I Am Second – Available
Luke 10:39-40 —
“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet
listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted
by all the preparation that had to be made.”
This article is the fourth and last in the 4 part series that I am doing for the debut of the I Am Second’s Doug Bender’s latest devotional book “Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First“. I strongly recommend that if you haven’t read my first entries, that you do it now since it will shed a lot of light on the content of this post. You can read the first here and the second entry here and the third here.
To get your own copy of this book for it to show you how you can Live Second too, click on the picture above and it will take you to an online order page for the book. As a disclaimer – I am NOT a paid contributor. I am writing all of this of my own free will.
You’ve heard people ask you, “What would you do if you knew you only had one day left to live?” What if you had only a week, a month, 6 months, how about a year or two? What “things” would you do if you were given a definite time to live?
One week consists of 168 hours. Never more, never less. Subtract eight hours a night for sleep and all we have left is 112 hours. This is our available time—the time for work, society, family, recreation, and anything else we might wish to do. Schedules may fluctuate and shift, but that 112 hours each week is ours to manage, ours to spend.
In prior posts (1, 2 and 3), I’ve explained in some detail my childhood, how I missed my first calling (to be a preacher/pastor), how I entered into the devil’s playground and got tangled up in things that I never should have been around – especially as a Christian, how I was married twice and now am on my third wife (who is incredible, by the way), how I developed a spinal cord tumor and had to have it taken out and that left me mostly paralyzed from the chest down, and to top it all off, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 (terminal) Carcinoid Cancer.
Wow, maybe you don’t need to read the previous posts after all that… At least you don’t know what I’m going to say next. :-)
I pick up where I was just diagnosed with Carcinoid Cancer: I was working as an I.T. Tech – remember that I used to be in sales/management, I had to go back to school to learn a new trade – when I met my current wife. Since I worked in a call center, I met her over the phone. She was in the Chicago area and I, in Denver. Thanks to mobile-to-mobile cell phone plans, we were able to talk on the phone a lot – and I mean a LOT. In the following 3 months, we talked about as much as a normal “courting couple” would in at least 2 years (if you really think about it).
She had her life and I … didn’t have one. I spent all my time talking on the phone with her – she was (and is) my life. Almost every non-working waking hour that I had was spent talking to her, or listening to her breathe, or sometimes I would put her to sleep and I’d listen to her snore because I didn’t have it in me to hang up on her. She came out to visit me for a weekend once. We spent a lot of time up in the beautiful, Rocky Mountains, driving around, taking small walks around a lake or getting out to see how cold it was outside (November) and taking lots of pictures. I really wanted her to know what I was like. I wasn’t your run of the mill dime store guy that you can find anywhere. I also had to make sure that she had what it would take to take care of me if she had to at some point.
She had it… She came back out again a month later with her 2 kids to check me out and see if I was good enough for their mom or not. I guess I passed muster. In January she had a birthday. I planned to go out to Chicago to see her and her family and celebrate her birthday. But, we had another plan – to get married on the day after her birthday.
You might think that we jumped into things a bit too soon, but if you look at how much time we spent on the phone together, we, in a way, had a longer courtship than most couples now days. Plus, communication is key to a marriage, right? I’m not trying to get your approval here…
She still had obligations in Chicago that would keep her there until June. In the mean time, we still spent as much time on the phone as we did before. I had to find a place for us to live – we would be merging two households together and wouldn’t be able to make it work where I lived at the time. The rest of the story is still being written from there…
During our “courtship”, I definitely had to find out what her Christian beliefs were since I would not be “unequally yoked together with an unbeliever”. Fortunately, they were where they should be. What she didn’t realize at the time was, she was beginning to hold me accountable spiritually. What that means to me? I had to lead a family. I had to straighten up my life and make it something that would be pleasing to the Lord and so that I could lead a family in a Biblical sense. I had to “sweep a few cob webs out of the corners” if I was going to make things work. I made some decisions at that time that I was bound to keep from then on.
