About 15 years ago I was hit hard by the first line of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. The book begins with “It’s not about you!” Of course, this is a simple enough statement but I had to stop and read it again and again. As I read it, it was like being hit between the eyes with a 2X4. Or maybe I should say it was like the V-8 commercial when the person knocks themselves upside the head when they realize how foolish and short-sighted they’ve been, not having realized the value of drinking V-8 juice.
Well, that was me and probably a lot of other people too or it would not have been the first line of his book! Many of us believe life revolves all around us and what we want, need, or prefer. For me, when I saw this side of my character I realized I thought most everything that happened (or didn’t happen) in my life was because of something I had (or had not) said or done. I had given myself far too much power, not recognizing how God works in the complexity of our lives.
Ok, so fast forward to this morning and I was thinking about the Christian ministry called “I am Second.” It is a fruitful ministry that has inspired countless people to put Jesus Christ first in their lives. And yes, this is a really good thing and is what our lives are supposed to be about. We can all agree God is to be first, but should we really be second?
As I pondered this I realized, for me, the slogan is technically wrong. I’m not second–I’m third or should maybe even be last!
This week in Restoration’s Lenten devotional, Pauses for Lent by Trevor Hudson, he speaks of the special place in God’s heart for the poor. Trevor goes on to say that it is important for Christians to share God’s grief for the poor in whatever ways they can so as to help bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots. This, of course, is one of the Lenten season’s main focuses — that of alms giving. Alms giving is the act of charity and love extended to those less fortunate which was first expressed by God in the giving of his son Jesus, who gave Himself sacrificially upon the cross for the salvation of all believers.
It is beautiful that our church is giving us opportunities to put our alms giving into practice this season. Our first Lenten service project was this past weekend. It was a glorious time of getting our hands dirty in the name of the Lord as we extended love to a fellow church that needed our help. We had almost 30 people working side-by-side as Restoration came along side Fellowship of Hope Mentoring to lend a helping hand to Divine Mercy Christian Church of Richardson. All who gave of themselves put themselves third.
By loving God, and following in Jesus’ footsteps they put the needs of others before their own. Each gave up their Saturday morning free time to help. But it wasn’t just their time they gave up, but their comfort as well because much of the work was performed in the mist or rain. But work they did! A 14 cubic yard dumpster was filled with debris, 5 different flower beds were weeded, new plants planted, and mulch spread, as well as all windows cleaned inside and out, and funds for a replacement refrigerator collected. It was a wonderful morning as we helped others less fortunate than ourselves who were sorely in need of a helping hand.
Restoration is offering a broadened Lenten experience for all who are willing to dive into the service projects offered. Opportunities that help us to reflect on the transforming possibilities of Jesus’ death and resurrection. If you haven’t done so yet I encourage everyone to participate in at least one of the three remaining service projects being offered. These opportunities, if taken, will help take your walk with God from second place to third place as our Lenten experience begs for us to do.