Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Repairing the Tear

My friend Sara is a Speech and Language Pathologist. She shared with me a concept that she uses with her elementary school friends who have challenges. When they have done something wrong to someone -- a tear -- she encourages them to say they are sorry, but then she also speaks to them about the next step of importance -- “repairing the tear.”

She presents to them a visual of something being torn. Sometimes they are little rips, and sometimes they are big rips, even really big rips, resulting in two separate pieces. When something is torn, it is different. It is not the same anymore.

When they have hurt someone (either physically or emotionally), they need to say they are sorry. They need to express that they will try not to do it again, and then they need to show the person that they are sorry. It may be a kind word, a helpful hand, a note or a picture. Some attempt to do something to “repair the tear” is necessary to show that the words “I am sorry” have meaning and that the one they have hurt has value, as well.

I’ve been thinking a lot about “repairing the tear” and how it applies to all of us. There are tears that we make and tears that are inflicted upon us. There are tears that are short and tears that are long. There are tears that are shallow and tears that are deep. There are tears that can even go straight through our heart. We can feel as if our heart is completely torn in two with all the contents spilling out. There are tears of infidelity, gossip, slander, selfishness, anger, abuse, deception and much more. There are tears from when we are little and from when we are older. There are tears that need some mending and tears that need a long operation of repair. There are tears that are quickly mended, and others that require much time.

Dear reader, where do you find yourself today? Maybe you have torn something and need to humbly take responsibility, repent and move towards repairing the tear. Ask the Lord to go with you and humbly seek out the heart of the one you care for and work to “repair the tear.” He is faithful to guide you as you walk in obedience to repent and change.

Or maybe you have been hurt, and sadly enough, the one who hurt you is not interested in repairing the tear, leaving you feeling as if you are damaged goods. Have hope, dear reader, and be comforted and strengthened in this – the Lord is the master Tailor who can mend and restore any tear. Submit your torn and frayed heart to the hand of God. He will come in and do His work to make you complete again. He will care for you, gently holding you in His hand and bringing the jagged edges of your heart back together, stitch by stitch, grace by grace.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Safe and Sound

I looked out the window of the restaurant near the top of the John Hancock building in Chicago. I just completed lunch with my daughter and her friend, and we were making plans to head home. I peered out over the landscape and contemplated taking an alternative route. It surely appeared that the road heading north along the shore would bring me right where I wanted to go. We descended from our perch on high, loaded the car, and drove off along the route that I was certain would be best.

It really didn’t take all that long for me to realize that I was wrong. I thought it looked as if I could go north for quite awhile, but found myself with no other option than to go west. Before I knew it, I was weaving my way through all sorts of neighborhoods in the northern parts of Chicago, traveling west, north, south and east, again and again. I kept a close eye on the store fronts and intersections, hoping that I was not crossing in to more tenuous territory, but I was getting concerned. I was lost and had no idea where I was or even how to get back to where I had been. I did not have a map. Looking at the digital compass in my car was not helping. I did not have a GPS to plug in my destination point. I was in trouble, and I was feeling foolish.

Then I remembered -- OnStar. I had Onstar in the vehicle! Other than using it to unlock my doors when I had locked my keys in the car a half dozen or more times, I had never used it; I was desperate to try.

And, sure enough, it worked. I pushed the button and within seconds a friendly voice greeted me using my full name and introducing herself. “How can I help you today, Andrea?” I could feel my blood pressure lower just at the sound of her voice and the knowledge that she even knew my name!

I explained to her that I was lost and went through the story. Before I could even finish, she gently interrupted with, “Oh, I see just where you are. You are on “such and such a street” and should be crossing over “such and such a street.” No problem, Andrea. I can get you to just where you want to go. Don’t worry. I’ll stick right here with you and guide you along the way.”

And she did. Each intersection along the way she indicated where I was. She would tell me when I was approaching a new street or landmark, how long until I would need to turn, which lane I should get in to, which way I was to turn, and exactly when I was to turn. She stayed present in the vehicle with me until I was safely on the highway that I needed to be on, that would lead me home.

“Is there anything else I can help you with today, Andrea?” she graciously asked. I was tempted to ask for a cup of tea to calm my nerves, but then I realized that she had already done that. Her knowing who I was, where I was, and how and where I needed to go in order to get back on track was a great comfort to me.

So many times I have thought of this story. It happened a year ago, but it comes back to my mind when I find myself not so much lost in the car, but just lost in what I am to do next. Sometimes I get off track, I think I know the best way to go, but I don’t, and I need some help. Sometimes, I am just plain old perplexed. The road signs are all boggled up, and I need direction. Sometimes, I am hurt, or scared, or sad, or overwhelmed or just confused.

