A precious lady lays in a hospital bed, no longer stable in her thoughts as a stroke and confusion of age has overwhelmed her ability to think clearly. But to me --- she was and is a ray of Sonlight. We met one time (only once). But after that one meeting, she poured love into me through letters and cards up until this illness. She explained to me that God had pierced her heart to pray for me --- intensely. Once, she gently reprimanded me when i wrote her a thank you note for her outpouring of love through words to me. She said, "you have a specific high calling, you should not spend time writing 'thank yous' to me --- you need to be strengthened to attend to the calling God has placed on your life -- keep your focus donna" (It still makes my knees feel weak even as i type her words). She was strong and loving with her words. She said more, she was very clear. She said she was doing exactly what God had instructed her to do, pray. Her blessing of prayer over me was an obedience to her Father. I fell silent at the beauty of her selfless gift...
These love letters came even before the call to Kenya had arrived. She "somehow" knew, i was in for a ride and i needed prayer cover to prepare me for what was ahead. Once she almost frightened me with the seriousness of her "knowing" that much would be asked of me and i needed to prepare. She seemed to know my life was not going to look "normal". She never prophesied over me, but instead she just walked solidly in her attitude that my life was not going to unfold as i had perhaps thought it would, and i needed prayer cover. She said she knew all this because of God's whisper to her when i spoke of Him.
As we continue to prepare for the move to Kenya, i treasure the people and the words that have breathed life into my trembling "tent". And i'm often, often, reminded of the scriptures below.
We are not home yet ---
this is not our home ---
we are not designed to be here long ---
what we do while we are here matters --
but not in the ways we may think.
My dear ailing prayer warrior friend might live for many more years. If so, the world would be blessed. She might outlive me. But regardless of who gets there first ----- she and i both ---- will JOYFULLY "take down our tents and fold them away" someday.
I'm just suppose to put up my tent in Kenya before i get to make that final move.
2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (The Message)1b-5... "when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we'll never have to relocate our "tents" again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what's coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we're tired of it! We've been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less. 6-8That's why we live with such good cheer. You won't see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don't get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It's what we trust in but don't yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we'll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.
9-10a But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that's what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions."
Some people do nice things ---- hoping their good deed will "please God" and reflect well on them (both to God and to others). Wondering if and hoping that others might say --- "did you see what___ did? they are so wonderful..." But that would be the Martha syndrome taught in the Mary and Martha lesson. (And truthfully, haven't we all worn our Martha aprons before?)
Truly pleasing God looks very, very different...
And cheerfully pleasing God is suppose to be the main thing...
Mary pleased God by being attentive to Him and centering her all on Him. Then the overflow of her life was a blessing to others --- but it was not because of "what" she did for them ---- it was because of "why" she did it and "how" she did it. And ultimately --- the overflow of Mary's actions brought the focus right back to God (not herself). No one was saying, "She is so amazing." But instead, perhaps many were wanting more of the Lord because of the way He was reflected in her eyes.
The "why" and "how" ------ matter much more ----- than the "what".
"Why" we do something and "how" we do it ---- matter more than "what" we actually accomplish.
"What" this precious lady did for me was beautiful ----- but "why" she did it and "how" she did it dripped of God's presence and His grace. She modeled for me what it looks like to "please God" in this world. I will forever be changed ---- not only because of the words of encouragement --- but even more deeply because of the overflow of her obedience that brought more of God's touch to my life. The cards were just the "carrier" of the more important gift. The days ahead can be better handled because of her obedience to pray and God's faithfulness to answer -- in Jesus' Name.
God Himself models this by His most treasured gift to us. The fact that God gave us His son is amazing beyond words. But -- the "why" and the "how" make the gift overwhelmingly life-changing. God gave us Jesus --- "why"? because "He loved the world" and wanted to help us find our way to Him. And God gave us Jesus ---- how? born in an humble manger to people of no stature or influence.
It's the beautiful story of our God's sacrifice and our Savior's arrival.
What if He had given us His son because He was angry with us for our sinful ways and He wanted His Son to pour out His wrath on us? That would have been a painful "why".
Or what if Jesus, had come to us as a royal, aloof king that lorded over us in anger, superiority, and power? That would have been a grueling "how".
Instead, "what" God did for us becomes even more astoundingly remarkable because of the "why" and the "how" He chose.
God modeled it ---- Mary showed it ---- my friend has lived it ----- i've had lots of opportunities to learn it now...
Here at the Christmas season ---- i'm focusing ---- it is not the "what" that matters most. What we give, what we get, what we say or what we do.
It will be the "why" and the "how".
And long after Christmas has passed ----- this truth will still remain...
1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5: 1-10 NIV
Photos taken by Maggie in Savannah, GA
©2011 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe