“When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.” Isaiah 43:2b
If you’ve ever been under water and are not sure if you’ll make it out, that has got to be one of the most terrifying moments one could experience. Many years ago my husband got into trouble swimming in a lake. We were on a company outing, and after playing volleyball in the shallow water, everyone took off to swim to a sandbar about 50 yards from the shore. Glen started swimming, too, which surprise me a bit, because he was not known as a strong swimmer. I held back, watching him struggle. About half way to the sandbar, in water over his head, he looked at me with panic in his eyes and said, “I can’t go any further.” I started toward him yelling, “It’s okay, I can swim for both of us.”
I never took life Red Cross life saving classes, but I knew if I could get Glen to relax, I could keep him afloat. He trusted me, and I was able to tread water and keep him from sinking. Every few seconds I’d wave one arm and yell, “HELP!” Finally, a strong swimmer came to help get Glen to shore in a paddle boat.
I give God the glory for giving me insight to hold back and make sure Glen arrived at the sandbar. Fortunately, this story had a happy ending.
God you are great–all the time. Thank you. Amen.
“So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.”
1 Peter 5:6-7
Why does one have to be in the third chapter of their life before being content? I feel that way–I have all I need, I am happy with who I am and what I have to offer others.
Recently, I made the decision to give up public speaking for conferences and meetings until God pushes me out the door again. I need new material to excite me enough to put the time and effort into preparing for a presentation. Also, there is a side of me that worries about not being able to make the commitment as happened in April when I had to cancel a small engagement because of a family emergency.
For the past four years, I’ve posted a Daily Meditation Moment on my website and on social media. At the end of each year, I produced a devotional book. Now, I wonder if I’ll do another one next year. Can I make a commitment to write every day in 2017? If God places it on my heart to continue, you’ll be the first to know. God knows what is important and will keep me from just trying to impress someone with what I’ve done in the past.
Lord, thank you for giving me the opportunity to figure out who I am and what I want in life. Amen.
“Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!” 1,2,3 John 1:4
One can’t experience joy without first giving it away. How much joy can your heart hold before it explodes?
Years ago, when for a brief time I was separated from my husband, I thought it was the beginning of everything I wanted–mostly freedom. What I didn’t realize is how incomplete I became as a single person. The night I came home after a big event, I was tired, but full of the spirit and as joy-filled as I had been in months. But, when I walked through the doors, the walls didn’t embrace me in my joy, they didn’t respond to my needs to share how I felt. It was this experience that made me realize being single was not what I wanted after all.
Now, eleven years later, I am experiencing the same embrace-free walls. I find it difficult to want to be home during the evenings. Yesterday, it rained, and my world was gray for awhile. I pray with time, I will find joy in the quiet days in my home. If it’s God’s will, perhaps I won’t be alone forever. I’d be happy to once again experience the joyful noise of another person (or persons).
Some people do well alone. I’ve decided that as an extrovert, I am not one of them.
Lord, give me joy as you reveal the life you have designed for me. Amen.
“Still God, you are our Father. We’re the clay and you’re the potter. All of us are what you made us.” Isaiah 64:8
Years ago my doctor diagnosed me with having kidney failure. A blood test showed that my percent levels of kidney activity was below the acceptable range. He sent me to a specialist who looked at the report and said, “You are in kidney failure.” Right away I could imagine having to ask one of my children to give up a kidney to save my life. But the doctor assured me that assumption was premature and probably would never happen. I sighed in relief because I would not want to ask any of my three children for that kind of a sacrifice.
We don’t know what causes our bodies to fail. In my case, I had used anti-inflammatory drugs for arthritis in my lower spine and was severely dehydrated after having a bout with a bad bacteria. All we can do is try to prevent things, such as kidney failure, by watching what we put in our mouths, including drugs. God gave us spare parts for emergencies. My mother-in-law lived on one kidney for a couple of decades. I know people who function with one lung, and I do well with one-third of a stomach, no spleen, a small amount of thyroid gland.
The following year my blood report came back with a satisfactory report. My kidneys are okay.
Lord, thanks for helping my body repair itself. Amen.
“That is why whoever accepts and trust the Son gets in on everything, life complete, and forever!” John 3:35
There is nothing “wishie-washie” about this verse in John. Accept and trust–that’s what it’s all about. Giving up the misguided notion that anyone can live life alone is the first step to accepting God’s love through Jesus. From this understanding comes the trust. One can’t be effective without the other.
A few years ago, I watched a segment on the Oprah show about a woman getting out of prison from an assault conviction. She’d been a heroin addict for years and is now home with her kids. If she messes up, the next prison stint could be 12 to 14 years. She emphasized strongly how she never wanted to go back to prison. I hope she asks God to help her resist temptation and to stay out of trouble.
I imagine folks that go through serious trauma and trials in their life have a hard time trusting anyone or anything. I’ve known people who found trust in God’s word–the total acceptance of what the Word says, and they know it will never change. To this, I say, “Amen.” We need to hold on to something true to move forward in our lives. Life is tough enough without something to trust. Trusting gives us ground to accept the things we cannot change by ourselves.
Dear Lord, help us trust you because we are your children and you want what’s best for us. Amen.