She keeps me on the up and up. Since we have been together, many things have happened in our lives; hers and mine. We’ve had our ups and downs just like any other couple. The great thing about it all is that God was in the middle of it all. We had some tragic things happen in our lives that put our relationship on the edge; but you know, God works in us when we are on the edge. We saw God’s hand in many things especially visible ones; He really used our finances to show us that He was guiding us.
I get excited thinking about this part, because, He shows up in some of the most unexpected times and places.
We began having financial issues due to the fact that my health was going down and working full time was killing me – literally. I felt like I would only live another year or so at that pace – seriously – I was dying. I had to quit working. We were not well off; we had no idea how we were going to pay our bills with only my wife’s income.
My work; they knew that I had problems with my health and knew what my outcome would likely be, they also knew that we didn’t have money. I qualified for long term disability (LTD) through my work, but they only start paying after you have been off work for 3 months. Once the LTD kicked in, it would help, but it still wasn’t enough. One of my co-workers plotted to change our company’s SOP. She was a VP in our office and she came up with an idea where my co-workers could donate, hour for hour, their vacation time to supplement my income for those 3 months until LTD kicked in. That had never been done in our company before. The president, knew me, my situation and health concerns, and he allowed it only the one time.
I had given a month’s notice. On my last day, Friday, the president approved the proposal to allow the vacation donations to me. THE LAST DAY!!! They really know how to keep a guy on pins and needles (or should I say, the Lord knows how). He approved it around noon that Friday. By 4:30pm (I go home at 5) they already had enough donations, from people around our small office of 25 – 30 people, to cover the first 2 months out of the 3! How Awesome is that? I heard that they filled it up by Monday the next week… Praise Our God!!!
That was the beginning of a roller coaster ride after that. Every month we were short on money to pay the bills. We weren’t extravagant or anything. Most of the times we only needed $200-500 to make it work. EVERY month after that, God made it happen. He made sure by a different means every time (sometimes two means), but He always came through for us. Something that I noticed in all of this is that we (and our bill collectors) have a different time table than God’s. I said before that we were able to pay the bills, I didn’t say that they were actually on time or not. Some were, some weren’t.
It got to the point where I started laughing when I would be praying over our bills, knowing that I couldn’t pay them all. Laughing because I knew that the Lord was going to pay these bills for me. I would put my hands up in the air and tell Him that they were all His. He can meet the need however He would see fit. And, He had some very creative ways of making it happen. Laughing, because I would try to make something happen to get some extra money and it would fall through. Laughing, because I loved to see the creativity that He used. I could never anticipate His plan, yet, He Always came through. He still does to this day even.
My story is supposed to be on “Available“, but I think I might be able to write about 5 – 10 different days here, what do you think? I guess you would have to have the book to know. Go buy it if you haven’t.
During all of these trials that I was going through, having God meet my needs at every turn, was starting to build my faith up. I had really lost a lot of my Bible knowledge in the last 30 years or so. Amazing what happens if you don’t use something, huh?
God was starting to get to me by revealing Himself to me (us – my wife too). He was starting to produce the results that I knew that He could, and Would, if our faith was bolstered and built up to the point of it being second nature. I had gotten used to expecting God to meet my needs. God really uses people who have no where else to turn. He proves to us that He really is in control of, not only my finances, but, my car, my lawnmower, <insert chuckle here> my total existence.
He is the reason why I’m still here. He isn’t through with me yet. Wow, now how do I know what I’m supposed to be doing to fulfill His need?
My family and I had started going to a church near our home. I looked it over and, though non-denominational, it seemed pretty sound scripturally So, we started going. We don’t GO to church, we LIVE church. To say it better; when we go to a church, we get thoroughly involved in every aspect of the church that we can. We worked in the food bank ministry. They had a counselling ministry that my wife and I trained for and became one of the “ministers” in that area. I could go on.
The further that we got involved in this church, the more we started seeing things that really weren’t going along with God’s Word. We set to studying in order to see if we were right (the Bible side) or they were right. The more we studied on this and that subject (I’m not going into details in this post), we found that they were wrong. We also knew what the Bible says about staying in a situation like that and that is, to leave. We prayed about it and sought out God’s will and we just had to break ties with this church.
