Help each other, but do it yourself

I’m great at making lists and plans and schedules. What I’m not so good at is sticking to them. Do I have any brothers and sisters out there? It’s not difficult for you to see everything that needs to be done, and you don’t even have to fight to get them into a somewhat-reasonable schedule. But when the day comes to actually follow the schedule, other priorities have popped up. People ask you to do things you didn’t plan for. Life happens.

And you have to adjust your schedule accordingly. But then you’re faced with a dilemma, because the new things you’ve added into your schedule prevent you from having enough time to do what you planned originally. So you push everything back. And then by the end of the week, it snowballs, and you’re completely buried.

I struggle with this so much because I have a hard time accepting that my plans and my goals are more important than the plans and goals of other people. And that’s where it gets tricky, because you can’t very well put yourself first and still follow Jesus, can you?

0D9BF61E08Today’s verses are Galatians 6:2-5.

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. 

On first glance, this passage almost contradicts itself, doesn’t it? One one hand, we are to share each other’s burdens, but we’re supposed to be responsible for our own conduct too. Can those two statements exist in the same sentence? Help each other, but do it yourself?

Every Christ-follower has something to do that God has designed them for. It’s a unique and individual task assigned to every believer. And you should never ever undervalue that fact. What God has called you to do matters, and you shouldn’t set that calling aside lightly.

But, sometimes life does happen. Sometimes the people in your life need your help, your support, your love, and when that happens, you have to be willing to do what’s needed. Because you’re called to help your brothers and sisters in Christ just as much as you’re called to fulfill God’s destiny for your life.

But there’s a difference between helping a brother or sister who needs you and constantly putting out fires. Helping someone with a burden isn’t the same as doing your own work, and if all you’re doing is carrying other people’s burdens for them, you’re going to wear yourself out, you won’t accomplish what God has called you to do, and you’ll prevent your friend from learning a lesson God needs to teach him.

So what does this paradoxical approach to scheduling your life even look like? Beats me. It’ll be different for each person.

Once you figure out what God wants you to do (and that’s a whole different blog post in itself), you need to do it. You need to get your life to the place where you can do what God tells you to do without delay or excuse. Then, you have to DO it. That’s another step. It’s one step to find it. It’s another step to plan it. It’s a huge step to take action, but you must. Don’t just sit there. Do it.

My problem is that I don’t see my calling as equally important to someone else’s. I know I’m called to do something important, but if someone else comes along and needs help, I put more value on their calling than on mine. And that’s not necessarily wrong. I mean, who knows, maybe your calling is to help others achieve their callings. Anything’s possible, and the Body of Christ has many parts.

But if you know for sure what you’re supposed to be doing for God, don’t let anyone else tell you it doesn’t matter. That means if it’s important enough to put on your schedule, it’s important enough for you to do it, and it’s important enough for you to turn down other projects for it.

Don’t be hard-hearted about it, of course. And if life happens (as it so often does), stop to help. But ask God about it first. Ask God’s permission to step away from your calling in order to do something else.

Maybe you don’t know what your calling is, and that’s fine. Don’t give up until you find it. Ask God to reveal it, because you have one. Everybody does. Sometimes it’s a dream. Sometimes it’s a goal. Sometimes it doesn’t even look like a calling. But you’ve got one.

What you are doing for God matters. Period. And, yes, it’s important to help other people. Yes, it’s important to encourage your brothers and sisters. But don’t treat your calling as dispensable. God designed you for a purpose. There’s nothing insignificant about that.

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Just a thread in God’s great tapestry

Have you ever looked at the detail on a tapestry? It’s rare to find them in the United States, but in older parts of the world, tapestries play a role in history.

A quick Google search brought back some information on the longest tapestry in the world–the Apocalypse Tapestry, which originally stretched 459 feet. The richly detailed, colorfully woven panels feature scenes from the Book of The Revelation. Sources say it took five years to complete.

The Apocalypse Tapestry, the longest tapestry in the world

The Apocalypse Tapestry, the longest tapestry in the world

What amazes me about weaving–and weaving tapestries specifically–is that you need more than one color of thread. I mean, sure, you can weave with one color, but then you don’t have a tapestry. You have a rug. It takes colors and combinations of colors, twisting around each other, going over the top of and underneath each other to create the brilliant a beautiful designs that make it worth something.

