Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Running the Race

 


In my dream I am running the race - strides even and strong - going forward with strength and purpose. Then it happens; I stumble and fall taking myself out of the race to sit miserably on the sidelines.


I am not a literal runner. A brisk walk is much more my speed. I am, however, a runner in this race called life. I run not in my own strength, but in the grace and strength the Lord supplies. There are seasons when I run like the runner of my dreams - strong and steady. The path is straight and smooth, and I feel as though I can easily go the distance.


As long as I keep my eyes fixed on the goal I do well. It is when I begin to look over my shoulder at the places I have been that my gait begins to falter. I see the things of my past, the sin and failures, and wonder how I ever thought I could do anything of any value for the Lord. Before long, I am so consumed by past mistakes I have taken myself completely out of the race - and the enemy sits on the sidelines and sneers.


I have learned, ever so slowly, to stop looking back. I have taken Paul's words to heart:


"...I focus on this one thing. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God ,

through Christ Jesus, is calling us."

Philippians 3: 13,14


Paul confessed that he was not perfect, but he pressed on. The lie the enemy whispers into my heart is that I have made so many mistakes I can never be of any use to the Lord. It is just that - a lie. My perfectionist, approval-seeking little heart is so easily seduced by that falsehood. The Father can take this cracked, flawed vessel and make of it something useful and beautiful in His eyes. The sins of my past, the sins of today, the sins of all my tomorrows are covered by the blood of Jesus. I belittle His sacrifice when I don't embrace that.


So with joy - I run.


"Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.

Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin."

Romans 4: 7,8


Blessings,

Linda


Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash

Saturday, October 10, 2020

With You

“Let me remind you Jesus is for you.

He's right for everything that's wrong

I'm here to tell you that He will

Not leave you. He never abandons His own

And you know you may not see it right now; you're not in this alone.” 

(From the song “You’re Not In This Alone.” Matthew and Sonya Browder)


An invisible enemy has swept over our lives in recent months leaving in its wake the detritus of heartache, fear and loneliness. So many, isolated from friends and loved ones, are experiencing the emptiness of a life lived alone.


Over and over again in His Word, the Lord promises He will never leave us or forsake us. He demonstrated it over and over again throughout the Old Testament - the miracle of His presence, protection and love. 


In the New Testament the promise took on human flesh and came to live with us for a time. Jesus showed us who God is and again promised to be with us - always. Before He returned to heaven, He told His disciples about the Holy Spirit who would come to dwell in their hearts.


“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you forever,”  John 14:16


When life’s inevitable problems come into our lives, loneliness often accompanies them. It’s easy to feel we are alone and abandoned, but Jesus promised to be with us. There is not a single circumstance that can separate you from Him. He sees you and loves you and will work in your life according to His plan. His plan - one He wove into the fabric of your being before the foundation of the world. 


“My frame was not hidden from You,

When I was made in secret,

And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;


Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;

And in Your book were all written

The days that were ordained for me,

When as yet there was not one of them.”

Psalm 139:15,16


Blessings,

Linda



Wednesday, September 30, 2020

T'is the Season of Lantana


 T’is the Season Of the Lantana. I’ve noticed, in recent years, the way one particular thing (perhaps an insect, an animal or a plant) seems to be more abundant than usual. A couple of springs ago the blue bonnets filled the fields and roadsides with a haze of blue and the air with a gentle fragrance. Another spring it was the evening primrose that took center stage - scattering pink carpets across the green.

This autumn, the lantana seem to have sprung up in the most unlikely places - bouquets of orange, yellow, pink, and scarlet. Ironically, this past spring I had to dig up the lantana that bordered my flower garden. Their leaves blackened and blossoms died. With my limited gardening skills I tried to save them - all to no avail.
Now lantana grace our field and the back fence line. They push up between cactus and weeds, sit at the feet of long dead trees and decorate fence posts. No human hand planted these beauties. The Master Gardener deemed it their season of abundance - and so it is.










 Perhaps the story of the lantana might be considered a picture of our lives - of the different seasons designed by the One who created us. Times of obscurity may leave us feeling bereft. We may long to do something others will notice instead of the mundane things that make up our every day lives. However, it’s in that time of faithfully doing what we have been called to do that God is working. The lantana didn’t spring up out of nothing. Something unseen, deep below the surface, was happening, and at the right time it bloomed.

Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t seeing the results you long to see. God works in the unseen. He is drawing you close and growing something beautiful inside you in and through the circumstances of your life. He will do more than you could ask or think, and you will bloom - at just the right time.

Blessings,
Linda

Forgiving Others



“If you have ever seen a country church with a bell in the steeple, you will remember that to get the bell ringing you have to tug awhile. Once it has begun to ring, you merely maintain the momentum. As long as you keep pulling, the bell keeps ringing. Forgiveness is letting go of the rope. It is just that simple. But when you do so, the bell keeps ringing. Momentum is still at work. However, if you keep your hands off the rope, the bell will begin to slow and eventually stop.”– Corrie Ten Boom


The day Corrie Ten Boom came face to face with the guard from Ravensbruck who had treated her and her sister so cruelly marked a turning point for her. After the war, he had become a Christian. He attended one of her talks and, not recognizing her from those terrible days in the concentration camp, he approached her and commended her on her talk. She had spoken on forgiveness. He went on to say he knew God had forgiven him, but he wanted to ask her for her forgiveness as well. 


