Peaking Out…

A three month old buries his face in mommy’s neck as the photographer tries to capture his smile. A two year old boldly walks down the street until he hears me say “car” and then quickly hides behind my legs and peers out.

Me too. When something makes us feel ‘less than’ – we can bury our face in a Savior who understands our frailties. We can peak out from behind an all powerful God when fear and troubles invade our space. “You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7 NIV)

But there’s a difference between peaking out and burrowing in covered in fear and doubt. When we peak out we’re saying ‘God, I trust You’ve got this’. Too often we run to what we think shields us from the hard things. Run to things like money or alcohol, things like unhealthy relationships or self-sufficiency.

God’s for us and no one can stand against – though butterflies form in our stomach, or tears stream down our cheeks. We need only lift our eyes to our Defender. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 40:28a NIV)

We forget our weakness is His strength. Turning first to Him instead of being our own ‘fixer’ requires turning to prayer and His Word – again and again.

An infant can’t decide if a big smile or crying is the best response to silly noises a photographer makes. A two year old runs head long unaware of the uneven pavement he’s about to trip over. Reassurance from one they trust brushes away the hurt and fear. 

Isaiah 40:28 continues “He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

You and me – oh we grow weary, so tired – even when things are seemingly good. Peaking out He assures us that He’s before and behind us. Bury your face but trust Him daily to show you His care and provision – go ahead, peak out.

 

The Exchange…

A twenty-something guy ran out to meet a man at his car. The older man handed him four suit coats – as they walked he said “If they don’t fit, I’ll help you get them altered.”

I’m guessing the young man had job interviews – maybe even a new job. Someone came to the rescue.

Reminds me of a story: once a son demanded his portion of his father’s estate long before the father died. He ran off and wasted every cent. Very sorrowful, he returned home. The father caught sight of him in the distance and ran to meet him. Noticing his clothes were threadbare, he gave him his very best coat. (read this story in Luke 15:11-31) He came to the rescue.

We need rescue. We have everything in Christ – and day in and day out we squander much of it. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” (2Peter 1:3 NIV)

Sure enough, when we reach the end of ourselves and turn back home, He meets us right there. No waiting for us to make our way, no profound apologies required. Just a Jesus who says: ‘here’s my best, it’s gonna be ok’.

Our world is spinning crazy downward right now. Recently abortion up to the moment of birth has been approved in New York, is about to be in Virginia and California – where next.

 

The freedom the woman is seeking, He can give her and her child in abundance. The wealth the clinics and doctors chase after can’t compare to the wealth God has in store. God gently reminds us…He still loves them. Still wants so badly for them to turn to Him for answers. “That’s how it is with your Father in heaven. He doesn’t want any of these little ones to be lost.” (Matthew 18:14 CEV)

We can’t be the son at the end of the story in Luke 15 who pouts and complains about how his once wayward brother is now being welcomed. We’re called to seek out those lost in the grips of evil, to offer a listening heart, to celebrate when one lost lamb turns back to God. An exchange no one should miss.

When Light Hits…

Early morning, no lights on yet, I reached into the cabinet to find a towel – the stripes looked dull gray. I knew they were red.

Science says color is sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light. Without the light, no color.

I’m thinking that can be said of us. Jesus is described often as the Light. Without Him we look just like the rest of the world, but when He lights up our soul, it’s easy to tell the difference. “…a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1Peter 2:9b NIV)

Sometimes the darkness seems so much easier. It covers our shame, seems like more fun, we blend in. To walk in the Light makes us stand out. No longer able to live in what we know dishonors God, realizing the consequences of ‘fun’ aren’t so fun, and seeing blending in is blinding.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light” (Ephesians 5:8 NIV)

Ever watched night turn into day? Faintly the edges of the sky turn from velvet black to shades of gray. And as the sun creeps over the crest, pinks and oranges tint the day. Tree leaves, once shadows, show forth green. A blue horizon grows reminding us the Light of the world has made another new day.

The Light invites us daily to be new again – and when His light hits touches our deepest parts our world is color-full. What color is love, peace, joy? Little red hearts, still blue lakes, flowers dotting hills? All these and so many more. He shows us the way: “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” (Proverbs 4:18 NIV)

Something else about that Light – the chill of night loses its grip. Clothed in a robe of Light we are warmed. Greet each day, arms open wide, ready for when Light hits.

Past Tense…

Sometimes ‘the past’ brings smiles, sometimes tears.

