That relationship you've grown annoyed of...
It once felt like a gift.
That project where you don't feel like you're getting enough...
Even just one used to feel like a gift.
That path you've grown tired of walking...
In the beginning, just being able to embark felt like a gift.
That feeling you've just grown accustom, or even complacent to...
You used to consider it a gift.
The truth is that it's not the relationship, or the project, or the path, or the feeling that have changed, it's that our minds and hearts are quick to forget that in a world where so many have nothing, we must always be grateful for everything.
“Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof…” Mark 2:4
If you aren’t familiar with this story from Mark two, here are the quick bullet points.
-Jesus is in Capernaum
-He’s performing healing miracles in a home
-The gathered crowd has gotten so big that it’s nearly impossible to get in
-Four men show up with their friend who is paralyzed
-Seeing that there is no conventional way to get their friend to Jesus, they decide to bust in through the roof
These four men in this story are going to get to Jesus, no matter what it takes. These men were not unique when it came the lengths people were willing to go in order to encounter Jesus. In His day, people were willing to climb on roofs, leave their jobs, and risk starvation just so they could be in the presence of this strange carpenter from Nazareth. Throughout the four gospels, we see people doing whatever it takes to get near God.
Rewind a bit, back into the Old Testament, and you’ll see people willing to sacrifice huge portions of their grain and livestock, just to have an inkling of God’s presence and mercy.
Moses climbed a mountain, over and over again
Solomon built a huge, extremely elaborate temple
The Israelites traveled through the desert for 40 years
All throughout scripture, we see men and women doing whatever it takes to get near God.
So, the question then becomes, in a time when the presence of God is always available, everywhere, and all it requires is some focus, a little bit of time, and submission, why are so few Christians today making the sacrifice to get into God’s presence?
When Jesus died on the cross, he bridged the gap between us and God. He removed the giant barrier called sin, so that intimacy with God could be constantly and forever available. No longer do we have to climb mountains, search deserts, make sacrifices, and bust in through skylights. God is here, now, available. And all it takes to become aware of his presence is the simple discipline of slowing down and focussing our minds and hearts on him.
By the way, do you know what happens when we get into God’s presence? Look back at Mark 2 for a second. The men bust through the roof and lower their friend in front of Jesus. They in verse 5 it says, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”
The man was healed, and he was healed because of their faith, because they were willing to do whatever to get to Jesus. I believe that God will reward our faith much in the same way. When we make the necessary sacrifices to get into God’s presence, we experience miracles, healing, provision, and grace. When we bust through roofs, we experience life.
Starbucks makes me happy
or just, coffee in general
Seeing other people do what they love makes me happy
and my family makes me happy, even when they make me crazy
working hard makes me happy
so does resting
so does a good morning, a good view, and a clean house
getting good grades at school
or helping sick people
these things make me happy
spending the whole day talking to my friends
writing a story, reading a book
these things also make me happy
drawing, painting, and playing piano
christian camps, grilled cheese, and aviators
hearing the birds sing
seeing someone accept Christ
quotes from charlie brown
my youth group
organic tea shops
listening to parachute
and love make me happy
but more than anything though, feeling safe under God’s shelter
knowing that I’m not alone
and seeing the smiling faces of those I love
that’s the greatest happiness there is
My wife and I are in the process of getting our fireplace repaired.
The first place we went to was over-priced. The building was hard to find. The people were difficult to communicate with and at times flat out rude. Overall, it was just an unpleasant experience.
Now, needing a repair on your fireplace is not like going to Disneyworld. You’re not expecting to be entertained or to have a great time. You just want someone to do the job and get it over with. However, the second company we reached out to has been incredible. Their prices are fair. They are quick and clear with communication. Not to mention they are knowledgable and just all round kind people. This second company has taken our need to repair our fireplace, which would normally considered an annoying chore, and turned it into quite a pleasurable experience.
Now, could the first place have fixed our fireplace? Sure, probably just as well as the second. The employees there were probably just as knowledgeable and capable of doing their jobs as the second place we visited.
So how did we choose where to spend our money, then? When services/products are the same, what do people look at next? Experience. With so many options in today’s world just a google search away, experience is what separates thriving communities and businesses from those that do not.
The question we have to ask ourselves is…
What kind of experience am I giving people when they walk into my business, classroom, comments section, or home?
There are a lot of churches in town, and going to visit one for the first time can be awkward and nerve-racking. So how do you ensure that someone walking into your doors for the first time doesn’t feel that way? How can you go the extra mile to turn a possible awkward, frustrating, or routine experience, into an unbelievably pleasurable one?
If you can figure out the answer to this question, both you, your project, and your customers/audience will thrive.
This blog is about learning how to notice, make, and share your art