AUCTION!

AUCTION!

auctionI love to go to auctions! Why? Because I can usually get some great deals there – like, a dresser for $5, a couch for $10, a box of miscellaneous items for $1! I love going! It is like being on a treasure hunt! So imagine my excitement when I heard the Christian College in the little town next to us was having an auction. I put the date on my calendar, made plans to attend, and, with all the excitement and buzz about it in the community, I just knew it was going to be a good one! I anticipated the deals I might find: the antiques and the donated craft items! Being new to the area, I had been told this was going to be the best one around. It was the talk of the whole community. People were coming in from all over the area; alumni were coming back in from out of town, just for this event. In this little community of about 700 people the anticipation was overwhelming!

When I walked into the gym where the auction was being held, the auctioneer had already started his spiel, “Who will give me a hundred? A hundred and a quarter?” And so on. I didn’t have to be there long before I realized this was no normal auction. There were not going to be any “great deals!” A piece of cheesecake went for $110.00; a quilt was being bid up in the thousands of dollars!

It was obvious that the people attending this auction did not come for a deal. NO, they came to spend! Why? Because they love this small town college and they want to see that it continues to operate. They are dedicated to its mission and are willing to do whatever it takes keep it going. That got me thinking . . . How dedicated are WE to the mission of God? Are we in it only for the “good deal” of getting into heaven? Is that the only reason we follow God?  Have we seriously considered what God has called us to do? Mark 16:15 says that God has called us to  . . .”Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation,” and Matthew 5:16 tells us to “Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Have we considered the sacrifice that it is going to take on our part to serve Christ? Because, let me tell you, there was no doubt that the people at this auction had considered the sacrifices! They were going to do whatever they needed to do; they were willing to give everything they had, because they love this college so much. None of these people drove up in Rolls-Royces or Ferrari’s. No, these were simple farmers, pastors, and everyday people who look just like you and me. Some even wore straw hats and overalls. They had obviously saved up since the last auction so they could come back and give, all over again!

I wonder: Are WE that willing to see the cause of Christ go forward? These people sure were! It made me evaluate my own life and dedication! I am certain that these people had sacrificed things they desired for themselves, in order to give to this college. It reminds me of the last moments before Christ was taken into custody, giving His life for ours. He asked His dad (GOD!) if there was any other way to do this and then, knowing there wasn’t, He laid down His life for us!  And now, we think if we have to give up our Starbucks coffee for a week, or do without a manicure, we think we are just about living on the edge of disaster.

When we seriously consider the amazing act of love that was shown to us through Christ Jesus – the sacrifice He made by giving His life – or just the sheer act of not striking us down dead some days for our own stupidity . . . ! But, you know, He loves us so much! We are valued, and uniquely designed, by the Creator of the universe. When we consider just how much love He has shown us, should we not desire to reciprocate that love back to Him?

I don’t know about you, but when someone shows me kindness, especially undeserved kindness, I am often overwhelmed by the blessing that has been given to me.

Today, I wonder if you will consider just how good God has been to you; if you will remember the price He paid for you to have eternal life, and just what that means to you in the realm of eternity. The Bible says He loved us BEFORE we loved Him (1 John 4:19). Just like these individuals were willing to give their all to insure that this college continues on, we have a Savior who was willing to give His all for us. How can we give Him any less?

You see, our relationship with Christ should never be looked at as a bargain, but as a priceless gift of which we are undeserving. It is then and only then, that we will realize just exactly how much we have been forgiven. And she, who has been forgiven much, loves much! (Luke 7:47)

Won’t you love today?

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The Not So Perfect Couple!

Recently, Jeff and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary. On Facebook, I posted a video I had asked our daughter to put together a couple years ago which reflected so much of our past. But, as I watched it this year, it seemed incomplete to me. Oh, sure, there were the pictures of Jeff and me from our teen years; pictures of us dressed up so much we could have gone to a prom. (We never did though; that’s a long story for later.) Pictures of our honeymoon; pictures of Jeff, headed to the airport to leave me for nine long months to go to the Philippines with the USAF, after being married for just three weeks; pictures of our babies, from birth till now. And, all that caused a plethora of memories to rush in.  

But honestly, it all looked a little fake to me – or maybe I should say, the premise of it all made us appear to be something that we aren’t.  We aren’t “Perfect”! What you didn’t see in that video is the tears that have been cried over loved ones dying, infertility, the extended childhood illness we went through with our son, the learning disabilities,  the financial infidelity,  the rejection of our extended family, emotional infidelity, homelessness, joblessness, the harsh words said to each other, and the tender moments when forgiveness came. You didn’t see the 13 moves we made – in three states and two countries – and the 18-plus jobs Jeff had to support us.
The “perfect pictures” you see on the video aren’t what makes our life perfect. What does make our life perfect for me, is knowing that Jeffrey Miller knows the worst of me and still chooses to find the best in me. It is knowing that, no matter how aggravating I am to that man, I know he would give His life for me! It is the times we have stood together through the trials and prayed together. It is the times that we couldn’t stand to be in the same room with each other, but God’s grace brought us together once again.
See, the video, which makes our life appear perfect, is just a perception. If anyone had been a fly on the walls of our lives for the last 36 years, they would never say, “This is a ‘Perfect Couple!’” No, they would be scratching their heads, asking, “How did this young couple, who met at the ages of 13 and 16, even make it down the aisle, let alone still stand together 32 years later?”
But i am here to proclaim, it is simply by the grace of God! There is nothing good within either of us that deserves the grace that God has given us, let alone the grace we have received from each other. God’s faithfulness has completed us and, without that grace, we would not have had the stamina it has taken to stick out this life-long commitment we made some 32 years ago.
Were their times we wanted to quit? You bet! The odds were stacked against us, yet we still prevailed; not in ourselves, but in the strength of God. There were days when we could not have taken another step in this relationship if it wasn’t for the grace of God, carrying us through. But God directed our steps and saw us through. He is the One who gave us the strength to try it one more day.
In this day and age, when the sanctity of marriage is being attacked all around us, we must remember that the only way we can make it another 32 years is not in the strength that we have within ourselves, but it is only through the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ.
In our first 32 years of marriage, we have learned that love is not a feeling, but a choice; an action; a verb. It isn’t about what we feel, but it is about what we know and then, what we do!
Yes, love is a choice, and I am so glad that through it all, we made that choice! Even when it was a tough one! So don’t let the pretty pictures on Facebook deceive you. There isn’t a couple that has been married for very long that won’t tell you that they have all had their struggles and their trials. The only difference in the outcome is the choices they made.
So I encourage you: whatever issue you are having right now with the person you love, remember, “Love is a choice.” I will also give you some amazing advice that a good friend of mind gave me – after she had almost lost her marriage – when I was in the hardest part of our marriage, and was ready to walk out the door. She told me, “All I can tell you, Alesa, is this: If you will hang in there and not quit, it will be worth it – I promise!”  She was right. It was those words that God used through her that encouraged me to stay one more day and is why we are where we are today.
So hang in there, don’t quit! I promise, “it will be worth it!!”