Spoiled by Privileges
Who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8
I stepped up to the podium and handed the blue uniformed man my boarding pass and ID. He eyed the documents, glanced at me, then handed back my documents and gestured towards the nearby conveyor belt and metal detector. I placed my bag on the belt and quickly walked through the metal detector. Retrieving my bag, I waited on the other side of the uniformed TSA security line for my family to finish their screening process. I watched as my husband and son removed their belts, emptied their pockets, took off their shoes and waited in line to stand in the full body x-ray machine. The wait continued as they gathered their belongings, put their shoes back on and reloaded their pockets. I could have gone to Starbucks and back by the time they were done.
I know, a better person would have stayed in line with them, but I had my TSA pre-approved boarding pass in hand and I didn’t want to take out my laptop, remove my shoes or wait in line. I had been spoiled by the convenience of being pre-approved and I didn’t want to go back to the inconvenience of the regular screening process.
As I read Philippians 2:6-11, I am struck by the fact that Jesus had all the privileges of heaven, but he didn’t cash in on them while he was on earth. He gave up his membership in heaven to live among the “regular” people. He relinquished all the conveniences he had as the Son of God in order to stay with us. He humbled himself and became obedient to the will of God. He chose the inconvenient over the convenient. He died to his desires in order to restore mankind to a right relationship with God.
So much of our lives are spent trying to get into the right circles. We strive to gain power, position and privilege. We have agendas to follow in order to achieve the goals we have set for our lives. We like having the annual pass to the theme park, curbside delivery, country club or yacht memberships, a gold MasterCard, or house in the best neighborhood (here in Florida they are gated communities). Our calendars are full and our lives are centered on convenience. Our days are hectic and hurried leaving us little time and space to hear God’s voice or to take care of people.
Jesus calls us to live differently. He calls us to think like him. He calls us to act like him. He calls us to be like him. He calls us to live a life that is inconvenienced for others. He calls us to relinquish our membership in the “me first” club and join the “God, what do you need me to do?” club.
I think if Jesus was flying commercial today he would trade the convenience of being pre-approved for the inconvenience of the slow process of regular security screening just to be with his family.
Next time. Maybe…
Lessons From a Toaster
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? … So also faith by itself; if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:14, 17
I stood waiting. My coffee was ready. My plate was out. The butter was softened to a creamy consistency. But, still nothing. Time was ticking away and still no bagel had popped up for me to slather with butter and eat before work.
Wondering what was taking so long, I peered over the top of the toaster and peeked in…nothing. That’s right nothing. The toaster was empty. I hadn’t put my bagel in it. At that moment, I realized in order to get something out of the toaster, I had to put something in the toaster.
An empty toaster doesn’t warm anything up. It just sits unused taking up counter space. I can set a plate around it. Look at it. Polish it. Praise it. Wonder at it. Hope for it. But, until I put something in it and pull the lever down, it doesn’t fulfill its purpose.
There is no breakfast without a bagel in the toaster.
I think faith is like a toaster. If we want to get something out of it, we have to put something in it. Our faith is meant to drive us to do things. It is meant to warm up our lives with helping others. It is designed to empower us to minister to those in need. It doesn’t do anything unless we put something in it. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Our faith works when we put it to work.
And, just like a toaster can warm up different types of bread your faith in action can meet different types of needs. Your words of encouragement matter. Your hospitality make a difference to someone who is lonely. Your donations and volunteer hours help the needy. Your monetary gifts ripple out beyond their starting point. Your example of walking by faith strengthens those who follow behind you.
So the next time you make toast, an English muffin, bagel or frozen waffle, ask God to show you one way you can put your faith into action to meet someone else’s need. Don’t be like me standing around waiting for the bagel you never put in your toaster because toasters only work when you put something in them.
Can God truly use the ordinary?
This question rattles around in my head and taps on my heart.
I have a lived a pretty, simple, basic, quiet, normal life. I have not had to endure cancer. Grieve over a lost child. Been devastated by divorced. Lost everything in a fire or natural disaster. Totaled a car. Earned a million dollars. Written a book. Adopted a child from Africa, Asia or America. I have not done anything the world would say was extraordinary.
