Have You Taken an Inventory?
I pray your Thanksgiving was an amicable one with friends, family, and others that you met during the celebration. It is difficult to believe that Thanksgiving is now behind us and ahead on the path lies the Christmas Season with the New Year just beyond. This is often a time of list making. So, perhaps before the holiday season gets into full swing it is time to take an inventory, so your life may be amicable and full of peace.
Dr. David McLennon; author and teacher, tells a story of how he learned the meaning of inventory in his very first job in a small town general store. His hometown didn’t have the big mall or the supermarket chains so when the locals needed just about anything they could find it at the general store. McLennon gained the job of the handy boy at the age of thirteen. He would sweep the floor, bag items for customers and put up stock.
On one Saturday, just after the New Year, he heard the owner say to one of the clerks, ”It’s that time of the year again, to take inventory.” Dr. McLennon said this was a word that he had not learned at this age. So, when the opportunity arose he asked the kindly older man, ”Sir, what is an inventory?” Patiently the owner explained that it was a time when you make a list of everything that you had, from groceries on the shelves to wrapping paper and string. Still confused, about the process, the young McLennon asked, ”Why?”
”Well,” responded the owner, ”it’s easy to forget exactly how much you have each year. So, now and then you must take an inventory just to see what you really have.”
Reflecting in the Renewal
Before we make out our Christmas list of wants, maybe it is time to create a different kind of list, a life inventory list. A time of reflection to determine the things we do have in life rather than complaining about what we don’t have. As we look at our lists it is important to do so in a genuine way really looking at the gifts, opportunities, and challenges that God has granted us. For in this we can learn to not only be thankful but amicable with others as life moves forward.
As we begin our list it is important to keep in mind that God is in control of all things. Set in place is a believer’s final destinyÂ so a victory over sin is possible. When we visit our inventory list, thankfulness is bound to follow. Here we can renew our life in Christ for we realize that we hold life only through Him. Many times, we must choose between conflicting elements but when Christ’s peace rules our heart we remember to not allow our own desires and feelings to take over and war against each other. With God’s peace we can guard our hearts against anxiety and not allow the conflicts of distrust and trust; fears and hopes; and jealousy and love to spar with one another preventing us to be amicable with others.
By arming ourselves with our inventory list along with a renewal of thanks we recognize the need to allow Christ to rule in our hearts which brings about the peace we need so we can live an amicable life.
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:15 (NLT)
Tear Down Barriers Through the Practice of being Amicable
Too often we don’t allow ourselves to live an amicable life because of the barriers we have put up. These barriers often divide us from other people even in simple differences such as age and appearance. But differences can divide even further when the barriers branch into economic status, intelligence, political views, race, and even theological perspective. These barriers can prohibit being amicable if we haven’t taken stock in our life remembering our gifts, opportunities, challenges, and most important that God is in control.
It is necessary to remember no matter the differences you see in other people that Christ, has knocked down all the barriers between people. Through Him, all believers unifyÂ as one and as we view other people we must see them through His light. For it is through His cross that unification occurs, and it is through the Holy Spirit that we can look beyond barriers to this unity being amicable to all and experience a life of peace.
Christ calls us to work together despite our differences. He doesn’t ask us to not see other’s differences but to accept them as they are. This is not a love created from feelings but one that is made from a firm decision to meet other’s needs. When weÂ commitÂ to surrounding ourselves with this love amicable lives follow which leads to peace. Recognizing the good differences in others may make surprising results in their lives and yours.
A Class Exercise
One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. She then asked them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the rest of the class to finish the assignment. As the bell rang they were asked to turn in their papers on the way out the door. That weekend, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.
On, Monday as the students came to class, the teacher gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. She heard whispers of, ”Really?” ”I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!” and ”I didn’t know others even liked me.” No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. The teacher never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise has accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and very amicable with one another. Time passed, and the students moved on.
An Unexpected Reunion
Many years later, one of the students was killed in the Middle East where he was serving his country. It was during this time that many of these same students and the teacher reunited again as they attended the funeral of that young man. The church was packed with his friends. Each one who loved him took one last moment to say goodbye as they passed his coffin. The teacher was last in line. As she stood there, one of the soldiers who was also a pallbearer came up to her. ”Were you Mark’s math teacher?” he asked. She nodded: ”Yes.” Then the soldier said, ”Mark talked about you a lot.”
A luncheon was held after the service for all who attended. It was during this time that Mark’s mother and father sought out his teacher. ”We want to show you something,” his father said, as he took his wallet out of his pocket. Opening his billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of paper that had obviously been taped, folded, and refolded many times. His father said, ”They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.”
The teacher immediately knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him. ”Thank you so much for doing that,” his mother said. ”As you can see, Mark treasured it.”
Mark’s former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, ”I still have my list. It’s in the top drawer of my desk at home.” Chuck’s wife said, ”Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.” Marilyn exclaimed, ”I have mine too, it’s in my diary.”
Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. ”I carry this with me at all times, I think we all saved our lists.” The teacher’s eyes filled with tears as she realized her simple exercise that day helped these students recognize the good differences in their classmates which held long-lasting effects she never imagined.
When we make a conscious decision to meet the needs of others we can expect peace. This peace is only possible because of Christ and for this our thanks are due. We are called as believers to choose to be amicable within the body of Christ resulting in a spirit of friendliness that may have long-lasting effects on the lives of others of which we may never imagine.
Challenge yourself today to take a good stock of your inventory recognizing your gifts, opportunities, and challenges. By doing so see others in the light of Christ being amicable with others. Recognize their differences but don’t allow the differences to stand in the way of accepting them for who they are seeing instead the good. Allow your convictions to follow the teachings Christ taught being motivated by knowing that it is the only way to live a life of peace. Surround yourself with the cloak of His comfort knowing that because God is in control your destiny is set and peace on earth is possible finding in your heart to share this good news with others.
Love in Christ,
Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.
What are your thoughts?
Do you find it difficult to be amicable with others? Have you taken a good inventory of your life’s gifts, opportunities, and challenges finding the means to thank God for the good? Share your thoughts on finding peace even among the barriers of life.