Sunday, September 16, 2012

God is great. Beer is good. People are crazy.

That is the name of a country song I heard this week.  I thought it was funny and decided to use it to name the blog to get the attention of the readers.  If you are reading this.  It worked - at least once.  

What a wonderful week.  I have certainly had my ups and downs, but God is great, haven't had any beer (tasted it one time years ago, and it was really bad; but I know many who have, and they say there is nothing like a cold beer on a hot day), and I have met some crazy people.  I think they probably thought I was crazy, too.  My mother has said this to me since my earliest memories, "my dear, the whole world is a bit 'queer,' except thee and me, and sometimes, I worry a great deal about thee."  I looovvveee that quote.  There's no telling where she got it, but I guarantee you even at 88 years of age, she can tell you exactly where it came from.  

Yesterday, I was getting ready for dinner in our home with dear friends of ours. Frank had ordered fresh sourdough bread from a wonderful bakery. Below is a brief description of the place where the bakery is located:

When Atlantans want to shop like a chef, they go to Star Provisions, a chef-owned shop filled with fine foie gras, artisan cheese, succulent seafood, decadent desserts and tasteful tableware.
The creation of Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison, chef/owners of Atlanta’s acclaimed Bacchanalia Restaurant, Star Provisions was a logical outgrowth of the owners’ passion for providing fine food. As Quatrano says, “We sympathized with our customers’ inability to find black truffles or even good bread in Atlanta. So, we virtually opened our restaurant’s pantry and walk-in to our patrons.
At first glance my experience yesterday was not that great.  They lost the order for the bread, so I had to wait about 15 minutes for them to get a loaf of fresh bread made earlier but already sent to the restaurant.
(Imagine that - Frank had ordered it in plenty of time, why should I have to wait?)
The loaf was bigger and better than I had ordered; the baker apologized profusely; and all the while I was thinking he should give it to me without charge since he lost the order.  
People were everywhere - you know the kind - savvy, shabby chic, thin, some quite eccentric "looking"; then, there were some wealthy grandparents in their preppy outfits with their grandchildren sitting outside at the picnic tables in front of this "chic" passageway to the only 5 star restaurant in Atlanta.  
The little tousle-headed blonde grandchildren were asking every manner of question, and the grandparents were letting them "run the show," intently explaining the answer to every question.  You know the scene. 
There were shops in the area full of the same kind of people.  Pristinely dressed security people were stationed at every corner since all shops had doors open (even the air conditioned ones), and people were streaming in and out.  
People were either shopping, eating, or driving cars slowly through the parking lot just waiting for someone to leave.  Mercedes, Jaguar, Lexus, junkers and everything between were parked, with their passengers all enjoying the glorious, cloudless, 80 degree Atlanta day. 
I sensed no evidence of a recession.
I stood in a very long line waiting to pay for my loaf of bread. 
In early childhood education, one of the biggest "no-nos" is requiring children to stand in line for any length of time.  They fidget, then start fidgeting with each other, then start fighting, and so on.  
Well, I would venture to say that adults are just as bad if not worse.  Someone else should have been at the other register.  It was poor service to all of us not to be better prepared. 
At least that's what I was thinking.
At that very moment, the spirit of God gripped my heart with the following thought, "because of my grace and mercy, you are standing in one of the neatest places in Atlanta - safe, secure, with a loaf of bread bigger and better than you ordered or expected, provided by a courteous gentleman apologetic for a human error, doing everything he could to make it right. 
Use this opportunity to wait patiently on Me, be a blessing to someone, and be grateful you aren't living in the Middle East this morning.  Because of My grace and mercy, you are blessed beyond all measure with not only all of your needs met but many of your 'wants'." 
I had no idea whether or not I was the only Christian in that place, but if I were, I was the only representation of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Do you ever think about that?  If you are the only Christian in a situation, you are the only Holy Spirit "host." 
I often wonder how cluttered His "space" is within my heart?  Is He buried so deep in the shadows that His power is thwarted in my life, or is there open, clear communication so that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to me for any situation?  
The thought of that reality rocked my small world.   
I immediately thought of the scene I saw this morning on my HDTV indicating areas of the world experiencing deadly riots.  The continents of Asia, Europe, and Africa were littered with highlighted areas.  
Here I stood, privileged, gently rebuked by my Heavenly Daddy (I love His gentleness.).  I was safe, feeling good, waiting in line with enough money to pay for a special order loaf of bread in an "upscale" store.  
I wanted to stand up on the table and tell everyone to stop fidgeting and griping under their breaths, that they were safe and blessed and to get over themselves.  The Lord told me to mind my own business.   
Hrrmmph! What in the world?  Wasn't spreading His truth my business?  He reminded me that He spoke to me about being obedient, and His concern was my obedience, not theirs.  I didn't talk back.  
When I reached the lady at the register, I noticed she was older, looked tired, and as I approached, she sighed.  I told her she was doing a great job.  Thanked her for her patience with all of us and told her to have a good day and not to let anybody talk hateful to her.  She smiled and seemed relieved.  
I will never know what that one act of kindness did for this lady.  Only the Lord knows.  
Now, that wasn't me.  That was Christ in me.  The "me" within me was aggravated about the order, irritated about having to wait for it as well as waiting in line to pay for it; but the Holy Spirit within me wanted me to use it as an opportunity to be more like Christ.  I am so grateful I listened - that time.
Those of us who have accepted the gift of Jesus' death on the cross for our sins have Christ in us, and He is the hope of glory (Col 1:27).  I am determined to become more like Christ, moment by moment, choosing to obey, one command at a time.  That is the only way I won't take His greatness and goodness for granted.  
God is indeed great. Psalm 63: 7-8  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.  
2 Corinthians 9:8  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
I just don't like beer, and people will always be crazy; but I will continue to approach the days with joy because of God's greatness, goodness, grace, and the gift of His sweet, precious Son, Jesus.  How about you?  Love to all, Mecca