Has it ever seemed to you that Jesus was asking you to step up and step out of your comfort zone so that He could use you to show His love to someone, even when it was REALLY hard? I’ve had many moments like that over the past year, and the most difficult one began a year ago this very week, as I write this. (Today is one year since the time I first saw my father in the hospital prior to his passing away a couple of weeks later.)
In John 15:13 (NIV), Jesus said “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Surely, He was speaking of Himself, and what He was about to do for his friends, in going to the Cross on their behalf. He was also asking them to do likewise for each other.
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Building the Temple
I was recently reading in 2 Chronicles 4:11-19 about Solomon, the “Son of David”, as the Bible recounts how he built the Temple. It struck me that the Bible specifically says Solomon “built” the temple and that he “made” all the things required. Yet, in the same passage it recounts the name of the person who did the actual WORK (that is, Huram-Abi). Also, there were perhaps slaves and servants who accomplished much of what eventually became the temple that SOLOMON “built”.
It called to mind a couple of things. First, that Jesus is the true “Son of David” Who built and is building the true “Temple” (1 Cor 3:9-17 speaks of us being God’s building and God’s Temple jointly as His Church, and 1 Cor 6:19 speaks of us individually being His Temple because His Spirit resides in each of us, His children).
Second, it reminds me of Luke 7:3-10 when the Centurian sent some of the Jewish elders to Jesus to have Him come heal his servant. While Jesus was on the way, the Centurian sent people to say that He didn’t need to actually come to him, but only needed to “say the word”, because he knew his servant would be healed. His faith amazed Jesus when (in verse 8) he said “For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
I imagine that there were many tasks and duties for that Centurian and his servants that caused them to step way out of their comfort zones repeatedly, and they did it as men “under authority”.
In Romans 6:18 (NIV), Paul says “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness”. We Christians are (love) slaves, servants and even more profoundly, “friends” of Christ. As it says in the passage about “greater love”, He says (in John 15:12) “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” And a little later in verse 15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
Out of the Comfort Zone
Last year, I had begun a journey outside my comfort zone, and then repeatedly had such opportunities all year. But none of it was about MY comfort. It was all about doing His bidding as His servant (and friend), responding to His call when He said “Go”, “Come” or “Do this”. Was is scary? Yes. Was it WAY beyond my ability? Yes. Was it true, right, beautiful and effective at doing a part of accomplishing His will? I certainly hope so.
Last year, it was NOT an easy decision to drive up to Cape Cod ALONE to go help my father recover from what had landed him in the hospital. But I was NOT alone (and Jesus continually reminded me of that) over the next trying weeks, as it became more and more apparent that my father was NOT going to recover, as we had all hoped.
Later in the year, in August, an eerily similar decision had to be made, whether to go ALONE again to Florida to help care for my mother and step-father. In both situations, my response to the Lord was “I CAN’T do this”! Yet His response to me was that by His grace, I WOULD do it. And thankfully, He had the final say. Frequently, this phrase echoed in my heart: “Greater love … greater love … greater love.”
Working Things Together
I have written quite a bit about those two situations over the past year. In wrapping it all up, I look back with my own amazement at all that God has done in and through these difficult seasons. Romans 8:28 (NIV) is a frequently quoted and poignant verse that says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.
People often leave out that last part about being CALLED according to HIS PURPOSE. Yes, His purposes often call for us to step OUT of the boat, out of our comfort zone, so He can empower us to do HIS WILL. That notion was a TANGIBLE feeling for those weeks spent ministering to my family members and sharing in that love. Jesus’ presence was like sweet, refreshing air to the lungs of a woman about to drown in difficulty.
Over this year, things have begun coming to fruition that had been on the back burner of life for me, in some instances only a distant vision or hope. And He used the VERY difficulties above to be the catalyst and foundation.
In order not to become bitter over the circumstances of my father’s passing, I began to blog again after many years, and named the blog “Manna From My Father’s Hand“. Those entries were at the beginning of a blog that has gone on over the year, and continues right up until today as I write this. Now, it is focused on sharing good words from Jesus, in an effort to build up the Body of Christ (His Temple … hmmmm).
After resisting joining social media for YEARS, I joined a very private platform (which was quite a blessing to me personally, until I later left after they began changing their terms.) But that season gave me such support when I went down to care for Mom in August. AND, while I was in Florida, I started the website that serves now as a hub of all my new content (manna.shiningriver.com).
More recently, I’ve been adding more videos and even livestreaming to my youtube channel. And most surprising (and again, way outside my comfort zone), I FINALLY joined Facebook, because that’s where most of my loved ones interact, and because a friend asked if I’d join so that we might do joint livestreaming there.
Over this year, I also began a more focused and regular newsletter, in order to stay in touch with people who actually WANT to see my content (you can join at manna.shiningriver.com/newsletter).
All of this new content is created with the desire to draw hearts unto Jesus, and as His servant (and friend), to do my part to be His hands and feet in building His temple. Has any of it been easy? Well, not most of it, for sure. Has it been worth it? I pray that it is worth it for Him, because that is the only thing that matters in the end, hearing Him say “well done, good and faithful servant.” In the end, He is the One who is building the Temple. And a glorious Temple it is and will be.
What a profound blessing to know that He joyfully calls us to “Go”, “Come” or “Do this”, almost with a wink and a nod, as we say “but I CAN’T…” and He says, “That’s right little one. You’re going to need Me for this. Are you ready?”
So I ask again, has He ever called you out of your comfort zone to be His hands and feet to help Him love someone who’s unlovely, to build up a brother or sister in Christ, to pour your efforts into His Church? Next time you hear yourself say to Him “but I CAN’T”, listen up as He lets you know that HE CAN! “Greater love … greater love … greater love.”