightingale!  (You can’t be all bad if you worked for Flo.)  Here’s my INFO.

 

SAY NOT THE STRUGGLE

by Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861)

 

Say not the struggle naught availeth,

    The labour and the wounds are vain

The enemy faints not, nor faileth,

    And as things have been they remain.

 

If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;

    It may be, in yon smoke conceal’d,

Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,

    And, but for you, possess the field.

 

For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,

    Seem here no painful inch to gain,

Far back, through creeks and inlets making,

    Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

 

And not by eastern windows only,

    When daylight comes, comes in the light;

In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!

    But westward, look, the land is bright!

 

A Little Treasury of British Poetry, Ed. by Oscar Williams. ©1951 Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York