Thursday, November 30, 2017

THE LITTLE RICH GIRL - A Christmas Story

Did you hear the Christmas story about The Little Rich Girl who didn't realize she was a little rich girl? Her father delighted in his daughter and he was the richest man on earth. He was willing to spend all he had to give her all she needed and even most things she wanted. One Christmas, he decided to visit every store and merchant. They all knew him and how very, very wealthy he was. He said, "Consider whatever she wants as being paid for in advance."   They agreed to his terms. He told his much-loved daughter that she could go in to any store and have whatever she wanted.

What she really wanted more than anything was a new RED bicycle she had seen in the window of a store. She visited the store and shyly asked for the bright red bicycle in the window. To her great surprise the merchant immediately handed it to her.  She rode the bike home with euphoric emotions of great, great joy.  Her father was pleased to see his daughter enjoying the wealth he had provided for her.  

The next day, though, the little girl emptied her piggy bank of all the money she had in it.   She rode back to the store to give the merchant the money.  When she handed it to him, he refused.  "Oh, no, honey, your father has already paid for the bicycle.  You don't owe me any money! Your father could buy the whole store if he wanted to.  Trust me, you don't owe me a thing!"   The little girl refused to believe the merchant - or the unending generosity and overwhelming wealth of her father.   She told the merchant, "I want to earn this bicycle. It makes perfect sense that I should earn it!"  She handed him her money.  The merchant told her that it was far less than the cost of the bicycle. The next few weeks had her focused on how to earn the money to buy the bicycle.  She didn't want to give up the beautiful bicycle and she didn't have the money to pay for it.  She loved the bicycle.  With all her heart. Something inside the little girl, though, caused her to believe and insist on paying for something she could never earn.  

She volunteered to work around the house, earning extra money for doing extra chores.  Her father could not know that his beloved daughter was trying to earn what he had already paid for. Over time, because of her inability to earn the money to pay for the bike....

The bike became a burden to her.  She became exhausted trying to pay for it. She never told her father that she didn't believe that she could have it without having to earn it.  She just thought to herself, "Who is THAT rich?  Who is THAT generous?"  It was impossible to believe all that her father told her about all that he wanted to give her. "He must be lying" she decided, "He cannot be that loving, that kind, that generous."  One day, with a bitter, non-believing heart, she rolled the beautiful red bike back to the store and left it there.  She'd rather not have the bike than exhaust herself trying to earn it. And from that day on,she walked wherever she needed to go, while the PAID FOR bike got rusty sitting outside the bicycle store. 

She was still her Father's daughter, she was still The Little Rich Girl, but she didn't live as if she was. Is there anything sadder than a rich girl living like a pauper?
The truth is that she was the richest little girl in the world. 
If only she believed what her Father told her.





"God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift. It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it."
Ephesians 2:8-9 


"God will meet all your needs. He will meet them in keeping with his wonderful riches. These riches come to you because you belong to Christ Jesus." 
Philippians 4:19

 "The Spirit you received doesn’t make you slaves. Otherwise you would live in fear again. Instead, the Holy Spirit you received made you God’s adopted child. By the Spirit’s power we call God Abba. Abba means Father. The Spirit himself joins with our spirits. Together they tell us that we are God’s children. As his children, we will receive all that he has for us. We will share what Christ receives. But we must share in his sufferings if we want to share in his glory."
Romans 8:15-17 
 
 

Monday, November 27, 2017

THIS PRESENT PLAYGROUND

My son, Philip, was about five years old. Directly across the street from where we lived was a magnificent playground.  It was heaven-on-earth for a five-year-old boy.  There were swings, and slides, and a huge sand pit.  I could sit on the balcony and watch him play with his friends.   They drove trucks in the sand, they made mountains out of the sand and destroyed them with their trucks.  They spent time swinging on the swings.  It was a good season in the life of my son.. and me.  He spent every spare moment outside, in the fresh air, playing with other children. 

One day, as he played there, I called him inside.  We were leaving to go away for a few days.He needed to come inside, get cleaned up, and change his clothes.  He didn't want to. He wanted to stay and play.  He came inside but it was not with a good attitude.  He did not ASK to leave the playground - I decided it was time for him to leave.  As we drove away from home, he looked with longing at his friends, who did not have a mean Mommy and Daddy like he did.
The next day, we arrived at Disneyworld.  There is no way to describe the look on the face of my child as we walked down Main Street, as he saw the characters walking the streets and we walked through the castle.  To add joy to his euphoria, we would leave the Magic Kingdom during the heat of the afternoons, and go back to the swimming pool at our hotel, and jump in the water, and swim. After a short daily nap, we'd go back to the Magic Kingdom until midnight.  It was like heaven on earth. There was no other moments in his brief existence on earth that Philip had known such a perfect, joyful existence. 

During our days as Disneyworld, if one his his neighborhood friends had called him and said, "Philip, we miss you being here at the playground.  Please leave where ever you are and come back here now. We miss you!"  I imagine he'd say something close to, "Are you serious? You cannot believe how utterly amazing my life is, and the unbelievable things I am seeing and doing. That playground doesn't even come close. My mom and dad are the BEST!"

