path through the woods

 

“The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”

— Luke [17:20]–21

]THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AMONG US

One of my clients, Bill, had been on a long search for a job. Each day he met disappointment with this search. He is skilled in his craft and has an amazing amount of insight. He would be a great person for someone to hire. But each door got shut and he was thrown into despair. He was well off, with enough to allow himself to not work. But he wanted to do something and searched every day. He prayed and asked Jesus to help him. He went on long retreats and asked Jesus to give him answers. One retreat at a Catholic center required him to be silent for three days. It was a place with little to distract him, which would allow him to be in a constant state of prayer. Where was his answer?

“His gift was of a bounty that would allow him to be whom Jesus wanted him to be.”

Bill was looking in the wrong places. His answer was right in front of him. He had been given a gift. He didn’t have to go back to the old life, and in fact he didn’t really like his old craft. He just wanted to work. His despair was centered on doing the same thing he’d done before, which he could no longer achieve. His gift was of a bounty that would allow him to be whom Jesus wanted him to be. He had freedom to go wherever he wanted. To be whoever he wanted. Letting go was causing his despair. 

“It is the spirit of God that lets us know what our gifts are.”

In today’s verse, the Apostle Paul talks about the gifts bestowed on us by God. It is the spirit of God that lets us know what our gifts are. At times we may forget them, and other times we may try other things. But knowing them becomes our purpose. Given by God and centered by God. How many of us can write a life plan that capture our gifts and fit it into seven words.  Our talents are the gifts bestowed upon us and worth writing down.

When I was working as a Fortune 500 CFO and responsible for hiring people, I used an approach called the “profile employee.” While their gifts were important, it was who they were that mattered the most. It was how well they understood themselves that counted. In review meetings the managers would say that he/she was a “profile employee.” To an employee it was the highest compliment. We didn’t care about any “ism”; we hired anyone who was positive, wanted to learn, and wanted to do “good.”

“The Kingdom of God can be found down a new path in our lives, which we don’t know. One that isn’t familiar. But that has always been among us.”

Many of us look in the same places over and over again for what we want. Those familiar places of our past. We know the path and it is comfortable. Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, but it is among us. It is here! But we cannot see it.

Our journey in life will often send us down the old familiar paths. A path we can see and trust. It is like an old friend whose every nuance we know well. The Kingdom of God can be found down a new path in our lives, which we don’t know. One that isn’t familiar. But that has always been among us. 

“He had a different purpose now. Not to be given to, but to be giving.”

Bill finally got his answer, by asking a different question: “Jesus, what do you want from me?” Not “what can you do for me?” Bill knew he had to become an inward person and not look outward so hard, because he had already found the Kingdom of God. His new job was to be among people. To help them. He had a different purpose now. Not to be given to, but to be giving. It cheered him up. It gave him value and joy to know he was helping God. His Kingdom of God was to help, and that was the way his heart was quieted. A sense of peace. Many times we look and the answer is among us.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

 

PARTING THOUGHTS

Where are we looking?

What questions are we asking in prayer?

How do we feel the Kingdom of God?

 

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