Perhaps it was knowing my mother lived for a while on a farm in the 1930's in Centre County where a popular cavern named the Veiled Lady Cave was located. The cave had a short life and then was deemed unsafe due to falling rocks and water which constantly eroded and changed the channel. It was closed to the public.
Perhaps it started on the occasion that my father took us to see the entrance and the first room off on the left, a room glowing, comprised of fools gold. We visited it in the 1950's, the only time we did so even though we lived only four miles away.
By then, I had already explored another historic underground cave many times, the Madisonburg Hole, less than a mile from where I grew up. During the dry season, four or five of us children would take ropes, flashlights, candles and matches along on our decent through the narrow mouth of the vertical entrance leading to the small cave below. A passage of 10 to 15 feet led to a lone room of mud and rock
A few years later the farmer began dumping both vegetable and animal matter into its opening to discourage us from entering into the danger below. There was nothing exciting about the cave except the story of settlers hiding in it for safety. Their leavings, if there were any, had vanished long ago along with the runoff of the heavy rains during the spring and fall which subsequently drained away down a mysterious hole with no bottom.
It was proper during hunting season to sit and listen to stories of the experiences of hunters, the way things used to be and often unexplained things that happened to them as they stalked their game. It was never hard for me to want to believe in the stories and myths connected with the region which had just a tinge of it possibly being true. Perhaps a black panther (had to be a black mountain lion) did use the underground connections to go from one area to another as people reported.
Down deep within each of us is the need to believe in something just beyond our reach. The need to find the wonder and wish we could have been a part of a simpler time or a special place because the romance of the myth has drawn us into itself and we want the impossible to be true, we want to escape and explore it for ourselves.
It's possible that 17 year old Lady Patricia McCochran waited for her love at the entrance of the cave for whom it is named. Patricia was English and she loved Chief Strongheart, who was found dead ( from poisoning himself) in the “Hidden Lake” deep within the cave. They knew Patricia's parents would never let her go with him. I grew up understanding he died because the swift water running into the cave had whisked him into it as he tried to reach her from the other side. Either way, she sits with a veil covering her on a black limestone wall at the caves entrance, waiting.
Through the years musical ballads have been sung to tell stories. Many facts are connected with the songs and the stories I've heard but a lot is left to the imagination.
This is how some people look at the story of Jesus Christ, the widely historically documented, factual story of how God sent his son into the world and the reasoning behind it. But unlike a story or a legend, you can know it is true for yourself.
It happens the moment you believe that God loved you enough to make a way for you to have hope when all around you is the waste land you have lived in or are living in. When we can't shake a habit, loss of a family, can't let go of the past or live in a world of constant relapse, God says yes, yes you can. It isn't about hoping in the impossible, but believing the truth of the Bible that it is possible to obtain a new life. He doesn't erase the past, but he gives us the grace to live with it and a way to move forward and not return to a life of hopelessness.
It's putting a different ending to a story that you reach for but never seem to touch. It's adding chapters to a book you thought had ended. Strangely enough the power to make the necessary changes to give you hope is yours through Christ Jesus when you rely on Him to help you and rest in his instruction, his strength and his power. None, repeat, none of us can do it alone.
Facts are facts. We may have burned so many bridges behind us we have no lumber with which to build. Good. God can work wonders with nothing. Take for instance Earth or perhaps man, the dirt of the Earth. The truth is, there is always something we have that God can start with if we put our faith in him to do it. The Bible is full of these kind of stories.
He thought nothing of using a virgin to have a baby, of putting a harlot in a king's linage, using a reed basket to save a baby, empty containers, a handful of salt, a donkey to talk, etc., etc. And whatever you have, he can use it too!
Like the tunnels that connect one part of a cave to another, God builds a life precept upon precept, one thing at a time. He won't rush you. The more we believe, which is faith in what we can't see, the more wonders he shows us. Once a sure foundation is laid, times may come when the way seems blocked or too difficult to venture further. It's an opportunity to see what happens when you go on in his strength and see what lies ahead just around the bend. Adventure awaits all of us. There are no ifs or maybes in this story because it isn't a romantic legend that may or may not be true. The more you know the more he is willing to show you.
Wanting a better life is grand but perhaps you think your unworthy of such love. God didn't think so, he gave his Son so you can have a way out of the wasteland. What we believe has everything to do with who we become.
I never found the black panther but I did go into other dangerous places in life until one day, I found the only thing that can ever satisfy that craving deep within and discovered all things are possible.
