Monday, January 14, 2013

Pleasing The Master

"Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers;
 but as the servants of Christ,
doing the will of God from the heart..."
Ephesians 6:6

Zachary's dog, Paige, is very obedient.
She is one of the sweetest-natured dogs I've ever met.
It is obvious that the kind family we adopted her from
(who also gave her her name :-)
invested a lot of time in training her
and teaching her discipline.
Contrary to some of the dogs who have made their 
way in and out of our lives over the course of the past several years, (:~)
this dog is a true joy to have around.

Shortly after we adopted Paige and brought her home,
we started noticing that when she was happiest,
she would bare her fangs in such a way that 
it appeared that she was smiling.

It is amazing.
I've never been able to capture her actually doing it,
but one day, hopefully I will get a picture to share.

I contacted her former owner,
and sure enough, 
she confirmed that Paige has been smiling for years.
The first time they noticed her smiling capability
was on their first day home from a ten day vacation.
She was so excited to see them that she smiled all day long!

We have had a lot of company lately,
and everyone got such a kick out of seeing Paige smile.
When she smiles, 
she lights up the whole room.
It is the funniest thing.
The more you laugh and praise her for it,
the more she smiles,
and longs for more praise.
I think many times she does it just to humor us.

This is one smart dog.

We've had some,
how can I put this kindly...
not-so-smart dogs in our day!
This one is completely in a class by herself.
Part Australian Shepherd and part Rottweiler,
she is a wonderful mix.
We feel so very blessed to have her,
and thank God for sending her into our lives
when we absolutely needed her the most.

The thing I find most endearing about Paige
is that she is extremely eager-to-please.
She loves treats,
but truly they aren't necessary.
She would prefer affection and one-on-one time
with any of the three of us
over a meat-flavored treat any day.
She will do anything we ask her to,
and all she wants in return is to know that we love her....
that we are pleased with her...
that she has made her master happy.
This is absolutely all it takes...
to make Paige's day.

As I observe Paige and her eager-to-please behavior,
it occurs to me that this is just how we should be with God.
We should be so eager to please Him.
Knowing He is happy with us should bring us the greatest joy.

To serve Jesus with a pure heart,
not seeking reward,
not wanting anything in return...
except the deep-down assurance that
He is well-pleased,
is the secret to true happiness.

It means SO much to know He is pleased.
To know we are doing every, single thing He has asked of us.
That we aren't rebelling on anything...
at all.
It is worth everything.

It really matters not what others think of you.
The hurtful things they say,
the mean-spirited things they do,
their disapproval of your choices in life...
can really have an impact and destroy you...
but only if you let it.

Who are they anyway?
Does it really matter?
Will they stand in the place of God on Judgment Day....
deciding your eternal fate?

You could literally kill yourself trying to please some people...
and when it was over,
it would not be enough...
for them.
They would still be the angry.
impossibly demanding people they always were...
never satisfied,
always difficult,
extremely oppressive.
And you would have made a tragic mistake...
no longer here to enjoy the life God has planned for you.
There are people who will never be satisfied...
no matter what you do...
regardless of the extremes to which you extend yourself...
to make them happy.
The sooner we all realize this,
the better our quality of life.

To try to satiate the unreasonable demands of another
is a futile, unnecessary waste...
of time and energy...
and life.

I'll be honest.
I lived a great number of years
trying to do this very thing.
By nature,
I am overly-sensitive,
if there is such a thing.

I guess I would rather be this way,
than the opposite...
and not feel or care about anything or anyone.

I have had a friend for years who is the total opposite.
She never worries about anything.
She goes through life with no stress.
She just wings it, takes life as it comes...
and is constantly content with a lackadaisical mindset.
It really doesn't make much difference to her
whether the things she does pleases other people.
She is what she is.
Take it or leave it.
She isn't bothered by what people think.

I used to tell Kevin how much I envied her
and her ability to not care so much.
I guess that sounds strange,
but to be the way I am,
is, some days,
a very heavy cross to bear.

I don't like to hurt anyone.
To know I have done this...
especially someone I love and am close to...
can set me way back....
for days...

