God Lovers

12/11/2011

There are bumper stickers out there that say, “God is my Co-pilot.” Although I like that God is an important part of the driver’s life, I prefer the ones that say, “If God is your Co-pilot, you’re in the wrong seat.” And then there are the ones that say, “Dog is my co-pilot.” That is supposed to be good for a chuckle, and it is sort of funny, although making fun of having God first in our lives is actually a very serious matter. But this message is not really about bumper stickers, so you may be wondering why I began writing about them? Actually, I was sitting here asking God what might be a good title for this message considering what I have on my heart right now, and this came to mind…so there it is—instead of dog lovers, let’s be God Lovers.

And what exactly do I have on my heart right now? Well, dogs, yes, but mainly children, and mainly a sweet five-year-old boy named Jackson, who just happens to be my grandson. And why am I thinking about Jackson and dogs? Because yesterday when I arrived at Jackson’s house and knocked on the door, he came to the door and peered out through the window which is low enough for him to see through. As I bent over to his height to get face to face with him, he greeted me with the biggest, happiest smile a grandma could ever hope for. As his face met mine on the other side of that window he kissed me on the glass, and I kissed him back, and then he opened the door and I got my usual long hug!! Life doesn’t get much better than that!!

The Bible talks about doors too:

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears
my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person,
and they with me. Revelation 3:20 (NIV)

And what exactly does all this have to do with dogs? Well, since I am not really an animal lover I don’t get the “excitement” of dogs, cats, horses, etc…but, what I’m thinking about is if what animal lovers feel when they return home and are greeted with the unconditional love of their pet is anything like what I feel like when I am greeted with such unconditional love from my grandchild, then I see why having a pet is so great!!

And what exactly does all of this have to do with our God? Because you know that is what all my messages eventually get around to…our walk with God each day. Well, the of course it’s the unconditional love God has for each of His children, and how excited He is to see us too!

I read the other day:

Love is more than attraction and more than arousal. It’s also more than sentimentality, like so many of today’s songs suggest. By this standard, is love dead when the emotion is gone? No — not at all — because love is an action, and a behavior.

Over and over again in the Bible, God commands us to love each other, and you can’t command an emotion. If I told you right now, “Be sad!” you couldn’t be sad on cue. Just like an actor, you can fake it, but you’re not wired for your emotions to change on command.

If love were just an emotion, then God couldn’t command it. But love is something you do. It can produce emotion, but love is an action. (Rick Warren)

Right now, maybe God’s love feels a bit distant in the busyness of our days, maybe it’s sort of like Jackson’s kiss from his side of the window, and mine in return to him…a cold piece of glass separated us. We could see each other, and we wanted to be with each other, but something stood in our way. The door needed to be opened, an action needed to be taken for our love to be enjoyed to its fullest extent. Maybe what we need to do when we are feeling distant from our God is open up that door between us and get that real “hug” of unconditional love that is waiting behind it. The enemy will put up barriers that can make God seem distant, when in fact, God has not gone anywhere. Emotionally, He may seem far away but in reality He is with us just as He promised He would be always.

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven.
And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here,
and I will show you what must take place after this.” Revelation 4:1 (NIV)

God pursues us even when we are running away from Him. I’ve seen this up close and personal in the last week, and it’s been faith-building for me. I know of a woman who is having some trouble in her life, and in the midst of it, she turned away from God. She wasn’t interested in her Bible, and she wasn’t interested in visiting a church. She wanted to be left alone in the difficulties and just sort of sit in them for now. But God loves us too much to leave us alone. On the very day she needed it, God brought a pastor to the place we were, and she was able to sit and talk with him. She didn’t want to at first, she wanted to resist the help that God was bringing her way, she thought there would be no good in talking her troubles over with him, but she was amazed at the words of wisdom God had waiting for her through this man.

It reminds me of the story I heard of a person stranded on the roof of their home during a flood. They prayed for God to save them. A man in a boat came by but they declined the help. A helicopter hovered overhead, wanting to let down a rope, but they declined. A neighbor threw them a life preserver, but they let it float away. When they died in the flood and arrived in Heaven, they asked God why He hadn’t answered their prayer and saved them? God said, “Well, I sent you a boat, a helicopter and a life preserver.”

I watched as God reached out to this woman in many ways, and even though she probably didn’t really want to respond to God’s acts of love towards her, she didn’t completely resist them either. God’s love actions are very powerful, and they are happening all the time. In a very short time I have seen the dark cloud lifted off of her, and God’s light begin to shine through her. It’s not that all the things she was struggling with suddenly went away, it’s that she stopped focusing on the troubles and stopped sitting with the mess, and instead started focusing on God and walking out of the mess and into His house of praise and worship. In that, her burden was lifted off her shoulders and onto the shoulders of her Savior. She said to me, “I’ve given my heart back to God!” In watching her do that, it has strengthened my faith for sure!!

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful,
unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
Hebrews 3:12 (NIV)

In thinking about her situation recently, and the change that has been taking place in her heart and in her life, I wanted to share that news with the pastor who had been “sent” to talk with her. I thought maybe I should e-mail him with an update. Lo and behold, before I got a chance to do that, who should I run into in the grocery store parking lot? That very person! I didn’t need to work hard to give him the good news, and together we praised God for His amazing love in our lives!

