“Please pull over to the side of the road. I want to hold you and kiss you.”
The children in the back seat, two blond youngsters caught by my peripheral vision, wouldn't understand what was building up within me. Graham did as instructed.
Cupping his face in my hands, we kissed with the most passion I have ever felt, a soft, lingering kiss. “Graham, you have no idea how much I love you,” I whispered. Tears warmed my cheeks as we continued on our way.
The dream was so powerful I awoke immediately. What a way to start a day. I cried on my way to work unable to shake the lingering feeling of the moment. It was only a dream and yet it would affect my whole day forcing thoughts of other intense moments that took my emotions into custody almost instantly:
Watching twins sleeping, inhaling the crisp air on Machu Picchu in Peru, feeling the spray from the Sea of Galilee, seeing the quilted Andes in Bolivia, observing grandchildren escape the womb, watching Native American dancing or smelling the presence of the Lord, have all left me an emotional cripple.
I have always tried to drink in every extraordinary moment of life, savoring it as a supreme moment of my existence and in so doing, have captured flashes that I can recall at any given time with almost the same amount of felling as when it took place. Passion will do that for you.
Marie Barnett wrote the song, “Breathe.” It speaks of the air we breathe realizing that the holy presence of God is living within and also about ingesting our daily bread which is of course the Word of God.
Another part says, “I’m desperate for you and I’m lost without you.” That was the feeling I had started the day with, that longing and need to express those deep feelings of love.
“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fir, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned” (Song of Songs 8:6-7, NIV).
If we are able to feel so passionately, think about how much more God loves us. Anyone who waits around on us day after day, year in, year out, for just a moment of recognition, a few minutes of concentrated sensitivity, has to have it bad; love.
If we fully comprehended that our happiness is found in God’s love it would change us from the inside out. I love The Message’s interpretation of Psalms 4:3-8.
“Look at this: look who got picked by God! He listens the split second I call to him. Complain if you must, but don't lash out. Keep your mouth shut, and let your heart do the talking. Build your case before God and wait for his verdict.Why is everyone hungry for more? "More, more," they say. "More, more." I have God's more-than-enough, more joy in one ordinary day than they get in all their shopping sprees. At day's end I'm ready for sound sleep, for you, God, have put my life back together.”
Isn’t that what we desire? Someone put us together please! You may not admit it but it is a common thing to be scattered, having a feeling of disjointedness. That’s why we have to give the Lord time to come to us and touch us with his love. It only happens if we relax in his presence and breathe in time with His Holy Spirit.
By the time Paul wrote the Ephesians, he knew a lot about listening carefully to what God was whispering in his ear every moment of the day through his good times and the bad.
“And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ.
My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along.
Through Christians like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!
All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus.
When we trust in him, we're free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go.” Eph 3:8-12
To think that Paul’s words can be our word astounds and thrills me. Knowing and experiencing the truth that God is intimate with us on a daily basis motivates the magnetic pull to seek his awesome presence more and more each day.
Have you missed the ruby sunrises and golden sunsets or the array of wildflowers covering the land for you? Can he not touch you with all of creation that he throws at your feet because of his great love? Are answered prayers and guidance in life’s decisions, his abiding nurturing to be cast away as something trivial?
Can anyone or I, ever say the most intense moment of their life was not when Jesus Christ came into their heart and scales fell from their eyes enabling them to feel the passion of God? I think not! Breathe in God’s love today. He will embrace you and say, “You have no idea how much I love you.” You will weep, but with tears of joy.
“The immutable law of sowing and reaping has held sway. We are now the hapless possessors of moral depravity, and we seek in vain for a cure. The tares of indulgence have overgrown the wheat of moral restraint. Our homes have suffered. Divorce has grown to epidemic proportion. When the morals of society are upset, the family is the first to suffer. The home is the basic unit of our society, and a nation is only as strong as her homes. The breaking up of a home does not often make headlines, but it eats like termites at the structure of the nation.” Billy Graham, World Aflame
I was there in the beginning when a one-eyed monster entered the living space of American homes. There was little choice then—channel 10 or 6 (if you turned the antenna a certain way). What ever was on was on and no choices. Billy Graham was beginning his “crusades” and with all he had to say, he always left you know, “God loves you and died for you.”
Television didn't overrun the adventurous spirit of the youth of that day. We still had time with the other children in the neighborhood. When you're in a small town, you know everyone and played kick-the-can, red light-green light and hide-and-go-seek with young and old children alike.
We climbed down into the forbidden cave of our town in the summer and in winter rode the frozen dips in the field below its mouth. There were no girls my age. They were all several years older or younger.
Boys seemed to be around me more and wanted to meet me in the “back alley” when I started maturing. I didn't understand their interest. One older boy, who I would profile as a predator today, made arrangements with me for him to come up to kitchen window on the back porch where I would be washing dishes inside. When I saw him, I was to go out.
