Last week I arrived at the library with my return books but no wallet. I started to drive back home, but then I remembered that the new and improved library app on my phone had a virtual library card. I picked out four books quickly, took them to the counter, and pulled up the library card on my phone. The librarian looked at me like I was from Mars. She had not seen the new and improved library app. She gave scanning the bar code on my phone a try. Nothing. She consulted the librarian next to her. He belted out the rule of needing either the physical card or photo ID without even looking in our direction.
I could have argued. Mostly because the doe-eyed librarian who was choosing to actually converse with me seemed very kind. I responded, “Hold these for me. I’ll be back.”
I jumped in my car. I thought about how I could stew and steam about the twenty minutes that would be wasted in my day or I could turn on Spotify and listen to that new album I’ve been wanting to play all the way through.
That day I responded well to others and for myself. That isn’t always the case, especially those inward responses.
I’ve been thinking about why listening to what God says about you and me is important. Why does it matter that he loved us first and we are beloved, that he chose us and we are chosen, that he called us and commissioned us?
I think it matters because we are responders to His moving in our lives. Our whole life as a Child of God is choosing how to respond to Him and others.
When He loves us, will we love back?
When He speaks to our heart, will we take time for silent listening?
When He allows hurt, will we turn to Him for healing?
When He allows hurt in the lives of others, do we sit alongside them in their pain?
When He sets the wind blowing on our physical life, will we focus inward to the spiritual?
When He puts people who bear His image in our life, will we show them grace, mercy, forgiveness, truth, and love?
When He shows us people, who bear His image, that are physically far away from us and suffering, will we take a moment to show love through prayer — even when they might disrupt our physical lives, prosperity, or safety?
When we experience joy, will we praise Him?
When we experience loss, will we praise Him?
It is all a response.
We like to think that we are navigating this life we are living, and we are to an extent. We hate to admit how little control we actually have in our lives.
We have no control over the family, country, or time we were born into. Just this small fact about us determines so much of our possible future.
We have no control over others. This may seem obvious but how easily we can be deceived into thinking we do. We could try to control or manipulate others, but that ruins relationships.
We have no control over circumstances. If we did, our house wouldn’t still be on the market. You probably have a thing in your life you have been actively seeking to change only to see stagnant results.
We have some choices in our lives, but we have many, many more responses in our deck of cards to play.
This lack of control does not mean we are off the hook and we can just sit back and respond. We are to be actively engaging in love toward others, connecting in relationships. We are also called and commissioned. This requires planning, working well with others, following through with commitments, stewarding resources, making decisions, and acting on those decisions.
As we play those cards of choices and actions, we will be interrupted by all the things out of our control. This is where our responses will dictate your spiritual maturity, and your spiritual maturity will dictate your responses.
Will you respond to the world around you by trying to manipulate people and circumstances to give you the best seat possible? Or will you respond with a willing heart that wants to serve and shepherd others with love, no matter the result — personally or spiritually?
Will you respond with trust, even when the circumstances seem bleak?
Will you respond with compassion and empathy when you see others choosing wrong responses?
Will you take two minutes out of the rush of trying to control and quietly listen for the One who actually has control?
We have to accept our hands are empty to respond correctly. We have to accept we are seen, known, beloved, liked, chosen, included, friended, called, commissioned, and kept to believe that we can hope and trust the God who feels all of this for each one of us.
The constant question in your life every day, all day is what is your response to this moment.
Can’t wait to see the ocean later this month.