Friday, April 21, 2006

Weekly Word for April 21 - 28, 2006

Weekly Word - April 21, 2006

And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.”
“The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Mathew 22: 37 - 39)

“I want to be selfish” I told Ted. As I said it, he didn’t say a word. He just waited, knowing that I needed to say more. We had gotten tickets to go see a concert with some friends. The tickets were for seats right up close, and I was so excited to go. But on this day, my friend had written to tell me that her son was coming home on leave from the service. I knew quite a bit about this mom’s worries for her children. She had two sons serving in the military, and a daughter-in-law who had come home, after watching her unit come under attack, and some of her friends - killed. So Ted waited silently, knowing that there was more going on inside of me. “I want to be selfish” I continued, “but would you be mad if I gave our tickets to her son?”

My friend hadn’t asked me to do it, but inside of me - I wanted to offer them to this young man and his army buddy. “Are you willing to give up your seats?” Ted asked. “I don’t know” I answered him truthfully. And so all night, I fussed with my feelings. My friend had been able to purchase two tickets for the same show, quite a bit back from the front. If I offered her my tickets - - - was I willing to take those back seats?

“This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”
(John 15: 12)

So many of us struggle with giving to others, and the sacrifice it sometimes takes. I have to admit, it gets a little mixed up inside of me. There are things I wish I had, and don’t. There are times when I get jealous for what another has. And I definitely have to fuss through giving away - something I want . . .

It was about 9 years ago, and Jenny and I were living on our own. I definitely didn’t have much, and what little I had - well - it went to pay the bills that were always coming. At the time, I had rented a house from a really nice older couple. They had just met me, but decided to rent it to me anyway. I didn’t even have any furniture, and I’m sure they wondered how I was going to make it. Truthfully, I wondered the same thing.

But somehow, with the help of friends, that little house quickly filled up with furniture. Every room, had furniture that seemed just perfect for that house. But money was still very tight. On this one particular day, I had $25 in my wallet. That was all. I didn’t have money in the bank, or even a credit card. And so that $25 was all I had for groceries that week. My plan was to go shopping - right after I finished up with a ministry meeting we were having - that Saturday morning. As the ladies started coming in, I went to say hello to them all. They were ladies from many different circumstances. A few were dressed in jeans and simple tops. While others had on pretty suits that they had just bought that season. Some of the ladies struggled financialy like I did - while others didn’t have to. I have to admit, there were times when I wished I had what some of these ladies had. But on this day, I really wasn’t thinking about it all that much. We were having a very special guest at this meeting. He was a traveling pastor, one of those men of great faith - who seemed to be able to touch the Lord, the minute he closed his eyes.

As the meeting started, I could feel the excitement in the room. I knew that some of these ladies were hoping for miracles in their lives. Each was there because of some sort of wound, that had sent them searching for help - from God. So as the meeting got started, all thoughts of grocery shopping had vanished. It turned out to be a wonderful meeting. There was singing, and praying - and teaching about God’s love. And before I knew it - the meeting was over. As the ladies left, I turned to my friend - the head of the ministry - and asked her about giving the pastor something for coming to our meeting. The look she gave me, told me that she didn’t have anything for him. We had nothing to offer this man - who had given us so much! And then I remembered the $25 in my wallet . . . .

“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; Just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.”
(John 15: 10)

That day, I gave him all that I had in my wallet. As he said good-bye, I wondered what I would do for groceries. I was worried, but I also felt something more. I felt like I had done what I was supposed to do. As the man drove away, my friend and I went back inside the building. I started to pick up the cups and plates that had been left from the meeting. As I did, I couldn’t help but dwell on my worries. “Lord, what am I going to do?” I asked Him silently. My friend had gone into the office, checking on messages and the mail. As she left, I started doing the dishes. That’s when I heard her call out to me. Wiping my hands, I turned to see what was wrong . . .

She stood in the doorway, holding a stack of money. Someone had sent us a few hundred dollars, and at that moment all I could do was cry. I don’t remember where it came from, or even who sent it! But because they did, we had groceries . . .

“This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
“You are my friends, if you do what I command you.”
(John 15: 12 - 14)

It has never been easy, struggling with what was right to do. Just like everyone else, I struggle with jealousy - and wanting things. I also struggle with the pain of not wanting to hurt another person. Through it all, I beg the Lord to help me . . .