So, in order to prevent the infliction of hurt,
many times, I have gone to unreasonable extremes.
Extremes that God never required of me.
Extremes that have left me utterly exhausted,
and completely spent....
just to please other people.

Sound familiar to anyone?

It is unfortunate that satan is so intelligent.
I like to give him no credit,
but let's face it...
he picks up on our weaknesses.
He knows what has tripped us up in the past.
He is quick to use the same tactics...
again and again and again.
If it worked before,
if it brought us defeat in the past,
he figures...why not try it again?

These areas of weakness,
the very areas satan has succeeded in defeating us,
become strongholds...for our lives.

When satan wins a battle,
he stakes a claim.

He sets up camp...
digs in his heels...
and stubbornly holds his position.

Hence, we live in torment,

The Apostle Paul was keenly aware of this.
In the midst of wonderful advice,
he wrote these words in 2 Corinthians 2:11,
"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us:
 for we are not ignorant of his devices."
(emphasis mine)

None of us should be...
ignorant of satan's tactics.
He has used them on us for years.
We have all lived long enough to establish our own track record.
We could all testify and name out our own places of failure...
areas where we have slipped...
and fallen short of the glory of God.

Sometimes, it takes me a while to get what God is trying to show me,
but some time back, He really gave me a breakthrough
concerning my people-pleasing mentality.

He showed me that I no longer have to live life
continually attempting to pull off the impossible demands....
of other people.
That He holds all authority.
That I am accountable to no one...
except Him.
That as long as He is pleased,
this is all that matters.
That, with my cooperation, satan had set up a stronghold in this area of my life,
and it was time to pull it down...through God's amazing power.

I love the Word of God.
It "is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword,
piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit,
and of the joints and marrow,
and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
(Hebrews 4:12)

God discerned my plight.
And through the power of the sharpness of His Word,
He pierced the gloomy darkness...
and enlightened freedom's path before me.
He broke the chains.
He made me see...
that He, and He alone...
is my Master.

What used to be a stronghold,
is now a place of ruins...
only an unpleasant memory that makes me shudder...
now and then.

"If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
(John 8:36)

Do you share my (former) problem?
Are there people in your life who make impossible demands of you?
Do you continually feel that you never measure up...
to their standards...
or expectations?
Have you bent over backwards and jumped through hoops,
giving yourself a severe beating in the process...
just to try to appease their impossible-to-satisfy requirements and impositions...
only to find that your most extreme efforts fell hopelessly short...
and after all of your attempts...
they still aren't content or pleased with you?

An overbearing, domineering, assertive person
can sniff out an über-sensitive,
ultra-conscientious sort,
like a shark senses a drop of blood in the murkiest of water.
They seem to have an uncanny radar sense
that can quickly identify an eager-to-earn-their-praises-people-pleaser.
Unfortunately, once they peg you as such,
they usually pounce with a vengeance,
grabbing on for dear life,
capturing you in a greedy clutch.

God does not want us to be the servants of men...
not in that sense of the word.
Ministering to others with a sincere servant's heart
is worlds apart from living life as a bond-servant...
to another human being.
Only God deserves that amount of devotion and dedication.
Only God paid the ultimate price for our redemption and salvation.
Only He gave His Son to be the atonement for our sins.
We will stand before only Him on Judgment Day.
The opinions of others...
their like or dislike of us...
won't matter one bit.

I Corinthians 7:23 says,
"Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men."

I remember the moment God began to open my eyes...
and lift my bondage....
through that very verse of Scripture.
I recall the very moment He said, "It is enough."
The exact second He broke my heavy chains.
The evening He pulled the stronghold down...
and made me see that He is my only Lord.
He is my only Master.
He is the only One I ever have to please...

When He opened my prison-house,
I had a choice.
It was up to me.
I could be a martyr.
I could remain enslaved,
imprisoned to a bondservant mentality,
utterly miserable...
I could walk away free...
to serve Him...
to follow His will...
to please Him...
and Him alone.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said,
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

I add to that,
"No one can enslave you without your permission."

God doesn't require you to live your life to please others.
Only to please Him.

I think Paige is truly on to something.
This is one smart dog.
She gets it.

Thank God, I finally do, too. :~)

The Master's approval is the servant's best wages.

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