A tapestry as a whole is an amazing thing, but what if you’re one thread in a tapestry. If you’re one thread in a massive tapestry, you don’t get to see the tapestry. All you see is the winding and twisting and inconvenience of having to deal with other threads. Some threads would be easier to manage. Other threads might be more difficult to get around. But you’d never be able to get away from other threads.

Have you ever considered that’s what our lives are like? Our life is one big tapestry, and we’re one thread.

tapestryToday’s verse is Genesis 50:20.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

This is what Joseph said to his brothers after he revealed himself to them. His brothers had betrayed him, sold him into slavery, told his father he was dead. Joseph meanwhile experienced every horrible thing you could imagine, but God worked everything out. God had a plan the whole time. Joseph was one thread in God’s incredible tapestry.

You and I are no different.

Today is my last day at my “real” job. It was the kind of job I never thought I’d get. It’s so strange to be old enough to look back on my life. When I was in high school, I didn’t understand what it meant to see God’s fingerprints all over your life. People talked about it, but I’d never experienced it.

After college, maybe I understood it a little better, but I didn’t grasp it fully until I started working at the job I have now. I couldn’t have gotten that job without what I learned at the job before it. The job before it? I couldn’t have gotten that one without what I’d learned as a college student. And so on and so forth.

Every job I’ve had, every position I’ve held, has been training grounds for the next job, and that’s not an accident. That’s me being a thread in God’s great tapestry. And I wasn’t alone. All through my life, I’ve been surrounded by other threads–some going the same direction as I was. Some were going opposite. Others were perpendicular to my path, but that didn’t make them wrong.

I didn’t always understand why I had to walk the same path with so many other people, but now I can look back and see the beautiful design and pattern that God has made from my life and my interactions with other people.

God puts people in your life for a reason. Sometimes it’s to challenge you. Other times, it’s to encourage you and uplift you. Either way, you can learn something.

My life is a beautiful tapestry because God is a beautiful weaver, and He chose amazing colors to weave together in my life. If it were just me, there wouldn’t be much to look at, but because I’ve gotten to share life with so many wonderful people, God has made something beautiful out of something that could have been barren.

People make life difficult, sure, but more often than not, the people you meet will teach you something about yourself. And it’s something you need to learn. I’ll promise you that.

As I shut down my company laptop for the last time tonight, clear out my cubicle, pull off my name plate, turn in my keycards, and walk to the parking garage, I’ll be sad. I might as well accept it. I’ll be a wreck.

I’m sad to leave behind the people I’ve come to love so dearly, but I know this is the right choice. And I’m more thankful than words can ever say for what they’ve taught me about life and living and myself. I’m ready for my next adventure thanks in no small part to them. And the tapestry of my life has been made all the more beautiful because my thread crossed paths with theirs.

No matter where life takes you, never forget the bigger picture. We’re all part of a larger story unfolding bit by bit every day, and all of us have roles to play in the pattern of God’s great design.

WuShock playing drums with the band

Disappointment can make you stronger

I don’t do sports. I’ve never been into them. But then, I’d never had a team I cared about make it to a place where I could cheer them on until this year. I’m a proud alum of Wichita State University, so even though I don’t really care about sports, I still pay attention when our sports teams accomplish great things. And when our basketball team started their crazy undefeated rush to the NCAA tournament, I started getting excited.

I remember last year. For the first time in a long time, Wichita was getting noticed–and in a good way. Most people don’t even know where we are, let alone who we are. Last year, everyone made fun of our mascot–our beloved WuShock (he’s a shock of wheat, folks; not a stalk of celery or a pencil). This year, people were taking us seriously, and it was nice. Really nice. And this year I thought we could do it. I really thought we could go all the way. Especially when we won our 35th game in a row on Friday. No team ever made it to the tournament with a 35-0 record.

And then–last night happened. The Shockers faced off with Kentucky, and both sides played their hearts out. And the Shockers lost by 2. Just like that, we were done. Along with the other two Kansas teams. The tournament will go on without us.

Sports has disappointments like that all the time, and while it can be difficult to deal with, in the end, it’s still just a game. Life has bigger disappointments than sports ever does. So how do you deal with the disappointments that life hands you?

WuShock playing drums with the band

WuShock playing drums with the band

Today’s verses are Psalm 73:1-5.

Truly God is good to Israel,
to those whose hearts are pure.
But as for me, I almost lost my footing.
My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
For I envied the proud
when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
They seem to live such painless lives;
their bodies are so healthy and strong.
They don’t have troubles like other people;
they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else.

