We spent this last weekend camping with friends, who we affectionately call our “Framily”. And they have two of the sweetest dogs, named Mandy and Murphy. Mandy is a small black poodle, who can jump like a jack rabbit and is lightning fast. Murphy is a goldendoodle, laid back and a lover of life, with floppy feet and reminds me of the big dog on Sesame Street.
Greg, Susan and Matthew are Mandy and Murphy’s humans, but to watch these dogs with Susan, is something to behold. They absolutely adore her and can barely contain themselves when she is in sight but not right there next to them. When they hear her voice, their ears perk up and they look for her and pull as hard as they can on their leash, to try and reach her.
Over the weekend, we all took a turn at trying to soothe them if Susan was busy, and some of us were successful for a minute or two, but ultimately they would only settle for their master. Now the dogs personalities are very different. Mandy wants Susan to be there by her side, yet Mandy does not quickly respond to Susan’s direction and Mandy really does not care to please her master, except on her terms. Murphy, on the other hand loves his master and when Susan is sitting, he is either on her feet, or his head in her lap, and when Susan is in sight he is always looking right at her, he is also always quick to respond and please Susan. There is absolutely nothing that stops him from getting to his master, from getting completely wound around a picnic table to doing the army crawl under the camper to get to the side she is on. They both greatly love their master, but both respond to her so differently.
Over these last several weeks, I have been in conversations where questions like how should I work on this area or that in my life/, how would I handle a certain situation, or how would I redirect my life, if I found myself in a similar situation?. When these questions have presented themselves in the past, I have always responded with what appeared to be practical steps and ideas for the situation, but God has truly been teaching me, that the answer is always the same, no matter the problem or the question – FALL IN LOVE WITH JESUS – like Murphy, remain at the feet of our Master! When we chose to do that, our perspective, our problems, our questions, seem to fade away, they become insignificant, because as we fall more in love with Him, our heart changes to be more like His, our mind changes to things that are life giving thoughts, full of peace, faith, love, hope, and our actions are motivated from an eternal perspective and are based more on what really matters.
We have the honor and privilege to be in the first ever network church of Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama, and Church of the Highlands is an incredible church, impacting eternity on a daily basis – their average weekly attendance is 46,000 people – and that number is astounding to me. However, recently I heard that the population of the entire state of Alabama is 4.6 million people, so while the numbers of attendance are amazing – they are only reaching about 1% of the entire population of the state. And I know there are many other life-giving, truth preaching, eternity minded churches in the state, that are reaching people that Highlands is not, my very conservative guess would be there are still 3 million people in Alabama that don’t know Jesus or are living the lives that are purposed for them, or think they are Heaven bound, because they are a good person! And that is just one state in the union – how many more all over the country??? My point in sharing that, is the fact, that if we know Jesus, we tend to get all comfy and cozy in our day to day lives, going to church, possibly serving, going to a small group, and doing what appears to be the right thing, and that is great. The reality is Heaven and Hell are real and we cross the paths of people everyday who do not know who Jesus is, whose current eternal destination is hell and we may just be the vessel God has placed in their path to be the one to share Jesus with them!
So, as we talked about the dogs behaviors this weekend and continued to watch how they responded, God spoke to me! How many of us live like Mandy? Loving Him when we want to, looking for Him, when we need something, but not quickly responding to what He has asked us to do or to choose not to do it at all. Mandy loves her master, but is not always willing to change her responses and behavior, just because Susan asked her too. How many of us, want to know that our eternity is secure and that Heaven is our home, but we want to remain comfortable here, maintaining the status quo, fitting in so the world doesn’t think we are crazy, and not risk too much for His sake and for the eternity? Yet, God created us and desires for us to live like Murphy, to live at our Masters Feet, loving Him and desiring to be near Him whatever we are doing; to make our decisions based on what our Master has asked of us, to be in relationship where we know our Masters voice and to be quick to respond in obedience, to please our Master, which essentially leads us to impacting the Kingdom for eternity.
We have been placed here for a time such as this, to reach people for eternity, to live crazy faith filled lives that cause people to look at us and question our reactions and responses - Why joy in the storm? Why worship in the worry? Why faith in the fear? Why hope in the hurt? – the answer is Jesus. We have fallen in love with Jesus! Today I choose to respond like Murphy, to lay at my Master’s feet and fall more and more in love with Him, and to quickly respond to what He is asking! There is a world that needs the ONLY ANSWER – JESUS!!!