January 1, 2011
We all seek answers, but it is never easy for us to change direction. Smart folks look for answers; wise folks search for truth. Thomas, a disciple of Christ’s, says it this way. “If you are searching, you must not stop until you find. When you find, however, you will become troubled. Your confusion will give way to wonder. In wonder you will reign over all things. Your sovereignty will be your rest.” (Gospel of Thomas) I am learning that the more I search, the more questions I have. I’m only beginning to understand the importance of wondering. I think that’s what Thomas is trying to tell me. Like all children, you are filled with wonder. It’s the way God wants all of us to be.
The world is full of quick fixes and easy answers, but they don’t satisfy or give the direction I need. As I’ve searched this past year, I’ve been confused and hurt, but truth often causes hurt initially. Hurt gives way to healing when the truth is told with love. God lovingly continues to give questions and bring me back to the place of understanding that I don’t have to understand. That knowledge changes the way I seek and makes changing directions much easier. I have the tendency to get comfortable where I am, and that makes me unwilling to change. Fear accompanies change and keeps me from going where God bids me to go.
The journey is meant to bring me closer to God. I search for God because deep down inside, I know only He can provide the peace and love I so desperately desire. Many have the facts; they accept Christ as their Savior, but go on living just as they always have. They even say that the only difference between them and others is they are forgiven. I am ashamed to say I’ve said that myself. This year, I have learned that changing direction is part of following Christ. If I am to find all that God has in mind for me, I must be willing to change direction.
Love is like a fire and must be fed. If I ignite sticks, paper, or straw, I get a bright flame that burns brightly, dies quickly, and isn’t very satisfying. That is what quick fixes, lust, and easy answers offer. God knows truth and love are both necessary for understanding and walking in His kingdom. When I let the Holy Spirit combine them, they become a bed of coals in my heart. Then, I am ready for all God has in mind. When I look for and love Christ in others, I feed the fire in a way that transforms. Love enables me leave fear behind, change direction, and continue seeking.
When it comes to loving God, the proof is in the pudding. That’s a funny expression that simply means you may say you can cook, but I’ll believe it when I taste your pudding. Long ago, when that expression became popular, it was very difficult to make pudding. Today, we have instant pudding, a great example of an easy fix! The proof of whether or not I’m truly changed by God’s love will be in the way I live my life. I pray this year of new direction will result in positive changes for me and those in my path. I hope to be the change I wish to see in the world. That’s from a beautiful quote by a very wise man named Ghandi. I would add that I hope to be the change God wants to see in this world. I suppose Ghandi would say they should be the same!
I am leaving my job at the church because God is bidding me to free my time so He can use me in a different way. I’m not sure how God will use me, but I know the trick to following God’s directions is not looking at my map while He’s talking. God bid me to change directions in 2007 when I left teaching, and that’s how I began my work as a church secretary.
I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was five. I loved to play school in the little house that was behind my home. I taught for thirty-three years and loved sharing my love of learning with the students God placed in my path. I had no plans of leaving and would have stayed for many more years, but God had other plans. I didn’t fight with God because I knew I had to leave. Things were happening that went against all I believed about teaching, and children were being treated in a way I could not ignore. I learned a lot as I tried to bring about change even though I wasn’t successful. Oddly enough, a former student’s sweet compliment made me realize I had to leave. She was a grown woman who had a daughter attending the school where I worked. She stopped by to tell me that it made her feel so good to know that I was still walking the halls. I knew I could no longer be part of what was going on, so it was time to let the administration know I was leaving.
They say you know when it is time to retire, and it was crystal clear to me in January of 2007 that I had to leave. I prayed and begged God to bring about the changes I wanted. I looked at my map while He was giving me His directions. I was dumbfounded by all that was happening and humbled by how little influence I had. God cannot use me until I come to a place where His will is more important than my desire for answers, so I gave it up to Him and found the peace that got me through a very difficult time. When the head of the deacon body called to ask if I would consider being the church secretary, I laughed out loud! I told him I would pray about it, but I knew that God didn’t want me to do that. I didn’t have a clue how to be a secretary, besides I was a teacher and knew God would find the right place for me to do just that.
I went to pray with a smile on my face. God’s going to love this, I thought, as if He didn’t already know. I barely got my knees on the floor before I knew God wanted me to take the job. The smile gave way to panic, but that subsided as I hushed and let Him speak. I knew He knew what He was doing and didn’t question Him. The last three and a half years have been filled with beautiful learning and growing. God has blessed me beyond belief as I’ve done this work for Him, and I know He will bless me as I follow His new directions. I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that I’m nervous about the coming changes, but I know God has wonderful plans and will lead me where He wants me to be. Let me tell you about some wonderful people who were willing to follow God’s directions even when it meant changing their plans.
There was a famous group of travelers who set off on a two-year journey to find Jesus. They used the stars to guide them and trusted God’s directions after they found Him. Those travelers are known as the Magi or the Wise Men. I get to tell the Children’s Story about them this week. I love seeing the sweet expectant faces of the children as I share God’s Word with them because I feel the same way as they do when it comes to God’s Word.
Matthew 2:1-12 The Visit of the Magi NASB
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “ In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘ And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.”
The Wise Men spent two years on their journey to find the child born to be king of the Jews. They were not Jewish but were following the stars which heralded the amazing birth. The people near where He was born didn’t pay that much attention to the couple staying in a place where animals were kept and sheep were birthed. The shepherds were told of his arrival and went to see Him, but most folks didn’t even notice. The wise men arrived when Jesus was two years old, and they assumed that everyone would know about this new born king. They went to the king’s house because that is the most likely place to find the king. They continued their search and eventually did find Jesus. God warned them to go home a different way; they heeded His advice and did not go back by the palace. Herod was furious and decided to conduct his own search for the child. Countless little ones had to die because of his jealousy and fear. Herod had power, and he wanted to keep it. He wasn’t the type to change his direction, and he didn’t listen to God. Wisdom is better than power, so seek it and seek Christ. You’ll be amazed at what happens if you’re willing to change direction when God bids you to go a different way.
In Christ’s Precious Love, Gigi