Trying to forget, many live on a fast track to whatever tomorrow holds. Always seeking that next best thing, moment, breakthrough. Others, weighed down, can’t move into now. We get lost forgetting that Jesus has already secured our future (and He’s used what has happened for our good). He calls us to live in today. God’s plan from the beginning was to make a way for us to always, ever live – abundantly.

“Later, knowing that all was now completed…Jesus said, “It is finished. With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:28-30 NIV)

Here’s the deal: nothing more is needed. We have an eternity of no sickness, no sorrow, one that never ends – Jesus has secured it. As a follower of Jesus we’re on that road to eternity, living for a purpose in the here and now and living for a future that we can’t fathom the greatness of. The reverse is true as well – for all who deny Jesus there is an eternity but it’s not a party – it’s utter darkness and aloneness – eternally separated from the Light.

Those are black and whites and most don’t like absolutes. But since our earthly days are numbered and do come to an end, eternity is a big deal. “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11b NIV)

Here’s a partial list of the ‘dones’ of God: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7a NIV) Done! “Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13b-14a NIV) Done! “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6 NIV) Yes, we already have a seat in eternity with Jesus, done!

All these are past tense – and all these are ours. And there are so many more things God has done. Because of Him we are free to live without past regret or future fear. That’s living – not in the past but resting in an already done future.

 

Fussy…

Somewhere between sleep and wanting to see the world around him – this two month old can’t quite close those big eyes. So he fusses.

A lot like you and I. We’re offered rest in Jesus. We can read that He grants sleep to those he loves, that He watches over us and He never sleeps. But we won’t let go of our to-do list, or our worry list, or our ‘need this’ list. And we fuss.

“The LORD is your protector, and He won’t go to sleep or let you stumble.” (Psalm 121:3 CEV) “I can lie down and sleep soundly because you, LORD, will keep me safe. “ (Psalm 4:8 CEV)

It’s time to learn a new thing: we are most at rest when we are most relying on Him and not self. Oh, that may not sound new, but our actions (and reactions) say it is. I awoke in the wee hours last night and wondered if it was going to be one of those nights. The kind where my mind starts to wander and sleep wanders away. Suddenly I could hear a praise song ringing in my head and I felt the gentle ‘shush’ of my Father.

Next thing I knew it was wake up time. Fill ourselves with Him and we find ourselves overflowing with His rest just when we need it most. “Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14 NIV)

I don’t want to be the fussy child – I want to be the one dancing along each new morning. Feeling confident that today is good and right – even when it has storms and fears. Because the more we pray, the more we praise, the more we become familiar with His Word – the more we won’t be crushed by circumstances.

Lauren Daigle has a fun new song (Your Wings) and I love singing it over and over – especially when self wants to dominate: “You’re my covering – I’m safe, I’m safe; Whatever comes at me – I’m safe, I’m safe.”  No more fussing!

 

Hold My Wait…

We’re only one week into a new year and already anxiousness and fretting have penetrated most days.

Oh, I’m good at disguising them in prayers. Asking the only One who can accomplish my God sized longings. Truth is though, the many words and the stomach butterflies show my doubt. Still, He has given me a new word this year: N-e-w. Turning it over and over I see ‘new’ like a kaleidoscope – always changing.

The LORD‘s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 GNT) I love this version of this verse – exploding like a sunrise, fresh like dewy drops on a green leaf. Unfailing love, mercy.

It’s the wait really. Trusting God has it all figured out, but so wanting to see it now.

Where does a waiting, weary world  turn? Often to so much that doesn’t satisfy. Holley Gerth says it just right “I’m learning, slowly, to lean on Jesus instead of flimsy earthly things that can never hold my weight.”

The weight of what a sin-filled world has caused is pressing in on us. Finding ‘new’ every morning becomes a weight-lifter we sorely need. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and steams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)

A way through the desert of our doubt. Streams of life into parts of our soul we thought long dead.

Praise has a way of restoring, turning dissatisfaction towards joy. An odd concept for most – praising God instead of man and accomplishments. But give it a try. Right now – ‘God you are my One and Only. There is nothing and no one better. You are the definition of love, of joy, of peace.’

When we speak praise we lose worldly weight. In those moments we are no longer held by gravity, but we’re lifted into His presence. So today I ask: ‘Father, hold ‘my wait’ and show me how to live in the newness of Your freedom.’