I love the honesty of the Psalms. That’s one of the reasons I think reading them on bad days helps me get my focus back. No matter who writes them, the Psalms generally start off with a genuine summary of how life just sucks, and then they end up with the writer coming back to his senses and realizing that God is good.

That’s how Psalm 73 works. If you have a chance, pop over and read the whole thing. It’s not long, and it’s totally worth it. But the basic idea is that the writer is getting frustrated with God because he’s living the way he’s supposed to, and all the people around him (the ones who don’t follow God) are better off.

At one point in the Psalm, the writer even asks God what the point of keeping his heart clean was? What’s the point of following God if all you’re going to get is trouble in return? But instead of giving up on God, the writer went to a quiet place and God revealed the truth to him.

You’re going to face disappointments in life. Just expect it. The world is broken, and nobody is perfect. People hurt people. Things you think will happen don’t. Dreams don’t always come true, and even though you work your butt off to accomplish something, you may not receive the reward for it right away.

Decide now how you’re going to deal with it. Make up your mind now about how you’re going to face disappointment, so when the time comes you aren’t swept away by the emotional letdown.

Am I disappointed that the Shockers lost? Absolutely. But I can tell you what they’re not going to do. They aren’t going to go home and give up playing basketball. They’re going to work twice as hard next year and try again.

I’ve got a couple of major projects in the works right now, projects that I’m counting on to be successful. Am I hoping that they’re going to work? That they’re going to be successful? You’d better believe it. But will I give up if they aren’t? Am I going to stop believing that God is good if my life doesn’t turn out the way I think it should?

No.

Seriously, go read Psalm 73. Life is all about perspective. You really do win some and lose some, and on the days that you lose, you have to pick yourself up and keep moving forward. Don’t give up. Don’t look back. And keep trying until you make it.

And whatever else you do, don’t blame God. He’s got a plan, and He’s working things out. The only thing blaming God does is turn you into someone you don’t want to be.

Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
    and I was all torn up inside.
I was so foolish and ignorant—
    I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
Yet I still belong to you;
    you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
    leading me to a glorious destiny.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
    I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
    but God remains the strength of my heart;
    he is mine forever.

Disappointment isn’t wrong. It isn’t even bad, if you can face it in a way that makes you better in the end. Disappointment makes us stronger if you look at it as a chance to improve yourself. Disappointment can increase our faith if we remember that God has a  better plan than what we concocted.

So when disappointment comes, grieve. Sure, it’s difficult to see a dream die. But dreams never stay dead. Don’t give up. Try again. Keep believing. If God isn’t going to give up, you shouldn’t either.

Drum ornament hanging on the Christmas tree, Haven, KS

Being a Christian doesn’t mean you can drive like an idiot

People in Wichita don’t know how to drive. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s never more obvious than when the weather is bad. The worse the weather, the worse the drivers out in it are. They either go too fast or too slow. I usually get to see the colorful variety of Wichita’s most inept every Monday through Friday morning as I drive into work. It’s an odd mixture of people and an even odder mixture of vehicles.

One morning last week, I drove a couple of miles with a big white van riding my bumper. I was going five over, and I couldn’t see their headlights they were so close. I got over out of their way as soon as I could, and they shot around me like I was standing still. Not a big deal—except that the conditions were somewhat treacherous. That same day, a newish SUV with big tires and bright lights crept along the highway, hovering in the middle of both lanes, taking up too much room on both sides and not letting anyone pass. The guy was going at least 30 under, which is never a good idea on K-96 on a weekday morning around 7:15.

I thought it was ironic, the giant under-tired white van was clipping along like it ruled the road and the new SUV, designed for foul weather conditions, was afraid to accelerate. And that got me thinking about how many circumstances we encounter in our own lives that are exactly like that.

Drum ornament hanging on the Christmas tree, Haven, KS

Drum ornament hanging on the Christmas tree, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 18:39.

You have armed me with strength for the battle;
    you have subdued my enemies under my feet. 

Have you ever charged into a fight when you weren’t prepared for it? Have you ever walked into a situation you weren’t equipped to handle? I have. There’s no worse feeling in the world than realize you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Why? Well, it’s not exactly like you can bow out; you’ll lose respect. But at the same time, you don’t know what you’re doing, so you can’t help but fail, which means you’ll lose respect. But have you ever considered the flip side of that situation?

