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On Taking God For Granted … Don’t Do That!

October 9, 2011

When I was saved, 30 years ago, the pastor and friend who led me to Christ planted a “passage seed” in my heart that I have held on to for dear life ever since.  It was 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If any person is in Christ, he/she is a new creation; old things are passed away, behold, all things become new.”

He also took my hand and covered it with both of his, illustrating what it meant to be “in Christ” … encompassed, enveloped, embraced in His Loving and Strong Hands … protected and preserved for Him … safe … SAFE!  And, nothing could ever “pluck me from His Hands.”  It was the first time in my life that I had ever experienced “security.”

And yet, I was young, a babe in Christ … in need of nurture, nutrients and all that goes with life’s maturation process. Spiritual growth is so very much like our physical and emotional growth … it takes time.  And somedays now, thirty years later, when I feel like my physical body has completely let me down in this natural cycle, I wish that I had taken better care of myself through that process.  Alas, I feel the same way about my emotional and my spiritual growth.

You know how you can look back on the days of your youth and recall how “invincible” you felt … as if you were going to live forever???  You take risks that mature, more experienced folks seem to scoff at (when actually they are probably recalling their own days of folly and wish they knew then what they know now).  As I have been dealing with various aches and pains associated with poor health decisions, I recognize how much I took for granted those days of greater flexibility, strength and energy.  I wish I had been eating apples instead of donuts, and broccoli instead of bacon, nuts and berries instead of biscuits.

Emotionally … I see how being led by the moment and the “feeling” (as so many do in their youth) can wreak havoc on the heart and mind.   Immature decisions based upon emotions are too often illogical and carefree — passed off as “fun” and “getting the most out of life.”  Emotions can also cause you to succumb to fear, loneliness, desperation and make decisions out of “woe” … and impede what could otherwise be experienced as “the most of life.”  Once again, thirty years later, I see how much I took for granted, the good emotional health and wishing I had done more to nurture and feed that process with healthy ideas and truths.

And while I can feel the ill-effects of poor decision-making regarding these two important aspects of life, it is my spiritual maturity that I feel I have disregarded the most. One thing that I wish I had known and would have believed way back then is that giving priority to this process could/would have provided the foundation for better physical and emotional health as well.  I had them separated … when actually they should have and could have been working together all along.

For many months, my mind has been consumed by some health problems I am experiencing. I have grown very frustrated and even frightened because I cannot seem to get answers or remedy for the pain that I am experiencing.  On top of the pain, I caught a dreadful stomach virus and was sick for a few days. And quite frankly, I am so sick of taking medicine that I feel like my body is literally poisoned.

At a loss … (notice those words … “at a loss”) for what else to do, “I PRAYED to God for relief and answers.

For thirty years I have been a Christian … and praying was what I did when I was at a loss????  Shameful.

Now here’s a more ironic perspective (on what I can only deem as my own arrogance) …

Recently, a “ghost” from the past creeped in. I was reminded of an encounter I had some 15 years ago when I put myself in an “unhealthy” situation supposedly to help someone else.  Early one morning before going to work, I gave a young woman (age 17) a ride from an all-nighter with a very unsavory and dangerous acquaintance.  She was a hot-mess when she got into my car … covered in passion-marks, dissheveled and wreaking of malt liquor.  In the fifteen minute ride from the “flop house” to the railroad tracks where she had be drop her off, I learned about this arrogance and disregard I have toward my own spiritual maturity.

First of all, giving her a ride that day … I thought I was ministering to her.   Poor wretch!  I could not understand why she would partake in such activities. Then she said to me, “You look like a decent person. why would someone like you know _________________(the person with whom she had pulled the all-nighter, and he had called me to come take her home).”  I told her I knew him from my work, but in my heart and mind I thought … “Looks are deceiving.”

After dropping her off, her situation and story stayed with me for days.    I decided to pray  for her and I felt very good about myself for doing it … because truly my heart was broken for her, but I did not recognize my own arrogance in the instance.  But as I think on the circumstances now, I hear God saying, “Was your heart broken for you?”

My heart was broken for me … but my life was plagued by so much of its own indecency, that in my immaturity and my arrogance, I did not feel I deserved prayer.  I prayed for my children … for our financial situation … but as for my own personal emotional and spiritual well-being, I could not pray.  I could not pray for me. 

I so desperately needed and wanted to be in a right relationship with the Lord … I knew that I was saved, but the actions and decisions I had made based upon those immature emotions and the lack of physical and spiritual nutrients caused me to feel more like a starving orphan than a child of the King.  I often recalled the verse from 2 Corinthians 5:17 … holding on to it … almost as a morsel of hope, but feeling too ashamed to ask God for anything more to help my poor soul.

Years passed … and I forgot about this young woman.  My own circumstances came about that helped me experience some incredible spiritual healing and growth.  But maybe … I did not overcome my arrogance.

A short while ago, while “tootling” through Facebook, and coming across that “mutual” acquaintance that she and I “shared” I noticed that the name of her daughter (and allegedly his daughter) on his Facebook friend list. I clicked on the girl’s name, which led me to her wall, and there I saw her mother’s name.  I went to her wall to find that she had also had some life-changing, spiritual healing and growth experiences.  Her wall contained numerous testaments to her faith and acknowledgement of how Jesus had changed her life.  I was moved to tears!!!

I had thought of this young woman over the years … wondering what ever happened to her. I did remember how those 15 minutes with her in my car so greatly affected my heart and life.  I remembered the prayer I prayed for her. And I remembered that more or less, after that encounter —- I went on with my life.  At the time, I was in no condition to follow up on her, with her.  The pit she was in seemed overwhelmingly frightening to me.  I had my own pit I was trying to dig my way out of.

Reading her Facebook wall, I felt such relief.  It was just one more affirmation that “God is on His Throne” in spite of us … in spite of me and my arrogance.  While I might be prone to think I missed some great blessing by not being more actively involved or at least having a good seat to witness her transformation, I also know that more likely, I would have been more of a distraction than help.  Again, just one more affirmation that God does not need me to do His work … HE’S got it!   It is a privilege when He calls me to be a part of His work. AND that is calling I must never take for granted.

All I did that day was give a girl a ride … and pray for her.  Turns out, God has used her to minister to me.  Thank you, God!

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