Thursday, April 2, 2020

Trading Fear For Faith


Our lives have changed dramatically over the past few weeks - ours and those of most people around the world. I would imagine that fear and faith are battling it out in the hearts of many of us right now. We no sooner find a measure of peace when the latest news, filled with frightening statistics and new restrictions, causes a certain amount of fear to shatter our hard-won peace. The reality that life can change in the blink of an eye has become apparent to all of us.

So where do we find a firm foundation on which to stand?Where can we go, when life is swirling all around us, to find a centered place of peace? The truth is, peace is not a place or a thing, or a new attitude. It’s a person. Jesus is our peace.

Fear isn’t something new. It’s as old as time itself, and so are the remedies we’ve used to try to fight it. God understands our tendency to try desperately to fix the things that cause us to feel afraid. Instead, He offers us a place of refuge, a calm in the midst of life’s storms, but to find it we need to trust Him.

The Children of Israel provide us endless examples of people who time and time again failed to trust the Lord. In spite of the fact that He had  never once failed to keep His promises to them, every time something went wrong they acted out of fear - complaining, disobeying and longing to go back to Egypt.  Egypt - the very place where they had pleaded for deliverance from slavery. Their lack of faith kept them wandering in the wilderness for forty years. 

God has given promises to us too:
  • He has promised to give us power when we’re weak and can’t handle the problems life throws at us. “He gives strength to the weak and power to the powerless." Isaiah 40:29 

  • He will protect us when we’re afraid.   “‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

  • He will give us a plan when we don’t know which way to go.   "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.” Jeremiah 29:11

God has proven faithful time and time again. When those same Children of Israel chose faith instead of fear, they moved into the land He had promised them. So it is for us. If we will only trust Him, He will see us through every circumstance we face. It may not look the way we had expected or even the way we had prayed it would, but we can be sure it will be for our eventual good. 

It would be easy to try to fix everyone’s fears with simple platitudes. Words don’t mean much when we are afraid a precious loved one will become sick and die. They don’t put food on the table when we suddenly find ourselves without an income. They don’t bring peace when our loved ones are out on the front lines of a pandemic that is sweeping the world. 

God’s promises aren’t empty words. They are true. Surely we can look back and see His hand moving in our darkest moments, His provision when we could see no way out, and His peace when we surrendered completely and put our trust in Him. It comes as a gift - unexpected and mysterious. A peace when everything around us says we should be afraid. 

 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27

These were Jesus’ words to His disciples They are His words to us now. 

Blessings,
Linda


His Peace


These two beauties live just around the corner. I look forward to walking down the slight incline on the road to their home and spotting them grazing in the field. 

Their quiet, gentle presence fills me with peace. With daily news reports that almost seem designed to frighten us, it’s easy to forget we have a Father who cares deeply for us. I only have to look at these beautiful creatures who model a peaceful trust in the One who holds all things in His hands, to know with certainty that all will be well. 

Life, no doubt, will look different on the other side of this extraordinary time. I believe, if we keep our eyes and hearts focused on Him we will be changed in new and unexpected ways. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

A Letter From Home



Dear Folks,

I hope this finds you all well. I meant to write yesterday but got a bit busy.  We had a FaceTime call with our daughter, son-in-law and three little ones in Paris. As you can imagine, it's quite busy in their home these days with three little ones under four. Their apartment seems much smaller with Papa working from home, no pre-school for big brother and the twins learning to walk. Most importantly, they are all well, and it was a delight to see their sweet faces.

We have found a new rhythm in these stay-at-home days. I admit, I'm enjoying the slower pace - long walks, phone calls from children and grandchildren, talks with my mom, who is confined to her Assisted Living facility, reading, knitting, and an occasional afternoon movie. I hope to tackle a few projects, do a bit of writing and even get back to my piano. We find ourselves in the "at risk" group - so we need to be very careful.

The sun has made an appearance this afternoon after so many cloudy, rainy, gloomy days. Steve mowed our five acres last week, but after all that good rain we can almost hear the grass growing. I think there may be a mowing day in his future. Everything looks lush and green - that fresh, new, spring green. The wild flowers are glorious. I don't think they got the word that life has taken a dramatic turn.

A sweet friend did a grocery pickup for us today. Our refrigerator was looking a bit bare. That is no longer the case. Everything is replenished, and we are so thankful for her kindness. It's really encouraging to see all the ways people are caring for each other. I have great hope that these difficult days will draw us closer together. I pray that is so.

