What Am I Doing?

God’s timing is not my timing. Frankly, I don’t know what God’s calendar looks like. I don’t have access to it via a supernatural internet portal. I do know that none of us are promised tomorrow. Perhaps that’s why Scripture encourages us not to worry about yesterday’s spilled milk. Yesterday is done and gone. There’s no do-over in life; only repentance and forgiveness.

Having placed our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we make a conscious effort to turn the course of our life around. We commit to living differently today than we did yesterday. We strive to be kinder, gentler, and humbler.  We submit to God’s will and His plan and are grateful that it includes us in any way, shape, or form. We strive to be more faithful.

We don’t deserve to be included in God’s plan. Grace and mercy aren’t spiritual entitlements. Yet, God freely offers us grace and mercy. We can’t earn them. We can only receive them and having received God’s gift we can only pass it on so that others might know the reason for our new-found optimism. Being redeemed, we desire to imitate and model Christ so that other’s can see the light of life that shines in us because of Him.

We don’t know what the future holds either. Life is truly but a vapor, just like Scripture teaches us it is. We’re here one minute and gone the next. If the last several days have taught me anything it’s to cherish every moment. Love God. Love others. Better.  Deeper. Stronger.

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:30-31 (ESV)

Our pastor, Jeff Miller, captured many of our thoughts accurately when he delivered the sermon Sunday. Our hurting, grieving congregation screamed at God from the depth of our collective souls “What are you doing?” Reeling with inexplicable pain that crushed our hearts last week, we were hurt, angry, frustrated, and confused due to the completely unexpected passing of our beloved friend and Worship Pastor. We felt blindsided. We were caught off guard. But we know at the end of the day God is still good. Indeed, God is good all the time and all the time God is good; even in our heartache. He is still worthy of our trust. He is still faithful. Therefore, my focus shifts. It’s not “God, what are you doing?” that I need to ask but in clear view of experiencing a life lived well, I must ask a different question.  What am I doing? That’s the question now.

From the ashes beauty will rise just as in the darkness a light continues to shine.

As I mentioned earlier, it starts with loving God and loving others better, deeper, and more strongly than I did before God called my dear friend home. The guest speaker at Mark’s funeral was right; the world was better with Mark Walton Jones in it. But God called Mark home. Our friend is now celebrating in Heaven. Mark’s work here on Earth is complete. Mine remains unfinished, incomplete. I still have work to do. So do you.

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In the days ahead, I pray and hope to share the Gospel more boldly, more readily, and more frequently than ever before. I pray and hope that my words minister to those who are still lost and lonely and those who feel they are the last and the least in this often times grim world we inhabit. I pray that I can write a story that glorifies God and reaches people for the Kingdom. I hope that I can shine at least a fraction of the light my friend shone in his brief time here on Planet Earth.

As I ask God what He is doing, I have no choice but to look in the mirror and challenge myself and ask, “What am I doing?”

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We are not promised tomorrow. We only know tomorrow will come. We do not know when Christ will return. We only know that He will return.

In the meantime, ask…

What am I doing?

Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”

Mark 12:29-31 The Message

More God, Less Me

Keeping life simple is a key ingredient in the recipe of recovery. Sobriety—not using or doing that thing that makes your life unmanageable—depends on living a life marked with gratitude and humility. There is no room for boasting or making much of myself. Life can’t be all about me.

Rather, life today is more about others. How am I impacting the people God has placed in my circle of influence? I try to go about this quietly, avoiding drawing attention to myself. By nature, for a variety of reasons (including ego) minimizing my efforts proves to be challenging for myself at times.

He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you

       but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

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You’ve all encountered the drunken braggarts at the local bar. Our fish tale keeps growing more preposterous with each rendition. Our hey-look-at-me circus builds into an explosive rant-filled dance begging for the spotlight to shine on us longer and brighter. Braggadocio is the life recovery calls us to leave behind. We no longer look to shine the light on ourselves but strive to build up others, helping them be all God intended them to be. We know that the Lord has a plan and that plan does not mean to do us harm. We are His servants, no longer slaves to our addictions, free to let God’s light shine through us, so that He may be glorified, not ourselves; so that others might benefit, not us alone.

We maximize God and lessen ourselves. We lift up others without highly regarding ourselves. We do it for the love of God and the love for others.

We recognize that we are lucky to be alive and whatever life we have is grand. Ours is a grace adventure, basking with gratitude and walking in humility.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5

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Otherwise, our world is bound to come crashing down around us. We have to ensure we keep first things first, taking care to daily order our priorities. Life in recovery is, after all, a day by day endeavor. Our foundation, secured through our Savior, must be built on prayer and God’s Word if it is to stand. The Lord must grow in us, and we must make ourselves smaller to make room for Him. Who are we, after all, that God would concern Himself with us? Yet, we know God does. We must try to learn and understand His ways and His thoughts, so that we can make them ours, letting His light shine brightly through us. In recovery, our life becomes about God and others and less about us.

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” The Gospel of Mark 12:28-31