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Posts Tagged ‘Colossians 3:23-24’

(A new folk tale)

It was toward sundown when William the Potter shuffled into his humble cottage and shut the door using a little more force than necessary. With several grunts he peeled off his jacket and scarf. And once his outer clothing was hung on the hook beside the door, he heaved a great sigh.

His wife, Katherine, turned briefly from stirring the pot of stew that was simmering over the hearth fire.

 

daggett-house-main-room-2-fireplace-cooking

 

“Welcome home, William,” she remarked with a speck of sarcasm.

William didn’t notice her tone, as he was too wrapped up in his own gloomy thoughts.

“What’s wrong, dear?” she asked, then returned to the task at hand: scraping the sides of the stew pot so no bits would be burnt and wasted.

William wearily sat down at the rough-hewn table and began working off his heavy boots.

“I’m so tired, Katherine—tired of working with dreary, dusty clay all day, tired of making the same plain, serviceable containers—jug after ordinary jug. Pot after ordinary pot. Hour after agonizing hour.”

 

wheel-throwing-hands-on-clay1

 

One boot landed with a thump on the pine floor.

“So make something fanciful every now and then,” Katherine countered.

“But it’s the everyday pots, jugs and bowls that people buy.”

The second boot clumped beside the first.

“Oh, William, I am sorry. You must remember that your work is important. Without your pottery, how would the village store their water and grain, plant their herbs and flowers, or…serve their supper?” And Katherine placed in front of him one of his clay bowls, filled with savory stew.

“M-m-m,” responded William. “In my mind I know you are right, but my heart is no longer in it.”

The next day toward sundown, William again entered the cottage and shut the door with extra force. But this time, he didn’t even take off his coat and scarf before grabbing Katherine around the waist and swinging her in a tight circle, careful to avoid the table and fire.

“Katherine! Katherine!” he bellowed. “Such good news I have to tell you!”

She pushed against his shoulders. “William! For goodness’ sake, put me down! Whatever has gotten into you?”

“Oh, my dear, you will never guess my good fortune.  Sit down while I tell you!”

Katherine wiped her hands on her apron before smoothing her skirts and taking a chair. Then clasping her hands as if to pray, Katherine sat ready to hear about this turn of events.

William drew a big breath and began.

“This afternoon I received a visitor at the shop—a visitor from the castle. The castle, I tell you! He says the king desires a new border for his gardens, a border of boxwoods in large pots. He’ll need dozens of pots, and he’s asked me to help!  Isn’t that wondrous news?”  And William looked to Katherine expectantly for her enthusiastic response.

 

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Katherine paused for a moment before speaking. “Pots, you say.”

“Yes!” he replied.

“Like the pots you make for the village?” she inquired.

“The same! The king’s messenger even pointed to the ones lined up on the shelf and said they would do perfectly, except much larger, of course.  Oh, think of the honor this is, Katherine.

“Yes, dear. Quite an honor. It’s just that…well…i-it seems to me…” Katherine stammered. And finally she spoke the obvious. “You’ll still be making ordinary pots, am I correct?  Wasn’t it just yesterday you were bemoaning the very same task?”

“Ah, but starting tomorrow, I am working for the king,” William exclaimed. “These pots will be part of something glorious and enduring. And that changes everything!”

 

*     *     *     *     *

 

“Whatever you do,

work at it with all your heart,

as working for the Lord,

not for men…

It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

–Colossians 3:23-24

 

(Photo credits:  www.goodlifelist.com; http://www.arteast.org; http://www.bloomiq.com.)

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Those of us who believe in Jesus are on a faith journey.

Sometimes we fly.

He carries us on eagles’ wings.

 

 

One example from scripture is God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt.  He said, “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:4).

The Israelites had done nothing to secure their release from Pharaoh.   God caused the plagues, God opened the Red Sea for the Israelites’ escape, and God destroyed the Egyptian army.

