Ross Perot always talked a lot about his mother. It had been his intention early on to build new subdivisions in Texas, putting quality schools in each one to ensure that future generations are raised with the same kind of quality education his mother raised him with. Perot says that the little things she did prepared him to be the kind of man he is today. During the Depression years hoboes would regularly visit the Perot household. One day one of the hoboes told Perot’s mother why. Earlier destitute wanderers had put a white mark on the curb in front of the Perot home so that other hoboes would know this particular house was an easy mark. Young Ross asked his mother if she wanted him to erase the white mark. She said no. He never forgot those acts of compassion. He said in a later interview, “You sit there and see your parents doing things like that—-it’s the greatest lesson in the world!” He was so influenced by his mother’s life that he adopted her values; they continued to live on in him.
Stories like that are far more meaningful to me now than earlier in my life. We all wear to some degree the blinders we inherit from our culture. We see only the obvious things as we begin our families and only ask ourselves such questions as “Can I produce a comfortable life for us all?” “Will I succeed in my business?” “What will I have to do and where will I have to go to climb the ladder to personal success?” In the process we allow our marriages and families to drift while we engage in the “necessary” things. Only later, through much experience, some of it quite bitter, do we realize that we have spent all of our time pursuing the wrong goals.
Nothing—absolutely nothing—can take the place of both father and mother making the time, at the expense of lesser demands, to pursue the construction of a family. Your children will never care how much money you made, what your title was or how important you were to others. But they will never forget (and often never forgive) your absence when they most needed you. Those values you want them to treasure can’t be faxed to them from your office or communicated from a cell phone. God has given us all a great opportunity to prepare the next generation to be the confident, loving and secure people He intends for them to be. All it takes is love and compassion and a lot of time. What a tragedy that so many of us never recognize that window of opportunity until it is closed forever!
One thing all human beings have in common is failure. King David was no different. One day, from his balcony, he saw a woman named Bathsheba bathing. He saw, he looked, and he kept looking. Then he sent for her and committed adultery with her. Some time later, Bathsheba informed the king she was pregnant. At first, David tried to cover up his sin by bringing her husband home from battle so he would think he fathered the child. When that plan failed, he had Bathsheba’s husband killed in battle and took his wife as his own.
Yes, David failed big time but that wasn’t the end. It was a moment when all could have been lost, but it wasn’t. With God, failure never has to be final. No matter how bad, how wrong, or how ashamed you may rightly feel, God is there for you. Even though you knew better, God is willing to meet you. At times like these we need to turn to God like David did. Will there be consequences? Sure. Will there be pain? Of course. Does it have to ruin your life forever? No, absolutely not. It is interesting to note that it was God who referred to King David as “a man after my own heart.” David was also the measuring stick against which God compared all future kings. It’s not just that God forgives our past failures, but forgets them as well. It seems that He is more interested in where we are, at any given time, than where we have been.
But the difference between the old David and the new David was seen in the way he handled his sin. Although in denial for a long time until he was “outed” by God through the Prophet Nathan, David dared to come clean with God. His response was “I have sinned against the Lord.” He then threw himself upon the Lord’s mercy and compassion.
As a pastor, I frequently see people trying to cut deals with God. This will never work. God provides a way to be forgiven, but it’s not by trading a few good deeds or promising to make up for what you’ve done. Sin must be owned up to. It must be openly confessed. It must not be justified or blamed on people or circumstances. And then it must be followed by genuine repentance—a conscious turning away from its root causes and a determination to not live that way again.
Some of your greatest experiences with God will come after you’ve let Him down big time. We forget that His rooting for our improvement and recovery from sin and is more than willing to hasten it by His forgiveness and
restoration. Don’t ever give up on yourself. God certainly won’t.
One of my heroes of the faith is George Mueller. Born in Germany and beginning a ministry in Bristol, England about 170 years ago, Mr. Mueller experienced a call of God to establish a work among orphans. As he grew in his knowledge of the Scriptures and a life of prayer, he determined that since this orphan work was God’s idea and not his own, he would secure his funds with God’s help alone. Never in his lifetime did he ask anyone for financial help. Never did he or his employees solicit donors or even hint publicly at any financial needs they might have. Everything was taken to God in prayer. As a result, at the peak of his work in about 1865, he had built five large orphan homes (with cash) and was caring for the complete needs of over 2,000 children at one time. So successful was this work and so amazing the story behind it that he became a legend in his own time. But when asked about his motivation for doing what he did he replied that his supreme desire was not to care for orphans but to show to the world that the works of God among men were real and not imaginary.
I think it is this very point that separates religious people from truly committed believers. Religious people obtain a certain benefit from the peace and fellowship of worship services and are moved by the stories from the Bible about other people’s experiences. But the truly committed disciples are the ones who have those experiences. For them, worship is not a noun but a verb, an expression of how they truly feel about His presence in their lives.
One day in a gathering of Christians an older man was giving a testimony about his experiences with the Lord. So moving was his testimony that a young man jumped to his feet and said, “I would give everything to have your experience!” At that, the old man pointed his finger at the younger man and said, “That is exactly what it cost me!”
The grace of God in our lives may be free, but it is very costly. That is why Jesus said, “Whoever saves his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Luke 9:24). If we are ever to truly impress those around us with the reality of God then we will have to drop whatever is in our hands and lay hold of what is eternally important. George Mueller demonstrated to his generation that God can be counted on. Now we are expected to demonstrate to ours the same thing.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship