January 7, 2015

Timing and giving

The Lord gave me two main thoughts today. The first was an almost humorous nudge. The second went much deeper.

First, I’ve been silently moaning that I’m getting too old to start anything, to accomplish much, to begin any new ministry when I graduate, blah, blah, blah. So the first thing that caught my eye in the Genesis reading was this: “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” (Genesis 12:4)

I almost laughed aloud at His gentle rebuke. Then I remembered Moses was eighty when God called him to free His people from slavery. If these two great people of God didn’t start anything until they were older than I am now, then I’ve no reason to call myself too old. The Lord may never ask me to do much, but I cannot excuse myself because of too many birthdays.

Then the Lord backed it up with this next reading: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven . . .” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). The best time is always the Lord’s time. I’ve tried to push things, even good ideas that I knew came from God, but God does not bless that. He blesses those who wait on Him. “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” (Psalm 39:7) Impatience shows that I trust me more than I trust Him.

As I read into the NT, the words of Jesus dig a bit deeper. He is instructing His disciples as they go out to minister in His name. With the instructions, He says, “. . . You received without paying; give without pay.” (Matthew 10:8)

The first part has to mean my salvation. It cost me nothing. God freely justifies sinners. By grace I am saved through faith, and that isn’t mine to boast about either. All of it, justification, grace, faith, are gifts from God. I definitely ‘received’ without paying.

However, giving without pay is a challenge. Pay is not just about money. It includes appreciation and some sense of doing good or mattering to others. The illustration that comes to mind: How would I think and act if God sent me to wash the hands and feet of a sick person, and no one knew that I was doing it and the sick person never said thank you or even smiled at me? Gulp.

Yesterday I wondered if this blog meant anything to anyone. This morning a person wrote and told me it was meaningful to her, and I rejoiced. But what if no one ever said anything? Could I keep going without any payback at all? That would be giving without pay.

Mothers sometimes feel like they give without pay, but children do return something for our efforts. I’m thinking “give without pay” is almost non-existent, but then if someone was doing that, no one would know about it anyway.

Jesus, again You raise the bar and make me realize that I cannot live for You without You living in me and continuing to give – even give without pay in all those situations where I acted as if You didn’t exist. You give life, and breath, and everything needed to be what You want me to be, and far too often I am thankless and fail to appreciate who You are and what You do.

I need to remember that to have the humility of Jesus Christ means wait on Him and to give without pay.

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