Imported:  A Hot Cup of Compromise

When I began blogging in 2007, I was both shocked and awed when Darlene of CWO fame asked me to be a part of the devotional team.  Life got crazy busy and I eventually stepped back so others could fill that spot.  Those old devo’s have been hanging out there since I’m not on the current roster and instead of just quietly saving them to my new computer, I thought I’d repost them every week or so in a little feature we’ll call, Imported.  It will continue until I’m out of imports.  How do you score that for originality?

In the meantime, if you are looking for a great devotional website, head on over to Internet Cafe Devotions and sign up for their email updates.  There are so many talented writers there and Amy Bayliss et. al does a fabulous job with lot of fun features, etc. 

The first one is one of my favorites just because the story behind it is so typical Luke and Me.  It’s called A Hot Cup of Compromise and was originally published in December, 2007.

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You may be surprised to know that Pastors and their Wives do not always find themselves in perfect agreement. It can be very hard for Luke when he realizes he’s wrong and I’m right.  Even worse is when the drama doesn’t play out in private but rather as something akin to a freak sideshow.

Just last Wednesday, Luke and I were in the Awana office along with some friends when the subject of winning contests came up. I shared with the women how I’d won a contest at Sue’s Praise and Coffee in which I’d received a Christmas CD and Godiva flavored coffee. I was still thrilled because I never win anything. Apparently no one had told Luke that there are some conversations men should just not be a part of – times when they should leave well enough alone.

Things started going downhill when he felt it necessary to correct me on the kind of coffee I had won. He piped up and told everyone, “She won some coffee alright. But it was Gevalia, not Godiva.”


“Luke, it wasn’t Gevalia. It was Godiva. Honey. ” (You can say anything and put ‘honey’ on the end and still sound like you were trying to be nice.)

“Lisa. Darling. It was Gevalia because I remember thinking about Todd B. when I saw the package.” (Todd B. was a college friend who drank Gevalia constantly.)

“Luke. Snookums. It was Godiva because I remember thinking ‘chocolate’ when I saw the package. Okay? Love ya.”

“Lisa. It was Vanilla Gevalia. And I’m willing to bet on it.”

“Luke. It was chocolate Godiva and you are stinkin’ on! BRING IT, Preacher Man!”

 

The girls in the office watched this spectacle with the zeal of being court side at Wimbledon. I’m certain nothing made them prouder of us as a ministry couple than when Luke wrote down both of our coffee guesses so we could have proof of who won the bet. Thankfully, he quit gambling long enough to go teach Bible Study while I got on the office computer to look up Sue’s blog to settle the wager. (No, I didn’t skip church. I work in the Awana office on Wednesday nights.)

And there in a beautiful golden package was a picture of GODIVA coffee but, unfortunately, the flavor wasn’t clear on the packaging. So at worst I was at least half right.

The minute Bible Study was over Luke barged into the office and said, “Well!? What kind was it?” After gloating because I was winning, we grabbed the kids and raced each other home to settle the score once and for all.

Because we are so mature like that. Definitely an inspiration to all in our church and community.

We got home, found the package and read the label together:

“Godiva Chocolatier: French Vanilla”

Shoot. Both of us only half right. We called a truce, hugged, and secretly enjoyed the fact we both had won.

Which leads me to the point of this tale: In relationships, it really is okay to only be a little correct. To accept black instead of white. To refrain from imposing night on another’s day. There is nothing that would have been more fun than to gloat  had I been completely right about the coffee but I can honestly say it was much more rewarding – not to mention age-appropriate – to be able to say, “We were both right.”

The Apostle Paul agreed when he wrote in Philippians 2:3-4:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

So what is to gain by yielding? I believe we can find an answer in Luke 14:10 – 11:
But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

And here is the divine paradox – the lower we go the higher we get. However, the exaltation we seek is not one that lords us over one another but instead seats us at the right hand of our Lord. This is also the spirit that will prevent our saying, “I told you so” even when we are in the right.