Just New…

It’s 2019 – time to look ahead – and maybe instead of wishing a Happy new year – how about just a new beginning?

We are bound by time. Ticking off days and weeks then years. But God is outside of those bounds. No beginning, no end. Every day (or moment) is a chance for a new beginning with Him.

Happy depends on our circumstances. New is a decision. A decision to not live in the past nor to worry about the future. But to seek the God who someday will walk us into a forever where we are no longer bound by time either. “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:5 NIV)

What wonder this is – no need for light, no night? “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” (Revelation 21:23 NIV)

With no dark, no fear. With the Lamb, love. This is the wonder of hope – for this great thing He is telling us about is what all our hearts long for. To be renewed and have forever instead of minutes.

This is the year to tell those you love, and those you stand in line behind, and those who drive you crazy: “I wish you New”. For all who accept Jesus this is His promise: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

And so – for as long as we’re bound by time – we will age, sickness will happen, death will come to our bodies. But hold on to this:: “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2Corinthians 4:16 NIV)

Just New – my wish for you, new as only He can do!

 

Need to Fill Up?

Merry Christmas – today we remember The Great Gift – may this news, this priceless once and for all gift, fill your heart with great joy!

For some this day will go by without any recognition, ignored by those who are in darkness. For some, they will celebrate the day, but not Who is being celebrated. For those who do know the Who and the Why – great joy will fill us. Yet knowing or not, it’s true that the gifts and food and shiny decorations pale in comparison to the Light of the world.

“Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 1:11 CSB)

For you! Our Savior is such a personal Savior. Not an authority wielding power, not a king wrapped up in aristocracy. But One who has personally known all the sorrows of being human – and all the joys of being one with God. And He longs for us to know that joy. He prepares us through each sorrow and smile – filling us with hope and walking with us through our sometimes tear-full journey.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)

The ‘thief’: all who oppose, deny, fill up on self and the world. Robbing themselves of joy in midst of all of life’s ups and downs. And wanting to steal it from us.

But we have the Promise: this isn’t all there is. We can find much to rejoice about day in and day out, no matter circumstances – but sin burdens our hearts and will always make us long for more. The more is not what money can buy, what power can grasp, or popularity can pretend.

 The more is Jesus. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NIV)

So fill-up this day and every day with Jesus. All our longings are met in Him. Yes, Merry is a filled-up heart!

Perfect Timing…

Does waiting drive you crazy?

Children are counting down days til Christmas. Adults count days til the next big game, movie sequel, retirement – or you fill in the blank with your ‘can’t wait’ list.

At the birth of Jesus the world had been spinning for about 4,000 years and things were looking pretty dismal. But at just the right time, announced to the most unlikely of people, Jesus was born. “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born” (Luke 2:6 NIV)

When you and I have a big announcement we don’t go to strangers, just anybody hanging around. God chose to go to the low on the social ladder: shepherds. But He also chose to use one of His beautiful creations, an angel.

The shepherds hurried off to see what this was all about and then they spread the news. The news was so good all who heard it were astounded. “When they had seen Him, they spread the word…and all who heard it were amazed” (Luke 2:17a-18a NIV)

Amazed? We’re amazed by things of no lasting value: lottery payoffs, celebrities, vacations. But at just the right time in the most obscure of places, in the dark of night, the King of kings came to change lives forever. And yet, throughout history, so few have been amazed.

Jesus coming to be flesh among us may not have seemed like perfect timing to the prophets who had foretold His coming and didn’t live to see it. It certainly wasn’t perfect timing to those in authority in His day – a threat to their power.

But as Lisa Apello reminds us “While we see the wait, God sees the perfect timing.” Just when we’re about to give up, give in, or take things into our own hands is often His perfect timing.

The more we try to control, the more we try to fix, the longer it seems to take. Praying someone you love will get better? return home? get a promotion? get salvation? This is hard for you and me: the wait. But He’s perfecting us in the process and ensuring that the outcome (whether it’s what we had in mind or not) is absolutely the best for those who love Him. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6 NIV) Perfect!

Homesick…

My parents divorced when I was young. I came to Florida each year to see my dad – my only time with him. Torn between two homes.

I used to love airports, the smell of jet fuel and the hustle bustle. Then I had babies and with each passing year I really just liked the view of my children in the front yard best. We assign a place as ‘home’ – sometimes an actual structure, or maybe a town or country. The account of the birth of Jesus starts off by the government requiring people to travel to wherever their ancestral heritage began and register as a citizen. “And everyone went to his own town to register.” (Luke 2:3 NIV)

When I became an adult my mother moved a number of times. But wherever she was, when I walked through the door, that was home. It was her that made it home, not the place.

