“Fourteen-Eleven”

IMAG1781

I hesitate to write this post.

Why? Because it’s a little embarrassing.

I have been given a lot. That is an understatement. In the way of earthly goods, I live in a really nice house, I have a closet full of clothes, I have plenty of food… I could go on and on. I also have a family that for some bazaar reason is crazy about me. But those are small in comparison to the fact that God has placed me in a home that loves and follows after Him. I was born into a home that already believed that the Bible is the True Word of God, and that Jesus is the Messiah. I can’t describe just how overwhelming it is. God has literately poured out blessing upon blessing on me.

So often I think and ask “Why God? Why would You give me so much when others have so little?”

And then He says, “You have been given much so you can give much. You are to be my hands and feet, giving all for My sake if I ask it of you. You are to love the unlovable, touch the untouchables, reach the unreachables. The poor, the desolate, the unpopular, the ugly and unwanted. That is your mission, Grace. Your life is to be spent reaching those for My glory. Those whom the world esteems the lowest are highest in My Kingdom – treat them as royalty.”

That’s my mission. That’s my calling in life.

But no, I don’t always live with that attitude. There are plenty of days I sit on the throne of my life and selfishly run it.

Like last Thursday…

Early that afternoon there was a battle raging in my soul; I won’t go into all the details now for time sake. But I was angry with myself and throwing a royal pity-party. Honestly, it was the display of selfishness you’d expect to see from a 4-year-old, not an almost 20-year-old. But God in His grace did not leave me there. After many selfish tears and thoughts rooted in pride, He opened my eyes to my selfishness and areas of my life I was clinging onto.

Selfishness.

I repented. I surrendered.

There was much joy in that.

Lord, try me again. Try me again. I’m ready. I’m surrendered.

He did.

(Oh praise Him for that! When you ask Him for trials or testing to grow you, be sure that He will.)

And even though I’d asked Him, I wasn’t prepared for the area of my heart He’d touch next.

That evening, I ran an errand to Joann’s craft and fabric store with my Mom and sister. I wandered my way into the clearance fabrics, and after a while I noticed a man passed by.

“How are you doing, this evening?” An employee asked.

“I’m alive, and that’s saying a lot,” replied the middle-aged black man.

His clothes were worn, but not tattered. A construction-worker vest peaked out beneath his dark coat. Our eyes met. I smiled. “Hi.” “Hello.”

He hesitated for a few seconds and then walked up to me. “I’m being bashful… I’m sorry. I need to ask you something. Ok, I’m just going to say it. I need “fourteen-eleven”… My brain locked up for a second as he continued talking about things. What in the world is a “fourteen-eleven?” He mentioned something about his job, something about his house, and needing just “fourteen-eleven” more for a place he and his wife could stay the night.

It hit me. Oh, it’s $14.11. He’s asking for fourteen dollars and 11 cents.

I panicked. No one had ever approached me asking for money before. The thought crossed my mind “what if he’s just making it up?” It was awkward. It was inconvenient. I didn’t really know what to do.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t really have cash on me.” I replied knowing full well that I had some.

“Oh that’s ok, I’m sorry to bother you. I know God will provide someway.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said again sympathetically, almost tagging on a “I’ll pray for you.”

Are you not disgusted?! That I would pretend to hurt and sympathize with him, all the while knowing I had what he needed? It makes my stomach turn.

There I stood in the fabric isle transfixed, replaying the whole scene over in my mind again. What have I done? Out of my selfishness I lied. I’ve been selfish with what God has freely given me. What would Jesus have done?

What if that were Jesus?

I felt sick. What if it had been Jesus? I would have gladly given what was asked and more. But what does His Word say? Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto Me. (Matt 25)

I pulled out my wallet to see how much cash I had in it.

Fourteen dollars. No way.

I grabbed it and some change and started searching for him. I ran around the store, I checked outside. I looked around the store again, combing every isle. I check outside again. He was gone, no where to be found. The golden opportunity to show be the hands and feet of Christ was gone. I missed it because I was to consumed with myself and my wants. I did not have an outward focus.

How different it could have been if I had let the Lord truly sit on the throne that day… “Here Lord, my life–take it, spend it, use it!!! Make a fool out of it for Your sake if You wish. Only let it be Yours today.” If I had been living with the behavior of heaven–where those whom the world despises and call out as inconvenient are held high, and precious. Oh how different would my response have been!

Twice that day God showed me areas of my life that were tangled in selfishness. Twice I was so consumed with myself that I didn’t see what God was doing around me. Even as I type there are things He’s wanting me to pry my grubby little fingers off of. It’s going to be uncomfortable, it’s going to be inconvenient. But so was the Cross, and that’s what we’re called to do.

 Luke 9:23 – And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Deny ourselves and carry a cross? Yes… And follow Him. And when you follow Him, you too will wind up at Calvary.
I’m not really sure how to end this post… These are things that I’m still learning and haven’t mastered yet. But slowly I’m learning to answer “Yes Lord, I’m willing” when He asks something of me. I have far to grow, and know I will be challenged from the moment I rise tomorrow morning.
So while this might be the end of this post, it’s the beginning of asking for the eyes and heart of Christ. It’s the start of asking Him to so fill me, that He lives and works through me.
Oh friend, won’t you join me?
-Grace Elizabeth

One question…

Every Wednesday evening, when school’s in, I attend a three hour long class at my church called Faith Bible Institute (FBI). It’s amazing, and this semester just started up last week. Over the course of the past three semesters that I have taken, I have learned and grown so much…each evening leaves me with so much to think about, and wanting more. That’s where I find myself this evening…

So many thoughts and questions run through my head right now…One however, stands out.