When I began exploring a relationship with the Lord that held me to no standard except believing, no one to be better than than myself and one filled with endless possibilities. I stopped looking in all the wrong places I tried before.
Perhaps as we inter the new year it's a good time to have a real relationship, one with endless possibilities and full of adventure. It is within your reach. You don't have to understand everything or change your personality. Come as you are. Let the romance of how much God loves you advance you to destinations you only dreamed about before.
“...I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
He is waiting at your heart's door. Let him fill the emptiness and the constant need for more. He isn't unreachable. Open up and explore what you have been missing and discover where he wants to take you this year.
Sidetracked. It's not hard to allow “things” to sidetrack us into doing the unimportant instead of the needed. That's what I've found the last few weeks as I listed so many small toys that I never knew existed onto an eBay store. Because I didn't know the characters let alone the series they came from, I spent hour after hour trying to find hundreds of item's proper names and descriptions.
If you add that to unscheduled other side jobs, before you know it what you really should be doing becomes the last thing you do. Other projects for other people seemed to land on my doorstep and before I knew it I was feeling lethargic and not wanting to complete anything of my own. Not a good place to go.
When I finally waded through the fog in my head this week, I began to get involved in my days as I should. The extra jobs didn't end. The “can you helps” didn't end, but the schedule I set a long time ago came back into play even through I didn't feel like it.
As I sat to list a group of what I knew to be a type of transformer, I was amazed by how moving this leg made something else, moving wings brought another part of it to life and what really astounded me was that someone actually figured this all out.
And then it hit me. “How clever you are God!” Once more he was giving me a lesson from something I was touching and expanding it into a visual for others to see too.
I was only familiar with the cars and trucks that transformed into fighting men. Our boys had had a few of those. But I never examined how intricate each one was, how each turn gave them the ability to become something else. They aren't simple and neither are we and yet somehow many people think, “If I get hypnotized, if I have liposuction, if I have a face-lift, if I loose 50 pounds, if I stop using drugs or stop drinking or smoking....” I think you get the idea. We want to be transformed at the snap of a finger.
Our lives may be a wreak but there are no quick fixes just a lot of maintenance and rethinking. The only instant “fix” is for a person who is dead in his or her trespasses and sin. The one and only fast change is moving from death to life. It's the same person twisted around into a person now alive in Christ.
As I found with the toy, living for Christ also requires tweaking if we are to be changed into the likeness of Christ. Give a child who knows the transformer the toy and he can change it into its other form in no time. Give God your life and he will renew your mind and gently change how you think and how you live.
We were molded and trained in this world to be one thing. Probably nothing will change instantly on the outside of you for others to see. This is a transformation where we allow God to re-mold our minds from within as we practice his plan and see it is good. As we change to do things his way, we move into a true place of maturity in him with each tweak that we allow him to make.
Transformers are usually a form of hard, rigid plastic and if they aren't turned the way they were intended to be, they do break. At first we may feel stiff, resist the transition from what we know to a place where God wants us but he is always gentle, always directing, always with us.
Even if you don't feel like you need to change, you do. We all need to. Why not let someone who has been in the life changing business since the beginning come in and help you? He will not force you into something your not, nor will he make you uncomfortable. He will guide you and help you and teach you to love yourself just as you are no matter what the outside looks like, because he is interested in the inside, the change of heart and the renewing of your mind.
You will learn to focus on the good things and filter all thoughts. You will begin to enjoy the new you who doesn't have to be what others want you to be. And best of all as we see things more clearly, 2 Corinthians 3:18 becomes true.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
God actually has our complicated lives figured out. Isn't it time to let him change our lives and let him help us from being sidetracked by all of the things that distract us from what really matters... a relationship with the Lord?
How ingenious He is indeed!
The warm breezes of autumn are refreshing after the cool nights. I was in a parking lot, sitting in my truck, enjoying a few minutes watching something some folks might never observe or realize its significance. I was observing one of the silent migrations that take place at this time of year and no; it is not the Canadian goose.
This traveling band is headed for a Mexican vacation to avoid winter. Are they rushing? Does dipping, weaving and fluttering sound like they are in a hurry? Heavens no! It’s the yearly phenomenal migration of the Monarch, which only travels in nice weather.
Try as I might, I can’t imagine a frail butterfly traveling 2000 miles til winter is over. I saw around 50 while I sat there that day, a fraction of the 300 million that are navigating their way on the longest insect migration in the world. Many begin their journey in Toronto. Their destination-a few small forests in Mexico.
