Tuesday, September 12, 2017
My mother read to me. I don't remember a time when stories didn't fill my mind and my heart. In many ways they shaped me - often for good and sometimes.... Sometimes the messages got a bit muddled in my child heart and left impressions that didn't serve me well.
For instance, the story of "The Little Engine That Could." Now there, one would think, is a positive message. That tiny little engine did what no one else thought possible and by sheer willpower pulled that train up and over the mountain to deliver the toys safely to the waiting children on the other side. Everyone loved and praised the little engine.
It certainly has it's merits, but when it becomes a driving force in your life - not so much.
I have always known God loves me. I have heard it in messages, read it in His Word, studied it in groups, sung it in songs. It's a truth stored safely in my head. Yet time and time again, I have realized it isn't a truth that has made its way down into my heart.
Somewhere between my head and my heart stands a little barrier of doubt. It reveals itself in phrases like: "I should have... I need to.... What is it I should be doing for You? I don't want to miss my calling." It's as though I have become that little engine, longing to do something big so I will earn that love and affirmation I long for. Not consciously, mind you, because I know God's love for me is unconditional. It's just that there are times I cannot seem to put aside that "do enough; good enough" tally sheet.
Please click over to Laced With Grace to read the rest of this little story. Meet you there!
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Once upon a time there was a tortoise who lived by a little pond in a little town in Texas. For many years he contentedly spent his days exploring the nearby meadow, searching for food and visiting with his fellow tortoises. However one day, feeling a bit adventurous, he decided to leave his familiar neighborhood and do some exploring.
As he meandered down the little road which ran alongside his meadow, he chanced to look up into the sky which until now had been hidden from his view by the tall grasses and large trees. He stopped to admire the puffy white clouds and blue sky. He thought it all so fascinating and stood for a long time gazing up.
He had just resumed his walk when an astounding sight caused him to stop dead in his tracks - a bird soaring high among the clouds. He had never seen anything like it. There was no furious flapping - he simply extended his powerful wings and rode the air currents into the heavens.
Such a graceful, beautiful sight, thought the tortoise. How he wished he could fly above the earth like that, instead of having to plod slowly along with the weight of his home forever on his back. His sighed deeply and continued his walk.
He hadn't gone far when he came upon another sight that caught him completely by surprise...
Please click on over to Laced With Grace to see the surprise:
Monday, August 7, 2017
As much as we would like to avoid it, there are times when we are faced with battles. They come in all sizes and shapes - sometimes barging into our well ordered lives like the Philistine army; at other times slyly sneaking in, disguised as friends, past the well fortified places. We long for peace, knowing it is just on the other side of victory, but we fear the fight.
David was a man who certainly knew a lot about fighting battles. From the time Samuel anointed him king, he was locked in a deadly battle with the jealous, irrational Saul. After years of running and fighting, he finally took his place as king of Judah only to face another long war against Saul's followers. When that was over, there were the Philistines and other neighboring tribes who warred against him.
In all of this David was victorious, for the Lord was on his side. Before going into battle he would pray something like this, "Should I go fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?" And the Lord would answer, "Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you." (II Samuel 5: 19).
What a confidence booster that must have been. How much easier to face the enemy knowing that the Lord had already given you the victory. Don't you wish we could hear from God like that?
But wait...we have.
I'm writing at Laced With Grace today. Just click on the link to join me for the rest of this devotional.
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Over two thousand years ago, Jesus stood in the Temple with His disciples watching as the people came to drop their gifts into the collection box. One by one the rich folks came by and put in their gifts, but it was one small, insignificant widow who caught His eye. Without fanfare she dropped two small coins into the box - such a small offering compared to the others. Yet Jesus turned to His disciples and said, "...this poor woman has given more than all the rest of them, for they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has." Luke 2:3,4
We can easily feel insignifcant when we compare ourselves to the people around us who are doing grand and glorious things for the Lord. We want desperately to do something "big" for Him. But while some are called to do "big things," most of us are called to live quiet, ordinary lives. We may feel we aren't worthy or as though we have somehow failed because we haven't done anything noteworthy in the eyes of the world and, more importantly, the eyes of God. We watch as they receive the attention and approval we long for and vow to try harder - to somehow find that thing that will matter...
I'm over at Laced With Grace today with the rest of the story. Just click on the link!
