Sunday, February 24, 2013

TIME TO TESTIFY (My Lenten Lesson --- Part One)

My weekly reflection on this second Sunday of Lent gave me time to truly listen to God. I chose to allow His Word to guide and strenghten me while maintaining a strong faith in His promises.
Faith Produces Patience
     As I reflect on the first twelve days of this Lenten season I feel a sense of peace and joy overcome me as my journey towards Spiritual growth begins. The more committed I am to awakening my awareness, the more I see it taking shape and playing a major role in my life. The things I do, the way I act, the things I say, my thoughts, how I treat others and so much more.
     But what I've really come to realize is the importance of my faith. You see, I've always seen faith as an instrument that brings to reality God's promises. You know, "faith is believing things not yet seen". Therefore, faith is to not worry because we know God is taking care of things. But I never realized the way that faith can actually attribute to who I am.  
     It all begins with the first Sunday of Lent, when we encountered an unpleasant issue. I discovered a gas leak at our home and had to call the emergency number to the gas company so they could send somebody out to investigate. Within a matter of minutes after that phone call, we found ourselves without a gas meter, the gas shut off and we were "red tagged" until we had a licensed plumber come and do the repairs.
      Realizing we won't be able to use our gas furnace for heat, I braved the cold wind outside and rushed to our shed to gather the three portable heaters I put inside just a few months prior. While I'm hauling them one at a time, into the house, I'm praising the Lord that I still have them.
     You see, back in November, when they cold weather started closing in, my friend's home wasn't heating properly. I knew I had four portable heaters so I took them to her house and allowed her to choose which one she thought would be suitable for her home. One heater I planned to keep because my dogs stay in a spare bedroom when the weather is very cold but the room doesn't have sufficient heat. But the other two heaters, I was going to give away to charity. But due to my procrastination, or possibly just my laziness, I never took them. Now I was giving thanks to the Lord that I still have them to use to warm the house.
     After all the heaters are now in the house, I praised the Lord that we will be warm, we had plenty of sandwich meat and microwavable food to eat. Our only issue would be the hot water. But my sister invited us over to her house to shower if we wanted. So, although we would be slightly out of our comfort zone, we were still more blessed than some.
     First thing Monday morning, I called to have the plumber come fix the gas leak. He begins telling me I need a new gas line. Immediately I can hear that cash register noise, you know the one that goes, "Cha-ching!" Then he needed to go inside to check the gas appliances to make sure they were ok. Once inside he begins with, "I'll need to replace those gas cocks because they're old and outdated and you need the new ones to get you up to code." Again after his words I hear, "Cha-ching!" While looking at the furnace and water heater, again he says, "I'll need to put gas cocks here and here also. Plus I'll need to replace the piping to the furnace because that one is now illegal. You'll also need a vent cap...." His words are fading out as I'm beginning to hear "Cha-ching! Cha-ching! Cha-ching!"
     I'm now feeling a slight sense of hopelessness but know I must do whatever is necessary in order to get the heat on. He quotes me a price, "Cha-ching!" and I tell him to go ahead with the repairs. Then he informs me there is one other slight problem... I needed to get somebody to move my metal shed before anything is done because it was sitting directly above the gasline.  "Cha-ching!"
     Tuesday the shed was moved and Wednesday the plumbers came to work on the repairs. Everything seemed to be going well, that is, until after all the necessary work was done  and they still could not find the leak. What began with three plumbers working on the repairs soon became six plumbers trying to find the leak. As the sun began to set, they called it a day and vowed to come back first thing Thrusday morning.
     I didn't worry, though. I had faith that for sure it would get fixed the next day. That night, I praised the Lord for letting things go smoothly and, although they hadn't found the leak, I thanked God because my faith reassured me that it will all work out and I won't have to worry about the gasline for many years. Plus, as the plumber said, "Your gas bill should be a lot less now." Though, after we installed new windows and had the house insulated I didn't think the gas bill was very high.
     It was late Thursday before the leak was totally fixed and we had only 2 hours to get the inspector to approve it, then call the gas men to bring my gas meter and turn my gas back on. Problem was... the piping wasn't lined up properly for them to install the gas meter. Another day, no gas. I am now getting very frustrated and testy from being out of my comfort zone.  But I'm still holding onto faith that we will have gas on by the next day.
     First thing Friday morning, I call to have my gas back on but am displeased to find out I now must get a second inspection and yet, another permit before it can be turned on. The inspector came immediately and was surprised about all the hassle I seem to be facing.
      After much wrangling, we finally called the plumbers and the gas man to come back out. As we were waiting, the inspector and I were discussing what I had been going through and he must have noticed my patience was growing very thin because he suddenly told me, "Lighten that heart. Come on now. We're gonna get your gas back on so lighten your heart."
     I was surprised by his statement because I wasn't raising my voice and I thought I was still remaining relatively calm, but I responded, "Man, I'm tired of this crap. I'm losing patience. This gas man seems insensitive to our needs."
    "I know, I know. Everything's gonna be alright." The inspector reassured me again. "Lighten that heart. Come on now. I see you trying to smile. Come on bring that smile out."
     At that time, both the plumber and the gas man arrived. The inspector asked me to step away for a minute while he talked to the gas man so I went to tell the plumber what has been going on. I must have given the impression that I was complaining or angry because unexpectedly the plumber spoke up.
     "Lighten your heart." The plumber told me. "Remember what your cap says."
     By now I'm shocked that the plumber repeated the very same words told to me by the inspector, "Lighten your heart." And when he told me to remember what my cap says, he was referring to the "I, heart shape, Jesus" which is embroidered on my winter beanie cap.
     I came to realize, two different people speaking the same identical words to me could only mean it was God telling me not to lose heart. I've faced the trial this far because I had faith He would work everything out so I must not become angry now because my breakthrough is just minutes away.
     This awakened my awareness of my faith. You see, faith endures trials. Although, trials will come and go, a strong faith will face those trials head-on and develop endurance. Faith knows temptation but doesn't allow us to fall into temptation, but instead obeys the Word. Faith is shown by obedience and believes in the promises of God. Faith will wait patiently on God's timing. Even during trials it suppresses complaining.
     During this first part of the Lent, I've Spiritually grown to the awareness that my faith provided me with the ability to resist the devil by not getting angry but instead I humbly drew nearer to God with a heart filled with love and understanding. Thus, my faith demonstrates not just my trust in God but who I am in Christ.
James 1:2-3  "My brethen, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience."