When we moved back home to California from Oklahoma our dog Mandie quickly developed the habit of sleeping under the bed. We had sold our bedroom set before the move and slept on an inflatable mattress until we were given a like-new queen size bed. I had ordered a set of risers for the bed to aid my wife in the nightly congestion she was experiencing and the extra inches enabled the dog to scoot under the bed on Piper’s side… of course!
Once we relocated to North Carolina she instantly resumed her night time positioning. The recent addition of a hospital bed for my wife confused the dog though. After a week or two she finally settled into the routine of sleeping between the beds while I read at night, sliding under Piper’s bed for a few hours and then returning to the right side of the queen bed for the rest of the night. Then she added the twist of clamoring out from under the bed around six and clicking her nails across the hallway and living room to the Lazy-Boy chair we kept covered just for her to lie on!
Well, it seems that old habits and routines are hard to break. Since her passing a few days ago I still find myself looking for the tell-tale sign of her tail sticking out from under the bed at night and first thing in the morning I continue to glance across the living room when I get up in the morning to greet the dog in the chair as I head to the coffee maker!
It was almost like Mandie had her own Performance Plan of the responsibilities she was expected to perform each day. Whenever Piper had a problem, it was like the dog knew that she NEEDED to be at her side! She seemed to believe that she always had to enter any room in the house first when I would wheel Piper around the house or outside to the deck or yard.
While I worked as a Process Supervisor at Hewlett Packard, one of my first responsibilities was to develop a detailed list of each employee’s job duties and expectations. This list was called a Performance Plan and it gave both the employee and I a clear and concise picture of the responsibilities that their performance on the job would be judged by, come evaluation and raise time. It was also my responsibility to sit down with each worker each quarter to go over their progress according to that written document.
As I was reading about Timothy and his relationship to the Apostle Paul in Philippians chapter two, it dawned on me that Timothy was being “groomed” by Paul to be his replacement. (See 2 Timothy 4:1-11 for some specifics) Then as I sat back in my chair and meditated on that process I thought about the course of my own life from the beginning of our marriage and concurrent ministry to our current set of circumstances. I considered all the Pastors we had the honor of working under and the unique ways in which each of them influenced our lives. I thought about the different members of the congregations in those churches who greatly contributed to who we are today and of all the extremely difficult events that we have had to deal with and grow through over the last six plus years with the onset of the Alzheimer’s that attacked my wife.
With all that in mind, I then realized that Papa God is still in the process of “grooming” my wife and I for a special ministry. I also realized that each of us is continually in the process of being “groomed,” refreshed, refined and re-established for future plans that Almighty God has in line for us to accomplish… in this realm or the next! The author of my commentary on the book of Philippians tells a story of a local celebrity who was marvelously saved and immediately developed an organization and went out into full time ministry without taking the time to be established in the Word and in the humility of Christian service and sacrifice, and ended up losing everything including his unsaved wife.
He then made a comment that really grabbed my attention saying that we should never allow our branches to go out farther than our roots go deep. For if that happens you will eventually topple!" It made me think about all the mistakes I made in our ministry in our first assignment right after our marriage. I was saved about six months before our wedding and within a few weeks of being married was asked to take the position as the Youth Minister in Piper’s church. With that I eagerly jumped in with both feet and surely had some great success, accomplished many things and in talking to some of those first youths in recent years put a lot of good things of God into their lives.
But… looking back I can also see that there was A LOT of “I’s” in the mix!
And I clearly remembered my wife teaching many children’s services on the subject of “pride” and hearing the kids enthusiastically yelling out their answer when she would begin the lesson asking the students “What is the middle letter in the word pride?”
I thank God that by the time we left that church, where I thought I was too important to usher when they were in a pinch one Sunday morning, I was broken of most of the “I’s” in me and joined the new fellowship humbly and desiring to do ANYTHING that was asked of me.
So what do you think? Are you willing to do whatever it takes and wherever it brings you to be “groomed” for the higher position that Papa God has for you? Are you willing to follow the Position Plan that He has uniquely written JUST FOR YOU? Just for your talents, giftings and abilities and not try to be like anyone else?
I am… and even though I would LOVE to take over Mandie’s responsibilities of lying on the comfy Lazy Boy chair and sleep comfortably until I hear breakfast being prepared in the morning… I must continue to focus, continue to thank God for His joy with gives me His strength and be happy as I sacrifice and give acts of service for my wife’s benefit. That’s God’s plan for me right now… and I must admit that I love it when HIS plans come together!
Have a great day wherever you are today. The storm that blew in last night in our neighborhood is breaking up as I look outside and the blue sky and warm sun is peeking through! Looks like a fantastic day to me and I pray that yours is the same as you continue to ask yourself… “What or Whose PLAN am I expecting to be GROOMED for today?”