My life is predictably plain.
The lack of “wow” in my life stands barren alongside the flourishing feeds of others on Instagram, Pintrest and Facebook.
As a result, ordinary starts to whisper in my ear.
How can God use me?
What message could I possible have?
Who could ever be touched by what I said?
Do I make a difference?
I keep it all inside.
I wait for the day that God will change me.
I wait to become the confident woman I see others around me being.
I wait to be more of the Jesus girl than I am.
But you see, I am tired of waiting. I’m tired of waiting to make life different. I’m tired of waiting for me to be different. I’m tired of struggling with my insecurities. I’m tired of feeling that ordinary is not good enough. I am tired of waiting for my life to explode into extraordinary.
I want to "feel" once and for all deep down that I am more than enough. That what I am doing is right. That I am making a difference. That ordinary matters. I want to stop discounting my life just because it’s not extraordinary. I want to be reassured that everyday ordinary plates are just as valuable and important as expensive ornate porcelain ones. I may not have anything fancy to give, but I want my meager morsels of service to mean something. I want to find God’s extraordinary in my ordinary.
Because, deep down inside of me I want most of all to see God. To feel His presence. To see His miracles in the common things of my life.
I want to know what He has in store for me.
I want to be connected to Him.
Understood by Him.
Loved by Him.
I want to feel the praise of my Savior. I want to hear his voice say, "Good job." "Way to go." “I’m proud of you.”
I want to make a difference. I want to encourage others. I want to help others walk closer to Jesus, to lean into the arms of our Savior and feel His strong embrace. I want my ordinary to matter to God.
God tapped me on my shoulder today and gently whispered in my ear, “Yes, you matter. Yes, I see your ordinary. Yes, I can use whatever you give me.” Romans 10:11 states, “everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame” Romans 10:11. These words began to tug at the weeds of fear and insecurity that have taken root in my heart. It was as if God was tilling my heart reminding me that nothing we do for Him is ever in vain.
Friends nothing we do in faith for God is for naught. We do not have any reason to question ourselves or to apologize for who we are in Jesus. Our faith gives us a boldness that goes beyond our ordinary, normal, everyday lives.
Sweet friends and sisters know that it is okay to be imperfect. You are loved and accepted just the way you are, ordinary or not, because God specializing in doing the extraordinary with the ordinary.
A Little Jar of Flour
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce. Then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. Proverbs 3:9-10
The little jar of flour sat on the kitchen windowsill. It stood there quietly like a statue honoring a hero as a reminder of God’s provision. Times were financially tight for our little family of four and that jar stood before me every day as a tangible reminder of God’s faithful provision.
First Kings 17 tells the story of the prophet Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. Upon being asked to provide the prophet with a morsel to eat, she responds by telling him she has nothing to give him and is heading home to a handful of flour left in a jar to make her last meager meal. The prophet presses the issue and tells her to go home and bake her meal, but only after she provides him with a small cake first. He concludes his request with the promise that if she cares for his need first then God will provide for her and the jar of flour will never be empty.
The woman acted in faith following his instructions. She fed the prophet first, then fed herself and her son. And, miraculously her flour jar never ran dry.
The woman’s never empty jar of flour inspired my own. My husband and I had made a commitment to God early in our marriage that I would stay home when we had children. We honored that commitment for over 16 years, even though living on one income should never have worked. As a minister’s family, we were never wealthy, but we were never without. Our needs were met. Our bellies were full. Our bodies were clothed. Our mortgage payments were met. We truly tried to honor God with our lives and I believe God honored that commitment.
And for many of those years, my partially filled flour jar flashed like a beacon of light signaling to me that God would continually provide for us, just as He did for the widow.
God honors our faith. He asks us to trust Him.
To put Him first.
To rely on Him.
To not be afraid.
To let Him provide for our needs.
Do you need a tangible reminder of God’s faithful provision today? Place a little jar of flour where you can see it. Use it to remind yourself to give God his portion first and then to trust Him to provide the rest. Ask Him to meet your needs. Our God is faithful and He will take care of you.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.