Saturday, September 28, 2013

She Changed My Life... and we didn't even know it

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."

Run that you may obtain it. I think this blog series is a perfect example of my lack of self-control (how long has it taken me to do? how often do I talk about how long it is taking me?!). I am not good at disciplining myself, especially when I can not see the immediate reward for my hard work. I believe this to be a common problem. What's easier? To spend time at the gym pushing and sweating or to eat those 3 chocolate chip cookies on the counter. They both have a pay off. But one is slow, it will takes weeks to see. The other is quick and delicious and oh so sweet. 

We are a culture that craves instant gratification. Freeways, jet planes, microwaves, iphones, credit cards, drive thrus. But sometimes the pay off doesn't come right away. Sometimes, it's about being faithful in the moment. Doing what the Lord has called you to do. Right. Now. The prize may come in this lifetime or it may be in eternity but, self-control is about doing good in the present and patiently waiting for the pay off. My life was changed decades ago by a woman who was faithful in the right-now and neither of us even knew it... until yesterday. 

Catherine works at Starbucks with me. She is about my mothers age and reminds me so much of her. (Really mom, it makes me miss you a whole lot sometimes) Catherine is kind, hard-working, genuine and encouraging. And, through passing conversations in the midst of chaotic work days, I found out that Catherine loves Jesus. Yesterday, during the extra hour after work that I spent waiting for my paycheck to arrive, Catherine and I began a conversation about church. As she entered the back room, she asked me where I attended (she had never heard of Revolution though) and I asked her the same. 
"North West Bible Church," She replied. "OH! I think that's where my husband Jake went to church in high school." I said. After calling Jake to confirm I joyfully told her yes, he did attend. In fact, that is where he got saved. We celebrated that connection together. The beauty of her home church being a huge part of how my husband came to know the Lord. And, a huge part of why he is the man that I was blessed to marry! As the conversation went on Catherine told me that Randy would have been the youth pastor at the time. Now, he has planted his own church here in Tucson. I knew that. Jake had been to coffee with him this year. I explained to Catherine that it was Randy who took an interest in Jake when he first attended North West Bible. He led Jake to Christ. At this she started. "Abigail! My husband and I have been at North West Bible for over thirty years. And it was in our middle school group that my husband and I led Randy to Christ!"

WOW! This women, who I barely know, was used by God in a big way to impact my life. What a blessing that He granted us just this little glimpse into His intricate plan. Catherine and I couldn't stop smiling. I mean we were giddy. Because of her faithfulness to the Lord all those years ago, my life was changed. This is the far reaching impact of our momentary acts of obedience. This is self-control, this is discipline in action. These ideas seem so lofty, and honestly, I despair of ever keeping my body under control. But, each day in each moment. Right. Now. I can be faithful to what Christ is calling me to do. What we do doesn't have to be huge but it's impact can extend farther than we will ever know. 

I keep thinking about how amazing it is that God gifted Catherine and me with the beauty of this moment. But know that if He hadn't, her obedience would not have resulted in anything less glorious or less good. He uses us in ways we never see. Let this moment be an encouragement to you. You may never meet that girl years later whose life you never knew you changed, but the ripple of your faithfulness is no less actual. And let this story be a charge. We run not to receive and perishable prize but in imperishable. The results of our discipline will never fade. So... what will you do with your right-nows?