Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Easter 2012

Let me just take a moment of your time today to wish you and yours a very Blessed Easter.

It seems to me that as we get older, God has a way of reaching us in a special way.   This has been quite a week for me -- the week leading up to Easter.   I was reminded several times of my shortcomings and my human nature.

It started a week ago this past Saturday.  I was out for something to eat with my wife and a friend and over some silly matter, I got  a little short and upset at a restaurant manager.  Needless to say I did not behave like a Christian and clearly felt very badly afterwards.   It is not a restaurant I had frequented before nor one I would likely return to, so I made my peace with God and with my wife and friend, and thought that would be okay.   Well, it wasn't.   The Spirit kept saying you can't do that.  You need to deal with the individual that you were upset at and towards whom you didn't act very Christ-like.   When God says something like that to you, you can't sleep very well.   Not until you've done something tangible about it.  So, the next day -- Sunday afternoon -- I sat down and did what I felt was appropriate and what would give me peace.  I wrote them a letter, and mailed it, in which I said the following . . .
"Dear __________ Downtown Toronto Manager on duty Saturday night, March 31, 2012:

I am sorry I do not know your name.  But on that night you and I had an altercation.  It was based on the fact that I felt you weren’t flexible enough with respect to a request I was making and I was most upset at the thinking of the company as a whole who would put the value of ______   ahead of having a happy customer for life.

While I still believe that to be unfortunate, that is not the reason for my writing to you.   I am writing to you to apologize for my behavior that night.  I should never have reacted the way I did.  It is not who I am or what I represent.   I make no excuses, only apologies for raising my voice, being somewhat belligerent, etc.

Please forgive me.  I do not like living my life with unfinished business, especially when I was clearly the one that left it that way.

Not only did I upset you and make things difficult for you, but I also embarrassed my wife and my friend who was there with me at the time.  But dear manager, more important to me was the fact that in some way, like the Apostle Peter of the Bible who betrayed his own Master, Jesus Christ three times in one night, I felt that I too had let Him down terribly especially as one of His followers in the way I behaved.  I have asked His forgiveness and that of my wife and friends, and I hope I have yours.

I wish you all the best in your career.  May nights like the one I caused you be extremely rare in your experience.  Again, I offer my humble apologies.  And should we meet again, I hope we will be friends."   And I signed my name, etc.

That was not easy to do, but as I was preparing for Easter, I realized it was nothing compared to what Jesus did for me.   But still, it took some thought and action on my part.  It wasn't enough to just say, "Ah gee, I'll do better next time."   No, I had to fix what I did wrong this time.

On Good Friday, I took my eight (almost 9) year old granddaughter to our Good Friday Service.  It was terrific -- both the service and being there with her.  At one point she looked up at me and wondered why I had tears in my eyes.  I was able to share with her that what we celebrate this weekend means the world to me.  I hope it does to you as well.   It is a mysterious weekend -- it integrates the darkness and sadness of death with the glory and celebration of life.    It is a free yielding of One's self to death, so that all the rest of us can be given the free gift of eternal life.   It is not something that skeptics can easily comprehend or accept.   It takes the thinking and the faith of a child to believe it.

On Saturday, yesterday, I was working away at my desk when the front doorbell rang.   I answered it and I saw a man handing me a little card he wanted me to read, or so he indicated with hand gestures.  He either was or was pretending to be deaf and dumb.   He was selling the card for any amount I would be willing to pay to help him put some food on his table, or so the card said.  He looked harmless.   He was not a derelict.   But I sent him away.   Well, that was it -- I could not get back to my work.  I felt bad -- not because I didn't give to someone who may have been taking me, but because I acted so quickly without reflecting as to whether or not there was some real need here, whether or not there was some opportunity for me to be "Jesus with skin on again".  The Spirit would not let me forget it and goodness knows I was trying hard to fight Him with every standard excuse I could think of.   This was twice now within a week that I had failed being a good representative of Christ, our Saviour.   Finally, I couldn't take it any longer.  I went into the kitchen and asked my wife for a bag and a whole bunch of various fresh fruits.  She obliged me.   By now, some time had elapsed but I could not rest.   I got into my little car and started driving up and down streets in the neighbourhood until finally I caught sight of him.  I stopped the car, went over to him, and showed him the bag, asking him if he would like it.   He was most thankful as I detected from his facial expressions and his bowed body.   What happened at that very moment was not about him.   God was just using him to get to me.  Doing what I did was about me and my relationship to God.

Later in the day, I received a difficult email from a colleague.  I wanted to react quickly with the truth.  I wanted to let them know how wrong they were.  But I knew I shouldn't.  I knew I needed to pray about it first, I needed to gather some more facts that would help the individual see that things were not the way they were describing, and I needed to think about how to bring peace to this situation rather than to add more fuel to the fire.   In short, I decided to seek Jesus for further direction in the situation.  Sometimes that comes instantaneously; sometimes He says wait.  My job is now to wait for the 'red' light to turn 'green' and proceed with Christ-like love into the intersection of humanity.

I was given yet one more chance not to blow it still later yesterday afternoon -- another chance to act with my Saviour in mind, and not with my own strengthen, expertise, wisdom.  A young girl and her father came to my door -- with all the proper papers and documents, raising money for her M.S. walkathon later this month.  The eleven year old had been doing this for several years and last year she had raised over $15,000.   I asked her "what motivates an 11 year old to be so passionate about this?"  Her reply, "my mother has M.S. and I'm doing this for her and other mothers".   I participated in the her campaign.

As I thought about that last experience during our church's Easter Sunday service this morning, I wondered how many of us have friends, relatives, neighbors, colleagues, and so on who have another form of life-destroying M.S. -- a form I call "menacing-sin".  That type of M.S. leads to death every single time unless it is dealt with appropriately.   How many do we know like that?   How passionate are we about helping them find the only Antidote that will work?

As you and I reflect on our Christian celebration of the events that took place just over 2,000 years ago -- will we make a special effort to bring the whole thing into the present, into 2012, into our relationships, into our circumstances?  Will you and I yield to the Holy Spirit's urgings in how then we should live today because of how He died "That Friday" and lived that "Easter Morning"?

Happy Easter.   Ken.


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