The Big Bucket Surprise We were at the waterpark last summer. You know the kind where the slides are high and steep and way too scary for younger kids, let alone grandmas. We eventually… More
When my little granddaughter was two, she had to have a blood transfusion. When the nurses came in to start her IV, little Lilly pleaded with them, “No thank you, No thank you” she would cry out. It was heartbreaking to hear her try so politely to refuse what was about to happen. A treatment that would help her recover from a dangerously low hemoglobin level, but she didn’t care about that. All she knew at that moment was something was going to hurt and she didn’t want it.
When we can control what we let into our lives, the use of “No thank you” is the polite way to refuse the choice in front of us. But what if we do not have that luxury? What about the things we can’t control? And is it ever appropriate to say “No thank you” to God?
I’ve said “No thank you” to Him before, not in words, but by my actions or lack of. The time He presented an opportunity for me to give till it hurt a little bit, and I refused. The time He said, He was waiting to speak to me through His Word and I just kept scrolling. The times He has asked me to do something, share something or say something for Him and I didn’t. Just like a two-year-old, it might hurt or be inconvenient to be obedient and I didn’t want it. Sometimes my own façade of politeness is my undoing.
This is the place where child-likeness and child-ishness have to part ways. A child is innocent, has no choice but to trust those who love her to make the right decisions that affect her, painful or not. I am not innocent. I get to choose to be disobedient and refuse the blessing. Just tell myself “be thankful” and move on.
Somehow I don’t believe that “giving thanks in all things” applies to my disobedience. There are the sins of commission and there are the sins of omission. Could what I am omitting, or not doing in obedience, be what is holding me back from experiencing the blessings of living an obedient, abundant life?
The more I learn about Jesus from His Word, the more I see how living given to others is important. He came to show us the loving heart of God. The way He shows this is how He gave.
Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;”
Receiving all things from God’s hand with thanksgiving is the only way. The good and the hard. Being thankful, “Yes” thankful, turns whatever we receive into a gift that can, in turn, be given to someone else. We are not here just to serve ourselves.
To know that we are ambassadors for Christ, (2 Corinthians 5:20), representing Him in our world, should make us ready ministers, not wanting fame or privilege but a life of service and humility. (Mark 10:43) Jesus is our example. He took time in the mornings to pray and ask His Father into His day. He went out of His way and to places that others considered beneath Him because He knew people needed Him. He comforted, He healed, He prayed until He sweat drops of blood asking His Father if there could be any other way than the Cross. He never said “No thank you” and neither should I.
Dear reader, I don’t know what you might be saying “No thank you” to today. What you have been prompted by His Spirit to do in order to follow Christ. God knows your heart. Looking back, I know every time I refused an opportunity to be obedient, I missed out on something for others that would have helped me to recover from my low empathy level. One of the most dangerous pathologies in Christianity.
Starting this Thanksgiving week, I am purposing in my heart to make it a “Thanksliving” week. Right off the bat my husband reminded me of something I neglected to do and I was tempted to throw in the towel. The Lord’s Spirit, not mine believe me, prompted me to do the thing and thank my man for the reminder. The enemy lost that one. This week I’m going to try to say give thanks more often and say a few more “yeses” to God and others. How about you?
Like the transfusion that hurts but is life-giving, obeying God can be painful, yet it yields blessings that we just cannot realize any other way. We would tell Lilly, “It only hurts for a little bit.” God tells us the same thing. In the frame of eternity, our current struggles are so microscopic.
Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
He Reads Minds – Kind of a scary thought, isn’t it? But there is really nothing you have ever thought that God wasn’t aware of. We are created beings. Not so with God. He always was, always will be, mind-blowing right?
“…whatsoever things, are pure, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8
God is omniscient. This adjective used to describe our God means “having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding: perceiving all things.” He knows it all. The good, the bad, the messy and the beautiful. He doesn’t just see the outside behavior, what you actually do, but he knows the thoughts and intents of your mind and heart. God goes for the deep work that needs done. Scripture supports this:
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 KJV)
Having a free-will means we are free to not think good thoughts as well as to think good thoughts. This is the battle we face every, single day and we have to have a weapon to win it. That weapon is the Word. Dear reader, you are a warrior on a winning side when you get into the Bible. Read it. Study it. Memorize it. Use it to reap all the rewards of strong faith. Courage. Strength. Peace. Hope. Joy. To name a few.
