In modern America, we don’t usually think much about birthrights or inherited blessings.  The vast majority of us do not expect to inherit from our relatives anything of significant value.  Occasionally one of us will inherit an item of sentimental value, important to the beneficiary but usually a trinket or tool or book of little value to anyone else.  We don’t think about an inheritance that we can use as leverage or exchange for something else of value to us.

Genesis tells us about Jacob and Esau, and Esau’s infamous barter of his birthright for a bowl of stew.

“…and Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished.’  Therefore his name was called Edom.  But Jacob said, ‘First sell me your birthright.’  Esau said, ‘Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?’  And Jacob said, ‘First swear to me’; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.”                  Genesis 25:30-33

The Hebrew birthright in the Patriarchal age was a right of tremendous importance.  Usually given to the firstborn son, the birthright consisted of a double portion of the father’s personal property; designation as head of the family entailing responsibility for all common family property and for all remaining members of the household such as widows, younger brothers and unmarried sisters; and, authority over extended family members.  The birthright also included receiving the blessing which put the beneficiary in close covenant relationship with Yahweh Himself.

This makes me wonder what my birthright in Christ is.  I received the blessing of covenant relationship with God Himself when I was baptized into the body of Christ.  I was born again of the Spirit and such a birth brings me a birthright.

“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us, richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  Titus 3:5-7

“…we would be made heirs…”  My right of birth into God’s family is to be an heir to eternal life.  I don’t have to stand in line for it, I don’t have to wait for an older sibling to die to acquire it, I cannot buy it.  It was conferred on me when I was born of the Spirit.  My birthright.

“Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ ”  John 3:5

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  …And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.”  Galatians 3:26, 27, 29

If I am an heir to the riches of heaven, what does that mean to me here and now?  Are the only benefits of being a child of God relegated to the spiritual realm I will live in after I leave behind the bag of bones I currently carry around?

Only in Christ, I have this birthright today and forever:

Peace with God–I am reconciled to Him.  My debt to Him is paid in full by the blood of His Son.  I stand as a citizen of Heaven, now, today.  Ephesians 2:13-16

Justification before God–On my record, there is no mark of deficiency.  In God’s eyes this day, He sees me as His child of promise.  I pass the test.  I win the race. Today.  Romans 5:18, 19

Complete and enduring forgiveness–There is no record of my wrongs.  No sin can be attributed to me.  Once forgiven, He has no memory of my offenses.  Ever.  No matter what.  Ephesians 1:7-9

Acceptance into God’s family–I am His child, sister to the Son of God.  I am no more AND NO LESS important than any of my siblings.  No matter where I come from, where I have been or what I have done.  Complete and total acceptance through Jesus’ cleansing blood.  Ephesians 2:19-22

Freedom from the slavery to sin and self—No longer my will, but only His will.  I am no longer driven by a lifestyle that leads only to destruction.  I know the futility of living life without promise, of trying to see what is real through a haze of distractions.  In Christ I hold ownership to blessed outcomes and a meaningful journey.  By the end, He will make everything right, nothing will be wasted.  Romans 6:11

Resurrection–Yes, resurrection when Jesus returns, but also resurrection every day.  Each day is a new day.  Forgiveness through His grace allows me to start over, again and again, as many times as I need, cleansed and whole, each and every time.  God’s forgiveness is limited only by my repentance.  God’s supply of forgiveness is limitless.  Whatever I need, no matter how much I need.  I get to start over, always, until this life ends.  Romans 6:1-7

Direct access to God–God is MY Father.  I pray to Him.  I serve Him.  His Spirit indwells ME.  His begotten Son pleads MY case before Him.  MY relationship to Him is personal, intimate and priceless.  Ephesians 2:17, 18

Genesis 25:34 says that Esau despised his birthright, counted it as nothing of importance, when he sold it to Jacob for a meal.

Do I ever despise my birthright?  Do I ever trade it for what makes me feel happy, excited, loved, satiated, or proud in any given moment?  Do I ever treat my inheritance in Christ as if it were of no importance to me?  Do I listen to Satan’s whispers that tell me God didn’t really mean what He said when He said I would surely die?  When he tells me God doesn’t really love me?  Do I trade God’s truth that brings me blessings now and forever for lies that only rob me of what is rightfully mine in Christ?

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:16-18


All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.


God Answers Prayer

I like to get correspondence from friends and family–emails, letters, cards, old-fashioned, new-fashioned–it doesn’t matter to me.  I try very hard to respond to written  communication as soon as I possibly can, in particular if the writer makes a request of me or has a need I can assist with.  If I don’t answer right away, especially if it comes by email, I am prone to get distracted and forget to respond altogether.  Thankfully, God never gets distracted from the communication I send to Him.  And He always, always answers me.

“By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation, You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea; Who establishes the mountains by His strength, Being girded with might; Who stills the roaring of the seas, The roaring of their waves, And the tumult of the peoples.”  Psalm 65:5-7

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I hear or read someone say that God answered their prayers when they receive something they’ve been praying for.  The statement of celebration is not wrong, but the inference is.  Their inference, whether they choose to admit it or not, is that if God had not granted their request, it would have been an UN-answered prayer.  I know this is a sticky point.  Shouldn’t I just lighten up and let someone celebrate something good in their lives?  Be thankful that they are acknowledging God at all?  Most of the time I am thankful for God’s work in their lives and grateful for God’s loving care of them, relieved that they chose to honor God with thanksgiving.  Once in a while, though, it hits me hard that God is not getting all of the credit He deserves, that someone may be misrepresenting His work in their lives.  The infraction is usually unintentional, but I believe it is very important for me to witness about God’s work in my life and in the lives of others as accurately as possible.

Understanding and properly communicating how God answers my prayers is a big deal because the people in the world around me have the false notion that only granted requests are answers to prayer.  A quick Google search for “answered prayer” reveals  numerous sites dedicated to helping the reader get the desired answers to their prayers.  On, the response to the question, “What is an answered prayer?” is “…a prayer that God, to whom the prayers are directed to, grants the wishes of the believer praying.”  Prayer request sites, where one can ask for a request to be prayed over, ask patrons to notify the sites when their prayer is “answered” (read “granted”).  The peoples of the world, even those who profess Christ, believe a “Yes” from God is the only answered prayer.

” ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!’ ”  Matthew 7:7-11

When I read this passage in Matthew, I often stop at verse eight.  Reading on, though, I see the key to how God answers my prayers.  He always gives me what is good.  Always.  Because He is my Father.  Because He is faithful to me, His child.  Because I ask Him.  If I ask Him for a snake,  He will not give me a snake unless there is some ‘good’ for me in it.  If I ask Him for a fish, He will provide what I need and it will be ‘good.’   Should I praise Him only when He gives me exactly what I ask for, even if it is not ‘good’ for me?  Does He only get credit for an answered prayer when He grants what I ask for?  If He gives me the snake that I ask for and I let it lead me to ruin, do I blame Him for not protecting me from myself?  If I don’t understand what the ‘good’ is in His answer to my prayer, do I wait to praise Him until I know?

God, my heavenly Father, is the best of parents, not a genie who grants my wishes.  He only gives me what is in my best, eternal interests in view of the best, eternal interests of all of those who love Him.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

Sometimes, the answer to my prayer will be something that never occurred to me.  God is all-knowing, all-powerful.  He loves me beyond what I can ever comprehend.  He knows me best, knows my strengths and my weaknesses, knows what skills and knowledge I need to meet the coming challenges in my life.  The intense desire of any single moment may be completely irrelevant, or completely destructive, to what is coming next in my life.

So, I praise Him when He says, “No.”  I praise Him when He says, “Not yet.”  I praise Him when He says, “This is better than what you asked for.”  I praise Him when He says, “Yes, my child.  Use it to My glory.”

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.  The Lord is near.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:4-7

All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.



It’s another snowy day in New Hampshire.  We’ve had a lot of these days this winter.  And lots of unusually cold air to go with them.  I am going through my wood pile that I use to supplement my central heat really fast.  I will probably run out of wood before I run out of winter.

Even so, I love winter.  Here, it is beautiful and exciting and challenging.  I get a forecast of when the wintry weather is coming, about how much is coming, what form it will come in, how long it will last.  Usually, the local forecasts are fairly reliable, and I can plan ahead for the inconveniences the snow causes.  I have tools and a plan to take care of the demands.  Not like a tornado or an earthquake.  No dashing for shelter in a split second of panic.  No unexpected moments of terror when the walls and floor start to shake and roll.

The snow and cold are inconvenient, though.  Occasionally, I am unable to make it to church services because I can’t get out of my driveway.  The mere decision to walk out my door requires five minutes of donning layers of coat, hat, scarf, gloves and boots.  Clearing snow, even with the best of machines, is time consuming and energy draining.  And, there are always places that have to be shoveled because I can’t reach them with the snow blower.  Even when the storm is over, going anywhere requires more time because of potential hazards on the roads.

The bane of winter is ice, especially when it is two inches thick on my driveway.  Or falling from the sky as sleet.  Or freezing on contact when it falls as rain on a sub-freezing day.  Chopping ice is my least favorite winter activity.  It is hard work, and it is sometimes very dissatisfying work.  I could order a load of sand-salt mix and have it spread on my driveway to make quicker work of eliminating the ice.  One time my neighbor offered to share the sand-salt mix he had picked up from our town supply, but I declined.  Once the ice melts, the mess of the sand is left behind.  I’d rather chop.

Recently, when I was chopping ice on my driveway, I thought of how my heart can become encased in metaphorical ‘ice’ so that I can’t feel or hurt, and how the process of chopping away the ice on my driveway compares to the heavy work of chopping ‘ice’ away from my heart.  Ice on my driveway becomes laminated after a few days of thawing and freezing.  Laminated ice is difficult to remove becomes is comes off in layers.  Snow that has been rained on and then freezes or slush that refreezes become the toughest ice to remove.  Sometimes my handy chopper will glance off of the uneven surface.  It seems like something so solid should crack like glass when struck with a heavy metal edge, but it often doesn’t.

Life is full of cold winter days–days of heartache, days of unearned pain, days of injustice, days of loss.  I cannot escape them, but enduring them is often incomprehensible.  So, I cover my heart with the nearest available insulator, the ice of indifference.  I tell myself, “If I don’t care, then I won’t hurt.”  Or, the ice of distraction–if I don’t think about it, then I won’t hurt.  Or the ice of blame where my suffering is the the fault of someone else, anyone else, and I place all of my hurt at their doorstep, as if doing so makes a difference in how much I hurt.

“I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears.  My eye has wasted away with grief; It has become old because of all my adversaries.”  Psalm 6:6, 7

Each layer of ice I apply to my heart to insulate me from my hurts adds only burden to the one tool I have for surviving my suffering.  Every attempt I make to keep from feeling my hurts constricts my heart from its normal function.  It is only a healthy heart which can save me from myself and all of my hurt.  If I feel and endure, my heart becomes stronger, more agile, better equipped to deal with living in a fallen world.  I must use my heart to process my hurts and put them in their proper, Godly perspective to be able to thrive beyond my hurts.

