"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 NIV

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Not a Solo Journey

A friend loves at all times... (but sometimes that love needs to be expressed by a slap to the head.) Proverbs 17:17 NIV

Okay, the second part of the verse is my interpretation, but I think the meaning is implied.

I am sharpened the most when my friends are honest with me, when they draw attention to areas in my life I need to address, and call me into a deeper walk with God. I would rather hear, "Is that what God thinks or what you think?" than have a friend turn a blind eye to my missteps.

For many years I thought I could do this journey alone. I decided sharing my heart with a close friend was too risky. While I longed for a connection, fear of vulnerability and rejection held me back.

Slowly I started opening up to those God placed in my path. The blessings of sharing life - the good and the bad - far outweigh the risks. Is it always easy? No. Would I go back to flying solo again? Never.

See, I need not only a shoulder to lean on, but a jolt back to reality, God's reality, from a close friend once in a while. True love in Christ is honest and brings the other back to truth, which is where I long to live.

Lord, thank you for the gift of friendship. Help me to be vulnerable and willing to hear truth from those who care for me greatly. Amen.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Looking Ahead, Not Behind

Seven hundred twenty miles driven in twenty-     four hours, and I could not stop looking behind. While driving, you're encouraged to do that, but it got me thinking. I spend a lot of time looking around. Behind. Beside. Before. What is sneaking up from the rear? What will come over the next hill?
 What is casting that dark shadow beside me? 

What happens when I spend the majority of my time focused on these areas? I miss the present. I enjoy this moment less because I am not fully here. In my head, I am in the past or ahead of myself in the future.

I forget that God is with me now. I forget he has always been there and promises to always be right beside me.
He will show me how close I am to danger and how to avoid the wrong way - if I let him.

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. 
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. (Proverbs 4:25-27 NIV)

Lord, help my eyes to see you beside me and not to focus on what is all around me. Thank you for showing me the way I should go. Amen.

Living in the Present

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

God, Why?

They had witnessed the mightiest of miracles with water days before. Now, the Israelites were complaining because there was nothing for them to eat or drink. It was the first instance of grumbling in what would turn out to be decades of discontentment.

So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord." (Exodus 16:6-8 NRSV)

Your complaining is against the Lord.

This phrase might as well have been in bold and underlined in my Bible. I don't always complain out loud, but grumbling in my heart happens more often than I'd like to admit. 

Why do I have to be the one to do this again? Why can't this be easier? Why do I have to deal with this now? 

What am I really saying? God, why me? God, why are you not changing things for me? God, why now?

It is nearly impossible to see the blessings God is giving me when I am too busy grumbling about what he has already given me. What if what I see as an area of complaint is actually a blessing in disguise?

While my kids learned about the Titanic this week, I read a story about a few crew members who arrived at the dock shortly after the boat left. They were frustrated and angry that they missed out on a few weeks worth of employment. Imagine how those feelings changed after reading the headlines a week later.

God is always at work in my life. He is using every situation to point me to truth. Instead of complaining about my circumstances, my eyes should be seeking out the blessings all around me.

If you search for good, you will find favor, but if you search for evil, it will find you! (Proverbs 11:27 NLT)

Lord, I am sorry I have been complaining against you. You know what I need, when I need it. Help me to look for the positive ways you are moving all around me. Amen.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Can Do It Myself - maybe

"I can do it!"

She is three and wants to be in charge of the universe. Her mantra is repeated over and over to anyone trying to help her.

And I back away for a moment, watching a reflection of myself. Even though I do not loudly insist with an adorably pouty chin, my stubbornness mirrors hers.

I hide the words in my heart, whisper them heavenward.

"I can do it. I've got this. See how much I am doing?"

If I wait for her to struggle long enough, she will finally plead, "Help me, Mommy!" And of course I do. I've been waiting for her to ask, watching with patience and longing to offer what I have to ease her frustration.

See, I love to help her. It is a joy to show her the way. Yes, even if she's refused me seven times seven.

Is this how God feels about me?

Phrases from a well worn book draw me to truth. Put childish ways behind you. Put to death the deeds of the body. Come to me. Ask and it will be given. Be renewed day by day.

Rest. Repeat. .

Try on my own.
Let him help.
Watch in awe as an old dream dies and a new one is born.

I am thankful he is always only a "Help!" away.

Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7 AMP)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV)

God, may I turn to you instead of trust my own ability. May I see the freedom in letting go. May I unclench my fist so that you can take what little I have and give it new life. Amen.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Then and When

What was I worried about ten years ago? What was I concerned about this time last year? Why was I stressed last week?

It is hard to remember.

How did God provide for me ten years ago? Who did he send to comfort me last Spring? What blessing did he surprise me with merely a week ago?

Have I forgotten these as well?

It is hard to trust that God will comfort me and provide for me in the future if I cannot look back and see the pattern of his love, sewn straight over my heart.

This is why I write. This is why I reflect on and thank him for all he has done for me so far. And I look ahead with assurance that he will not stitch outside the lines.

His love started before I was even born. He knew sin would come into the world and made a plan to send a deliverer, his son Jesus, who suffered so I would not have to. He knew that I would need guidance so he sent the Holy Spirit and inspired wise men to write down his words for me to read someday.

He knew what each day of my life would hold before one of them came to be.

Through the years, he has revealed his love, truth, and grace to me in different ways. I see the pattern of his love through the people he has brought into my life, the unexpected blessings, and the amazing "coincidences".

Still, he holds me firmly in the palm of his hand. Why would I doubt that will continue until my final breath?

So, I look behind me, then glance ahead. And I remember: the almighty "I AM" will walk beside me in love until I meet him face to face.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

(Psalm 139:1-6,15-16 NIV)

Jesus Christ is the same 
and today 
and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 NIV)

Everlasting Lord, thank you for reminding me of how lovingly you have guided me through the years. Remind me on days when I am worried that you are always beside me and you always act in love. You took care of me then and will take care of me when...     Amen.