Things were going as planned, until I looked up from the dishes and saw this face peering in from outside. I left out a blood-curdling scream and that was that. He skedaddled and no more rendezvous were ever planned. I heard later he took pictures of his victims.
The “petting years” left me unaffected because it didn't seem like anything was wrong to me. Nothing had happened. But I had yet to learn how the locker room talk of the boys would come to earn me a title of someone from the other side of the tracks; poor white trash.
High school was something I endured more than enjoyed and my circle of friends was limited. The children I grew up with had all grown and after school activities and television were becoming more and more prominent in their lives than playing with other kids in town.
By the time I was married and had several children of my own, the “electronic babysitter” was well ingrained into most households. People began planning their lives around soap operas or evening specials and Saturday mornings became a zone-out time as children watched hour after hour of cartoons. Socializing with friends was dying.
Around that time I was back in church, learning, growing and listening. One day, the words of Billy Graham became real. I believed God loved me. In order to do that I had to confess, to own up to the realization that I was a sinner and Jesus had come to make that right.
Scripture began showing me some of the “untouchable” people in Bible time and how they too were loved by God, not because they did anything right but because they believed and made Christ a part of their lives.
I could see the tags people had attached to them both deserved and undeserved: the woman at the well, the adulteress, the Samaritan, and the woman with the issue of blood. Most of them had a sin problem but the last had a health situation making her, under Jewish law, untouchable, because the mere contact would defile anyone who touched her.
Jesus stopped abruptly that day as the woman's hand stretched through the crowd at street level and grabbed unto the hem of his garment. She was dying. She had no hope. She needed Jesus. She made the connection and knew she had made it. She was healed. She had hope. She had Jesus and no matter what anyone would say from then on, that moment in time had cemented her to never doubting what and who she was in Him.
That's what Rev. Graham was talking about. Suddenly you understand you are a child of God, the righteousness of God in Christ, more than a conqueror, his daughter, your sin is GONE and you are free from any tag you ever had placed upon you by yourself or others. You have become a new creature in Christ because his virtue is now yours!
Christ never sees us as white or black, having tats, a failure, drug abuser, drunkard or unworthy. He only looks to see if we are lost or found and the found are not who he came to seek and save. It's the lost that need the message that God loves them and because he does, you can reach out and touch Jesus and he will lift you up.
His love will not erase the past, but it will remove the astigmatism and allow you to function in your new life in Christ Jesus free from any guilt and shame.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9, NIV
Rev. Graham has gone but the truth he preached will continue. Do you need to let go of your earthly troubles and grab unto some heavenly hope? It's true... he is as close as the mention of his name and he is ALIVE!
Valentine's Day did not bring a special delivery of two-dozen, long-stemmed red roses, nor a card to me expressing how much I am loved or appreciated. I wasn't expecting anything anyhow, my husband has never been much for romance.
It goes something like this... I make a candlelight dinner and he says “What's wrong with the lights? I can't see what I'm eating.” After a few years you kind of get the picture of what to anticipate and what not to. How he was raised has much to do with it. But this isn't about spouse issues or marriage counseling. It's about disappointment and what you do with it.
Last Wednesday held a bigger personal hurt for me than having no flowers or candy. I received word that something I had sought and waited on for six weeks was not going to be coming my way. I was informed not by a warm voice but via a cold e-mail. My heart fell. I wanted to eat everything in the house, because that is what disappointment does to me, it makes me a human vacuum wanting to fill the empty space of where the euphoria was supposed to be.
Out of 656 other peers I had bombed out... along with 652 others. Only four winners were chosen. We had not achieved what we set out to do by hours and hours of careful editing and word cutting. I wish this was the first time but it has happened before, year after year. And still I try. Now what? Each time I fall down in a personal endeavor like this, Jesus comes along and reaches into my fallen position and says, “Come on, let me help you up.”
A few hours later I was still smarting from the announcement but moving on. The longer you dwell on your dashed hopes, the worse it becomes until it morphs into an uncontrollable way of life and if you're like me, an excuse to binge eat yourself to death.
That's why having Christ in our lives is so important. Faith teaches us to walk on its road and expect both blessings and trials. Just because I have Jesus on my side does not mean I'm a guaranteed winner of anything other than his grace. We can't argue with the Bible, it says to expect both. I've learned that when I fall flat on my face, I need to lean harder on Jesus and keep on going.
No where in scripture can I find a better example of this than when Jesus and his disciples were at the Last Supper. Bummer of all bummers, he was going to leave them. Worse than that, he was going to die. But John 21:20 gives us a look into life and learning to lean on Jesus.
“Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”
Peter to be sure, is an interesting character and he lets us have a look into the confusion between our flesh and our spirit. Peter knew Jesus loved John, but was he thinking somehow that Christ did not love him as much? Jealousy! You love him more! He noticed that John leaned on Jesus.