Feel and endure, a messy situation, illogical at times, beyond my control at other times.  I don’t like this process.

“Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”  Psalm 55:22

The ice on my driveway that is easiest to chop is the ice on top of asphalt that has been warmed with sunlight.  Any exposed asphalt absorbs the radiant energy of the sun and warms up even under the ice.  The ice sitting on the asphalt begins to melt underneath while what is on top may stay frozen solid.  Even if what is on top refreezes, that process of refreezing for the underneath melting ice takes longer because the asphalt stores unused heat and the ice on top insulates the bottom layer from more cold.  The ice is loosened from the pavement, and, when I chop, it comes apart in large, satisfying chunks.

“The foolishness of man ruins his way, And his heart rages against the Lord.”  Proverbs 19:3

And so I think about my heart.  About the events in life that create an atmosphere where it can easily freeze over.  About the many kinds of hurt that cause me to add layer after layer of ice to my heart to protect it.  About my sometimes defiant attitudes which only add more layers of ice.  Then I think of Jesus and the sunshine His love for me brings, the warmth that my frigid and dying heart soaks up like black asphalt.  I think about His word, how I may use it to chop at ice from the surface, breaking away layers of indifference, distraction and blame.  I remember that my repentance of my arrogant and selfish ways is the only thing that will obliterate the hardest ice.

When my heart breaks free from the layers of ice, it relaxes.  The tension is gone.  It beats to the rhythm of God’s eternal grace.  It feels God’s warmth easily.  It beats freely in the light of renewal, strengthening itself with each exercise of muscle.  My heart fills with God’s love and grace.  I am at peace with God and at peace with myself.

“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.  But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”  Hebrews 3:12, 13

All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.


In recent weeks I have been posing this question to my Sunday morning ladies Bible class:  Are you more afraid of being punished by God or of losing your relationship with God?  It is a rhetorical question, very personal in its nature because the answer to it reveals the state of one’s relationship with God.  If my fear of being punished by God is my reason for seeking Him, then I see God more as a judge than any other role He may play in my life.  I can be a faithful follower of Christ and have this view of the God of the universe.  I submit, though, that if this is my primary motivation for following Christ, then my motivation is incomplete, and I am at serious risk of losing my relationship with God and the reward of heaven.

“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  Hebrews 10:31

I started as a young Christian with this avoidance motivation.  I remember well the ‘fire and brimstone’ preachers I heard as a kid in church.  They were successful in putting the fear of God in me.  I wanted no part of hell or God’s wrath.  This inspiration is still a part of my faith basis. Living with fear as my primary motivation for following Christ became very cumbersome, though.  If all I am doing is avoiding the bad, when life gets hard, my faith falls apart.  If I am already living some really bad scenarios, how much worse can hell be?  I have my own personal hell on earth.  Why should I follow a God who does not protect me from evil and brokenness and heartache here and now?

Looking through history I see a lot of bad stuff happening to Christians.  They were fed to lions and other carnivores, cruelly crucified, beheaded, drawn and quartered (look it up if you don’t know what that is) and burned alive, among many other horrifying methods of torture and execution, for remaining faithful to Jesus, for refusing to renounce His name, for refusing to worship any other god than the one true God.  Even today, in some parts of the world, Christians are tortured, maimed and killed only because they wear the name of Christ.  In modern, civilized society, Christians are demeaned, ridiculed, even caricatured by the loftiest in government.  Being a Christian puts a target on my back, and it is really hard to imagine a hell worse than one Christians already endure among their fellow humans.  Why would I remain loyal to Christ in the face of such discomfort and even horror?  And yet, multitudes of Christians remain faithful, even in the face of wretched torture and death.

” ‘The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet when he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.’ ”  Matthew 13:20, 21

It seems faithfulness requires more than just the fear of God’s punishment to keep me rooted and grounded in Christ.  Faith in Jesus must be deeply rooted in something that endures, that withstands the twists and turns of a broken world.  It must be rooted in a heart that is soft and vulnerable and secure, a heart that knows it is deeply loved.  Love  survives this world into the next.  It is the bridge that spans the divide between the carnal and spiritual.

“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”                 1 Corinthians 13:13

In addition to learning about God’s wrath while growing up in church, I learned about God’s love.  I do not know if it was my child mind or how it was taught to me, but God’s love seemed like a sentiment, a nice feeling I was told was important.  It did not occur to me until later in life that God’s love was something I could sink my teeth into or grab like a life preserver.  So God became my rescuer, the ever present Savior of my soul and my life on earth.  This concept evolved into God being my supreme Bless-er, the One who gives good gifts to His children.  None of these ideas is in error, but they are an incomplete picture of God on their own.

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”  James 1:17

God indeed is the One who blesses, saves, disciplines and judges.  God does all of these things because He loves me, hook, line and sinker.  Doubtlessly, persistently, relentlessly, passionately.  He desires a positive, healthy, fully functioning relationship with me.  One that is mutual.  A relationship He makes possible.  A relationship He wants me to desire with all of my being.

Matt Hammitt, in his song “Without You”, includes this line:  “I don’t want to love You for a blessing / I just want to know who You are / ‘Cause You could never give me something better / Than Your light in my heart.”  This line convicts me.  Do I want to know God for His blessings?  Or, do I want to know who He is?  Do I value His light in my life more than anything else He gives me?  Do I cherish the light He has put in my heart so much that the idea of being without His light, without Him, is terrifying to me?

” ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.’ ”  John 3:16

The most profound gift ever given is God’s gift of His Son for the redemption of man.  Do I want to know why He would do such a thing?  John tells us it is because of the love He has for each and every one of us.  What kind of love would sacrifice itself to save a worthless and selfish human like me, much less multiple generations of an entire planet of them?

God’s gifts in my life are many and varied and personal to me.  Do I value the love and thought put into each one?  Do I crave to be close to the heart that spends so much time and thought and energy on me to keep me safe in His arms for eternity?  The best gifts given to me by another human being were from my husband when it was obvious he had spent time and thought to give me something I would value.  I rarely remember the things he gave me, but I will forever remember the effort he put into selecting them.  With those thoughtful gifts, he spoke to my heart, made me feel important and loved.  Am I so intimately joined to God that His thoughtful, careful gifts to me speak love to my heart?  Do I value knowing Him more than I value anything else?

” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.’ ”  Deuteronomy 6:5

All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.


On a recent Sunday morning I was struck with the brokenness that surrounded me.  From the sisters sitting on my row to the families sitting across the aisle, from the song leader to the speaker, from the weeping daughter on the front row to her terminally ill dad who was baptized into Christ that day, from the man who led communion to the person in my own skin, every week I worship with a building full of people who are battered and worn by life’s storms.  And we are winning.  We are torn and broken down but we are not defeated by illness, betrayal, injustice, disappointment, grief, abuse or any of Satan’s schemes.  We hobble into the church building on weakened legs carrying weary spirits, but we are a family and we are worshiping the one, true God.  We are winning this race called life.  And Satan is very unhappy.

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,… Philippians 3:7,8

Knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior is worth whatever I put up with in the time before I join Him in heaven.  Knowing He is near at any moment, knowing He loves me unconditionally, knowing He will lead me if I will follow, knowing He will work out whatever comes my way in this life into my eternal good, knowing He saves me with joy and thankfulness, these are the most precious gifts He has given to me.  And they are worth much more than anything this life has to offer.

…and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,… Philippians 3:9

Praise God!  I don’t have to be good enough to know Jesus.  I don’t have to pass a test.  I don’t have to meet a certain metric to have Jesus as my Friend and Redeemer.  My righteousness comes from God Himself!  I just have to believe in Him and act like I believe in Him.  What good is believing if I don’t act like I believe? (James 2:14-26)  If I choose to accept His gift of salvation, would it not be foolish to try to accept it any other way than the way He offers it to me–through obedient baptism?  To act like I believe Him means I yield to His will and obey Him.

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  Galatians 3:26, 27

 If God redeems me from the penalty of all of my sin, if He bestows on me the righteousness that identifies me as His child, should I not wear that righteousness proudly?  Is there any thing in this life that matters more than wearing Jesus?  Illness?  Heartache?  Chronic pain?  Poverty?  Drugs?  Alcohol?  Injustice?  Pleasure of any kind?  Abuse?  Wealth?  Accomplishment?  Pride?  There is nothing in this life, or any life, that is worth more, that is more precious, that is more worthy of my complete devotion than being a child of God.  Nothing.  Ever.  No thing.

…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Philippians 3:10, 11

He will not leave me behind to rot in an eternity without Him.  Wearing His righteousness, relying on His guidance and His strength, I am secure in knowing He will come back for me to resurrect me from my decaying humanness.  If He leaves me here to a ripe old age, each day I walk knowing He will come back to get me.  If He returns tomorrow to claim His own, I have no fear.  He is coming to get me!

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,…  Philippians 3:12, 13

I press on.  I don’t give up.  No matter how badly I mess up.  No matter how much I hide the righteousness God gives me.  No matter how far I have walked away from Him, over and over again.  No matter how much injustice and abuse I endure.  No matter how much heartache tears at my soul.  I forget what is past.  I cannot change it.  I cannot wish it away.  I cannot fix it.  I forget what is past.  I press on and reach for what lies ahead–resurrection, reward for enduring, the end to my suffering.  I take off the rags of sin and selfishness, wash off the dirt of self-pity and again wear proudly the clothing that is Christ, and I press on.

…I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Nothing is worth missing the prize of heaven.  Of eternity with God.  Of leaving behind all that is ugly and wretched and horrific about this world, forever.  Nothing.

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.         James 1:12

“Do not fear what you are about to suffer.  Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days.  Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”  Revelation 2:10

Endure to the end of suffering.  It will end.  My brokenness will be healed.  And I win!

All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.

Walking on Water

I cannot walk on water, liquid water, that is.  I do occasionally walk on the frozen variety, and slip on it, as the bruise on my back attests to.  I can walk among the vapor state of water, was driving through it last night, very slowly.  I cannot walk on water.  Not by my own power.  For the physics nerds I know, I suppose there might be some sort of device to attach to my feet to make it possible to walk on the surface of liquid water.  Something like a ‘snowshoe’ for water or boats for my feet.  After all, I am able to float on top of water when I swim, or when I am in a boat.  I leave that to the physicists.  Under my own power, I am not able to walk on water.

“And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’  And they cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.'”  Matthew 14:25-27

Jesus, fully human and fully divine, walked on water.  He had human feet which displaced water the same way mine do.  Yet, He walked on the surface of the water.  His divine nature interrupted the laws of physics so that He could walk on water.  Mark would have us believe that Jesus was planning to pass by His disciples in the boat (Mark 6:48).  He needed to get to the other side of the sea, more work to do, more hearts to convince, more souls to save.  Always more souls to save.  His disciples were “straining at the oars”, the wind against them.  They were having trouble getting where they needed to go.  But Jesus walked into the head wind, with ease, on the surface of the water.

