Thursday, June 19, 2014

An Opportunity at Any Age

Transfer a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer, scrub another dish, cook another meal, grade another assignment, get distracted by the line of ants crawling on the window sill. Reach for the ant spray. Write another item on the list after checking off one.

Is this is? Is this a meaningful existence? Is there such a thing as lazy busyness?

His Truth speaks to purpose: "created in Christ Jesus to do good works" (Ephesians 2:10).
Reading through Ephesians, it's hard to miss. The arrows keep hitting the target.
Ephesians 4:1, "Live a life worthy of the calling you have received."
Calling? The calling is screaming, ranting, fighting, and disrupting the peace.  But we have another heart-to-heart talk, reaching for more truth. Pushing past mere punishment to something deeper--a discipline with training and love and understanding.

"Make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:16

My daughter reads about a little girl in her Compassion magazine who is diagnosed with brain cancer. Make-A-Wish Foundation reaches out to her. Instead of a pony or a family trip, this terminally-diagnosed child recognizes something far more significant: life is truly short, stuff doesn't matter. She decides she wants to help other children, making an impact to help others. She asks if Make-A-Wish will build a well in Uganda.  Out of inspiration, more do the same. Over 20 wells are built.

A 98-year-old lady decides she can do something; it may not seem like much, but it means something to her friend.  She seizes an opportunity.

Are these choices comfortable? Rewarding, yes, but they require effort--a pushing out from one's navel gazing.

People of this world have their "mind[s] on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven" (Phil. 3:19b-20).

The spirit within us is a Spirit beyond the selfish strivings of this world (Gal. 5:25).  It encourages us to a calling beyond fear (what if I'm rejected?), beyond convenience (will I get everything done that I need to do?), beyond comfort (why should I be put out for someone else?).

"Let us not become weary in doing good" (Gal. 6:9) but "understand what the Lord's will is" (Eph. 5:17).

Sometimes we just have to start writing out some of His directives:
                 *Pray continually (with praise and faith)
                 *Practice hospitality (it takes effort)
                 *Give thanks (perspective alignment)
                 *Speak the truth in love (you may be rejected for it)
                 *Don't give up meeting together (even it's more comfortable to just stay home).

All this is done through the Spirit's power flowing through us; we can persevere and push through because He is working it out in us.

In his meditations book, Taste and See, John Piper shares a request he started praying, "Lord, let me make a difference for you that is utterly disproportionate to who I am" (Piper 220).

Eph. 3:18-20 (Message)
   "take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length. Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything you know--far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his spirit deeply and gently within us."

So, whatever the Spirit is leading you to do, don't hush Him. Have that heart-to-heart with your child, listen to the ramblings of a stranger, help a neighbor mow his yard, have a friend over for tea, sponsor a child, reach out to a widow, help the poor, encourage the lonely.  Look beyond yourself to what is going on around you. Seize the opportunity. He gave us these gifts for "works of service" (Eph. 4:12).

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