Removing Planks

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5

Today I was on my way to work and stopped off a gas station to buy gas.  As I pulled in I was not looking forward to the fact that I was going to have to get out of the car to stand on sore knees to pump gas.  Pumping gas was better than the alternative which would be having to walk when I ran out a few miles down the road.  (For those of you who don’t know I had knee surgery a week ago and the other knee is scheduled for surgery 3 weeks from today so standing and walking is very painful at the moment)

A few minutes later I had finished pumping my gas and I had my car door open with one leg halfway in the car.  Just then a big rusty beat up old car came smoking and chugging up to the pump next to me.   As the car stopped  the car’s driver, a worn and disheveled looking man was waving at me and saying something which I could not understand.

“What?” I said.  He said it again and once again I could not understand him.   “Not today,” I thought,  All I wanted to do was get in my car and go.  Leg coming back out of the car and hanging on to the car door for support leaned closer and said, “Sir, could not hear you”.

He spoke again this time he was waving a card of some sort but still I could not understand him.  Oh how I just wanted to get in my car and go!  But no it was not going to happen today… by then I had received that nudge…you know the one…the one from the Holy Spirit that says, “Go!”  Slowly and reluctantly I began hobbling my way over to his car,

As I was on my way over I was thinking to myself “T what are you doing? This man looks kinda scary”.   I am ashamed to say now that yes I was judging him.  I guess in my mind I decided that because him and his car were beat up and also he had a bit of a crankiness to him that maybe he could be dangerous.  Add to that the fact that today I was feeling rushed and also sorry for me!  I just wanted get in my car and get off my sore legs but I was in too deep to back out now!

As I arrived at his car door, once again I said, “I am sorry sir but did not hear you.”  By then he was looking as if he was stressed and I thought he may be annoyed with me.  once more he spoke, this time I heard him, He asked, ” Are you going into the store”?  “Nooooo!” I thought, the last thing I wanted to do was go in the store…” No I am not”, I said about the same time as I spied a huge pile of clothes in the back of his car with a walker thrown on top of them.  Seeing the walker made me feel a nudge of guilt but I still said “I just had knee surgery and I paid for my gas at the pump so I would not have to go in.”

He looked at me as if shocked and he replied, “But I can not walk at all”.   So much for getting out of here easy, there was no way I was I ever going to be able to walk (no pun intended) away from this now.

The next words out of my mouth were “what do you need?”  He said, “I need someone to go in the store and get one of the people who work here to come out and pump my gas and take this (he held up gift card)  in to pay for my gas.  I told him I had a better idea, I would  take his gift card in, pay for his gas and then come back out and pump his gas.   He gave me an odd look and instead of saying okay he said, “no, get a worker.”.

Go get a worker….Really??”  as I was standing there looking at him all the sudden a light bulb went off in my brain… he did not trust me!

Here I had sized him up and decided that by his disheveled look,  beat up car and cranky attitude hat he may be dangerous while at the same time he had decided, that I may be a thief and steal his gift card!

Ouch!  feeling a bit ashamed of myself I began hobbling my way into the store.

A few minutes later as woman who worked at the store pumped his gas I was driving off pondering the question – What does a thief look like?  Do I look like a thief?   I also began thinking things like, the man had a walker but he was driving, how did he get in the car, did he scam me into doing stuff for him because he was lazy?  He was also very cranky and never really acted thankful or said thank you.  Did I deserve a thank you?  yep…more judging.

Could it be that maybe we are just supposed to treat our fellow man with kindness regardless of the way they treat us?  Could it be that maybe we are not expect anything in return?  I know nothing about that man or his life, he needed help is all I know and that should be enough.

I have many things to think about and many new lessons were learned today.

1.  No matter how bad I think I have it someone else always will have something worse.  I have sore knees but someone else may not be even able to walk.

2.  No matter how much I think I do not judge others, I still do.  I had sized this man up by his appearance and decided he may be untrustworthy or dangerous it never dawned on me that maybe I could be the one who was thought to be untrustworthy.

3.  GRACE.  I do not know his story and he does not know mine. He is one of God’s children just as I am.  Do I deserve a thank you? A thank you is always nice but the answer is – No.  We should all take care of one another and love one another.  How many times has God done things for me that I did not say thank you for??  The Sun rises and  I have air to breathe, do I remember to say thank you every day?  I should but  I don’t always remember.  some days I spend thinking about what I do not have or what is wrong with my day completely forgetting what is good and to say thank you for that.   I should always extend the same grace to others as God gives to me.

And last lesson learned today….there are always lessons to be learned.

Dear Father,  Thank you for showing me that I still have a lot to more growing to do. Thank you for showing me that we are all your children. Thank you for allowing me to meet one of my brothers at the gas station today and please forgive me for judging him.  Please continue to show me how to not judge others and to be thankful for the many blessings you provide me every day.  Please continue to show me how to always extend love and kindness to all people as you do to me.  Thank you for letting the sun rise today and thank you for the air I breathe.  Amen

 

 

 

Changed

“You have changed!”  Those words cut right through me just as they were meant to do, they were supposed to hurt, supposed to turn me into a blubbering mess of tears and make me sad that I did not want to join in on the so called ‘fun’,  but just as I felt the tears welling up in my eyes I heard another voice but this voice was kind,  “you have changed”,  God whispered.

