Jason Gray

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No Kindness Wasted

Published January 28, 2013 by joypatton

I saw the brake lights in the middle of the busy road and wondered what could be happening at this time of the morning.  A few seconds later, I saw the problem scamper across the four-lane road: a tiny white dog in a purple dress.  Then I saw a woman trying to corral the lively pup.  In seconds my mind filled in the gaps of the story that this little dog jumped out of someone’s car window, and she was about to witness the death of her beloved pet under someone’s tire.  Then I pondered what my role in this little drama was.

Do I stop and help or not?  Surely there are other people who will stop.  Do I really care enough about a dog to alter my morning plans?  While I may not care that much about dogs, I do care about people.  And my morning plans could easily be altered.   So why not?

I pulled into the center lane and put my flashers on.  An athletic black man jumped out of his car and joined the foot chase as the dog took off down a residential road.  I followed in my car thinking at the very least I could give them a ride back to the car.  But the little dog quickly outran the man, and I followed in my van.  

The dog stopped at a house at the end of a cul-de-sac.  Even though I tried to coax her my way, she ran to the back yard.  The other man and I cornered her in the backyard, but she found an escape under the deck and firmly held that safety position.  

It turned out we had chased her home.  A neighbor informed us that was where she belonged.  The woman chasing the dog in the road was just a good Samaritan too, and she gave up the chase when we entered the neighborhood.  I offered the man a lift back to his car, which was still sitting in the middle of the four-lane road.  We laughed about our attempted good deed. 

No big pay off.  No big reward.  No hero card to play.  Just a dog getting back to where she belonged in the first place.  So was the sacrifice of my  time wasted?

A year ago my kids saw this mangy dog wandering in an abandoned parking lot.  They wanted to stop and help.  I didn’t, but I told them if the dog was still there on our way back, that we would stop.  I knew the dog was not going to make it no matter what I did.  But kids don’t understand that.  I knew the dog could be dangerous.  But the kids don’t see danger; they see need and opportunity.

When we drove by again, that dog was still there.  I didn’t stop to save an obviously lame and sick dog walking mindlessly in circles.  I stopped because I wanted to model compassion for my kids, even if it was for a dog that was beyond helping.  I made the kids wait in the car while I called the dog catcher.  While we waited, I tried to keep the dog away from the busy road without touching its disgusting fur.  

To this day, when we drive by the abandoned parking lot, my kids often remember that mangy dog.  They ask what happened to it.  We don’t know because one of them had to pee, and we decided to leave before the dog catcher arrived.  But I remember that I said yes to kindness that day.  It might have been “wasted” on the dog, but it was not wasted for my kids.  Instead of remembering a compassionless, busy mom who didn’t stop to help, they remember that we at least tried.  They learned kindess.

I also believe that Someone else is watching how we deal with the weak and helpless we come across every day.  I know that in God’s economy nothing is wasted.  (Reminds me of one of my favorite Jason Gray songs.)  No act of kindness goes unnoticed.  He sees how I treat the ones in need that cross my path.  Like last night in downtown Nashville when we gave a man $30 to get a cab after his car had been towed.  I followed Andrew’s lead, and when he opened his wallet, I opened mine too.  As we walked away, we wondered if it was foolish, but this morning I was reminded that nothing is wasted.  

It’s so much about the people, or dogs, that we help. It’s not so much about whether or not our help solves the situation.  It’s really about our heart in the helping.  It’s about whether or not my heart is open, whether or not my heart trusts my heavenly Father to provide for what was lost in time or money.  He sees, he knows and he cares.  No kindness is ever wasted with him.  

Have you ever had an act of kindness that seemed like it was wasted?  I’d love to hear about it.   

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Free Advice Friday: What are some good worship songs when you’ve messed up big time?

Published September 21, 2012 by joypatton

It’s the first ever Free Advice Friday on my blog!  Every Friday I’m turning this blog into an advice column.  Ask me anything from dating (didn’t date much, but have lots of interesting opinions), marriage (been married 15 years), parenting (have 4 kids), friendships (have had some good and some bad) or spiritual life (I have one).  I’m not sure that I will have great answers, but I know Someone who does.  My hope is that together we can carry our burdens into His presence and lay them at his feet.

Last week a friend texted me this question and I thought it was a good start for Free Advice Friday: What are some good worship songs when you’ve messed up big time?

My favorite worship album right now is Jason Gray’s “A Way to See in the Dark.”  I bought it because I heard the first song “Remind Me Who I Am” on KLove Radio in Nashville.  “In the lonely places when I can’t remember what grace is, remind me who I am to you.”  This is my new theme song.  When I get stuck in my Ice Queen and Orphan thinking, I need him to remind me that I am His Princess, his beloved.  “I’m the one You love.”

Another one of my favorites is “I Will Find a Way.”  In the beginning it talks about a woman is who so broken and afraid that she has shut the door of her heart.  “How should I come to the one that I love?  I will find a way.”  He loved her so much that he found a way to reach her and come into her heart.  I’m reminded how much the Father has loved us to send His only Son.  My other favorites on the album are “No Thief Like Fear,” “Nothing is Wasted,” and “Fear is Easy, Love is Hard.”  You can see why this is a great album for all my Orphan girls out there.

Another song that must be on this list is “One Thing” by Kristian Stanfill. “Your Love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.”  When we sing it in church, it sounds almost like a chant.  When I’ve messed up, I need to believe that his love is there, no matter what.

The problem is that when I mess up, it’s really hard to believe that God still loves me.  This exposes the lie that I believe that God loves me because of what I do.  Because I obey him or because I serve him or because I read my Bible and go to church.  None of those are the reasons that he loves me.  He loved me before I knew how to do any of those things.  He loved me while I was still a sinner (Romans 5:8).  So now that I’m “righteous,” has his love grown or changed?  By no means!  God’s love has no levels, no more and no less.  It has always been and will always be 100% plus infinity.

If Satan can get me to believe that God doesn’t love me, he can keep me from the cross, the ultimate sign of love.  When I doubt God’s unconditional love for me, then I am slow to repent because I don’t believe he even wants me back.  Eventually I stop repenting all together.  I stop going back to ask forgiveness again.  I stop bringing the things I did in the dark into the light.  And then I’m right where the enemy wants me, isolated, alone, in despair because I have no remedy for my sin.  This is the place where he is able to steal, kill and destroy this little lamb of God (John 10:10).

But when I am reminded of his great love, that his love for me remains, then I am free to run back to the cross and repent.  When I confess and agree with God that I messed it up again, he is faithful to forgive (I John 1:9).  I can agree with Satan that I am all those horrible things he has called me, “weak, pathetic, unworthy of love and disgusting.”  BUT GOD loves me!  I don’t know why, and I know I don’t deserve it.  This is the great mystery. But I do know that he loves me.  Because I know his love, I can trust that my sin is forgiven.

When I mess up and repent, I invite God in to be the solution.  I can ask him to show me the patterns that keep putting me in tempting situations.  I can ask him to show me the root beliefs that drive my sinful behaviors.  I can invite him in and ask him to heal those wounded places that I keep trying to heal myself.  I can live in the light and be in relationship with others because I know that I am deeply loved.  There is power in repentance because I admit that I am powerless over my own sin, that I cannot save myself, that I need Someone bigger than myself outside of myself to rescue me.

So my beloved, dear Princess, beautiful child of God…know that you are deeply loved today.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” (John 3:16)

What songs have helped you when you have messed up?

If you have a question for Free Advice Friday, email me at joy@joypatton.com.  If I answer your question in my blog next week, I will send you a copy of my book The Myth of Enuff.

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