Saturday, December 13, 2014

I Wish I Knew

Anyone who has ever loved someone knows just how important it can be to please that someone. Obedience is thrust upon us as little children, and takes root in our behavior because of the fear of unpleasant consequences. In my childhood those unpleasant consequences regularly included "the belt." Call me a very slow learner. But as I matured, I learned that obedience was a great way to please someone you really like. Watch little hands shoot to the sky as any Kindergarten teacher scouts for volunteers. Granted, some children, or some part of each child enjoys the enormous prestige associated with being Line Leader or stowing storytime tuffets back in their cubbies, but children that age generally desire to please authority, even authority that doesn't seem to particularly like them. While disobedience brings an unwanted yield, they learn that obedience and acts of kindness result in smiles, praise and a much more pleasant harvest.

As I grow in my faith, I become more eager to please God. There again, a portion of my desire stems from wanting things to go smoothly. If I obey the commandment "Do not kill," for instance, I avoid regret, jail time, and having to clean DNA out of the wood chipper -- just kidding. But, when I pray for God's will in my life, I greatly want to seek it, to know it, to follow it, out of obedience to Him. I want to show Christ to others -- in my kind words, my generous giving, my patience and love for them. I want to show grace to others, and demonstrate that the things which matter most to me are not the things of this life -- temporal, fleeting, mortal -- but the things of heaven.

All that being said, come with me to the mailbox, where today, December 13, 2014, I find a bill. A bill for insurance. Insurance that has gone up by fifty dollars a month! And sit with me while I do a bit of filing. Water bill. Sewer bill. Medical bill. Pay stubs from a job that raises the cost of my benefits annually -- an amount that exceeds my raise each year! Top execs will, no doubt, give themselves another nineteen percent increase. Attaboys all around! Would you like to ride with me in my fourteen year old vehicle? Almost 200,000 miles on her. Feel the engine race as it prepares to accelerate but my transmission does not. It's taken me three transmissions so far, to get that unique lack of shifting capability. The only question left unanswered is whether I will actually be able to get my credit card paid down enough so I have room to put yet another costly repair on it, or I will be calling AAA to pick up my truck and my trans for scrap first. "Account Balance: $12."

Do you feel the panic setting in? I do. "Shut out the lights!" "Stop wasting milk!" "Maybe I could get another part-time job." "If I stop eating altogether..." "What's the going rate for a pint of blood these days?" Hardly sounds like the same person who had her heart set on obedience just a bit ago.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." ~Matthew 6:25-34
I don't have an answer. I wish I did. The stress I feel when it comes to paying our bills sometimes overwhelms me. I would love to be debt-free. I would love to look at the balance in our checking account and know that -- at least -- our bills would be covered this month. Some say I can. That God is faithful. He will provide the money to pay our bills and put food on our table. Some say He might not, but He will be with me wherever He calls me. And I say I'd have to listen to a lot of complaining in the meantime. Irony is, the one who does the most complaining is the one costing me the most! This spoiled housemate of mine. Blame always follows panic.

So, how do I trust? How do I lose the panic -- and the obnoxious whiny voice that screams out "What are you doing?! You had that on for fifteen minutes! You can wear it again!!"? How do I stop blaming others and start focusing on my responsibilities? When I find out, I will let you know. Meantime, I'll just be walking with Jesus and holding His hand.
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