How many times, as Christians, do we hang back and fear our own inadequacy when we are more than capable of doing what needs to be done? This is me. This is me all the way. All my life I have struggled with feelings of insufficiency and inadequacy. People laugh at me when I say that, but it’s the absolute truth. My greatest fear is failing to perform to the expectations of people I love and respect, and that fear has kept me bound in silence many times when I probably should have spoken up.

Mentor a child? I’m not good enough. Share Christ with someone who doesn’t believe? I don’t know enough. Volunteer for a church ministry? I’m not talented enough. Any of those sound familiar? This isn’t really a Christmas post, but what better time of year to consider this issue?

How many of us live our Christian life like a fully equipped SUV crawling along in the snow? How many of us Christians are so burdened and weighed down with fears of our own inadequacy that we never even try to run? We’re so afraid that we never move faster than a walk, and we don’t get nearly as far as we might have if we would have used our gifts to their fullest. This is a reminder to me today. I convince myself that I’m not good enough, not talented enough, not fast enough, not brave enough to do the things that God has called me to do. But those things that I tell myself aren’t true. God has promised to equip me to accomplish everything He’s planned for me to do.

As it usually works with things in my life, my life isn’t about me; it’s about God and what God wants to do with my life. Now, that doesn’t mean we should be like the rickety old van, barreling down a snow-covered highway when it’s not designed for that kind of speed. God has a plan and a purpose for all our lives. Like me. I’m a writer, a communicator, a storyteller. I’ve known that since I was little. So if I try to make a living using mathematics, not only am I going to fail miserably at my job, I’ll be miserable. God has equipped us for whatever task He intends us to complete. We just have to be willing to take Him at His Word.

So ask yourself what you’re afraid of this morning. Are you crawling along when you could be running? Or are you running down a road you should be walking? Personally, I prefer speed. I’ll always go fast if I can, but pushing my limits on an icy road when my car has bald tires is more than irresponsible. It’s just plain dumb.

So don’t be dumb. Know your limits, but don’t be afraid to push them when you know you’re where God wants you.

Sunrise over Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

God’s rescue comes even though the waters keep rising

You’ve got to love David. If you’ve ever spent any time in the Psalms, you know what I’m talking about. David just had a gift with words. He could turn a phrase just right so that it got right down to the heart of the issue. Most of the time I think it’s because David was honest and earnest about who he was and who God is. But one of my favorite “psalms” of David’s isn’t in Psalms at all. In fact, it’s in 2 Samuel.

It’s long, like 50 verses, but I’m only going to post the first 30 this morning, mainly because those are the ones that really stuck out to me as I read them. (I should correct yesterday’s post too, since my best friend’s novel is actually based on verses 17-18 of this passage; I saw deep waters and got my verses mixed up!)

Sunrise over Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Sunrise over Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Today’s verses are 2 Samuel 3-30:

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
    my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
    and my place of safety.
He is my refuge, my savior,
    the one who saves me from violence.
I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and he saved me from my enemies.

“The waves of death overwhelmed me;
    floods of destruction swept over me.
 The grave wrapped its ropes around me;
    death laid a trap in my path.
 But in my distress I cried out to the Lord;
    yes, I cried to my God for help.
He heard me from his sanctuary;
    my cry reached his ears.

“Then the earth quaked and trembled.
    The foundations of the heavens shook;
    they quaked because of his anger.
 Smoke poured from his nostrils;
    fierce flames leaped from his mouth.
    Glowing coals blazed forth from him.
 He opened the heavens and came down;
    dark storm clouds were beneath his feet.
 Mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew,
    soaring on the wings of the wind.
 He shrouded himself in darkness,
    veiling his approach with dense rain clouds.
 A great brightness shone around him,
    and burning coals blazed forth.
 The Lord thundered from heaven;
    the voice of the Most High resounded. 
He shot arrows and scattered his enemies;
    his lightning flashed, and they were confused.
 Then at the command of the Lord,
    at the blast of his breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen,
    and the foundations of the earth were laid bare.

“He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
 He rescued me from my powerful enemies,
    from those who hated me and were too strong for me.
 They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress,
    but the Lord supported me.
 He led me to a place of safety;
    he rescued me because he delights in me.
 The Lord rewarded me for doing right;
    he restored me because of my innocence.
 For I have kept the ways of the Lord;
    I have not turned from my God to follow evil.
 I have followed all his regulations;
    I have never abandoned his decrees.
 I am blameless before God;
    I have kept myself from sin.
 The Lord rewarded me for doing right.
    He has seen my innocence.

