I am always inspired to write after hearing the message at our church CCV, here in Phoenix. They wrapped up their series on the Ten Commandments yesterday so it was of course, “Do Not Covet.” The only thing that I was wanting yesterday morning at 9 am, was to be standing in the refrigerated dairy room at Costco, it was already scorching outside, the heat rising from the simmering asphalt and concrete. Yet here were all these smiling faces of the kind volunteers, greeting us as we walked quickly into church.
I love my church for many reasons, but the main reason is that teaching pastors never preach at me or condemn me or make me feel guilty about the sins in my life. Instead they talk about issues that are current and relevant to everyone’s life, from young to old, male and female, Christian and maybe not quite there yet. They use a calm and intellectual way of drawing you into the message rather than pushing you away. I actually learn something every Sunday. Guess that’s why they call it Sunday School. But I choose to sit in the big auditorium, not one of the kids classrooms that are set up for toddlers through high school.
The message “Thou Shall Not Covet” can be linked to every other commandment according to Mark Moore, one of the teaching pastors, note “teaching” not preaching. Murder would never happen if someone wasn’t angry and jealous over what someone else has and they want. How about stealing or adultery? Seems like those are certainly tied to coveting or wanting something that isn’t ours to begin with. Lying and gossiping are both included too, the desire to be right or better than someone else all comes from comparing ourselves to others and feeling somewhat less of a person than they are.
We shouldn’t compare ourself to someone else, we don’t know what they live through everyday, we don’t walk in their shoes as they go down that hot broiling concrete to church or the grocery store or to work. We need to compare ourselves to our former selves, and recognize the progress we have made over time. Sometimes tiny small steps, but being focused on looking forward, not in the rear view mirror.
Be content with what you have and stop wanting that bigger, better house that Mary has on the lake or that new shiny red BMW that Tom just drove home from the dealership. Believe me, you wouldn’t want her mortgage or his car payments, I used to live in a fancy house and drove a silvery blue BMW convertible. I love my 40 year old ranch in Sun City, and I am crazy about my little Mazda 3 hatchback with its shiny soul red paint.
But being content is not the same as being complacent, something that almost seems like it should have been the 11th Commandment. “Thou Shalt Not Be Complacent.” We should always be striving to learn more and give more and be a better person. We should find ways to be more generous and kind to those we’ve never met or never will and there are so many ways to give, not just money but from your heart. Galatians 5:18 says “The good I want to do, I do not do. What I hate, I somehow do.” Sound familiar to your life?
A woman was standing at the front desk in my new doctors office yesterday. She was speaking quietly about needing to see a doctor immediately, she had been to the ER on Sunday and had been diagnosed with gallstones, never a fun thing to experience. Her credit card had been denied, payday was this Friday and she had $11 in her purse. The waiting room was filled with elderly folks, Hispanic families with an abundance of happy kids and a wide assortment of people that looked like they were struggling with their health or maybe their wealth or lack of it.
I listened to her practically beg to be seen, and when my name was called, I slipped two twenties under the glass partition she was standing on one side of. I quickly walked into the back and stepped up on the dreaded scale that we all hate. I wouldn’t miss that money at all and if she could finally be seen by a doctor, that was my gift in return, and it made me feel happy inside. I had just received word in the morning that I had won another $750 scholarship from Grand Canyon University, this on top of the $4,000 that I had received last week. I was feeling happy inside. God had provided for me and I could help someone too. Five minutes later the twenties came around the door, the office manager said no thank you, they couldn’t accept my gift, they would see her for no charge. They have patients everyday that can’t pay them, this was nothing new.
I usually seem to go to lovely new doctors offices that are decorated in all the new colors, soft gray, muted aqua, pale buttercup yellow, with lovely abstract art and photographs on the wall and soft music playing in the background. When I drove up to this crappy little office it looked like it had been an old veterinarian office, and I almost drove away. When I walked in, I almost turned around and walked out. But God had a plan for me, you know like Jeremiah 29:11, he had great plans for me yesterday.
I met a wonderful endocrinologist named Kristen Hanson who spent 2 1/2 hours with me, long after the office had closed and turned off their air conditioning. She spoke passionately about the origins of diabetes and all of the medicines that were discovered over the years. I learned all about the good and bad choices there were for all of us diabetics. But most importantly I learned that my diabetes wasn’t a punishment from God because I was fat most of my life and still continue to be, although a hundred pounds lighter.
I learned that I hadn’t passed along this disease to my son or grandchildren, this was not a genetic issue at all. I almost shed tears of joy, because none of my family have ever had the disease and I always thought it somehow tied back to my weight. I had developed this condition as a result of having my thyroid removed about 18 years ago and the surgeon forgot to give me that tiny white square of paper with that life changing prescription on it. I had gone almost a month with no thyroid or medicine to replace the hormones that our bodies must have to live.
For only a $20 co-pay, she gave me back my life with a promise to help me fight this deadly disease. There are no promises she could make, she can’t somehow figure out how badly damaged my body is because of no prescriptions for a month or the wrong ones along the way. The family practice docs know less than I do about diabetes so I’ve been taking the wrong meds and doses since 2000. She is literally a life saver and I thank her for her generous gift of time, even though her dogs were home and needed to go outside. She didn’t give me the average 13-16 minutes allotted to patients these days, she spent hours drilling into my head both the history of diabetes and that of my own. Having weighed almost 500 pounds years ago and not being diabetic, she knows that the disease is not a punishment for being heavy. She knows what it’s like to battle the bulge and see people stare at you as you walk by, condemning you for the fat that surrounds your body and soul. She gave from her heart, trying to make my life a better one.
Today as you fight the unbearable heat or the freezing weather on the other side of the world, be alert and watch for those in need, someone that looks like they are struggling and just needs a hand, a bottle of water or a sandwich or $40 to see a much needed doctor. It will change your life more than it does theirs.