I read in one of my devotionals this morning:

“…if you ask God to take control of your life and will, your life will vastly improve!  It is also by seeing the beauty that surrounds us in this World, and how perfectly everything works together, and knowing that all of this could not have happened by accident!”

Seriously, the timing in some of the situations surrounding her story definitely had the imprint of God on them! I love watching that happen! Sometimes when we are in the midst of our own pain and suffering, it can get difficult to see God at work. We need others around us pointing Him out, showing us His hand in things, and rejoicing with us when His magnificent love and attention in the details of our lives start to change things for the better!

O LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.
Psalm 30:2 (NASB)

Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul.
Psalm 54:4 (NASB)

Our oldest son, Jimm, has been working very hard these last eight years to make a better life for his family. He has been on a fulltime job for eight years, and he has been going to school fulltime for the last four-and-a half years getting his B.A. degree in Information Technology. In the midst of all this, he has been blessed with three children, now ages six, four, and one! If that isn’t a lot for Jimm and his wife Cami, I don’t know what is!

One troublesome thing along the way was a bit of frustration at work, there seemed to have been a misunderstanding some years back, and it had held up some promotions that he could have gotten. Cami convinced Jimm that it was time to go to H.R. and get to the bottom of it all, which Jimm didn’t look forward to doing. When Jimm finally did speak with H.R., it brought to light that not only was there not a problem with his work ethics but that he has been an outstanding employee over the last eight years—always on time, never calling in sick, always doing a great job! Because Jimm had to go in to clear up his record, his name became known to those in charge. It wasn’t but two weeks later an employee in the I.T. department gave their two-week notice, and suddenly that department was in need of a replacement! Since Jimm’s name was now “known,” and his work record was also “known” to the powers that be…the manager in the I.T. department came to ask Jimm if he would come and interview for the job!

God’s timing? Or coincidence? God’s providence? I believe it’s God’s loving hand reaching out and helping Jimm along the course of a life that can be heavy, and difficult, and full of struggles at times. Jimm is graduating from college during a time when jobs are not easy to come by with the present-day economy. Jimm did interview for the job, and he has now been transferred to the I.T. department and is enjoying his new career!

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you,
for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)

All of our lives are filled with people and their stories, stories similar to the ones I have been able to share here. The thing is, do we look for God in our stories or do we get buried under a mound of fear, under a hill of frustration, beneath a mountain of desperation? Or do we stand on top of all the trials of this life and claim our victory in God even during the times when we don’t see God working the way we’d like Him to? That’s when we need others to help us along, to encourage us and listen to us, and pray with us, and laugh with us, yes, even laugh! Recently I read, “Laughing is like taking a mini vacation.” So, my friend and I encourage each other often to take a mini vacation! Don’t we all need it? Isn’t life hard enough? We need to be able to laugh more, and stress out less, and trust God more!

How do we laugh more, stress less and trust more? It’s not easy! But we can embrace the smile of a child, the wagging tail of a dog that’s so happy to see us, and most important of all, the unconditional love that is being offered to us every day by our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ! God doesn’t want us separated from Him, not even a separation as thin as the piece of glass Jackson kissed me through. God wants us to be with Him, to sit with Him and talk with Him and tell Him about our day, about our struggles, and also about all the things we are grateful for.

When Jack opened the door we hugged and kissed face to face. Then we sat down and talked about Jack’s day in Kindergarten, about the Mystery Box that was his to bring home that day from school. We talked about the things he just saw at Disneyland and his favorite video game. Jack is still small enough to sit on my lap and curl into my arms, and tell me about his life. One day he will be too big for that, and I will miss those days, but the important thing is to build a relationship with him now…one that will last throughout our life and on into eternity. That is exactly what God wants with all of us. And yes, sometimes we won’t always understand—just as I don’t understand a lot of Jack’s talk of video games, or even understand everything he is telling me about school—but it really doesn’t matter, what matters is that we are together, sharing life, and loving one another.

We may not always understand what God is doing, and why things are taking so long, and why things don’t always turn out in ways that we think are the best, but we can’t know what God has planned. Jimm couldn’t know that after years of being passed over for certain promotions, it was leading him to the day when he would need to talk with someone about his employee record. In God’s perfect timing, his name would then be known to the people in charge of hiring someone for a job in his field of study. As Jimm’s wife Cami says, “God is Great! God is Grand! He always has a plan!”

God knows what He’s doing, we can trust Him for that. And His unconditional love is simply amazing!! Open the door and let God in, crawl into His arms, and tell Him everything that is on your heart. He will be happy to listen to all your cares, all your worries, and all the things you would like to thank Him for!! Sometimes it’s hard to focus, but let’s remember back to what we might have learned in Kindergarten, things like Jackson is learning. He told me this on our visit:

Jackson: When you do your homework, you should think only about your homework.

A few minutes later….

Jackson: When you are playing soccer, you should think only about soccer. I thought about “Angry Birds” a little bit, but just a little bit…

Thank you Lord for the sweet and unconditional love of a child, and thank you Lord, for Your sweet and unconditional love that never fails. Help us focus on You and think about You each day! Help us to be God Lovers!

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the
realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
Colossians 3:1 (NLT)

Until we meet again,

Diane