Saturday, March 28, 2015

Terror vs. Trust



“Or again how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.” Matthew 12:29

 The other day my daughter Laura shared a news story with me. Laura and I are similar in many ways but take very differing roads when it comes to “news.” She is an avid follower, even to the point of getting alerts on her phone. (Frankly I’m not really sure what that even entails.)  I take in just enough information to vote responsibly and that is often too much for me.

          Therefore, I half-listened as she recounted the story of looming danger and how close it was coming to our own neighborhood. My attention was divided, not at all evenly, because I am threatened by a few things that could hit much closer to home, our actual home. As Laura filled me in on the global danger, my mind rolled over my options in the more personal arena.  How much should I say? What if….? How will I explain? Those questions have no clearer answers than what to do about the greater, farther reaching, worldwide threat.

          Later my husband asked me what I thought about the situation Laura had described. (She gets her love of all things news related from her father.) I told him that I hadn’t given it much thought. I know God has His hand on me. If He allows disaster to come as close as Laura fears it will, then He will either protect me in the midst of it or take me home.

          With a deep sigh and no lack of chagrin I looked at my hubby. “Why can’t I bring that level of faith to our personal life? To our threatening situations?” I asked him. He promptly filled his mouth with food, a stall tactic to give me time to reach my own conclusion. It didn’t take the length of his swallow for me to see it.

          The global threats are completely out of my hands. There is literally nothing tangible that I can do about them. I can pray and trust my Abba. In the personal realm I live with the false belief that I have some control over the outcome. If I say or do the right thing, if I hold my head and mouth just right, if I…. (Fill in whatever nonsense works for you), then I things will go the way I think they should go. Not! Even if that were true, the way I think they should go is often not God’s will. In the big picture I am fully submitted to His will. I need to bring that submission, that trust to the small picture.

          The day after those conversations, the very next day, I was given several opportunities to worry, to panic and to lean on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) but I didn’t. Instead, I took a breath and left it all where it belongs, in God’s hands. I was even able to share my epiphany with a couple of others. Speaking it out, declaring that I will trust God made it easier to do just that. This morning as I write this, I am drenched in God’s peace and joy. Has anything changed? Yes, a couple of things look a bit more ominous. No worries, God is in the house and He knows His plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and for you too.     

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How Deep the Father’s Love


 
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18
 
Over the last few days I have been praying for my friend’s son and his wife. A week or so ago my friend shared that her son’s wife was having a health crisis. Up until that point it seemed that everything was going their way. They are young and healthy. They both have great jobs, just bought a house and were planning to take a family vacation. Things were great, right up until they weren’t. It all happened suddenly and began with what appeared to be a minor injury. That injury became a much more serious issue and within just a matter of hours it was obvious that there was no simple fix, no cure.

          It was a few days before my friend and her husband could leave their jobs to go to their son’s home, several hours from their own. They arrived fairly early in the morning. When their son saw them he went straight to his father, fell into his arms and began weeping. In the days preceding the arrival of his parents he’d been the strong one, making decisions, facing the hard facts, holding up his precious wife but now Daddy was at his door offering support. Without one word passing between them the son knew that his father would hold him up, offer comfort and strength and the son gratefully received it without hesitation.

As my friend recounted the story my heart went out to her son. He sees himself as exceedingly capable and I’m sure this is an agonizing time for him making him feel helpless and out of control. Later as I prayed for them and thought about her story I saw the bigger picture.

This young man has helped his parents on more than one occasion. He has loudly and vehemently disagreed with them and indicated that as a grown and independent man he doesn’t really need them. He loves them dearly but sees himself moving into a care giving role with them, a role they don’t need from him right now. Yet, in his moment of fear and pain where did he go? Straight to his father’s arms. Smart boy!

Where is our comfort and strength? It is in our Father’s arms. Too often we focus on serving God and trying to prove ourselves. Perhaps more often we go to our heavenly Father with our wants and needs in the form of what we hope is eloquent prayer. How often do we simply fall into His arms or at His feet and just let Him hold us, comfort and strengthen us?

God loves the humble, the meek and the brokenhearted. He longs to bless us in our weakness and give us His strength. We don’t need to clean up and practice our speeches before we seek Him. We need only to go to Him, run to the safety of His arms and let Him do the rest.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Snapshot


 

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. John 1:1

 

The other day I heard a teaching on the wrong way to study the Bible. The speaker made some very valid points. I agreed with most of what she had to say. One thing she said bothered me a bit. She said that we should never just open the Bible and expect to receive a message from God. In fact she said that was dangerous. She gave a few extreme examples to prove her point and while I understood and somewhat agreed with her theory, there is another side to the story.

          Do you like to look at photos? I love it! I love spending time looking at pictures. Considering how many photo albums I have, not to mention plastic bins, yes, bins plural, of shoe boxes full of loose pictures, there are plenty to look through. It’s fun to see the images and remember when they were captured. Some of my pictures are so familiar that if I had the talent, I could draw them from memory. Others aren’t as recognizable which brings a different set of emotions. I love seeing a picture I believe to be an old favorite, only to notice something I’ve never observed before.

          That is how I see just opening the Bible. The stories, lessons, songs (psalms) and truths there are precious to me, just like my pictures. The speaker I heard spoke only of the dangers. She mentioned verses that taken of out context would be disturbing. She didn’t mention how it feels to open the Bible and see a verse that was a lifeline or one that just always brings a smile.

          Is opening the Bible and simply reading a verse, a paragraph or a chapter Bible study? No, but it is a way of communicating with our Abba, with Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit it can make the difference in a tough situation.

          Suppose you’re having a bad day. You pick up a photo album and open it to see the face of a loved one. That face, that dear face, is smiling widely right at you or it’s a candid shot that perfectly captures the personality of that loved one. You smile and feel your spirit lift. The Bible can do that and more. The right verse, psalm or parable at the right time can’t change circumstances but they can remind us that we are never alone and that we are loved.      

          I don’t recommend the open and hope method as a form of Bible study. There is a dangerous aspect there.  I do however offer it as a means of staying close to our dearest Friend. Just like with the photos, five, six or more may just be images or words but when you see that one your heart fills with love. Every now and then, we see a verse we thought we knew so well only to find a new meaning in the words. God’s Word is real. It is alive and it never stops blessing and teaching us.

          The Bible is God’s love letter to us. Once we’ve read through and are familiar with it, it’s okay to just read a snippet now and then as a reminder of how deep that loves goes.