"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
March 20, 2019
Happy 1st Day of Spring!!
When Jon and I were dating, we talked to each other every day. We either went out somewhere, saw one another at church, or talked on the phone. Seeing or talking to Jon was the highlight of each day and I eagerly looked forward to and anticipated those moments. My heart would leap with joy and excitement when we were together or were talking to one another.
When we first started dating, Jon told me that he didn't really like talking on the phone, so not to be disappointed if he didn't talk very long before hanging up. But it didn't take long until we were on the phone chit-chatting for at least an hour.
After we got married, I could hardly wait until the two of us would get home from work and see one another at the end of the day. We loved spending time together.
A few short years after we were married, Jon started a new job. After working there for a while, he had to travel out of town a few times to customer sites. I would get tears in my eyes and almost cry as we said our goodbyes, because I didn't want to be parted from him; and sometimes I would cry after he left. The days seemed to drag by while he was gone. Even though we generally were able to talk most nights while he was gone, there were a few times that his location didn't have good cell service (like when he was out in the middle of the ocean on an oil pumping station!), and we were unable to communicate.
But when I knew that he was headed back home, I would feel the excitement building the closer the time grew to his return. When he texted or called from the airport saying that his plane had landed; or when he was driving and called to say that he was an hour from home, I would watch the clock and count down how much longer until I would see him. My sweetheart was coming home to me!
Our relationship has matured the longer we've been married. We know each other much better now than we did almost 14 years ago when we first got married. I may not get as emotional when we have to be apart, but I do miss Jon when we aren't together. I think of him throughout the day when he's at work; he is often on my mind.
I think that there are times when we tend to take our spouse for granted, and don't always treat them as if they are the most important person in our life. Perhaps we grow too comfortable in our relationship, and don't always give our husband or wife the time and attention that we should; and we don't make them feel as if they really matter to us. In our heart, we do greatly love them and the life that we have together, but we don't always act as if we do or show that to them. Sadly, sometimes it takes a sickness or a big argument or something to happen to wake us up and make us realize just how much we love and need one another.
This is often the pattern that we follow in our relationship with Jesus. When we first become a believer, we are filled with excitement of having our sins washed away, being forgiven, and getting to know Jesus. We feel almost giddy with the joy that fills our heart! We tell others about the change that took place in our life and don't care who knows that we are in love with Jesus. We enjoy talking to Jesus, through prayer, and getting to know Him. We look forward to spending time reading our Bible and attending church; and miss it when we don't.
But then something happens and our faith is tested. Perhaps friends or family aren't as committed to Jesus as they should be, or have not yet became a christian; and they want us to do something that we know we shouldn't, or will say things that discourage us in our faith. Perhaps we even sin and do something that we haven't done since becoming a believer, and feel as if we've messed up big time. Maybe there is a health diagnosis for either us or someone close to us that tests our faith; or someone close to us dies. We have to choose whether we're going to continue holding onto faith in Jesus, or turn back to our old way of life.
Sadly, many of the things that we do as christians are often thought of as a religious duty. We "have" to pray... we "have" to read our Bible... we "have" to go to church; if not, then God's not going to be happy with us and something bad may happen. Or we do those things, not because we want to, but because they are the things that all good christians do. So, if we want to be a good christian, then we have to pray, read our Bible, and go to church. But none of those things bring us real lasting joy, because they are seen as the duties and responsibilities of those who want to go to heaven. And if we miss a day without reading our Bible, we feel guilty and condemned; as if God is mad at us. If we go through our day with busy activities and don't take the time to pray, then right before falling asleep think about it, we will say a hurried cursory prayer; kind of an after-thought to make us feel better.
I will admit, I have felt that way many times over the years! I will get busy, then realize that I haven't read my Bible for a few days, then will read it out of guilt. I read it, not because I want to, but because I feel that I have to in order to please God. There have been many times when I'll have things that I'm doing and suddenly think, "Oh! I haven't prayed today!" So say a quick prayer as I'm driving down the road or as I'm doing housework or before falling asleep. During those times, I've prayed out of a feeling of duty and because that's what I'm supposed to do, not because I really want to. There have been times when I've gone to church when I would rather have stayed home. I went out of responsibility and because it's what good christian people do; not because I had a deep desire to go. I've done all of those things out of a religious spirit, not out of a deep hunger to know Jesus. Just being honest here!
But over the past couple of years or so, Jesus has been showing me things and teaching me from His perspective. It has been life-changing for me! He has shown me that He is my Bridegroom, and I'm His bride; and that my response to Him should come from that love relationship; not from a religious or traditional perspective.
Last week I wrote from Song of Solomon chapter two where the king sees his beloved waiting and calling out to him, and he leaps with joy and skips with love to get to her. That image has been burned into my heart for the past couple of weeks. The king is a picture of Jesus. He leaps with joy and skips with love to get to me, His beloved!
But what happens when He is leaping and skipping to come to me, only to find that I'm too busy to talk to Him or spend time with Him? How do you think that makes Jesus feel? Knowing my heart, and that I'm only praying or reading His Word out of duty, instead of a deep love for Him.... how does that make Jesus feel? Making everything but Him a priority in my life and making time for everyone, except Him... what does that show about my commitment to our relationship?
Many christians would argue that Jesus is the most important person in their life and that He means more to them than anything; but they take care of everyone and everything else first, then give Jesus time if there is any leftover. That doesn't make Him their priority or their first love.
