It’s All Good

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated with a person or a situation, only to find that it was the very means God was using to meet my need or to do a work in someone’s life.

It reminds me that we have a loving Father who is always doing a good work (John 5:17) and there is nothing that happens in my life that He can’t use for good when I trust Him with it (Romans 8:28).

By faith I have this confidence, that some way, some how, it’s all good when I live for Him (2 Timothy 1:12).

Standing on this truth is how we can do 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, [and] in everything give thanks.”

The verse follows, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

My attitude should reflect that.

I repent. #perfectourlove

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #3 – Hard Truths Spoken In Love

Paul Luckett | 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #3 – Hard Truths Spoken In Love #52WoG

In Week 3 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for hard truths spoken in love.

I have been blessed to have great mentors and as you typically do with mentors, you ask how you could improve.

One night I was chauffeuring Dr. Gregory Jones home from a revival (as ministers under his instruction would usually do) and asked him, “Where do you see me struggling? Where do I need to grow?”

Pastor Jones answered flatly and without hesitation, “You struggle with pride.”

I took his words to heart, repented and set out to understand pride and make war with it ever since. It’s a lifelong struggle because you never completely defeat a demon like pride in this life, you only learn to become better at fighting it. Demons depart from you for a season but are always lurking, looking for an opportunity to return (Luke 4:13, Matthew 12:43-45, Luke 11:24-26). #spiritualwarfare

As I’ve searched, prayed and laid my life bare before the Lord (Hebrews 4:12) I’ve learned that because I struggle with insecurity, I have a tendency to build makeshift structures: false pedestals to exalt myself and protect me from the pain of feeling small, that allow me to pretend which is hypocrisy and to make myself more or less than I am which is pride.

In my youth these pedestals were possessions, promiscuity and popularity. Now, it is the appearance of righteousness, accomplishments, having everything together and having it all figured out.

But these false pedestals always fail me and when they splinter, not only do I end up pierced through with many sorrows, my witness is undermined, my Master’s name is dishonored and the faith of some looking on can be weakened.

Now, I’m scared of heights as hell. (Catch that on your way home.)

Or, should I say that, by God’s grace I am wiser to the enemy’s tactics and the conditions that can lead to a heart lifted in pride. I struggle every day and thanks be to God for the struggle because it reminds me of my desperate need for God and that His abundant grace is sufficient for me, that I may humble myself under his hand and trust Him to build me up (1 Peter 5:6).

I have come to this knowledge because I had a mentor and a father in the faith who loved me with a Love that held me accountable and did not withhold the truths that were hard for me to hear and that were necessary for my growth and sanctification (Ephesians 4:11-16). I’m grateful. #52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #41 – Childhood Neighborhood

Childhood Neighborhood - Facebook

Image Courtesy of Google Maps

In Week 41 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for my childhood neighborhood.

I find the sound of lawn mowers strangely satisfying.

It elicits feelings of safety and security. When I was growing up as a kid in Jackson, Mississippi, lawn mowers were part of a cacophony of sounds that announced the arrival of a new Saturday morning. It meant it was sunny, the day was underway, the neighborhood was awake and that it was time to go out and play.

As I reflect back on this as an adult, it has another meaning that I didn’t consider consciously as a child but nonetheless planted the sentiments I find myself reflecting on today. And that is, I had neighbors who cared.

They cared enough to be up at the crack of dawn to weed flowerbeds, trim hedges and mow lawns. They cared enough to organize neighborhood watches and neighborhood events.

I remember during Christmas, the neighbors would come together to select a theme for the entire neighborhood. Each yard had common decoration elements such as a frosty white Christmas tree behind a spotlight and matching signage with different phrases like “Joy to the world”.

There was a deep sense of pride in *our* neighborhood characterized by doing things with each other and for each other. We were together and it made me as a child feel secure. I pray we can get back to that. I’m grateful. #52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #40 – Mr. Richard West

Richard West. Former Chemistry teacher at Bailey Magnet High School
Bailey Magnet High School Chemistry Lab - Jackson, Mississippi
Bailey Magnet High School - Jackson, Mississippi
Picture of Richard West courtesy of Jackson Academy.

In Week 40 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for Mr. Richard West.

Mr. West was my chemistry teacher at Bailey Magnet High School in Jackson, Mississippi. He was the first black man that I had as a teacher. He taught me how to use my first scientific calculator, a Texas Instruments TI-35X, which I still have to this day.

There’s not any particular thing he said or did, it was his presence that made the difference in my life. Though I didn’t know a thing about Chemistry going in, students know when a teacher is competent and his command of math and science were evident. He was intelligent, professional, kind but firm, in control, excellent -alpha.

Mr. West’s representation in a professional setting as a teacher during my formative years affirmed that these wonderful qualities were not only possible for me as a young black man, they are what define a black professional.

His positive influence on my self perception, education and professional outlook cannot be overstated. I’m grateful. #52WoG

52 Weeks Of Gratefulness #34 – Rosemary Luckett

Rosemary Neal Chris Family Picture
Apartment complex where the Luckett family lived during seminary training at ITC Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia
Rosemary Luckett
Rosemary Luckett at Ribbon Cutting Of Master The Machine Computer Learning Center

In Week 34 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for my mother, Rosemary Luckett.

The place was remarkably clean as I remember.

It’s my Dad’s first year at ITC Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia and we’ve not long moved into the apartment. My brother’s a baby and I’m between first and second grade.

Sterile seems a more accurate description. The walls were stark white. The ceiling is white. The floor is white and black speckled laminate. The only thing breaking up the monotony of the space was a thick, dark grey rubber border running along the bottom of the walls. In the living room, there’s a large window that spanned the height of the wall, sitting just above a motel style air conditioner.

It’s quiet, too. It’s Saturday morning. At our old house, the neighborhood would already be bustling with the sound of lawn mowers and playing kids. But here, it’s dead quiet, aside from the muffled sound of city traffic due to being some way off in the distance. I’m looking out the living room window onto the spacious, grassy courtyard dotted with large trees and thinking perhaps I’ll play out there.

And then, it started as the sound of gentle arrhythmic taps against metal -like salt being slowly sprinkled on aluminum foil. It was the first droplets of rain hitting the coils of the air condition unit. The window began to collect a few drops making a circuitous path toward the sill. Then, what began as a sprinkle became a thunderous shower and sheets of rain are now streaming down the window.

There was suddenly static, like a TV without a clear channel. And then the sound alternated between music, then voices and music again, each electronically garbled between transitions. My mother had gone and gotten the radio and brought it to the front room. She was turning a large silver knob, searching for the right station. When she found one playing a song, she bent forward toward me with her arms stretched out and hands open, motioning for me to dance.

She took me by the hands twisting, jumping and skipping about as we danced to Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and the music of that day. My brother was on the couch in his diaper and she’d occasionally scoop him up so he could dance with us too. A dreary, lonely day was suddenly filled with light. All I remember was the brightness of her countenance and the fullness of her smile as her full, black untamed hair bounced exuberantly upon her shoulders. This is my mother; my wonderful, beautiful, incomparable mother. It is a moment that perfectly encapsulated her as a person. Over and over throughout my life, she took a cold, empty husk of an existence and filled it with joy, hope and love.

I don’t remember the music ending. I hope it never does. If I could relive that moment for eternity, that would be heaven.

I thank God continually for you, Mom. I love you.

I’m grateful. #52WoG

Originally posted to Facebook on August 21, 2021.