I have a dog named Bacon. He is about a 3 year old German Shepherd and he LOVES to go for walks. I try to walk him every day (I need the steps anyway), but it doesn't always happen. He loves walks so much that he pays attention every time I put my shoes on; and if I grab the leash he knows a walk is coming and starts barking this high pitched bark because he is so excited.
Now, in truth our walks are pretty boring. We walk the same streets, past the same houses almost every time; but he never gets tired of it. He is always excited.
I wish I had his passion sometimes, especially when it comes to spending time with God and reading his word. I've developed discipline over the years and made daily reading of the Bible and prayer part of my routine...and at times it feels a bit dry, like I am just doing it because I'm supposed to.
So, on those days, I often pray a scripture from Psalm 51:12 "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant a willing spirit to sustain me." I ask God to give me a fresh wind of his Spirit and give new life to my dry bones.
So, take a note from Bacon and pray for the same kind of excitement he has as you seek to follow Jesus.
In my theater background I often heard the phrase "there are no small parts, only small actors" from a director who had in fact just handed out a small part to a kid. The idea was that a good actor could take a small part and make it shine. But in truth, it's hard to shine when you have one line (as I did in my role as jailor # 2 in "the Crucible").
In the Christmas story, there are lots of people who have "small parts". We see characters like Elizabeth, Anna, Simeon and others who maybe have only a few lines of dialogue and could easily be (and often are) forgotten.
But, if we pay attention, we find that some of what they say is powerful and helpful for us today. For example, in Luke 2, Simeon shares a word from the Lord that sheds light on the purpose of the life of Jesus. He says, "My eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel."
The coming Messiah was often seen as the savior of the Jewish people...but Simeon shares a truth that Jesus would also be a light to the Gentiles. The message of Salvation would be for the whole world, not just one people! The light of the world had come and His light would not be put under a bushel...but shine for ALL to see.
Simeon is not the best known Christmas character, but his words are mighty. The Lord used this small part to show a big truth. The light of Christ is for ALL, for you and me and everyone. May we let it shine in our hearts for ALL to see.
In my teen years I found that I had one thing after another that I loved. Sometimes it was a new band that I thought was the best thing ever. Another it was a new sport or video game that was SO cool! Often it was a cute girl at school who caught my eye.
But often, just as quickly as I found this new thing I loved, I found that my passion for it didn't last. The songs from the band got old. The novelty of the game wore off and it turned out that cute girl wasn't very nice. It turned out that my passions often came and went quickly.
As adults we are still tempted to make too much of feelings that are fleeting or maybe even false. We want to buy a new car with all the newest tech, but we can't afford the payments. We search for a new job, just to find that the grass wasn't really greener after all. A new relationship sounds exciting, till we find our problems follow us no matter where we go.
We must be careful to follow what is true and not just what we feel. There is such a thing as right and wrong. There is such a thing as good and bad. There are lines that should not be crossed. There are things that God says are sinful. Our culture is pushing us to blur lines and reconsider societal rules...and yet we must stand firm on what we know is true so that we can do what is right and good.
Romans 1:25 says "they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator." I pray these words would never be true of us. We may feel tempted to do things, but if God's word says we should not...we should not. We may want to give in to pressure to conform, but we must stand strong and do what is right in God's eyes...not man's.
Let us not be like the sands, pushed and pulled by the changing tides. Let us stand strong on the truth of God's word both now and always.