Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Backwards Advent - part three

I've had so much trouble with that pesky Love Candle this week that I was determined to get it right today. Tonight, for the first time this advent season, I lit all my candles correctly. No love candle this time!  

This business of waiting on love until next week has been quite a problem to me. All week, I've tried to wait to celebrate love week. I really have, but it is impossible. Christmas is the problem. It's all about celebrating the birth of Jesus. If you are going to talk about Christmas, it's pretty hard not to talk about Jesus. How can you talk about Jesus and leave love out? You can't. Needless to say, I'm not sure how well I've done with Joy this week, but I've been working on Love. 

Here's how it has gone. Over the weekend, an odd thing happened. I was out shopping later than I intended. I was really hungry and decide to run through a drive-through for grilled chicken strips and waffle fries. Ordinarily I'm the most anti-fast-food person ever, so this was pretty much out of character for me. I gave my order, and started to the window. As I was pulling up, I sensed that little voice in my heart say, "Pay for their order". I looked behind me and there was a sports car with kids inside. "Those kids in the sports car?" I asked. Yep. Those kids. I was surprised, and didn't quite know how to handle it. I wasn't unwilling. I just didn't know what to do. I payed for my order, and as the girl was handing me the change, the little voice in my heart again said, "Pay for their order."  I leaned out of my car window, armed with two twenties, and yelled "hey" to the girl who was about to close the sliding window. She opened it back up and leaned forward again. "I'm supposed to pay for the car behind me too. How much do I owe you?" I asked. "What'd you say?" she asked. I repeated myself. It was just over six dollars and I was so disappointed. I wanted Jesus to ask me for a big thing, and all he wanted was a six dollar act of obedience. 

A day or so later, a friend of mine called to talk about a problem with one of her children. I wanted to be able to give her the perfect solution, but all I had to offer was to repeat the devotional I had just sent her and remind her that I am praying every day. It was smaller than I wanted to give, and I was regretted not being able to do more. 

Then, the most amazing thing happened. That very morning, I had asked God to show me something very specific. In her next sentence, she repeated back to me what I had just said to God, along with my answer! From hundreds of miles away, with a single sentence, she had met my most pressing need! To her, it was just one sentence in a conversation filled with sentences. It was a little act to her. To me, it was the biggest thing that happened all day. It seemed as if Almighty God had opened my friend's mouth and spoken directly to me through it. I'm still amazed at how incredibly specific His answer was. 

Little things done with the love of Christ can have a tremendous impact. I will never know the outcome of the six dollar obedience, but my friend's obedience was worth much more than six dollars to me. There was no way for her to know the impact she would have on my life that day, but it was immense. It's easy to think those "little things" like a timely word, a hug, encouragement for those who are struggling are not important, but they are of much greater value than we will ever know. 

Tomorrow, look for little acts of obedience that you can do in the name of Jesus. Recognition is not necessary or even particularly desirable. Make an effort to represent Christ to the world with the great love that only He can give. You may be surprised at how He uses you to reach a world that is perishing.