A man hired a carpenter to build him a house. He described the house he wanted and told the carpenter "Give me a list of everything you will need. I will get it all delivered." Six weeks later all the material was assembled and the carpenter went to work. A week later the man drove up to the site with a spray can of red paint. He started walking around the stacks of lumber marking some of them with the paint. The surprised carpenter asked "What in the world are you doing?" "You cannot use any of what I am marking. If it has red on it, don't use it." The carpenter did as he was told and finished the house as best he could with the limited material. When the owner saw the house he was disappointed and complained about the carpenter's work. Do we do this with God? He has provided all that is necessary to make us into the person He intends for us to be. Then we withhold part of ourselves - our attitudes, preferences, opinions, prejudices, habits, likes, dislikes - and wonder why we are not as happy and content as we would like to be.
Do I dare claim His name and not care for others? Do I dare have His joy and not pass it on? Do I dare know His peace and not tell my neighbor? If I don't care for others, do I dare? Do I dare claim His name and not care for others? Do I dare ask His help and not share His Word? Do I dare take His blessings and not help the lonely? If I don't care for others, do I dare? Do I dare claim His name and not care for others? Do I dare call Him Master and not be a friend? Do I dare seek His power and not spread the Gospel? If I don't care for others, do I dare?
Last night we had a two inch snowfall in my community. Everyone who walked in the park behind my house left footprints, a temporary record of their passing.
It is now evening and I have just finished living another day. Like strollers in the park, I also left a trail to show where I went. I left emotional footprints that show how I affected other people. Did I successfully follow Paul’s admonition to live peaceably with all men? (Romans 12:18)
I left intellectual footprints which attest to my wise or unwise choices. When I lacked wisdom did I consult God? Did I try to be an attentive student and learn all God wanted to teach me? (James 1:5)
In such sloppy weather I tried not to track snow onto the clean floors of my home. But I was unsuccessful and dirt ended up inside. Was I as concerned about keeping undesirable thoughts out of my mind, which is God’s home? (I Corinthians 6:19)
I left communication footprints. What did I talk about? What did I listen to? Did I speak of and point to Jesus? (James 3:1-10)
Most importantly I left spiritual footprints which attest to my priorities as I went about my assigned and chosen tasks? Did my life point to eternal issues or temporary concerns? (Colossians 3:2)
Tomorrow I will again leave a record of my presence in the lives of others. God calls me to walk so that those impressions will honor and glorify Him. I pray that with the help of the Holy Spirit I will be successful.
A woman had three sons, each of them married with children of their own. All three were scheduled to arrive at her house at 11:00 for lunch on Thanksgiving Day.
For days she carefully planned the menu. Most of Wednesday was spent cooking desserts. She put the turkey in the oven at 5:00 Thanksgiving morning. The table was adorned with her best dishes and gleaming, polished silverware. By 10:45 everything was ready. She had done her best and she was pleased with her efforts.
Then she heard voices and strange noises from the area behind the house where the trash cans were stored. When she looked outside she could hardly believe her eyes. There were all three of her boys, along with their families, sitting in a circle around the trash containers. They were eating from the trash cans.
Using the can lids as serving trays they were eating potato and apple peels, carrot tops, and orange rinds. As she watched they scraped out what was left from the discarded vegetable cans and frozen food boxes.
She rushed outside, horrified at their behavior. “All of you come into the house this instant,” she cried.” This is crazy. I have a wonderful meal for you in there. Why would you want to eat garbage out here when I have turkey and mashed potatoes and hot rolls and apple pie on the table in the kitchen?”
The oldest boy replied “I’m sure you have a good meal inside, but we don’t deserve any better than this. We have neglected you lately and this is all we have a right to expect. It’s good enough for people like us.”
The middle son also refused. “This is really not so bad, Mom. If you’ve never tried it you don’t know what you’re missing. Would you like to join us?”
The third boy confirmed the decision to stay outside. “I’ve talked it over with my family and we don’t believe you really have anything any better inside. You can’t prepare a meal like you described. We think you are lying to us.”
The foolish, ungrateful behavior of these children causes us to feel outraged. But we act in similar ways toward God when we refuse the banquet of blessings he has for us and accept, instead, the trash offered by the world.
God prepares a menu of blessings for us every day. (Psalm 23). He knows we don’t deserve it but He continually offers us the best He has. Of course we don’t deserve his goodness, but He chooses to bless us anyway. To say He cannot bless us is to deny his power. To say He has not or will not bless us is to contradict his word. When we live in guilt, ignorance and denial we are as foolish as the three sons.
At birth we boarded the train and met our parents. We thought they would always be with us on our journey. As we got older we realized this was not true, but it was still painful when they stepped off.
During our subsequent ride we have been joined by many significant people. Siblings, children, grandchildren, spouses and friends made the ride more enjoyable. Some of them have already vacated their seats, causing us feelings of extreme loss.
Still the trip continues. Joys, sorrows, expectations, successes and failures have passed through our car. Each has left a permanent mark on us.
Our major responsibility is to live in such a way that we bring joy, peace and satisfaction into the life of those riding beside us.
The biggest question on this journey is not knowing just when we will be forced to vacate our seats and disembark. When this happens to me I hope there will be at least a few moments of sorrow when my fellow passengers will share comments such as “I’ll miss him” or “He was a good traveler.”
Until then I wish you “God speed” as He continues to guide and protect us.