Just talking, eh?!?

photo credit: downloadyouthministry.com

I have a knack for getting distracted. I don’t even remember now what I was looking for… but I ended up coming across something I wrote a few years ago based on what is often referred to as the Lord’s Prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer isn’t a magic formula, but rather how Jesus instructed His followers to pray back in the first century. They often saw examples of religious leaders who loved to pray so that they would be seen and heard by others. Other “pray-ers” felt like the more words they used the better. But Jesus simplified all this. He made prayer something personal, intimate — between the individual and God. Something not dependent on how much is said or what is said, but rather what is truly on one’s heart. Something that is a conversation with Someone who knows and loves you. Who accepts you as you are — however your words may be expressed, either verbally or internally (in your thoughts/mind).

Our Father in Heaven,
may Your name be honored and revered.

  • Forgive us when we seek the honor and approval of others…
  • Forgive us when we take for granted how much it cost You for us to be able to address you as our Abba, Father.
  • Forgive us when we trivialize Your very name, using it as an exclamation or worse — instead of addressing a person.
  • Help us develop habit patterns of acknowledging Your presence in every aspect of our lives.

Soon may Your rule become visible to all
and may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

  • Sometimes we get overwhelmed when we see our world spiraling out of control. Forgive us, Father, for focusing on our circumstances… and not on You.
  • Help us to encourage one another to keep our perspective on You, to not lose heart.
  • Help us to not hinder what YOU want to accomplish/to get out of the way when necessary. Create within us a sensitivity to Your Spirit, Your ways.

Give us today our daily bread.

  • Forgive us when we get anxious, when we forget that You know our needs… and how to fultill them.
  • Forgive us when we compare ourselves to others, when we grumble and complain, when we act like spoiled children because we haven’t gotten our way.
  • Help us, dear Father, to learn to be content… and to realize that contentment has nothing to do with our circumstances but everything to do with who You are.

Forgive us our sins as we ourselves forgive those who sin against us.

  • Lord, we want to be strong. We want to be people who show mercy… but too often we are weak. We allow prejudice, gossip, dislike to creep into our lives. We hold onto grudges and petty issues that cause division and destroy unity.
  • Forgive us, Father. Help us to admit our sin… to You and to one another. Help us to grow in our ability to show grace to others.

Do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

  • Forgive us when we blow it, Lord. You know our weaknesses, our vulnerable spots… and so does our enemy. Sometimes — by not listening to You — we play into his hand. Help us to remember that You will always provide a way out when we’re tempted. Help us to be on the lookout for that.
  • Forgive us when we cringe and squirm, trying to avoid Your discipline. Help us to remember that You discipline us… because You love us.

For Yours is the kingdom
and the power
and the glory
forever.
Amen.

Talking with God. Sharing with Him what’s going on within our hearts, our minds. Being honest… because He’s a friend.

May we encourage one another to regularly be in honest and open communication with God and with one another… and together we’ll have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life!”

Note: you can find this teaching on prayer in two places in the New Testament: Matthew 6: 5-14 and Luke 11: 1-4.

View from my window…

It’s impossible to miss. From anywhere along the coastline, the 67-meter (220 feet) “Lady Buddha” in Da Nang, Vietnam looms even larger than the familiar “Christ the Redeemer” statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — a “mere” 38 meters (125 feet) in comparison. And so, during our brief stay in this city she has greeted me every morning as I’ve looked out our hotel window.

“Lady Buddha” more accurately represents the Goddess of Mercy, one of the most-loved figures in Buddhism. She is said to have the power to assist those who pray to her. Locals believe that the statue, which faces the sea, watches over fishermen and protects the city from typhoons. She is seen as a sort of savior, as her name in various languages means “one who hears the sounds of the world.”

Interesting. Inciteful. Even in a part of the world that embraces another god, there appears to be an innate sense of looking to someone/something else to ask for help, protection. Someone/something to hear our heart cries, our inner thoughts and yearnings.

As a Christ-follower, that someone/something is a living God — not a mere statue made of out stone. In Old Testament times, a man named Isaiah said that “All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit.” (Isaiah 44:9) The Psalmist went on to say, “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” (Psalm 115:4-8)

It’s easy for me to realize that Lady B doesn’t have the power, the capacity to answer my prayers or to be my protector, my savior. And yet her presence has made me ask myself…

What might be idols in my life???