How much do I love God?

Here are some thoughts I hurriedly scribbled down in my journal during this evening’s class:

Am I constantly looking for ways to love God?

I want to be so in love with God that I am constantly looking for ways I can serve Him. I should look at every opportunity, everything Christ asks me to do as a joyous privilege to show my love for Him.

Now things are clicking…the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. For when we do this, we will be so absolutely in love with Christ that we look for every opportunity we can to show Him our love. We would automatically keep His other commandments. No wonder “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he that is that loveth me.” And, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” It just goes round an round in a circle.

Oh, and God’s love is so incredible. He continually is showing His love for me. Scarce can I even begin to comprehend the depth of His love! Even while I was a sinner, Christ died for me…

After writing that and thinking over it, I was left with one question…

How much do I love God?

Sure, I love Him enough that I would die for Him…But do I love Him enough that’d I’d rise up early in the morning and give Him first place (that means before I check my e-mail). Do I love Him so much that every spare thought is of Him–when my mind wonders, does it go to Him? Do I love Him so much that I truly give Him the glory in everything? Do I love Him so much that every chance I get, I turn conversations towards Him?

I have this picture in my mind of a girl who every spare moment she runs to God’s Word hungry for what He has to say to her. At the back of her mind she is always thinking of Christ. She simply can’t wait for each morning, and jumps out of bed bubbling over with eagerness to spend time with her Lord. In short, every thought, word, action, deed is solely focused on Christ and is done as an expression of immense love for Him.

Oh how I want this for myself! As I write anguish swells up deep within me…This is the thing I crave–to know and love God more.“How?” I ask. He replies, “one day at a time.”

And with that I slip into bed underneath a stack of warm blankets, my mind and heart racing, longing, anguishing, and asking one question…

How much do I love God?

A Servant’s Heart

It’s been a good start to the year.

As I begin to type, I hear raindrops gently beating on the window. After a dry summer, rainy days have become especially dear to me. So peaceful…and the smell of rain? Beautiful.

I pause and glance down at the keyboard and see on my wrist a bracelet that my little sister, Christiana (7), gave to me for Christmas. It has Matthew 22:37 on it:

 

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  

She couldn’t have possibly known how much I love that verse, and how much it means to me. Oh, my aim is to love The Lord my God with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my mind.

Father, give me Your heart to love You with…
I am totally incapable of loving You the way I should.

Ah, the Lord has been showing me much lately in the way of being at home and the selfishness of my heart. For some reason, I’ve always had this vision of when I get older I’ll suddenly be this super-amazing Christian.

Someday I want to pour myself out to others…
Someday I will be a joyful servant to all…
Someday I will show the love of Christ to every needy heart…
I will be ever so diligent and patient…
And whatever I do I will throw myself in wholeheartedly in service to the King.

But my Lord says, “No Grace, that’s who I want you to be right now–in your own home. I want you to invest in the lives of your siblings, and serve them joyfully.”

You see, it’s so easy to go to someone elses home, or church, and serve joyfully and be oh so “picture perfect.” It’s so easy to be a good Christian and pour myself out to others. But what about when I’m at home (when there is no one to impress)? Do I always give my very best? When something is asked of me–in my home–do I jump up to joyfully serve, and go the extra mile? So often I only give the minimum, and only that after a sigh.

If this is the case–if I only work and serve when there are those to praise me– then I am become one who works for the praise of man. Is that my pursuit? Is that what I’m living my life for?

Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. (Col. 3:22-24)

Oh! How convicting this passage is to me; for you see, I am one who thrives off of the praise and approval of man. To say I like people to think and say good things about me would be an understatement…so much of what I do is rooted in pride.

The whole fact that I care so much about what others think of me, shows a lack of love for God. If I truly did love God with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind, then everything I did would flow out of a heart of love for God.  Instead is this pride and self focus…this is really a hard thing to admit.

Oh I want a servant’s heart.
A heart that thinks not of ones self, but considers others first…
A heart that is selfless and sacrificial…
A heart of all-consuming love, leaving no room for pride…
A heart where God has first place.

 The really sad thing is, everything that I do on earth with a motive of pride will burn up as hay and stubble when I get to heaven. That two seconds of praise that I worked for was my reward; I won’t get rewards for the things done out of a motive of pride. Oh! May every motive be inspired with love for Christ!

Lord, I want to live for You and love You more…I want to bring glory to You, not me. But I am so inadequate, oh help me!

He is helping me–ever so faithfully helping me, leading me, guiding me, and holding my hand. I am learning to serve Him and not man…and doing it heartily. No, I cannot give Him any less than my best. Anything He asks me to do I must throw my whole self into; whether it’s something small like doing laundry, dishes, mopping floors or something big like feeding the hungry, winning souls, going on the mission field. Whatever it is I am to do it heartily as unto the Lord, and not unto men.

There’s so much more I could say on this, but for fear of boring I’ll stop–for now. May you serve Christ, dear friend, joyfully, willingly, and heartily.

All for Christ’s glory (and not mine),

Grace

Psalm 16:11