Moses and his sister, Miriam, sang a song to the Lord, to celebrate their deliverance.

 

 

“Who among the gods is like you, O Lord?  Who is like you–majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11).

Has your heart soared on the euphoria of an awesome and glorious miracle?

We have.  A number of times.  One day D. called to announce she wanted to buy us a car.  Arrangements were made with a dealership; all we had to do was go and pick one out.

“Oh–and get leather seats,” she insisted.  “They’re so much more comfortable.”

Can you imagine?  What an incredible blessing!  Our hearts soared for weeks on that miracle.   Even now, more than thirteen years later, that car is a constant reminder of God’s supernatural provision.  (Yes, it’s still running smoothly!) Through D., God proved unequivocally his love and power.

Sometimes we soar; sometimes we runon supernatural strength.

We feel the supernatural power of the Spirit coursing through our veins, providing strength and passion for the task at hand.  It is a spontaneous sprint, energized by omnipotent God.

New Christians are often empowered for a running start in their burgeoning faith. Eagerly they soak up Bible knowledge in small groups and personal Bible study.

In other cases, God places a special call on someone’s life to fulfill a need.  And with the call comes supernatural strength to meet the challenge.

That’s what happened to J.B.  God infused him with a passion to upgrade the sound system of our church.  Night after night, he worked at rewiring the sanctuary.  Much of that time was spent climbing about in the rafters.  This after working each day at his business.

When I asked J.B. about exhausting himself, he assured me  he was having fun!  He didn’t feel worn out at all.  God was giving him the strength to complete the project.

Yes, it’s exhilarating to fly on eagles’ wings of miracles and run on supernatural strength.  But…

…most of the time on our faith journey, we walk.

Step by step.  Choice by choice.  Slowly approaching the destination—the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).  Sometimes the path is uphill and rocky.  We strain with effort to make progress.  Some days the path is winding, and we cannot see ahead.

Yet in spite of struggle and uncertainty, the walk can still bring much pleasure to the heart.  “Blessed are those…who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord” (Psalm 89:15).  You see, we do not walk alone.  The Company we keep makes all the difference.

Walking in faith involves plenty of ordinary tasks and days without miracles. Children to care for.  Laundry to do.  Meals to cook.  Calls to make.   Students to teach.  Sales to close.

But!  Whatever needs to be accomplished, we can walk through it and not collapse under the repetition and frustration.  How?  By inviting God to walk with us.

 

 

Years ago, when our three children were young, my life was a routine of laundry, cleaning, cooking, errands, and child care.  I was not one of those mothers who derived great fulfillment from these tasks.  Instead of walking joyfully through each day,  I often plodded.

Then I came across Colossians 3:23-24.  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

In the margin of my Bible, next to those verses, I wrote, “including housework!”  I wanted Who I served to be more important than what I was doing.  Plodding didn’t end once and for all, but I learned to walk at a believer’s pace more frequently, as I invited God to cook, clean, and launder with me!

Those verbs–soar, run, and walk–are found in Isaiah 40:31, in that order:

 

 

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Perhaps soaring is first because  the euphoric wonder of flying on eagle’s wings seizes our attention with intensity.

Running is second.  Adrenalin runs high during spurts of divinely inspired growth and service.

And walking is last.  Did God save the most important until the end?  Because it’s in the persevering that we become strong.  It’s in the trusting  that our faith grows deep.  And it’s in practicing his presence that we learn consistency of character.

So revel in occasional soaring.  Rejoice in periodic  running.  But take deep satisfaction in the day-by-day walk on the paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3).

 

“Come…let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5)!

(photo credits:  www.betterphoto.com; http://www.linksterdiversions.blogspot.com; http://www.BlackburnNews.com; http://www.foxnews.com; http://www.photobucket.som/user/jamiesolome/media.com; http://www.faithgateway.com; http://www.pinterest.com)

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I’ve mentioned this before: Heroes of the faith from times past pique my interest. Many of them endured great hardship, yet remained strong in their faith. From their examples and writings I find encouragement, challenge, and inspiration.