It hits a bit too close to home when I realize that I, too, have other “things” that subtly become where I place my hope, other people that supplant God in terms of importance. Ouch. That hurts.

And isn’t it “ironic” that just last week I wrote about hope??? About how “hope is based on a person, not on our circumstances, not on other people, not on optimism, not on any effort we can conjure up.” It seems that frequently God gives me a pop quiz soon after teaching me a lesson to see if I really got the point!

So… what are some idols that creep into my life? Things like over-emphasizing human efficiency. Being more concerned with how things look than is necessary. Being too concerned with what other people think/being a people-pleaser. Becoming dependent on my “devices” as evidenced by frustration when internet is slow or something doesn’t work! And… even putting my trust in other people more than God, which is a recipe for disappointment.

I’m so very thankful for this view out my window. Why? Because it’s a visible reminder that I need to daily, moment-by-moment “fix my gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Hebrews 11:1  ... as expressed in different translations....

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (ESV)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (NIV)

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. (NLT)

Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen. (TPT)

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. (MSG)

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality -- faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. (AMP)

Those “things that cannot be seen” keep pointing me to Jesus. He is a living savior, One who listens to my prayers and protects me, One who isn’t a “sort of savior” but rather the One who gave His life for me so that I have a real savior. He has eyes that DO see and ears that DO hear. His voice has the power to calm the sea. He is all that I need!

Wherever you may be in understanding who Jesus is, whatever idols may be vying for your attention… may we come alongside one another so that together we can have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life!”

Hope…

A good friend gave us this ornament in 2020… the year that will forever be remembered as the year the world screeched to a halt because of COVID. I’m SO grateful those days are now behind us — a surreal time in which new words (at least to our experience until then) wormed their way into our everyday vocabulary, words like pandemic, lockdown, curfew, quarantine, flattening the curve, social distancing, new normal.

Now, as another year dawns upon us, the word on this ornament — HOPE — is something that I seem to keep running across during my daily times of reading God’s Word. Hmm… when this happens, I’m learning to pay attention, to consider that maybe this is important! That maybe God is wanting me to learn something…

Biblical hope is based on a person… not on our circumstances, not on other people, not on optimism, not on any effort we can conjure up. It is a state of anticipation that incorporates the idea of waiting for something, of eager anticipation. It means “trusting in God’s character and choosing hope despite our circumstances.” *

Hope based on something — on someone — other than myself is so freeing! God’s past faithfulness is what makes it possible for me to have hope for today and hope for the future.

The biblical authors talk about HOPE in various ways:

And we rejoice in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
perseverance, character;
and character HOPE.
And HOPE does not disappoint us,
because God has poured out His love into our hearts
by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.
Romans 5: 4-5

We have this HOPE
as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
Hebrews 6:19

Now faith is being sure of what we HOPE for,
and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

HOPE deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12

May the God of HOPE
fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with HOPE
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

HOPE that gets me through the hard things in life, the suffering; HOPE that is an anchor in the midst of whatever I’m going through; HOPE that isn’t based on what I see or feel or experience but rather on a person… this is the kind of HOPE I need to cling to as 2023 unfolds. It’s also a HOPE that has things to look forward to, that fulfills longings.

Whatever your heart may be yearning for in this New Year, may the HOPE that is found in God be what enables you to not only persevere, but also to have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life!

*Some of these thoughts are taken from the Bible Project video “Hope” (see below). If you are not familiar with this resource, be sure to check it out — it’s a gem!

The Christmas blahs…

photo credit: notonthehighstreet.com

I was at sixes and sevens all last week. I couldn’t pinpoint the “why,” and yet irritability, a critical spirit, emotions all over the place… what on earth was going on?!? The more I tried to figure out what was going on the stronger the blahs seemed to grip my heart and mind.

Finally, I sat down with my husband and dumped all the “stuff” that was swirling around my mind. I didn’t realize until that conversation how several things had converged to contribute to the blahs...