“I am who I am long before Abraham was anything.” John 8:58
Jesus talked around who he was without saying, “My mom, who was a virgin, conceived me directly from my real dad, God. He’s been grooming me to be the Savior, but wanted everyone to figure it out from the hints and clues I give you through my teaching, healing, and preaching.” No one would have believed him anyway.
Jesus wants us to tell people–to witness–who “I am” without wearing a shirt with a slogan and sponsorship ad printed boldly on the front and back. He wants us to show our Christianity by the examples Jesus gave us of God’s love and grace, to teach and give our testimonials, to witness, write, sing, act, and even dance.
I have been blessed that God has revealed to me who I am just a little at a time. For the first half of my life, I had thought I’d grow up and become a wife and a mom. I had no idea God had more in mind for me and am pleased I didn’t shut the door to the power of the Holy Spirit pushing me along to try something as frightening as public speaking and submitting a story to a major magazine. The rewards for being bold is that feeling of being part of God’s kingdom. I feel I’ve been blessed to be a blessing.
Lord, give everyone a clue what you have in mind for their future. Amen.
“But you–up on your feet and get dressed for work! Stand up and say your piece. Say exactly what I tell you to say. Don’t pull your punches or I’ll pull you out of the lineup.” Jeremiah 1:17
God had holy plans for Jeremiah as he shaped him in the womb. Jeremiah didn’t feel qualified, so God told him to move–get on his feet and do what he was told. But he warned him if he does his will instead of God’s will, he’ll be put on the bench for the rest of the game.
Years ago, I felt that God had given me the challenge and direction to write a meditation book for church support staff and volunteers to inspire and encourage them in their ministry in the church office. I began by writing one 52-story devotional, and over the next two years, I wrote two more. I was proud of that first book, Incidents from the Church Office, and looked for venues to speak, places to sell the book, and where I could donate copies. I branched out to write daily devotional books and to produce seasonal devotionals. Sometimes I feel like quitting, but Jeremiah’s story reminds me that it is God’s will that I write.
I feel God nudging me to write two new books–one about friendships after turning fifty and the other one about the journey of being a widow. I shall be busy.
Lord, help us accept challenges you prepare us for. Amen.
“Plow your unplowed fields, but then don’t plant weeds in the soil.” Jeremiah 4:3b
What are my unplowed fields? A field that has been harvested leaves behind stumps and stalks, downed grain, and residue of chemicals from fertilizer and weed killers.
Preparing the field for the next harvest takes organization. Which crop can benefit from the soil that captured nutrients from the last crop? Soy beans leave behind rich nitrogen as a natural fertilizer. It is good to plant corn in that field for a better yield. However, if the fields are not properly prepared, the new seeds may not penetrate the crusty soil, and they will dry out from exposure to the sun or rot from moisture.
We can learn from proper ways to farm for best production to enhance our own lives. For me, plowing the field is like opening a Bible or a new inspirational book and working through it to enrich my mind. God plants seeds into scripture that need to be cultivated to become enriched in the spirit. Once the seeds begin to sprout, they need to be watered and cultivated to grow and mature. Without a disciplined plan of prayer and study, the faith field becomes open to complacency.
God gives us what we need to be good farmers of the word for our faith growth. It is up to us to get the tools out and head to the fields.
Thank you, God, for giving us good tools for our faith growth. Amen.
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another.” John 13:34
Love, that’s what it is all about. Not really. I see so much less love in the world these days and can’t understand what is so difficult about this command. You treat someone fairly and they should treat you the same way.
I am aware that some people are harder to love than others. It has become my full-time job to make peace with people who are upset or angry with me. I can’t stand the thought of possibly dying without making peace first, and since no one knows the time of our demise, it is a good policy to be ready at all times. But there are those who are angry or disappointed with something I’ve done or said, and I am not aware of the problem. I just hope when I reach the pearly gates St. Peter won’t be standing by to tell me I can’t enter until I make peace with so and so.
Today, we put too much emphasis on hating the sinner instead of the sin. If we profess to be a Christian, we are obligated to try to forgive everyone. It has been over two weeks since the presidential election and ugly comments and untruths continue to be spread around. Think of the love lost that won’t accomplish anything.
Lord, give us a new sense of how to love one another. Amen.
“But so the world might know how thoroughly I love the Father, I am carrying out my Father’s instructions right down to the last detail.” John 14:31
Jesus told his disciples it was because he loved his Father so much he would do what he was told. Abraham loved God completely, also, and followed through with God’s instructions. Imagine taking your own son to a lonely place to sacrifice him because God told him to do so. We know God stopped the sacrificial killing of Isaac, but a part of me wondered why God didn’t stop Jesus from dying, too. Intellectually, I understand God had this master plan developed long before Jesus was born, and by dying, Jesus took with him the sin of the world, including mine.
A few years ago, I read a story about a couple who conceived for a specific purpose. They had a son with a serious illness, and the only possibility for him to survive was to have a stem-cell transplant from a sibling. Their medical miracle happened. They gave birth to a healthy child who gave sustaining life to his own brother. These people did this knowing God brought Jesus into the world for a purpose, too, to teach, heal, and then die to save not just one child, but for all believers. Because Jesus loved the Father, he trusted that he was safe in God’s hand–God knew what he was doing.
Lord, thank you for loving us as you loved Jesus. Amen.