I have to admit. Sometimes I get up on the wrong side of the bed. I start the day with a bad attitude and have a hard time seeing the good in anything. Other days I start out okay but the day will be stressful or the work will be dirty and tiring and but the end I find that I am saying things and demonstrating attitudes that are negative and hurtful. I can get grumpy and be hard to please. While this is not an everyday occurrence it does happen more than I would care to admit. When it does happen, the people that I love and am closest to pay the price. They can easily become the targets of my poor attitude. I am writing this because I know that I am not alone in this and many struggle with allowing negativity to infect everything about their day.
I have come to realize something and I praying that I can learn to incorporate it into my life. When my attitude is wrong it starts with a wrong focus. If I do not begin my morning by turning my thoughts to Jesus and focusing on who He is and who He is making me to be, The cares and circumstances of the day will overwhelm me and cause me to only see the bad in things. It is only when I keep Jesus at the center of my life my that my attitude can be right.
One of the things that I have realized is that I need to be grateful for the work I am doing. Some days it is really dirty and hard. I can be carrying 100 lb bags of cement or lifting buckets of concrete over my head. Other days we might be digging, moving boulders and leveling ground in 100 degree heat. It is easy to get a negative attitude. I need to remind myself of the privilege I get of being allowed to join in the work that Jesus is doing. Over that last 30 years I have been able to work with several hundred young people in the States and now to work with three Churches and 2 schools in Guatemala. I have gotten to hang out with 300 kids and gotten to know many of them. I have been getting to see lives transformed, people set free and come into relationships with Jesus. When I obey Him in the moment, He works and I get to join in the celebration.
It is a privilege to be involved in the work of Jesus. Sometimes it can feel like hard work but it is always a privilege. The bulk of the work is done by the Holy Spirit but we get to see our efforts multiplied by His work. We get to join in with our limited strength and enjoy the fruit of His limitless ability. The key to these things is intimacy with Father so that we can hear and obey Him and a heart of thanksgiving so that we can recognize and appreciate what He is doing. You do not have to be in Guatemala or some foreign country to develop this pattern. You just need to spend time cultivating a relationship with Jesus, practicing thanksgiving and obeying Jesus in the things He shows. You.
I wish that I had been thinking along these lines for all of my Christian life. I know that there are many things I would have done differently. I would not have hurt many of the people that I did. I would have been much more content and even happy with life. Most of all, I would have enjoyed many more of the fruits of my labors if I had not complained so easily. Jesus wants to fill us with joy but we often work against our best interests. Prayerfully, I will learn to break this cycle by focusing on Jesus and harvesting a grateful heart.
The pictures below are just some reminders of how God has opened doors and brought many new people into my life as He has led me in different directions. Each one of them only came about because God wants to use us to minister to others and share His love.