I worked at a church for roughly 10 years. Ministry was clear. As with most jobs, every day was rushed, busy, hectic and since it was church, it was all for God. Leaving for the secular world was difficult and kind of confusing, a bit like breaking up with God, but I still volunteered, led a Life Group as well as many other ministry things. The God things were still pretty clear.
Then I moved to Tennessee and left my community. I felt like a little kid wondering how Santa would find me if I wasn’t home Christmas Eve. Could God find me? Would I still hear Him? I’m not tied deeply into a church and not in a Life Group. I’m just sittin’ here in East Tennessee.
Handymen are difficult to find. Difficult. If they show up, and that is a really, really big if, they arrive around 11. Smoke breaks are often, lunch is at 1:00 and they disappear by 3:00. I kid you not and again, that is if you can get them to come. We’ve needed some work on the house and we finally found a really good handyman. Let’s call him Jeremy because, well, that’s his name. He comes early, does great work and is, what!, reliable.
Jeremy and I have had a few fun conversations. He’s a MegaDeath and Metallica fan, spent his early years “doing too much LSD” and has been in recovery for ten years. He believes in the universe, finds Christians hypocritical and has no tolerance for religion.
As our conversations deepened, I had the opportunity to share some of my life, past and present. Plus, my beliefs, life choices and even my God walk. I dribbled it in and let it resonate with him.
The last time he was at the house, at the end of his day, he came down to my studio and asked if he could ask me a question. The question was this: “Why?”
Why are you a Christian? What does that mean to me? I was able to share my testimony. I was able to share how Jesus in my life changed me, changed my life, changed my perspective.
He said he never saw it from my perspective. He never understood grace and mercy or that God just loves us.
The seed was planted.
I guess God did find me here in Tennessee.
This week I came across this great article by Lysa Terkeurst from Proverbs 31 which runs on this same train of thought. Here is the share:
How Do I Know What God Wants Me To Do?
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
When I was making decisions, I used to assume there was always one correct choice. And to stay in God’s will, I must figure out that exact choice.
I would ponder and pray. Ask friends. Google for answers. Read the Bible. Look for confirmations that pointed in one direction or another.
But then I wondered … Is God’s will really this complicated?
It’s great to ask friends and look for confirmation from others. But what if God is more concerned with us looking for Him than looking for answers?
We want big directional signs from God. God just wants us to pay attention to Him and ask Him what our best “yes” is amid all the choices.
Not long ago, I heard a story that shook me to the core. It had been a busy day at a local restaurant with lots of customers coming and going. But at one point, a guy came up to the manager and handed her a card. He told her, “This is for your staff.” And with an emotional catch in his throat, he said, “I just wanted to make sure they knew.”
The customer then turned and left as the manager tucked the card into her apron pocket.
Later, she opened the card directed to the staff. It thanked them not for their service or the food but for their smiles.
The customer explained that he’d made plans to take his life that day. But their gift of simple conversations with simple smiles gave him the gift of hope.
When I heard this story, I cried. Something stirred deep inside of me.
I believe this is a beautiful picture of how God’s will works for believers in Jesus. He intersects our lives with those who need His hope and whispers to us, You have the hope they need … Give it to them.
Maybe we start by offering someone a little of our time, sharing our story, or simply smiling. And when we do, a shift happens. It’s like the world splits open with each of our acts of obedience, and God’s light breaks apart the world’s darkness.
Our key verses today say, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV).
God wants us to let our light shine. This is His will. This is His plan. This is His instruction.
The more we pay attention to these moment-by-moment instructions from God, the more our thinking starts to line up with His. Our minds get in a new rhythm of seeing what He wants us to see so we can do what He wants us to do.
Dear Lord, I want to be a light for You today.
Show me someone specific I can give Your hope to. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
. . .
As God has placed so many amazing people, friends, acquaintances and strangers in our path at just the right time, I have learned that God also places us where we need to be, at just the right time. My encouragement this week is to keep focus on who God puts in your path.
As we look back perhaps we can see God’s hand in so many other events, circumstances–and people–in our lives. Starting with our families, whether biological or otherwise, God’s active and passive Will placed us where we were or are. We may hold awesome, poignant, unforgettable memories of family members and circumstances. Some memories we may wish to forget. No matter which categories they comprise, these memories and events represent God’s active or passive hand in our lives.
God also has placed people in my path over the years who, at first blush, seemed anything but a blessing. I don’t believe I’m alone in this regard. Think back about the occasional person who may have caused you more frustration than feelings of friendship at times. Consider those who seemed to grate on you, that you wished you could avoid when you saw them coming toward you. If we’re honest, we may have even met some of these folks in a Life Group. God places these people in our paths for a reason. He uses them to smooth off our rough edges, to grow us.
God will place people in your path, and my path, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s to provide us with that smoothing, that sanding off of our rough edges. At other times, it may be that the person in front of you or me needs us to help them. They need the love of God administered to them practically and in real-time. Maybe they desperately need our works of mercy right now. If we think about this, what better way to get out of a personal funk or avoid one than to look outside ourselves, loving our brothers and sisters in Christ as He loves us? If we stay focused, the Holy Spirit will give us a gentle nudge to say or do something for someone else. We just need to pay attention.
God puts people in our path to support and encourage one another. These friendships in Christ help us continue to build His Kingdom here on earth. We need–our souls need–the company of others to support one another and bring each other and many others’ souls to God. Surround yourselves with the like-minded people God places in front of you who are pursuing intimacy with Christ. Grow together in your faith. And, keep your eyes peeled for where God is leading you.