I stopped crying sad tears instead they turned to tears of happiness as the truth began hitting me like a ton of bricks….Yes it was true, I had ‘changed’

Rewind this story back to 3 and a half years ago…

Three and a half years ago I became a Christian.  Three years ago I loved wine and I believed it was okay if I still drank it.  I loved going to winery’s and always had a glass with my dinner.  I had that glass every night with dinner and then I had ‘only’ two more glasses after dinner.  Did you know that a normal sized bottle of wine holds  three glasses of wine??  Try it if you don’t believe me, one bottle of wine will fill up only 3 glasses.  If I told someone I had three glasses of wine it did not sound like much, but If I said I drank a whole bottle of wine every night then… well you get the picture.  I thought I had everyone fooled but really I am pretty sure I was only trying to fool myself in thinking I only had three glasses of wine a night.

Fast forward one year (This was 2 years ago)

That morning I woke up finding myself in a heap on the bathroom floor with a headache so bad that it made me wish I had never waken up.  My insides were sore from the vomiting and my mouth felt like I had huge wads of cotton in it.  I wanted to die right there on that floor I felt so awful.  Small bits and pieces of the day and night before began flooding my mind… being at the winery with friends, a trip to the Elks lodge for tequila shots and shuffleboard to the home of our friends for more wine and a spaghetti dinner.  I vaguely remember going home because I did not feel well, then a flash of me standing in my front yard vomiting.  Patches of my memory were gone and I kept thinking “how did I get on this bathroom floor?’

Fast forward 2 hours later…

Finally feeling some better now but still feeling like a truck ran over me I signed into facebook and there on my wall tagged for everyone to see is a picture of  me very drunk showing off for the picture! Its very obvious that I posed for the picture though I do not remember even having that picture taken.  I had a tequila shot in one hand glass of wine in the other….oh won’t my mother be so proud of me!(sarcasm).  The truth is I was so embarrassed I hoped so bad she hadn’t saw it or any of my non-party friends…..

Fast forward another couple of hours…

I Still had the killer headache but I was finally recovering from the hangover, I had removed the facebook picture and hopefully not to many people had seen.  I was finally thinking maybe I had gotten away with my behavior though I was asking myself if  it was really worth it to feel so horrible for hours for just a few hours of so called ‘fun’?  and then it happened… my phone beeped, “you have a text message from your sister” it said…I open the message and the minute I saw it I started crying.   To my horror there on my phone screen was a picture of my laying on the bathroom floor sleeping with a message that says “looks like someone had a good time last night”.  Someone in my family had taken a picture of me and sent it to her.

That was the moment I truly saw who I had became.  I was a mess and I did not like the lady I saw in that picture.  I was a liar and I was so disgusted with myself I wanted to start puking all over again.  Seeing that picture was what helped me see the real me.  That was the day I realized if I was going to be a follower of Jesus I had to change. That was the day I realized it wasn’t fun to drink.  I was drowning myself in the alcohol thinking it was going to help me to have a good time.   It was  fun for about the first hour when I felt tipsy but after that it was all a blur,  lost memory, puking and a killer headache, Not exactly my proudest moment…. I was ashamed of myself.

For those who know me in my life outside of the blog world many will be surprised to read this story because I always have been a responsible person.  I never drank and drove.  I never drank at work.  I functioned in the world as a pretty upstanding citizen.  I was a closet drinker most of the time. I usually drank starting with dinner never getting drunk until after everyone else was asleep.  With the exception of the partying with friends on the weekends nobody really knew about the weeknight drinking except my family.  I thought that partying with friends was  ‘acceptable’ because they did it too. We all used to joke about it and call ourselves “functional alcoholics”, when truth is I just needed an excuse to make my behavior acceptable, which I know now it wasn’t.

The day I woke up finding myself in a heap on the bathroom floor was the day I knew it was time to change.

Shortly after that day I found this a scripture it told me to fill myself with God and also reminded me that He was all I needed.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:15-20

Today…

That was not the end of my story… I know that for the rest of my life I will be faced with choices to make and with those choices will come consequences of my actions.  They can either be good or bad depending on what I choose.  Since that day I have chose Jesus and plan to keep choosing Him.  He is all I need.

If you are struggling with and addiction or have ever found yourself in a heap on the floor over anything, I hope my story will somehow give you hope, for it is with Jesus that we can do anything.  He will take your pain away and he will give you the strength you need to get through whatever it is you are going through.  I know this to be true because I have lived it.

One last verse before I close…

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength… Philippians 4:13   This seems to be my life verse I say it quite frequently.

You can and he will…All you have to do is ask….

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Enjoy this song by Kutless… I’m a believer in Jesus’ power are you?