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful;
    to those with integrity you show integrity.
 To the pure you show yourself pure,
    but to the wicked you show yourself hostile.
 You rescue the humble,
    but your eyes watch the proud and humiliate them.
 O Lord, you are my lamp.
    The Lord lights up my darkness.
 In your strength I can crush an army;
    with my God I can scale any wall.

David sang this song after God rescued Him from his enemies, but there is a lot in this passage that applies to life as we know it today. So much that I don’t really have time to go over all of it. I could spend a month on this chapter alone. Maybe I should.

But what I love about this–one of the many aspects–is how it depicts God coming to the rescue. Part of me thinks it’s ironic to see God’s rescue being depicted in natural disasters; maybe there’s a point in that. But when God comes to the rescue like that, who could doubt Him? He charges in with thunder and lightning and earthquakes and terror and reaches down to us to pull us out of our distress and our fear. I love how this passage ends too. God is our light in the darkness, and with Him nothing is impossible.

I’m not sure if we can really wrap our heads around that concept, but we can try. So the next impossible task you face, remember this passage. Remember that when you’re in trouble, you just need to cry out for help, and God will be there. He’ll come charging in to rescue you, to draw you out of the floods that are threatening to overwhelm you.

True, the verse doesn’t say God will stop the floods. But it does say God will be there to help. And if we have God’s help, there’s nothing we can’t do.

Sunrise behind a tree - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

God doesn’t need your help to pull off His plan.

I’m a control freak. I think I’ve mentioned that once or twice before. It’s difficult for me to relax until I know every aspect of what’s happening around me. I don’t really like to be in control at all, but I still put myself in positions where I have to be. And I think life would really be a lot easier if I stopped trying to control everything and just let God work.

Sunrise behind a tree - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Sunrise behind a tree – Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verses are Psalm 138:7-8.

Though I am surrounded by troubles,
    you will protect me from the anger of my enemies.
You reach out your hand,
    and the power of your right hand saves me.
The Lord will work out his plans for my life—
    for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

I can worry myself into a pit if I’m not careful. I can stress myself out over nothing if I don’t keep my guard up. God has proven Himself to me over and over and over again, but I still keep trying to add my own meager strength to His plan. And He doesn’t need my help.

I love how this set of verses says that it’s God who will work out His plans for me. God works them out. Not me. And I’m glad for that because I can hardly figure my plans out for the day, let alone my whole life. And I find it doubly interesting how the Amplified Version puts the same verse (Psalm 138:8):

The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, endure forever—forsake not the works of Your own hands.

That strikes a chord with me this morning. God isn’t just working out the plans for my life; He’s perfecting them. Jeremiah 29:11 comes to mind: that God has plans for me to give me a hope and a future. Good plans. And that He’s working all the details out so that everything can be perfect. It may not be perfect now, but God has seen my future and it’s good.

I’ve been on vacation for the past week. It was really nice to get away, even though it was super hot and I’ve been eaten alive by mosquitos. I can’t express how nice it was to wake up and not have to face the slough of difficult phone calls and challenging emails, the discouragement of late projects and the constant pressure to perform. Don’t misunderstand. I’m thankful for my job. But it’s very stressful. And even as it was, I still had to field a few emails from work while I was on vacation, so I know what I’m walking back into this morning and it’s not going to be pretty.

But I know that God has a plan. And I know that I’m where I’m supposed to be right now. And even though things may not be perfect and they may not be the way I want them to be, I trust that God is working things out. So because I trust Him, I keep going.

The Message is a paraphrase, so I don’t use it for deep Bible study, but so many times I think it really captures the essence of what the Greek is saying in a way that English can’t. And I love how it puts this same set of verses:

   When I walk into the thick of trouble,
      keep me alive in the angry turmoil.
   With one hand
      strike my foes,
   With your other hand
      save me.
   Finish what you started in me, God.
      Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.

If we’re doing God’s will for us today, living according to the Bible, taking each day a step at a time, doing what we know is right, following the Spirit’s leading, God’s got our back. And nothing is going to happen to us that He hasn’t already figured out. We don’t need to control it. We don’t need to understand it. We just need to go with it.

