February 28, 2017
Well, Happy Fat Tuesday to every one. Some see Fat Tuesday as a last day of indulgence, or almost as a day for cutting God out and giving into our idols and sin before the difficult or sad weeks of sacrificing by putting God above our idols/needs, leading up to Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross during Easter week. But for me, Fat Tuesday is where God really showed up in a powerful way in my life, so let me tell you how.
Do you ever wonder about the people who cross your paths, come into your life … the person in line with you at the store … an acquaintance from some social circle … a friend from school … family members you share many experiences with … a colleague at work. The number of people is amazing. God continually brings people into our lives, even to introverts like me who don’t make or maintain relationships very easily or well.
Sometimes, if you are lucky … truly blessed … someone enters your life and changes it forever … a special person who delivers God’s, mercy, grace, and unconditional love … right on the doorstep of your heart.
Well, I am one of those lucky people. Twenty-seven years ago, when I was stuck at a significant crossroad in my life, God showed up when I least expected it. It was on Fat Tuesday of 1989, right in the middle of New Orleans, at a boisterous Mardi Gras party, I met and fell in love with the most beautiful woman in the world. It was love at first sight!
Wow! His gift to me was, and still is, incredibly beautiful on the outside. She still revs my engines after these 27 years, but that is a different devotional on Valentine’s Day. The amazing part is who Martine is on the inside. You see, I was running away from God, and with all apologies to my New Orleans friends, I thought Mardi Gras in New Orleans was the last place God would find me. While I was in such personal and spiritual need for God to show up, He did … through my wife, Martine. Her unconditional love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and sacrifice have been very powerful to me … freeing me from my personal demons and allowing me to see God’s majesty in her and through her.
Since then, my engagement and growth with God have been unbelievable. He has transformed my life. I wish I could say I am the perfect husband … or even a good husband, but unfortunately, that is the most important area where I still need His grace and guidance for further growth. So, thank you so much, God, and thank you, Martine, for what you have done for me.
As a psychiatrist, and having lived through my Fat Tuesday experience, I often view the people who come into my life as God’s opportunities for me, not life’s inconveniences. I think not only about what I can show or teach them, but also about what they can teach or show me. My prayer is that I am a Lighthouse, allowing God’s light to shine through me and focus on them so they can see Him and their lives with clearer lenses.
Today, think about those whom God has put in YOUR life. Are you there to influence them? Then do it. Have they had a profound influence on you? Then thank God for them and thank them … a lot. Do something special for them ASAP. God does show up and speak to us, and often it’s in the form of our circumstances and the people He brings into those circumstances. Whether you see and respond to the people God brings into your life with Godly lenses and character or you view them through your me-centered lenses and ignore God’s knocking on your heart is your decision, so choose well.
Oh God, Thank You so much for not giving up on me even though I strayed and tried life my own way. All the grace and protection You provided still astounds and humbles me. Then to bring me an incredible gift, my Martine, I am speechless. Please strengthen me and help me have the courage to resist my selfish desires and really love and serve her … for that will honor You, her, and me. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One who loved perfectly and fully, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” John 20:21
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15