One of my friends was invited to attend a benefit dinner in Denver because a doctor she worked with at a humanitarian organization was receiving a lifetime service award. Her husband didn’t want to go, but she really wanted to be there and she was even having nightmares about driving home alone so I offered to go as her date!
Well, she wanted to take me to IKEA before the dinner since I’ve never been there but the Lord laid it on my heart to suggest instead we go visit friends from college whose 5 year old son is in the children’s hospital up there with leukemia.
So we stopped by a toy store on our way to get him a present but….
When we got there the five year old had been having a hard day and didn’t seem to like what we brought him. As I prayed with both his mom and dad they had tears coming down their faces, but I’m not sure how helpful the visit was – it was obviously a very hard day for all of them – their son isn’t doing well and life commuting between the Springs where they have two other kids in school is hard especially as the mom is pregnant and someone always has to be with their son who is in the hospital.
Then we got lost and were a half hour late to the banquet and once I was there I couldn’t hear a single thing. I sat next to a Haitian Episcopalian priest who runs a school in Haiti and could barely understand him and of course I couldn’t hear the speakers – this thing was 4 ½ hours long so I pretty much sat there in silence the whole time and on the way home I couldn’t hear my friend because it was dark so I couldn’t even talk with her – I wondered why in the world I even came!
I just knew if it was me I would so appreciate a friend going with me and I’ve really been wanting to live my life loving well but at the end of the day I wondered if I’d done that at all?!
So at 11:30 at night, finally home, I’m spending time in the Word with Jesus before bed and Romans 4:7-8 stands out to me “How joyful are those whose lawless acts are forgiven and whose sins are covered! How joyful is the man the Lord will never charge with sin!” And Jesus laid on my heart – I’ve got you covered! You do fall short in all you do, but when you do I make up the difference – like Jerry Bridges shares in his book Who Am I justification doesn’t just mean “Just as if I never sinned” but “Just as if I did everything right!”
Now one thing I love about having an additional quiet time right before bed is it really does seem my mind chews on those verses while I’m sleeping and I often wake thinking new thoughts about them. So I wake up and what’s on my mind but a football game and there I am carrying the football racing down the field and I drop the ball… BUT Jesus is right there by me and he catches it and goes on to make a touchdown.
Now if all I do is focus on how I dropped the ball I can get so down. But if I take my eyes off me and fix them on Jesus realizing – he has me covered – when I drop the ball he is there to grab it and accomplish what God intends (Romans 8:28 right?! – all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purposes!!!) then instead of feeling like a loser I can celebrate being part of a winning team!
It’s not about how well I carry the ball, but about God’s kingdom advancing and Jesus takes my well intentioned but falling short efforts and turns them into touchdowns – God’s will being done! Instead of wallowing in grief over my failure I should be filled with Joy that Jesus made that touchdown!
Well, after my quiet time Sunday morning I get up and check my phone and my friend had written me a note and it totally blew me away. In it she shared how she was so glad we’d stopped at the hospital to visit our friends because she wouldn’t have done that on her own.
And how at the dinner after she “just happened” to sit next to a doctor who is a radiologist/oncologist specialist who knows the doctor who pioneered bone marrow transplants and who gave my friend her number and said she’d be glad to talk with our friends whose son has leukemia…
Then she went on to share how my being with her while she interacted with these people she use to work with helped her see their conversations in a whole new light.
She said as we drove home that night, when I couldn’t hear to interact, it was like the Lord was at work helping her identify the lies she’d come to believe at this time. And she realized, “No wonder I started to struggle with my faith… when I started to work with so many earnest, compassionate people who simply did not have God in mind while they ran around saving the world.” And she shared how thankful she was that I’d come.
It was like Jesus reinforced the picture he just gave me and said “See I really did catch the ball every time you dropped it and was at work scoring touchdowns left and right last night for the kingdom!”
Is that not so incredible?!
The analogy may seem silly but I can’t even begin to tell you the peace it’s bringing to my heart! So wild to think how the Lord can use us even in our weakness and failures!