I first met him when he was about 12 or 13 years old. We had just moved to Connecticut, and his mom became one of my very first friends in this new place. I liked her, and I liked her children. He was her oldest child, and I liked him from the moment I met him. Rich (not his real name) had these beautiful dark eyes, that sparkled when he laughed. He was tall and handsome, and I knew that the girls would love him! Over time, Rich and his family became part of ours. They went to the same school as my kids did, and we went to the same bible studies together. This young man seemed so full of life, and I hoped that my own children would grow to be just like him.
Over the next few years, I found myself taking care of her children. I would pick them up after school, taking them home - or to places they needed to go. I didn’t see as much of Rich though, as he was now in high school. But there were still times when I was asked to pick him up from school. That’s when we would talk. He was having so much trouble in school, and I didn’t know why. I listened as best I could, and hoped and prayed that he would be alright. But he wasn’t. He moved from one school to another, and still he had trouble. And then he disappeared. This beautiful young man, seemed to be heading in the wrong direction . . .

The next time I saw Rich, he was in a hospital for drug rehab. We went to see him for his birthday (he was turning 16 years old) - and to this day, I wish I hadn’t gone. There he stood, very thin, with eyes that were clouded over. I wanted to reach out to him, but his anger kept all of us away. Rich needed help, and I didn’t know what to do.

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
(Hebrews 13: 15)

It was only about a year later, when Rich was arrested. I went to see him in jail, and my stomach was in knots as I went through those doors. Sitting across from him, I asked him what he needed. But he didn’t know. He showed me his picture from being arrested, and I was sure that the face on the picture - couldn’t be the face of this young man sitting before me. The horrible look in his eyes - well - it made me feel sick to my stomach.

Over the next few months, I called every pastor and teacher that Rich had ever known. He had gone to church, to Sunday school, and to Christian camps. He had been a helper to the younger kids, and a bright youngster in their groups. So when I called them, I asked them for help. He was going to be sentenced soon, and I wanted to show the judge “who” he really was. I wanted the judge to see the good that was also there. My husband at the time told me I was crazy - and stupid for doing this. He believed that Rich deserved what he was getting - “after all, he chose to do drugs . . .” My husband wasn’t the only one who believed this - many of the pastors said “no” as well. I tried so hard, but on the day of sentencing - there were only a few letters for the judge to see . . .

O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Thy praise. For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; . . .
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
(Psalm 51: 15 - 17)

I didn’t go to court that day with my friend. She took the letters I had been able to get, and stood before the judge with her son. When I heard he was given 8 years, my heart sank. I visited him a few times, but it never got easier to go there. I hated how I felt when I went to the different jails he was sent to. I felt so awful as the guards - as well as other inmates - looked me over. And then I stopped visiting him. I can’t say it was a decision that I made, it just happened. My friend had given up on her son, and then she gave up on our friendship . . .

I have always felt like I let Rich down all those years ago. I felt guilty, because I didn’t want to visit him in jail. I wanted to make the “right” choices - I wanted to help him - but I couldn’t . . .

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.

It isn’t always easy to make the choice to do what is “right”. I have to admit, I don’t always make the right choice. But I try to - with the Lord’s help . . .

The other day, I sent off an email to my friend, telling her that I would give my tickets to her son. After I did, I had mixed feelings. I wanted to honor her son, but I also wanted to have the good seats. But I sent the email anyways.

After I sent it off, I told another friend what I had done. She listened, and then she told me I was “crazy”. “You should take care of yourself” she said. I didn’t say much, but I knew that she just didn’t understand. There are times in our lives, when it is better to make “sacrifices” - for a friend . . .

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
(John 13: 34)

Each day is filled with choices. Choices to love and care - or not. As I look back over my life, I know that I made some good - as well as bad choices. But the choices to love and care - to sacrifice - have been worth everything! Because I gave everything to that pastor - I know that God gave me even more. I don’t know how much I helped that young man - but a few months ago I did hear about him. He is now married and has a child, and a brand new life. I do hope that my prayers helped him, a little bit. And then, a few years ago, I gave my whole being to the Lord - to become a minister. When I did, I believed that I would never have a love, or a husband, again. But instead - the Lord gave me Ted - to love and share my life with - for the rest of my life . . .

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him,
And We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.
(John 14: 23)

It is my hope and prayer, that as you go through this week, you will ask Him to help you with the choices that are waiting before you. His Life - was “the Sacrifice” He made - to bring you a fuller and richer life - forever! He is just waiting, for you to say “yes” . . .

“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.”
(John 16: 24)

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers


Post a Comment

<< Home