Thankfully, the Lord is ready, able and present to help. Psalm 145:17-19 says, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made. The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; He hears their cry and saves them.”

Lost wondering what to do next, dear reader? Confused about a circumstance in your life? Feeling off track and in need of guidance? Wandering around and not seeing any familiar landmarks? Not sure where to go or how to respond to a difficult situation? Frustrated with yourself over wrong choices you may have made? In need of wisdom and direction? Call out to the Lord and listen to His voice. He is present. He knows your name. He knows where you are and He is faithful to direct you in the way you should go, safe and sound.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Come Dear One, and Hold My Hand

Getting out of my car at the grocery store, I noticed a little girl of about four or five years old. With a teddy bear gripped in one arm, she ran through the parking lot, headed towards the store doors. Following in close pursuit, her mother called to her, “Come here, dear, right now! Hold my hand! Parking lots are dangerous. You could get hit by a car or fall and hurt yourself. Please hold on to my hand!”

Thankfully, there are no other details to my story, other than what God impressed upon my heart. There was a chance that the outcome could have been different …

Are we not like that little child sometimes? We are going from here to there, either physically, emotionally or spiritually, at a rapid rate. We try and grip all sorts of things for security (like the teddy bear), but these things do not provide for us what the Lord does. Our Father in heaven calls out to us, “Come here, dear one, I love you. Hold my hand. My hand is not a restraining one, but a loving one. It is dangerous out there. Let me guide you, protect you and lead you, safely.”

Psalm 139:10 says, “… Your hand will guide me; your right hand will hold me fast.” God is ever present, calling to us when we walk the wrong way and try and dart out from under His love and His commands for us. He is aware of the dangers that are around us. We may be unaware, but He is ever aware.

The little child needed to slow down, listen, reach out for a loving hand and hang on, and so do we. We need to realize that our security is not from the things that we hold on to, but from the One who is willing to hold our hand. Reach out, dear reader, and grasp the strong and gentle hand of God today, for He loves you very much.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Walk Down Memory Lane

I sat down to work on a short devotional that I was asked to present at our women’s Bible study. Instead of looking through other books, I decided that I would review my blog and see if there was anything that I could tie in to the lesson that was being taught from the book of Deuteronomy.

As I walked down memory lane, through the myriad of entries over the past ten months, I realized that I had posted over one hundred twenty times. My desire had been, back in December of 2008, to share stories and truths about what God was teaching me through a great time of trial. I had set out to look for Him amidst the days (and nights) and to record all that I learned about Him and about myself, hoping that it would be an encouragement to others. What I didn't realize at the time was how valuable what I wrote would be to me. I now am able to look back and remember where I was,
Who God was and is, and how He brought me out of my own “Egypt” step by step. And He continues to do so.

What I can say today with great certainty, because I have lived it, is that God is amazing. As I look back through the months entries, I now know that I would never have remembered all of the details if I had not written them down. Only because I recorded them, time and time again, can I now remember and be assured of Who God is. God is faithful. He is my Redeemer. He is my Strong Tower. He is my Fortress, my Protector, my Counselor, and the Lover of my soul. He does show up (not that He ever left); He is ever present. I am His treasured possession. I do not need to worry. Truly, He has taken care of all of my yesterdays and will continue to take care of all of my tomorrows.

Remembering, dear reader, helps to combat doubt and despair. My friend Lori is teaching our women’s study right now and she so clearly and wisely said, “Remembering what God has done gives us confidence in His character.” She is right, and as I look through the months, I can see how, like the Israelites, the Lord, has carried me (Deuteronomy 1:31) and I have grown to know Him deeply and love Him more.

I am so thankful that I started this blog. At first, I wasn't sure what direction it would take or if I could even keep up with it. I guess that is testimony to God's faithfulness, in itself. Not only do I believe that God has used it (and is using it) as part of His healing balm for me, He is also using it as a continual reminder of His unfailing love.

Today, I encourage you to remember what God has done in your life. Begin a journal or a blog and record what He is teaching you and how He is comforting you. As you seek and write down the pearls that God gives you, you will grow more confident in God’s character, His faithfulness and so much more. You will have a living testimony of God’s love for you.

