When I was out walking late yesterday afternoon I was thinking about a lot of things going on in my life right now…and I was determined to look for signs…that God was hearing me…that God was with me….that everything was going to be ok and work out for the “greatest good and the best and highest interest of the most concerned.”
It was really windy. The Bradford Pear blossoms are scattered everywhere. My deck and driveway have at times looked like they are covered with snow. The yards and sidewalks look like a large heavenly wedding had heavy-handed flower girls. As I walked, the fragile white blossoms blew down the street beside of me and around my feet…and several times mixed with left-over autumn leaves. Together the old and new spun around in tiny tornadoes…”dirt devils” without dirt. That was a sign to me. I smiled and said, “Thank you, Daddy John… for being with me and watching over me…please put a word in for me Up There.” His presence, and his presence, literally beside me, and all around me, gave me peace. It made me consider my faith…do I believe? Can I surrender all of the “How’s” and just trust the end result?
Yesterday late afternoon, for the first time in what seems like a long time, was more sunny than not. But it was brisk…actually cold. Just as I was thinking that I didn’t ever think that it was going to be warm again…my phone notified me that I had gotten an email from a precious friend. She had forwarded a devotional to me that said, “THIS IS THE DAY THAT I HAVE MADE. Rejoice and be glad in it. Begin the day with open hands of faith, ready to receive all that I am pouring into this brief portion of your life.
Be careful not to complain about anything, even the weather, since I am the Author of your circumstances.
The best way to handle unwanted situations is to thank Me for them.
This act of faith frees you from resentment and frees Me to work My ways into the situation, so that good emerges from it…
and I know that you can bear the weight of only one day at a time. Do not worry about tomorrow or get stuck in the past. There is abundant Life in My Presence today.”
I looked up at the sky, smiling at the irony…and there was a cloud shaped like a heart in the middle of a bright blue patch of sky. I forwarded the picture to a friend…and as I was typing the message to ask if my friend thought it looked like a heart too, I got a quick message that said, “Hey, that’s a heart!”
The sky was blue with white fluffy clouds shaped like hearts…flowers blooming, tiny neighborhood lakes shimmering, red buds and weeping willows and a cornucopia of other beautiful types of trees budding…and I am wondering about whether God hears me…and whether or not He can take care of things? HHHmmmmm.
And all I could think about was Mary Poppins. It is hard to believe, but I never saw that entire movie until I was an adult with children of my own. Of course it became an immediate “hit”. They wanted to watch it over and over. I was fine with that. I wanted to watch it over and over too! There are a few scenes that keep coming to mind…By the way, The Lenten Lesson Chapter 12 is “INVEST”. First, in Mary Poppins the mother is busy parading around town. Yes, it is a very good cause, but she does not seeing the importance of investing in her own children. She has grand ideals and wants to change the world, but doesn’t see that she has the opportunity and responsibility to first change the world through her position as Mother.
So her children are “naughty”. I think they are just children trying to be noticed and trying to have a little joy in a very oppressive environment…but they kept running off nannies. The children write a letter of the qualities that they hope that their father will consider when he is choosing their next nanny:
“The Perfect Nanny by Jane Banks: Wanted a nanny for two adorable children. If you want this choice position, have a cheery disposition. Rosy cheeks, no warts! Play games, all sorts. You must be kind, you must be witty. Very sweet and fairly pretty. Take us on outings, give us treats. Sing songs, bring sweets. Never be cross or cruel. Never give us castor oil or gruel. Love us as a son and daughter. And never smell of barley water. If you won’t scold and dominate us, We will never give you cause to hate us. We won’t hide your spectacles so you can’t see; Put toads in your bed or pepper in your tea. Hurry, Nanny! Many thanks Sincerely,
Jane and Michael Banks”
Their father thinks this list is ridiculous and tosses the letter in the fireplace. The ashes rise up out of the flu…and a wind from another direction comes to town…carrying with it Mary Poppins.
How does this make me think of INVESTing? Mary Poppins arrives to care for and teach life lessons to the Banks children…but also to the Banks adults. That is what she does. That is her life’s work. Her ministry.
In one scene, Michael Banks has some money. Mr. Banks works at the”Fidelity Fiduciary Bank” and expects Michael to invest his money there. Mary Poppins suggests that Mr.Banks take Michael with him to work so that Michael can see what his father does. Mr. Banks allows it because he wants Michael to INVEST his money wisely…in the bank. But as Michael is going with his father to the bank, he sees an old lady sitting on the steps of the cathedral…and the music begins….
