Anticipation

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.  ~Isaiah 40:31 KJV

Remember what it was like as a child waiting for your birthday or Christmas morning to arrive? Sleep was hard to come by and the anticipation, agonizing. Yet, despite our anxiety in the wait, both came. We didn’t have to “do” anything to make them come, they just did.

As adults, we have anxiety over other things: family, children, health, bills, etc. We wait for our ship to come in, for God to answer prayer, for life to get better. We forget God is in control–that He loves us and hears our cries. We forget He promises in all things He WILL work for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Instead, we replace anticipation with fear, anxiety, and doubt. And because of that, sometimes–just sometimes–we jump ahead, on our own, without waiting for Him.

Scripture promises those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. Those who wait will mount up with wings as eagles. Those who wait shall run, and not be weary. Those who wait shall walk, and not faint. Waiting means to anticipate, with joy and certainty, that God will come through for us. It means trusting in God and not in ourselves.

LORD, it is so difficult to wait with confidence. To wait without being anxious. And because of this I ask you help me learn how to wait, so when the waiting is over I can bask in the renewal of Your strength. Teach me how to keep my eyes on You and not on my circumstances. Hold me close. Take away my anxiety of tomorrow and replace it with the anticipation of knowing Your promises WILL be fulfilled. Thank you for all You’ve done and are about to do. In Jesus’ precious name. Amen. 

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Perspective

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. ~1 Corinthians 13:12 NIV

Have you ever looked at your reflection in something that was skewed or distorted? Maybe it was dim or hard to see? During Paul’s time, mirrors were nothing more than slightly convex disks of metal, either bronze, tin, or silver, that reflected light off their polished surfaces. They did not have the refractive backing of mirrors today; thus, images were always crude and misshapen.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen myself as a crude, distorted imitation of who God made me to be. Through my eyes I’m warped, cracked, discolored, dimly lit. I see myself as the glass half empty instead of half full. I see my life as a maze of endless stairways going up, down, and sideways. My perspective becomes as messed up as the skewed image of myself on a poorly reflective surface. Praise God that He does not see me that way! Praise God that, because of His Son, I’m able to be known as I am FULLY known: polished, refined, and perfect. Not by any power of my own, nor by anything I’ve done, but solely by the guiltless blood of the Lamb.

So next time when life presents you with troubles, when the enemy tries to distort the truth and hope of God’s ability to bring beauty from ashes, when the devil hammers you with a distorted reflection of who you are, hang on to the TRUTH that you are a fully known, fully cherished, fully loved, beautiful reflection of the One who made you!

Father, I thank you for the true perspective you have on our lives. For seeing and knowing us fully. For taking hold of any distortions that may come between who You know us to be, and crushing them into dust. Help us keep our eyes on You, the author and perfector of our faith. Help us see our lives, ourselves, and others as You see them. Help us keep perspective. In Jesus’s Name we pray. Amen.

 

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Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer


Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. ~Mark 6:31 NIV

As crooned by the late Nat King Cole, “Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer” are now upon us. A time for rest, relaxation…and a ton of activity.

So much for the rest part. Right?

The LORD knew a time of rest was important. In fact, it is one of His commandments:

    “Six days a week are for your daily duties and your regular work, but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest before the Lord your God. On that day you are to do no work of any kind, nor shall your son, daughter, or slaves-whether men or women-or your cattle or your house guests. For in six days the Lord made the heaven, earth, and sea, and everything in them, and rested the seventh day; so he blessed the Sabbath day and set it aside for rest.” ~ Exodus 20:9-11 TLB

Notice the “rest” God is referring to in the above passage is not just any rest. It is rest in HIM. Rest that is meant to revive and nourish body, mind, and soul. Even the word “Sabbath” points us toward an extensive intermission with the LORD.

So next time you’re stressed out with deadlines, WIPs, or just plain life, grab yourself a nice cool glass of lemonade, find a tall, lush, shade tree, pull up a favorite lounge chair or blanket, and spend a lazy hazy “un-crazy” day with the One who put the “R” in rest!

LORD, why is it that we feel the need to “do” all the time? Why is it so hard to rest? And even when we think we are doing the “rest” thing, why is it that we still allow our minds to race a million-miles-per-hour with the cares of this world? Teach us, LORD, what true rest is. Lead us beside still waters so we can drink of You and learn of Your peace–the peace that passes all understanding. Take us to that quiet place where we can bask in Your presence and lay all our burdens at Your feet. Thank you, LORD, for desiring to spend time with us. And thank you for exampling what true rest is all about. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

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Mother, May I?

Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. 
~Proverbs 8:10-11, NIV

As a child, did you ever play the game, “Mother May I?” One player is the “mother,” the other players are the “children.” To begin the game, the “mother” stands at one end facing the “children,” while the children line up at the other end facing the “mother.” The children then take turns asking, “Mother, may I ____?” and fill in the blank with a movement suggestion. For instance, someone might ask, “Mother, may I take five steps forward?” The mother either replies “Yes, you may” or “No, you may not do that, but you may _____ instead” and inserts his/her own suggestion. If the child forgets to ask “Mother may I?”, he/she goes back to the starting line. First one to touch Mother, wins.

Sometimes I feel I play that game with the Lord. I ask, “Father, may I take three steps forward?” But instead of saying “Yes, you may,” He tells me no and keep me where I am or, worse, moves me back.

