If I measure me against me,
I could be six foot three.
If I measure me against YOU,
I’m not even two foot two!
So, who do I use?
What feet do I choose?
Who carries my blues?
Who walks in my shoes?
“No one,” You say?
God took His soft clay
And molded a shape –
Unique! Full of play!
God gifted your soul
Full of treasure untold.
Then He threw out the mold.
You’re more precious than gold.
Who do I measure myself against then?
Do I look at my friends, compare me with them?
“No one,” God smiles. “I’ll say it again,
You’re a unique, one-of-a-kind gem!”
My confession, admission, and plea to God today is this:
None of us lives to just self alone;
Each of us lives for the other.
Whatever we do, be it rosy or blue,
Reflects on our sister and brother.
None of us sits on the judgment seat.
We’re not assigned to decide
If someone’s dull or bright, wrong or right,
Sending them to a corner to hide.
None of us lives a faultless life,
Though we try our utmost to seek
The humble hill to fulfill Your will
In our deeds and the words we speak.
We stumble and fall and fail to be
Examples of the upright and strong.
Try as we may, we know that someday
We’ll have to account for each wrong.
We’ll each have to stand before Your judgment seat
And review how we’ve spent every minute.
So, Lord, help us give every day that we live
All the love and the grace You put in it.
Help us to generously welcome all
To be part of whatever we do.
None of us lives to ourselves alone;
We always reflect on You.
Our resident bluebirds sit on their box and preen. They flit to a nearby branch and soak in the springtime. His blue feathers are brilliant in the early morning sunshine. Hers are more subdued. Look closely, she has blue plumage tucked in there, too. I love them. It’s wonderful to watch their nest building process and to anticipate their box filled with tiny blue eggs. The promise of new life always excites me.
But the swallows? Why do they dive-bomb the happy couple? Why do they try to steal the box? Go find a home of your own, swallows! We built this one for the bluebirds.
Is my attitude toward the swallows indicative of other phases of my life? It’s easy to love the ones for whom we have prepared a place, the ones we are expecting, the beautiful people in our lives – blue-plumed, graceful, promising new life. But what about life’s swallows? The gray and dismal creatures who are so needy they seem to suck life out of things, take life from others, dive-bomb our tranquility with their uninvited presence, contribute nothing in return – what about them? Can I love the swallows? Should I?
All of my son’s four children have been home schooled. They are precious angels, sent to us from Heaven for sure! Unable to give birth to biological children, my dear son and his wife found adoption was their calling. It has not been an easy route, but parenting never is! All children come with “their own baggage” – but if we choose to adopt, sometimes the “baggage” – not of our own making – can be especially challenging. In the case of our two oldest grandchildren, their biological mother took drugs and drank alcohol while she carried them. As a result, some brain and physiological damage occurred. Overcoming some of the obstacles to learning has taken all the skill, love, talent, and patience the children and their adoptive parents could muster. My oldest granddaughter just graduated from high school. I was so proud of her as she prepared for and delivered her speech thanking her family, friends, and teachers for their love and support. Each graduate was asked to tell what they plan to do next with their life. Most told what college they would attend. When my granddaughter said, “I have applied to join the Navy,” there was an audible gasp in the audience. Hmmm…. why the gasp? Let’s think about our military. Let’s ask ourselves why – with all the perks it offers to our young people – many do not see it as a viable option. Traditional college is not for everyone. The Navy may be just the route my granddaughter needs in order to move forward with her life. Don’t gasp, folks. Applaud!!
Who is the neighbor you find the most challenging? It’s not the one who loves you back. It’s not the one who reciprocates with a meal invitation or the one who waters your plants for you when you’re off on a trip. It’s not the neighbor across the state or the country or the world who sends you a Christmas card or calls you once a year. It’s the one who doesn’t love you back. The one who doesn’t reciprocate. The one who doesn’t seem to know how to reach out to others. The one who needs us to love them the most – expecting (and receiving) nothing in return. Do you have such a neighbor? How do we love THAT neighbor?? I Cor.13:4-7 tells me how (In Eugene Peterson’s “The Message”).
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
When I love my neighbors with THAT kind of love, keeping my ears tuned to God, asking for God’s help discerning the best way to help THAT neighbor, then I can be sensitive and listen with my heart. I can give while preserving the dignity of the recipient. I can try to deliver to THAT neighbor a much-needed touch of God’s grace.
Most gracious God, who gives me enough grace to feel it overflowing, teach me to share. Help me love THAT neighbor Your Way.