“Early each day to the steps of Saint Paul’s, the little old bird woman comes. In her own special way to the people she calls, ‘Come, buy my bags full of crumbs. Come feed the little birds, show them you care. And you’ll be glad if you do. Their young ones are hungry, Their nests are so bare; All it takes is tuppence from you.’ Feed the birds, tuppence a bag. Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag. ‘Feed the birds,’ that’s what she cries, While overhead, her birds fill the skies. All around the cathedral the saints and apostles look down as she sells her wares. Although you can’t see it, you know they are smiling each time someone shows that he cares. Though her words are simple and few, Listen, listen, she’s calling to you: ‘Feed the birds, tuppence a bag. Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag.’
Michael has “tuppence”. His father wants it…to do with it as his father wants to. Michael has other ideas. When his father tries to forcibly take Michael’s money…he runs away. Not away from home. Not to stay gone. Just to escape from a bad situation. Do you think maybe that bird lady was singing about more than birds? What do we do with what we have?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Dave Early says, “Note that last phrase – where your treasure is, there your heart will also be. In other words, love is an investment. We invest in what we love and love what we invest in. Since our calling is to love people, the key to loving people is investing in them.” With our time, our talents our gifts and our service…or do we hoard it away? Wasted, unused.
Luke 6:31 says,”Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Americans are terribly independent. That is a problem. We don’t necessarily want to feel like we need others to do things for us! So what about this…Do to others as they want you to do.
I don’t expect it, but I might LOVE for someone to invest their time and energy in me by spending quality time with me…or folding the laundry for me…or cleaning up the kitchen. I might LOVE for someone to invest words that encourage and build me up… “word of confirmation.” I might LOVE someone to invest their time and energy by messaging my shoulders or holding my hand, giving me hugs or rubbing my tired feet.
But just because I like to be touched doesn’t mean that you do. Maybe if I tried to do unto you what I would like done unto me you would HATE it. Maybe what I LOVE and that speaks to me doesn’t say anything to you!
Maybe I don’t care about getting presents or gifts…but that is what you LOVE and how you know that someone thought about you… receiving something tangible and material makes you feel special and loved.
Are we investing in other people in ways that are EASY for us…or in ways that are meaningful to them? That is harder. That takes thought and consideration. How hard is it to include someone else in something that I already plan to do and like to do myself. But how hard would it be to do something for another person that does not come naturally for me…that I have to go out of my way for or that is out of my comfort zone?
Dave Early says, “Love is not so much a feeling as it is an action or an expression. Love is acted upon and expressed by seeing a need and extending yourself to meet it.”
1 John 3:17-18 “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
James 2:15-16 “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”
What does it say when we don’t help…when we don’t follow through with a promise…when we don’t clean up our messes or try to speak the other persons “love language”. It says that we don’t care. It says that we don’t have time or energy or love to invest. It says that we aren’t interested in a relationship because a REAL relationship is not just “what can you do for me?” It is “what can I do for YOU?”
Letting people know how we feel about them by telling them is important…let people know the reasons why we feel that way. Specifically (not just “You’re great!” …But “I noticed how you helped our neighbor take the groceries out of her car today. Do you know how helpful that was? I know she appreciated that! That was so thoughtful and made me extremely proud of you. Thank you for being so considerate of other people and seeing a need!”) Did that take more time and effort to say? And would we have to be paying attention and notice? Yes. But the “You’re great!” without elaboration can easily be met with the thought, “Yea, right…whatever …No I’m not.” But, “I noticed…” the specific goods thing that you did will be met with “Wow! It mattered. I did something good.” Which will lead to more good things…because we all like to be noticed and sincerely praised and we like we have a purpose.
Dave Early says, “Affirming others builds relationships. Go out of your way to express confidence in others. Show public trust in their abilities and character. Affirm their passion, skills, and efforts.” Do to others as they want…as they need.
“Nothing says, ‘I love you’ like our full, undivided attention…distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Learn to be the giver of attention. Look at people when they speak. Read between the lines when they share concerns. Show interest in their job, their family, and their health. Ask about their day…to feel close, others need us to be present emotionally…Failing to see the other person as a free person who is able to make their own decisions and have their own desires can crush or infuriate them. Seeing others as an extension of ourselves will result in our trying to control what they think, feel, want, do, value and believe and is destined to drive them away and ultimately deflate love. Real love can only grow when someone’s ‘real self’ can be known and accepted by the other person.” Dave Early
Jesus said,“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory,that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 1Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:5-17
At the end of the movie, Mary Poppins has flown off to her next assignment. And the Banks family is enjoying the windy day…spending quality time flying a kite…together. The children got the desire of their heart…the Nanny they wished for and needed and more importantly the family they needed. They believed. Oh, Lord, give me a child’s belief.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6