To stand up to any challenge, spend time on your knees.
Yesterday was the one year mark of the car accident that drastically changed my life. It still amazes me how blurry this last year has been and yet each moment is vividly clear as I stomach the thoughts of how difficult it was. Last year I spent Thanksgiving alone and in bed and I can hardly remember celebrating Christmas. I think I made an appearance somewhere? And yet this was all before the brain tumor diagnosis. I had ignored every potential sign that there was anything seriously wrong for months or even years which of course led God to intervene. I guess I just didn’t realize how persistent He was going to be. I certainly wasn’t grateful (at the time).
I was reminded this past weekend listening to Chris and Terri Brady speak at a LIFE Leadership seminar that people and community are what matter most, especially during challenges. I have always known this being that I love to serve other people. But the word ‘service’ means and feels totally different when the role is reversed. I have always had a hard time accepting help and even when I could barely make decisions on my own I fought tooth and nail with those who were only out to serve me. How selfish was I to be so stubborn. But I am so thankful looking back that the people and friends around me, especially men and women like George and Jill Guzzardo and Dave Chatmon, didn’t buy into my stubborn and manipulative ways and continued to serve and love anyways.
So as I was thinking about this topic I couldn’t help but reflect on the last couple of months. Despite a fantastic victory after a very challenging year, my life didn’t immediately turn into roses and butterflies. In fact, the challenges continue to pour like hot lava that just won’t harden. I haven’t been able to figure it out. My frustration led me to seek God.
One thing I know about God is that He always finds a way to show us what we need to see.
I was out and about and stopped to fill up at a gas station at about 10pm last night. Normally I pay at the pump with a card because it is quicker and easier but this time I wanted to get coffee so I went inside and paid with cash instead. There was a gentleman in front of me who was paying for his gas along with what looked to be possible dinner. He didn’t bring enough money in with him so he would have had to run back out to his car and get more. Listening to his conversation with the clerk (which I normally don’t do) I realized I had a few extra bucks in my hand so I offered to throw him the remainder to pay for his food. He said, “no no, I have money in the car that I will run and get.” To which I responded looking him dead in the eyes, “no, please let me.” And he did.
It wasn’t much. In fact, any random person off the street could have and would have done the same thing. But I left that gas station feeling so great. It got me thinking so much about this last year and how little I have been willing and able to serve others. I had been so focused on myself and my own problems that I forgot what was truly important – other people! No wonder I was feeling so crummy.
Philippians 2:4 says, “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Oh sure, I never gave up loving people but I was missing the most important piece: serving them.
Steven Covey talks about in his wildly popular book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” that it takes 21 days to create a habit. What I realized after last night is that I was not making a habit of serving other people. My acts of service have been so sporadic and inconsistent that I often forgot how good it felt to do it. I know from past experiences that it was always when I was focused on other people’s needs that my needs seemed less critical and in turn didn’t consume my life.
So with the holidays approaching and knowing how difficult this time of year can be for so many people I am marking today as the start of my ’21 days of service’ project. Every day for the next 21 days I will do something, big or small, to serve someone else. I want to create a habit of serving others every day. Anyone reading this is welcome to join me.
Certainly life will still continue to throw curve balls, mountains and speed bumps along our path but if we just stay consistent and focus on the needs of others then maybe, just maybe, those challenges will seem less severe. In fact, the other day a good friend of mine sent me an encouraging text reflecting the words of one of her second graders which read, “You could be nailed to a cross!” WOW – Perspective change right in that moment. Jesus came to earth to serve us and died on a cross to give us victory and hope. We owe it to Him to pay it forward. Who is with me?
“Not to the strong is the battle,
Not to the swift is the race;
Yet to the true and the faithful
Victory is promised through grace.” Fanny Crosby