When God "Pushes" Us!

This week we celebrated my nieces 12th birthday. She sat at the piano and played a lovely tune as the memories began to flood back to when I was her age. Back then, I was hitting Jr. High, and had been taking piano for about 4 years. Being in a small church, I was also helping out playing for our worship. I didn't mind the small, intimate group of people listening to me play. It was easy and comfortable for me, since I had known them all for so many years.

Since I was in Jr. High, I was able to be apart of the Jr. High choir. I was excited to sing with such a large group of people. One day I was called into the instructors office. It turned out that one of the ladies from my church had told him that I played piano well. He quickly asked me to start playing for the group. I said yes, but felt dragged into it since I knew they needed pianists. I didn't feel ready for that challenge. I began to play for not only the large singing group, but in front of the large crowds of parents at all the musical events. As I grew older, I was asked to play and sing for Girls Glee and eventually did both for Swing choir.

Thinking back on my life, I began to realize that most of my accomplishments were achieved after someone "pushed" me into it. I felt pushed into playing piano for the school and ended up playing for almost all of the choirs. I was "pushed" into trying out for the singing group in college and was not only asked to sing, but to play piano and to be the team leader.

I began to realize that even though I don't enjoy being "pushed" by people, or by God, that if there weren't people along the way to encourage me, I would have never accomplished the things I did. Being "pushed" and "stretched" is so uncomfortable at the time. We can become overwhelmed with fear or the instant doubt can set in. If we get past those feelings and begin to pray about what God "pushes" us into, then He can use us in a way far bigger than we could ever imagine.

My son has been taking drum lessons since he was in first grade. He was comfortable just playing at home with the family and wasn't ready to do more. The worship leaders asked if he would be willing to start to play with them. The "pushing" and "stretching" began. He didn't want to do it. He was nervous and it wasn't what "HE" had in mind. He said he wasn't ready, and yet God was ready for him to keep moving forward. The first practice, I had to practically "push" him into the building. That same day, he came out with a smile so big and he told me how he loved it. He is now not only helping with the main worship, he has played in youth worship, and has been asked to play drums for another small ensemble. He hated being "pushed" at the time, but he sure loves where he is at today.

Let's remember that if we are not moving forward we are standing still, or worse, moving backwards. God wants us to continue to grow in all the talents that He has given us. If you are feeling "pushed" and "stretched", be encouraged that God thinks highly of you, believes in you, and wants the best from you.

Psalm 32:8 "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you."


Give and it Shall Be Given to You!

Selfishness: We all have it buried deep inside us. We like to have things done our way and be in control. We also want to keep "our" things that we have earned, and seem to have a tough time sharing them with others. As a child, one of the first words we learn is "MINE!" We take what we can, struggle with learning the words "Thank-you", and run off with the toys of others, because we feel we should have those too! As we grow a little older, we start to learn about sharing, but it still becomes difficult. We are now at a point where we earn what we get. We work long, hard hours for the few priceless dollars we receive. We save for the "precious" things that mean so much to us and keep them safe along side us. If God asked you to give up or share those precious things, would you?

Those of us that have kids, know what's it's like to give up your life and money, for someone else. Once you have kids, nothing is your own. You no longer sleep when you choose, good luck eating hot food, because by the time you feed everyone else, your food is cold. Your once somewhat lucrative paycheck has now dwindled down to buying extra food, toys, and minivans. As your children grow older, different things take priority. You now have to think about getting them a car, paying for their college, and eventually a wedding.

My son has recently started understanding the meaning of selfishness. On one hand, he's a teen, who wants to earn his own money and buy his own things. On the other hand, he is still too young for a real job, and obviously still relies on us for all his needs to be fulfilled. He has started mowing lawns for the summer to earn extra cash, and has now discovered the love of independence. Along with this comes the responsibility of understanding and finding the balance of "give" and "keep". I recently saw him take some of his hard earned money out of his pocket and give it to a friend so they could get some food at the pool. I later asked him about it, and he said that one day when he was at the pool with no money, he had a good friend just give him money for a snack. This friend didn't ask for anything in return and freely gave it. At that moment, he understood true giving. His friend truly cared about him, was having a great time, and wanted to share what he had. He also began to realize that this friend was like that every time he saw him. He was always ready to share everything he had. In turn, my son wanted to be like him.

Knowing I wanted to take this opportunity, I began to share with my son about how God wants us to give and shared the verse Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Not fully understanding what this meant, I described it to him, as I only I can, with an example of brown sugar. When I bake cookies, I don't take the brown sugar, lightly dump it into the cup, and put it in the bowl. I put the cup deep inside the bag, pressing in the sugar over and over until no more can be contained in that cup. It is the same with giving. When you give with a tight fist, you are not truly giving. You are secretly wishing you didn't have to give, and you feel that you could do something better with it. After you give it, you don't feel good, you feel angry and frustrated. But, when you freely give, with your whole heart, you feel a sense of joy. Not only does God fill you with a little, he pours it into your heart until it overflows. He packs that sugar in as tight as He can until there's no place left! After describing this image to my son, a day later he was doing his devotions and it was on the exact same subject with the exact same verse. With a big smile, he walks over and shares what he had learned. How amazing it was for me to see my son realize the true blessings of God. It brought me to tears.

I know times are hard, the economy is bad, jobs are few, and money is barely there. I also know that my GOD is big, and owns all that there is. He shares this world with me, gives me all that I have, wants to bless me and all His children. As a parent spends all their time, energy, and money on their children to give them the things they need, God wants to do the same for us. He gives it freely, because He loves us. Let us not be selfish and hold on to what we have, but let's share it with others. You may not have much, but God can multiply it and bless it. He will also bless you for your faithfulness!

God's amazing protection!

Continuing on with my stories of miracles and protection, I want to take you back to when I was just a young child. My father was a farmer, but to make ends meet, he also worked in our nearby small town. One day he climbed up a ladder that was on the outside of a very tall grain elevator. At the top was a lid that he had to lift, but it was pretty far away from where he was. As he began to reach for this lid, he began to realize that the ladder was no longer attached to the building. As if in slow motion, he saw the ladder start to move away for the building, as his body started falling backwards. My father frantically looked for something, anything to grab onto, but everything was smooth and there was no place to get his grip. As he saw the building move farther away from his grasp, he felt two hands, placed on the small of his back, and he and the ladder were pushed back up to the side of the building. Shocked, stunned and speechless, God had just saved him from death! I am so thankful for God's protection for my father and that he is alive to be with us today!

Psalm 91:3 "He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers..."