Thursday, May 8, 2014

Great Gift

 “Naked I came from my mother’s womb; naked I will return there. The Lord has given; the Lord has taken; bless the Lord’s name.” Job 1:21

On July 7, 2013 I was given a great gift. I was given the gift of terminal cancer. What this gift allows to do is to speak in a rather unfiltered way about the importance of living and dying!

Most people would not see this as a gift but as a curse. But how you view this kind of situation is totally dependent upon your perspective of life. If you believe that you were entitled to certain things, that because of your zip code or class setting you are owed something, then when you were hit with such a devastating diagnosis you crumble under the weight of the curse. On the other hand if you believe that everything in your life is a gift, that even this kind of news could bring hope to the world, then you could view terminal illness as a gift. Once you change that perspective you can begin to trust that there is something,  even in this pain and difficulty, that God can use to help the world be a better place. 

One of the great life lessons I am learning is this: you entered the world empty-handed and you leave this world empty-handed, and no one owes you anything in the between times. 

Somewhere along the line we have decided that we are entitled to good things in life. We believe that we're entitled because God has blessed us by allowing us to be born in a country where wealth and privilege run rampant. In a world were nearly half the population lives on less than two US dollars per day we measure our entire self-worth by the things that we accumulate, the money we spend, and what we have in our trust funds. We have grown to believe that we are entitled to the best things in the world. We consume more per capita than any other nation on earth. 

Rather than be "entitled" I am afraid that the contrary might be true. That the child born to an AIDS infected father and an impoverished mother in sub-Saharan Africa maybe actually more worthy of God's grace than I am. You see the Scriptures are fairly clear that it is harder for a man or a woman who has considerable wealth to enter into heaven than it is for a camel to go through the eye of the needle. The poorest of us is still far wealthier than most of the worlds population. The eye of the needle is awfully small. When you go through the eye, you won't be taking anything with you.

Consider this, everything you have is a gift that someone else gave you. Oh you think you may have earned it but if you end of the day it was not by your own efforts that you were allowed to live in the home where you were raised, given the education that was provided for you, or even your first job. Doors were open to you based upon the color of your skin, the relationships of your parents, or just by being in the right place at the right time. Opportunity was all around you, often thrust upon you, you just had to open your hands and receive it. 

When I was lying on my back in severe pain due to my cancer attack, at that moment nothing that I had ever accumulated, no amount of money I had ever earned, no gift that I had ever received really mattered. All that mattered was the grace that God would give me to deal with the pain. Grace is the unmerited, undeserved, and unlimited love of God. I believe that God wants us to live our lives with hands and hearts up, open, and empty ready to receive whatever He sends to us. When we have received we then hold onto it loosely because everything God gives God encourages us to one day release. 

What is it that God is calling you to receive? What is it God is calling you to release? Let us live like those who know we are really full hearted and empty handed. Then even in the middle of our darkest night and harshest suffering we can say like Job, "Bless be the name of the Lord." I remain,

Consumed by the Call, 

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