… I was grieving my mom. December 8th she would’ve been 101… and so memories of being with her for her 80th and 90th birthdays, plus being her caregiver before God took her home eight years ago, plus reflecting on how she still impacts my life…

… I was struggling with perceived expectations of others regarding a Zoom meeting I was a part of. Because the call involved women around the globe and because we happen to live on the other side of the world from most of them (!!!) the call began at 9pm for me and was to go until midnight. I’m not a night owl, and so I had already told the organizers that I would need to bow out early… and yet I felt guilty. Like others would think, “Why can’t she suck it up — at least for a couple of hours?!” I’m a people-pleaser at heart, and so don’t want to disappoint others… and yet I’m learning that I have to guard myself from late nights, primarily because they’re a whole lot harder to recover from at this stage of life! And so I bowed out early — and yet still felt guilty.

Sometimes it takes a while for me to get to the REAL reason that something is bothering me, and thankfully, my husband — after years of practice and lots of patience! — accepts this about me. Because then the REAL reason, the BIG blah factor surfaced…

I miss being with our kids and families for Christmas!!!

Yep. That’s the biggie.

We have lived overseas a long time, and so we have rarely been with our families for the holidays. Granted, we have always included others in our Christmas festivities wherever we have lived — even before we got married! When we graduated from university (on the East Coast) each of us moved to the West Coast: my husband to go to seminary and I to start working with a Christian organization. Neither of us could afford to fly back East for Christmas, and so we gathered some friends for Christmas dinner… and now, all these years later, we’ll be doing that exact same thing again this year!

And yet missing our kids and families…

I’ve been mulling over why this is such a big deal. After all, we definitely aren’t the only ones who are in this predicament at Christmastime. Some actually choose to not be together with family, and then there are folks like us who are unable to do so.

I think at least part of the reason is that we were created — are wired, so to speak — for relationship. That’s why God invaded history over 2000 years ago so that He could walk among us. So that we could figure out who He is and understand how much He loves us and longs to have a relationship with us.

Relationships are at the heart of Christmas!!! Not all the trappings (the decorations and music and parties, etc.) that make it such a beautiful time of year — even though I must admit I thoroughly enjoy that part! Not the gift-giving — although it has its roots in God giving us the gift of His Son. But the people. The relationships.

If you’re feeling rather “Bah… Humbug” about Christmas these days, look around and see if perhaps there are others you can come alongside to encourage. It doesn’t need to be complicated or costly — often a simple “How ya doing?” speaks volumes! And if you might have room at your table for another person or two, consider how opening your home — as well as your heart — can be the best gift this Christmas. And together, we’ll have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life!”

The right person???

photo credit: annunciationorlando.org

Imagine being a young girl… a young girl engaged to be married. You are a God-fearer, a person who knows what the Book of the Law and the Prophets says about a promised Messiah. You, like all those in Israel, eagerly await Him.

Then, one day — literally out of the blue — an angel appears to you. His greeting is strange. Other-worldly. He calls you “highly favored” and says that “the Lord is with you.” You are troubled by his words — and rightly so! It’s not every day an angel comes to visit!

The angel reassures you to not be afraid. Easy for him to say! He emphasizes this by saying that “you have found favor with God.” And then he drops a bombshell: he says that you, young Mary, are going to have a baby… and you will name Him Jesus… and “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High... His kingdom will never end.”

You may have been fearful before, but now add to that being totally confused. You and your fiancé have never had sexual relations… so how can you possibly have a baby?!?

And then you learn that God Himself will be the Father.

I don’t know about you, but I would’ve wondered if the angel was talking to the right person! Why me, I’d ask?!? Are you SURE God doesn’t have someone else in mind??

Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song)” by Amy Grant is a hauntingly beautiful song that is the songwriter’s attempt to convey what may have gone through this young girl’s mind and heart as she grappled with the incredible news that God had chosen HER to carry His Son, to be the human conduit to bring the Christ Child into the world.

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now, be with me now

Do You wonder as You watch my face
If a wiser one should have had my place?
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of Your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be
Help me

“I offer all I am for the mercy of Your plan.”

Mary’s response to the angel was

I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.