The disciples did not call on the power of God to help them overcome their predicament.  They did not marvel at their Teacher.  They did not recall the great miracle He had done just hours before, feeding five thousand hungry people with five loaves of bread and two fish.  Rather, they thought Him a ghost, something they did not understand, something they feared.  Every one of them saw Jesus walking on the surface of the water, and not one of them recalled the miraculous scene they witnessed just hours before.  No David in their midst to encourage faith instead of fear, to slay the wind with faithful courage and five smooth stones (1 Samuel 17:1-54).

Jesus calls out to them, tells them not to be afraid, that it is He, their Teacher, their Friend, who used the power of God to feed a multitude with a pittance of resources.  Peter is not convinced.  Or, isn’t he?  “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  (Matthew 14:28)  If it was not Jesus, Peter knew he would  start sinking with his first step on the surface.  If it was not Jesus, would a ghost command him to come? Finally, faith!  I can see Satan grinding his teeth at this one.  Peter, with the faith of a spiritual giant, proves faith true in one statement.  Jesus tells him to “Come!”  Peter steps out of the boat and walks on the surface of the water.  The great crescendo!  Peter does the physically impossible, just like the man who is fully divine.

“But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!'”  Matthew 14:30

The scratching of the vinyl against the needle.  Peter starts thinking too much and loses touch with the divine.  Satan gives it his best shot, roars the wind and Peter sinks.  He takes his eyes off of the Teacher, the One empowering him to defy the laws of physics, and allows doubt to blow into his mind.  ‘What if He really isn’t the Lord?  What if my faith isn’t strong enough?  What if I am supposed to be doing something to make this continue?  What if He changes His mind?  What if I’m not strong enough to continue this walk?  What made me think I can walk on water?’

“Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  Matthew 14:31

You were almost there, Peter!  Your doubt, your reliance on your own abilities, your fear, Satan’s windy distraction–you lost your focus, Peter, and you doubted.  But, you had faith!  None of your comrades in the boat did.  They didn’t step onto the surface of the water like you did.  They didn’t walk toward the Teacher like you did.  They had no courage to prove belief true, but you did.  The Teacher gives you a lifeline; your faith resurges as He grabs hold of you and walks you back to the boat.  Satan loses his power over you and your mates, and the wind stops.  The Teacher didn’t let you sink.  He was never going to let you sink.

Do I believe He will never let me sink–sink into my own despair, sink into my doubt, sink into Satan’s distractions–when I step out in faith on the surface of the water?  When He calls out to me to leave my boat in the midst of a storm and walk on water to Him, do I believe He will keep His eye on me?  Do I believe He will lead me to where He wants me to go?  Do I believe it is wiser to leave my faithless mates behind and follow only Him?

Common sense tells me it is impossible to walk on water.  Faith tells me I must walk on the surface of the water to get to where Jesus wants me to be, at His side and safe in His embrace.  If I stay in the boat of self-reliance, straining at the oars with the wind blowing against me, I will never get to the place of spiritual safety He intends for me.  By my own strength, I am powerless against Satan’s wind.

When I am at a point in life when a spiritual storm is raging around me, threatening to take me under, only by walking toward the Teacher on the surface of the water do I find safety.  A step of faith followed by another on uncertain surfaces, ever looking at His face and seeking His guidance, focused on His ability to rescue me if I falter, with the courage of a young shepherd facing a giant–this is how I should walk through the storms of life.  But, I have to get out of the boat.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”  Proverbs 3:5-7

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:6

All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.

What Did She Say?

Communication Miracles for Couples.  It’s the Way You Say It.  Strategic Management Communication for Leaders.  Nonverbal Communication.  What Every BODY is Saying.  Communication Skills for Dummies.  A quick search of Amazon on “communication” yields over 326,600 results.  And that is just in “Books.”  The titles promise me easy fixes to life’s problems, especially in my relationships.  If I can only figure out how to make myself clear to others, assert my point of view in positive, relatable ways, and interpret others’ communication accurately, then I will be happy, successful in my endeavors and fulfilled.  From home and family to work relationships, the world I live in struggles with communicating.

In the very beginning, Satan used this human conundrum to confuse Eve.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.  And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”  The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ ”  The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Genesis 3:1-5

Eve quickly and easily repeats God’s instructions about what they are allowed to eat.  God tells them they should not touch the tree in the middle of the garden, much less eat of its fruit.  So, Satan in all of his craftiness, couches his lie among truthful, but incomplete, logic.  The lie:  “You will not surely die!”  The truths:  “…your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  The omissions:  They were already closer to God than they ever could be, more like God than they ever would know otherwise.  He was their companion, walked with them in the Garden.  To know good and evil meant they would have to commit evil and separate themselves from God.  Eve’s mistake:  taking God’s instruction out of its proper context–the context of God’s overwhelming love for her and Adam, the pinnacle of  His creation.  Because she chose not to trust God’s love but chose to entertain the serpent’s appeal to her lust and pride, she and Adam lost everything.

Communication for me is always a challenge.  As an introvert, I mentally and emotionally process on an internal level before communicating about anything.  Most of my blog posts are days in the writing and even more days in the formation before the writing.  In high school, through a wonderful teacher I learned to enjoy the craft of writing.  But it does not come easily.

I am learning the limitations of the written word.  Writing is sometimes without an accurate context, two-dimensional in its presentation.  As Eve found out, context makes a huge difference.  So often in modern society, context is omitted from quotations, making a speaker seem to say one thing when they are really saying something else.  As a writer I view what I see and read and experience through a lens built by my life experiences, my personal context.  When I was younger, I had a very simple lens with narrow focus.  As I grow older, my lens becomes multi-faceted, sometimes making my ‘sight’ prismatic, creating great difficulty for me to find any sort of focus.  I write what I ‘see’ through my lens, or personal context, and anyone who reads my writings does so through their own lens.

