Living A Full Life Includes Serving and Being Served

 

“And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.” Matthew 8: 14,15

Only in Matthew’s Gospel do we read about this miraculous healing. At first glance, we would think this verse is only about healing.  After all, Jesus did heal many people during his three years of ministry.

But, there’s more to this small verse than what meets the eye. Besides the healing she received, her brief bio shows us how to live a fulfilled life without seeking the spotlight.

This verse says a lot about not only serving but being served as well. It’s about those that don’t need to be the “center of attention,” but are happiest at fulfilling a supportive role.

Her miracle healing is not to be sidelined for anything.  As I mentioned in the above story my friend Jim received a miraculous healing. My dad has survived two near fatal heart attacks.

In my early twenties I experienced a miracle phone call that kept me from dying. Just a little earlier on the day of my phone call I’d an accident while riding my bicycle. Little did I know that I had burst my vulva on impact by hitting my bike frame when I had to come to an abrupt halt. I was crossing a street when a car came out of nowhere and nearly crushed me and my bike.

So while on my way home I began to seep blood. But I was too dazed and in pain to know what to do. This is when I was single and lived alone in a small Southern Georgia town. I was almost home when this happened so I was able to make it to my apartment.

Within a few minutes of getting inside, my sister Carol called me from two hundred miles away because God placed me on her mind at that crucial time. I explained what had happened to her. She, then called my employer. From there he got the hospital to send an ambulance out to my apartment. That miracle phone call saved my life.

Yes, miracles still do happen. No question about that. But, lets look at the “serve and being served” message that’s woven into this verse. It’s not only what she did, but it’s what Jesus did, and what Peter and his wife did also.

Now, unfortunately, we don’t know her name, but countless people are serving in Christ’s name all over the World and only a few are ever known by name.

After her healing she promptly served Jesus. Now, to me this shows her gratefulness of being healed. But, it also shows her exercising her gift of service.

Doing this may have been expected of her. But still, Jesus didn’t heal everyone he walked by, either.  He waited four days to go see about his friend Lazarus who was very ill. By that time Lazarus had died, and been buried. But he experienced a miraculous resurrection when Jesus came to his grave. The whole amazing story is found in John 11:1-44.

Jesus doesn’t always heal. I can’t explain it, I just know that sometimes healing happens and sometimes it doesn’t. What I can say, though is the last year of my brother Gene’s life we all helped him in every way we could. Doing that brought all of us closer together. That’s worth more to us than what any of us could describe.

Getting back to our verse, we know that a special bond had formed between Jesus, and three of his disciples: Peter, John, and James. Did that make a difference in this story? I don’t think so, but it is God’s desire that we all draw near to Jesus (Hebrews 10:22).

So, this verse show’s us the importance of having meaningful relationships where we can draw close to a friend. That’s part of what makes life fulfilling.  We read about God’s love for us and how he doesn’t condemn us in John 3:16,17.

She could’ve chosen to be the “center of attention” since she was miraculously healed. But, she chose to serve instead. People who exercise their gift of service rarely want to be in the spotlight. But, receiving a well deserved “Thank you” is appreciated by all.

Jesus, himself, taught this very concept of service:

“It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26).

Part of any meaningful relationship is to receive as well as to give. Peter and his wife welcomed her into their home. We don’t read that her presence made it difficult.  What we do read is that she used her gift of service in their home. Her help would’ve been appreciated by the entire family.

Peter’s concerned for her health shows his care for her. I’m sure they had tried the usual ancient ways to lower her fever by this time. But the herbs and cooling baths weren’t curing her.

Peter believed she needed a touch by none other than Jesus, himself. So he urged Jesus to visit his home and heal his ill in-law. And that’s just what happened.

This instance may have been the impetus of him writing latter on:

 “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Some translations use the word “care” instead of anxieties. But, it’s the same idea with either word. We don’t have to carry our emotional burdens around needlessly. Peter was concerned about his mother-in-law so he went to Jesus about it.

