Monday, January 6, 2014

Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam

“What is a sunbeam?” you ask.

Well, just in case it’s been too long since you sang this song, here are the words (I’ll admit I only remembered the first verse):
 “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam,
To shine for Him each day;
In every way try to please Him,
At home, at school [at work], at play.
A sunbeam, a sunbeam,
Jesus wants me for a sunbeam;
A sunbeam, a sunbeam,
I’ll be a sunbeam for Him.
Jesus wants me to be loving,
And kind to all I see;
Showing how pleasant and happy,
His little one can be.
I will ask Jesus to help me
To keep my heart from sin;
Ever reflecting His goodness,
And always shine for Him.
I’ll be a sunbeam for Jesus,
I can if I but try;
Serving Him moment by moment,
Then live for Him on high.”[1]

(You can thank me later for getting that song stuck in your head.)

Well, so much for my plan to show up for church every week, sit in my spot, doze through the sermon and then go home to take a nap…now I’m supposed to be a sunbeam? What does that mean, anyway?

I’m thinking that a sunbeam is a blessing or an encouragement, does that sound right to you?
“Are you, with your whole soul, might, mind, and strength, loving and serving God in blessing others around you by leading them to the Light of the world?” (E.G. White, Testimony Treasures, Volume 2, page 188)
I know what you’re thinking. “That sounds like a full time job! I don’t have time for that.” or “How can I be a blessing to others when my life is still a mess?” But I think that we let Satan tell us that stuff when being a blessing (a sunbeam) is not one big thing we do, it’s a piece of everything we do.

One author talks about the moment she figured that out. 
“For years I never felt I measured up to all I thought the Lord wanted me to be, or all I thought I should be. Satan convinced me that since I wasn't "perfect," I had no right to minister to others. Then one day, my children brought me a bouquet of flowers they had picked. I hugged each child with joy. As I tried to arrange the flowers in a vase, I discovered my children had picked no stems, just blossoms. I laughed--I had been blessed with their gift of love, however imperfect. It was then I realized we don't have to be perfect to be a blessing. We are asked only to be real, trusting in Christ's perfection to cover our imperfection”.[2]
What a relief, right? One of the drawbacks, though, is that being a blessing is something that we have to do consciously, it’s probably not going to happen on its own, or ever our own. We have to have asked for God’s help to be a blessing to the people we meet.

I just got an email today that had a list of “random acts of kindness,” that look a whole lot like people being sunbeams. There was the Subway restaurant that welcomes the homeless for a free meal every Friday; the older couple who pays for the meal of a young couple trying to eat out with a one-year-old; the dollar bill taped to the snack machine with the note saying, “Your snack is on me. Enjoy your day.” There’s a mailman who drops encouraging notes into random mailboxes as he does his mail route and the person who left the money for another person’s parking ticket on their windshield. And then there’s this:
“The Crimson Tide’s starting kicker missed three field goals during the game, then was yanked with one second remaining in favor of redshirt freshman Adam Griffith, who ended up missing the 57-yard field goal that was returned 109 yards for a Tigers game-winning touchdown.
Foster received threats and horrible, awful messages on Twitter. His teammates stuck up for him though.”
You know that it was a really tough time for that kicker…death threats? really? over a college football game? Anyway, two and a half weeks after that horrible game, Cade Foster posted a picture of a very special letter he’d received on the social website, Instagram.

The letter said, 
“Dear Cade (#43), Life has its setbacks. I know! However you will be a stronger human with time. I wish you all the best – Sincerely – another 43 George Bush.”[3]
Those things only took a second or two and made so much difference for the recipients. Just knowing that someone else noticed you and cared enough to let you know they noticed is huge! It just takes a little thought and the willingness to respond to a nudge from the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes thought, I think it’s easier to do those kinds of things for strangers than it is to encourage people we know. Have you ever noticed that? We can smile and make a joke with the person at the cash register to brighten their day, but we don’t have anything nice to say to someone in our office, at church, or in our own family. We’re quick to criticize the people closest to us. They are often the people who need our encouragement the most.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25-26
As “the Day” approaches, what can we be doing for those closest to us to encourage them as we wait for Jesus to return? How can we make sure that they know that they matter to us? that we want to see them in Heaven? that we want to help them along the way?

Instead of criticizing, let’s encourage; instead of gossiping, let’s bless; instead of tearing down, let’s build up.
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3

[1] Nellie Talbot and Edwin O. Excell, Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam,  1851-1921
[2] Gigi Graham Tchividjian, "Heart to Heart," Today's Christian Woman.
[3] Zac Ellis, Alabama kicker Cade Foster receives handwritten note from George W. Bush, Sports Illustrated Campus Union,

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