I find it very interesting that God would choose to reveal Himself primarily through two-dimensional written words, knowing that man would fall because he forgot the context of his existence.  Would man not continue to forget God’s overwhelming love in two dimensions, when in three dimensions he already proved this weakness?  By His great wisdom, God also revealed Himself through His Son.  Jesus is called The Word, the living, breathing incarnation of God’s will, a walking Bible.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.   John 1:1-3

So, God gives me His written word, the Bible, and He gives me the living example of His will, the Word–His will in both two and three dimensions.

When I write personal communications, I attempt to add texture to my writing.  I use descriptive words and punctuation and the fashionable emoticons to relate my meaning in three dimensions, to give depth and breadth and feeling to my words.  When I read a personal communication from someone, I find myself looking for the context, reading between the lines, to properly interpret their meaning.  I am sometimes a frustrated reader, especially if the note is from someone I do not know well.  The likelihood that I will misinterpret the writer’s meaning is high in such a circumstance.

When reading God’s Word, I sometimes feel a similar frustration.  To know the context of words written thousands of years ago is daunting.  Yet, God knows us well, knows what we need to properly ascertain His meaning and His will.  In Exodus, He gives us a chronological account of His leading the Hebrews out of Egypt toward the Promised Land.  Then, in Deuteronomy He includes Moses’ recounting of the journey (Deuteronomy 8-10) and how the memory of that odyssey is to be used as motivation to obey God.  One of the psalmists gives another rendition of God’s leading Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness in Psalm 106, adding more texture and more relevance to the already ancient story.  In the Gospels, God gives us four accounts of Jesus’ life on earth, four perspectives written for four different purposes–depth, context and texture for comparison and proper interpretation.

I cannot approach God’s word frivolously and expect to understand it.  He wants me to read it, study it, meditate on it, apply it.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16, 17

I know God wants me to understand His will.  He goes to great effort to show me His context.  He adds depth and breadth and feeling to two dimensional words, allowing me to know clearly what He wants me to know.  His Son, by example, shows me how to find Him in my daily life.  His Spirit guides me in my quest for knowing Him and His will.  My job is to want to know Him.  I need to come to His word with a pure heart and a mind open to learning what is true about Him–through a simple lens that does not distort–keeping paramount in my mind the context of God’s overwhelming love for me.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Matthew 5:8

All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.

Oh, How He Loves Me!

Two years ago, my husband of nearly thirty years died from brain cancer.  He was fifty-two years old and otherwise healthy.  The summer before his diagnosis he was hiking mountains with his work buddies, although he had been suffering for several years from the effects of the growing tumor in his brain that we didn’t know about.  By God’s grace, he survived two and a half years after his diagnosis, giving us time to wrap our heads around the possibility that he and I were not going to grow old together.  It was two and a half years of near constant trauma, though.  Treatments, side effects, heartache and physical deterioration took a toll on him and me and our grown children.  I had never before known the kind of heartache I felt from watching him suffer and from losing him in death.  I hope I never experience it again, not that way, not that deeply.  My heart broke and calcified as I watched him take his last breaths.  I had no sense that angels were near, only utter devastation.  God made sure I was not alone in that moment, but it was the loneliest moment I ever experienced.

The most difficult part of my healing process has been the spiritual part.  I challenged every promise of God’s I knew.  “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”  (Psalm 23:1)  “God causes all things to work together for good, to those who love God…”  (Romans 8:28)  By God’s great grace, He wrestled with me through every challenge I threw at Him and showed me what were truths and what were lies.  One challenge that persists in spite of my tremendous healing concerns His promise that He has endured every temptation that I endure.

“Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”  Hebrews 2:17, 18

In order for God’s great plan for my redemption to work, Jesus had to be made like me ‘in all things.’  But, Jesus lived life on this earth as a single man.  He never married.  He, as a human being, did not have a lifelong mate.  He did not suffer the loss of a lifelong mate.  He did not grow emotionally interconnected to the same degree as with a lifelong mate.  He did not share in deep emotional intimacy more days with one specific human being than without.  He had close friends, friends as close as or perhaps closer than brothers.  He suffered the loss of family members.  It is not the same.  Anyone who has lost a lifelong mate knows that it just isn’t the same.  How could He possibly know the temptations I have fought?  How could He know the depth of my despair?  How could He have felt the interminable loneliness, the feeling of being cheated out of the life I had built, the tragedy of having my dreams stolen from me?

He has.  He does.

God uses several metaphors in the Bible to describe His relationship with me.  The shepherd-sheep metaphor permeates every generation of God’s people.

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”  John 10:11

The father-child metaphor is one of the most beloved.

“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,”  Romans 8:16

The bride-groom-marriage metaphor is perhaps the most mysterious.

“So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.”  Ephesians 5:28-30

These metaphors are more than literary devices.  God describes in human terms His complex relationship with me which is much more than any one metaphor.  He relates to me on multiple levels at any given moment.  My interactions with Him are always as rich and multi-faceted as I allow them to be.  He is at all times my Shepherd, my Father and my Groom.  The images He evokes in the metaphors are mysteries revealed in language I can understand, yet I will use eternity to discern them fully.

In His metaphors, He gives accurate descriptions of His behavior toward me and His expectations of me.  As His sheep, I am to trust Him and follow Him.  As His child, I am to obey Him.  As His bride, I am to be loyal to Him and cherish Him.  As my Shepherd, He is always working in my best interests.  As my Father, He protects, disciplines and guides me.  As my Groom, He loves me and cares for me personally and passionately.

