Sunday, June 25, 2017

It Was Time

"The Lord replied, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'"
Exodus 33:14 (NIV)

It was time; my husband and I just stopped.  Continuing to move forward would have resulted in turmoil on many different levels.  Closed eyes, deep breaths, limp limbs - it was what was needed.  It was time to rest.  

As you know, I am a planner.  Many times it can be used for good results.  Other times, it can be detrimental.  My mind and my actions keep me moving - and in turn for my wonderful husband, he keeps step with me.  Maybe we aren't sharing the same projects, but we will find projects to do all the same.  The last six months, after our return from our Costa Rican vacation, have been exhausting.  Working full time plus jobs, and Juan changing jobs, is enough on its own.  Add some family responsibilities along with the usual chores, well that's some more.  The topping on the cake has been the numerous projects we have taken on, renovating our bathroom by ourselves, lots of painting, new flooring, etc.  Well, you can picture it.

I'm sure you can picture it because you have been there as well.  Constant movement, constant responsibilities, constant pressure - with no time for rest.  Moving from one project to one responsibility to another project - it all can be very exhausting.  Add into the mix all of the things to "think about" while this is going on, and neither mind or body can rest.  We think that is the best thing for all of us.  Keep ourselves busy.  Get stuff done.  Yet, that can hurt, both mind and body.  God didn't design us for constant pressure - God designed us to get rest.

There are so many examples of this when we read the Bible.  Of course, the obvious, that God himself rested on the seventh day after Creation.  There are also other times, as we read through stories in the Bible where people rested, under trees, with family, after battle.  So what makes us think we are any better than them?  Our verse for today is clear that when we rest, God is still with us.  When I think of our Heavenly Father, I see Him with me when I am doing something - worshiping, praying, working, serving, etc.  I typically don't see Him with me when I'm resting.

God wants us to rest.  God wants us to get rejuvenated and prepare ourselves for further service to Him and others.  Future service can only come when our minds are clear and our bodies are fresh.  Resting can be hard.  That seems like an anomaly, but it is true - at least for me.  To sit and do nothing, clear my mind and body, can be difficult - at first.  Yet, when I give myself time to do this, it is completely restful.  Today, when I rested, I thought of God saying, "That a girl!"  He's with me, even as I rest.

Take time this summer to rest.  Put the projects aside for a little while.  Leave the problem solving for another day.  Enjoy this world God gave us.  Sit on your front porch (as I did this afternoon), your balcony, your back stoop, your favorite couch cushion.  Gain a day for rest - with your family, by yourself - just rest.  Know that God WANTS this for you, for me, for us.  Rest, and know God is with you.

"Dearest God, we thank you for giving us words that help us understand that we need to rest.  The constant pressures of this life can lead to constant movement, constant thinking and constant stress.  Help us and be with us, God, as we purposefully take time to rest.  Restore us, strengthen us, and enliven us through this rest so we may continue to share glory to you.  In your name we pray, Amen."

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Words of Truthful Instruction

"Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love."
Lamentations 3:32 (NIV)

We all know how powerful words can impact us.   Words can cut us deeper and have greater wounds than any knife.  Words can also build us up so we feel we are flying on a cloud.  During the past few weeks, I've spent a great deal of time thinking about the impact of words.  As I listen to people discuss situations, both at home and at work, I think about the meaning behind the words that are being shared.  During my time of reflection, I thought about what types of words I was hearing - and many of them felt as if they were words of instruction

This reflection took me to my dad.  He was a great man filled with joy, love, and faith.  His words, whether written or spoken, were always truthful.  Sometimes they were meant for comfort.  Sometimes they were meant for instruction. Yet, always they were filled with the truth.  As we were growing up, many times the truthful instruction could be painful.  My parents were more strict than others.  Each time I embarked on asking to do something that was out of our family's scope, it was met with the same answer - NO.  After being disappointed by not being able to do what others were doing, I just stopped asking.  It wasn't worth the disappointment.  

Of course, there were also the times when Daddy had no problem sharing truthful instruction, especially if I did something wrong.  That always was met with a "louder" voice, ensuring I received the message.  You get the point.  Again, it would make me sad, partly because I disappointed my dad, the other part because the "loud voice" was never a good thing.

Then, I found our verse for today.  Certainly as I grew older, I realized that when my dad would come to me with truthful instruction, it was because he cared.  That level of caring and love comes with a level passion.  Daddy didn't want me to make mistakes like he did.  Daddy wanted my life to be good and faith driven.  His purpose in doing that was his unfailing love.  No matter how bad the deed, he was still there.  His love was in His words and deeds.

Sounds a bit like our Heavenly Father, doesn't it?  Through His word, He provides us truthful instruction - ensuring that our lives are guided to the path and journey HE wants us to be on.  Yes, sometimes, the path we want to take is not the path God has planned for us.  Many times, that is when His words may seem louder than usual.  Yet, He does this not to make us feel guilty for our sins - remember Jesus took those all away for us.  He does that to help us hear the instruction He has for us.  Let's face it - somebody needs to tell us the truth and NOBODY does that better than Jesus!!

Words of truthful instruction, regardless of where they come from, can make us "grieve", feel bad, or even get angry.  Yet, let us take time when we get those words and maybe, just maybe, we can see that the instruction is coming from a place of unfailing love by the person sharing those words with us. That type of instruction is always a gift.  

"Heavenly Father, I ask that you help me to truly listen when you share words of truthful instruction.  Let me be reminded that they come from a place of love and caring, and that those words are for my benefit.  Take the guilt and anger away and replace it with reflection and hope.  In your gracious name I pray, Amen."












