Practicing What I Preach

If you haven't read yesterday's post about Hannah, you might want to do that before reading today's post.  Things will make much more sense.

Yesterday's post was actually typed out and scheduled last Friday.  By keeping ahead in my posts, I can be sure the devotions go out first thing in the morning so people can read them before they go to work or with their morning coffee or whatever.  Anyway, when I wrote the post on Friday, I was in a particular frame of mind--one focused on my husband's current job situation and the frustration resulting from that.  I received great encouragement from the post about Hannah that God gave me on Friday, but it seems the lesson didn't stick with me very long.

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to be a vendor at a large ladies meeting.  I was excited and hopeful that I would sell a lot of products to recoup the money I had spent to purchase them in the first place. (News flash:  authors do NOT get their books for free.  We have to pay for them just like you do.)  Anyway, I felt sure that God had opened this door for me, so I was expecting big results.

When we arrived at the meeting and found out that they were expecting over 250 ladies to be there, I began to worry that I might not have packed enough books.  As knots formed in my stomach, I resolved that I was not going to worry about it.  I had business cards with me.  If I ran out of products, I could direct the women where to go to purchase them online.  "It's all in God's hands," I declared.  Unfortunately, God wasn't thinking the same thing I was thinking.

When I got home Saturday evening, Jason helped to unload my materials, table, rack, etc. from the car.  When he lifted the rolling suitcase that contained my books, he jokingly remarked, "It's supposed to be lighter."  I knew he was joking, but I had contained my tears for the entire two-hour car ride home, and I could not contain them any longer.  As the tears streamed down my face, I detailed the full extent of my day's failure:  I had only sold four books.  Two hundred fifty ladies, four books.  You do the math. 

Not what I had in mind!  Not at all what I had expected!  I expected to run out of books, not to have to haul them all back home with me.  As I unloaded my bags that night, I kept thinking, All that work!  All that time!  All that effort!  And all that money!!!!!  For what?  Seriously, God, I don't understand this at all.

At church on Sunday, my supportive church family were eager to find out how I did on Saturday.  Each time I had to answer that question, I felt more and more like a failure.  I was frustrated, embarrassed and confused, not to mention extremely disappointed.  By last night, I was in such a low place that I wasn't sure I'd ever rise up again.

But then I read Monday's blog post about Hannah, and God revealed to me what I had forgotten over the weekend.  Remember how Hannah felt like a failure too?  Remember how her name means grace but that it didn't seem like God was really doing her any favors?  God drove Hannah to the point of desperation, not only to answer Hannah's prayers, but also to bless many others in the process.  In conclusion, I stated that it all boiled down to grace or greed.  Grace to accept that God is working through those dark times to work a bigger miracle, or greed that doesn't care whether or not anyone else is blessed as long as I get what I want.  This weekend, I had chosen greed without even realizing what I was doing.  God had given me the devotion on Friday to prepare me for Saturday's disappointment, but I was so distracted by my own desires that I completely let it slip my mind.

As I read the last sentences of the devotion, I cringed.  "I see grace.  What do you see?"  What do I see?  Someone who wasn't practicing what she was preaching.  God has called me to write devotions that bring honor to Him and encourage fellow Christians, but sometimes I think the person that needs them the most is me!  It's painful when my own words come back to bite me in the bottom, but sometimes that's what it takes to get me to pay attention to what God's trying to do.  The lesson about Hannah was no accident.  The timing was not coincidental.  God is working in my life, and it's time I pay more attention to what He's doing and less to what I think should be done.  It really is better that way. . .and much less selfish!

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. - Psalm 116:5-7