Chasing Donkeys

Maarten de Jonge, a Dutch cyclist, was scheduled to be on the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which disappeared over the Indian Ocean in March. He was also scheduled to be on the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down over Eastern Ukraine. In both cases, de Jonge cancelled his flights at the last minute. The newspapers and television broadcasters are calling it happenstance or coincidence. Our lives are full of “what if’s.” We wonder what might have happened if we had done something differently. Certainly Maarten de Jonge doesn’t have to wonder “what if.” He must be relieved, thankful, and in awe of the circumstances that happened in his life that allowed him to continue living. It is interesting when we read the Bible to see how God himself often used ordinary events to accomplish His goals. He used ordinary people and made amazing things happen. Saul was out searching for his father’s lost donkeys when Samuel came into his life. “Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, ‘Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance?’” (1 Samuel 10:1) A mighty God is at work each and every day in our lives–our boring everyday lives. It may seem like a coincidence or it may be something we don’t notice at all, when it’s actually the hand of God. We mustn’t be so busy that we fail to see these things. We can’t ignore God’s hand at work in our lives.

The Uncommon Common

“I am so bored,” is often a phrase one will hear throughout the course of summer. It’s such a common phrase for children, teens, and adults alike. How is it we can become so bored with our own life? We sometimes look at our lives, and only see what we don’t have. We focus most of our attention on what is missing. Whether it be a brand new iPhone or a bigger house, we seem to always covet something bigger and better. Why is it that we judge our standards by material possessions instead of seeing how truly blessed we are? God is constantly trying to show us that we are more blessed than we could imagine despite the fact that our phones may be outdated or our house may never be big enough by our standards. God desires for us to know that we are blessed with everything we have, because He is the one that gave it. There are seven billion people on this planet and nearly 80%, if not more, of the world’s population is living in poverty. Most of the stuff we complain about are things those 80% would love to have. Finding satisfaction within the gifts that God freely gives us is not boredom, it’s being content.

The Mechanics

People are passionate about sports. We appreciate great performances by athletes. We’re amazed by those who make incredible physical feats look easy. In Kentucky “string music” doesn’t necessarily originate with a violin. We enjoy the sound and cheer loudly for the people who create it.   But the sound that creates the cheer doesn’t begin with the shot. Many times it began in a child’s room with a rubber ball the size of an orange and a plastic hoop hanging on the door. It continued with parents giving instructions under a goal in the driveway.   “Look at the goal.” “Square up to the basket.” “Follow through.” At this time children have no idea about mechanics. But they’re learning them just the same. They are learning mechanics that will serve them well when they get bigger and stronger and the games get more intense.   And it does get more intense. Coaches, teammates, and fans all yell “play hard!” We love it when people play hard. But there comes a time when all of the training, the running and lifting to get in shape, isn’t enough. That’s when mechanics take over. Doing things right, because you’ve done them so many times before, leads to victory.   All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. 1 Corinthians 9:25 (MSG)   If church were a game, what would your coach say? It’s far more than a game. Work on your mechanics.   “Play hard!”

Casual Conversations

“Fishing is boring, unless you catch an actual fish and then it is disgusting.” Dave Barry   Fishing is often repetition…casting, reeling and casting, reeling again. When hooking a fish doesn’t get added to this equation, fishing is pretty boring.       Let’s add young children to the mix. You are teaching them to fish. It’s boring so they fidget and whine. And now comes the wisdom from Dave Barry–that young child actually hooks a fish. The fight is on! Action, excitement, squeals and finally the landing of that fish (or maybe minnow is a more apt description). It is slimy, smelly and yucky. The child is not going to touch that trophy.   The day of fishing mercifully comes to an end. Kids are dirty, tired and sleepy. It’s off to the house you go. They will tell mom what a horrible day they had and beg her to never make them go fishing again because it’s boring.   Much to your surprise their stories of the boring day pop with excitement. That five-pound trout put up a huge fight; they battled it to the bank. Fishing is awesome. Can we go again tomorrow?   Don’t think God will only use us in spectacular settings, majestic scenery or incredible situations. God’s love and truth is there all the time, in all settings. We can model Christ-like behavior. We can be examples and receive no feedback. But it certainly does not mean that someone isn’t learning about God by watching us, even on that boring fishing trip.

The Old Ball and Chain

Do you remember the first date you had with your spouse? You were probably a little excited and maybe somewhat apprehensive. But you enjoyed it. That’s why there was another date, then another and another. Pretty soon you found yourself falling in love. The chemicals in your brain kicked in and you felt an emotional high. There was passion and elation when you were together. Those feelings led to discussions of marriage. You were certain you’d met the man or woman of your dreams. You wanted to spend the rest of your life with them. You got married, had a wonderful honeymoon, moved into an apartment or bought your first house and then kids came along, jobs changed and time demands occurred. Your life with your partner was completely different than it was when you met, fell in love and began life together. At some point in your marriage, you may have begun to wonder what was missing in your life. In some ways, you thought your spouse might be holding you back. In your mind, you might have considered your spouse to be a ball and chain. You discovered the two of you are just going through the motions of doing life together. God tells us there is more to life than that. It is a part of His plan that a man and woman join together in marriage for their entire lives. Also, it is His plan that our love continues to grow. We should recognize and act upon the opportunities we have to express love in our own relationship in new and different ways.

Nose to the Grindstone

Let’s face it, our jobs can be really frustrating and often times boring. We sometimes feel as though we are not appreciated, not paid enough, or we work harder than our coworkers. We do the same thing day after day. Our attitudes can be affected by this. Maybe we don’t feel as though we are making much of a difference in the world with our line of work and there has to be something better out there. The church in Colossae had a similar line of thinking. Paul tells them in Colossians 3:23-24 to “work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” No matter what you do for a living, you are working for the Lord. You do not have to be a missionary or a staff member of a church. Where we are right now is where we are serving God. The reason we can say this, and be joyful in this, is because our reward is not a promotion or pay raise. Our reward is not being employee of the month or a bonus. Our reward is eternal life. This reward can never be taken away and has much more value than anything here on earth. When we just want to quit or stop doing our job, we need to remember this verse. Take a few deep breaths and remember that we are not working for men, but for the greatest boss ever, Jesus.