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Last Thursday at 11:45 I walked to the kitchen sink and confidently turned on the cold water. I can only imagine the look of surprise, and horror on my face, as a rapidly diminishing stream of water trickled out of the faucet. We immediately sent out a call for help and waited.
You don't often stop to think of all the things you do that require water, but you become keenly aware of them when you don't have it. No washing of any kind, no cooking, no cleaning and under no circumstances should you drink anything at all. I nearly ran out and hugged the well repairman when he arrived.
Within two hours he restored the water supply to our home. It seems fire ants had gotten into the works and gummed them all up. Something so small making such a big mess.
During the hours of waiting for help to arrive I thought about how easily I take things for granted - important things. I thought about faith and prayer and God's presence in my life, and how I am prone to take these precious, life-giving things for granted.
My life would be devoid of hope, peace, joy and purpose without faith. Mercy and grace would be empty words. Unconditional love from the One who holds all things in His hands would be an unopened gift. Do I treasure them as I ought to? How often do I remember to say thank you?
How would it be to find myself disconnected from the One who knows me better than I know myself? To whom would I turn if I didn't know the One who is wiser and more powerful than I can put into words, bends down low and listens to the deepest cries of my heart? And yet, how often do I neglect prayer - too busy or distracted or filled with doubt?
Doing without water for several hours was a little reminder to treasure the precious gifts I've been given and, far too often, hold too lightly.
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." James 1:17
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
We dragged ourselves into our local barbecue place after a long, tiring day - too weary to even think about going home and preparing a meal. We shuffled through the line, picked up our trays and reached for the forks and knives. "Sorry. We're out of forks," said the sullen looking server. Too tired to walk out, get in the car and drive to another restaurant, we grabbed knives and soup spoons and did our best to eat beef with a spoon.
My husband thought it might be a good idea if someone ran to the grocery store to pick up a few plastic forks, but there wasn't a manager in sight. It was obviously not a well run restaurant.
Over the next few days we visited my Mom, who is recovering from a stroke, in the Rehab Hospital. A banner over the door proudly announced their high ranking in national polls, and as we became familiar with the facility and the staff it became apparent why they had scored so well. The cleanliness and efficiency were impressive. Everyone from the housekeepers to the nurses did their jobs with excellence. It couldn't have happened without a very capable leader making sure every area of the hospital ran smoothly.
We live in a world where it seems as though everything has fallen apart. We look in vain for peace and unity. We are inundated with loud voices bringing news of disaster and division. We look for someone to step in and make things right - someone to bring peace where there is war and love instead of hate - but there is no-one. Leaders fail to keep their promises and truth has become some vague, subjective idea.
But God... Above and below and around all the apparent chaos is One who holds it all together. He is the One who set time in motion with a plan for every moment of every day. Before the story began, the perfect Author knew how it would all end. Before you drew your first breath, He knew your life story. In the midst of uncertain circumstances, we can stand on the solid ground of His unchanging character and absolute truth.
We are promised peace in the midst of the storm, unconditional love, mercy and grace, and a unity that can be found only in Him.
"The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting."
"I in them and You in Me - so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me." John 17:23
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
One of the television programs we enjoy watching concerns a wealthy businessman who saves failing businesses. He meets with the owners of companies on the brink of bankruptcy and offers his help. First he gets to know all the people involved. Then he studies the day to day operations. Lastly he goes over all the financial records. Once he has become thoroughly familiar with both the business and the people involved, he presents the owners with a plan to save them from ruin.
First he writes them a check large enough to make the necessary changes and to pay off their debt. With the stroke of a pen all their problems are solved. However, the offer also requires the owners to give up a large percentage of their business and to agree to let the businessman make all the decisions about the running of the company. When the owners accept the check, they also accept the conditions.
They nearly always accept the check while nodding their agreement to the conditions. All goes well as they begin to work together to make the recommended improvements; that is until the benefactor makes demands that don't sit well with the owners. They argue and walk out of meetings, and in one instance, the owner walked away from the deal because he simply couldn't relinquish control. The outcome is predictable. On the other hand, those who manage to submit to his authority and honor their agreement have a very different outcome - a growing, profitable business.
I think it may be a fairly good metaphor for our relationship to God...
Please click on over to Laced With Grace, and we can talk about the metaphor. I'd love to hear what you think.