FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Anything You Want

When I was a young girl, my Dad told me that I could have ANY thing that I wanted IF I was willing to do an honest day’s work for it. “As a matter of fact,” he said, “if someone has something to give you, they will let you know. In the meantime, plan on going to work to get what you want.”

And so, I began working when I was 15 years old. I’ve worked since with the exception of one year during undergraduate school when I literally begged my Dad to give me a break. “Can’t I have just one semester without working?” I whined. And one semester is what he permitted. Then it was back to work – two jobs, sometimes three.

I remember teaching school full time, working in a Department store 20 hours every weekend and managing an after-school tutorial program two afternoons a week while attending Graduate School full time. And that was one of my “easy seasons.” For another season, I taught school Monday through Friday and worked in a hospital laboratory Friday nights, 16 hours each Saturday and 16 hours each Sunday (a 40-hour weekend) – two full time jobs.

I’ve worked in schools, hospitals, offices and department stores. I even (this is the honest truth) sold cemetery plots door-to-door. Finally, I am retired – honestly. I get the check every month. And I still work two jobs!  Why? Many reasons, but partly because my Daddy created a true workaholic and partly so I really can have what I want…without charge cards.

I doubt my Dad was the first or only parent to tell his child that they could have what they wanted if they worked for it. That was not just the mentality, but the prevailing attitude, spirit and belief of our day. You want it? You work for it. For many, there was much truth in that thinking, and they have the homes, cars, clothing and “toys” to prove it.

But there is one thing that working cannot bring you.

Eternal life.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV) makes it clear that we are saved by grace, through faith – and this is not from ourselves. “It is the gift of God” and not by our works, “so that no one can boast.” No one can buy or work their way into Heaven. It is the work of Christ and His work alone that opens wide the doors of Heaven for us to enter.

Isn’t that good news? It is for me; I can only imagine how many jobs I’d have to work to go to Heaven!


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You Just Have to Wait

You ever watch people in a waiting room?  I’m in one now – waiting at the Toyota Dealership while my car is being serviced.  I thought it was going to be brief.  My Dealer has an express lane which requires no appointments if you simply want an oil change which is what I want along with a quick rotation and balancing of my tires.  Wham. Bam. In. Out.  That’s what I planned.

But the Dealership has other ideas.

First, there are about 12 other people ahead of me.  And already I’ve been paged to return to the service desk.  Mike, my service rep, has a list of recommendations, – “Some urgent, some can wait,” he says.  It’s a long list with no prices.  After a bit of chat (and some pricing), I decide that we will take care of about three things on the list.  Then I take a seat.  And wait.

I am in the waiting room with a growing body of fellow Toyota owners, but I came prepared for the wait and so did they.  Cell phones, hand-held games, Nooks, iPods, iPads, Kindles.  One might mistakenly think we are in a Circuit City or Radio Shack were it not for the floor model vehicles, rubber mat displays and tire racks surrounding us.  There are some good old fashioned hard back and paperback books, too.  That’s what I have.

But I am having trouble concentrating on my book.  I am caught up watching my new “friends.”  Even with all the gadgets plus the dealership-provided flat screen television, vending machines, comfortable sofas and magazines, we don’t wait very well.  No one seems to “stick with” their entertainment for very long.  They text a little, flip a few magazine pages, watch a bit of television, text again, make a phone call, get a beverage from vending, take a few selfies, make another call, play an online game, flip a few more pages…

Waiting is hard.  We don’t like to wait.  Ours is the get-it-done-now generation.  In the grocery store line we roll our eyes and look with disdain at the woman with eleven items in the ten-item-or-less lane. (Yes, you do.)  We exhale (loudly) as we stand behind a senior citizen searching pockets for exact change at the post office window.  We ride on drivers’ bumpers and weave through traffic always in search of the fastest lane.  We buy the gadgets that promise to shrink our waists overnight, grow our hair 2-4 inches in one week and make our teeth five shades whiter in two days.

We don’t like to wait.  On mechanics.  On shoppers.  On weight loss. On white teeth.  On God.

Well, we can buy the gadgets, and perhaps lose an “overnight” inch or two (hope you realize it’s water loss) and use the paste that will actually whiten our teeth at least a half shade.  But we cannot hurry God.

Consider Joseph’s story.  You know it well, but let’s look at an excerpt found in Genesis 40:13-14, 23 (NIV):

“Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.  But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison… The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.”

That’s the end of Genesis 40. In my Bible you turn the page to begin reading Genesis 41. What one might fail to notice as that page turns is how long Joseph had to wait between the end of chapter 40 and the beginning of chapter 41. Look at Genesis 41:1, 9-14a (NIV)

“When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream… Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings.  Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.  Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.” So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon.”

He was quickly brought from the dungeon? Are you kidding me? Two years had passed from the time the cupbearer left the dungeon until he remembered to tell Pharaoh about Joseph!

What was Joseph doing in the meantime? Waiting. Waiting on God.

What was God doing? Working it ALL together for Joseph’s good because we can turn a few more pages to find that Joseph reaps reward seemingly for interpreting dreams for Pharaoh. Read Genesis 41:39-40 (NIV):

“Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

Joseph waited. God worked.

It wasn’t Pharaoh rewarding Joseph for interpreting dreams. It was God working His plan in His way in His time.

Oh, they’re paging me again. My car is ready. I waited. The mechanic worked.

Max Lucado says, “You can be still because He is active. You can rest because He is busy.”

You can wait because He is at work!

Here’s a bonus for some of you:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQRUrNkuuOE