He’s Not the Dry Cleaner

I picked up my dry cleaning yesterday. It was actually two separate tickets, so that says something about the lack of urgency of my dry cleaning routine. When they say, “It’ll be ready tomorrow by five,” I courteously reply with thanks. If I wanted to reply in kind I’d say, “No rush. See you in a few weeks.”

There is the rare occasion when I realize I need something that quick. A wedding or funeral demands a quicker pickup. So I’m more in the “I’ll see you then” mode.  I’m in need, and I’m expecting them to deliver.

If we aren’t paying attention, we can treat God like the dry cleaner. We pull up in the drive-thru lane, drop off our needs, say thanks, and go about our day without much urgency.  No big deal. Unless it’s that rare occasion. Then we might actually be more demanding of him than we are the dry cleaner.

To be clear, He isn’t the dry cleaner.

He doesn’t say, “You tell me when you need it, and I’ll get right on that.” He’s not a business owner needing your business in order to keep the doors open. He’s not in the business of keeping you satisfied.

But here’s a question: What about those desperate times when you are truly in need of support, or connection, or at least an acknowledgment that He’s there? We understand in that moment He isn’t going to completely solve our issue, but can He at least let us know He’s on the job.  We aren’t an irate customer; more like a hurting son or daughter.

Recently I found myself torn between treating him like the dry cleaner, fully knowing He isn’t, and like my heavenly Father.  I won’t share all the dialogue, but suffice it to say it was more than a short conversation in the drive-thru.

And what He did was what He promises to do. He heard my cry.  He didn’t totally solve my issue, but He gave me what I needed to get back on the road.  His answer to my question, “What are you doing?” was, “Whatever it is, I’ll give you the strength for it.”

And that was enough-especially when I stopped acting like His customer and more like His child.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Waldemar Brandt

“Self,…”

Fear is exhausting. Well, at least misplaced fear can be. Proper fear can actually provide joy and comfort.

Several people have commented how that in spite of being slowed down since March they still feel tired, maybe even more so. Perhaps fear is to blame.

I started a new book this afternoon, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn. His book contains 48 devotionals written as notes to “Self,” reminders of what you know based on Scripture. Note #3, entitled “Fear,” includes these thoughts:

Worldly fear will lead you to toe party lines, compel you to try to live a safe life, and lead you to so prize the good gifts of God that they mutate into idols.

Your possessions can go up in flames, but you have treasure in heaven and stand to inherit the kingdom. Your reputation may be sullied, but you are justified in Jesus. You may be rejected by those who you admire, but you are accepted by God. You may be hated, but your Father in heaven loves you with an undying love.

The fear you need to maintain and cultivate is a fear of God, for in it you will discover wisdom and develop strength that enables you to persevere in faith to the end.

Somewhere in those reminders may you find rest from fear, whether you’re fighting your own or burdened by other’s.

What if you wrote your own note to self? What reminders would it include?

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Melanie Wasser

3 Things That Matter

In this read of Ravi Zacharias’s The Grand Weaver, three things stood out to me. They, like all eight chapters in the book, discuss what matters.


Your disappointments matter

In chapter two, he wrote this about the end of life:

One of three things will happen to your heart: it will grow hard, it will be broken, or it will be tender.

He looks at the lives of David, Job, and Habakkuk to illustrate the importance of communion with God to carry us through pain, to make us “tender by that which makes the heart of God tender.” God’s presence is more essential than answers.

Your calling matters

In chapter three, these three statements can breathe life into any searcher:

When your will becomes aligned with God’s will, his calling upon you has found its home.

God often reinforces our faith after we trust him, not before.

No follower of Christ does secular work.  We all have a sacred calling.

Your worship matters

Chapter eight may be the best chapter you’ll ever read about worship. In it, he discusses the five main components of worship taken from the book of Acts: the Lord’s Supper, teaching, prayer, praise, and giving. This line speaks deeply to why worship matters:

When worship and praise lose their focus and purpose, the finite finds the Infinite boring and the creature finds the Creator insufficient.

Tenderness matters.  Trust matters.  Worship matters.

“Have Some Tortellini!”

Yesterday morning a group of our church leaders shared what we’ve learned from the last 13 weeks since we were forced to respond to COVID-19. It was helpful for us to share with one another. In the spirit of sharing, here’s something I learned, maybe was reminded about last week while in the grocery store.

A while back I came across this brand of chicken salad in the deli that I now consider a staple. It’s an every-other-trip-to-the-store item. So as I headed to the shelf where my tub waited for me, another staple-finder beat me. He stopped right in front of my chicken salad. No big deal. What’s a few seconds to wait?

Well, he needed more than a few seconds. So you know, I rarely need more than a few seconds on any aisle in the store. I was getting a little irked waiting, but keeping my cool and my distance. I told myself, “Take a look around right where you are. If nothing else, distract yourself. Maybe there’s something here worth trying.”

One of my favorite pastas is tortellini. You can stuff them with just about anything, and I’ll pass you my bowl. Oddly though, I don’t buy it to make at home. It’s not a staple, more of a restaurant-only choice.

So…guess what I discovered after listening to myself. Yep, deli tortellini that I’ve walked by dozens of times…clueless and unfulfilled. (Yes, that’s over dramatic.) I had stopped right in front of it, but only because I was forced to.

What did I learn in the deli? Waiting has benefits.

  • Respecting others
  • Looking and learning
  • Seeing what you’ve missed
  • Discovering a new routine or staple
  • God may smile on you with a surprise…”Good job, waiting! Have some tortellini!”

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Izzy Boscawen

Your Summary

Chapter three in Ravi Zacharias’s book The Grand Weaver is entitled “Your Calling Matters.” Here’s how he defines God’s calling:

A calling is simply God’s shaping of your burden and beckoning you to your service to him in the place and pursuit of his choosing.

When I think of Ravi Zacharias, I believe he knew his calling. Who comes to mind of people you believe knew their calling? Whomever it is, see if they exemplify this next sentence that ends the same paragraph including that definition:

When your will becomes aligned with God’s will, his calling upon you has found its home.

The challenge is maintaining that alignment. If the tapestry God desires to design through one’s life is to be completed, staying pliable and surrendered in the Grand Weaver’s hand is required.

When he summarized leaders in the Bible, God pronounced their pursuit of their call with one of two statements: “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” or “he did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”

This Matters. 

Your Calling Matters. 

Your Summary Matters.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Jamie Street

Words

I decided a few weeks ago this is a time to read through Proverbs. Many messages from many directions demands wisdom be supreme.

Written and spoken words are crucial. They can help or hurt, confuse or assist, push away or bring forward…

As reminders, here are some lines from Proverbs 15:

  • A gentle answer turns away anger
  • The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive
  • The tongue that heals is a tree of life
  • Pleasant words are pure
  • The mind of the righteous person thinks before answering

Words have power. May we use them well.

Photo credit: Unsplash/Brett Jordan