The enemy is described in the Word as a “roaring lion.” Have you watched those National Geographic films where the lioness prowls around a herd of animals on the Savannah? Looking for the younger, weaker ones to take down. Satan is like that. Different than God, Satan is a created being that went against God.
1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”
Satan cannot read your mind, but he can see your actions. The way you behave when you are not in His Word, not staking your joy on God’s truth. I believe he uses this observation to spring into action and cause you to doubt God’s good plan for you. He moves in just like he did in the Garden.
Ann Voscamp writes, “If Satan can keep my eyes from the Word, my eyesight is too poor to read light—to fill with light. Bad eyes fill with darkness so heavy the soul aches because empty is never truly empty; empty is only a full, deepening darkness. So this is what it is to be. Eve in the Garden, Satan’s hiss tickling the ear. “Did God actually say…?”” (Genesis 3:1 ESV). Ann points out the need for us to look at our lives through a “biblical lens” in order to decipher the meaning of it all. (One Thousand Gifts, Devotional, Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces)
In Jesus’ great Sermon, there are some verses, Matthew 6:22-23, where He teaches about light and darkness. How our eyes can be good and provide light for us, or bad and fill us with darkness. The choice of where to go with our field of vision is ours. And the choice is made in our minds with the information we allow to influence us.
The fact that God can read your mind need not be a scary thing, especially when we remember this promise in 2 Timothy 1:7,
“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Speak those words the next time your knees are shaking or you are tempted to believe you are powerless, unlovable or losing your mind. I have, believe me.
He cried his little heart out in my arms. It was late, bedtime even, and he wanted…candy. And this was not the first request, but his daddy had already shared some with him earlier and they had a “talk” about no more until tomorrow.
I don’t like the answer “No.” I didn’t like it when I was a kid, young adult, or “older” adult. I wouldn’t ask for something if I didn’t want it, how about you?
Have you ever begged God for something? I mean really asked with all your heart, over and over and only to experience that little word with the biggest meaning of hurt, that you think your heart just can’t possibly absorb? You are not a little girl anymore, so the asking is not “Could I have …this?” and you could take the no and move on. But, “Please God, You know how important this is to…and how could this possibly not be Your will?” This kind of over-and-over prayer that comes with deep, on-going disappointment. Heart wrenching even.
“Likewise the Spirit also helps our weaknesses: for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought: for the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He that searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27
So what we don’t have words for, when we don’t even know what to pray for “as we ought” the Spirit of God prays for us. And because the Spirit knows what the will of God is, (and we don’t) the prayer is offered perfectly and answered perfectly. Not saying it’s easier to take when it is so different from what we are asking, what we see would solve a problem, or help someone who is struggling. Because the picture is much bigger than we are capable of envisioning.
Dear reader, God is so big. He knows the end from the beginning and all those that are connected to your life and actions. If I think about it too much, my head hurts with the responsibility of it all. All I can do is trust Him and try to overcome the need to control anything. Just live abiding in Him and absorbing His Word.
“No” can seem unkind, especially to those in our close circle of family, friends and church. But it does not have to be when we remember to attach the love to it. To not use it in an automatic way to brush off responsibilities or make things more convenient for us. I love how Ann Voscamp says “You are willing to love only as much as you are willing to be inconvenienced.” That phrase “love is not convenient and I love this person” is one I say in my mind when I am asked to do something for someone that I quite truthfully do not want to do because it’s a bad time for me or I think I’m too busy. Try it, it works for me.
We girls love the romantic comedies where the guy, eventually, gets down on one knee, and asks the question that he pretty much knows will be answered with a “yes!” And of course, through the course of the story, he has had quite a bit of a struggle winning that “yes.” With the possibility of a thousand missed opportunities and missed connections leading up to the climax of the movie, and the happily ever after. This is the movies, dear reader. Anything can happen, and does.
