Golf Games and Celery Sticks
From Chapter 7 of “Just Like Jesus” by Max Lucado
1. One of the incredible traits of Jesus was his ability to stay on target.
· Golf game illustration – going the wrong way. My enemies will cheer me on when I am headed in the wrong direction. Lack of opposition.
· Pastor Buckingham used to say that life’s greatest obstacles sometimes are the greatest opportunities that come our way. This was addressed to preachers and their tendency to move for the wrong reasons.
· Jesus had endless options that could have taken him in the wrong direction.
· He was so focused that he gained the luxury of ending his life with the words, “It is finished. . . .” There were still poor people and hungry people and sick people and sinful people.
2. Our lives tend to be scattered.
· We are unlike Christ in more ways than we can imagine. The reason that we don’t know when we are done is that we don’t know what we are doing.
· “There is one section in the supermarket where I am a seasoned veteran: the sample section. I’m never one to pass up a snack. Last Saturday I went to the back of the store where the samplers tend to linger. Bingo! There were two sample givers awaiting hungry sample takers. One had a skillet of sausage and the other a plate of cream cheese covrerd celery. You’ll be proud to know I opted for the celery. I wanted the sausage but I knew the celery was better for me. Unfortunately the celery lady never saw me. She was too busy straightening her sticks. I walked past her and she never looked up. The sausage lady however saw me coming and she extended the plate. I declined and made another circle past the celery lady. Same response. She never saw me. She was too busy getting her plate in order. So I made another loop past the sausage lady. Once again the offer came and once again, with admirable resolve, I might add, I resisted. I was committed to doing the right thing. So was the celery lady. She was determined to get every celery stick just right on the plate. But she cared more about the appearance of her product than the distribution. I stopped. I coughed. I cleared my throat. I did everything but sing a song. Still no response. The sausage lady however was waiting on me with sizzling sausage. I gave in; I ate the sausage.
How do we avoid making the same mistakes. How do we as individuals, stay on target?
3. By asking ourselves 4 questions:
· Am I fitting into God’s plan? Romans 8:28 “called according to His purpose.” If God’s goal is the salvation of the world then mine should look like it as well. God wants us to have focused hearts.
· What are my longings? Psalm 37:4 “Enjoy serving the Lord and he will give you what you want.” When we live in submission to God’s plans we can trust our desires. The longings of your heart are not incidental they are critical messages.
· What are my abilities? Did you get the portion of the tape this morning that said, “God never wastes a hurt.”? There is such truth in that statement. When God heals you he does so for a purpose. Paul says in the Philips translation in Romans 12:3, “Have a sane estimate of your capabilities.” In other words, know your strengths and operate out of them.
A lighthouse keeper who worked on a rocky stretch of coastline received oil once a month to keep his light burning. Not being far from a village, he had frequent guests. One night a woman needed oil to keep her family warm. Another night a father needed oil for his lamp. Then another needed oil to lubricate a wheel. All the requests seemed legitimate so the lighthouse keeper tried to meet them all. Toward the end of the month however, he ran out of oil. And the lighthouse went dark, causing several ships to crash on the coastline. The man was reproved by his superiors, “You were given oil for one reason,” they said, “to keep the light burning.”
We cannot meet every need in the world. We cannot please every person in the world. We cannot satisfy every request in the world. But some of us try. And in the end, we run oout of oil. Have a sane estimate of your abilities and stick to them.
One more question.
· Am I serving God now? The 12 year old Jesus with awareness of God’s greater plan for him didn’t launch his ministry as a child prodigy. What did he do? He goes home with his parents to learn the family business. Go home love your family first and live for Christ at home well before you worry about living well as a missionary across the ocean or across the street. Be a good employee. Let your work be your witness. Give extra for the 8 hours pay not less. Give more.