(P.S. If you start a blog, let me know; I’d love to follow the story that He is writing in your life. It would bring me great joy to hear more about His character and His love, through you.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Anxiety Relief

I haven’t seen the commercial for years, but the tune was a catchy one. “Plop! Plop! Fizz! Fizz! Oh! What a relief it is!” The solution to the plague of indigestion and whatever may have caused it came in the form of two white tablets that would bubble and bubble and then take your grief away. How I wish that this was true for all ailments of anxiety!

If we had to be honest with ourselves, and why wouldn’t we be, we all struggle with anxiety from time to time, and sometimes, more frequently and intensely than others. The feeling is all too familiar. It may start as an unsettled feeling in the heart, and before long, permeates the whole body causing a sensation of fullness in the gut, throbbing in the head, and jittering of the limbs, or at least some variation of that. Our pulse quickens and our heart beats scatter like the marks of a seismograph right before an earthquake. I hate the feeling, and I suspect that you do, too.

The thing is not so much that we struggle with it, but what do we do with it? Oh, in time, each of us has developed all sorts of solutions to the feeling of anxiety. We want to shed it, get rid of it, escape it – and we’ll do just about anything to do it. We tend to look for extremes in order to try and get the sticky, icky cling-on of anxiety off of us. We’ll overeat, overreact or over-drink. We’ll exercise too much or adapt the position of a couch potato. We’ll shop, drink too much coffee, indulge in massive amounts of chocolate or crawl up under the covers and try to hibernate till warmer, sunnier days. We over talk our anxiety, running to the door (or phone) of anyone who will listen, or we pull our heads in to our shells and camp out there. We may watch too much TV, spend too much time on the Internet, or engage in risk taking behavior.

I believe that God knows what we are prone to do. He knows our make-up and all of its weaknesses, but He gives us a solution. He says that we are to not be anxious and to cast our cares upon Him. He knows that we tend to get relief from our anxieties through lots of things, and let’s face it, we do. We want to cast them on other things, beside Him, and guess what? It does not work, and in truth, it causes more anxiety. The things we are tempted to try add to our anxieties not relieve them. Try as we will, as soon as we turn around they are stuck to us again like a piece of lint that will not go away, on a dry, static-y winter day.

We need to stop and acknowledge the unhealthy things that we tend to do when we are anxious. When we are unable to see and own our weaknesses, then they are more likely to have control over us. Identifying and acknowledging the sneaky bandits is the first step – or is it? No, wait a minute … I’m thinking not, what the Lord would say is to “seek Him.” Don’t put all these other things first. Seek Him and live (Amos 5:4).

Yes, dear reader, as I process through these thoughts on anxiety today, I would say that this is it. Looking for relief from your anxiety? Seek the Creator of the Universe who loves you with a relentless, unfailing love, first. Ask Him to come in and calm your anxious spirit and give you peace. Then, ask Him to reveal to you where you run and try to hide and find your comfort – a false comfort. Ask Him to show you healthy ways for you to relieve your stress, activities and thoughts that will not harm you, nor hurt you but will help you. Ask Him for perspective, His perspective, on what is going on in your life. He is our “Wonderful Counselor” the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) who will be your All in all.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Compassion and Comfort

I lounged back in the chair at the dentist office. The hygienist and I exchanged light conversation, but quickly it developed a more tender tone as she shared with me the recent news of her mother’s death. She talked and I mumbled in the vernacular of “patient at the dentist with the mouth wide open,” listening intently to stories of bits and pieces of her mother’s life and death. Suddenly, her eyes, peering over the edge of her mask, welled up with tears and mine, hidden behind the lenses of the protective eye wear, did as well. She portrayed the grief of having lost a dear one, and I felt a wave of compassion as memories of similar and not so similar losses were refreshed in my heart and mind.

Compassion. It is a beautiful experience in the life of a person, and a powerful one. God is full of never-ending compassion. It seems to me that compassion is cultivated by the loving hand of God in the fertile field of our own suffering. There the small seed takes root as we experience the comfort and compassion of God in our lives, through our own heartaches and struggles. Over time, as God tills and tends the field of our suffering, He brings forth the most fruitful and abundant of harvests. Compassion (amongst many other virtues) grows and becomes a source of refreshment and nourishment to others.

Compassion is different from “feeling sorry” for someone else’s difficulties and hurts. “Feeling sorry” is often a fleeting thought or sense of concern, but compassion is a deep tenderheartedness that is willing to suffer with another, and leads to action. Compassion is moving beyond ourselves and in to the lives and hearts of other people, both friends and foes. It is here that we can take the lessons and love that God has given us through our own ordeals and care and comfort others.

