October 6, 2004
Encouragement for Today
"I Was Blind But Now I See"
Author, Speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries
"Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" (John 9:25)
My judgmental attitude began as we waited outside the huge mahogany door nervously wringing our hands. We began to chat, both nervous about the same thing. In five minutes, I would be meeting with the senior director of acquisitions for Focus on the Family Publishing to pitch my beloved book. When my appointment was over, she would pitch hers.
"So, what's your book about, Lisa?" I probed. "Well, I haven't exactly written anything yet but I would like to write a book about my life story," she replied as she glanced down at her handwritten notes on a small piece of paper.
"Next," I heard the appointments director call. I stood and began making my way toward the meeting that I had been dreaming of for as long as I can remember but not before I smiled sweetly at my new acquaintance to say, "It was nice meeting you and good luck today."
As I clutched my neatly typed manuscript and well-thought-out proposal to my chest, I thought to myself, "That'll never fly, lady! I've spent 18 months studying what publishers are looking for and, believe me, it's not an unknown woman's life story!"
The next day was Sunday, the last day of the speakers/writers conference. All of the ladies entered the ballroom for a time of praise and worship. Lisa sat behind me. Now, raising your hands or closing your eyes as you worship the Lord is one thing, but hollering out things is another. At least it is in my book. You know, The Ginger Plowman Book of Proper Worship Etiquette.
Lisa was breaking all the rules. Phrases such as "Praise you, Jesus," "I love you, Jesus" and "Bless you, Jesus" kept springing from her lips and interrupting my own state of worship. I turned around, looked toward the entrance door in the back of the room, and pretended to look for someone in particular (a woman's way of inconspicuously checking someone out). Just as I suspected, Lisa's hands were up as high as they would go, her body swayed, her eyes were closed, and it was obvious that the hollering out wasn't going to stop anytime soon. "Whatever," I thought.
You see, in my sinful, judgmental way of thinking, I always assumed that people who worshiped in this way did it for attention.
After the praise and worship time was over, Lisa was introduced and invited to the stage to share her testimony. My life will never be the same again. I sat in utter amazement as she shared the story of her life. As she testified to the things that Jesus had brought her through, I became aware that she had encountered God in a way that I never have.
"Thirteen years ago I was a homeless drug addict living on the streets of Washington, D.C. Today, I am a wife, mother and anointed woman of God," she said. Although her story involved such things as severe beatings (that she thought she deserved), prostitution and several other horrible situations that is not what Lisa focused on as she spoke. Her focus was on the forgiveness, the grace and the awesome power of God.
She described her Heavenly Father as reaching down with His mighty arm and rescuing her from the very depths of hell. She stretched out her arms and her face twisted in a mixture of pain and love as she described her Savior, Jesus Christ, hollering out from a cruel cross with his labored breath, "Lisa, I love you this much." She exalted our Holy God in a way I have never witnessed before. The Holy Spirit overflowed from her mouth and consumed every lady in that room. Never have I seen His power so evident in a person's life.
As I listened to her praise Jesus for the mighty work He had done in her life, God changed my heart. I knew right then and there that if God had brought me through the things that He had brought this woman through, I would probably not just raise my hands and holler out praises to Him, but I would swing from the chandelier and do cartwheels down the aisle as well.
Am I saying that Lisa's sins required more forgiveness than my own, making her more thankful? Not at all. Sins do not come in pink, purple, green or yellow. They are all black in the eyes of God. But the color of gratefulness is expressed in worship. Our songs, our praises and our prayers paint a glorious picture of worship in which our Lord delights.
Shame, shame, shame on me for questioning someone else's love for God and the way they express that love.
If Lisa ever actually writes that book, you can bet your Lifesavers, I'll be the first one in line to buy it!
My prayer for today:
Lord, let me see others through your eyes. May I never consider myself better than someone else. Fill me with your goodness and love. Change my judgmental heart to reflect your mercies. Let your compassion and grace fill me up and overflow into the lives of others. Amen.
Consider someone with whom you disagree or don't particularly care to be around. Jot down three positive qualities about that person and thank God for them. Then write that person an encouraging note admiring them for those good qualities.
In what ways do I put my family and friends above myself?
Is there someone that I am judging rather than loving?
How do acts of kindness toward someone I don't care to be around bring glory to God?
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2
You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. Romans 14:10
Be completely humble and gentle, be patient; bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes