Friday, April 07, 2006

Weekly Word for April 7 - 14, 2006

“Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.”
“But if God so arrays the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you, . . .!”
(Luke 12: 27 & 28)

As we talked, I felt so inferior to these two women. They were dressed in the latest style, and their hair was done up “just so”. They had poise and elegance, and I had neither. They stood there looking around at the mess - that was my home. “You should get a job, and make some money” one of women stated. “That way you could have more things - and have more power and control of your life” the other continued. As I listened, I tried to argue with them, but I felt so small and inferior. Their words made sense, but somehow seemed so wrong. “I do work!” I told them. “I am a minister - and I write stories about the Lord in my life”, I argued. And then I tried to show them what I did. I turned to their computer, and showed them one of my stories. They read a little of it, and then turned away shaking their heads. As they did, I felt so awful! My chest became tight, and the tears were right there. I wanted to stop them and make them listen. “I am a minister!” I wanted to shout at them. And then the alarm went off - and I woke up . . .

“For life is more than food, and the body than clothing . . .”
(Luke 12: 23)

So many times in our lives, we wonder if what we are doing is right. We wonder how “others” see us and judge us. And even though we try not to - - - we also make judgments. We judge others - and ourselves - by the things we see and hear.

I was about 14 years old, and I wanted to fit in with the kids in my class. I wasn’t very pretty, and I didn’t have very many clothes. The clothes I did have, well, they weren’t in style. My father had just lost his job, and my mother worked part time as a nurse. We didn’t have much money, and I knew that. But it didn’t matter, I wanted to be one of the “in” kids. I wanted to be popular - but I wasn’t.

Everyday, I would walk up to the bus stop - and stop to fix my clothes. My mother had bought me some skirts that had elastic around the waist. I hated them, as they fell somewhere below my knees. And so each day, I would roll up my skirt before I got on the bus. Before I got home, I would unroll it again - hoping that my mother wouldn’t catch me. I tried anything, to fit in with the rest of my friends. And then one day during lunch - I lied. I was sitting with a group of girls from my class. They were talking about their bedrooms, and all the pretty things they had in them. I knew that my bedroom wasn’t anything like they were describing. I had a tiny room, with a single bed in it - and a very old desk against one wall. I had an old bureau in the corner, and a very small closet. That was it. But that isn’t what I told my friends. My friend Barbara had told us that she had a “double” bed - and that sounded so cool to me. So I started telling my friends all about my own room - the one with the double bed and pretty curtains - the room that only existed in my imagination. Usually I didn’t say much, I was the girl that sat and listened in the group. But on this day, I told them all about my wonderful room! Then I looked at Barbara, and she smiled at me and said how cool my room sounded. For just that moment - I felt accepted. For an instant - - - I felt like I belonged . . .

“And do not seek what you shall eat, and what you shall drink, and do not keep worrying. . . . but your Father knows you need these things.”
“But seek for His kingdom, and these things shall be added to you.”
(Luke 12: 30 & 31)

So many times in my life, I wanted to be like others that I knew. I wanted to have the things that I thought they had. And then I got some of those “things” . . .

I was married and had two beautiful children. I had a nice house and a brand new car. This was the description I could have given - when asked about “who” I was in 1986. We had just moved to Connecticut, and I thought I finally had everything I wanted. But I didn’t. I was always sad, and my husband couldn’t understand why. I didn’t know anyone in the area, and so I didn’t have girlfriends to talk to. Something was missing - and I didn’t know where to even look for it.
Then one day a woman came by - campaigning for the upcoming election. She asked me if I would consider voting for her. I told her I couldn’t - we had just moved in. She stayed for a few minutes, just asking about where we had moved from and about my children. It was so nice to have someone to finally talk to. As she turned to leave, she stopped and turned back. “Here” she said. “This is the name of a friend of mine - her children go to the same school as yours do.” I looked at her as if she were crazy. She didn’t know who I was - and still she was giving me her friend’s name and phone number. “I can’t take that” I told her. “Yes you can, she is a good friend - and can help you.” she said. She put a piece of paper in my hand, turned, and walked away. That day - changed my life . . .

. . . but your Father knows you need these things.

It took only a few days of loneliness, for me to pick up the phone. I dialed the number on that piece of paper. The voice on the other end sounded so sweet, and so kind - and so I told her a little about my life. She listened, and soon time seemed to slip by. When I hung up, she had told me to look for her the next day, when I picked up my kids at school. That was the beginning of my friendship with Anne (not her real name). She was the one who introduced me to “the Lord”. She taught me about her faith and trust in God. She taught me about asking Him into my life. Through her - I met so many friends! Through her - my life changed forever. Through her - I started on the path to becoming a minister . . .