Back to Ephesians…chapter five, verses twenty-two through thirty-three are rightly used when discussing God’s plan for the marriage relationship between a man and a woman.  Paul uses the relationship of Jesus with the church to teach men their responsibilities to their wives.   Then Paul refers to the “mystery” in verse thirty-two, a previous unknown in the relationship of Jesus with the church.  Just as a groom and his bride become “one flesh,” I also become united with Jesus, a literal member “of His body.”  At my baptism, I receive the indwelling of His Spirit (Acts 2:38).   My relationship with Him when I become His sheep, His child, His bride, becomes emotionally and spiritually intimate, personal, and interdependent.

When Jesus became a part of the human context, He learned to feel in human emotion what He had been experiencing since the very beginning of time…love, betrayal and the loss of a great love every time one who belonged to Him left Him.  Every time one of His own who has rejected Him dies physically that great love is lost to Him for eternity.  They become dead to Him spiritually, forever severed from contact with Him.  And He grieves personally and passionately.  There is no other path, no other mechanism to forgive the sin that impedes humanity’s ability to spend eternity with Him than through the sacrifice He Himself provides.  He loses all of the hopes, all of the dreams, all of the carefully laid plans, the companionship, the spiritual and emotional connection He has with each and every one who transcends beyond His reach when they die still accountable for their sin.  He is cheated out of the relationships that were supposed to last for eternity.

Once He became fully human as well as fully divine in the earthly domain, He began to experience the same depth of any human loss, multiplied and intensified on a divine scale across millenial generations.  And He carries that human and divine grief experience with Him even now.

“Therefore when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”  When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?”  They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”  Jesus wept.  So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!”  John 11:32-36

Jesus states to His disciples earlier in their journey to Bethany that He was going to raise Lazarus so that they would believe (John 11:14, 15).  He delayed two days going to Bethany, even after He was told Lazarus was very ill, to give Lazarus time to die.  Jesus does not weep at the awareness that His dear friend is dead.  He weeps at the grief He sees in Mary and Martha and in those who accompany them.  He understands their grief inside out, and it moves the Son of God to tears!

His love for me is personal, intimate, unrelenting, boundless, fearless.  He knows what I know about grief and so much more.  His losses far exceed my own.  His sense of abandonment runs fathoms deeper.  His loneliness outpaces mine by thousands of light-years.  His despair envelops Him far beyond what suffocates me.  His lost dreams and plans echo plaintively through eternity for each and every soul who becomes eternally lost to Him.  What is the point of all of His work, of all of His agonizing sacrifice?  I am the point.  Each soul He redeems for Heaven is the point.  Each soul He loves beyond human comprehension is the point.

Oh, how He loves me!

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”  Ephesians 2:4-7

All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.

Just Say Thank You

When I was a teen, I observed an event on several occasions that brought me a tinge of embarrassment.  My mother and my grandmother, my mother’s mother, whenever they would eat at a restaurant together, would regularly fight over the check.  I witnessed these epic battles several times, and I still cringe when I think about them.  These women were my primary role models.  Parts of me were afraid of them, all of me respected them, except in these moments.

My mother and grandmother are not alive to defend themselves, and I have no doubt they would try if they could.  They were both strong women of high moral character and normally very dignified in their behavior.  My family is better for them having been a part of it, and I spend much of my life living up to their memories.  I always wanted them to be proud of me, and I know that I made them proud.  They were loving women with great fortitude who saw their families through very difficult times.  They both suffered from debilitating, lifelong illnesses–my mother from rheumatoid arthritis and my grandmother from type one diabetes–and lived lives of grace and faith in spite of the toll disease ravaged on their bodies.  One of my greatest sorrows is that my girls had precious little opportunity to know who they were.  My younger daughter was only two years old when my grandmother passed, and she was five when my mother passed.

The stubbornness which buoyed my mother and grandmother through heartache and physical suffering also contributed to the battles over the checks.  Each could match the other in determination and focus.  Most of the time these battles ended with one grabbing the check from the waitress and the other letting out a huff of disapproval.  My mother could also add an eloquent eye roll.  What I learned from these skirmishes was to say, “Thank you.”  Every time someone picks up a check for my meal, I think of my mother and grandmother and the battles of the checks.  After the cringe, the memory brings me a smile.  And, I just say, “Thank you.”

I wonder how many times when God blesses me does He wish I would say, “thank you,” instead of all of the other things I come out with.  Sometimes, I think I deserve the blessing He bestows and pat myself on the back for a job well done.  Ingratitude is never pretty and puts much too much distance between my heart and His.  From time to time, I overlook His blessings completely because I’m not paying attention.  Occasionally, I don’t recognize a blessing because it doesn’t look like I think it should.  Amazingly, at times, I will fight with Him for the check.

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”  1 Timothy 4:5, 6

Now and then, God bestows a blessing, the answer to a long held prayer, to which He has been saying, “not yet.”  I am overwhelmed.  I don’t believe it because it comes in a package I did not imagine.  I wonder what the catch is, why it is so much more than I asked for, so different from what I thought it would be.  “Why now?” I ask myself.  I feel the burden of it, a steward’s responsibility, and I want to say, “no, thank you.”  I don’t trust God to know me well enough to know the best timing and appropriate quality of His blessings for me.  I look to either side of me and start to reach for something, anything, that feels like I deserve it or looks like I think it should.  Mediocrity.  Imperfection.  Triviality.  Surely I don’t deserve the blessings that belong to the child of a King!

