SPIRITUAL MATTERS: Willingness, not ability, is the issue

I like washing and detailing cars. (Strange? Yes, I know.) I also enjoy polishing them. It's hard work, but I love the sense of satisfaction from gleaming paintwork, sparkling chrome and shiny black newly-dressed tyres. I've bought many potentially good-looking cars over time - and gradually turned them into great-looking cars. 

Some years ago, a major transport company had a good reputation in the industry- but not a great one. So the board decided to replace their CEO with a view to improving the company's performance. Shortly after taking over, the new CEO walked through the main office at company headquarters.He noticed an employee at a desk, staring absently into space, twirling a pencil between his fingers and blissfully ignoring a telephone ringing incessantly on an adjoining desk. Annoyed, the new CEO called out: "Aren't you going to answer that phone?" Not recognizing the voice of his new boss and without looking up, the employee responded: "That isn't my department. I work in maintenance". "Not anymore you don't!" snapped the CEO.

While the mediocre will get us through most things in life, there's little satisfaction to be gained from failing to respond when there's a clear need to do better. We have the ability to respond - but are we willing to take response-ability.

A pastor of a church bought a small farm with a view to providing for his retirement. But it was run-down. Weeds choked the paddocks, rubbish was everywhere and the buildings were in disrepair. So every week, on his day off, he'd go out to the property and work his tractor hard, cleaning up the paddocks.

Then he'd remove rubbish and work on the buildings - replacing broken windows, re-hanging doors and painting.  After that, he turned his hand to repairing broken machinery and rebuilding the engine of the old tractor. It was hard work, but after several months the place had been transformed and the pastor felt a sense of pride in his work. He had the ability - and he'd responded to the need!

His labour of love had been noted by a neighbouring farmer, who paid him a visit. Casting an approving eye over the revitalised property he said: "Well, preacher, it looks like you and God have done some great work here." The pastor, wiping the sweat from his face, and with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, answered: "It's interesting you should say that my friend. But I've got to tell you - you should have seen this place when God had it all to Himself!" 

That response causes us to chuckle. But in fact, the reality is that we're all in partnership with God. He gives us the ability to do the things that need to be done. Then he relies on us to respond. It's called respond-ability - or responsibility! Imagine if Jesus had piked out on His God-given responsibility to carry the load of our failures - by avoiding death on a cross. He was able to fulfill the Father's will, and he was prepared to fulfill the Father's will. He could have exercised his freewill and refused the pain and suffering. But he chose to respond - because that was the only thing - the only responsible thing - to do if the world and its people were to be saved! And he expects us to be responsible too, by accepting his priceless gift of forgiveness that cost him so dearly.  

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