Today’s example: Paul Tournier.

Paul Tournier

Paul Tournier (1898-1986) was a well-known doctor, author, and Christian by the middle of the twentieth century. But it’s doubtful that those who knew him as a youngster would have predicted such an outcome.

His parents died when he was very young. Paul and his older sister were taken in by an aunt and uncle. The boy became withdrawn and shy, struggling with the issues of identity and self-worth.

Perhaps those difficult years of his youth prepared Paul for the lifework God would give him. He held a lifelong concern for those who suffered. When Paul was just twelve years old, he decided he’d become a doctor. That was also the year he became a Christian.

Paul achieved his boyhood dream, and started his medical practice in Geneva, Switzerland, 1928.

Nine years later, Paul was introduced to the Oxford Group, a new Christian movement. Paul was impressed by their life-changing commitment to Jesus, and he, too, was led into deep transforming faith.

As Dr. Tournier’s experience in medicine increased, so did his dissatisfaction with drugs and surgery as his only options to help patients. What about the interplay of mind and body? More importantly, how do spiritual matters impact physical well-being?

Paul sought ways to include psychology and faith into his medical practices, and called it, “the medicine of the whole person.” Surely part of that “medicine” was to contribute to his patients’ identity and self-worth, the same issues that had plagued him as a boy. Perhaps it was in analyzing how people discover purpose in life that brought Dr. Tournier to this conclusion:

“For the fulfillment of his purpose God needs more than priests, bishops, pastors, and missionaries. He needs mechanics and chemists, gardeners and street sweepers, dressmakers and cooks, tradesmen, physicians, philosophers, judges, and shorthand typists.” – from The Adventure of Living

As the focus of Dr. Tournier’s medical practice began to change, so did his routines. Patients were less frequently ushered into examining rooms, and instead, met with the doctor in the living room of his home. There they’d sit by the fire to talk, sometimes joined by Tournier’s wife, Nelly.  His first book, The Healing of Persons (1940), grew out of these experiences.

Part of his genius, perhaps, was in listening. Here’s what he had to say on that topic:

“In order to really understand, we need to listen, not reply. We need to listen long and attentively. In order to help anybody to open his heart we have to give him time, asking only a few questions, as carefully as possible in order to help him better explain his experience.” –from To Understand Each Other

His medical practice grew into a ministry, including speaking engagements around the world, and many more books. The Meaning of Persons, published in 1957, received particular distinction. Christianity Today magazine named it one of the top 50 books to have influenced the Evangelical world. Dr. Tournier was also called the twentieth century’s most famous Christian physician.

On serving God, he had the following to say:

“I do not serve God only in the brief moments during which I am taking part in a religious service, or reading the Bible, or saying my prayers, or talking about him in some book I am writing, or discussing the meaning of life with a patient or friend. I serve him quite as much when I am giving a patient an injection, or lancing an abscess, or writing a prescription, or giving a piece of good advice. I serve him quite as much when reading the newspaper, traveling, laughing at a joke, or soldering a joint in an electric wire. I serve him by taking an interest in everything, because he is interested in everything, because he has created everything and has put me in his creation so that I may participate in it fully.” — from The Adventure of Living

I have to wonder if Dr. Tournier was thinking of Colossians 3:23-24 when he wrote that observation:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Years ago, as a young mother with three children, I wrote in the margin of my Bible next to those verses, “including housework!” I tried to visualize myself dusting and scrubbing and vacuuming for Jesus!

I am NOT fond of housework; Dr. Tournier probably did not enjoy lancing abscesses! But. There is strength and perseverance, purpose and fulfillment in knowing such tasks serve a purpose.

Even a divine purpose.

Countless people have undoubtedly been transformed by that principle and others, taught convincingly by Dr. Paul Tournier.

(Photo of Dr. Tournier from wikipedia.org.)

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