Sunday, June 11, 2017

Unsung Hero - Abigail

"Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, "Go home in peace.  I have heard your words and granted your request."  1 Samuel 25:35 (NIV)

"Keep the peace"!  How many times have we heard those words throughout our lifetime.  They can range in context anywhere from two siblings quarreling to armies battling.  I think as adults, we often do many things to try to "keep the peace".  Most people prefer harmony versus arguing.  What does keeping the peace look like?  Well, it could be one person putting aside their opinion of an argument so as not to let the argument continue.  It may be another person not bringing something up that could cause an argument.  Or it could be someone who intervenes to stop a battle from brewing.  

Hence we come upon Abigail.  Abigail's story is one of courage, yet humility.  She does something very brave to "keep the peace.  Her story involves her husband Nabal and King David (yes, the David and Goliath David).  David is now King and helped out Nabal's servants one time - ensuring their safety and well-being.  When David sent his servants to Nabal to ask the same of him, he answered with an emphatic, "NO" (very ungrateful guy).  As you can imagine, David, along with his many troops, didn't take this answer lightly and decided they were going to wreck havoc with Nabal. 

Along comes Abigail.  Nabal's servants went to Abigail.  They shared the goodness David had provided them and didn't believe Nabal was being fair.  They also shared that a battle was brewing.  Abigail gathered many provisions (wine, bread, sheep, grain, cakes, etc.) and she went behind Nabal's back to bring them to David and company - in order to keep the peace.  When she got to where David was, she offered a humble apology for her husband and gave him all the "goodies" she brought along.  It was then that David shared the words that are above - "Go Home in Peace."  

Abigail walked out in faith and courage to keep peace.  She didn't do it for the glory or the praise.  Remember, she did this behind her husband's back.  Abigail stepped out for peace.  How many times have we done the same?  As a parent, we may sometimes help our spouse to see things from our child's perspective to keep the peace.  As a child, we may help our parents see things from a sibling's perspective to keep the peace.  Outside of the home, it may also happen at work.  Helping to share information or feedback in order to help keep peace.  Typically, we don't do this expecting praise or thanks.  We step out in faith to keep the peace.

This type of stepping out is such a wonderful example of simple faith.  It takes faith in God that He will help the peace be lived out.  God was with Abigail as she approached David.  God is with us when we approach conflict.  He is there to help us keep the peace.  God granted David the words, "Go home in peace," to Abigail.  He says the same to you and me. "Go home in peace, Susan."  I don't know about you, but those words are truly the only praise I need to hear.

There is an ending to Abigail's story.  Upon her return home, her husband was in a drunken stupor.  So she waited until the morning and told him everything she had done.  As the Bible shares, "his heart failed him" and ten days later he died.  When David heard that, he asked Abigail to become his bride - and she did.  Isn't that the same for us?  When we are able to try and keep the peace, God blesses us.  It could be with the peace that we were hoping for.  It could be with greater understanding of the other party.  It could be with His love.  Chances are - keeping the peace can bring all three!  

The next time you think about "keeping the peace", remember our gal Abigail and the courage and humility she showed, and the grace that was granted to her.  Simple faith can bring simple peace.

"Heavenly Father, we thank you for the example of Abigail.  As she showed us, simple faith in you and courage to step out helped to keep the peace and saved many lives.  Help us to be like Abigail, keeping the peace, and may your love shine upon us.  In you peaceful name we pray, Amen!"

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Unsung Hero - Naaman


Doubt - it's a confusing feeling.  Think about the last time you doubted a situation, doubted a person, doubted intentions.  The insecurity and loss of self assurance is profound.  As much as I hate to admit it, there have been many times in my life when I have doubted.  I have doubted one's love for me.  I have doubted the work that I have done.  I have doubted my level of faith.  And yes, I have doubted my Lord.  I am not proud of those moments of doubt, but they are a part of my sinful nature.

Today, we read about Naaman.  Naaman was a soldier servant to a king.  Naaman had leprosy and was told by his servant girl that he should go to a prophet of the Lord for healing.  With permission of his king, he went.  Naaman's expectation was that the prophet would come out of his house and with "a magic wand" sort of event, he would be healed.  That is not what Elisha (the prophet) did.  Elisha told Naaman to go to the Jordan and dip himself in the water seven times - and by those actions he would be healed.  Naaman was disappointed with the words of Elisha and headed back home, not dipping himself.  Naaman doubted what Elisha told him.

Naaman's servants convinced him that he had "nothing to lose" by going to the Jordan.  So Naaman went, and as you would expect, was healed.  With humility, Naaman went back to Elisha said said the words that are stated above, "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel."  Naaman teaches us much in this small story.

As I've shared, there are times when we doubt things in our lives.  When those times arise, just like Naaman, I tend to figure out how I can take things into my own hands.  When the doubt involves lack of recognition (whether in emotion or work), I can fall into self-pity.   When the doubt settles into prayers that are unanswered, I can fall into a lack of praying and focus on what "I" need to do to fix things.  As you can imagine, my ways are never the right ways.  

What Naaman teaches us is to never doubt what God can give us - for His intentions are always right and true.  It may not happen in the way "I" intend it to happen, but it happens in God's correct and right way.  If we should doubt, let us come back to our God with humility and thankfulness.  How grateful we are that God forgives our sinful nature of doubt and brings us back to His righteousness.  Lift your doubt to God - He will bring you healing!

"Heavenly Father, thank you for the example of Naaman.  As I see how doubt can be rooted in may different situations, help me to always turn to you, God.  By your strength, by your direction, and by your love, lift my doubt and bring me to eternal healing in you.  In your gracious name I pray, Amen!"



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Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.