As a sinner, someone still in the flesh, I understand all to well the meaning of “the flesh” being weak. So often my deceiving heart wants me to go this way and my mind is rushing in agreement with my choice. Commercials tell us “we deserve it.” In the end, the world will not be our judge, but Christ will.
Jesus quickly told Peter to mind his own affairs. What he does with John or Sarah or Harry or anyone is of no concern to us. His point is, how are we getting along with Him? What are we doing to follow in his steps?
The wrongs done to us by others (real or imagined) are never an excuse for us to do wrong. No matter how many times we fail by returning to our bad habits, it does not mean this time could be the last. Using excuses and pointing out the failures of others will not have us leaning on Jesus for help, but rather have him rebuking us to get our eyes on Him, not people, not circumstances.
In spite of everything Jesus told the disciples, John had it in perspective, “Is it me?”.
Try not to be concerned so much about what other people are doing on their walk while being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Walking in faith is not an easy task. If you're looking to always fail, you probably will. However, if your looking to be a winner, even when you fail, you have already won, especially if you are leaning on Jesus.
The next time you're disappointed, fail at reaching your goals, or you fall flat on your face in some other way, remember, instead of another fix, another pill, another drink, another bag of chips, look up, you will see Jesus reaching down. Take his hand, you're already a winner because he loves you! And when necessary, lean hard on Him.
When I started this blog for News Worthy Network, I hit it hard, putting out some of the dirt of my past, my pain, so you can know how mistaken we sometimes are of our perception of other people, who we think, could never understand what we are going through because they have it all together. Now I'd like to jump to the present.
Yes, I married someone I really didn't love. I found out you can learn to love people for their kindness to you. As you work and live together, love can be found. When you honor the commitment of the marriage vows, God helps you through the times when you fall out of love, until you fall in love again. You never consider leaving when things aren't going the way you think they should because you have someone who cares, someone collecting your tears and comforting you no matter what the situation. That someone is Jesus and he has been there for me during 50 years of marriage.
People fail me, People fail you. I've always liked the fact of knowing when I am upset, yelling, kicking and screaming, God is waiting nearby until I finish venting and then he quietly asks in my heart, “Are you done now?” Softly he reminds me of how much he cares. He made a contract with me to never leave me nor forsake me. And one by one he brings scripture to me, reminding me of how much he loves me and who I am in him.
It's easy to think that you are nothing more than a wife, mother, old person, young person, handicapped, or whatever tag people give you, but when Jesus tells you who you are to him, tears flow, comfort comes and strength for your inner woman is provided. You see, life will never be fair, easy or the way we may want it to be, but with Christ, much of that cancels out and doesn't seem to be as big a deal as at first. Learn to celebrate the good times and depend on the Lord to guide you through the bad.
It's easy to pick and choose snippets of Bible verses to fit our particular need at the moment. We often take things out of context - not looking what comes before or after a verse to understand what has been said. A famous misquoted Bible verse for people going through hard times is 1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV. God never said he wouldn't give us more than we can stand. What he did say:
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
So the first thing we have to grasp is... there will be temptation – for everyone, no exceptions. The second is...he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. This part is up to us.
I'm curious when people seemingly don't have any commotion in their lives or in the lives of those around them. Only two things are possible... they have learned to fully rely on God or they aren't following the Lord at all.
Let me put a commercial break in here. Falling apart in front of other people, asking what they think via phone or social media while we are dealing with whatever test has come our way, is not necessary. Faith only grows as we allow God, his word, to speak to us. So if you have a lot of “drama” in your life, good, God's got something to work with. I base this on several portions of scripture, but one set in particular.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4, KJV.
Yep! Get happy. If things aren't happening the way you want them to, he is growing your faith. Can't he just bestow unwavering faith upon us? No. It would not teach us that what God speaks is absolute truth.
I raise an eyebrow when folks (pastors too!) say they have no patience. Does that mean they do not allow the Lord to stretch their faith because they don't want any trials? This is what comes of an instant gratification society where we are told we don't have to wait for anything; whatever you want, you got it. Wait a minute, I think Roy Orbison is hiding somewhere.
Some bits and pieces that I find useful are: our labor is not in vain; be strong in the Lord; when I'm weak then I am strong; I can do all this through him; stand firm thus in the Lord; wait for the Lord. Oh gee, there it is, the word wait.
Ephesians 6 talks about putting on the armor of God and when we have done all we can do that we are to stand. That implies, do not sit down, do not cower, do not return to your unbelief, do not try to pass it off, do not quit. Wait for it! Stand.
God does not hide what life has to give us or what we need to do about it. You will never see the Lord working in your life until you allow him to give you what you do not have by whatever means works best for you. Although we would prefer a vibrant faith to be obtained in some other form, it cannot grow without trials and temptations.
What are you going through? How is God building your trust in Him? Do you believe he will help you?