In the past, I have gone to God with anxieties and did not come away from the experience with the peace that I was hoping for. Instead, my tears seemed to be met with silence. I was confused and frustrated as to why it seemed God was not responding. I realize now that in those situations, although it is always a good thing to want to hear from God, it is just as important to turn and hold fast to the truths He has already spoken (and is speaking), through the Bible. Those truths are just for those times.
When someone is good to you, you want to share it with others. When they are kind, patient, understanding and self-sacrificing on your behalf, you want to give back somehow. When someone has extended mercy and forgiveness to you and has pursued you even though you felt you were not worth pursuing, you want to express thanks. And my way of thanking God is to tell others about Him. To share with others that He is good, patient, forgiving, humble, and a seeker after them. When Jesus left this earth to go back to His Father, He told his disciples to tell others about Him. To let others know that they could come to Him if they wanted to have a life with He and the Father. Both here and now, and forever. When I think about Christmas, I think of all of the fun things that our culture does to celebrate the season – the lights, the Christmas trees, the gift giving, but there’s this quiet voice in my heart that keeps reminding me that Jesus was the greatest gift ever given, and that Christmas is about Him being all we need when entering a relationship with God. We don’t need to make special sacrifices (Jesus did that), we don’t need to put on special garments (Jesus is that), and we don’t need to be perfect (Jesus was that). All we need to do is invite Jesus into our hearts and lives. I was lost before He became a part of my life. I was searching, but I didn’t realize I was searching. And even though I wasn’t looking in His direction, He gently knocked on the door of my heart and drew me to Him. There is nothing I can do to repay God for what He has done, but I can tell others that God is hope, and He can fill your heart with it. That’s not to say that life will be perfect, Jesus told us that life would not be without struggles, but He will never abandon us in those struggles. It is a Merry Christmas, and it’s all because of Jesus.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” – Luke 2:8-14
“While many are busy trying to set forth satisfactory definitions of the word faith, we do well to simply consider that believing is directing the heart’s attention to Jesus!”
– A.W. Tozer
Lately, I’ve been finding myself sitting at my computer in front of the window at just the right time of day to enjoy twilight. Glowing patterns are created across the sky, and the sounds of the day lessen until I can hear the water fountain running, from across the street. The muffled sound of a plane flying in the distance reminds me of how big the world is, and at the same time I notice how easily palm branches move in the wind…they don’t fight it. Then, a single bird chirps, as if he is the last of his fleet to find out that the day is coming to a close. Twilight is a gift, when the quieting of the day draws my attention not only to the wonderful things that have been made, but to the One Who so kindly made them.
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You
created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” – Revelation 4:11
“Scripture does more than give us permission to express our sadness; it considers grieving
losses as central to our spiritual growth… To deny sadness is like trying to deny an arm or a leg;
it is to amputate a vital and necessary part of ourselves.” – Geri Scazzero
“I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?
Then I thought, ‘To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.’
Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
The waters saw you, God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
The clouds poured down water,
the heavens resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”
What is love? To me, love is Jesus forgiving Peter for denying that he knew Him. Love is Jesus inviting Matthew, an unpopular tax collector, to follow Him, learn from Him, and to be His friend. Love is Jesus washing His friends’ feet. Love is Jesus multiplying loaves of bread for the hungry masses. Love is Jesus asking His Father to forgive His persecutors at the same time that He was suffering. Love is Jesus assuring a humbled, dying thief that he would, that day, be with Him in paradise. Jesus gave us the perfect example of how to love. He forgave. He invited. He washed. He multiplied. He interceded. He accepted. Thank you, Jesus.
“And now these three remain: faith hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13
Hearts In Pieces
Was just me and a book
in my small kitchen nook
when the sun cast a ray
over me as I shook
Light turned to dark
hearts were in mourning
and suddenly thoughts
of loss without warning
Stories emerged of special lives
teachers and nurses, and husbands and wives
of heroic deeds, and self-sacrifice
of those who passed and of those who survived
To the mothers and brothers and sisters and daughters
the spouses, grandparents, grandchildren, sons, fathers
the nephews, the friends, the cousins, the nieces
to all those affected, whose hearts are in pieces
When the sun comes up, we wake with you
we mourn your loss and ache with you
pray comfort, you can take with you
know the stories of courage grew our hearts too
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18
My husband and I flew to Vermont last week to see his mom and stepdad. It made me uneasy, as I am an unenthusiastic flyer. I sometimes wonder if at least part of the reason for this is that my grandfather died in a plane crash, and although it occurred before I was born, I witnessed the hole it left in the hearts of his (my) family. So although flying is statistically a safe form of travel, it can make me fearful. Some may think that a Christian should not be subject to these feelings since they believe that God has their back and in the end, will be with Him anyway, but the feelings are a result of our humanness, and although I believe that God would prefer we trust Him in every situation, I know that He also has compassion on us in our weaknesses. My husband often says that once we move beyond this life and are with God, we won’t have a care in the world, and that it’s toughest for the people here who mourn our passing. I do agree. When we are in God’s presence, we will be completely content. The Bible verse I read on the morning of the flight encourages people to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy” (Matthew 6:20). It reminded me that if what we value most is our eternal life with God, then our hearts can rest more easily when we are doing things that make us afraid. Like flying, for instance. I’m glad that God calls us to Himself through Jesus, not only so we have our eternal home with Him, but so we can also experience the comfort of knowing Him as we walk (or fly) to each new destination in this life.
Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is how God in the Old Testament (OT) sometimes seems different from the God Jesus came to make known. I know that He is not different because God does not change…“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). The Bible also reveals that Jesus is God…“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation” (Colossians 1:15), and that He is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). So why does it seem like God was more stern in the OT, whereas Jesus makes familiar a God of love, patience, mercy, and forgiveness? First, I need to say that the OT is not without examples of the love and forgiveness of God…I just get more insight into the gentleness of God, in Jesus. So this is a question I will continue to ask God about. But one thing I do know. I know that God is love…“God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16). And I have experienced His love first hand, when at times I have acted less than loving toward Him and He has made it known to me, whether it was through something I read, something someone said, or just a reassuring thought, that He was still there and was present with me. Through Jesus, God forgives us our shortcomings and not only that, but like the prodigal son, He sees us from a “long way off” and is “filled with compassion” (Luke 15:20).
For some reason, I was aware of the love and reality of God, early on…