So I thank you, Sue. I’m certain you had no idea your contest would contribute to my spiritual life. I also have to thank the Apostle Paul. Something tells me he had no idea his inspired words would be used to settle a java smackdown between two servants who’d refused to tap out.

Which, I’m thinking, pretty much settles the argument over the relevancy of scripture in the 21st century.

Wouldn’t you agree?

The Outside

We recently bought the Need to Breathe CD, The Outsiders.  There are several songs I really love (Through Smoke!) but the title track has a postlude that resonates with me and I wonder if it will you, too.  It says,

On the outside,
You’re free to roam
On the outside
We found a home
On the outside
There’s more to see
On the outside
We choose to be

What I’m about to say may make no sense to anyone whatsoever but me, so I trust your forbearance until I have something more fun to share another day.

The past couple of years I’ve learned what it feels like to be on the D-List.  By that I mean there have been situations where I’ve been close enough to some Really Cool People to understand the perks and privileges Really Cool People are afforded and yet far enough away to not have any chance of being offered the same.  (And no, I don’t intend on elaborating any further than that.)  I’m being transparent here by saying that if I indulge my flesh, I can easily crave being a ‘somebody’ while equally believing the lie that I am a nobody.  Imagine the field day Satan has with that one.  Either a girl accepts the sentence of worthlessness or worse – decides to feverishly manipulate herself into a seat in which she was never invited to sit.    

This whole subject is hitting me afresh this week after a rejection of sorts.  I was forced to put myself out there in a way I was very uncomfortable with and was essentially sent away with a patronizing pat on the head.  I was reminded of who I am not and for a day or so, it really stung.  As in, I swore I would never take this kind of risk again, EVER, because who really wants to create a setup for insecurity when it’s so easy to go there without any help whatsoever? 

I’m reminded of Luke 14:8-11 and particularly love how it is worded in The Message:

7-9He went on to tell a story to the guests around the table. Noticing how each had tried to elbow into the place of honor, he said, “When someone invites you to dinner, don’t take the place of honor. Somebody more important than you might have been invited by the host. Then he’ll come and call out in front of everybody, ‘You’re in the wrong place. The place of honor belongs to this man.’ Red-faced, you’ll have to make your way to the very last table, the only place left.

 10-11“When you’re invited to dinner, go and sit at the last place. Then when the host comes he may very well say, ‘Friend, come up to the front.’ That will give the dinner guests something to talk about! What I’m saying is, If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

But if you are content to be yourself, you will become more than yourself.  Oh, how I love that. 

While I’ve processed the reality of not being worthy of being honored by this one particular ‘host’, the Lord has tenderly reminded me that I’m really more free without the restrictions that seat would force upon me.  At first I was tempted to bemoan not being considered ‘important’ enough.   I’ve instead come to realize that it is my choice to be not only content but happily make my home in this circle of influence Christ has marked out for me.  If there is to be a lane change, it has to be because He created a place of more effective ministry elsewhere and not because I elbowed my way into it.  What occurs to me about lanes is that the moves are always out – not up.  Even the Lord in his imagery never condoned our tendencies for ‘climbing the ladder’.  I believe He is more about accomplishing immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine horizontally rather than vertically.  As for the here and now, I am blessed – we are all blessed – with people all around us who love, need, appreciate, and adore the women we are – not the ones we imagine we want to be.

And not only that.  I’m pretty confident that many of the Perk and Privilege Crowd would be devastated to think that anyone would be embittered because they are simply trying to steward the seat to which they’ve been assigned.  What’s more, many of them have endured great heartache before garnering that status – a qualification not one of us would dare envy.  Perhaps they have just been so faithful in their God-given tasks that they deserve the better view.  {Yet another issue women face:  we want the reward without the work.}  And who knows the motivations behind the ones who deny us for other reasons, but I do know that if God has a plan for us (and He always does!) then no lack of popularity or excess of politics can keep us from it.  Imagine what happy women we would be be if we determined to enjoy our assignments rather than letting those green-eyed monsters of jealously and pride rob us of enjoying the company of delightful dinner companions sharing the same section of the table.   