In 2007 a documentary crew using an ultra-light aircraft with wings colored like what else, a Monarch butterfly, filmed their flight.
You and I are migrating at a much slower pace. It will take the Christian his entire life to reach his final destination. Along the way, many dangers, snares and would be well-wishers stand between our goal of heaven and us.
While the butterfly has its distinct marking of orange and black, Christians have the blood of Christ that distinguishes them from the rest of society. It is a person’s decision to follow Christ that is the catalyst, beginning the journey to be with and enjoy the company of the Lord.
Psalms 37 is a wonderful Psalm for the Christian to meditate on for this lifetime journey of trusting God. There are many pleasant fields the butterflies could take sanctuary in along their path, but instinct says “no.” Man is given many options and “sure things” along his walk with Christ, but he must remember where he is headed.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3 (KJV)
It’s so easy to be sidetracked and unbelievably sometimes even other Christians can have opinions on what is best for us that lead us astray. My friend, no one but you and God can know what is in your heart. He does not lead us off course, even if it seems like that to others from time to time. Trust God.
In Psalms 37, we are told not to worry our pretty little heads about people who have no interest in our reaching our destination or that try to turn us around or get us worked up into a frenzy because of the roadblocks ahead. The Lord laughs at those who plot “…against the just, and gnashes upon him with his teeth,” (verse 12).
For those who worry about “what if this happens, or what if that happens.” This great psalm brings refreshing solace. If we could keep it in our minds that God has our days planned. That’s hard for the “baby” in Christ, but even mature Christians often let what is happening around them cloud their vision and slow their upward journey to heaven. You not only have to know what the Bible says, you have to believe it.
God is acquainted with our circumstances and our ability to bear them. He will do one of two things, shorten the trial or increase our power. God is our portion, here and in the hereafter.
God says in 37:34, “Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.”
Living in the spirit of obedience to God is the only way we can hope of walking into the land from which we are exiles. Our salvation is of the Lord. When people wonder how you go through what you go through in this life make sure you direct them to your Father, which is in Heaven, who gives you strength as your days and in the time of trouble.
Christians, who are truly walking toward God, draw people like magnets. Unknown to the unbeliever, it is the one who lives within a Christian who beckons them.
The peace that surrounds a Christian can only come from God. Think about it. When does the world tell you to remain calm? No, they are to busy telling you to watch out for this and that. A believer remains calm because he trusts in the Lord, while the nonbeliever falls apart. When asked why, opportunity again presents itself to witness for the Lord.
Along the butterflies journey many are splattered on windshields, dinner for a bird or their wings wear out. If they knew it from the get go it wouldn’t matter. Their instinct for this velvet flight is too strong.
God tells us that our life will have many difficulties, but he will deliver us from them all and in the end, we will be with him. Not all that start, finish. How is your homing device working? Perhaps you just need new batteries-read Psalm 37, get recharged and keep on walking. Heaven awaits!
Mention Emily Post to young folks today and they may wonder if she is in the room, expected soon or if she is on Facebook. And yet what she has to offer everyone is necessary even in our modern times. Emily Post lived from 1872 – 1960 and wrote the book on etiquette, much of which we may be following and not know it.
Growing up for her meant cotillions and grace, respect and manners in large doses. It is always important to understand the times and places of those who write so we can better understand their points of view in their culture and period of life.
“Good manners reflect something from inside - an innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self,” she wrote. Long before Ms. Post, Jesus pointed out to a host, his failure in not greeting him properly when he came to his home for a meal. Etiquette helps govern how we behave in social settings no matter what century we find ourselves.
Some say rules are made to be broken, while people with manners know rules help to keep order and show respect for others. Simon the Pharisee, was quick to point out that what Jesus was doing before him and his other guests was all wrong and he should be aware of the “sinner” who was dotting on him.
Ahh. Will we ever be free of people who have adverse opinions to those of our own? Probably not. The first thing I would like to note is that this woman was not, nor in her position could she be, an invited guest. It was like she walked in barefoot with her love beads dangling into a gathering of people dressed in gowns and tuxedos.
Do you feel like that sometimes, like you could never fit in? Then listen to Jesus as he puts the man in his place about the uninvited guest and the proper etiquette for his day and time.
“Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little,” Luke 7:44-47, NIV.
If there was ever a rule of etiquette to be followed it is the one that God himself established when he had John 3:16 penned. That's the “whosoever will” verse often quoted. If the church, the believers, ever fail to acknowledge that coming to Christ is an all inclusive right and proper, then my friend we have ourselves fallen from the very rules of the culture of the Kingdom of God by denying a lost soul to be a part and we need to have it pointed out to us.
This is one time when a woman broke the rules and traditions of her time because she wanted what Jesus offered and ignored the rules of her society and barged in boldly. She could see the love Christ had for her. She broke down in front of everyone. She melts and tears flow down her face. She let her hair down... another no, no in those days, even grounds for divorce.
It didn't matter. She wanted the forgiveness that Jesus offered. She loves Jesus for providing that for her and anoints him as an act of acknowledging him as Lord and Savior.
Simon was confronted with understanding his level of being conformed to the image of Christ. We each have to look inward and see what patterns do not fit with the proper etiquette of a believer of Jesus Christ. Are we a deceiver? Do we relate to our spouse in love? Are we greedy? Do we have a problem with our tongue, a temper, a poor attitude?
If you ask God to keep you humble, he will. You won't like it, but he will honor your request. The only response that will bring health and wholeness in our lives is to say yes to the Father and then live it out. He always gives us an opportunity to conform to his image. We are not to ignore the need of making practical changes and applying daily disciplines that will help us to grow in spiritual sincerity.
Never feel ashamed about your need of Jesus. He is never embarrassed by your arrival. There are no set rules of when or where. Won't you stop resisting? Won't you stop debating? Won't you stop denying your need of Jesus?
He is here. Ask him to come into your life today and begin your new life in him. Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill you anew and to grant you strength for a changed life. It's his acceptance you need, not the world's.
“I am about to do a brand-new thing.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” Isaiah 43:19
Have you ever used the phrase, “It's the same old thing!” Well, for everyone that means one of two things. Either you like where you are and you prefer things don't change or you haven't the courage to leave the safety of your “shore” to discover new oceans. It is a natural pull for us to move toward what is convenient and comfortable. It is a supernatural pull to do things God's way which take us out of that comfort zone.
I find great comfort in doing repetitive things for hours on end. I can relax in the rhythm of whatever project I'm into... like when I had honey bees and parked a lawn chair a few feet from the hive to watch the hard working bees in their everyday activities... or cutting quilt patches for hours and hours... or reading a “can't put down” novel.
I'm grateful for the ability to be fully engaged in what I'm doing or be passive and drift into a place where I am able to wonder about the wonder of it all. Some folks never learned to chill, thinking inactivity some how equates to laziness. But I know for a fact that God sees when we stop and notice what he has done or is doing or is about to do.
Two years ago I signed up for something new. Some ladies from the church and I, spent about two hours learning how to apply acrylic paint and use the proper bushes for the desired effect on a small canvas. I enjoyed it so much, when a fund raiser came up a year later, I went again. It ended with the same two results: another painting that will not hang in an art gallery and having a good time creating it.
Some may tremble at the very thought of getting out of the religious rut they have carved for their life to journey in, but the shame is there is so much more. The Hebrews evaluated what Jesus had to say and struggled with the new faith he spoke of because they were comfortable in the old ways. The writer of Hebrews begins by saying both Judaism and Christianity were revealed by God.
The end result was pointed out to them and to us that it is better if Christ is our focus for life. It's a good thing if you don't open your Bible because once you do, you know what God is doing and that you have an active part in it. At that point, you become responsible for what you have read. Jesus said to learn of me and once you do... you have wisdom and are expected to act upon it.
Did you ever think about what God said to Moses as he prepared him to go toe to toe with Pharaoh? “What is that in your hand?” Or to the woman who was going to allow her son and herself to die, “What do you have in your house?” Or to the fishermen, “Cast your nets.”
In every instance God was going to do something, but the other part is each person had to make available to him what they had and take an active part in whatever he was about to do. For Moses it was a staff that turned into a snake, to the woman in 2 Kings 4, it was oil for her provision, for the fisherman, it was nets so heavy they could not pull them in. For you... only you know what you have that God is asking to use so he can be glorified.
Does scripture win you to God's side with the illustrations of faithful men and women in Israel's history and do you find encouragement and boldness that makes you ask God what he can use that you have? Are you inspired to grasp what God is doing in your daily living to where you are trying new things?
We have as many excuses for not being adventurous with God's power behind us, as those we pull out to use now and again for not attending church. Do we really think we have an original reason that God hasn't heard as to why we are not more involved in Kingdom work?
