Confession: sometimes I walk out of a Bible teaching and can’t remember the point of the lesson even just an hour later. And sometimes I read a book ripe with spiritual lessons and am hard put to remember even one of those lessons a few days after reading the final page. I may have been distracted by a lovey-dovey couple sitting a few rows in front of me in church. Or by the gnaw of hunger in my belly. Or maybe I was just excited to see what would happen next on Real Housewives of New York.
But I’ve been thinking lately about the spiritual lessons I’ve learned (through teachings, books, or sermons) that have rocked my world. Teachings that I not only paid attention to, but also swallowed down deep. Lessons that I’ve thought about over and over again, that are still relevant to my life even after many years.
The following are some of the lessons that have affected me most profoundly and even changed my life.
God speaks through circumstances.
One of the first Bible studies that I did was Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God. It was so life changing for me that I still get choked up when I look at the cover. It taught me that that God wants me to participate when I see His activity, that He does speak to us in a number of different ways and reveals His will to us. But if I had to choose one thing that got me the most, it’s that God speaks through our circumstances. He put me into a specific family, during a specific time and a particular place in the world, so He must have a purpose in that. Knowing this has helped me to stop focusing on wishing that I had someone else’s life and to focus on the life that He has given me.
It won’t hurt God’s feelings any if I do something nice for someone.
I heard Joyce Meyer say something along these lines years ago, and was a little embarrassed by the fact that it rocked my world. After all, isn’t it obvious? As believers and followers of Christ, aren’t we supposed to do nice things for people as a way to love them? She spelled out that we don’t have to have a prayer meeting every time that a kind act comes to mind. In the immortal words of Nike, just do it. So I try to tell people when they look especially nice, or if they were funny or did a good job or whatever. In the American culture, it can be so easy to get caught up in the “What’s in it for me” mentality. I’m constantly struggling with that. So it’s good to remember that God kind of likes it when I put someone else first.
Just do what you do.
Some years ago, I was sitting in Beth Moore‘s Sunday School class during a time in my life that I felt utterly and completely useless as a member of the body of Christ. I tried to serve in a number of ways, but it seemed like nothing fit and I was just in the way. I believed that I had no special gifting and felt invisible.
But in Sunday School that day, Mrs. Moore told the story of a lady that had crocheted her baby booties (for future grandchildren) as a way to serve her and thank her for her ministry. It was just something that she did to bless people. Beth Moore’s exhortation to just do what you do to serve the body of Christ excited me and gave me hope that one day I would also be able to serve others.
I had come to love Bible study, so eventually God gave me the opportunity and privilege to teach a Bible study class. I did that for three years, but after marriage I again began to deal with that “I’m useless and no good to anybody” feeling. I’ve reminded myself several times to just “do what you do,” so now I hope to use my professional computer skills to create iPhone apps that would benefit the body of Christ. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll continue to try to offer up whatever I have in the way of abilities and skills in the hope that I can help somebody.
Make much of Jesus.
I was reading something by C.S. Lewis a while back and never got past a line that talked about making much of Jesus. The truth of that was just too overwhelming for me to go on. I was teaching a single adult Bible study class at the time and put this phrase at the top of every lesson. It reminded me that, as a teacher, my job was to point everyone that entered my small circle of influence to Jesus Christ. No matter the topic of the Bible study lesson, be it fasting or divorce or murder, ultimately it needed to point to Jesus.
I’m trying to take that same focus on this blog. If talking about spiritual matters, the goal is to have a closer walk with Jesus. If talking about computer know-how, the goal is to become a better steward of the knowledge and belongings that He has provided us, and to use them to serve Him. If talking about hospitality, the goal is to learn to love people better, with the example of Christ. We can’t ever make a big enough deal of Jesus. He doesn’t need me to make Him famous in the world, He can do that all on His own. But it’s a joy and only right to declare that He is famous in my life.
I’m just a mule carrying the Message.
My husband and I have been visiting Crossroads Baptist Church for a few weeks now, and have come to appreciate Pastor Larry York. He’s a sweet humble guy that loves on his congregation like no pastor I’ve ever seen before. He even stands in the parking lot and waves at everyone as they drive in before church. Just so cute.
Somewhere around Easter, he gave a message about believers just being mules carrying the Message (based on this story). I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Anyone that has any type of public platform, be it speaker, teacher, or blogger, may get caught up in themselves, in people wanting to see or hear what they say. So I thought that the “mule carrying the Message” concept was about as humbling and rightly-focused as you can get. It’s a good reminder that it’s not about me. My job is to make much of Jesus.