“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”  Hebrews 12:28, 29

But, I am the child of a King!  A gracious and glorious King who loves me.  I am a joint heir with the Savior of all humanity, entitled to every blessing in Heaven, even though I have not earned them.  If I don’t know how to handle a blessing, I have only to look to Him for guidance and strength.  If it doesn’t look like the blessing I was expecting, His package is much better for me.  If the burden of the responsibility of the gift is heavy, He will help me carry it.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,”  Ephesians 1:3

Every blessing from God comes with some kind of responsibility.  Every holy gift is to be treasured and used for His glory.  Every godly endowment is to be nurtured and grown and shared for the benefit of His reputation.  Every good thing from God is to be accepted and opened with a gratitude that never fades.  Refusing a blessing from God or settling for anything less than what He deems I deserve is like spitting in His face, an affront to His great and glorious generosity.

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.  Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”  James 1:16, 17

On this day of thanksgiving, I try to remember as many blessings as I can and thank God for each one.  I remember the times I almost did not accept a gift God provided, and I am deeply thankful He gave me the wisdom to walk past my fears into His gracious blessings.  My life would be much less full, much less happy, much less abounding in love if I had given in to my fears and trepidations.

I accept His gifts and, with all my heart, just say, “Thank You!”

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”  Psalm 118:1

All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.

Puzzle Piece

I don’t like waiting for anything, but I seem to do a lot of it.  Waiting is the nature of this life, I suppose.  We wait to grow up so that we can be independent.  We wait for the birth of children.  We wait for cherished holidays, for beloved relatives to arrive, for the appointed time to open gifts.  We wait in line to check out at the grocery store, wait endlessly for an amusement park ride, wait our turn to graduate, all for an expected payoff for our patience.  The world waited centuries for a Savior.

We wait for prayers to be answered, nightmares to end, dreams to be realized.  We wait for medical treatments to work, for test results, for heartache to go away.  I once waited to relocate to a more desirable locale, much longer than I ever expected or wanted.  Many years ago I gave God permission to work His will through the details of my life and He took me seriously.  It has been quite the adventure, and it has been a lot of waiting.

Now, I am waiting again for big changes in my life.  I believe I am ready for them; I know I welcome the idea of changes.  Many days I find myself tempted to twiddle my thumbs and drum my fingers, actually catch myself doing them, because I am impatient with the waiting.  I am ready for life to move forward in a big way.  God gave me the gift of analysis, to see a situation and devise solutions.  I have a solution to my current situation plainly mapped out in my head, steps one through ten neatly spelled out.  Deep inside me, though, I know God says it isn’t His time yet.  His time.  Isn’t it MY life?

The great temptation for me is to take matters into my own hands rather than waiting on God to work circumstances and people into the places He wants them before I make my changes.  I feel the pull to rely on my own logic, to cut God out of the process of deciding what changes to make and how to make them.  I question if God truly cares about the details of my life, if He really is working all of the mess and confusion of my life into something that is good for the long term.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

God causes.  All things.  To work together for good.  It is one of the many wonders of God that He sees all of time all at once as one big picture of good.  I am but one small puzzle piece He shapes so that I will fit in His plan for eternal blessing.  If I choose to shape myself, I do not fit anywhere in His limitless mosaic.  Some pieces in the puzzle need more shaping than others, but all are precious to Him.  Each and every piece is a treasure to Him.  With my permission, He works on me like a craftsman, honing intricate edges and fluid curves.  He fashions the events of my life so that they put the right facet in just the right place on me.  So that I will fit.  He wants me to fit.  I want to fit.

But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.”  Isaiah 64:8

I learned a long time ago to take Mr. Rogers’ advice to heart and “find something to do while I am waiting.”  So, during each and every interlude of waiting I find productive things to do.  Things which honor God.  Things which bless those around me.  And I seek God more earnestly than ever before, begging for His guidance, still asking for His moving of me to the next place, to show me plainly how and when and where and why.  He eventually provides the when and where.  He doesn’t always provide the how and why.  Silly me!

Looking back, I see that sometimes the periods of waiting have been times of healing and rest.  They last longer than I want them to, but they are important to my well-being.  Occasionally, the time of waiting is an episode of profound growth when I learn new-to-me truths and flesh out an unknown-to-me about God.  Such times are filled with wrestling with God, figuring out how to align my will to His, letting go of my idea of what should come next and adopting His idea.  Once in a while, the waiting is not about me but about someone else God is working on to bring to the place of blessing for both of us.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”  Psalm 27: 13, 14

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.  My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.”  Psalm 130:5,6

“Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, O Lord, We have waited for You eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls.”  Isaiah 26:8

“Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”  Isaiah 40:31

“But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation.  My God will hear me.”  Micah 7:7

The first century Christians anxiously waited for Jesus’ return.  (Romans 8:25, 1 Corinthians 4:5, Philippians 3:20, 1 Thessalonians 1:10)  Do I wait eagerly for the Lord to return?  Is it more important to me to be ready for His return than it is to be ready for the next big change in my life?  I prepare for the next chapter of my life by doing what I need to do to hear God’s instruction and leading.  Am I listening for the trumpet call that will announce the arrival of the Son of God? (1 Thessalonians 4:16)

So I wait in promised hope of a blessing greater than I can imagine–the next step in my adventure with God in this life.  And I wait for my Savior to return, to take me Home with the rest of His beloved.  Waiting for God is never a wrong move.

“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.'”  Jeremiah 29:11-13

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him,  It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the Lord.”  Lamentations 3:25, 26

All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.