Jessie again with a devotion from earlier this year in the Chat:
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90:12
I got an email this week from someone who talked about how the Christian themes in my books were a blessing to her and how they’ve helped her. Then she asked me, “Do you start a book knowing what Christian themes you’re going to include?”
The answer to her question is that most of the time, no. God just takes the mess of my story and makes something out of it that can challenge people and bless them.
But I read something last week that really stuck with me and I do have a sentence written across the top of the page where I have my new book outlined. It says:
Who will be in Heaven because of me?
Maybe that question is less for my story and more for me. I have a tendency to do that. Write down things I know I need to work on.
Do my actions point people toward Jesus? Do I show people that I love and care about them – do I give my time and resources, and not just lip service, to helping others?
Sometimes I get complacent. I feel like I try as hard as I can to do everything I can for the people God has placed in my life – my family, my friends, people I work with. Those people are my ministries. I haven’t been called to be a missionary to go to the ends of the earth to find people to serve. I have people right here, whose lives I touch every day, and I feel like I give my heart and soul, sacrificing free time and sleep and recreation in order to have time to do my very best for those people.
Sometimes I think I’m doing okay.
But I know I could do more. Why don’t I?
Sometimes God shakes us up a little.
I’ve been in inner city Pittsburgh for what feels like forever. I want to say I hate it here. I miss my family. My fields and farm and flowers, the rhythm of nature as God created it, the animals and the beauty and joy and new birth of spring in the country.
But I look around here and I see people everywhere – people God has put in my path – and I wonder what am I doing to show those people my Savior?
Do I care that they may slip into eternity, fall into hell, and I spent an entire month living beside them and they looked at me but never saw Jesus because I was too busy feeling sad and depressed and focused on my own problems and issues? Do I look at every person I meet as someone who will spend eternity in hell unless someone – unless I – show them Jesus?
When Jesus “hung out” with people, they left his presence changed.
Blind men left with their sight restored. Lame men walked. Dead men were brought back to life and sinners were convicted and converted.
Jesus changed people.
You can’t spend time with Jesus and not become a different person.
A “Christian” is a Little Christ. I’m supposed to be like Jesus. When people spent time with Jesus they changed. They became better people.
What happens when people spend time with me?
Everywhere Jesus went He left in His wake people whose lives would never be the same.
I’m not beautiful. I don’t have a dynamic personality. I’m easy to overlook, brush aside and I’m very forgettable.
Funny thing is, I serve an unforgettable God.
People don’t need to see me, they just need to see Jesus in me. And I need to be willing to stop looking at this period in my life as something I want to get through as fast as I can – and getting out of it would be even better – and allow God to use me where He’s placed me.
This week my daughter-in-law came home. It was obvious she’d been given some hard news. She explained to me what the doctors had told her. That the timeline that had been extended from two weeks to a month to two months could be extended again for up to a year.
Her son could be in the NICU in Pittsburgh for a year.
I wasn’t scared. I’m not worried and I haven’t been. I’m totally down for whatever God does. Of course I have a way I want things to turn out, but if they don’t, I trust Him still.
But I sat on the couch with her and sucked up my self-pity and my intense longing to go home – because I know even though she has steadily done exactly what she has needed to do and has never complained, she must want to be out of this oppressive city and to go home so much more than I do – and tried to be an adult, offering comfort and looking at this through God’s eyes and thinking about His plan.
We chatted for a bit. Well, for several hours, and as the conversation developed, my dil said, “This just must be part of my son’s story. Whatever he’s going to do in his life, God needs him to have this story, either for his benefit, or to benefit the people around him.”
I love my dil so much. She’s so much wiser than I was when I was her age. That was a great thought and a wonderful way to look at it and we talked along those lines for a while.
Then I looked at her and said, “Maybe there are people in that hospital who need you. Need to see Jesus in you.”
And of course, as I’m saying that, I’m convicted, because maybe there are people HERE – where I am, at this place where I don’t want to be – who need ME, to see Jesus in me. And so I said that to her, too, and we laughed some, because it’s always our first instinct to point out what someone else should be doing and not think about what we should be doing.
The concepts of Christianity are simple. But the execution is extraordinarily difficult.
So, once I know what I should be doing…am I going to get up, out of my comfortable misery, and do something? What can I do?
I can beat people over the head with my Bible, but that’s probably not going to convince anyone of anything, other than what my family has suspected for years, that maybe I really should have a permanent room in the psych ward.
I’m not a great speaker or anything, but I can use words to tell them facts.
But, ultimately, it’s my walk that’s going to show them Jesus. If I’m different than the rest of the world – because I’ve been with Jesus and am following him – if I’m willing for God to use me, even if it means I’m not where I want to be, then maybe when I leave this city, I’ll leave some changed lives behind me.
Maybe, my own life will be changed.
I can see forty-seven houses from my front porch.
Who will be in Heaven because of me?
Thanks so much for spending time with me today!
Hugs and blessings!