“Fourteen-Eleven”

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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
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