Now my wife started thinking about, “What kind of a church is going to believe in the same things that we did”? Remember, I was brought up in the Word. I knew where we were supposed to be but I knew that she wouldn’t go for it because it was a denomination.
I put out some ideas of churches to visit. They were put on the back burner. Between my wife and daughter and I; we were throwing around different denominations and I would bat them back at them siting problems in their theology. We got down to a couple different ones. I started studying even harder because I knew where the Lord wanted us and it wasn’t plan B either. I found holes in their theology and documented a few of them and pointed them out and ran them past my wife and daughter and that one seemed to go away. We knew at that point that it was plan A that we were supposed to be at.
Notice in the previous few paragraphs that I’m starting to study more. God is starting to build me back up to where He wants me to be… Unfortunately, it would never be where I would have been had I gone with His original plan for my life instead of MY plan. I couldn’t do anything to change the time but I could do something to change my mind, my brain, my knowledge. He was starting to build me back up to where I could stand up in a proverbial “fight”.
Without giving a total blow-by-blow here I will suffice it to say that He was guiding me, and us, to where He wanted us to be. In previous posts, and even in the beginning of this post, I mentioned that my first calling was to become a pastor. What is it that a pastor does? Besides many other administrative things, he teaches. He preaches. I am not scripturally able to fill the shoes of the pastor now. I couldn’t physically even if I were otherwise capable.
I know I’m long winded. I hear it all the time. I just don’t know when to shut up. Well, sometimes. My wife had been telling me since I had stopped working that I should start a blog. She says, “You’re so smart about the Bible, you could help others by blogging about what you are thinking about and you could study more”. Her words! I never claimed to know it all about the Bible but I do have the gift of discernment. I still have fragments of my previous knowledge of the Bible that I can pull from. As long as I have my computer in front of me, I can usually find the answer.
Availability… God can’t use those who don’t want to be used. When we don’t want to be used, we have a tendency to find other things to fill our time with and we make excuses about why we can’t do what God wants us to do. It could be something big or small. It doesn’t matter. If we aren’t “Available” to Him, then He is going to go past us and go on to the next guy that is “Available” and use him. What is the problem here? You might say, “It doesn’t matter who God uses, it still gets done” or “God is God, He can make it happen without human hands”. Both, very true.
The problem is (at least) two-fold:
1. When we do what He wants us to do, we will receive a “reward” for it when we get to Heaven. see Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6; Luke 9:26; Revelation 2:23; Revelation 22:12; I Corinthians 3:12-15
2. We are commanded by God to do His bidding – that is the purpose of our existence. see Acts 13:47; Matthew 5:16; Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19, 20; John 14:15
God can bless us here on earth if He wants to, but our true reward will be when we finally get to Heaven.
Matthew 6: 19; “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
If you weren’t concerned with your eternal being at all, you wouldn’t be reading to this point. That being the case, you owe it to yourself and to those whom you can influence for Christ, to make yourself available to God’s bidding. The joy that you can feel here on earth is immeasurable and like nothing else you have ever felt. Once you taste it, you won’t want anything else.
I’ve come to the realization, personally, that I will die soon. Although, I could still walk out in the street and get hit by a car and die that way. The truth of the matter is: You could die before I do. How is it that you want God to greet you when you get there? “Welcome, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of our Lord.” or “Depart from me you worker of iniquity. I never knew you.” I want Jesus to have open arms with a smile on His face when I see Him. If, in fact, He chooses to come back to receive His own before that, I want Him to find me doing something that brings Him glory. I couldn’t imagine the shame that we both would feel if I wasn’t.
Isaiah 6:8; “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”
Acts 9: 10; “And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.“
God Bless You!
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©2012 Mark Davis
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This is the Fourth and Final post. I hope you have enjoyed my stories. Follow my blog to get further blog updates and teachings as they are posted.