Jesus always cared about others first. Here we see that he cared about her health foremost. This shows that we can’t work our way into having a relationship with the Savior.

After he healed her he spent time with all that were gathered there. In those days you just didn’t “drop in” for coffee. There’s no doubt that all the guests stayed and had a meal together. Since she served Jesus this meant that she sat near or behind him during the meal. So she would’ve been in his presence from her healing through the end of the meal.

Having meaningful relationships and being fully engaged in whatever our gifts and talents are is an important part to living our lives to the fullest. This is what brings satisfaction and fullness to not only ourselves, but to others also.

Perhaps you’ve experienced a miracle as well. I’d like to hear about it, but of course I would want some proof of it happening. I’m always looking for a good story to add to my next self-published book.

*All Bible verses are from The English Standard Version (ESV).

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Living Life To The Fullest

“And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.” Matthew 8: 14,15*

You may not see it at first glance, but the woman in this verse got to live a fulfilled life. Not only did she experience a miraculous healing but she also got to be a part of Jesus’s ministry while he was here on Earth.

Her family might’ve thought she was near death with the fever.  But Peter wasn’t ready to “throw in the towel” just yet. He went and got Jesus to come and touch her hand.

At some point we’re all going to “step into eternity.”  But, only God knows when that is going to happen. No one else does. Not even the doctors.

I got to hear a great story about a miracle healing recently when I attended a high school get-together at a downtown park here in my hometown. I saw some of my former classmates sitting at our booth so I sat down with them. I had just gotten a sloppy BBQ sandwich that had a heap of coleslaw added to it. And sitting with friends is always a good way to enjoy any evening.

We all were catching up with each other there in the booth while waving to others who were milling around. We were having a great time listening to a band that was “rockin'” out some classic Rock-n-Roll tunes.

That’s when James “Jim” Raby sat down beside me.  We had graduated together quite a few decades back and have crossed paths in our small town a few times since then. So we were just catching up on family, Sylva news, and so on.

Then, Jim showed me a picture of himself on his phone that a family member had taken a year or so back. In the photo he was lying on a hospital bed looking “white as a sheet” while being on a ventilator.

Jim told the few of us that were gathered there the entire story of how he nearly died while visiting his daughter and her family a year or so back.  Here’s what he said as best as I remembered it:

He told us that while he was visiting his daughter in Alabama he had fallen ill. He had only gone there for a short visit, but ended up staying longer than he had anticipated.

Since he has other health problems, his daughter admitted him to the hospital where he could get the care he needed. Well unfortunately, his health went from “bad to worse” quickly. Within a few brief days his children were called in to say their final goodbyes.

Jim apparently had some prayer warriors there in the hospital room, also. But even so, they felt that they had prayed all they could and were ready to accept what seemed as the inevitable.

Early, on the morning that his daughter was preparing to say her final “good byes” to her dad she had a woman she knew from her church to visit her. The women believed she had a prophetic message for Jim’s daughter.

This woman brought with her a vial of anointing oil. After the two women prayed together she poured the oil over Jim’s daughter’s head. Then told her to take her Bible, go pray for, and read the scripture over her dad in his hospital room one last time.

When his daughter walked into his room she asked that everyone else including the medical staff leave her alone with her dad. Jim told me that she began praying and reading the Bible as she had been directed to do by her early morning visitor.

Within that time frame he began improving. A day or two later he left the VA hospital. When he had fully recovered he drove himself all the back to Sylva, NC, which is about two hundred miles from his daughter’s house.

Of course, he was told all this by his daughter while recovering at her house. He was clearly out of it by the time that picture was taken that he had showed us.

My dad is also, living life to the fullest. He is 95 years old and is blessed with good health, walks unaided, and has a clear mind. We just celebrated his birthday at my daughter, Ruth and her boyfriend Dennis’ house. We had a big crowed of cousins, my dad’s brother and my aunt,  and other relatives there. You can see some of the pictures of his birthday party on my Facebook page: Patricia Jordan, Sylva NC.