Luke 1: 38

I wonder how different my life would be if I approached each day, each moment of the day with the same attitude as this young girl? If my focus was always that of being a servant… of being at the mercy of GOD’s plans, not insisting on mine? And especially at this time of year, when the busyness of the Christmas season can rob us of focusing on WHY we’re celebrating, how having an attitude of offering myself for others instead of being preoccupied with my own needs would impact those I rub shoulders with?

Wherever each of us may be in understanding and embracing the significance of this event — of the Christ Child being born into our world — may we continue to come alongside one another so that together we may have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life!”

Grounded… again

photo credit: emaze.com

“You’re grounded!” I don’t remember hearing those words when I was in high school — probably too much time has elapsed! But then again, I pretty much towed the line during those years. After all, my mom was a teacher, and if I ever did anything out of line, she heard about it pronto! University was different… but my parents weren’t around then when I did some “grounding-worthy” things!

Last week, though, being grounded took on a whole new meaning. My husband, who has always been quite active (runner, bicycler) experienced shortness of breath. He is also one of those who avoids doctors like the plague… and so when HE wanted to have this checked out, I knew something was serious.

After numerous tests to rule out anything heart-related, a CT scan revealed a blood clot in his lung. He started on blood thinner before we even left the hospital! We go back next week to get the results from a whole battery of blood tests to hopefully pinpoint the cause.

“No flying/traveling for three months,” said the doctor. In other words, “YOU’RE GROUNDED!”

Back in June I shared about a number of detours we had been experiencing during the time before arriving and then once we were in the US. Preparing to leave the US to return to Thailand wasn’t without some crazy complications as well (like my husband gashing his leg with a chainsaw two weeks before our departure)… but those are stories for later.

Once we returned to Thailand, we began the process of getting visas and making plans to visit some of the folks over in this corner of the globe who we hadn’t been able to see because of how COVID had put travel on hold for a few years. Now, thankfully, things are opening up and so we were eagerly looking forward to resuming travel and making numerous visits…

… but then we get the “YOU’RE GROUNDED” verdict.

Hmm… makes me wonder what in the world the Lord is doing!?!

This brings me to yet another meaning of being grounded … being grounded in the truth of God’s Word… and what He has to say about life when things seem to go all kerflooey.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and for good and not for evil or disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29: 11 (ESV and NLT)

Those two weeks before we left the US, beginning with the chainsaw accident and continuing with having our Philly to LA flight cancelled, having our credit cards blocked because of fraudulent transactions, being singled out by the “sniffer dog” at the LAX airport, and then accidentally leaving a laptop on the plane in Tokyo, breaking my toe when I collided with a suitcase in the middle of the night in a hotel in Bangkok… all of those things surfaced intense feelings of discouragement, despair, being overwhelmed, feeling like a failure.

In a word, they threw me off kilter. I definitely was NOT grounded! My wise husband reminded me that Satan used a similar strategy with Job: the ole one-two punch of having one thing after the other go wrong. His blood clot is one more attempt to throw us (me!) off, to blur our (my!) vision instead of being focused on the Lord and how He can use even blood clots to remind us of His love and how He is still in control.

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.

Romans 8:28 (AMP)

Kind of ironic… in June I wrote that “as a follower of Christ, my final destination is heaven. This time on earth is a journey that God Himself is directing… and so if He chooses to have me zig and zag to get to my final home, then so be it!”

Those words are just as true today — as we’re processing what the Lord has in store for us while we’re grounded once again — as they were back in June. And as we cling to, focus on, and remind ourselves of the truths of God and His Word, may we seek ways to encourage one another to keep hanging in there when life throws us some punches! Then — together — we can continue to have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life!”

Summertime… and being tethered

My love for being on the water was birthed as a young girl growing up where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. Swimming, sailing, water skiing — Ah! Bliss!

My grandparents had a big home right on the Bay. They lived on the ground floor and rented out the upper two floors plus two more apartments in a “garage” building out back. The courtyard had an outdoor shower — a somewhat-futile (!) attempt to keep the apartments a bit less sandy — and also a picnic table and a tetherball for guests to use. When we kids weren’t on the beach/in the water we would often be batting around the tetherball.

