Today's blog comes from a friend who wanted to share her story and her lesson. She prefers to remain anonymous, so I will call her Grace.
Early in the year, Grace felt that the Holy Spirit gave her a Word for the year...something that she could work toward. The word was "abide." Oh, good, she thought..abide. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me (John 15:4). That's a good word, she thought. All year, she would attempt to draw close to God, abiding in Him so that she could bear fruit. She vowed to read her bible more, to spend more quality time, prayer time with the Lord. Oh, this would be a good year!
Not long after, she attended a prayer meeting, or some sort of special meeting. I don't remember what (sorry, Grace). At any rate, there was to be some worship music in the beginning and she was excited about having an intimate and anointed time of worship. She even said to God, "You know, God, I would really enjoy playing the tambourine. If there was a tambourine there, that would be great!"
She got to the church, and guess what? There, on the windowsill right next to her chair was a tambourine, just waiting to be played! She thought, oh great! Thanks God for answering my prayer. You are so good. I must be abiding in You..and you in me!
She was in the middle of worship, when suddenly she heard this voice..."I don't like that!" She stopped what she was doing, opened her eyes and followed the voice. It was coming from a little old lady seated next to her. She repeated, "I don't like that!"
"Oh," said Grace. "I'm sorry. Is it too loud? Would you like me to play it softer or maybe go into the aisle?"
Little Old Lady repeated, "I don't like that!"
Grace got the point. Little Old Lady did not want that tambourine played. At. All. Grace returned it to its place on the windowsill.
"Well, God," Grace said in her head. "I prayed for a tambourine and you provided it. I don't understand. But I will choose not to be offended." She felt disappointed, but not offended.
Later in the service, Grace heard sniffling. Guess who? That's right. Little Old Lady. Grace said to God, "God, do you want me to offer her a tissue? After she made me put my tambourine away?"
Before she could get an answer, Little Old Lady leaned over and said in the sweetest voice, "Would you happen to have a tissue?"
Did you see why I re-named my friend "Grace?" I know that scripture says that love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8), but so does grace. In addition, we are told in verse 9 of 1 Peter to offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. We could replace hospitality with tissues...offer tissues to one another without grumbling. Grace gladly provided the tissue and somehow, by doing that, the tambourine issue seemed less...big.
Grace told me that when she received that Word, "Abide", she never thought it would look like this; like loving someone who snarls at you, "I don't like that!" then turns around and kindly asks for a tissue. It's not easy to love the unlovable. To choose not to take offense at what people say to us. To extend grace where you would rather extend a smart retort. She thought it would be more...inward, and less outward.
But if we are to "abide" in Christ, we are expected to bear fruit. In fact, it should just happen. A vine doesn't have to work at producing fruit. It just happens. Grace does not extend rotten fruit to others, but extends the fruit of the Spirit...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22).
I guess a good test of what kind of fruit we are extending to others is to go down that list and ask ourselves, "Is this loving? Am I joyful? Patient? Kind? Is it good? Am I being faithful to God and to what I stand for? Am I being gentle? (Hmmm....selah...pause, and think about that..sorry, personal rabbit trail...) Am I self-controlled? (Selah AGAIN...)
Thank you, Grace, for your lesson along our path today.
If you have a lesson you'd like to share on my blog, email me. I love to share other people's stories...with their permission, of course! !
Song of the Day
Abide With Me (Greg Howlett)
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
I Don't Like That!
I'm a person of creativity. I've always loved to entertain people, and especially, to make them laugh. I don't mind being the guinea pig, the one who is singled out to break the ice. I write what you think but don't want to admit. I'm a word nerd and a grammar geek. I love musical theatre, hiking, and worshipping my Lord, my King-the King of Glory. It's my desire to bring hope and healing to hurting individuals-or perhaps just to provoke thought, to give an encouraging word to get you through the day-through everyday situations and insights into God's Word.