One of my hobbies are to explore my ancestral roots. And since I live about fifty miles from where my American ancestors lived most all their lives, sometimes I go looking for their headstones to gain the “when” information. But I only know the “how” they lived by recalling and listening to all the family stories I’ve heard throughout my life. I hope their lives were as fulfilling as what I’ve heard they were.

Each and everyday you and I live is a day we are adding to our overall life’s story. Our legacy as some would say. Our actions, if used in positive ways can bring others as well as ourselves enrichment and fulfillment.

A great example of this is when my older sister Carol helped our brother Gene during his last year of life. It wasn’t easy and sometimes it didn’t go smoothly. He could be a cantankerous bachelor that was use to doing things for himself at times. But, she did a wonderful job of taking care of him full time while keeping up with her husband and his health issues at their house some fifty miles away.

Our brother Gene was dying of bone cancer, which had at first been misdiagnosed as muscle ache at a walk-in clinic. What he actually had, though was lung cancer that was the result of him being a heavy smoker.

Well, we all knew he probably had emphysema just by hearing him cough and gasp for air. But, it wasn’t easy to get him to go to a doctor without someone prodding him. While my mother was living she tried, and she was the only one he would listen to.  So his cancer went un-diagnosed for a long time.

His lung cancer metastasized into bone cancer. When the muscle relaxers weren’t working it was our dad and stepmother, Sue who drove him to the ER at our local hospital. By the time we all knew what his health status was we all got busy making his life as comfortable as was possible.

Our other brother, David mowed both their yards. Dennis and Ruth came over and put a wilderness camera outside so we all could watch raccoons and opossums visiting his yard on a laptop. Our other sister Deena came over and changed his morphine patch at 5:00 am. Our mother was deceased by this time. But, Sue and dad visited him. Jeff and I did what we could. We all did something or sometimes we simply visited with Gene and watch homesteaders build homes in the Alaska frontier.

Carol did the most though. She moved in and slept on his couch for about four out of seven days at first. But later, she stayed there full time. Carol drove him to all his appointments, got his medications, cooked their meals. She made sure that we had an occasional cookout at Gene’s house, helped him get his flower bed sowed with his favorite annuals, and they planted beans together. Gene lived long enough to set in the Sun, enjoy his flowers, and he even ate those beans too!

We’re all living our own life’s history every day we breathe. Are you happy with where you’re at, at this point and time in your life? If not, then what would make you happy?

I hope you’re not thinking “Oh, if only I had more money in my banking account, then my life would be perfect.” There is an old axiom that applies to that idea. It goes like this: “The more you make, the more you spend.”

A better question to ask yourself is, “Am I content with how my life is turning out? How about my career choices? Are my talents, skills, and / or intellect being fully utilized in what I’m doing?” Not every job requires our talents. But all jobs require our intellect.

Ultimately, we need to occasionally ask ourselves, “Is my life fulfilling? Or am I missing something in the ‘big picture’ of it all.” I’ve spent most of my adult life not working outside the home. I’ve been mostly content with that decision. But, I did want to finish college someday. And so I did when my children were teenagers.

I became a non-traditional college student and attended night school for two years while we lived in Sumter, SC. I graduated Coker College in Hartsville, SC in 2000. We had moved to Sumter from Turkey when my husband Jeff was still in the USAF in the early nineties. And stayed there after his discharge so our girls could finish high school there. I felt restless, so I decided to get my degree I had always wanted during those years.

I thought I might become a Social Worker when I graduated. But, when I started working in that career field I found that it exacerbated my dysthimic depression. So I’ve found other activities to do that have kept me involved and engaged. My volunteerism, writing my blog, and my other activities have made me feel fulfilled and overall contented.