2 Corinthians 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” God showers us with His comfort, and in turn we are not only comforted but our compassion grows and blooms so that we are able to pass on His comfort to others.

Dear reader, “…as God’s chosen people, hold and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion” (Colossians 3:12). Our struggles do not need to be the same in order for us to have compassion and bring comfort to others. We need only to be willing to reach out with a helping hand or an encouraging word, provide a shoulder to cry on, an understanding patience, a timely prayer, a hug, or a moment of silent shared tears. And in doing this, God uses us as a vehicle to transfer His grace and comfort to another whereby they are blessed and so are we. Somehow, God can use an opportunity for us to be compassionate to another as a stream that carries the vessels of healing, both in the lives of others and at the same time, in our own. I know it helped me today; I pray it helped my hygienist, as well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pencil? Marker? Ball Point Pen?

The other day I grabbed a pencil and some note cards and went down to the lake to write down some things that were on my mind. The ideas began to flow, but as I put the pencil to the paper, I realized that the pencil was dull. It had a little bit of life left in it, but not much. Before long I was sketching out words partly in lead and partly in wood scratches.

And then an “out of the blue” thought popped in to my mind, “Right now, am I more of a pencil, a marker or a pen?”

Am I pencil, who needs sharpening when I wear down? Do I need to stop and be reminded and sharpened by the truth of God’s Word in order to be an instrument for His use? Am I dull and therefore not able to do the work that God has set out for me?

Or am I a marker that is drying out? Call it burn out or over-use syndrome , do I need to steal away to a protected place and become refreshed again? Do I need time for restoration and renewal?

Or am I ball point pen that has completely run out of ink and needs a new cartridge? Are there parts of my life that are no longer beneficial to myself or others? Are there parts that are not bringing glory to God? Are there “dead” parts within me that need to be replaced with life?

How about you, dear reader? Are you worn down and feeling like you are of little use to God? Turn to the Lord and ask Him to show you what you can do. Do you need to be sharpened and reminded of God’s truth, by His Word? Do you need to sequester away and be refreshed and revitalized? Or do you need ask God to remove the parts that are no longer of use, and replace them with new power and strength so that you are equipped to follow and serve Him?

For me, perhaps it is a bit of each. Burn out sets in when I am tired, not seeking God faithfully in His Word, guarding my time in prayer, or evaluating my life and asking God to remove those parts that are not godly or honoring to Him. Thankfully, God is faithful and always present to restore and make us useful for His service. We are His instruments of peace and grace. God chooses to use our lives to write the story of His love which He in turn will use to bring life to the world around us.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Oh! Me of Little Faith

The other day I found myself saying on more than one occasion “If it’s not one thing it’s another.” In retrospect, it’s really a silly statement, stating the more than obvious. Of course there is always something happening, and yet, we usually grumble these words when we are in series of difficulties, and not when we are experiencing joys strung together like a string of pearls.

You see, in addition to a multitude of other “issues” our cat went missing. Unfortunately, we didn’t note his absence until dusk, when it is next to impossible to spot anything in the near darkness of the night. We prayed. We made signs. We rang doorbells. We called his name (although he is not known for bounding at attention when we do so).We prayed some more. We walked around the block with a flashlight. We crawled behind bushes. Eventually, the darkness of the night closed in around us and we went indoors to wait it out.

My oldest daughter placed food and a kennel on the back porch, and we began to formulate our plan for the night. Who would sleep on the floor next to the screen door, available for the cat’s hopeful return? How would we fit at least five people on the kitchen rug, and who was willing to extend in to the family room? What if he didn’t return? When would we call the Humane Society? Should we leave the food indoors or outdoors? Would a wild animal eat the food?

And then out of nowhere, we heard a “meow” and there he was, standing by the screen door.

“Oh, you of little faith” was the first thing that popped in to my mind, and I immediately developed a pit in my heart that sprouted forth with disappointment in my lack of faith; I was humbled. I had prayed for the cat’s return, but not whole heartily. No sooner did we realize the cat was gone that the “what if’s” marched right in and set up camp. There they quickly unpacked, got out the artillery and were ready and armed to wage war against my faith, and they seemed to be winning.

I forgot and feared, when I need to remember and rely. I was afraid. I was flooded with memories of other times when I had prayed for one thing, and God had given me another. What I forgot was that when God had said “no” to a prayer, He had something different in mind and He was not going to leave me alone, unequipped of His grace to handle it.