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect, will of God,” Romans 12:1-2.
If we are missing or having a problem seeing God moving in our community or in our life, maybe we aren't interested in doing our “reasonable service” and just want to hang out for the final event. The only problem with that is that we rob ourselves of observing God surprising us with his “new” and seeing what he can do with willing vessels.
You never know what you can do unless you try and you will never know how much more you can do if God is involved. The new thing begins when we sacrifice all our other loyalties in life and dare to go where we have never gone before... in the Lord.
I find it amazing that so many people are interested in who they are, where they come from and because they are curiosity driven, they happily send a spit ball off in the mail and lo and behold they are sent a list of relationships from distant lands and all at once they feel like they are somebody.
Do you ever feel like you're nobody? Perhaps you were adopted and wonder who your real parents are? Do you have a constant nagging that if you only knew, things would be better? Well, when the Supremes with Diana Ross belted out “Love Child” in 1968 they hit on one of the many reasons so many people don't really know who they are. Things happen. Relationships end. Abuse ends. People die. But for the surviving individuals, life must go on and what was, has to be put away.
In reality, it doesn't matter who your parents are or where you come from, it's what you do with yourself that matters. You may be poor or rich. You may be popular, daring, austere, simple, own a home, vacation in exotic places or thrive in seclusion. Knowing your origin may make you want to shout “My name is Kunta Kinte,” at the top of your lungs, but that only keeps you confined to this world. Your life in the flesh will come to an end no matter who you are.
Who are you really? While we may struggle to understand our earthy ties, God does not leave anything to our imagination as to who we are when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. If we were to get as excited by who we are in Him as we do with who we are in this life, we could live with the insecurity of not knowing anything more in the here and now. What most people are finding out is that they are a combination of many ethnic groups. That can either make people happy or send them into a tailspin.
Sometimes a Bible verse surprises me by making a bold statement. Such was the case not long ago when I read John 1:12-13 about who I am.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God,” NIV.
Everything changes when we come to Christ. All at once sin is forgiven. Redeemed. We're called. Delivered. We are healed and raised up with Christ. We are greatly loved by God. We are strengthened with all might. When we are submitted to God even the devil has to leave. The spirit of fear leaves and we are given a sound mind. All of this plus much more happens why, because Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20). This is who God made us to be.
The world has always been about the business of retraining our minds to focus on the here and now and keep us away from discovering who we are as the children of God. How powerful are John's words that we aren't born of natural descent, someone deciding we will be or from the husbands natural desire to have his way with his wife.
Isn't it time we stop defining ourselves by external standards like how we look, where we come from, our relationships, how much money we have, or by even our own negative self image and get to know who we really are? Reading the truth of the Bible will help everyone discover who they are spiritually, no need to go find yourself anywhere. There are no hidden surprises.
In the hands of God you become as Isaiah 62:3 says, you become a crown of beauty, a royal diadem, precious in his eyes because you are his child. When we turn to Christ and center our minds on him, we hear him call us by name because the truth is, he is the only one who knows who we are and understands us completely. His love for us does not depend on where we come from either genetically or globally.
His love is so strong that even before we came to Jesus, he loved us. If you need assurance of how much he loves you, if you ask, he will tell you.
When is the last time you got all warm and fuzzy listening to how much you are loved? It will happen when you allow God to describe YOU, his child as you read it for yourself.
To list everything I've failed at would fill several pages, perhaps a book. Failures are found throughout my whole life from my beginning steps, to many “E” spelling tests in grade school, to my driving test and on into marriage and meals that turned into disasters or making one wrong decision after another. Sometimes, even what I'm good at doesn't work.
I'll use the example of pie baking because that is what came to mind first. I make all kinds of pies from a Pumpkin Peace Pipe Pie, custard, berry, chiffon, cream and sponge, to Reese's Peanut Butter. My Coconut Cream sends people back to their own mother's gift of turning ingredients into a delicious memory. Recently, a simple Raspberry with crumble topping won the title of “The best I've ever made.”
Honestly, no one knows how many pies were tossed out the door because they didn't set, the crust burned or I forgot the sugar or another ingredient causing them to fail to meet the standard of a pie worthy of giving to another person.
I fail at what I love to do. I often fail when I try new things. I fail when I try to express what I'm thinking or accomplishing what I need to get done in a day. Yep. I fail. However, I do keep going. I do continue to try new things. Failure is all about learning that if what I did doesn't work the way I tried it, I need to do it a different way. It is never about letting it consume you to the point where you feel you cannot go on.