By now I’ve learned the truth of what the Apostle Paul wrote, “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11b

Most of your life is up to you. Now there are some ideas that are just not going to work for you or I. But, I’m okay with accepting my limits.

Choosing to live a fulfilled satisfying life is better than chasing after things that become dated as soon as you get that shiny new thing. Or perhaps you’ve chased after a relationship that turned out to be toxic in the end. The list of us going after what we thought would make us happy is endless.

Some relationships may not be for us. Many tangible or intangible things you or I might want will not lead us into living a fulfilled life. What or who will then?

Start by having a relationship with Jesus. Ask Him to come into your heart and help you in making those tough decisions in life.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20

Earthly relationships need to be as meaningful as possible. But, we need to remember that our relationships have their limits as to what you, or I and the other person can bring into the relationship.

What does living a full life look like for you? I’m not talking about a busy life, but a full rewarding life. That’s a good question we all need to ask ourselves from time to time.

*All Bible verses are from The English Standard Version (ESV).

 

 

 

Why Do Some Burn Bridges To Relationships They Should Be Cherishing?

Are you involved in a relationship where there a history of mistrust? Why do some people subconsciously sabotage relationships that they depend on always being there for them?

Yes, I’m primarily talking about the manipulators and / or emotional controllers that easily move about in our inner circle of relationships. You and I both know people that don’t seem to care about your feelings, but only theirs. Let me list a few of these type of people for you.

First, there are the “pouters” that threaten to throw a fit if things don’t go their way. This group includes people of all ages. Especially the people under the same roof as you live under. Such as parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, and spouses.

The habit of being a manipulator begins in early childhood and deepens, like a murky river, into a person’s psyche during their formative years.  Only a trail of failure and then, hopefully counseling can change the course of that dark river of self-absorption. Change can happens but it takes effort.

What are the other types of manipulators? Well, how about the self-absorb people who weave “I, me, my, mine, or myself” into every other sentence? Yes, you know people like this just like I do. They are our detached and self-focused relatives, or friends. All you ever hear about from this type is them talking about themselves.

Then, there’s the temperamental relative that almost never shows gratefulness. Never a “Thank you” is uttered from their lips. The ungrateful can catch you “off guard” with saying something hateful in the middle of what seems like a normal conversation.

And, last, but not least are the “blasters!” They likely have what is called, “intermittent explosive disorder.” These individuals are the hardest on your nerves, to be sure. Their anger is out of proportion to the circumstance. We think of road rage as an example of this disorder. Or a family member who starts shouting over something that was simply misplace, but easily found, for instance

If a person has this disorder their behavior can develop PTSD in other family member’s psyche in a sub-conscience way. PTSD happens to more people than solders that fight in a war.

Encourage this person to get counseling and take the appropriate prescription for his/her anger issues. Anger plus fear create anxieties. Out of control anxiety needs to be controlled because it will affect this person’s physical health. Help where possible with them in making a long term solution in controlling their disorder.

As I’ve said, you know any or all of these people just like I do. What can you or I do about not being controlled, manipulated, or blasted at by our loved ones who see us as target practice for releasing their pent-up anger or schemes on?

For one, avoid conflict with these people, in as much as possible. Sometimes these people say provocative statements just to get us to react to them. That seems like an odd way to get attention, but as the old saying goes, “negative attention is better than no attention.”

Don’t become a victim of other people unleashing their negativity out on you. Become a victor instead. Becoming a victor may mean you going to counseling. This would give you a healthy outlet to talk in-depth with a trained counselor that can guide you into healthy communication habits.

If you work with any of these personality types, then talk with their boss. And tell him or her about what you’re experiencing in working with or under this difficult person.

Don’t “build” your self-thoughts on other’s negative statements they make about you. There will always be negative people in our lives. They are the “bridge burners” that sabotage their own selves of not being able to build healthy relationships.