Dear reader, perhaps you have experienced a similar wavering in your faith, either in a small way or a large one. In the gospels I see Jesus interacting with those who love Him, during challenging times, and I hear Him saying to them, “Oh, you of little faith!” This statement from Jesus usually came right after the disciples had witnessed a miracle like the feeding of the five thousand. Phew! I am not alone! In the book of Mark (9:22-24) Mark shares the story of man who is pleading with Jesus to heal his son. The father said, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus responds with, “’If you can?’ Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” The father had belief and unbelief present at the same time.

The cat showed up within the hour of when our search started. Although my faith at that moment was weak, God chose to have the cat return. However, I think God had something bigger to show me – my unbelief. I’m not sure I totally understand it, but I am convicted of it, and humbled by it. Somehow, I too, have belief and yet, unbelief.

And so tonight, and I am sure for days to come, my prayer is: Dear Lord, please help me with my unbelief. I love you and want to follow you. Whether it is one thing, or another, help me to remember what You have done for me and help me to rely on You.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Listening for the Voice of God

Early in the morning, I sat along the shore of the lake. The sun was glistening off of the top of the water. A gentle breeze refreshed the air with the aroma of Autumn. I set out to practice “intentional listening.”

Faint voices reflected across the water. A fish jumped. A flock of geese flew overhead. A dog barked, and another one responded from across the lake. For a short time, they howled back and forth, communicating in an unknown language. A cell phone rang from a boat where two boys and a father fished. The intermittent “kerplunk” of a fishing lure hit the water, and a quieter “click, click click” of the reel followed. Laughter danced. Two children argued (regrettably, mine). The faint drone of a motorcycle ascended then descended, as the bike drove down a distant road. A bee buzzed. Doors slammed.

At ten o’clock, though, all changed. The motor boats with their loud gregarious engines started up and all else was drowned out. Although certainly still present, I could no longer hear the sounds of life through the noise.

“Intentional listening.” So many distractions keep us from listening. We hear all sorts of things, but we seldom listen. I’ve been thinking about the difference. Hearing is a physical action, but listening finds its source in the heart. It is the picture of a mother leaning close to her child, gently, sincerely, lovingly paying attention to what they are saying and trying to understand the heart and soul of the child.

The skill of listening, dear reader; is it not precious and essential? With the Lord, we may think we hear what He is saying, but do we genuinely, regularly listen with the ears of our hearts? “… if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts …” the writer of Hebrews exhorts us (Hebrews 3:7). Do we neglect His voice and walk in our own ways, hardening our minds and our love for Him by seeking our own voice or the voices of others?

Listen for the voice of Truth, today, and chose to let it permeate your soul and make a difference in your life. Listen for His voice in the difficult circumstances of your life and listen for His voice in the small happenings of your day. Do not let the noise of the world and all of its temptations and lies drown out the voice of Truth. Lean in close to God, in a quiet spot in your home, in your work, in your school day, or in your comings and goings, and seek His voice, the voice of Life, with your heart.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Fog of Worry

The white lines of the road seemed to dash past me on my left, as I drove down the highway. I could not see much of anything else. The dense morning fog saturated the air. Only mere shadows of things were visible, making it hard to determine road signs and familiar markers. I knew they were all out there, I just couldn't see them, and perspective faded away. Within miles the fog dissipated and my ability to see in to the distance was restored. The colors were again clear and vivid. I could see down the road and be prepared for bumps in the road, exits and even, potential detours that just moments before had been challenging to predict.

So it is with worry and anxiety. I can get stuck in the fog of it. I don’t really intend to, it just seems like it creeps up on me, and I creep in to it. Quickly, I feel the confined claustrophobia of worry. My perspective fades. I miss out on the vivid scenery around me. The colors of life are less bright, and my ability to be prepared for bumps in the road and the ways I need to go are inhibited by an overwhelming sense of worry.

Worry – it can be over one big thing or made up of a gazillion (is that even a word you may ask? The dictionary actually says it is and defines it as “an extremely large, indeterminate number”) little drops of matter that form a mask, a film, a screen. It inhibits our vision of God and of our circumstances. It overtakes us and blocks our ability to trust and rest and be restored by the Lord.

God knows that we are prone to it – it is the mistrust in us that messes with our minds and hearts. He encourages us, though, to not worry. He has it all covered – our worry need not do the covering. We will not add a single hour to our day by doing so (Matthew 6:25-34) and it will only result in anxiety, not productivity or peace.