Not so in real life. I would love to write that this life is fair. All our prayers are answered with the “Yes” we expect and everyone lives happily ever after, here. But that is not the truth. We will have trials. We will be persecuted. We will not always get the candy before bedtime. But that is okay, because the love this parent is modeling at the start of this post, is like the love that God has for us. He knows the whole story. God knows our whole story and He has to do what is best for us, because that is what His love does.
I know these are pretty common now, but I wish they were available when my kids were little. Those shoes where the soles sort of flash and light-up as they step. So cool!
The other morning I got to keep my great-grandson until his daddy got off work. Since the sun does not show up till later and later every day, he walked out of the house in the dark, but his shoes lit-up his path on my front sidewalk, with every step he took.
“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
I thought of that verse as I watched him walk the sidewalk to the car. Darkness dispelling bit by bit as he took those little steps. Lights show up the best the darker the path. And words can be like lights that enlighten dark spaces when we are not sure what to step into.
Sometimes all it can take to brighten a dark, dingy day, is a word of kindness. A smile. A listening ear. And there is the light. A thought or word of praise, for God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). And there it is, in the middle of what would send you spiraling down, down…lifts you up.
“That was the true Light, which gives light to every man coming into the world.” John 1:9 (NKJV)
The light to walk through the hour-by-hour or day-to-day is not like the kind of light that lights miles ahead. If we only look at the light at the end of the tunnel, we will end up with tunnel vision. The hear-and-now and right-in-front of us will get missed. He is always there for us and wants us to notice His light for the small steps and not just for the giant leaps.
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” I was just thirteen years old when Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon. He said those words as he stepped onto the moon that we gaze upon from 238,900 miles away. It’s glow caused by the reflection of the sun, which, by the way, is 92.96 million miles from us. Another interesting fact I found was that the moon reflects only between 3 – 12 percent of the sunlight that hits it. We glow when we reflect the Son. We all seem to have varying degrees of reflection. So many parallels.
I love space movies. Not the “Alien” kind at all, but the documentaries out there about the astronauts and space truth and travel. They reinforce my belief that our beyond intelligent God created the universe and rules it from His throne in the heavens.
The words I attached to this blog, “Renewed. Refreshed. Redeemed.” are a reflection of what His light brings to my life. Dear reader, this is what He does. There is no day that goes too badly, nothing that can be just too old, or spoiled so rotten, that He cannot bring His glory to it. Sometimes just watching a little boy with light-up shoes can remind you of that. Glory Renewed.
Have you ever been homesick? That awful feeling in the pit of your stomach. That longing for a familiar place where you just belong?
I had to stop by her house today to retrieve some items she asked me to bring her. I thought I could do it without crying, but I couldn’t. She should still be there. She should have been able to stay until He took her home to paradise and I am so disappointed in that. Everywhere I turn, I see her there. Cooking in her kitchen, getting dressed in her bedroom, fixing her hair in her bathroom, watching her television in her living room, playing cards with her friends at her dining room table.
But it wasn’t to be. These bodies fail us, eventually. Sometimes we have to move on to places of someone else’s choosing so that we can be cared for when we can no longer care for ourselves. All of this may be my future and I certainly wouldn’t want anyone crying about it. So I wipe my eyes and head out. Locking the door behind me and loading her reminders of home in my car to deliver to her now “home.”
She greets me with a smile and I realize that she seems to be having a really good day today. She wants me to meet a neighbor down her hallway and she tells me that a church group came to sing today and she enjoyed it. I still want to cry.
Does it ever “get” you this way? When you witness someone being so brave and accepting, which is how you would hope they would be, and it makes you sad. Because you wish it didn’t have to be this way.
God knows and understands. Can you even imagine how hard it was for Him to send us His Son? To take Him from the paradise of Heaven and have Him take on flesh and be fully human while still being fully God? To have to feel what we feel and worse?
I know that the circumstances I just described could be so much worse, but still, they hurt. I am reminded that no matter how “wonderful” things are here in our own little worlds, they will never satisfy the ache in our hearts for our forever home.
“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid, you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there you may be also.” John 14:1-3
Little farther on in John 14:27, Jesus says:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Could it be this dear lady has peace about where she is and what she is doing because it is the kind the world cannot give? I am sure this is so. And His peace will comfort the ache in my heart also, when things are not the way I wish they would be. And maybe every now and then I need to be reminded that the disappointments that we direct at God, should only be to handed over to Him for healing.
