Saturday, February 25, 2017

I Am Second--by Linden Malki

Seen painted on a truck I saw at a stop sign on my way to work this morning:"I Am Second".  I recognized the
reference from having read a book of this name recently; it is stories of people, some famous, some not, whose messed-up lives were changed when they realized that they were called to put God first in their lives--all parts of their lives--and themselves second.  (When I saw a Harvest Crusade sticker on the rear bumper, I knew that they'd read the book.) You can even say that there are two kinds of people in this world: ones whose priorities and purpose are second to God's; and those who put themselves first. 

On first looking at God's direction for your life, it looks scary. I remember being skeptical about Matthew 11:30, where Jesus tells his followers that "my yoke is easy and my burden light." It doesn't look that easy, when you look at it from the outside; like those in John 6:66 that left Jesus because the way looked hard. But as always, context is important: 'Come all you who are weary and burdened, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your souls will find rest...: (Matthew11:28+)  The key is that we are not expected to carry the whole yoke; He will carry the weight; it is his strength that makes it possible. I found out a long time ago that I cannot do everything  myself.  And it's not always the same answer! I don't forget three "booming voice in my head" unmistakable answers to prayers: One was "Shut up, lady, I'll handle this!"; another was "I gave you a brain, use it!"; and the other:" I gave you a different gift."  What I had to was 1:drop the subject and go on--the situation did resolve itself in time and in stages, and turned out now to be way better than I could have dreamed; 2: I went with my best judgment, and again the long run was an amazing blessing; and 3: the gift He brought to my attention has gone in directions I wouldn't have ever expected.

We are surrounded by people who want what they want for their own self-interest, self-esteem, self-amusement--we can look around and make a long list. The common thread is that the result is usually disappointing; doing more of the same looking for more satisfaction usually gives less. Even doing "good works" can be done for the wrong reasons--read a very interesting article recently pointing out that we as a nation are spending more every year trying to make people "happy", and the poverty rate is the same as it was 60 years ago; a lot of people made money and jobs out of the programs (mostly the administrators), but the problems are still there and sometimes worse. Charities that collect money to cure something or fix something very often spend most of their income on "administrating" and nagging advice, and very little gets actually fixed. I don't get very many charitable spam calls any more; I used to ask "how much of what you take in actually is used for the intended purpose" and the solicitor either doesn't know (and if asks, is shocked at the answer) or gets very defensive about how expensive fundraising is, and the cause is fortunate to get something more than nothing. (I think I got taken off the lists.) But the solicitors and administrators and donors and advocates go home thinking what good people they are--but what they are getting is warm fuzzies for their own self-image. 

When my kids were little, I told them that not every idea that came into their head was worth acting on.  Sometimes I got an "oh, mom, you're just negative!" But there did come a day when I heard one of my daughters tell a high-school friend who had been complaining about her parents: "You ought to listen-they really aren't as dumb as they look." That works on another level as well: we may think we know what we're doing, but not everything we think we want is worth doing. One of the ideas out there about God is that He's "negative"--watches to make sure you're not having fun. God's not as dumb as we sometimes think, either--there are things that He tells us not to do that in the long run are NOT good for us, and do not get us where He wants us to be: fit for Heaven, to live with Him there. 

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