It’s a simple game… one person hits the ball in one direction, the opponent hits it the other way. Whoever is the first to wrap the ball, which is attached to the pole by a long rope, around the pole is the winner.

I just want my life to ever be entwined with You

Tethered to Your heart….

from the song “Tethered” by Phil Wickham

This song was new to me when I listened to it earlier this week. But the image of being “tethered to [God’s] heart” has been swirling around my mind ever since then…

Lately it seems my life has been batted around in circles like a tetherball — somedays making progress, fixing my attention upon the Lord, having a (basically) good attitude, being encouraged and positive. But other days… feeling my “opponent” is going to emerge the winner.

The “detour” we’ve been on these past weeks had an additional S-curve thrown in when my husband tested positive for COVID several days ago. Now, in addition to caring for my father-in-law (downstairs) I’ve been running up and down the stairs to care for my self-quarantining husband (upstairs). And I thought I was tired before!

True confession: during this time, I’ve binge-watched a Netflix series and pigged out on ice cream and chocolate — not the best ways to deal with stress, but there were those moments when I felt overwhelmed and at the end of my physical strength, times when I felt I deserved to indulge!

When I would think about being “tethered” to God … being “entwined with [God]” those thoughts would help keep me going during this crazy time. That imagery encouraged me to think of how firmly I am “attached” to God — not because of anything I do or don’t do, not whether I’m tired or refreshed, not if my attitude has been good or raunchy– but simply because of being His child, born of His Spirit when I was a university student.

In those childhood tetherball games, I remember how sometimes the ball would wind in one direction, unwind, then wind again — umpteen times! The victor finally emerged when the ball was no longer moving, but rather had wound so tightly that it was one with the pole.

The songwriter goes on to say:

What more could I desire

What greater thing to treasure

I’m convinced there’s nothing better

Than living in Your love

Caught up in the wonder

Of being in Your presence

Of knowing such a friendship

To be with You, my God

And everything I am

God, I throw into Your hands

Phil Wickham, “Tethered”

May that be the state of my heart... firmly entwined with my Savior, being one with Him, no longer being batted around by who-knows-what (!!!) in this life. And may we come alongside one another to help still the back-and-forth batting of “balls” that can knock us off our “game.” And by doing so, may we together have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life.”

The power of ONE…

credit: ronda-isms.com

I came across some wise words today…

One tree can start a forest;
One smile can begin a friendship;
One hand can lift a soul;
One word can frame the goal;
One candle can wipe out darkness;
One laugh can conquer gloom;
One hope can raise your spirits;
One touch can show you care;
One life can make the difference.

Be that ONE today.

The past few weeks, as my father-in-law has been diligently working with occupational and physical therapists to regain mobility after surgery, I’ve seen yet another facet of the power of one… the difference an individual’s determination and perseverance make.

Dad will be 93 in August, and yet his therapists have often remarked how his “stick-to-it-iveness” surpasses that of others half his age! He won’t quit but keeps pushing himself with the goal of returning to the way he was before a fall (nothing broken, thankfully!) led to surgery (for a pre-existing condition) that led to several weeks in a rehab facility and then coming home and adjusting to new capabilities and limitations… at least for the time being!

And that’s where the power of one comes into play… none of us can do the hard work of recovery for him: not the therapists, not his children (which includes my husband), not even yours truly — although we all wish we could do something to help, to make things easier for him, to make sure he doesn’t fall or somehow injure himself. Sometimes our “helping” actually has the opposite effect, to be honest. We can get in the way, especially when we project our own ideas on him.

The power of one has also been evident when observing the difference a phone call or visit can make. Or having something to look forward to.

The book of Proverbs — often referred to as “Wisdom Literature” in the Bible — says that “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Or, more poetically, “Winsome words spoken at just the right time are as appealing as apples gilded in gold and surrounded with silver.” (see Proverbs 25:11)

What we say matters. Really. Our words have the power to encourage, to build up, to bring hope and refreshment… or they can destroy, tear down, sow discouragement and discord. Sometimes it’s better to not say anything than to say something harsh or hurtful… and then live with regret because those words can never be unsaid.

A smile, a hand, a word, a laugh, a touch… all of these can, as the wise words shared earlier, begin a friendship, lift a soul, frame the goal, conquer gloom, show you care.