God will finish what He started. He’s perfected His plans for our life. We just need to turn over control and let Him do what He wants to do. He’ll do it anyway, but if we fight Him for power in our lives, it will just make trouble for us. Turn over control; He knows where He’s going.

God’s plan disguised by inconvenience

Do you have struggles in your life? If you think you don’t, you’re lying to yourself. Everyone has struggles and difficulties. Granted, some people have bigger struggles than others. But no one can escape them. And depending on your perspective, you can easily let them control your life.

I know, personally, the struggles I have aren’t huge. There aren’t any major illnesses in my life. No major medical issues. No major financial issues. No major lifestyle issues. The struggles I face more than anything else are more like matters of inconvenience.

Good example? My basement flooded last night. And it wasn’t even a major flood. It was just enough water to make a mess, which I promptly cleaned up. And then I went and took a shower. And then it promptly flooded again. Again, not enough to do any major damage. Just enough to be inconvenient . . . . and to cause me to call my dad and plead for help.

I think oftentimes God will put obstacles (read that opportunities) in our path that have to be dealt with as we walk toward His goal for our lives. Some opportunities are more fun than others. But I guarantee we learn more from those than we do from the fun ones.

And even though these opportunities may feel like obstacles when we run into them, if we can keep our perspective straight, we can look at them like God sees them — stepping stones to better things.

Today’s passage comes out of the Christmas story, Luke 2:1, 4-5.

1 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.

Talk about inconvenience.

It would have been difficult enough to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem on foot but Mary was pregnant . . . and not just pregnant, obviously pregnant. And maybe they had a donkey. Maybe not. People always portray them with a donkey, but Mary and Joseph weren’t rich people. So I wouldn’t be too surprised if they had to walk the whole way. And I’ve never been pregnant, but I know a lot of people who have been. And walking isn’t their favorite thing to do during that period in their life.

And why did they have to do this? Because the Roman emperor said so. It was a stinkin’ census. A governmental thing. Like taxes. It interfered with everyone’s daily lives and upset the whole order of normalcy.

I can only imagine the grumbling this census caused in people. Maybe even in Mary and Joseph. I don’t know. I know I wouldn’t blame Mary for grumbling about something like this.

But what would have happened if Christ hadn’t been born in Bethlehem?

He still would have been virgin born. He still would have been the Son of God. He still would have fulfilled many of the prophecies in the Old Testament. . . . just not all of them.

The Old Testament is very specific saying which Bethlehem Jesus would be born in (there are two). Prophets had been very specific for hundreds of years as to the location where Christ would be born. What would have happened if Joseph had decided it was too much trouble to obey the law? What would have happened if Mary had decided to stay home?

Granted, traveling to Bethlehem had to be a terrible inconvenience, but it was necessary to fulfill prophecy.

So what does this mean for all of us?

Well, many times, God is going to ask us to do things that inconvenience us and we’re not going to understand why. I mean, maybe Mary and Joseph knew that Jesus was going to be born in Bethlehem because of all the prophecies and that’s why they didn’t have a problem going. But I guarantee, they didn’t know the far-reaching effects of having a child born there. Just like we don’t truly grasp the implications of our reactions to what God brings into our lives.

Being inconvenienced usually means that it’s something God wants you to do. Being inconveniences usually means that you’ve gotten too comfortable or too confident or too focused on something that doesn’t matter. Being inconvenienced usually means you’re only thinking about how your plans will be upset.

I can tell you the main reason I was so upset last night about my flooded basement wasn’t because of the mess, although that was troublesome. What upset me more than anything was that I had other plans for last night. And I couldn’t get them done because I had to clean up my basement. That inconvenienced me because I had wanted to do my own thing last night instead of having to take care of a wet, cold, dripping mass of towels. And I had to do it twice!

But I can also tell you that my basement floor is super clean now. So maybe it was God’s way of telling me that I needed to mop? =)

I don’t know. But what I do know is that many times God will ask things of us that seem like huge inconveniences. Things that will cause more struggles in our lives than they solve. But every time there’s a reason for it. And every time there’s something for us to learn. And every time, there’s something God is going to do with it.

So the best thing to do when inconveniences come from God is to just remember that He knows what He’s doing and try to enjoy the struggle, as strange as that sounds. Because you can look forward to the other side when it’s finished and you have gained something for your trouble. And you never know how God might use it. But you can be confident that He will.