April 18, 2021
“Why are you doing all that jerking and snatching??” -JMP
I am an early riser. Most days, I am up by 4:30 am. By 7:00 am, I have completed a work out, done a load of laundry, unloaded my dishwasher, and spent some quality time with Jesus. Full disclosure–I am “gowned down” and ready for bed before most toddlers say their night night prayers. 🙂
Joe Price was typically up and out the door fairly early, but did not share my level of energy before sunrise. I’d be in the throes of a sweaty workout when he would stumble down the stairs, rub his sleepy eyes and say (even though he knew good and well what I was doing), “WHY are you jerking and snatching so early this morning??” 🙂
Much as I wish there was a magic potion that would make me look and feel “skinny and twenty”, I have learned that the only way to be truly healthy is to put in the work. This week, Joe’s lesson is about putting in the work in our Christian walk.
Working at Our Christianity
2 Thessalonians 2: 15 states: ” So then brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”
Many people want to be the ideal Christian, but they don’t always want to work at it.
Many people want to have a better life—to be slim, strong, more attractive, better educated…and the list goes on and on, but the problem is, they don’t want to work at it.
We often look for the easy way out—TV commercials prove that point. We will pay money for a quick fix, rather than put in the work.
Why should we think our faith is any different?
We have to put forth the effort in order to have the right kind of relationship with God. Here’s what Paul says about it in 1 Thessalonians:
“ Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.”
That is a pretty big list, but that doesn’t stop it from being true. There is only one magic fix, and that is accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. After that it is up to you to live the life He would have you live.
Having a relationship with God means forgiving your enemies, encouraging others, and praying earnestly and often. It is work, and I can’t tell you that you won’t become discouraged from time to time. But what I can tell you is that you will never regret anything you do in the name of the Lord. I can also tell you that God will even use your discouragement for His good purpose if you will allow it.
So, as we go about our week, let’s try to put some action behind our thoughts, knowing that putting in the work to improve our Christian walk will be worth it, and that life in Eternity will be our reward.
I am a bulldozer, according to Joe.
I can hear his voice and see him shaking his head at me saying, “Just be EASY, darlin’…” as I charged full speed ahead, usually landing myself in one predicament or another.
It is not so much that I don’t want to put in the work, but more so that I am impatient, and expect to be good at something fairly quickly. When I am not, I get frustrated…and sometimes I will simply throw in the towel rather than give myself time to become more skilled or proficient.
This is one of my favorite pictures of Joe and our very sweet, very southern nephew Garrett (who is Joe’s “mini me” in so many ways):
Several years ago, I was (of course) in a hurry, and accidentally knocked poor little Garrett down a set of brick steps. Y’all, it tore me slam out of the frame to think I had hurt that baby! Once the tears were dried (mostly mine), he looked up at me and said in his very slow southern drawl, “Slow and steady gets the job done, Aunt Ronda.” And…of course, much like his Uncle Joe, he was exactly right.
But slow and steady is not my normal method of operations, friends. I think that is one of my biggest struggles as I navigate this grief process. Before it happened to me, I believed grief to be linear. You start at one point (a pretty low spot), and make upward progress until you manage to wipe all the hurt away. Then, just check “conquer grief” off of your to do list (oh, how I love to check things off my list!!), and do the next thing.
Y’all. 🤦♀️ That ain’t how it works. Not. At. All.
While I believe with my whole heart that it is my faith in God that has kept me putting one foot in front of the other on this journey, I also know that Joe’s death has required me to “put in the work” in my Christian walk like never before.
Joe referenced the words of Paul when he said, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” In the month before Joe passed away, this verse was referenced (in part or in whole) NINE times in my devotional reading. On the morning of our final day together on this earth, the very last line I wrote in my journal was this: “Everything God does is in love…even when we don’t understand”.
God knew what the next eighteen hours would bring. God knew how I would need His words to find the strength to put in the work for so many days to come. He knew I would not understand, and He knew there would be no “quick fix” to mend the brokenness of my heart. He was exactly right. Yet, in His tender mercies, God planted the words of Paul in my heart over and over in the weeks before He took my sweet Joe to Heaven. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I can surely see it now. God loved me enough to “put in the work” before December 5, 2020 so that I would have the strength to do it in the days that followed.
God does expect us to put in the work. But, He does not expect us to do it alone.
Joe said,”It is work, and I can’t tell you that you won’t become discouraged from time to time.” Well, that just might be the understatement of the year for me. Trying to see the good, finding reasons to rejoice, keeping myself engaged in prayer, trusting in the promises of God, sometimes feels like a full time job (one for which I never applied). Have you ever worked at a job you wished you didn’t have? It is discouraging to say the least.
So…I really needed to read the next part: But what I can tell you is that you will never regret anything you do in the name of the Lord. I can also tell you that God will even use your discouragement for His good purpose if you will allow it.
Joe was right when he said you will never regret what you do in the name of the Lord. I have never been sorry that I spent time with Jesus, but I have been sorry when I did not. And he was also right when he said that God will use your discouragement for good. I am so very sorry that anyone has to be a member of the club I have found myself in, but I am so very thankful for the words of hope I have received from those who have walked this path before me. Hopefully someone else will look at my journey one day, and know that because Jesus walked me through these days, He will walk them through as well.
I guess this walk we are all on is a bit like “jerking and snatching”. We need to work on building our faith muscles every single day. If you don’t work out consistently, your muscles grow weak. Often, you don’t realize how much those muscles have atrophied until you are called upon to use them.
So, I’ll be up tomorrow morning at 4:30 am. I am putting in the physical work because I want to live a healthy life. But the most important work any of us will do all day long is the work we do for Jesus–spending time in His word, praying, and doing our best to live according to His will and instructions.
I am putting in the real work, because what I want more than a healthy life on earth, is an eternal life in Heaven.
Won’t you join me, friend? It just takes a little effort every day. Slow and steady gets the job done.
-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe