Friday, August 21, 2015

The Treadmill of Life...

But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

Funny how things come to mind while you're doing just regular least that how it happens to me.  While at the gym on the treadmill doing my regular routine it came to me how similar it is with traveling the journey of life....

I would love to paint a picture of me in a cute and matching gym outfit (preferably in fuchsia and turquoise) oh! and with a matching headband, socks and shoes. No visible perspiration on my face or armpits and of course perfectly coiffed hair and full makeup in the vision that I would like to see of me on the treadmill.  But honey, first of all I have to fight to get to the gym to get ON the treadmill, so most times that means a T-shirt with a faded logos,

oversized gym pants, my gym shoes that I have broken in and don't care if they match my outfit, no socks, hair combed back from my face in prep for all that sweat that will drip down my face with a smidgen of makeup (I have to at least put eyeliner on or I would scare folks...can't have that.)  Not quite the "vision" I would like to see of me on the treadmill, BUT I get there and begin...

I start slow at first, getting myself acclimated to walking against the belt. Lots of times I get distracted by the change of music or folks coming in and out and when that happens it makes me begin to concentrate on how much longer I have to stay on this blasted thing! The distractions seem to get my mind off the the good results of the exercise routine and instead it makes me become weary of what I have to do to get there. The distractions make the act of going "forward" tedious instead of a joy for what is ahead. So I have to stay focused on my goal...yes the belt is going in the opposite direction, but as I continue to walk forward it is making me stronger.

I am a people watcher, so as I am looking around I begin to notice how some people use the treadmill: you have your slow walkers, they take it nice and easy, no hurry and know their limitations and just thankful probably to be able to get on a treadmill. Then you have your runners, that seem so confident, they are there for a workout (and a little showoff I think sometimes) and they want to do this routine, and reap the results quickly. Then you have your moderate walkers, like me...start off slow, increasing gradually, trying to stay focused, keeping the goal in mind so the routine won't become a chore instead of a joy and did I say SWEATING up a storm!  Is any one of these the correct way?

To be honest with you, I don't know, all I know is what works for me. In this life's journey we are reminded in God's Word to constantly go forward, to not look back.  Going back is actually no longer an option, but we sometimes spend so much of our time and energy worrying about things that we can not change. Yes the belt of the treadmill is constantly going opposite, but it is the going forward that produces the desired results.  Imagine if you will a person walking backwards on a treadmill, I see a crash landing and broken limbs, hardly what we would want. Even if life seems to want to pull us backwards, we have to constantly allow the Holy Spirit to help and encourage us to go forward.

Distractions will come, but we must stay focused on this walk and the goal of being successful only comes with being more like Jesus. Not one of us is perfect, we each have our own "style", some are slow walkers, cautious and laid back, some are runners, very confident and fast, and some start off slow, but increase as they stay more focused. We are all on a treadmill of life (I know that sounds corny, but there ya go). We are all given an opportunity to go forward and become what God intended us to be. My prayer is that I will continue to hold steady, not be distracted, to stay focused and to keep my eyes on the learn more about the character of God and to become what He wants me to be. As we walk in His Truth and Light, we will accomplish all that He has for us on this earth.

"Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. " Philippians 3:12-14

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Jesus Loves me...this I know.

One of, if not THEE most profound, liberating Truth ever to be spoken.  Jesus LOVES ME...can you say it with me..."Jesus LOVES ME". It sometimes gives me goose bumps when I say that, mainly because I know the things that I've done, the things that I have said...I know the Real me...and yet there is One who knows me even better than me. He sees beyond my faults and sees my needs, He sees past the rejections, heartbrokenness, and confident façade and sees...ME and He STILL loves me, without restraint, without condition.

The little song "Jesus Loves Me", author unknown:
Jesus Loves Me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little one to Him belong,
They are weak, but He is Strong.
Yes Jesus Loves me, Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus Loves me, for the Bible tells me so.

I sang this song for the first time when I was a tot in Sunday school and today many years later it still rings true in my heart. In the midst of chaotic situations, the singing of this song still brings me peace and reminds me of the simple yet dynamic Truth that in spite of it all Jesus LOVES ME!

I have seen this simple song turn the hearts of some of the most unhappy souls. Once while preparing to sing during a prison ministry service, as I watched the inmates file in to be seated, I noticed their faces and body language. They had heard it all from folks coming in to preach at them, they knew they had sinned and disappointed their families, society...themselves. The songs that I had prepared to
sing no longer seemed fitting to share with this group of people that seemed to have no hope. When it was my turn to sing, even though we had brought in all the equipment to make each song sound as if it was being accompanied by a full orchestra, I left it off and began to sing accapella  "Jesus Loves Me This I Know."  One by one each inmate's head began to lift, their body language began to straighten and soon each and everyone was singing along with me, "Yes Jesus love me, Yes Jesus loves me."  Needless to say there were many tears and then smiles.  That little simple song changed the atmosphere of the whole service.  Many of the inmates later shared how they remembered singing that song as a child and how it reminded them of God's love for them.

The real author of that little song is not known and I think the reason why is that we can all write and add a verse to it. We can tell the many ways we know how much He loves us, how He allowed us to be born, kept us from all harm, met our needs, was always there, etc. etc.  I know that I could write a million verses!

I have sang "Jesus Loves Me , this I know" in Nursing homes where many felt discarded by their loved ones and were preparing to leave this earth; I have sang it to babies and children, who had their future before them and maybe not fully able to understand, I have sang it to teens with walls of  indifference seemingly so high and impenetrable and yes, many times to harden criminals without hope of ever having a second chance at life; and that little simple song always has the same response.  It has nothing to do with my singing skills or lack thereof...but it is the simple words of this age old song that rings true in their hearts.  Those words make you stop...listen and meditate on that fact that God LOVES us...He really matter if we can feel it...or see is so true! He loves us and there is not a thing that we can do about it, but receive it and allow Him to make us better.

"For God so loved the world , that He gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."  John 3:16