May we all seek to be the one who makes a difference in someone else’s life… and as a result, together we can have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life.”

Detours…

Oh, we were SO excited to finally be visiting the States!!! Three years of only seeing family and friends on Zoom or WhatsApp calls, wanting to give real IN-person hugs, looking forward to pigging out on corn on the cob and other summertime favorites…

Detour #1 came when I tested positive for COVID several days before we were to leave Thailand for the US. Prior to that we had been jumping through numerous hoops in our annual visa renewal process. Every year it seems another hiccup emerges as we navigate the necessary bureaucracy. My husband needed an affidavit from the US Consulate “proving” that we’re married. No problems there! Then we needed a letter from our Thai bank verifying we had sufficient funds in place for our particular kind of visa. No problem there — almost! The bank was closed because of COVID. Thankfully, the very day we needed said document it was open. But then I tested positive…

Detour #2 came once we got to the States. (As an aside, the day before flying both of us tested negative for COVID, which gave us “permission” to make the long journey homeward.) A few weeks after arriving in the US my father-in-law had a fall. Thankfully, nothing was broken! But the fall surfaced a pre-existing condition that required surgery… then rehab… then returning home and in need of care. My husband and I then became caregivers. Not exactly what we had foreseen for our time in the States.

More than once in the “COVID season of my life” it became evident that God was wanting to help me realize I’m not in control. Duh. Why on earth did I ever think I WAS in control of anything?!? And so I had thought I pretty much had a handle on that reality… until this most recent event. Now, all our plans to visit family and friends all over the US (normally we make a 5-6 week road trip for that purpose) got thrown out the window. And once again I was reminded that I’m not in control.

“… your agonizing, unplanned detour is not a waste — not if you look to the Lord for His unexpected work and do everything in His name.”

John Piper in Solid Joys, May 25th

Yes, this is a detour in our plans… and yet we are SO very thankful that God arranged for us to be in the States at this particular time! We’ve been learning a lot in our new roles, both we as caregivers and Dad learning his new capabilities and limitations. And yet, as Piper says, this detour is not a waste but rather an opportunity to engage in “unexpected work” that, in all honesty, can at times can be challenging, frustrating, and confusing. But ultimately, GOD is the One in charge of where we go, what we do… ALL of our days! And so we rest in knowing that HE is in control… and then the “unexpected work” actually becomes something quite rewarding. A privilege.

We keep having detours… like days when the internet isn’t working and I get bent out of shape because I can’t do what I need to do– when I want to do it. (Harkens back to the ole “being in control” theme, wouldn’t you say?!) Or when the car battery dies… or when I struggle with a critical spirit because of unrealistic expectations of others… or…

Ultimately, as a follower of Christ, my final destination is heaven. This time on earth is a journey that God Himself is directing… and so if He chooses to have me zig and zag to get to my final home, then so be it!

As I remember this truth, then I can’t help but have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life!” But I forget this from time to time… and so may we help each other to remember, to keep things in perspective, to keep our focus on the One who can keep us on the right path.

Doubts

Doubting Thomas by Carvaggio

Our family lived in Romania for a number of years. The churches there designated the Sunday after Easter as “Thomas Sunday,” a day to remember the disciple who had doubts about the Resurrection. He wasn’t present when Jesus first appeared to the disciples, and so when they told him this good news he was skeptical:  “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it.”  (John 20:25)

A week passes and then, when the disciples are together again, Jesus shows up and tells Thomas, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.”  (John 20:27)  Thomas did what Jesus said… and believed. 

Doubts are a normal part of life, not just for Thomas, but for ALL of us. And yet God invites our questioning, seeking, skeptical hearts to honestly share with Him our concerns. And then, like Jesus graciously did with Thomas, He shows up and helps us in our unbelief… helps us to see Him as He really is. 

Sometimes it helps to verbalize what we’re grappling with to another person. We may not have all the answers, but often a listening ear, a caring gesture can be “just what the doctor ordered.” In the midst of our doubts, our fears, our confusion there is someone who truly does understand and care… our Savior and our God.

May God encourage your heart… especially if you are feeling like Thomas these days! And together, may we have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life.”

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