If you quit doing what you were doing, find yourself dodging issues, appeasing difficult people, and mishandling tough encounters, you probably have entered a place where you stop trying because you already believe you will not succeed. Like playing a board game where you can't advance unless you shake the dice to move, we can only advance in life by turning our failures into stepping stones.
Unfortunately there is always bad information out there for people who are looking for ways to change what has happened in their life. In this topic alone I ran across an article that said if you failed at life, you might as well kill yourself. Wow! I pray that isn't you. Everyone fails at something, but the good news is, it can change in a moment.
I think of Peter all the time, in fact every time a rooster crows. I think of how easy it is to say one thing and do another, even when you believe you never will. Here was a man, not an indecisive young person, who said “I'll never disown you Jesus.” But shortly thereafter the rooster crows and Jesus looks at him. I can feel his piercing eyes and how they went straight to Peter's heart and revealed his condition to him. He did what he said he would never do.
Is that you? Do you believe the lie that this is how it has to be from now on? How it is now, does not have to be the way it will be. The option resides within you.
Peter realized he not only failed to keep his word, but he did it not once, but three times in a row. The knowing look that Jesus gave him had to sear his heart. He would change, even if it meant his death. His life was complicated by living in a world that said if you believe in Jesus you will die. We live in that same world and the fear of what others think. The thought that we will loose everything if we stand up for and have faith in Christ haunts us. Will we fail at this too? These thoughts keep us from advancing and knowing we finally are headed in the right direction and our feet are on solid ground at last.
It's all about handing over what we haven't been good at and letting the Lord show us the way to go. A key verse says when we do that, we have to walk in it. It's like making a pie, if you follow directions you end up with something good. Don't, and you find yourself back where Peter was when Jesus looked at him.
It's important to see what happened when Peter was unsuccessful at keeping his word not once, but three times.
“...And he went outside and wept bitterly, Matthew 26:75, NIV. He repented.
Some failures are easy for us to recognize and work through, some are not. Hopefully all will bring change in the end and we will find the life we were meant to have and learn to realize even in our worst moments we are still loved by the Lord. We need to practice to be successful, we need to study to pass the test, we need to trust and walk with the Savior who never lets us where we are, but always reaches a hand out to help us get back on track even when we fail him.
When you fail, because everyone does, don't let it stonewall you from trying again because the greatest, all-knowing, forgiving God of the universe says all things are possible.
Jesus Christ didn't fail by hanging on the cross. Instead, he gave the one thing, his life, which cancels our failures and makes it possible for us to enter heaven.
Have you ever felt your life was just falling through your fingers like sand? I remember hearing Doug Oldham using his booming voice years ago to hammer that truth into my heart, when he sang “We have this Moment Today.”
I'm afraid I'm guilty of stopping-up the holes in the dike of life. It's impossible to take care of every break in the wall at one time. And yet we try even when there are more holes than fingers and toes can possibly plug. We can't contain all of life's problems in our hands at one time. The good news is we were never meant to.
Our attempt to somehow manage all of the problems of life that crop up in one day and remain sane is an unrealistic picture. It's like holding sand in your hands, most of it falls through because we have cracks between our fingers. Sometimes it may only be a grain or two that falls, other times it's as if we have lost all control and we are left holding only a few grains.
I can look down at times and see all the parts and pieces of what I was unable to hold onto. That's what happens when we try to control circumstances of not only our problems but everyone's as well, all while trying to stick to a time clock of how it should all play out in a perfect world. That's the problem isn't it? We don't live in a perfect world and no matter how tightly we hold our fingers together we will continue to drop something.
When you cup your hands under a waterfall to stop it, how much do you end up with; a few teaspoons at most. Our hands were not made to hold back all the waterfall can produce. Life is no different. We need to break it down into manageable increments of what we can or should do for ourselves and let the rest in the capable hands of the Lord.
Here are the lyrics of the chorus from “We Have This Moment Today.”
We have this moment to hold in our hands
And to touch as it slips
Through our fingers like sand
And tomorrow may never come
But we have this moment today.
Isaiah spoke of all the bricks falling down and how we try to rebuild with distressed stones. Later in chapter 40 he writes, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?” verse 12, NIV.
Has your life seemed to crumble and everything you touch falls apart? Could it be that like me, you try your best to make all things right? It's so overwhelming. But when I read the word of God and see how senseless it is for me to even think I can get everything in line... I find I'm lying to myself.
