This scene from To Kill A Mockingbird always gets me. The reverend tells Jean Louise to stand up because her father is passing by. The respect deserved and given gets me every time. And I want my kids to feel that way about me.
I spent the day today with my brother and his family at Children’s Hospital in San Antonio. His sixteen year old daughter had surgery. Abby has autism. We’ve know that for a long time. But just recently we found out that she has a degenerative condition that has started progressing rapidly. I talked with my brother today, in the hallway of the hospital, about things no parent should have to consider — especially for their teenage child. Things like quality of life and which procedures are for her and which procedures are for parents wanting to keep her with them for as long as possible. Unimaginable issues to even think about, but my brother and his wife are being asked to do more than consider. They are required now to make decisions.
Steve and Sherry have a rock-solid faith in our God. I am proud of my brother. We know Jesus gives the victory. But these things are still hard. Would you pray for them? And for my other niece Stephanie…who has been at the hospital with her baby sister. And pray for sweet Abby.
The last couple of days, I have let my prayer time get squeezed. I have prayed but not as long or as much as I need. I have discovered that I begin to come apart if I do not spend enough time praying.
I do not usually know before beginning how much time that means. Only after I have been praying can I feel God release me. The last couple of days, I have not waited for that. I have just run through my lists and moved on. Not healthy.
So…today…as I woke up… I felt God drawing me back. Thank you, Father, for pulling on me and not letting me go. I write this as I begin my day and my prayer time. I look forward to this time. I need this time.
And, thank you, HBC family for giving me the time I need. Thank you for allowing us to hire a Director of Operations to remove much of the administrative load. (Todd is meeting with the fire inspector while I am in my study!) Now, I have greater freedom to spend more time like this. A difference-maker…
I will spend time today with the audacious prayer cards you brought to the altar last Sunday. I will pray because of the increased movement of the enemy in conflict with our praying. The Holy Spirit is stirring, and I will spend time trying to listen to the Spirit speak to me.
Pray Ephesians 1:17 for me: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better (NIV).” This verse stuck in that special way recently. My great desire is to know him better.
Quite a few years ago, my younger and more naive self, found a prayer by Jim Elliot. It said:
“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.”
It sounded like such a great thing to pray! It captured my heart. I had had enough irrelevance and been ignored too many times. I wanted to make a difference. So I told God that this was my desire. I made Elliot’s prayer my prayer.
I’m still glad I did but I didn’t realize what I was asking for. I found that this had made me a polarizing presence in people’s lives. Sometimes, I love it. Sometimes, I hate it.
But, that’s who I am. I have discovered about myself that I have become an agitator. I provoke people. Sometimes the only way to help people take their next step toward God is to shock them…challenge them…do something to upset their current pattern of thinking. I’m no big fan of sympathizing with bad thinking. Sometimes, pastors just try to be nice guys and supportive. I don’t do that.
I once told a guy who was trying to rationalize his extra-marital affair that I thought he was the stupidest guy I had ever met. I know. It doesn’t sound Christlike. And it may not be. In that moment, it seemed like the right thing to say. Later, I wondered…
I do think Jesus challenged people. Maybe he even provoked them. But I know myself well enough to know that I’m not always being Jesus. Sometimes, it’s just fun to tweak people.
So, submitted for your consideration: is it possible to be too nice to people? Do we support people in their bad thinking and bad behavior because we don’t want to risk losing a relationship? Can it be Christlike to provoke? Is making people uncomfortable…or even angry…always a bad thing? Have you ever wanted to be a fork in someone’s road rather than a billboard along the way?