Cleaning is not fun. Packing – also not fun. Hiring roofers, painters, electricians. Definitely not fun. The last few weeks have been a flurry of not-fun activity at the Mayo house. After each task is completed, Lea and I stand back and marvel over it. Why didn’t we do this years ago? Why did we keep procrastinating? Sure, completely emptying the utility room, repairing the damaged drywall, painting, and putting down new baseboard was a LOT of work… the results are clearly worth it!
The hard work is worth it.
This is our mantra through packing, selling our home, driving across the country, and starting a new ministry in a new place. The hard work is worth it.
It’s a mantra I encourage each of you here to adopt as well. You are in God’s steady hands. And you ARE God’s steady hands as well. Yours are the hands to build the kingdom, to serve the poor, to minister to the lost. Yours are hands ready for hard work. And the hard work is worth it.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord… Colossians 3:23
You know what bugs me? Following people. I’d much rather type the address into Maps on my phone and let Siri navigate! Lea and I were out with a big group in multiple vehicles and I wasn’t quite sure where we were going. Traffic was kind of heavy and we momentarily lost sight of the group. “We’re following the guy with the cross,” I said, referencing the decal on the back of the truck.
Following the guy with the cross… I thought about that later. Sometimes we can get so distracted in life, can’t we? There are bills to pay, football games to watch, chores to do. There are a million big and little thing things in this world vying for our attention. And it’s way too easy to start following people. A friend, a coach, a teacher, a loved one, even a preacher. And all those people and all those things can have their space in our life, so long as we are following the guy with the cross.
Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
It’s that time of year again! The air begins to crisp. The leaves begin to show off their colors. Well, not in Florida, but in other places. We can use our imaginations! But we really know the season is changing when we start to see Pumpkin Spice… pumpkin spice everything! We’ll drink pumpkin spice lattes and eat pumpkin spice scones. Trader Joe will have every imaginable beverage and snack spiced up with pumpkin. Pumpkin spice will be all the rage for a few weeks. And then it will be gone… Remembered fondly from time to time, but mostly set aside in favor of some other flavor of the week. Some things aren’t made to last.
Jesus told a story like this in Matthew 13. The farmer sowed the seeds and some landed on the rocky soil. The plants grew swiftly but couldn’t last because the soil was shallow and the sun was hot. The roots needed the substance of deep, nutritious earth to support the quick-growing plant. Without it, life was short. Some things aren’t made to last.
But some things are made to last! We are made to last forever, and we have goals and a purpose to match. So, we need a faith that will last, as well. We need a deep faith that will last through the daily struggles of life. We need faith that is deeper than our struggles… Because our purpose can’t be achieved in a weekend or a season.
Our faith can be like pumpkin spice or like the plants in the rocky soil, in-your-face, swift, flamboyant… and not made to last. Let’s aim instead for a faith that is steady and deep, with rewards that will last forever.
We were starving! It had been a long and stressful morning at the children’s hospital and, skipping cafeteria food, we were looking forward to some comfort food. I know how to be a hero to my hungry crew, so I typed Chic-fil-a into my Apple navigation app and took off. I dutifully followed Siri’s directions, eyes on the road, mind on the chicken. We zipped along through traffic and soon enough we were taking our exit along with a million other cars. And then we were getting closer. And then we were circling the airport! Siri hadn’t taken into account that Chic-fil-a was tucked away inside a bustling international airport. That chicken sandwich was far beyond our reach. There were too many barriers. Security. An airline ticket. Airport parking. What I wanted was simply not worth the hassle.
I fear sometimes in the church we can subconsciously put up barriers of all sorts. Perhaps we build walls around ourselves, not letting people or God too close. Perhaps we put up barriers around our traditions, holding on to the past instead of reaching toward the future. Perhaps we build up barriers in front of the seekers and weaker members… barriers like lack of empathy and awareness, lack of amenities, holy jargon, or simply too many hoops to jump. And we might even convince ourselves that those things are important or needed. But Christ paints a very different picture: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
My little family eventually got lunch after that disappointing drive around the airport. But we went elsewhere to get it. I pray our seekers and fledgling Christians won’t find so many barriers in the Lord’s church and go elsewhere because it’s just “not worth it.”
My little family went to Seattle last week for a much-needed vacation. We saw waterfalls and lavender fields, deep green forests and majestic mountains… and we saw A LOT of the inside of an airplane! The beautiful Pacific Northwest was a treat; the long, long journey there was NOT. We were cramped up in our tiny airplane seats, Windsor strapped into her car seat between us for hours… and hours and hours… We were sleepy, hungry, sore, and grumpy. We made the best we could of the journey, listening to music and watching movies and eating snacks, but it was uncomfortable. At moments, it was downright miserable!
How like life! Sometimes the journey of life is downright miserable. Sometimes we are doing our best, just slogging through the difficult times, making the best of a less than comfortable situation. I made it through that long airplane ride because I was focused on my family beside me. I needed to be tough for them. I needed to be as optimistic as I could be. And I also knew at the end of it, there would be rest. On the days that seem to never end, please remember your church family surrounds you, ready to help you bear your burdens… the hard times won’t last forever even in this earthly life… and when the earthly life is done, eternity with God awaits.
I read a quote this week that encouraged me. “God isn’t behind me, yelling, ‘Go!’ He’s ahead of me bidding, ‘Come!’ He’s in front, clearing the path and cutting the brush. Standing next to the rocks, He warns, ‘Watch your step there.'”
In a time of so much uncertainty, it’s comforting to know that God walks ahead of each and every one of us. He offers no magical solution to our problems, no miraculous resolution to our earthly concerns, but He strides along just ahead… We can know the future is nothing to fear when He is already there. I think this is the comfort David must have felt when he wrote the Shepherd Psalm. “He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” Psalm 23:3-4 David well-knew that trouble was ahead. Trouble was all around for him. But he also knew God was ahead as well as all around him.
The world is a scary place on the world stage, the national stage, perhaps even on your personal stage. You are not alone. God goes ahead and your church family walks alongside you.
Friday was the dreaded Friday the 13th – that day when scary and dreadful things are supposed to happen. Fortunately nothing untoward happened. I didn’t see any black cats. I didn’t break a mirror. I didn’t encounter any serial killers (that I know of.) It was an uneventful day.
You know, sometimes we put too much emphasis on all the wrong things, don’t we? We might be afraid of breaking mirrors, or the trade war, or losing our job. We might have a lucky shirt, a favorite pen, or a cursed intersection. Those things range from inconsequential to counterproductive. But they have no real power. What we should really work toward in this life is a closer relationship with God and His people.
The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1