Do it Different

Dunkin Donuts was always our destination on Sunday evenings when I was a young girl visiting my grandfather.  After evening church service, we would excitedly pile into the car on our way to what I had anticipated all day!

I remember so clearly the many times my grandfather and I stood in line as I tried to decide which donut would be mine!  Waiting patiently for our turn to order, my eyes were fixed ahead, taking in the colorful sprinkles and icings in front of me.   My grandfather, however, wasn’t looking ahead at the selection of sweets.  He was looking behind.   Without fail, while I was choosing a donut, he was starting a conversation with whoever was behind him in line.  I was always aware of the conversation, I just never focused on the content.

A few years ago while visiting my grandfather again, I found myself standing in the same line, in the same Dunkin Donuts on another Sunday evening after church.  As an adult, I was no longer focused on the donuts ahead.   For the first time, my attention was drawn to what was happening behind.  My grandfather had started a conversation with a young man who was next in line.  There was some small talk and laughter and at the perfect pause, my grandfather turned the conversation around.  He looked at the young man and started to speak.  ‘Son, let me ask you a question,’ he said.  ‘Do you know Jesus?’  And the real conversation began.

It hit me at that moment that this was the conversation I had heard behind me in line for so many years.  While I was choosing my donut, he was telling people about Jesus.   Memories came flooding back.  I had witnessed these conversations in other places as well.  At restaurants, at stores, at church, no matter where we were, there was always a conversation, and the conversations…they were always about Jesus.

My grandfather’s conversations were different.   He wasn’t like the others around him.  My grandfather did it different.

God’s Word is full of men and women who did it different.

In the New Testament, right after the Christmas story in Luke 2, we are introduced to woman named Anna.  In just a few short verses, we learn a lot about Anna.  She was an older woman from the lost tribe of Asher.  She was not from the more prestigious tribe of Judah, not from the priestly tribe of Levi.  She was just a woman from the tribe of Asher, a people who had been separated after the exile in the Old Testament.

Anna’s journey started on a path that went exactly as planned.  At a young age she was married like many of the other girls around her.  As she said her vows, she probably anticipated children and a happily-ever-after, but only seven years later, Anna experienced a great loss.  Anna’s husband died and she was left a young widow at a time when women were unable to fend for themselves.

Life had not gone the way Anna had planned.

I can imagine that after her time of grieving, well-meaning family and friends may have encouraged Anna to remarry.  It was probably what anyone else would have done given Anna’s circumstances.   Her needs would have been met, she would have had a home and possibly children in the future.  It just made sense.  She could have stayed right where she was and walked through life’s challenge just like everyone else did.

But Anna chose to do it different.  Rather than working to meet her own needs, Anna put herself in God’s hands.  Rather than remaining in the place of her disappointment, Anna ran to the temple.  Anna chose in her disappointment to run to Him, to make her home in His presence, and once she was there, she never went back.

Life’s disappointment drove Anna closer to the presence of God and being in His presence positioned her to have an encounter with Jesus!  Eighty-four years later, we find her in the temple on the very day that Jesus Himself entered the temple for the first time in the flesh, a baby carried by earthly parents to be presented to the Lord.

What if Anna had responded to her circumstances in the same way everyone else did?  What if in her disappointment she had stayed where she was, rather than pursuing the presence of God?   Anna would have missed the greatest joy of her life.

She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God.  She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.  Luke 2:38

Anna encountered Jesus…because Anna did it different.  In the most glorious moment of her life, this now older woman responded to this encounter.  She was compelled to speak, compelled to share, compelled to tell others the Rescuer had come!  She was compelled to start a conversation…

Sounds likes someone else I know.

At my grandfather’s funeral this week, I heard the story that tied it all together, a story he hadn’t told.  As a teenage boy in the navy, my grandfather served in World War II at the Battle of Normandy.  On a minesweeper in the English Channel, his was one of three battleships to go into the channel that day.  Only one battleship came out.  I am sure the images of war and sinking ships that were engrained in his mind were heartbreaking.  It was while he in the navy, during this time of great unknowns and disappointment that my grandfather had an encounter with Jesus.  When faced with the unexpected, he chose to do it different.  Life’s disappointment drove him into the presence of God, and once he was there, my grandfather never went back.

My grandfather encountered Jesus…because he did it different.  In his most glorious moment, he, too, responded to the encounter.  He was now a man compelled to speak, compelled to share, compelled to tell others the Rescuer has come…and is coming again.  Every day for the rest of his life, he would engage those around him in the conversation.  ‘Son, let me ask you a question.’  And then he’d go on, ‘Do you know Jesus?’

I can’t help but end with a question.  Friend, do you know Jesus?  Have you had an encounter with the One Who died to set you free?  If not, you can make the choice to begin your journey with Jesus today.  Let your challenges, your heartaches, your unexpected places drive you closer to Him.  Run to His presence, make your home there, and never go back.  Encounter Jesus and then share the good news with someone else.  Be compelled to speak it, tell it, live it!

Be compelled to do it different!

