A constant challenge for me is that of success, money, status and what part those things play in my life and how much they shape my decisions and the way I live my life, partly due to my family, my education and having spent the last 11 years working in the corporate world.
I think, in fact I know, God is doing a work in me in this area firstly by removing me from the said corporate world, into the charity sector, which has meant a pay cut and the loss of lots of nice benefits, coupled with some pride issues, and secondly then having to explain to the said family why I have made such a radical decision. I think this work may be long overdue but no doubt costly and painful certainly meaning less new clothes! I don’t doubt for a minute it is the right decision, and I am really excited about all the opportunities that lie ahead, but I would lying if I said there were not anxieties about the future that come with such a decision.
As that challenge has come I know God has been turning upside down my thought processes and attitudes. A few weeks ago a very precious lady, who had been part of our community as I was growing up, died. This lady had not had an easy start in life going through a series of foster homes and children’s houses. She also had learning difficulties. I was unable to go to her funeral as I was away but I read the order of service, which told of her life story, and as I read it I cried. I was blown away. Her story was one of obstacles and difficulties, of loss and disappointments, but yet she was the most giving and generous and amazing lady. She always had a smile and a hello and whilst she did not have very much money at all to each couple in our community who got married she would give them a tea towel and when babies were born socks or bibs – I know that many of you reading this will have been the recipient of a tea towel and socks/bibs. On my daughter Lucy’s birthday 1st birthday I remember a card coming through the door with £5 in it – I remember at the time it made me weep but reading again of her generosity to so many has impacted me greatly.
Apparently at her funeral there were bus drivers from the routes she travelled on and shop keepers from the shops she frequented and the service was packed.
In the world’s eyes this lady would have not been much to shout about, she was not successful in worldly terms, she was not wealthy with a long list of successes but I have absolutely no doubt she will have a mansion in heaven.
I cannot stop thinking about her – there has been a lot of change in my life in the last few weeks, with lots of challenge, teaching and input but it is this lady’s life that I keep coming back to, that has challenged me the most. She had such a spirit of kindness, of generosity and of friendship – she had it right in contrast to how I often get it so wrong. She knew what was important – she gave and gave from the little she had. She showed kindness without limits.
I have been reminded time and time again in the last month (and I am sensing that there may have to be many more reminders as I wrestle with this one) that God’s heart is not for the things the world puts so much value on, that he does not rate us or judge us or love us conditional upon those values – thankfully he loves us unconditionally which is a good job as far as my life goes, that he loves a generous heart, a heart that pours out love, kindness and compassion – that those things are so much more important to him than job titles, pay packets, reputations and qualifications, which I have no doubt feature right down on his list. I have no doubt that when I get to heaven God will not be interested in how many degrees or qualifications I had or what my house was worth but that he will want to know what I did to love and help the poor and vulnerable, how I used the gifts and resources he has given me to bless others and for his kingdom.
I know that the lovely lady whose story has impacted me so much in the last few weeks will have been greeted with the words “well done good and faithful servant” when she finally got to meet Jesus. She lived her life so well and I for one have so much to learn from who she was and the way she lived her life.
If only we could fully grasp the importance of values such as generosity, kindness and compassion, and give them the weight that God longs them to have then I have no doubt we would see massive change in our communities and in the world. If we could flip over our priorities so our spiritualty and relationships came first and foremost way above our finances, our careers, our reputations and all the other stuff we are constantly told is so important what would it look like? I am not saying that those things are not important, whether we like it or not money is a necessity and can do so much good, and intellect and successes are gifts from God and we need people in influence and power to be advocates for change, but for me it is all about my attitude and the importance I give to these things both in terms of the way I live my life and the way I treat/judge others. Think it may be an ongoing work…………..