If Jesus could endure His cross, looking at the joy that was set before Him, (Hebrews 12:2), I can choose to see what hurts in this life as an endurance test and look forward to the next. There is nothing, no thing, that can separate us from the love of God, (Romans 8:38-39), and isn’t the love of God the only thing that matters? This is the joy, His love that never ends. His love that leads us home.
Sometimes it feels like I’m a turtle, crossing the road. I hate the slowing down part of my journey. I’ve always had a quick pace. Not that this was always good, because at times, it was not. But, it was familiar and I like familiar.
I like the shortcut, the faster route, and the quick results. Again, not always good. As I studied this turtle in my driveway, head lifted high, extremities out of its shell, vulnerable, I saw myself. I try to venture out in this vehicle of a blog, into the vast openness of social media with my meager offering of words for souls. I carry around my shell for protection. I return to it for a while but know I cannot stay there forever. I have to share what I have been given and receive from others what nourishes me.
Never before can a person think they know how important they are. The “likes” and positive or negative “comments” validating their influence. It takes a hard shell to keep plodding along. Keep plodding along sisters. Put something out there and don’t check how it’s doing. Do it just because He led you to and trust Him for the eyes to see it and the souls to be touched and made a little bit stronger because of it. Resist the urge to word and re-word, just trust that God will use the words for good.
God is showing me that as I slow down, what I have to offer actually has more value. It comes with years of experience of living life with Him as my Lord. Since a little girl, He has been with me. Using every bit of my story to bring Him glory. The mishaps, the victories, all of it. To give wisdom.
“Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace”
That turtle is on a peaceful path. Not without danger, because anyone in a hurry and distracted could crush her in an instant. And so am I. If I pay attention to what the world has to say about today’s Christian women, I can be hurt badly. Our culture is sadly post-Christian. Even many who claim to be Christians do not hold to the teachings in God’s Word, the Bible. But this does not change the Truth and I am commanded to speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:14-15)
Tears of deep joy run down, He fills and my cup overflows. He turns “you are bad” into “you are beloved” dear ones. Because it is true. The truest words you will ever hear come from Him. He has chosen you, and made you His. (Ephesians 1:4-5)
Someone reading this may be afraid that what they say won’t make a difference. Don’t believe that; God will sort all of that out. He can use anything for our good and His glory. Venture out of your shell, reach out and be blessed.
This post may be my last “solo” one, and it is fitting that it reflects on Easter, a celebration of the resurrection of our Savior. From my heart, I can only pour out gratitude for the grace that the Lamb of God gave with such a cost to Himself. So that our salvation could be a free gift for us to accept.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
For God so loved, He gave. He could have held on to His glory. His place in the heavens and said “no.” But because of his great love, He was obedient to the plan of His Father, to redeem us and set us free. (Luke 22:42)
“There is therefore now no condemnation … For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1 and 2.) Jesus took the condemnation, so we would not have to. The condemned couple that had to leave the garden no longer determines my fate. My eternity is redeemed, my place is secured, just as if I was already there. Not because of anything I have done, all I needed to do was receive this, trust this finished act of His love. (John 19:30, Titus 3:5)
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of the inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14.
Yes, He paid an awful price. Physical, emotional torture. The weight of sin, all sin, placed on Him. His Father turning from the sight of it all. Taking it all to Hell. Where it could be conquered once and for all. Once. For all.
Scripture tells us of a woman, another “Mary” knowing full well that her loving Lord was dead because she had seen this with her own eyes. She comes to His grave and finds the stone, rolled away, the tomb empty. She runs, and tells the men and they came too. They had to see it for themselves. Then, Glorious Day!, Jesus, very much alive, speaks to Mary, asks her why she is crying, and she turns, and there He is. This account is so exciting! Such fitting words in the last verse of John, chapter 20 –
“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
Life! Fresh new life! Embrace Easter. All the new life of it. Believe in it, Trust in it, Rejoice in it! Make it a new start for you, looking forward to that Glorious Day when you see Him face to face. Glory Renewed.