Tag Archives: MercyMe

Faithful Obedience

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend came to my house at 9pm. Her visit was unusual as folks call me before they come by and it is rare that I entertain anyone so late. Nonetheless, she arrived, hurried and on a mission. With a sense of urgency and directness in her tone and mannerisms, she asked me if I could certify a student in CPR the next day. As I began to explain that I didn’t have a class scheduled for the next day, she cut me off and said, “I need you to do this!” In an act of sheer and gut level obedience, I said “yes ma’am”, as I had never experienced such insistence and exigency from her. I explained that I did not have a classroom available and did not know how I could find one in such short notice. She smiled, said she had a place in mind, and reminded me that God works all things out for His greater good. She then dialed a number on her cell phone and said, “Hey! She can do it. Tell him to show up at the church at 11:30 in the morning.” She asked me for a cup of tea to go, told me to find a trustee at her church when I arrive, and said there is bound to be an unoccupied room available. She then scurried on her way. I thought to myself, “Lord, what has the cat just drug into her life and what am I about to get myself into? How can this possibly work when the church holds its largest service of the week at 11:00 and it lasts for two hours?” The Spirit reminded me that the power of obedience to Him has the ability to turn the impossible into the easy.

I was restless and anxious when I laid down. I fell asleep while reading this scripture, “To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have been given a faith as precious as ours: 2 May grace and peace be yours in full measure through your knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 God’s divine power has given us everything we need to live a truly religious life through our knowledge of the one who called us to share in his own glory and goodness. 4 In this way he has given us the very great and precious gifts he promised, so that by means of these gifts you may escape from the destructive lust that is in the world, and may come to share the divine nature. 5 For this very reason do your best to add goodness to your faith; to your goodness add knowledge; 6 to your knowledge add self-control; to your self-control add endurance; to your endurance add godliness; 7 to your godliness add Christian affection; and to your Christian affection add love. These are the qualities you need, and if you have them in abundance, they will make you active and effective in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1-8 GNT)

The next morning, after attending service at my own church, I drove 25 miles to my girlfriend’s church. When I arrived, I found a trustee who took me to the basement of the building and led me from room to room, looking for an empty space. He eventually told me that the best he could do was to allow me to use the child care class room for two year olds. He then cautioned me that the lyrical dancers from the special church service would also have to use the room to change clothes after their worship dance.  He unlocked the classroom door, wished me good luck, and returned to his post. As I entered the room, I said, “seriously! Let me see if I understand this. I have a strange adult male student in a classroom with Lilliputian furniture that we have to share as a dressing room with female dancers.” About that time, the heft of the music from the gospel organs began to fill the space. The Spirit said, “settle down. Your calling today is only about obedience and has nothing to do with questioning the Caller.” I nodded in acceptance, set my equipment up as best I could, and then went back to the lobby to wait for the student.

I called his name to two people I imagined might be him. They each told me I had the wrong person. Then a thin guy with a tight pullover and over-sized jeans walked in. He was holding his belt loops on one side to prevent his pants from sagging. I called his name and he answered, “yes ma’am.” After exchanging greetings, we returned to the basement and began our training, adjusting the volume on the computer aids as the church music  softened and then thundered between dances numbers. There was a rhythmic cadence to the interruptions to our lessons as dancers entered every 10 minutes or so to change their outfits.

We completed the video, lecture, and question/answer part of the training.  As I needed to set up the space for the practical exercises that would simulate recognizing and reacting to a breathing emergency, I asked him to stand in the hallway near the wall. When I looked up, I realized that he was facing the wall with his fingers interlaced behind his head and his feet spread far apart, as if I had placed him in a pre-arrest position. I thought, “Oh goodness! I am dealing with a convicted felon; a vulnerable soul whose expectation is that those who are in a perceived position of power will take advantage of him.” In that moment, he seemed willing to take whatever abuse I might dole out simply to walk away with an authentic certification card whose twin-looking faux could have been bought off of the street in a matter of minutes. I immediately began to pray, asking the Spirit to help me stay focused on why He brought me to this place and asked that my work be honoring and pleasing to Him. The lyrics to MercyMe’s You Are I Am came to mind –

I’ve been the one to shake with fear and wonder if You’re even here. I’ve been the one to doubt Your love. I’ve told myself You’re not enough. I’ve been the one to try and say I’ll overcome by my own strength. I’ve been the one to fall apart and start to question who You are.

 We worked through the practical exercises and he did well. I had already made up my mind that I was not going to give him a written exam because he was not well schooled or articulate. Doing so would have been a test of his reading comprehension, an exercise he would have likely failed. Nonetheless, I gave him 15 minutes and told him to use the time to study his manual in preparation for the exam. When time was up, I told him to put his manual away. I told him I wanted to ask him a few questions before the exam began. I asked him to tell me something new he learned in the class. He sighed! I said, ” just tell me one thing new, not everything in the manual.” He sighed again and then began to sob uncontrollably. I sarcastically said under my breathe, “Uh, what act of obedience am I supposed to follow now?” The Spirit said sternly, “chill and be still!”

After a few minutes, he recomposed himself and said, “I am a 40-year old grown man and I am sitting up here crying. It’s because you are a complete stranger; yet you cared for me. You are genuinely interested in my learning and you allowed me to earn something of great personal value to me. I have never had that experience before. You see, there are people I have known all my life who don’t mean any good for me. Here you are, a random stranger, and you care.” The Spirit then whispered, “Look, listen, and feel applies to more than just CPR, huh? In God’s great plan, humble obedience leads to the promised land. In all you do, remember whose you are and stay focused on what you were called to do.” Jeremiah 29:11-14 immediately came mind, 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” (NLT)

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