Over The Water

Matthew 20:22

“You do not know what you are asking, Jesus replied.“Are you able to drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We are able,” the brothers answered. 23“You will indeed drink My cup,” Jesus said. “But to sit at My right or left is not Mine to grant. These seats belong to those for whom My Father has prepared them.”

Possibly the worst thing about returning home is this aching sense that you return to monotony. It’s those repetitive days and tiring hours, the meaningless seconds and the never-ending minutes. Adding to the monotony, we have this relentless need for work. The longest days are those when we feel as if we are working for no reason.

When I first got a job, I was ecstatic. It gave me some sense of reason, something to do, something I was working for. But you know what?

I felt more at home when I worked for free.

At one point,  I spent a good deal of time mentoring students. I taught them how to write, edit, memorize, and communicate speeches in the most eloquent way possible. I critiqued speakers and trained them to become orators, not just word-smiths. During this time, I also spent time helping at my dance school as a substitute teacher. Because I was not signed as an employee, I could not be paid. Similarly, whenever I was asked to come in, I knew that the only reason was because I loved the kids I helped, and I knew that they would benefit from the change in pace.

So basically, I volunteered for the cast majority of my Senior year in high school. The only problem is that I actually needed a job. Going to school and paying for college tuition is no joke. Although I am transferring schools and did have a substantial scholarship, I still have accrued a debt in one year.

The question left is, is college worth it? Is it really worth the price of admission? If not, what should we do then?

My brain has ceaselessly flirted with these questions for the past year. Going to school and then deciding it was not worth it, leaves you in an interesting place. Instead of deciding to go back to school this year, I am taking a semester to settle myself and get some stability.

That’s where monotony comes in. 

We have all felt it. That unending and repetitive schedule, trying to figure out what you are doing wrong and getting better at what you do. The problem is, you are doing the same thing over and over. If we really want to make a difference, we have to change something. 

Einstein said that, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

insanity

If we are not satisfied with what we are doing and how we are living, what do we do then?

I have come across this new issue: What if you can’t change anything?

Paul tells us in Ephesians that he has learned to be content with anything. With plenty and in need, with food or without, with love, friends, connections, and without. Anything.

How? Even when he could not change anything?

I want to take a quick look at Paul’s prayer life, and give three quick points to help us find contentment with and without the best of circumstances.

“In all things honor God, and He shall direct your paths.

Honor your father and mother, and your days shall be long upon the earth.

1. View of God Must be Different

Back to change. How do we view God in Paul’s way? How do we find that contentment?

Yesterday, I listened to a powerful sermon delivered by a paster on fire for God. These three points come from my notes I took on his sermon. He focused on our passions. Our desires. Because it is easy to realize that monotony comes out of a job or an obligation or activity that we do not enjoy. Even if we did enjoy it for a bit, if that occupation did not bring us joy, than we eventually lose interest.

But let’s look at it this way, I have a passion for dance.

Yet when I went to school and studied dance for a whole year, something changed. I was so desperately attached to the vision and obsession for dance that it clouded my view of God. I shut out God and said, “I love this activity and it is my passion, so obviously God will lead me to it.” Look at that phrase, “I love this activity …so obviously God“. Do you see? In my mind and in my heart, the activity was number one. The Scriptures tell us to “love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

What does that tell us about our passions?DSC_6683.JPG

It means that God must be the center of your passions.

Ultimately, when I see people without conviction or who fail to even be passionate about a topic or a desire tells me that they do not have a fear of God.

When you fear God you are forced to be passionate. We have to pursue God so relentlessly that it overshadows everything else. So much, that King David, the man after God’s own heart, said that , “My soul thirsts for the Lord”. 

Thirst. That means he would die without God, so desperate is the need to have God in everything he did and who he was. We need to be Christians who are so on fire for God that we thirst for Him. In fact, we need God more than oxygen. We just decide not to have it. Think of how different you feel when you are underwater, when your lungs are bursting for air. You desperately stroke, often without direction or light, and as you get deeper, the more you lose your way. But when you start swimming up, it changes. The light grows, you suddenly know that this is where you need to be, not only for fun, but for your very life. When you reach the top and suddenly burst through, there is a substantial change. Your muscles and bones breathe, your reactions speed up, and all delusion of darkness fades.

That is what it means to need God. Everyone has this, we just don’t know how to reach the surface.

2. Your Prayer Life Must be Your Life

My soul rests in prayer. The pastor I listened to yesterday said something truly profound. Your walk with Jesus will only go as far as your prayer life.

There is a story about a young soldier when he was fighting in Afghanistan. There was a soldier who was caught in the middle of a battle torn zone. Both sides were at a stalemate, no one could move without being fired at. The sergeant in charge looked at his group and said, “We are going to get our brother, no man left behind! Who will go?” As he looked at the group, no one responded. Then a hand shot up and a young man said, “I will go.”He came to the front of the group and stood next to the sergeant. The sergeant, after waiting for the pause in gunfire, shouted, “Go soldier, now!” The young soldier didn’t move, he stood, bouncing on the tips of his toes, staring at his watch.

“Go soldier! That’s a direct order!”

The soldier stood, bouncing and looking like a coil ready to spring, staring at his watch. Still he waited, then suddenly he shot off across the field. Shots cracked across the field as a machine gun battered the area. The soldier raced and picked up his fallen comrade, and raced back. Still more shots and that soldier bolted back, but was not hit once.

Children

After he got back the sergeant said, “Look soldier, that was very impressive, but I gave you a direct order. Why did you disobey a direct order from your commanding officer?” The young solder looked at his sergeant and replied. “I have nothing but respect for you, and nothing against your authority, but I know that at 10:00am my mama said that she would pray for me. And I knew that if I waited until then that my mama’s prayers would be protecting me.”

Prayer has power. I know you have heard this before. It’s nothing new to hear someone say that prayer is important, but it is none the less the most powerful change you can make to your life. The average Christian spends only 3 minutes a day praying. Are you investing as much in your prayer life as you are in your passion? That is key.

3. Know Your Place

i know we all see those famous speakers, those incredible singers, that amazing person and say, “That will be me one day. But where does God come in? Are we looking to bring glory to God or to ourselves? Think about Nehemiah. In the Bible, Nehemiah did incredible things. He mourned when he heard that his people had no wall and were surrounded by enemies on all sides. He cried out to God in fervent prayer, asking God to help him to get home to help his people. In the same chapter, it says that Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the King.

What did the cup-bearer do? He tasted the kings food and drink. If there was poison in it, who would die? Nehemiah. It was not the best job available at that time. It was not a job that any wanted. Wanna know something else? The cup-bearer didn’t have a name. He had no honor, not even the recognition of every other human on the planet. Nothing. He appeared, he disappeared. If he died, ok well that was his job.

But there is something special about the cup-bearer. He has a special place beside the king. The king knew him well. The king respects the cup bearer. In fact, God moved mightily through the world’s most terrifying job.

We don’t get glory. God does. We don’t get honor. God does. Our king knows us. He is the ultimate authority, not us. But he loves us. He understands us more than anyone else in the palace. The cup-bearer.

Are we willing to drink the King’s drink, to lay down your life for the King?

“For we are the Lord’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works.”

Be blessed today.

 

 

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