October 23, 2009
Two weeks ago I started my own business cleaning houses. No, I am truly not crazy. I know it is hard work, and probably not the best profession for someone with the physical difficulties I have. However, I needed to find a way to make decent money in a way that still allowed me to be a mother, a student, a teacher-in-training, an actress, and a church member as well as occasionally a friend and cooperative family member. So, cleaning houses seemed a logical answer.
Some people have an aptitude for numbers, others for spatial reasoning and some for music. I am none of those people. My only true talents depend on the eternal existence of MLA and the need for comma rules. I have recently discovered a hidden talent, though: Details. I am pretty good at catching the little things in life–be it a missed comma, symbolism or hidden dirt, I can root it out and deal with it appropriately. So, the new business plus my newly discovered talent are working hand-in-hand to help me survive.
Today, while cleaning a client’s house, I was overcome by the desire to take it easy. The last time I’d seen this particular house, I’d spent 4 hours scrubbing and sweeping, so I desperately just wanted to do some light dusting and get on with my life. Still, I needed the money that was waiting for me at the end of the mop, so I dug in. Monetary motivation propelled through one entire floor of cleaning. Upon reaching the second level, however, I was gripped anew by the lazy spirit calling out to me.
Then, it hit me. Standing in the kitchen, seriously contemplating cutting a few corners, I remembered this phrase “Work as though you were working for the Lord.”
At the time, I wasn’t sure the phrase was Biblical or just something people say to make workers more complacent. But, I seemed to remember it being a Bible quote (one that’s kind of hard to ignore), so I began to view each task in a new light.
If I were cleaning Jesus’ house, would I just sweep around the chairs or would I move every chair out of the room and sweep the entire floor? Despite my aching shoulders, I moved all the chairs.
If I were cleaning God’s office, would I just dust around the lamp or would I dust the post, shade and underneath?
Needless to say, the quality of my work increased about 12,000%, and what I thought would take me a million times longer didn’t put me over-schedule at all. In fact, I had time to wipe down the baseboards in two bathrooms!
Come to find out, the principle is from the New Testament “In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people.”-Colossians 3:23
I’m fairly certain that had it been Jesus’ place of residence, I would have been on my hands and knees scrubbing rather than using a mop and I know I would have washed the walls, but at least I left with my heart in the right place. The monetary reward was definitely needed, but it was not my motivation.
I just hope I can remember that for the next appointment.
Check out the Inspirations page (to your right) for quotes from my favorite literary pieces and some amazing authors.
October 14, 2009
Recently, when I changed my life completely to follow what I believe to be the will of God, the question I kept getting asked was “Why?” Why leave comfort, happiness, and security for uncertainty? The one thing people had come to trust in me, logic, seemed to have played no role in my decision. From the outside, I suppose it truly made no sense, and I didn’t know enough then to phrase my defense.
Today Luke gave me the words that had failed to come to mind: “DO the things that show you really have changed your hearts and lives.” Luke 3:8 NCV
Here it was! My answer exactly. It was not enough to say my life was changed. I felt compelled to actually do it.
As I meditated on the meaning of the words of John the Baptist that Luke recorded, layers began to unfold. (Who knew Luke would have something in common with an Ogre and an onion).
First layer: In-Context-
Here John is speaking to Jews who are described in verse 15 as “hoping for the Christ to come.” These are devout people who know the law and traditions and are hoping for the promises of God. Still, they were relying on their lineage to save them.
“Don’t begin to say to yourselves ‘Abraham is our father,’” John says. He knew they were counting on their birthright.
Today, believers rely on the pervasiveness of grace. We say to ourselves, “My debt has been paid!”
But this is layer number two: a son can be denied his inheritance, and grace is not all we are called to.
We are also call to be a light in the dark world; we are called to be disciples. We are called to be Christ-like.
Layer three: Proof of John’s point-
If anyone has had the excuse of inheritance it’s Jesus. He is the SON OF GOD. Literally. Still, He lived a life honoring God. He even obeyed His mother Mary when she demanded He perform a miracle before the appointed time and for foolish reasons.
Jesus could have legitimately been arrogant or vindictive. He could have conquered and demanded and paraded. Instead, He loved, healed, preached, confronted deception, unearthed corruption; and He submitted. What excuse is there for us?
So how does that relate to me? To you?
Let me go back. When I read Matthew, one account propelled me toward a life-change more than any other: Two brothers were called by Jesus as they were preparing for their father’s funeral. Without hesitation, they followed. If burying your father isn’t an excuse to delay, then no excuse I came up with would be viable either.
Similarly, if Jews and Jesus himself could not rely purely on inheritance, then I cannot lounge purely in grace. Because we are not just called out of sin, we are also called in to something. And that something is a more complete, more fulfilling, more obedient life.
“Loving God means obeying His commands. And God’s commands are not too hard for us because everyone who is a child of God conquers the world…” I John 5:3-4
October 5, 2009
For some reason, I was labeled a wild-child early in life. Possibly my desire to be the center of attention; the constant need for intellectual and creative stimulation; or the sheer force of my will to have things my way created a perception of impending trouble before I could formulate a defense. Often immature, childish, crazy things I did were explained away by this nature. “Well, she always was dramatic,” became a family mantra and the pressure to prove everyone wrong mounted against me.
Grades were often enough to back down the lynch-mob. Proving I was smart provided hope for those who were wary about the direction my life might take. Where my decisions disappointed, my logic impressed.
Stll, an untruth had crept into the family and settled in a halo around me. My sister filled one stereotype and I fulfilled the other. The lie spread and took root deep within the mindset of all those who loved me, and soon took root in me: I was wild, bad and prone to drama. There was no escaping who I was. So I lived the lie…live the lie.
Thursday, my life changed.
Through an inspired conversation with a pastor at my new home church, I was granted access to my first superpower: the truth. It sounds simple…and, it kind of was. Two sentences revolutionized my thinking: “Whoever told you that you were not capable of being good lied to you. And, the next time they try to tell you that say, ‘No. That’s a lie.’”
Regardless of my past missteps; doubts of those I respect; or words from those who want me to fail-I was handed the power to stop the cycle.
I have nothing to prove. They have nothing to apologize for-I just don’t have to listen any more. I am a new creation, a daughter of God. Nothing anyone can say will stop me from believing that-not even my own insecurities.
Don’t let insecurities or pre-determined thoughts of failure determine your future either.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”-Jeremiah 29:11
“We know that everything works together for good for those who love God.”-Romans 8:28