Archive for October, 2009

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Nineteenth in the series Get close to God

 

        I made a mistake yesterday

                                             that could cost me my job. 

 

I went to one of my accounts to fix a scanner connection issue and in the process of testing to see if the documents made it into the archiving system’s database I noticed that neither one of the two backup Snap servers were functioning properly.  So I went to the server room to restart them.  Before I continue you need to know that the archiving server and the Snaps are all blade servers so they look similar.  See where I’m going with this?  I accidently restarted the archiving server instead.  Normally this would not be a big deal, but this is a different kind of server, based on Unix, that can be very unstable at times.  After a couple of agonizing hours trying to get it to boot up, I came to the conclusion the that operating system was toast.  The only fix is to reload the O/S, which blows away all the files.  That’s when the backup servers usually save you.  I then checked out the Snaps to see when the last successful backup was done.  My heart sank when I saw that there were no backups performed since May!  I found this out just before they closed for the weekend.

This is a medical records company that scans thousands of pages a day.  We are looking at a potential loss of hundreds of hours of work, and if these documents have been shredded they can’t be re-scanned.  My hope and prayer is to install new hard drives and transfer the files off the old drives but I was told by Tech Support that it’s a long shot because of the type of file system it uses.

I came home feeling defeated, fearful, and depressed.  I went to bed running scenarios through my head.  How will I break the news to my customer?  How will they react?  Will they try to sue my company?  What will my manager say?  Will I lose my job, my house?  Worse than that, I felt like a spiritual wimp.  Where was my faith?  Has not the Lord always carried me safely through all the other disasters I had before? 

This morning I read something in My Utmost for His Highest that snapped me out of my funk.  Oswald Chambers writes “God has frequently to knock the bottom board out of your experience if you are a saint in order to get you in contact with Himself.  God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of sentimental enjoyment of His blessingsFaith in the Bible is faith in God against everything that contradicts Him-I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.  ‘Though He may slay me, yet I will trust Him’ is the most sublime utterance of faith in the whole of the Bible.”  This is the conclusion Job reached in chapter 13:15 after all that happened to him.  I then read a couple verses before that when he says “Let come on me what may.”  It reminded me of what Esther said after she decided to do the hardest thing of her life: “If I perish, I perish.” 

I felt the weight of my anxiety melt away and an unexplained peace sweep over me as I realized that nothing will happen to me that the Lord will not allow, that’s it’s always for the best, and he’ll take of us, no matter what happens.   The “best” may not always be what I would choose,  but that’s OK.  I don’t have to like what life throws at me, but it doesn’t have to master me, or hijack my state of mind.  I can tolerate pain a lot better than fear or worry, because they eat me up from the inside out. 

I don’t know what will become of all those documents, but I have left them in God’s hands.  I’m looking out my window now.  I see a cloudy and dreary day.  I don’t care, though.  I’m going outside anyway.  You’re not going to win, today, Satan.  Even if it is your holiday!  I’m going to enjoy my weekend…

🙂

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 Eighteenth in the series Get close to God

 

Blessed are the poor in spirit…

Blessed are those who mourn…

Blessed are the meek…

Blessed are those who are persecuted…

Blessed are you when people insult you… 

OK, now.  Doesn’t that make you want to be blessed?  No?  Those conditions don’t appeal to you?  Then why did Jesus include them in the Beatitudes?

Let’s start with the first one.  What does it mean to be poor in spirit, anyway?  At first glance it gives the impression of someone who is depressed.  But thanks to references found online and various translations and commentaries, I found almost unanimous agreement that it describes a person who has realized he has no hope without Christ, that he is spiritually poor, so to speak, desperately in need of God’s grace.  Like the tax collector who beat his breast, crying, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” Jesus said he would be justified instead of the Pharisee who bragged about how good he was, that he wasn’t like bad people, such as that tax collector.

If any of you are like me, you have grown up in the church and pretty much stayed out of any serious trouble.  I confess this has created a sense of Pharisaic and self-righteous attitude that has kept me from seeing just how badly I need the Lord.  I am like the prodigal son’s brother, who feels unfairly treated when God so freely forgives people who lived a life of sinful pleasure and irresponsibility.  I get angry when I try to live within my means only to see the government use my tax dollars to bail out those who won’t.  I don’t like the attention people get as they spew out their testimony, graphically recounting in great detail the raunchy things they did before coming to Christ.  What about me, who has sucked it up and sacrificed and tried to be a good citizen?  It doesn’t help when Jesus says, “he who has been forgiven little, loves little.”  Oh, should I be a real jerk, then, so I can appreciate being rescued out of my hell hole?!  So, where does that resentment leave me?  Not very close to God.  Thinking I’m a better person than others blinds me to my own shortcomings (the log in my eye) and creates a barrier between me and the Lord.  That attitude will make me feel like I can handle most of what life can throw at me; that is, until my life falls apart, and I cry out to a God I barely know, with no faith to believe he can put things back together. 

 

I need to realize that even though I may not be the dirtiest roach in the house, I’m still a roach!  Compared to God’s holiness, my “righteous acts are like filthy rags.’  (Isaiah 64:6)

 

So how are the poor in spirit blessed?  Because they’re at the end of their ropes.  They have nowhere to look but up, they are ready to see God work his stuff and will give him the glory because they know they can’t do it without him.  I think this is why Jesus mentioned this one first, because if we are not poor in spirit we won’t be able to receive any of the following blessings he goes on to mention.

In order to keep this post short, I’ll lump those who mourn, who are meek, who get insulted and persecuted altogether in the category we will call “it sucks to be them.”  At least that’s the way the world sees it.  The successful are proud and strong, right?  They don’t get mad, they get even.  And they won’t let you see them sweat in the process.  So how can people in this sucky group be blessed?  In many ways, actually.  Nothing compares to the comfort received from the Lord after suffering the loss of a loved one.  The meek are ready to submit to the Lord because they don’t insist on having their own way.  And since Jesus said my reward in heaven will be great if I’m insulted or persecuted because of him, then I say, Go ahead, make my day!

It would be a cruel joke if the Lord set us up to fail by telling us to obey all the commands in his Sermon on the Mount, knowing we are handicapped by our inherited sinful nature.  How can we “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” for crying out loud!  As Oswald Chambers said in My utmost for His highest, “The thing I am blessed with is my poverty.  If I know I have no strength of will, no nobility of disposition, then Jesus says-blessed are you, because it is through this poverty that I enter His Kingdom.  I cannot enter His Kingdom as a good man or woman, I can only enter it as a complete pauper.”

Finally, I’ll mention one more blessing I left out at the top.  It’s my personal favorite because even if you’re ready and willing to serve and be used by God there’s still something that’s missing, an ingredient necessary to drive and propel you to action.  Figure it out yet?  Here it is:  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”   I believe this goes beyond just wanting to do what’s right.  It’s having an appetite for the source of righteousness, to want and experience the love that’s higher and deeper and stronger than anything on this planet.  Come to God’s restaurant and he’ll fill you with the bread of life and quench your thirst with rivers of living water!

I want to reach out to people like me who have just enough Christianity to get by and like to play it safe in their comfort zones.  Are you really happy with your life?  Maybe it’s time we realized just how close we are to the end of our ropes…

 

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