If you read my last post, then you know how Wednesday, 2/4/15, started. Well, let me tell you how that day ended…
After work, I went to a charity social sponsored by the Atlanta United Way. “Charity social” could, of course, be called “cocktails for a cause.” I’ve got no problems reconciling interest and duty, in case you’re wondering.
This event had about 150 guests in attendance, so both space and hors d’oeuvres were at a premium. I was making my way among the crowd, shaking hands, kissing babies, and reminding people to vote early and often. (Don’t worry, I’ll be relieved of my smugness soon…)
As I tried to squeeze in between a few groups, I became “that guy” and bumped into a waiter carrying a tray of drinks – FULL of drinks – who was, at the very moment, standing over a table of people…including one very unlucky young lady.
All of the drinks…spilled…all over her. I don’t mean a glass of wine in her lap. Think of the frat house “trash can punch” version of an ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge.” It was not as bad as you’re imagining it. It was worse.
It’s entirely possible Crayola will name a crayon after me and how I looked in the aftermath – “Fred Red.” I apologized over and over, gave the poor girl my business card, asked her to let me pay for her dry cleaning bill, then made like a tree. When you are “that guy,” you don’t stick around and see how much worse it can get.
(Note: As of this post’s publication, the unfortunate recipient of my clumsiness has not contacted me.)
I slept hard that night, having been shaken this way and that by my emotions, the ups and downs that the day brought. Mostly, I just wanted to put SpillGate behind me.
God had other ideas.
The next two days (February 5th and 6th) of readings from My Utmost for His Highest are a two-part series entitled “Are you ready to be poured out as an offering?”
Pouring, huh? Nice one, God. Not going to let me forget what happened, are you?
Both entries are as spiritually sobering (see what I did there?) as you might expect. Here are some examples:
Are you willing to sacrifice yourself for the work of another believer—to pour out your life sacrificially for the ministry and faith of others? Or do you say, “I am not willing to be poured out right now, and I don’t want God to tell me how to serve Him….
Tell God you are ready to be offered as a sacrifice for Him. Then accept the consequences as they come, without any complaints, in spite of what God may send your way.
Immediately my mind jumps to the new small group Bible study that I’m part of, and to the Starting Point group (kind of like a faith inquiry-type thing) that I’m helping to lead at church, and to other people that I just know God has brought into my life right now.
Suddenly it all makes sense. I felt like the “inner circle” of disciples who were with Jesus during His transfiguration, as recorded in Matthew 17:
1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
Me: “Yes, God! I get it! That whole spilling thing last night, yeah that was rough, and I feel bad for that girl, but that was a sign, wasn’t it?? You’ve got something for me to do, so let’s do this! You and me, God!”
And then: “Wait…what’s that, God? Oh, there are more verses in the story?”
5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
Oh. So Peter kind of missed the point. And so did I.
Actually, I think it is “points,” plural, and they are as follows:
1. In my rush to want to “serve God,” I’m ignoring God Himself, and what He wants to teach me. It’s as though He is saying: “Don’t be so concerned with ‘doing something,’ just be still. Listen. Pay attention. If you’re really doing that, then rest assured you won’t miss any opportunities to do what I want you to do for me.”
Noted. Though probably not to the extent it should be.
2. We cannot stay on the figurative spiritual mountaintops of our lives. We do – and, as Christ-followers, must – live in the Valley, among the widows and the orphans, and with the lost and downtrodden and angry and the hurt. That is life. It’s not life that I’ve experienced, and I won’t pretend otherwise. But it is life that (likely) a majority of people in this world know.
The “transfigured” moments are special, and exist for our encouragement. God uses those times to “fill our cups to overflowing,” so that He may pour them out – pour us out, pour me out – in the times and ways He chooses.
Spilling is an accident – trust me, I know. Pouring is on purpose, and must be done in a measured, even timely, way. It is an act of will. And not my will, but God’s. Not in my way, but His.
The questions I’m praying my way through are:
• Do I believe that God can and will be everything and more that I can ever need and even desire? That even those “transfigured” moments are merely peaks on a mountain with no summit?
• Will I obey God, consistently, with no expectation of “reward” and even when those peaks are far behind me and with the next one out of sight?
Said another way: Can I reconcile God’s promise of perfect love with the knowledge that I must live in complete uncertainty of what He has planned for me?
I am, and always will be, afraid of the unknown and what seems to be out of my control. I will be weak from being poured out. I will be shamed by my failures – my “spills.”
But Jesus will be standing right there in front of me. Will I see Him? He will tell me to get up, and not to be afraid. Will I listen?