Here is something that I have been learning: the more time I spend with Jesus, the more time that I want to spend with Him. I don't like being apart from Him. Yes, I can talk to Him as I'm driving, or doing housework, or babysitting, or mowing, or whatever it is that I'm doing; and I do talk to Him as I'm doing those things. But Jesus also wants to have that time with us when we are doing nothing else, except taking time to talk to Him and being in His presence. That's when He can really speak to us, when He has our undivided attention.
Jon and I talk to one another when we're watching TV, in the car together, eating dinner, or whatever it may be that we're doing. But during those times, we aren't fully engaged with one another. We are busy doing something else, while we talk; so really aren't paying as much attention and listening to one another as well as we should be. It's when we turn off the TV, sit down and look at one another, that we really communicate and have the other person's full attention. That's when we've had some of our best discussions and really listened and heard the heart of what each other was saying or feeling or wanting. When we put aside our phones and all other electronics, and focus on one another, we are then fully engaged and connected to each other. We let the other person know that they are our priority for that moment.
I'm going to get on a soapbox for just a moment, so hold on! We, as a society, have allowed all electronics to govern our life. We have forgotten how to fully engage with the people that we are with at that moment and make them a priority. How do I know this? Because when I'm with other people, visiting with them and trying to have a conversation, if their cell phone rings -- they will stop in the middle of what they are saying to check their phone to see who is calling. If their phone beeps, they will stop the conversation to read their message and generally respond. And not just with me, but I see this over and over again. It is as if whoever is calling or messaging is more important than who they are with at the time. Every time you go out to eat, you see this happening at more tables than not. They cannot wait until later to see who called or messaged; because it may be important; or else they just can't stand not knowing who it is trying to contact them. And the person on the other end who is calling or texting or messaging expects an immediate response, and many times get irritated if they have to wait for an answer or call back. We have forgotten how to focus on the people that we are with at the moment, without distractions.
Even at church I've seen this happen too many times. I have seen people checking Facebook on their phones, texting/messaging, and even taking pictures and posting them; and this is happening in the middle of worship or during the sermon. I recently thought, "I wonder what it would be like if Jesus had been born in our day and time?" I think people would be too busy to go spend a full day listening to Him preach. And they would be sitting in the crowd checking their phones, taking His picture and posting about Him on social media, and trying to take a selfie with Him. They wouldn't have time to just sit at His feet and listen to what He was saying.
I think that is really what Jesus wants from us. He wants us to want to be with Him; not out of obligation or because we feel like it's something we are duty-bound to do; but just because we love Him and want to spend time with Him. He wants us to stop what we're doing and just sit at His feet and be in His presence and listen to what He wants to say to us; and He wants to listen to us as well. He wants us to feel the same excitement at being with Him as He feels at being with us. As we mature in our relationship with Him, Jesus doesn't want us to take Him for granted, but for us to enjoy spending time with Him, as much as He enjoys being with us.
Don't take Jesus for granted or feel as if your relationship with Him is a duty, so that it takes a tragedy or sickness or death or pain to make us realize how much we truly need Him. He loves us so much that He never takes His eyes off us. He delights in us! We are a special treasure to Him. He leaps with joy and skips with love to get to us! May we each feel that same joy and delight in being with Him! May our heart skip a beat when we get to be near Him and talk to Him!
Some people might argue, but I really do put real people I'm with as a top priority. It might be hard to believe because I often do read comics or play mundane games while I'm having a conversation. But I only do what I can easily set aside and ignore whenever I like. I also tend to ignore phone calls and messages till there is a lull in conversation.
But even having Loretta as my top priority doesn't always leave her feeling happy and listened-to. Why? Because I don't always invest 100% of my attention to her and only her. 90% just isn't good enough.
And honestly, I often do the same thing with God. When there is a pause in a good sermon, I might notice that there is a spot that needs paint, or that I forgot to put up a hand-rail on the steps, or remember that I meant to write a better program for lighting controls. That isn't my 100%.
Spring Time Salad
1 head cauliflower
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 bunch broccoli
1/2 cup sugar
1 small onion, separated (optional)
1 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 pound bacon, fried and crumbled
salt and pepper, to taste
Separate cauliflower into flowerets; cut flowerets into bite-sized pieces. Chop broccoli and separate into bite-sized pieces. Combine cauliflower, broccoli, onions, bacon, and cheese. Mix sugar and mayonnaise together. Add to vegetable mixture; salt and pepper, to taste; stir well. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
Over the past few weeks, it seems as if many family members and friends have been in need or prayer. Something that the Holy Spirit has really placed on my heart is this: If you tell someone that you will pray for them, then pray. Don't make saying, "I'll pray for you," a general response to someone when they are going through something or need healing or a miracle or are facing a big decision; but then go your way and never think of it again nor pray for them. They may be depending on your prayers. Something that often comes to mind is this thought; "Pray for someone in the same way that you would want them to pray for you." If they are going through a dire situation in need of a miracle, pray for them in the same way that you would want prayer if you were in their situation. If you wake up in the middle of the night with someone on your mind, don't just roll over and try to fall back asleep, but take a moment and pray for them. If you wake up during the night and can't sleep, get up and ask God if there is someone whom you need to be praying for; and there will always be someone who comes to mind. I've had some of my very best prayer times in the middle of the night! Sometimes God wakes me up to pray for someone in particular; and sometimes He just wants to speak to me, personally. I've learned to get up when that happens and spend time with Jesus, instead of lying in bed awake, trying to fall back to sleep. Prayer works!
Faith in God includes faith in His timing. - Neal A. Maxwell
We love you!
Loretta & Jon