For the last few months, the hospital where I work has implemented a daily medical screening process for employees. When you arrive, signage directs you down a hallway toward a team of people who greet you and inquire of any symptoms of illness as they take your temperature. When the digital thermometer beeps, the screener lets know you what it read and then invites you to grab an "I've Been Screened" sticker. Employees are usually oblivious to the screener's cheery send-off as they meander down the hallway lost in the frustration of trying to remove the thin backing that covers the adhesive.
While the process has been efficient, it has gotten old. I understand it, I am grateful for it, and I have adjusted to it. However, there are days, if I have arrived late, if there is a long line of people, or if I am just generally cranky because the world is not rotating on the axis of me, that I can find myself a bit impatient with this daily monitoring.
Such was the case one recent morning as I rounded the corner to be screened. (Confession: I may or may not have rolled my eyes and sighed). Internally grumbling, an entitled, snarky thought seeped into my mind. "Every day... EVERY day. Ev-er-y-sin-gle-uh day-uh. Seriously. This is really getting so..." Before I went any further, my plummeting attitude was rescued by a gentle whisper, "This is not for you. This is for the good of those you serve, son."
That divinely serendipitous intervention deflected my complaining toward quiet reflection as I slowly made my way through the institutional maze of glossy bright hallways and unadorned stairwells. Processing that experience, it struck me that I had allowed the resentment of trudging through daily monotonous processes to displace the anticipation of experiencing new mercies freshly granted to me earlier that morning [See Lamentations 3:23]. The folly of my choice was obvious: grumpy ingratitude.
On my journey of healing, I am learning that every day, we can live in the nature of Christ - to walk in an ongoing relational experience of His fullness. I am discovering that life in Christ is not a daily grind, performing to earn more of God (as if He were doled out in awarded increments of spirituality). Instead, it is a moment by moment choice to abide in the Vine, enjoying the fullness that is already been given to us in Christ. No straining and striving, but rather, a peaceful remaining. And best of all, I am realizing that it all is not so much a "have to" as it is a "get to."
The Apostle Paul explains it this way. "This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike, 'What's next, Papa?' God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children" [Romans 8:15]. The overflow of that on-going intimacy with God can be summed up in the Psalmist’s declaration, “Lord, you are great and worthy of the highest praise! For there is no end to the discovery of the greatness that surrounds you" [Psalm 145:3 TPT].
I can testify that when I have come to work with my mind and heart looking to God with audacious anticipation, God-saturated moments to love, to encourage, to exhort, to comfort, and to simply be present with hurting families have abounded. It has indeed been a "discovery of the greatness" of God. And, to be honest, I am experiencing something I never have before: laughing with God in joyful amazement of His goodness as I walk back to my car at the end of my shift.
It may be, however, that you are reading this, a jaded, "Well that's just ducky for you" sentiment has bubbled to the surface. Perhaps circumstances of late have completely sabotaged your expectation to the point that your “What’s next?” has actually become an expression of dread, fearing more bad news. And though beckoned like Peter to "come" and to walk above those situations, the vehement wind and the churning waves of negative possibilities have caused you to lose your nerve. Maybe you are sinking in a panic and drowning in fear [Matthew 14:30 YLT, PHILLIPS, TPT].
If that's you, may I offer a word of encouragement? If there is only a "Lord, save me," breath prayer left in you, pray it right now, knowing this. Just as Grace rescued Peter, Grace will rescue you. Who is grace? "Grace is the empowering presence of God that enables you to become the person He always sees as He looks at you in Christ" [Graham Cooke]. If you are worried, anxious, or fearful, "Take strength; have courage! There's nothing to fear. Look, here - your God! Right here is your God! The balance is shifting; God will right all wrongs. None other than God will give you success. He is coming to make you safe" [Isaiah 35:4 VOICE].
Morning by morning, welcome, receive, and embrace Grace. With thanksgiving, rest in the assurance that He, without any reluctance, "has given us everything we need to experience life and to reflect God’s true nature through the knowledge of the One who called us by His glory and virtue" [2 Peter 1:3 VOICE]. As you get ready for your day, pray with expectation and anticipation, "What's next, Papa?"
And as you journey with God in on-going relational experience, indeed, you will “Taste and see that the Lord is good” [Psalm 34:8a] and resound with the joy-filled testimony, *"Ev'ry day with You, Lord, is sweeter than the day before. Ev'ry morning I will worship, ev'ry evenin' I'll adore, 'Cause ev'ry day with You is sweeter, sweeter than the day before."
Today, "May the Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father (who has loved us and given us unending encouragement and unfailing hope by his grace) inspire you with courage and confidence in every good thing you say or do" [2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 PHILLIPS]. What's next, Papa?
*Sweeter, Cindy Cruse Ratcliff | Israel Houghton | Meleasa Houghton © 2003 Integrity's Praise! Music |Lakewood Ministries Music | My Other Publishing Company | Sound Of The New Breed CCLI License # 11366574