I managed to break a tooth the other day. It's the one my wonderful dentist has already repaired twice. I knew I was in trouble the minute I crunched down on that carrot. I have tried to be so careful about chewing on that side, but it's my favored side and I forgot! So we will make a quick trip to the dentist tomorrow morning. Goodness!

Please know that we are praying for you. We pray God's protection and provision for you, for grace and strength (and a big dose of creativity) as you adjust to having the kids home full-time and all that entails, and for those who are struggling financially.

I'll write again soon.
With love,
Linda

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Hope


Our neighbors’ yards are covered in blue bonnets and Indian paintbrush. We, on the other hand, have this one lone blue bonnet

For three years in a row I have scattered wild flower seeds - all to no avail. Or so I thought.

On our walk today, my husband spotted this one in our front yard. I am thrilled. It’s like a little love gift from the hand of the Father right in the midst of these difficult days.

This one little flower holds within its heart the promise of abundance. In a few weeks it will scatter seeds of its own that will hopefully take root over the course of the next year.

It’s a picture of hope even when it looks like all is lost.

Blessings,
Linda

Thursday, March 19, 2020

In Times Like These


In the midst of all the huge things coming at us in what seems like fast motion, perhaps it will help to do a few small things: take a deep breath, cover our loved ones in prayer, light a candle to gently suffuse the darkness and knit a little blanket for a sweet someone.

Blessings,
Linda

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Together



The first chapters of scripture introduce us to the God of all creation. We don’t see a God who worked alone, but rather the unfathomable Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - creating from nothing everything that exists. 

We weren’t created to be alone. We were created in His image, uniquely made to be in relationship with Him and with others. 

The perfect fellowship God had with Adam and Eve was broken when they chose to disobey Him, but it didn’t change His desire  to have a deeply personal relationship with each one of us. So He made a way of restoration, one that came at great cost. 

It’s the greatest story ever told, and every word is true. Tragically, not everyone has heard the gospel message. They don’t know this Holy God who sent His Son to rescue them and give them the free gift of eternal life. 

Someone must tell them. Someone must leave the comfort of familiar things and take the message. Those that hear the gentle whisper to go are no different from those of us who serve right where we are. They have a calling, and we have the opportunity to participate in that calling. 

We weren’t created to be alone. We were meant to encourage, love and minister to the people God providentially places in our lives and the ones who are farther away. One calling is no less important than the other. Working together, doing what we were created to do, we come together in one complete whole.

 “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” I Peter 4:10

A short time ago we said good-by to two of the most precious souls I have ever met as they headed to a land most of us will never visit. They go in answer to His call. They need us to go with them - in the same way everyone called to do something for the Kingdom needs the support and encouragement from others. 

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” Romans 10:14

Blessings,
Linda



Thursday, March 5, 2020

All Things Made New


Despair, I think, is the antonym for hope. I have been thinking about hope and as is so often true, I find it wherever I turn. I hear it songs and sermons, read about it in scripture, Bible studies and devotionals.

In Oswald Chambers' " My Utmost For His Highest" he wrote about despair. He used as his example the time the disciples fell asleep in the garden when Jesus had asked them to watch and pray. When they realized what they had done they were filled with despair. They felt, at that moment, they could never make up for what they had done. He wrote:

“The sense of the irreparable is apt to make us despair, and we say˜It is all up now, it is no use trying any more.”

How easily I can identify with such feelings. Whenever I fail to do something the Lord has asked me to do, or done something I know to be wrong I am very apt to sink into despair and have a “what’s the use” attitude. I believe that is just what the enemy of our souls is after. How pleased he is when we give in to despair and allow our relationship to the Lord to suffer.

However, Jesus has a better way. “Whenever we realize that we have not done that which we had a magnificent opportunity of doing we are apt to sink into despair; and Jesus Christ comes and says,˜Sleep on now, that opportunity is lost forever, you cannot alter it, but arise and go to the next thing. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ, and go out into the irresistible future with Him.” Oswald Chambers

The answer is to let the past be washed in the blood of the Savior and to go on to the next thing. That's the glorious work of redemption and the amazing grace of our Lord. He never gives up on us. He is there to forgive us, to pick us up and dust us off and give us hope. The enemy would have us remain under the weight of guilt and shame, unable to muster up the energy or will to try again. Jesus extends a hand of forgiveness, mercy and grace. He makes all things new.

“Never let the sense of failure corrupt your new action.”concludes Chambers.

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now shall it spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

Blessings,
Linda