“But seek for His kingdom, and these things shall be added to you.”

I can’t tell you where Anne is today. We parted ways, somewhere along the way. But during our friendship, I wanted to be just like her. She wore clothes that seemed to be what other Christian ladies wore - they were long and flowing - full of color and so pretty. I wanted to dress like her, talk like her, and be like her. I figured that if I was like her - my life would get better. I wanted to have faith and trust - and so I listened to her every word. I wondered if everything she said was true - and I hoped that it was . . .

It was a year later, in 1987, when I went to my first ministry meeting. Anne had volunteered me - without asking me. She came to me later, and told me that she believed I should help out at this counseling ministry. I told her I wasn’t sure, but I went anyways. That was the day I met Norma.

Norma always looked so professional, always wore a jacket over her blouse and skirt. She came into the room, and seemed to know just what to say and do. She had been a Christian for quite a few years, and had even led in worship services. She had gone to college - studying to work in counseling. She seemed so perfect for the job, and so opposite from my friend Anne.

Over the next few years, I kept up my friendship with Anne - and grew to like Norma. They were so different from each other. They went to different churches, and had different friends. Anne wasn’t so sure she liked Norma, but I knew that I did. Anne was working to start her own business, and she asked me to help her out. She wanted me to quit working at the counseling center - so that I could work for her. At the time, I really didn’t know what to do. I loved working at the center, but I also cared about my friend. So I tried to do both. Until one day - when my friend told me I was not “who” I should be . . .

“And with their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes, lest they should see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return,
And I should heal them.”
(Mathew 13: 15)

That day is ingrained in my memory forever - all the feelings and emotions that I never let her see. She wanted me to work full time, helping her with the business. As I stood there, I felt like I was talking to a stranger. Where was the sweet, soft girl who had taught me so much? She seemed so hard and businesslike. Standing there, I didn’t know what to say - as she came at me with her words. My mind was racing, but no words would come out. I’m not even sure I said anything, when I turned and walked out of the house that day. It was the last day - of my friendship with Anne.

Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the scriptures,
‘The Stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone; This came about from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes’

(Mathew 21: 42)

When I left that day, I called up Norma. She listened - but never said one word against Anne. She just asked me what “I” wanted to do. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure. I loved the center, but I also had a husband who was growing tired of me working - and not making any money. I was confused, and wanted her to tell me what to do. I wanted her to tell me - how to be . . .

“To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, . . . For whoever has, to him shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance . . .”
(Mathew 13: 11 & 12)

How to be . . . Me. Through the years, I have tried to figure out just what it is I am supposed to do - with my life. Norma never did tell me what to do, all those years ago. She quietly listened, and then she waited. She would pray with me, talk with me, and wait to see what God would do.

So much has changed since that day. With the Lord’s help, and friends like Norma - I became healthier and stronger. With their help, I was able to leave my first husband. I was a single mom - with nothing - and still I grew. Through it all, Norma was always there. She listened, and prayed with me. She never told me what to do, and she never tried to make me be “like her”. She had a belief that - with God’s help - each of us could become the unique person we were created to be. And her faith never changed - even when she was facing cancer . . .

Norma died almost 8 years ago. And when she did, I knew I wanted to be just like her. She didn’t have riches, or a lot of money. She had an old car, and a small little house. And yet - she had the one thing I had always been searching for. She believed in God - and trusted Him to make her life complete . . .

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.”
(Mathew 13: 44)

How to be . . . Me. I have learned quite a bit about myself through the years. But there are still times when I wonder what it is - I am supposed to be doing. And then, I remember Norma. She taught me to trust God, and have faith in “who” He has created me to be. Because of Norma, I trusted God - to make my life complete. And He did! He gave me Ted - and made me a minister . . .

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”
(Mathew 13: 45)

This coming week, is the beginning of Holy Week. It is a week of searching and reaching out to God. It is a time of hoping and believing in what He has promised. It is a time to let go - and trust Him - for the rest of your Life . . .

Will you believe in Him - trusting that He can help you to become the person you were created to be? Will you let Him show you - How to be - - - You . . .

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 15: 11)

God bless you and keep you during this holiest of weeks.

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers


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