Messy Roads

Winter can be messy, not to mention cold. I was heading up the mountain to Somerset a few weeks ago and got behind a coal truck. The road was dirty and slightly wet from the salt and melting snow. The combination made the car’s windshield wiper fluid my MVF—-Most Valuable Friend. There was just enough mess on my windshield that I needed to use the wipers occasionally. Unfortunately, the wipers made the mess even worse. Have you been there? Since being able to see the road comes in handy while driving, I needed that wiper fluid desperately.

Life gets messy too, doesn’t it? As Pastor Chris frequently reminds us at Charter Oak Church, “everybody’s dealing with something.” In the middle of our mess we sometimes take charge, turn on the windshield wipers, and make an even bigger mess. As I was driving up the mountain that day, it occurred to me that the wiper fluid is symbolic of Jesus in the lives of His children. He’s our MVF and more! When we confess Him as Lord and Savior of our lives, He cleans us up.

“he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”                                     Titus 3:5 NLT

But He doesn’t stop there.

Without the wiper fluid that day, I would have been hard-pressed to stay on the road. At times I could barely see through the mess on my windshield. When the “somethings” in our lives cloud the path, Jesus stands ready, willing, and able to show us the way.

“The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”                                       Psalms 32:8 NLT

There’s a little more to the story.

I had windshield wiper fluid that day, but without my pressing the button to activate the pump and wipers, it would have done me no good. Similarly, we play a role in activating Jesus in our lives. We must seek Him and His guidance. Care to join me?

“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.”                                                                                                    Psalms 25:4 NLT

 

 

Harmony + Melody = Heavenly Music

It all started a few days before our church’s annual Christmas cantata when a good friend shared a humorous post on my Facebook timeline poking fun at altos. The post was just a short video of a woman singing the alto part all by herself. It wasn’t pretty, but not because she couldn’t sing. The problem—-the melody was missing. A melody can stand alone and create a simple song, but harmony alone is just not appealing to the ear. However, if you add harmony to the melody, a stronger and more beautiful sound is created. The song is made complete. The friend that shared the video with me summed it up well in the commentary that followed that post. She said, “Without an alto it’s just a melody. How boring.”

Earlier this month I spent a large part of one weekend at my church singing alto in the annual Christmas cantata. We performed it once on Saturday and twice on Sunday. In the midst of it all, God delivered a very timely and special message through my current reading plan in YouVersion. It’s called “The Magic of Christmas” and that Sunday’s devotion was written by Cory Draper. He says, “A melody is what gives a song its body. A harmony is what gives that body a soul.” When I read those words, I had to pause a moment and let them sink in.

Think of each of us as individual songs, a collection of notes strung together one after another. We were created by God, but without Jesus we are incomplete. Sin entered this world when Eve bit into the forbidden fruit and has run rampant ever since. Sin separates us from God. Because of His unparalleled love for us, God the Father put His redemption plan in motion by sending God the Son, Jesus, to earth. Through Jesus’ birth, sacrifice, and resurrection, we are brought into harmony with God. This (re)union of notes makes for a more full and beautiful sound. Our songs are made complete through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare Him room….

 

Are you singing it yet?

May Jesus bring joy to your world as you make room to receive Him in your heart this Christmas!

(adapted from my Christmas letter)

Where’s Mary?

Facebook reminded me just yesterday that I had written a post about Mary on December 7, 2013. Hmmm…could it have anything to do with this time of year?  I think it just might! I bring her story to you again, but with a little different perspective in 2017.

Just a little background information for anyone not familiar with the story—Jesus came to see Mary and Martha at their house. It was a big deal! Martha got all caught up in the preparations—cooking, cleaning, etc., only to find her sister Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus taking in His every word. Martha was a little miffed with Mary’s lack of help and brought it to Jesus’ attention…

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.””                      Luke 10:41-42 NIV

Are you more like Mary or Martha? Chime in by leaving a comment below if you don’t mind. I would estimate that I’m about 90% Martha and 10% Mary. That’s not something for which I’m proud. My imbalance tends to rear its ugly head most in December. I am a taskmaster. Though I generally don’t have a written “to do” list, I can assure you that when my feet hit the ground in the morning, I have a pretty good idea of what I hope to accomplish that day. It brings me great pleasure to check things off, even if only in my head! The combination of introvert and taskmaster only magnifies the Martha in me.

It takes a concerted effort on my part to turn off Martha and reach for my inner Mary. There have been countless times that I have gotten caught up in my own agenda and failed to do what was better all because I was more concerned about checking something off my list. Those times I actually get it right tend to stand out. There were three such occasions in the past week and God blessed me incredibly for choosing people over tasks. I came away with a joy-filled heart that energized me to complete my tasks!!

When questioned by a Pharisee about the greatest commandment—-

“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  Matthew 22:37-39 NLT

It seems loving others trumps getting things done. Does that verse cause you to take a closer look at your priorities? It does me. There are plenty of things to do that are good, important, and even necessary. In fact, completing many of those tasks is a demonstration of love for those God has put before us. Let’s not be too hard on Martha. Her preparations were an expression of love for Jesus too. BUT, Jesus says Mary chose what was better.

Let’s commit to filtering our “to do” lists through the great commandment so that loving others well is a recurring theme. May we each follow Mary’s example and choose that which is better.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go and revise my list….