Tag Archives: celebration

Kings and Servants

“The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.” – James Joyce

A few weeks ago, I received an invitation to a colleague’s open house.  I replied that I planned to attend, placed a reminder on my calendar, and went on about my day.  The morning of the event arrived and the alert from my calendar reminded me about what was to come that evening.  Soon, I received a call from another guest requesting a ride for her and her friend who is also my long-time acquaintance.  She said she planned to make the 25 minute drive to the friend’s house but did not want to drive the remaining 35 minutes to the open house.  After determining that they both had a relaxed approach to the arrival and departure to and from the event, I happily agreed to drive them.  Then I had second thoughts.  Why did they want a ride?  Are they heavy drinkers?  What happens if I get there, don’t like the vibe, and want to leave early but they aren’t ready?  Who wouldn’t want the freedom to come and go on their own terms without regard for others?  The Spirit said, “just go with it and drive them.”

When the evening came, I got dressed and drove towards the friend’s house to pick the two of them up.  Her residence was in a large condominium complex that functioned like a gated community.  The security was very tight.  Residents had barcoded decals that were electronically read.  Guests were required to drive up to the gate house, show government issued identification, and wait for the guard to write down the car tag and personal information.  If that was not enough, I then had to provide the resident’s name, building number and unit number.  The guard paused and then took a good hard look at me, a stare lasting several seconds.  I maintained eye contact with him and smiled.  I wondered if I was in the wrong place.  He then said, “You are here to see the ambassador?”  There was a few seconds of silence as he waited for my response.  I nodded yes.  He then called her to confirm that she knew me and was aware of my arrival.  I thought, “I know she was an ambassador in the middle of her career but I call her by her first name, not by her title.”

I drove through the gate, picked them up, and we headed to the open house.  We talked and laughed about old times and caught up on life’s happenings.  One thing I learned was that my acquaintance had been chronically ill for the past six years.  The open house was her first outing of the season.  The other guest doesn’t like to drive in unfamiliar territory at night.  They were both just so thankful for the chance to have a worry-free enjoyable evening.

We arrived and settled in with the hostess and the other guests.  People were in the holiday spirit and there was a very positive energy at the gathering.  There were several guests present who had achieved high career status, including another former ambassador, but the event was supposed to be a holiday celebration with colleagues and friends.  After a few hours of mingling and when my passengers were ready, we left.  Like old friends, we talked and laughed all the way home.

As I laid down that evening, reflected on the day, and had my conversation with God, I told Him about my experience.  He said, “Yes, My child!  A lot happened today.  Let’s go through this:

  1. Why so many questions about giving these people a ride to the same place you already had plans to go? As you learned, My children were suffering in ways you didn’t know. Next time, please just be eager to respond when called. When you take up your cross daily and follow Me, know that I am leading you to green pastures and by still waters. Although our relationship is intimate and personal, I frequently place several of My children in the same space. You need each other.
  2. The whole security experience – Well, it is a reminder that is analogous to entering My kingdom. At the appropriate time, I will send for you. Your walk is at a slow pace and is along a narrow winding road. It is My grace that will get you to the gates and you living the life I have called you to that confirms we know each other.
  3. Yes, you could wow a crowd telling the story of the two ambassadors. Some people in your country will go a lifetime without ever seeing one, let alone two in the same day who look like you. My question to you is what can you do to inspire the same crowd with stories of The One True King? The answer lies in the understanding that this life is not about being impressive; rather it is about leaving a Godly impression on others.
  4. To sum it all up, when you enter with a heart of service, an open mind, and the desire to show Me to others, you will always gain an optimistic energy and feel a positive vibe. I love you! Now go. Be My love to others…everyday…every chance you get.” “Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.” – James Joyce

His word tells us, 7 And now God can always point to us as examples of how very, very rich his kindness is, as shown in all he has done for us through Jesus Christ. 8 Because of his kindness, you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves; it too is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take any credit for it. 10 It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others. Ephesians 2 (TLB)

As I rocked in bed like a toddler in her mother’s arms, I was lulled to sleep by this song in my head:  I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by your side.  I can only imagine what my eyes will see when your face is before me.  I can only imagine.  Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel?  Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still?  Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall?  Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all?  I can only imagine…I can only imagine when that day comes and I find myself standing in the Son.  I can only imagine when all I will do is forever, forever worship You.  I can only imagine.  – MercyMe, I Can Only Imagine

Until then Lord, may I always be Your ready and humble servant! – Amen

Let Freedom Ring

Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17 – NIV)

Yesterday was a long day.  I started it overseas on a mechanically delayed flight, only to arrive in the US at the onslaught of a downpour.  As I was transiting through the airport, everything continued to slow down – the immigration procession, the luggage delivery to the baggage carousel, the customs queue, the baggage re-check station, and of course the security line.  When I arrived at my connecting gate, I learned that there was yet another flight delay caused by a category 2 hurricane surging along the eastern seaboard.  Hours later, we boarded the aircraft, only to be off-loaded because the flight was cancelled.  Throughout the 10-hour day that had been riddled with delay after delay after delay, I had lots of built-in time and opportunities to be His light and illuminate paths to Him for others.  In many moments I beamed, but in a two instances, I may have casted shadows.  As I remembered my sarcastic responses to lack of clarity for information provided by various airport employees, I felt a lesson larger than patience coming on.  But when the message did not readily come to me, I pressed on.

