In being forth coming I have struggled in deciding what to write in this week’s blog. This past week seemed extra-long, extra hard, and extra emotional. I have considered being silent this week. When that thought crossed my mind I started thinking about when God is silent. Sometimes it’s hard enough to maintain belief in a God that you can’t see, but believing anyway increases your faith. There are times when something is going on, you pray, but you don’t hear a reply. Does that mean God didn’t hear you? Do you feel it is your fault? Is it because there may be sin in your life?
You should know, or remember that God is not too busy. He never sleeps, but instead he is always aware of you, and your needs. So what is going on during these times of silence? Well perhaps God is answering your request. Your request may be complex requiring more time for God to direct people into their proper places where your need can be met. God may be speaking to you, but speaking in a language you are not aware of…like sign language. Perhaps you have yet to see what God is doing upon your behalf. When you ask God to move upon your behalf, be patient. Let God be God and answer your request His way. You will be glad you did, and you will no doubt say in the end, “Oh! I see what you did there God. Good job. Thank you.”
There I stood in the home office section of Target weeping. Tears dripping into a waste basket, but those tears were not wasted. Each one was a good memory, of a smile, of a laugh once shared with a good man I have always thought of as a second father. I was on the phone with James’ wife learning my friend only had days to live.
I first met James at Public Service Company of Oklahoma when I was 19 years old. It didn’t take long to realize I had met someone sillier than me. James, a big man, with a big heart to make others laugh and for God. He loved to pull pranks on people. Like the time he got his wife to put icing on a board he had cut the size of a birthday cake. James; usually smiling, usually laughing, and always there to mentor. He taught me the one thing college didn’t; how to have fun at work. At this he was truly a professional.
James was one of the first to support my decision to leave a good career and move to Massachusetts to become a youth minister. Our friendship had grown strong. The first Christmas after I had moved he sent a card signed and dated. The following year I signed it, dated it and sent it back to him. This became a tradition until I lost the card two years ago. That same card had crisscrossed America for 30 years. At last count it had traveled over 23,000 miles. Now I wasn’t losing a card, but a friend.
What started out as a sunny day emotionally, turned cloudy. I will miss him and for always cherish his silly antics. Heaven must be in need of more laughter, because here comes James.
Almost three years ago I was reassigned to a different manager. At first I thought no big deal. Same work to do, with the same people, but now I have a different boss, but it was only a matter of weeks before my happy meter went from 95 to -105! When I had my first face to face meeting with her she actually said, “I’ve heard about you. You like to give 120%. I’m going to bring you down from that.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
During the next few weeks, which turned into months she questioned everything I did, or tried to do. Nothing was ever right or good enough. The pressure would start the very moment she walked through the door. There was one day I came so close to standing up and telling her, “I QUIT!” If I had done so I would have been throwing away 18 years of work. There were many days in the mornings the very thought of going to work would bring tears to my eyes. I begin crying out to God to do something. Anything, I didn’t care, I just wanted out from under the stress, and the oppression.
I thought of many ways God could answer my prayer, but I knew from experience that His ways are higher than ours (ISA 55:9). I tried to transfer out of my department to no avail. Then I finally begin to realize God might just have a plan. Well, years have gone by since this ordeal started, and just this past week I heard these words come out of my boss’ mouth, “Mark, you bring real value to our team. When you see something that needs to be done, you take care of it.” It was all I could do to hold back my emotions.
By consistently trusting God, which wasn’t easy, and knowing I had placed this in His hands, the end of the ordeal has been realized. I have made it through the storm and have safely reached the other side. The outcome? I have learned to trust in God in a greater way. I have learned that standing up for ones rights does not always achieve the desired results. But
perhaps the greatest achievement is this; my boss now respects me, and maybe now I have earned the right to be heard. I now have a platform to stand on when I share Jesus with her. God can now cross this one off His to-do-list. Thank you Father.
- Touching Lives
The other day I sent a “Thank you” note to one of my co-workers who likes to celebrate people and their lives / achievements. She also is the first one to head a campaign to gather items for the less fortunate. In my thank you I mentioned I appreciated her heart. Then I took a risk. I also said, I celebrate who God has made you to be. Why was this risky? Well, from her own mouth I get the very strong indication that she is not living for God. Yet she expresses love for others more than some Disciples of Christ that I know. She wrote back that the note “warmed her heart.” Was a seed planted? Was the door to Jesus cracked opened? I hope so. Take time to touch lives.
- The Cost
I just opened a bag of snacks. My new crave, “Snyder’s” flavored pretzel pieces. Something a lot of writers do. We tell ourselves it helps keep the creativity flowing. After I opened the bag I looked at the price. I said to myself, I paid 3.69 for this small bag? WOW! Although they are really good. Then it made me think, do we consider the cost before everything we do and say? I hope so. Everything we do and say affects something, or someone else. Is it worth it? Will the cost to fix it be more if it is wrong? Can it even be fixed? Maybe not, but when we turn it over to Jesus it can always be forgiven. Count the cost. (I had to get a drink because, “These pretzels are making me thirsty!” Jerry Seinfeld)
- Tired of Religion?
This is Labor Day weekend 2015. Are you tired? Are you resting? Are you tired of rubbing against the daily grind? Tired of fighting an uphill battle? What about fighting “religious rules”? You will never get it perfect. You will never be able to satisfy a list of “Do and Don’ts” to get into heaven. That is why Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 (MSG) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.” Jesus is saying, just get to know me. Have a relationship with me. Doing so does not tire you out. It is not a struggle. It’s not a “religion” or being “religious”, but having a personal “relationship” with Jesus.