Yet even if we are blessed with an earthly home that draws us, it never quite fills our longing. We’re homesick like a child away at camp. And in so many ways, we are all homeless. Nothing really satisfies: remodeling, cozier blankets, minimalizing. We keep looking for ideas.

Jesus says “no one who has left home…for the sake of the kingdom will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.” (Luke 18:29-30 NIV) Perhaps He’s trying to help us see that if we change our concept of ‘home’ from tangible here on earth to forever in Him, we’ll realize we’ve got everything – now and forever.

Holley Gerth said in a devotion: “home is not a place; home is a Person. And He is with us always. His love is the place we can stay wherever we go.”

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1 NLT) All of Psalm 91 speaks of Him being our refuge, our fortress, our dwelling, our rescue, our salvation. And there it is – Salvation is home, and Salvation is a person. Salvation is Jesus and when we rest our head on the pillow of His protection, we are home.

Homesick? Come Home – your Rest is Jesus, wherever you are.

 

Wonder-full Plans…

I’m noticing lately all us wanderers. I can’t help but think: what if, instead, we were wonderers?

We wander around stores looking for gifts. We wander around outdoors seeking quiet. We wander all our days and what do we find? Emptiness mostly. So I’m thinking its time to wonder all our days instead.

We need Jesus Wonder: “As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet Him.” (Mark 9:15 NIV)

Will we run to greet Him? When my grandson arrives in the mornings little arms stretch out to me, his heart running to mine. Does God see us, His children, like that? Do we stretch out arms eager to fall into His? What a smile starts on my lips and works it way through my very being at the sight of my children and grandchildren. So it is with God – even when we don’t run to Him.

“God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1Corinthians 1:9 NIV) When we wander from Him, He still longs for us. His arms ever reaching for our faithless hearts. Oh wanderer let’s seek Him.

And, by the way, there’s nothing we need to do first. No messes to wash away. No changes we need to make. He’s in the business of cleaning us up, transforming us.

This is the promise I cling to when I forget Him in the busyness. This is the truth I know when I worry for my loved ones. He has a plan for each and every one of us – and His plans are not spoiled by us or any other force in the world.

Each day – and dark nights – always there. Don’t think so? Things are too bad, too hopeless? He’s forgotten you? Not a chance. Some wondrous day all this won’t even be a memory. “You have done many things for us, O LORD our God; there is no one like you! You have made many wonderful plans for us. I could never speak of them all–their number is so great!” (Psalm 40:5 GNT) Someday those familiar arms that have carried us through will once and for all embrace us and we will indeed wonder always.

All I Want…

Christmas lists are being made. Toys, games for the young. Clothes, electronics for the adults. And more.

So here’s a prayer to carry into the coming month – a little something to rest in, to rejoice over, to remember for The Gift…

Let not my heart be fooled by shiny wrapping. Let me instead be wrapped up in Your love. Lead me not to the best sale. Lead me instead to Your peace. May my decorations not be Pinterest worthy. But may they glorify You in ways no one can miss. 

“You are my God. Show me what you want me to do, and let your gentle Spirit lead me in the right path.” (Psalm 143:10 CEV)

As I put cookies and treats out to impress, impress upon me instead the Bread of Life. When songs of ‘the season’ play – stir in my soul alleluias for all seasons. When gazing at twinkly lights, lift my eyes to the velvet sky and remind me of the Star announcing your arrival.

May the scented candles and aroma of pines fill my senses and direct my thoughts to the the fragrance of Christ. “For we are like a sweet-smelling incense offered by Christ to God, which spreads among those who are being saved and those who are being lost.” (2 Corinthians 2:15 GNT) A loving reminder of how the Father perceives me because of Jesus.

Candy canes and hot chocolate – snow globes and snow men – poinsettias and wreaths…what wonder there is in all these trappings – but there is more wonder still in a wee babe born to a virgin. Laid in a manger, loved by an adopted father. Given priceless gifts by wise men. Despised by those who thought their power was most important.

Yes, heavenly Father, remind us to rejoice in Christmas – Your best gift. To rest as Jesus did – for because of Him we need not lose sleep. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)  This is all I want.

 

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