Realizing that the sun would set, rise again, and set a second time before I would arrive back home, I understood that God had used the day as a metaphor to get me to figuratively and literally slow down and reflect on why I do what I do.  But I still wrestled with understanding the kernel of what He was asking me to think about or learn.  As my head continued to pound from an unaddressed migraine, His desire for my comprehension hit me like a ton of bricks – it’s the reason or purpose for what I do, not the task of work itself.  Then in baritone He said, “As My child, your job is to pursue what you do in the service of others with excellence.  This whole inspiration thing is a requirement, not an option, according to the gifts that have been given to you.  Pay it forward, as you are in this moment and place only because of the blood, sweat, and tears of those who came before you.  Remember the blood of my son, the sweat of Booker T. and the tears of your mother?  I set this earth into motion, built this nation, and gave you good health and an education.  Because of it, you have freedom of motion, freedom of choice, and freedom in Christ.  It is complementary to you but was bought and paid for with a high price.  Now get up and get ’er done!  I know you have a headache.  You don’t think they did too?  The difference is I have given you the resources to obtain a remedy.  You have simply chosen not to reach for relief.  Now, let’s go!”

My mouth and my feet had stopped moving but the cannons in my head continued to volley and thunder.  I begged my presence of mind not to abandon me as I regained my bearings, found a newspaper kiosk, purchased headache medicine, and took it dry.  Within a few seconds, I had better clarity of thought and was humbled as this song came to mind:  Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness.  Open my eyes, let me see beauty that made this heart adore You; Hope of a life spent with You.  King of all days, oh, so highly exalted; glorious in heaven above.  Humbly You came to the earth You created; all for love’s sake became poor.  And here I am to worship.  Here I am to bow down.  Here I am to say that You’re my God.  You’re altogether lovely; altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me.  I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.  And I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.  (Chris Tomlin – Here I Am to Worship)

I got rebooked on another flight and made it to a hotel.  As I laid in bed on the eve of America’s birthday trying to exit the cognitive labyrinth I found myself in, I landed on what initially seemed to be this simple solution: In His name and for His gain, lovingly make friends and influence people.  However upon further reflection, I thought: Simple? Not so much!  How?  Clearly He is asking me to alter, even if ever so slightly, my current direction or orientation.  The more I mused, the more entangled in the maze I became; like a helpless swimmer trapped in a whirlpool beneath a great waterfall, tossed and turned in a billion-gallon agitating vortex.  Feeling my mental vertigo, the spirit gently approached me and said, “Listen!  He knows how your mind races.  That is why He wanted you to slow down.  Relax!  Here is what He is saying:  Tomorrow is your nation’s birthday.  On that day, remember that many before you were called to spread His good will.  Follow in their footsteps.  As you enjoy the celebrations and fireworks, know that He wants you to approach every second of everyday with the zeal to love the people next to you.  The global approach begins with a single soul.  The each one teach one concept will spread the good news like wildfire, if everyone does their part.  But it begins with you.”

My contemplations on the experience have me here:

  1. We are all soldiers on this battlefield.
  2. It takes each one executing mission for all to hear His bells of freedom ringing.
  3. He takes no prisoners as true liberty is found by asking to be in Him.

Our celebrations of independence are an admission of interdependence with the rest of humanity and our total dependence on Him.  We are highly valued and have great worth.  But untold tariffs, fees, fares, and tolls were paid as necessary sacrifices for deliverance.  Yes, the echoes of emancipation are expensive.  Fight for them because their significance is enormous.  But remember that love is the only true answer to autonomy.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.  (Psalm 33:12 – NIV)

Our God demonstrates everyday what is written at our most memorable port of entry :  “Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land; here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.  From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.  Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”  Let us honor Him and our glorious nation as is called for in Galatians 5:1, 7-10, and 13-15, It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…7You were running a good race.  Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?  8That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.  9‘A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.’  10I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view.  The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty…13You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.  14For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  15If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”  Live strong, fight on, let freedom ring and have a happy 4th of July.