You be a “bridge builder” to hope, and personal happiness without being selfish. Be a person known to have a clear conscience, and to posses quality of character. Don’t let negativity, whether its yours or someone else’s be the over-riding attitude that guides you through your day. Don’t let other people’s negative comments shape your own personal belief system you have about yourself.

Only listen to people or teachings that guide you into mentally healthy ideas about yourself. Follow those that help you to be the best person you can possibly be.

 

 

Are You Going Through Trials and Tribulations?

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Do your problems seem unsolvable?

And you can’t see a way out?

Yours and my problems are solvable if we seek God’s help.

Even in the middle of our battles,

God will hear our prayers. (1 Chron 5:20)

His Spirit continually intercedes for us. (Romans 8:26)

Angels bring messages to us from God’s throne. (Dan 9:23)

Reminding us that we are fighting a spiritual battle

“…against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12)

“Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrew 4:16)

Leaving A Comfortable Prison

A few years ago, I had a clear and unforgettable vision. It probably lasted about thirty seconds. I know that because I was driving a familiar stretch of road near my home at the time of my vision.

In the vision:

I saw myself being let out of a jail cell that was at the end of a long hallway. As I walked up the hallway, I saw that in each cell there was a person in anguish.

There were no cell doors, though. When I got to the exit, I paused and asked the jailer, “When did you remove the cell doors?”

 “There never were cell doors. Any of you could’ve left anytime you wanted to.” He said.

With that I walked out into the beautiful brightness of a warm sunny day.

Explanation of My Vision

In the fullness of the vision I realized that our emotional wellness is up ourselves. Seeking professional help needs to be a part of our healing.

But, instead of receiving counseling, we substitute with other activities making our cells of unneedful mental anguish as comfortable as possible. We include our addictions, our self-medicating habits, our overindulgences. We include people who are emotionally harmful to us into our lives.

Or we just exist and don’t seek emotional healing at all. Like me you’ve probably tried a few of the above ideas. Some of us almost are experts on “what not to do.”

Therapy is one of the best ways we have in leaving a lifestyle where we’ve been emotionally disconnected, maligned, misdiagnosed, and/or self-medicated. A lifestyle that can cause our ruin.  

Leave your unraveling/mending/unraveling mental health issues behind, today. Step out into God’s bright warm sunlight and start searching for positive mental wellness. It’s what I’ve done, and it’s helped me in achieving my mental-wellness goal.

Life can have its places of stark wilderness that we’ll all travel through at various times in our lives. Your efforts toward your own mental wellness is going to be up to you. I hope that I’ve helped in some small or great way in you achieving your mental-emotional-wellness.

Fill Your Life With Joy

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 (NLT)

A preacher and teacher of The Gospel named Paul wrote the above verse for our encouragement. He wrote the small book of Philippians while being in prison. But Paul did not let his circumstances determine his level of joy. His source of joy went deeper than his surroundings. His joy came from his belief in Jesus Christ.

During his imprisonment faithful friends were coming and going from Paul’s cell tending to his needs. He shared his abundant joy with them. The small group joined Paul in reading from the Old Testament and singing Psalms.

Paul’s life had not been easy even when he was free. Less so during his imprisonment. Philippians was written about 60 A.D. during his first imprisonment. You can read the entire account of the Apostle Paul in Acts 13-28. 

Even despite his bleak surroundings, not knowing whether he would be set free or not; Paul spent his time writing letters of encouragement. His trusted friends risked their lives carrying his prison letters to churches in Greece and in Asia Minor.  They did this because of their commitment to help Paul. And, in doing that they also had joy overflowing.

Not much if any has changed since Paul’s day. We all still need a continuous flow of joy in our daily lives. Also, we need both to encourage and be encouraged. I want to encourage you to read the small book of Philippians and be prepared to be filled with joy.

Find joy in what you do as well. As important as parenting, jobs and/or our other responsibilities are, the attitude that we have in doing what we do is equally important. 

When we allow ourselves to have a joyful attitude, our hope increases.