Dear reader, when we find ourselves overcome by worry, we need to turn our attentions to God through His Word and in prayer, trusting in Him. It is a challenge. There are really big things that do bring us concern; life is full of uncertainties and responsibilities. Trust them to the Lord, ask Him what you should do and what you need to place in to His tender care. Over time, you will see that He does make all things clearer. He will lift the fog and will lead you, prepare you and gently care for you.

PS -- Lest anyone thinks I do not struggle, I really need to heed my own advice today. So, off I go to cooperate with God in clearing the fog ...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Seasons of Change

“What did you sell today, Mom” my middle daughter chirped as she hopped in the car, after school. Day one of the garage sale was over. The children worked hard at helping me and were excited about the profits that they would gain.

“Let’s see. We sold the punching bag, some movies, the dresser, vases with flowers, some clothes, the red scooter and the large jogging stroller.”

On mention of the last item, I glanced back in the rear view mirror, and noticed that small tears were running down her sweet face.

“What’s wrong, honey? What are you sad about?”

“It’s just that I’m going to miss that jogging stroller. I loved that stroller. It was always so fun to be in, and now it’s gone."

It’s been said that one thing we can count on to stay the same is – change. Cleaning out and getting rid of things in a garage sale reminded me of that. I reminisced about times things had been used, how time passes and how so much does change. Even my daughter, who recently rarely was a passenger in the jogging stroller, still felt the tension of change (although small)– letting go of something that somewhere deep inside, had meaning to her.

Change is all about us right now. September in the Midwest is a season of change. The trees start to turn from green to gold and orange. The wind becomes dry and the grass brown. The smell of paper, pencils and new school supplies fills the house. Seasons change. Clothing styles change. Our health changes. Our stage in life changes. Places change. People change.

Our life circumstances are constantly changing, in big and small ways. Sometimes the change happens quickly, other times slowly. Difficult diagnoses. Job losses and gains. Kids going off to school. Family members going off to war. We may change houses, cities, or countries. The dynamics of our families may change. We may suffer loss in the form of the death of a loved one or divorce. We may lose a dream.

Dear reader, we are faced with all sorts of uncertainties and sometimes, tragedies. We find ourselves needing to adjust to a “new normal” and overwhelmed with how we are going to do that. What is it going to look like? Whom do we turn to? How do we find solace and rest? What or whom can we depend on when change is all around us?

Our only hope can be in the One who never changes (Malachi 3:6). The Lord is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow - forever. Life is always changing and sometimes those changes can be difficult. However, let changes in your life be the cord that draws you to the One who never does change. Let the evidence of change around you be a reminder of God’s faithfulness. No matter what, in season and out of season, through all the storms and strife, big and little, He will never abandon you nor change. He is the Lord who is faithful, forever (Psalm 146:6).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The (Not) Car Wash

I only had 10 minutes between point G and H: I had already driven from point A through F that day. My car was in desperate need of a wash, so I pulled in to the automatic car wash depot and began to deposit my dollar bills. I was (almost) certain that I could rummage up enough money to pay for the car wash. One by one, I inserted the bills in to the slot on the machine, often having to reinsert them after they were spit back out at me. The machine apparently did not recognize them as genuine tender. I was getting frustrated. Coming up short of dollar bills, I turned to the change cup that I have in my car and began to dig through a multitude of coins, trying to unearth a sufficient amount of quarters. Again, I came short of my goal, then to notice that the machine would only take quarters in change … no other coins accepted.

Disappointed, discouraged – ok … irritated – I pushed the “refund” button to hear the loud clanging of quarters as they spilled in to the metal cup. Great, not only did I not get a car wash, I now had a slew of quarters to add to my already overflowing cup of coins. It’s just not what I had planned or wanted. What a waste of time!

Sometimes, in life we can feel this way, as well. We may try to make deposits as we serve the Lord, only to come up short, and then not have the outcome we expect. Disappointment sets in. We pick up and put on the cloak of discouragement (rather than the full armor of God) and emanate irritation rather than joy; at least, I know I do.

How about you, dear reader? Do you ever feel as if you have invested in a project, a ministry, a circumstance, a dream or a person and you have come up short? Are you discouraged by not experiencing a favorable outcome? Are you feeling as if you want to throw in the towel, pack up and leave, or push the “refund” button?

Remember that in God’s economy, nothing is wasted, and endurance is a prized possession. There may be times when our plans seem to be thwarted, or we are not able to do what we desired, or we have to wait, but God tells us to not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9). He does not forget what we do for Him. Hebrews 6:10 says, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

Persevere. Endure patiently. Love the Lord above all things, trusting Him to give you what you need to complete the work that He has for you to do, in His time.
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