We all need God. From the person who has never had any interest in him, to the one who sits in the pew/chair every Sunday morning. God said he has a plan for us. Have we wandered down the wrong road long enough to see that it doesn't have to be much to be better than where we are now?
Sooner or later that dike I mentioned is going to spring another leek and when it does what's you plan? While my way of doing things seems right to me, God's way will be the right way and the only way I know what it is... is to stay in constant communication with him.
Some folks have drug, drinking, intellectual, pride or finical barricades built to keep God out. The secret to all of those things not being the issue anymore, is to let God in. Let the dike break and wash over you and cause the desert places of your life to blossom into new life, eternal life. To many try to juggle it all. It's about letting go and letting God have control.
He warns us about worry and even tells us it is a sin just like all those other “issues.” That's heavy, because it is so easy to do.
Yesterday is gone... nothing we can do about it. Tomorrow isn't here yet, nothing we can do about that. Today as God said, is the day of salvation. We can find that favor in the Lord today. 2 Corinthians 6:2 That is, if we still aren't trying to stick our finger in the dike, trying to catch a waterfall or hold the Sarah Desert in our hands. An hour glass is a good place for sand. Its flow is controlled and you can be in charge. Trust in the Lord to handle life one day at a time.
Under the circumstances of life is not where God wants you or I. Take the words of the song and capture the moment. If you haven't asked Jesus to come into your life, do it now. If you are an “in charge” person, ask God's forgiveness and allow his direction to be your guide. Jesus Christ frees you up for those moments in life that really matter and prepares you for eternity.
It was one click away from going into cyber space when I decided to read the forwarded e-mail. I was glad I did. It was a humorous story and one that will help me to think beyond the practice of addition from now on.
What could do that? It was a simple story about a little boy who was having great difficulty with elementary math. In fact he was flunking it. His parents tried everything to no avail. They even changed his school in the end, to a Catholic school.
The parents noticed a difference in his behavior immediately. He would come home and without a hassle, go to his room to study and do homework. It became a priority for him to study more. They were elated even if they couldn’t figure it out.
Report card day arrive. The son handed his report to his parents and went upstairs to hit the books as usual. They expected to see the big “F” beside math and instead were surprised with and “A”. What had happened to their child?
So, they asked him. “What happened to change you?” The young boy answered, “When I started attending this school I knew they didn’t fool around with people in math class. I knew it when I saw the guy nailed to the plus sign dripping blood.”
Wow! I don’t know about you, but I’m sure glad that guy did that for me. If we could only think about the crucifix as a plus sign in our lives daily, our lives would be more positive. Thanks Jesus!
What would happen if we each got down to business, quit fooling around and took seriously the act of love that took place on the cross? That story got me thinking about how we sometimes are just getting along or not putting a real effort into living for Christ. We stall, daring someone to move us into action. You can call it drifting, floating, or semi-committed if you like. Thank God, Jesus wasn’t.
The little boy found out he could do better with the right incentive, so can we. I think we make Christianity so big sometimes we can’t live up to our own expectations let alone God’s. I remember the first time I realized God must be holding back a snicker because of my behavior.
I went through the long skirt phase, the long hair phase and others as well, trying to please my Heavenly Father. I used to say yes to everything asked of me by others to discover that can leave you tired in short order. I was bringing a lot of “F’s” home; failure, fatigue and fear.
Like the boy, I had no shortage of instructors. I listened to tapes. I listened to all the television-teaching programs and live preaching that I could on the methods of living for Christ. I wanted to please God so much.
Then an old hymn came to mind, “At the Cross.” It’s words tell of where we first see the light. That’s it! I have to go back to the source, get back to basics. What was it that drew me to the guy nailed to the plus sign in the first place? Surely that would be where the answer was. It was.
As I looked in my mind, at Jesus on the Cross, I became motivated by the same thing that made him allow himself to be crucified to begin with—love. Love for you and me motivated him. God could not improve on what he already is but knew love would inspire people to be better than they are now. And it’s great, it is a one on one thing, no grandiose scale needed.
It took one Lord (one God, one Christ) changing the hearts and lives of those who knew him and believed in him to shake their known world. Somewhere along the line, did we change the plus sign to a minus and negate its power? We have, if you’re like me and let anything take away, even for a moment, the realization of what Christ did. When we do, we minimize the affect the passion of Christ has on our lives and let the clouds of doubt and despair dampen our existence.
