"I am with you."

Monday I discovered that my riding mower needed the blades changed. After propping it up (safely!) I found I couldn’t turn the wrench and hold the blade at the same time. My neighbor, Tom, was working in his yard, so I called out, “Would you help me, please?” An extra set of hands made the job much easier to complete. Could I taken the blades off of the mower deck alone? Probably, but with frustration and skinned knuckles!

One of the memories that brings a wide smile to my face is that of my daughter, Chrissie, when she was a little girl. She was fiercely independent. (I wonder who she got that trait from?) I remember a wintry day when she was perhaps 4 or so and we were preparing to go outside. There she stood in the back porch with her winter parka upside down, her foot in the hood, and she was attempting to put her arms in the sleeves. When I tried to assist she brushed off my offer – “I do it myself!” and then became more and more agitated as her efforts failed.

Maturity brings us the realization that living like the Lone Ranger, aloof and self-sufficient, is not an ideal to emulate, but a foolish fantasy. On TV, the Lone Ranger may appear a romantic figure, but in reality, people who choose that path are just lonely and ineffective. We need each other. Sharing our lives, joining with others in deep and meaningful relationships, is a source of joy and multiplies our effectiveness. One of the keys of a successful life is learning how to relate well to others, how to collaborate on tasks, how to contribute to others and how to receive from others. The best leaders are not those who try to do it all by themselves, or who want to be the star of the show; but rather those who know how to draw together people of disparate skills into teams and then to keep the team inspired and unified!

Believer, Jesus Christ has given you and me a big job to do. “Go, build the Kingdom.” I hope you realize that He wasn’t telling us to create power structures and wealth building schemes! His commission was that we should go into the world and shine the light that dispels confusion and fear; that we should bring love and compassion that would defeat hatred and apathy; that we should demonstrate the purposeful existence to which God calls us for those who are living without hope. And He promises this- “…be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20, NLT) We are not alone!

When we grow weary, especially after a time of high output, we are subject to falling into the ‘Elijah syndrome.’ That great prophet saw a great victory on Mt. Carmel with the defeat of the Baal gods. But the victory of Yahweh, the God of Israel, infuriated Jezebel who threatened Elijah with death. Exhausted, he ran off into the wilderness. In his isolation, he prayed a foolish prayer – “I’ve been working my heart out for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,” said Elijah. “The people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.”” (1 Kings 19:10, The Message) Doesn’t that just ooze self-pity? But God didn’t give up on the prophet. Instead, He gave him rest and sustenance and then reminded him that there were still 7000 other faithful Believers in Israel. Then, God told him to go find a man to work alongside of him, someone to whom he could hand off the prophetic responsibilities, and he found Elisha.

If you really want to make a difference for God, maximizing both your joy and effectiveness, join a team! If you’re looking for a ‘perfect’ team, you will search for a long time, and should you find it and join it, your presence will ruin it. (’cause you’re not perfect, and neither am I.) Bring your strengths, your spiritual gifts, and your weaknesses! Let God use you as you are content to be who you are – no more, no less. And never forget what Jesus promises – “I am with you!”

Here’s a word from the Word to ponder today –

“You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ….

If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.” (1 Corinthians 12: 20, 26-27, The Message)

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