How could she forgive the cruelty that had caused the death of her dearly loved sister? How could she forgive the horror suffered at the hands of this man and so many others like him? She couldn’t - not in her own strength. 


Knowing God would have her forgive him, she reached out to take his extended hand, the only thing she felt able to do in that moment.  As she did, she felt a warmth flood her body and cried out, “I forgive you brother! With all my heart!”


Imagine what would have been lost to the world had Corrie 

Ten Boom held onto unforgiveness. What would have happened to the countless lives she touched through her work and speaking? And what would have become of her? Unforgiveness causes bitterness to take root in the heart denying us the blessing God has for us.


Jesus spoke it from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing…” Luke 23:34.  He forgave the unthinkable - although they hadn’t even asked.


God is a good God. He wants only the best for us. He knows what holding unforgiveness in our hearts will do. He modeled it for us. It’s the reason Jesus came. Forgiveness restores us to right relationship with God. Forgiveness brings peace, joy and, often times, restoration. Forgiveness is a precious gift given to us that we might in turn give it to others. 

 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Light In the Darkness


The sun slipped away with a whisper this evening. No blaze of color or gentle hues. Instead the darkness gathered in the clouds and settled over the quiet earth.
When I was a little girl, I dreaded the night. The darkness held all the things I feared - chief among them separation from my mom and dad. My little bedroom, down the long hallway from the living room, became an unfamiliar place when the sun went down.
My wise mom put a night light in my room. We named it Friend. Its tiny beam dispersed the darkness and comforted my child heart.
I’m not afraid of the dark any more, but I still find my heart longing for the light. All hearts, I think, long for the Light.
The dark clouds blotted out the sunset tonight but the light was there nonetheless. Always and forever there. The darkness can not overcome it.

In these days when the darkness seems to obscure so much, we need to remember the Light hasn’t gone away. Jesus is with us. Jesus is in us. We carry the Light to a world dreading the dark.

Blessings,

Linda 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Cloudy Days




 

Some days we look up into the heavens and believe we can see nearly all the way to the throne room. Nothing mars the view. We might dare to dream of the day we are transported up and away through its unending depths into the arms of the One who took that journey first.


On other days it seems as though heaven has disappeared behind a thick canopy of gray-tinged clouds - clouds hanging so low we can almost feel the weight of them. 


These are the days God whispers, “Trust me.” Though we cannot see Him, we can know He is there. While we wait for the clouds to lift, He is at work. 


We’re walking through difficult days. We long to know when it will end, how it will end. Some days it does indeed feel as though the storm clouds are close enough to touch. God reminds us that, in spite of the way things look, He has not  changed. He is still the same God who spoke this world into existence and lovingly formed you in your mother’s womb. We may not be able to see past the dense cloud cover, but He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. More than that, He is working all things according to His good plan. 


 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”    Romans 15:13

 

Look! A little light gleaming on the water!


Blessings,

Linda

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Forgiven/Forgotten



I heard a story some time ago about a bear that had been kept in a cage for many years. The cage was not large. Day after day he paced the small perimeter - never finding a way to the freedom he longed for.


A day came when the place where that confining cage had stood for years changed hands. The new owner looked with pity on the bear, watching him cover the same small area over and over again. He determined to set him free.


He found a place, a sanctuary, that would take the bear. He looked forward with great anticipation to the day the poor captive would be set free to roam the wide spaces of this new home. 


The day arrived. The bear was transported to his new home. The door that had held him captive swung open. Gently, the owner coaxed him out into a new and unfamiliar world. It took some time. At last the bear stepped out into freedom, but to the dismay of everyone watching he began to pace off the dimensions of his old cage. Around and around the old limited life when all around him freedom waited.


Sadly, this is far too often a picture of our own lives. We find ourselves living within the boundaries created by our own mistakes and failures. Day after day we walk through the past hemmed in by shame and guilt. We long for freedom, but it eludes us, buried under the weight of our inability to forgive ourselves. 


All the while freedom beckons. We have a Savior who, through His sacrifice, has made a way for us. His death paid the price for our sins. His resurrection freed us from the fear of death. Forgiveness, specific and complete, is ours when we ask with a repentant heart. It has no limit and demands no payment. 


The truly miraculous quality of God’s forgiveness is His willingness to forget. He doesn’t carry a list of our transgressions to remind us of our past mistakes. Once forgiven they are absolutely and completely forgotten. 


We no longer need to live a life crippled by the debilitating weight of past regrets. When we learn to forgive in ourselves what God has already forgiven, we, in turn, have the grace to forgive others. This is the way to step into the freedom Jesus purchased for us at so great a price. The freedom He longs to give us. 


“For his unfailing love toward those who fear him

    is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.

He has removed our sins as far from us

    as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103 11-12



Blessings,

Linda