Other People’s Mess …

I had a novel, and certainly unforgettable, experience on Saturday.  I found a soiled adult diaper beside the toilet in my church’s Family Life Center.  It was gross, but I cleaned it up.  Reflecting on this experience showed me how frustrating it can be to clean up a mess you didn’t make.  Imagine how our elected officials feel when asked to reduce a deficit their predecessors created.  Imagine how a new supervisor feels while revising ineffective procedures that were deemed “good ideas” by the previous supervisor.  Think about how you feel when you’re asked to help someone out of a problem you tried to help him or her avoid.  Being Mr. or Ms. “Fix It” isn’t the easiest job to have.

If you’ve ever been asked to clean up a mess you didn’t make, then Jesus can relate.  As Judas and the crowd came to arrest Jesus, Peter (see John 18:10) decided to cut a man’s ear off.  What a mess!  Jesus could have went to His trial and ignored the problem, but He didn’t.  He humbled Himself and repaired the man’s ear.  By His willingness to serve, even when He didn’t have to, Jesus brought glory to the Father.

Jesus reminds us that we can successfully resolve problems we didn’t create.  Maybe you’re frustrated because you always seem to be Mr. or Ms. “Fix It.”  Hang in there.  With God’s help, you can do what you do best!

Bad Days …

Have you ever had a bad day?  Have you ever had a day when nothing seems to go right?  Some people have reached the pinnacle of spirituality and may find it hard to admit having a bad day.  Their faith helps them view bad days as opportunities for God or a sign that joy is coming soon.  Every now and then, however, some of us feel like Job, “How short is life, how full of trouble” (Job 14:1, New Living Translation).  We’ve had some days that make us wonder if God really cares about us.

What about Jesus?  Did our Savior, the perfect One we admire, have bad days?  Yes, and His occurred at the end of the week, the worst time for a bad day.  He was betrayed.  He was arrested.  He was slapped (see verse cited above).  It got worse.  He was falsely accused.  He was whipped, beaten, and robbed.  It got worse.  He was nailed to a cross, mocked, and after He died, He was stabbed.  What a horrible series of events, and they all happened within 24 hours.

I’m so glad that the story didn’t end there.  After having the worst hours of His life, Jesus bounced back, with more power than before!  Yet again, Jesus proves we can make it through bad days.  Don’t let the rough moments in life stop your progress.  Bounce back, knowing that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28, New Living Translation).

Other Duties as Assigned …

Have you ever completed a task and then wondered, “How did I end up doing this?”  Have you ever agreed to do something only to end up doing something totally different?  I have, and I remember the experience vividly.  I had an internship during graduate school, and while I thought I had specific responsibilities, I acquired the responsibilities my supervisors didn’t want.  You know about those responsibilities; they’re affectionately called “other duties as assigned.”  It was a frustrating experience, and when I had my exit interview, I professionally voiced my concerns.

If you’ve ever completed other duties as assigned, then Jesus knows exactly how you feel.  One day, He was enjoying a wedding reception, and His mother said, “They ran out of wine.”  Jesus replied, “That’s not our problem … My time has not yet come.”  In other words, He said, “That’s not in my job description.”  Honestly, He was right; He came to seek and save the lost, not to make wine.  Regardless, Jesus came to the rescue.  And, He did it so well that the master of ceremonies told the groom, “A host always serves the best wine first … Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine.  But you have kept the best until now!” (John 2:10, New Living Translation).

I know other duties as assigned can be frustrating, but Jesus proves we can make it through them.  Although people may not appreciate what you do (the master of ceremonies or groom didn’t thank Jesus), remember, God is watching you.  And when we’re faithful in well-doing, He will reward us!  Do your best, even if it’s other duties as assigned.

Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you (Matthew 6:4, New Living Translation).

Unfavorable Odds …

I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but a major catastrophe happened in West Virginia on Monday.  Several miners were working when a gas explosion occurred.  Thus far, 25 of the miners have died.  Worse, the 4 miners who may have survived the explosion have a slim chance of living until rescuers arrive.  The air tight chamber embedded in the mine, where they can go until the rescuers arrive, only has 4 days worth of food.  Today is the third day after the explosion.  Certainly, these are unfavorable odds for survival.

What about Jesus?  Were there times in His life when survival seemed unlikely?  Yes!  From His birth, people tried to destroy Him.  Herod wanted to kill Him when He was an infant (see Matthew 2), and the Pharisees were “bounty hunters” in the verses cited above.  As always, however, Jesus survived!  He made it to His destiny – the cross – without dying prematurely.

Jesus’ life proves we can overcome unfavorable odds.  Maybe you’ve launched a business or ministry, in obedience to God’s voice, and the chances for survival seem slim.  Hang in there!  If He spoke, then He’ll protect you until it happens.  Just keep the faith, and watch Him work!

For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him (Psalm 34:7, New Living Translation).

Rough Starts …

I watched the Trumpet Awards broadcast Sunday night, and Steve Harvey was an award recipient.  Steve Harvey is a renown comedian, radio talk-show host, author, and entrepreneur.  He delivered his acceptance speech through tear-stained eyes because he remembered the journey.  Early in his career, he was homeless, living out of his car to make ends meet.  But, look at him now!  Several years later, he’s an icon and multimillionaire.  With God’s help, Steve Harvey went from homelessness to an honoree!

And, what about Jesus?  Jesus’ life also started rough.  You’d think the Savior of the world would have enjoyed the “finer” things in life, but He didn’t.  He was born in a manger, a feeding post for animals.  Later in His life, He declared, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20, New Living Translation).  But, look at Him now!  With God’s help, Jesus went from sojourner to Savior!

Jesus’ life proves we can succeed after a rough start.  It doesn’t matter how you start; it’s how you finish.  Don’t quit if the journey toward your dream is off to a rough start.  Hang in there; with God’s help, humble beginnings can lead to honor!

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin … Zechariah 4:10, New Living Translation.