Don’t you hate being moved back? I know I do. Staying in the same place I can *almost* handle. But moving back? It makes me shudder. Especially when I “know” God should move me forward. Yet the Lord, in all His wisdom, recognizes that sometimes moving forward is not the best for me. In fact, sometimes it can cause irrefutable damage.

Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. (Proverbs 4:13, NIV)

Oh how I wish that verse was my life’s mantra! How I wish I would trust God for every single moment of every single day. But, to be honest, I don’t. And many times when I see Him asking me to stand still or take a few steps back, I dig in my heals and do what I want. Yet even during those times of disobedience, those times when I ask, “Father, may I?” then turn around and do what I please, He’s there for me, offering unconditional love and grace with open arms.

Father, teach me how to listen. Bore into me a desire for Your instruction over mine. Remind me that wisdom—Yourwisdom—is more precious than rubies. That Your instruction and knowledge is more precious than gold, and that my ways can only lead to destruction. Even during those times when I feel like You’ve sent me ten steps back, help me trust that You know best. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting, for You alone are God. 

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April’s Fool

The fool says in his heart,
‘There is no God.’
~Psalm 14:1 NIV

When the Lord placed Psalm 14:1 on my heart, my first reaction was why? I’m not a fool. Then the Lord asked me to look close at the definition of fool. Very close.

Fool in Hebrew is‎ nabal, which means “stupid; wicked; especially impious.” Have I ever been these things? Have I sinned against God by digging my heals in and doing things my way? Have there been times when, like Peter, I have doubted the very existence of the One I said I would follow to the ends of the earth? Have I said “yes, Lord,” then turned around and done the opposite, like Jonah? Have I questioned God’s motives like Job? Have I said “Not me, Lord!” like Moses?

According to Merriam-Webster, fool also means “a person lacking in judgment or prudence.” Has my judgment ever waned? Have I acted without discipline? Thrown caution to the wind? Have I ever been a fool?

Unfortunately, the answer is “yes.”

As we usher in April 1st, and people around the world celebrate foolishness, let us remember what being a “fool” really means. And although there will be times when we will, no doubt, sink back into foolish behavior, let us also remember we serve a God who gives our feet sound footing, who replaces foolishness with wisdom, and who offers grace, mercy and new beginnings to all who call upon His name.

Lord, I do not want to be a fool. Yet despite all that, I know at times I am. Paul said it so well in Romans 7:21-25: “It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin. So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin. Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been doneby Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.”

So thank you, Lord, for freeing me from sin and foolishness. For standing by me, even at my lowest point. For paying a debt I cannot pay. And for taking on the burden of death so that I can live with You forever. You are truly worthy to be praised! 

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Transition


As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 
~Joshua 1:5 NIV

There’s nothing more transitional than the month of March: cold, wet, blustery lion of a beginning evolving to gentle, warmer, stillness of a lamb. A 31-day jump from winter to spring.

Some people enjoy change. They like the thrill and exhilaration of its newness, of the hunt. They stand in transition’s way, puffing out their chest and bellowing, “Bring it on!” But others hide from change, taking shelter during the storm and choosing to stay there, fearful of what will come next. And although neither approach is healthy, both are fueled by pride—pride in that we decide we know what’s best, that we need to be in control one way or the other.

Do you look in the face of transition with a daring gaze, even when the LORD is telling you to take shelter? Or do you cower in fear, unsure that the God you serve is one who has your best interest in mind? Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 tells us there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. That it is the LORDwho makes everything beautiful in its time. Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us to trust in the LORD with all our heart and not to lean on our own understanding, and Luke 12:18-31 shares with us the contrast of a desire to be in control vs. fear that comes from worrying. Yet all three deal with transition in their own way.

So next time you’re faced with a seemingly impossible transition, instead of heading it off at the pass with attitude or burying it in the ground to hide from it, remember God has promised to never leave you nor forsake you and to complete the good work He began in you, regardless of how difficult the transition may be.

Lord, transition is so hard. And trusting You can even be harder. Please teach me how to wait on You, to allow life’s transitions to progress in Your time, not mine, and to become moldable as You shape me into the person You want me to be. I praise You for what You have done, what You are doing, and what You’re about to do. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

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Of Groundhogs and Valentines


Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head, 
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, 
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, 
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. 
~1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (The Message)


Q. What do groundhogs and Valentines have in common?
A. Not much. . .

At least on the surface. But if you take a closer look you’ll see both are laden with heavy expectation.

Punxsutawney Phil carries the weight of winter on his shoulders simply by whether or not he sees his shadow. Quite a bit of responsibility for a rodent. Yet don’t we sometimes put a similar expectation on the one we love at Valentine’s Day? Cards, flowers, candy, expensive dinners, etc. All are well and good on their own. But when they become our litmus of how much the person we care for cares for us, problems arise.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Valentine’s Day. And I’m always up for a nice gift from hubby or dinner out. But regardless of what gift I’m given or where we go, things of this world should never carry the weight of love in my relationship.

Hebrews 13:5 literally tells us, Be without covetousness [greedy] behavior, be content with the things present, for He has said, ‘No, I will not leave, no, nor forsake you…’ YLB

So before you put too much burden on any one person to come through for you on that “special day,” make sure you’re first content and secure in the LORD. Then, and only then, will you finally be able to lay aside man’s great expectation of groundhogs and Valentines.

LORD, help me find contentment in You, and keep me from placing undue expectation on the one I love. This is a hard time of year, especially for those who are alone or who have broken relationships. Be their all-in-all, Father, and mend that which has been broken. Make them whole again as you are making me whole. Thank You for hearing this prayer. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

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