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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Weighing the cost....changing our country #2

The cost of doing anything worthwhile is enormous. Millions of people start new projects every year - maybe even every day and when it gets tough, they quit. How many New Year's resolutions have you dismissed only a few days or weeks into the process?

There's probably a high percentage of those new projects that were not well thought out and they should be abandoned. Unfortunately, there are thousands of wonderful, God ordained projects that should go forward but those in charge don't want the heavy burden, don't want to do the heavy work or were not mentally prepared for the discouraging moments that are destined to arrive.

Before you begin, how can you be sure that you have what it takes to finish the task?

1. Spend at least two days (preferably a week) praying about it. Make sure it's something God wants you to do. So many times we are moved emotionally by some tragedy or sad story, but it's not a project that is aligned with our talents or what God wants for our lives.

For example, many young teens are moved by missionaries that speak at their church. For years they boast about going to the mission field and how they will commit to the work of God. That's wonderful and some of those young people actually follow through with their obvious calling. It's hard to watch the remainder of those excited teens attend college or go on a missions trip and return with a heavy heart because they realize the hardships and problems that go along with a missionary's call. They feel guilty giving up the call because their personalities and talents aren't aligned with the requirements of the job.

I remember when I realized that I was not designed to be an evangelist or missionary. I did not have the talents or personality for that type of work. What I did have was a talent for giving money. That talent was just as important to the work as those that were going.

2. Don't worry about preparing for success, if it comes you will be ready. Instead concentrate on the problems and how you will overcome them. Your biggest enemy will be the TAR barrier - Things Are Rough. How will you react when people aren't responding favorably to your work? How will you respond when people are critical or think it's their duty to tell you how unqualified you are or that some famous person can do your job better?

Your commitment must be to the talent and the job that God has called you. You can't allow others (or Satan) to take your mind away from your goals. Define your goals. Make sure they are specific. Take the time to understand what you WILL NOT do as well as what you will. Make sure you know the path and that you can stay on that path no matter how tough things get.

3. Make sure your sandals are dusty. I like to watch Biblical movies. I know they include dialogue that may not have happened, but I like the visualization of the scriptures. I've seen a lot of movies about miracles like The Ten Commandments or the majesty of the life of Christ like King of Kings. What I haven't seen and probably doesn't exist is a movie on Dusty Sandals.

If I made a movie about dusty sandals it would include 5-10 minute segments of feet. The camera would pan down a long dirt road. Only one or two trees are spotted in the distance. They are small trees with short branches and minimal chance for shade. The camera pans to a cloudless sky and a sun poised to bake and parch anything or anyone brave enough to come out of hiding. The highlighted feet would take one step and then another. We watch as the hiker moves at a quick and untiring pace.

The camera skips to another scene. Shadows are at a difference place and we realize the hiker has been walking for several hours. The pace is slower now and the feet are covered in heavy dust. The sandals are barely recognizable. There are scratches on the heels and legs where the hiker has obviously encountered a bush or rock. In this scene the hiker stops and we see him choose to sit on a nearby rock. He takes off his sandals and rubs his tired feet. We watch him dump several pebbles out of one shoe and dig for another stuck in the side of the opposite shoe.

We can see that this journey is not only hard for his feet. His arms are sweaty and his hands are dirty. Just walking in the heat and the dust that is stirred by any movement of living creatures or wind, seems to cover our hiker in dirt, dust and sweat. There are no water fountains, convenience stores or even a biblical road vendor. No one to help him on this journey.

He rises and begins again. As the camera pans we see nothing but hills, rocks and dry land. There are no lakes, rivers or quiet streams. No trees laden with fresh fruit. There's not even a patch of cool grass to give our weary hiker a comforting rest.

We can't see his face, but we hear his heavy breathing. We hear the labored wheezing in his chest as it fights against the dry dusty air. His steps are much slower now and we wonder how he can possibly continue. He stops near a small tree and sits in a small block of shade that only covers one side of his body. We hear the steps of another traveler as he approaches. "Master, I've come to walk with you." The second traveler hands him a wineskin and he lifts the cool bag to his lips. We can now see that our hiker is Jesus.

According to one source, during the 33 years of Jesus life, he walked at minimal of 21,525 miles. During the three years of his ministry, he walked at least 3,125 miles.

What kept him going? Why did he push? For every moment he spent on the water or on the mountainside blessing the people with miracles - there were days of lonely walking on dusty roads and feeling like he couldn't go another step.

What was going through his mind? I remember a scene in King of Kings and another one in Passion of the Christ. Jesus was carrying the cross and fell. Another man was chosen to carry the cross for him. Jesus rises and can hardly walk but the camera centers on his eyes. The pain is screaming for attention yet Christ seems to push it away and focus on the path he must walk. You glimpse a determination in his eyes. He straightens as much as possible and pushes forward.

Anything you choose to do will require that you have dusty sandals. Any path that you choose to follow will require that you push through pain. Even if you only want to stop some nagging habit like screaming at your family, you will be forced to a point where you must bite your lip and run to the bathroom. Beating your fists on the counter you will feel your anger building like a volcano. Only if you push through that feeling, fight back with a prayer and determine to walk a calmer path, only if you recognize that this is worth the fight, only if....( you fill in th blank) will you be able to see success.

God has called all of us to use our talents to change this world. Don't be afraid if that change begins with you first. Don't be afraid of dusty sandals.

God loves you,


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