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.  2 Corinthians 5:14-15

 

 

The Ugly Christmas Sweater

Ugly Christmas SweaterIt was a Christmas morning in the early 80’s.  Together as a family, we were sitting around the tree as my mom opened a gift from my dad that he had wrapped himself.   She pulled away the tissue paper and pulled out a sweater.  It was the most beautiful sweater I had ever seen!

This sweater was unlike any sweater before it.  This sweater was a Christmas sweater.  Covered with red dots and Christmas wreaths, it gathered at the waist and had the puffiest sleeves available at that time.   Around the neckline was a red and white checkered bandana with a cream colored lace border that tied in a bow at the front.  All I could think was, ‘Someday, I hope that I will wear that beautiful sweater!’

A few years later, my mom was going through her clothes, cleaning out her closet, and I saw the beautiful Christmas sweater in the give-away pile. My mom and I had both worn the sweater several times and she was now ready to pass it on.  I didn’t want to let it go, so I took sweater from the pile and stored it in my closet.  As the years passed, folks were not wearing beautiful Christmas sweaters anymore, so eventually it was pushed out of the way, out of sight, to the back of my closet.

Fast forward 30 years later.  My teenage daughter’s school was having a Christmas party and they were all told to wear ugly Christmas sweaters.   Continue reading “The Ugly Christmas Sweater”

She Serves

She went to the river that Sabbath morning.  It was the place where she connected, the place where she prayed, it was the place where she worshiped.  Those who worshiped at the river were usually women, but this morning by the river, she noticed some men.

You see, while Lydia was making her way to the river, God was orchestrating the steps of the apostle Paul to do the same.  Their paths would cross in this place of worship and her life from here on out would never be the same.

God’s Word tells us that Lydia was a God worshiper.  Continue reading “She Serves”

Be that Tree!

The mangrove tree makes its home on the shoreline of numerous countries in southeast Asia, particularly those closest to the equator.   No one on a mission to landscape a home or beautify a city would request a gardener highlight this particular tree as part of his plan. An obscure tree that is not particularly attractive, the mangrove tree is not known for its beauty, the mangrove tree is known for its roots.

The mangrove tree is not planted by the water on the shore, the mangrove tree is actually planted in the water by the shore.  Between each tree, seen resting on top of the water’s surface is a tangled mess of what appears to be sticks and debris, twisted and entwined to the place where it’s difficult to decipher exactly where the mess begins or where it ends.  This unattractive compilation of sticks and debris looks messy, neglected and unpurposed, but when you look a little deeper, you see the truth.  Continue reading “Be that Tree!”

Share Your Struggle

Share Your Struggle PICI am usually pretty good at packing a suitcase.  This summer, however, it was a whole different story!  For our 25thwedding anniversary, my husband and I went to Rhode Island to tour the old mansions and enjoy the tastes of the waterfront.  We travel for food and we are not ashamed to say it!  We arrived at our hotel, threw down our suitcases and headed out to explore the town. It wasn’t until we stopped back at our hotel that I realized I had done the unthinkable!

When I unzipped my suitcase and opened it up, what I saw took me by surprise!  Inside of my suitcase, there were NO clothes!   There were no clothes in my suitcase!  I clearly remembered getting my clothes together, I just never had that moment when I put them in the bag!  I was on my 25thwedding anniversary trip and I had forgotten to pack my clothes!

I stood silently staring into my empty bag, hoping that I was just seeing things, unsure of how to break this news to my husband.   Continue reading “Share Your Struggle”

Created to be Filled

created to be filledThere’s a picture frame in my office on a shelf.  I bought it a few months ago, and I am almost embarrassed to say, it’s never been filled.   I had a plan when I purchased it.   There was an empty space on the shelf that needed to be filled.  So I ran to my favorite discount store, found a great frame that matched the office, brought it back and filled the space…

…but that filling created a new space, a new empty space.  The frame was empty, and now it needed to be filled.

The Bible begins in Genesis with a chapter full of empty spaces.  Continue reading “Created to be Filled”

I Cling to You

Many years ago when my daughter was in preschool, I attended a mom’s group with some girlfriends at a similar place in life.  Our children would play together and participate in various activities while we studied The Word and prayed for one another.  It was one of those rich circles of friendship God knit together as we encouraged each other to follow Him.

Many of the women in the group thought that my girlfriend, Lori, and I looked a lot alike.   We are both fair, have similar hairstyles.  We have similar personalities and we get excited about the same things.  The women in the group were not the only ones who thought Lori and I resembled one another.  It quickly became apparent that her three year old son, Andrew, did too.

When Andrew needed some comfort or a reassurance, like all three year olds, he would run to his mom, grab ahold of her leg and cling to her.  His eyes would turn upward, looking for her reassuring smile that said he was loved and that everything was going to be alright.

Without fail, at every mom’s event, Andrew would confuse me with his mom.  We could see it coming from across the room, but there was no easy way to stop it.  Andrew would see what looked to be his mom from a distance.   He would run to ME, throw his arms around MY leg, and CLING to ME!  Continue reading “I Cling to You”