God taught me something all those decades ago about where I am and where I'm going.

We are living in a little playground now.  It's called earth.  Although we know it isn't perfect, we want to stay here.  We want to live here.  We do not want what we do not see.  

God has bigger and better things waiting. It is insulting to even compare it to something as insignificant as Disneyworld.  It's beyond our present comprehension as we live in this present playground. 

But we have to leave this playground to get there.  
No one gets to stay here forever.  We don't decide.  God does.

This present playground is not all there is.  
God is good.  And He loves His children.


“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,and no mind has imagined what God has prepared  for those who love him.”  

1 Corinthians 2:9





Saturday, November 25, 2017

BOTTLED WATER AND THE HEART OF GOD

My fourteen-year-old grandson was on his way to Youth Convention. His parents were taking him, some of his friends, and his sisters and some of their friends there for two days.  It was a big church-sponsored youth event happening at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville.   Everyone was pumped up and happy.  They stopped at our house to deliver "Sam" (my granddog) who was going to stay at our house while they were gone. My grandson carried Sam in to the house while everyone waited in the cars in our driveway.  This boy, handsome and respectful as always, stood in front of our refrigerator and asked if he could take a bottle of water.  AS IF he had to ask.  We always have bottles and bottles of cold water there.  

"Absolutely.. and take one for all of your friends."  

"Really, Mema?  There's a lot of us."

"Really."  

And so he filled his arms full of bottles of water and went out to the cars waiting in the driveway and handed them out....each friend had a bottle of water... and so did my two granddaughters, my son and my daughter-in-law. (Plus some licorice bites, chocolate, and jelly beans.  Yes.. I am one of THOSE grandmothers who always has CANDY in the pantry.) 
He had a smile on his face as he did so.  I'm sure he didn't think about it for more than a few fleeting seconds, but his face seemed to say that he felt like a nice guy handing out water to his friends.

The whole scene took less than two minutes, and yet, a few days later it still makes me smile. Something about it filled me with love for my grandson as I saw him carrying those bottles out.  Why?
BECAUSE:

He is familiar with our home. He knew there was water and where it was.   A stranger would not know this, but my grandson did.

He is familiar with my heart.  He asked, but we both knew my answer would be a resounding "YES."   

Most of all, I was able to give him what he asked for. 
Nice story. So what?

So.............as they pulled out of our driveway, laughing and singing and on their way to Youth Convention, I thought about how my grandson's request... and being able to give him something he asked for... GAVE ME GREAT GREAT GREAT JOY. 


BECAUSE:

He is my family.  And HE ACTED LIKE HE WAS.
HIS ACTIONS PROVED HE KNOWS WHO HE IS.  HE IS MY GRANDSON.
HIS ACTIONS PROVED HE KNOWS WHAT IS AVAILABLE TO HIM.  HE IS MY GRANDSON.
HIS ACTIONS PROVED HE KNOWS WHO I AM.  I AM HIS GRANDMOTHER WHO LOVES HIM.

GOD WANTS ME TO ACT LIKE I KNOW WHO HE IS. To know what is available in His home. To know what He has and is willing to provide for me.  
But this requires me to know that I AM NOW HIS VERY CHILD.
GOD WANTS ME TO ACT LIKE I KNOW WHO I AM.
GOD WANTS ME TO ACT LIKE I KNOW WHAT HE HAS AVAILABLE FOR ME.
GOD WANTS ME TO ACT LIKE I  KNOW WHO HE IS.

This God I pray to is the SAME GOD who walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve..... who called to Abraham, who spoke to Moses from a burning bush, who split The Red Sea, spoke to a young boy named Samuel and who raised Jesus from the dead. 

How can it even be possible that I can walk boldly in to HIS THRONE ROOM?   How can my human brain cells process the thought that He is not just this AWE INSPIRING DEITY.. but my Father?  
Why on earth have I been given the right to call Him "Abba" - "Daddy.' 
How can I even believe that HE CARES about a sixty-something wife and mother and grandmother trying to live out her life on planet Earth?
Who am I to be able to have a conversation with the same God who told Moses to tell Pharoah to "Let my people go!" ??? 
  
I AM HIS CHILD.
I.   AM.   HIS.   CHILD.

How can this be?

JESUS.  JESUS.  JESUS.
This holy honor.  This royal identity.  This eternal life.
I am his CHILD?
 I. AM. HIS. CHILD.

All who put their faith in the righteousness available through the sacrifice, death and resurrection of Jesus can say the same thing:
Say it out loud.  Say it as your heart is breaking, or life is confusing.  Say it when your faith is getting weak. Say it when you are afraid. Say it when you've been rejected. Say it when the world seems crazy.   Say it, say it until you believe it.


"I. AM. HIS. CHILD."
"Your Father knows what you need before you even ask for it" - Jesus, Matthew 6:32
 
My grandson didn't beg for water.  He knew it was there. He knew he could have it. 
Asking was a mere formality. 

Children never beg. They simply ask.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 
1 John 3:1

"I lift my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven." 
Psalm 123:1