Can you imagine how the boy must have felt when he knew he could really do the math problems if he applied himself? Suddenly the possibilities became endless, all because he got serious and appropriated his energies on the task at hand.
The question is simple. Does the same spirit that dwelt in Christ dwell in us? If the answer is yes then you can’t help but see the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s personification when you reach out to touch others for the cause of Christ.
Christ’s love will exude from you and draw people to know the Savior as you do.
Their question likely will be, “Why did Jesus die on that cross?” Love. Love that would change peoples thinking of themselves as less then, a minus sign, into a plus to others.
Thanks to a short story, we all can say, “I want to try a little harder because of that guy on the plus sign. He’s done so much for me, I can do no less for him.”
Like the forceful rip currents that beat the shores and ravish the beach, life’s turn of events can cut at the soul leaving you hanging on by a thread. It’s impossible at that point not to feel despair. Another piece of the bank is torn away. The erosion of the soul is painful.
“I cannot,” your soul cries. “Hold on,” God’s whisper is heard above the thundering roar of the ocean and you begin to identify how much pain and suffering one can endure and at the same time know this is what happens to him every time he sees his children straying and drifting further from his safety net.
Broken hearts are best left to God to repair as no one here knows what will keep a human going. No human can touch what hurts for them in order to make it stop.
Unbidden remarks pierce the saturated soul stinging with saltiness the wounds that try to heal. Add to that numerous mechanical failures in one week and one can surmise the mortal enemy of the soul is angry and trying to strip away, one finger at a time, the grasp of your hand clinging to the only hand left extended down into the abyss-your Heavenly Father’s. He is a strong tower and help in time of need.
The soul runs for cover and asks for the reassuring arm of God to surround it and renew stability within, for we are in Christ Jesus. Scripture washes the soul and momentarily refreshes the drenched spirit long enough to speak another scripture at the badgering adversary.
Yet another wave comes. The soul wavers. Will it fall? No!
And then a break in the relentless crashing waves of discouragement. A bit of good news is heard and hope springs back to full capacity and faith for all to be restored returns. Once more it is proven that those who depend on God will not fall and that Satan is exactly what God said he is; a liar. But, oh the depth of pain and anguish we must sometimes endure.
“A cheerful heart is a good medicine; But a broken spirit dryeth up the bones.”
Prov 17:22 (ASV)
“Beloved, remember what you have heard of your Lord Jesus, and what He has done for you; make your heart the golden pot of manna to preserve the memorial of the heavenly bread whereon you have fed in days gone by. Let your memory treasure up everything about Christ which you have either felt, or known, or believed, and then let your fond affections hold Him fast for evermore.”—Morning and Evening
How does one do it without the wellspring of God’s grace to draw from? If nothing is stored away there is nothing from which to draw and despair is the only reward.
“Jehovah is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, And saveth such as are of a contrite spirit.” Psalms 34:18 (ASV)
“Our blessed Lord experienced a terrible sinking and melting of soul. “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?" Deep depression of spirit is the most grievous of all trials; all besides is as nothing. Well might the suffering Saviour cry to His God, "Be not far from me," for above all other seasons a man needs his God when his heart is melted within him because of heaviness.”—Morning and Evening
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us….So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor 4:7-18 (NIV)
It’s never easy to endure all that comes our way, but when the light of eternity shines upon life's events they are seen as the deterrents they are, trying to prevent us from reaching our goal of being with Jesus.
Jesus within us cannot be revealed unless we allow the floods and tsunamis of life to cover us and emerge from them victorious. Verse 14 says, “Because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.” 2 Cor 4:14 (NIV)
We act often times as though we never heard the words in Peter; “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial among you, which cometh upon you to prove you, as though a strange thing happened unto you:” 1 Peter 4:12 (ASV)
The destination is the focal point of this life, not the whirlpool trying to drown us with despair. We see that in scripture when Jesus said he was going to the other side of the lake and the disciples thought they would die in the storm. We see it when Paul speaks and says he will go to Rome and endures a shipwreck and in Stephen’s word’s, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit” as he was stoned to death.
Things are going to happen and you will feel the seduction of being overwhelmed, but that is the pinnacle, where allowing the brokenness of yourself to identify with Christ. He has made the soul able to stand in the face of adversity. Is your armor in place? Then charge into a new day knowing you have laid your broken soul on the Rock Christ Jesus so you might be sustained. Feel the surge of his power. It is in brokenness that we are made whole.