“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3: 5-6 NIV
by Al Tucker
“Jesus wants you for a sunbeam.” Oh, how I would cringe on a Sunday morning when I wanted to stay in bed, and my wife Liva wanted me up to go to church. She would often say those words, which are a play on the lyrics of the children’s song “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam.” For decades, it was the same thing every Sunday. I could find every reason for not going, and she would win out with that “sunbeam” refrain. It’s weird how I never had any trouble on a Sunday morning if there was golf, fishing, or a sporting event involved. I was up out of bed in a flash, raring to go. Yet, on those sunbeam Sundays, there I was slow to roll out with Liva saying something like “get a move on, we are going to be late.” When I got to the church, everything was all right. If it were communion Sunday, it was even better as I have always enjoyed communion.
Most Sundays, there I would be, sitting in the pew thoroughly entrenched in my own little world. Oftentimes, I would be far away on a golf course that I had played or was going to play, maybe I was solving some problem at work, maybe it was yesterday’s college football games, etc. You get the point, there was not much listening going on. That happens a lot when you only hear your own drummer. Even when I did pay attention, I was often practicing my version of what I call ‘sermon scoffing.’ I was very good at nitpicking sermons. I think I could qualify for at least a master’s degree in it, as I could pick apart almost any sermon. I believe that sermon scoffing is a sin, and I was much like those Pharisees that scoffed at Jesus. How in the world could I become a “sunbeam for Jesus” being like that? I couldn’t because I was trusting my own judgment, there was no trust in Jesus. Oh yes, I attended church regularly, mouthed the words, got involved in good works, and even paid my tithes (being married to Liva, I had no choice in that.) I was in today’s language, “a fake sunbeam.” A lot of people may not have known that about me, but Jesus knew. “…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 17:7) Thankfully He confronted me with it, and I saw who I truly was, a sinner and lost. As I have said before and will say, again and again, surrendering myself to Jesus is the most wonderful, amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I’ve learned that He is the light, the true light, not me.
My life now is to allow Him to shine through me. Why? Not for my own self-satisfaction, but to further the Father’s kingdom. I cannot do that if I am not listening, and then not obeying. I am a work in progress. I am learning to trust Him with all my heart. Yes, I’m a slow learner, I still stumble a lot. Even now, I occasionally criticize a sermon. But, when I fall, He picks me up, dusts me off, and sends me on my way to do His work. By the way, I now look at sermons as one of God’s ways for Him to communicate something that I should know or do. I try hard to find a takeaway that I can use the following week to help me in my spiritual growth. That’s a far cry from denigrating a heartfelt message that God laid on someone’s heart.
So, here we are in a new year, a new decade even. How can I be one of Jesus’ sunbeams? I have chosen Proverbs 3: 5-6 to be my guiding scripture for 2020. For most of my life, I lived in darkness as a man of the world. If I had lived in Noah’s time, I would have certainly drowned as the world was my master. It was all about satisfying me. To the world, I was a good guy, a churchgoer, somewhat kind, strived for integrity, and so on. You know the story. But, the bottom line was I didn’t love the Lord with my whole heart, nor did I love others as myself.
Now, I want to be as Billy Graham once wrote: “Let’s be about our Father’s business.” I can’t think of anything better for 2020. The days of wanting God to fit into my agenda are over. The days of keeping God in the back seat just in case I might need Him, are over. Finally, the days of leaning on my own understanding are over. I think the great evangelist Dwight L. Moody put it best when he once wrote:
“Trust in yourself, and you are doomed to disappointment. But trust in GOD, and you are never to be confounded in time or eternity.”
So, all those years in my past, Liva was right–oh, did I say that?–Jesus did want me for a sunbeam. You know what, He wants YOU for a sunbeam also. He gave you unique gifts and has a special purpose reserved just for you. If you don’t know Him, do as James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” You can do this through prayer, reading the Bible, attending a church, by seeking out a strong Christian, etc. Rest assured, if you seek Him, He will find you. You will never regret it. If you are saved but still leaning on your own understanding and experience that terrible feeling of disappointment of following your own agenda, pray without ceasing and seek out Christian help. It may be something as simple as a regular small group Bible study.
Just think of the Kingdom work that could be accomplished if we were all “about doing our Father’s work” in 2020. By the way, Liva has another saying, “you can either agree with me or be wrong.” But, that’s another devotional. Godspeed for a blessed 2020!
Feature Images: @Backyard Photography, Alan Tucker