So I’ve resolved the matter (for myself  if no one else) by coming to this conclusion:  None of us has nor ever will be held back from any place the Father has ordained for us.  Rather, I am persuaded we will always be lovingly and strategically placed.  We can either choose to dwell in rejection when we try to attain more than what we’ve been sovereignly given or receive our lots with the honor Our Host intended to bestow. 

Knowing this, may we all be become ‘more than ourselves’ by cheerfully choosing and comfortably roaming on  The Outside.

The Purging of the Blowfish

It never ceases to shock me when the Lord bursts through the words of Scripture to let me know that He sees me.  That He knows exactly where I am and that He has joined together with me in that place to reveal some small piece of Himself to His listening child. 

While were in Florida last week I took my Daily Light onto the patio to pray for a while.  I’ve talked to you before about this book but it is basically a Morning and Evening devo consisting of groupings of topical scriptures.   I could barely take my eyes off the ocean because it was uncharacteristically rough after a day of storms.  In fact, the double red flags were out warning swimmers to stay out of the water.  Before I opened to the day’s reading, I already had in mind the many places in the Word that speak of the Lord holding the oceans in the hollow of His hand and how He had set boundaries for them. 

So, it shouldn’t have been any surprise when one of the first scriptures for that day read, by no accident I’m certain, the following:

27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
       when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,

 28 when he established the clouds above
       and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,

 29 when he gave the sea its boundary
       so the waters would not overstep his command,
       and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.

 30 Then I was the craftsman at his side.
       I was filled with delight day after day,
       rejoicing always in his presence,

 31 rejoicing in his whole world
       and delighting in mankind.

~Proverbs 8:27-31

 

These verses are spoken from the mouth of Wisdom – she who beckons us to seek her as we would gold.  I’ve never quite resonated with that thought because I don’t consider myself a gold-seeker.  In an attempt to attach some relevance, I replaced gold with things in my life I perceived as valuable only to find I had sought them in ignorance when disappointed in the end.  Looking at it this way forces me to evaluate the mental energy I spend on vain pursuits and either just stop it or make certain that I spend that much effort or more on the seeking of sweet sophia.  

 The thing that occurred to me while watching those waves is this:  The Lord never promised our own personal seas wouldn’t rage, He just said they would not ‘overstep His command’.  I know nothing of oceanography but it doesn’t take a marine biologist to know that a tempest produces a cleansing.   To prove the point, when we walked the beach after the rains we strolled upon a dead blow fish.  Even in its lifeless state it was cute as can be.  Cute but deadly.  Blow fish are highly poisonous and no number of Nemo movies depicting them as harmless aquarium pets will change that fact.  

Girls, there are times when the Lord is obliged to work with hurricane force.  I have to be honest and say there are days when I want to ask Him to lay off for just a minute.  For just a stinkin’ minute.  But the thing is, we all have blowfish of Arrogance, Unforgiveness, Unfaithfulness, and/or Attitude (just to name a few) that He means to purge from the depths of our hearts.  We may not even realize they are there until He shakes things up a bit and brings them to the surface.   The seemingly innocent things He brings to mind may even seem cute and harmless until He gives us eyes to see them for the poison they are. 

The day before we left Florida the double red flags were taken down.  The cleansing was over, the calm had come.   No matter how high and hard those waves roared they could go no farther for no longer than the Lord ordained.  What I noticed then was the most beautiful thing – a rim of crystal clear transparency where only the previous day had churned all manner of debris.  No poisonous critters –  just peace.

No matter the state of the ocean, underneath there runs a current of Wisdom driven by the Father who delights when His children see and understand.  Here’s praying we’ll be women who aren’t slow to get it.

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