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Perfect and Complete

IMG_3766“And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4).

Perfect and complete. Sounds good, doesn’t it? I would love to get to that point where I feel like I have nothing else to learn, nothing else to gain.

But you know what comes right before verse 4? Verse 3: “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

Oh boy. The testing of my faith. Do I really have to go through that in order to gain steadfastness, which is what leads to my being perfect and complete?

And you know what comes before verse 3? That’s right, verse 2? Want to see it? Are you sure you’re ready?

OK, here goes: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”

IMG_3257Trials of various kind. Producing steadfastness. Leading to being perfect and complete.

Got it.

ho, boy

So I guess that “lacking in nothing” part that comes at the end of verse 4 would mean that I have everything I need to face these trials of various kinds. That’s comforting. I know that no matter what I encounter in my life, God is always there with me. That old adage that is completely false and non-biblical can be thrown out. God certainly will give me more than I can handle so that I will depend on Him.

P1000628And I will gain steadfastness.

And I will be perfect and complete. In Jesus. When He takes me home.

Amen.

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. Join the fun!

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Seeking the Silent

Today’s 10-Minute Tuesday post is on the prompt “silent.”

IMG_3060My brain is running at full steam.

What if? Why not? Would it be so bad?

I try to stop. I try to quiet it. I try to sleep.

Not going to happen.

There is no silent night in my thoughts. There’s always something roiling and boiling.

Sleep eludes me as I search for ways to shut it down.

Let it go.

Think about it tomorrow.

My brain doesn’t listen. It refuses to be silent.IMG_4424

It yells. It sings. It reviews or previews every conversation.

Could I have said that better? Did I say something wrong? What if I say something wrong?

Be still, my soul. Be silent. Rest.

The hum of the air conditioner. The chirping of cicadas. The croaking of frogs. Lots of frogs. The crash of ice from the ice maker into its bin. The snoring of the dog on the floor of my room.

Nothing is silent in my house.

Breathe. Deep, slow breaths. Out. In. Calm your thoughts.

Pray.

IMG_6175Ahhhh. That’s the ticket. So many people to pray for. So many concerns in the world. If my brain is not going to shut down, might as well put it to good use. Put my cares in the hands of my Creator.

He hears. He knows. He cares. He’s got this.

Finally. Sleep. I know He’s got this.

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Bright Hope For Tomorrow

Today’s 10-minute Tuesday post is about hope.

104_0443Without hope, I think we would live in despair. If we never thought that things would get any better, that we would always be sick, or in debt, or single, or in a bad marriage, then there would be very little reason for us to want to go on living.

We can hope for things that we will never get. When I was younger, and actually still often today, I hoped that I would be able to get a horse. I’ve always loved them. I’ve always wanted one. But we’ve never lived anywhere I could have one, nor have we had the finances to be able to keep one.

But still I hoped.

But that kind of hope seems different. It’s more like a wish. A desire. Something I really IMG_7796-B&Wwant but that I could live without.

There’s an old hymn that says “Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth; thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide. Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine with 10,000 beside” (“Great is They Faithfulness,” Thomas Chisolm and William Runyon, 1923).

“Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide.”

That’s hope. To know that Jesus is with us all the way giving us strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.

Our circumstances might never change, but we have the hope of heaven set before us. In Romans 5:3-5, Paul says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character IMG_3468produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Oh, bright hope for tomorrow. One day at a time.

Don’t give up hope. Don’t give up on Jesus.

 

Horse photo is of Prince, by JacobRohrPhotography

God Will Make a Way

IMG_2829Picture yourself at the edge of a great sea. Your enemies are quickly approaching from the rear. You know death awaits you. If you stay where you are, your enemies overtake you. If you go forward, the sea buries you.

Yet you know that God has called you to go forward. But how? There is no way.

That is what the Israelites must have thought when they were at the edge of the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army hot on their tail.

And then Moses raised his staff.

And the seas parted.

And they walked across on dry land while the enemy army drowned beneath the waves.

We don’t all face a literal sea with actual human enemies hunting us down. But we all IMG_0080face huge obstacles that we see now way around.

Isaiah 43:2 says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

God can make a way when there seems to be no way. An oldie but goldie Don Moen song runs through my head every time I think of that phrase. He works in ways we cannot see. If you can overlook the 80’s vibe, these words will touch you. Moen also shares the story behind the song here.

When I’m facing something I just don’t know how to handle, I rest in the fact that God is who He says He is, and He can do what He says He can do (thanks, Beth Moore). And above all, He is good.

 

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. Join the fun!

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Waiting For Rescue

thai diver

TimesofIsrael.com/AFP PHOTO / YE AUNG THU

All eyes are on Thailand as rescue attempts continue for 12 young boys and their soccer coach trapped deep in a cave. Monsoon season is upon that land and there are warning signs up to not explore the caves during the rainy season.

We could be saying they got what they deserved. Why did they make such a dumb decision?

But we don’t say that. We pray. And we watch. We follow the reports and we hope for the best possible outcome. We feel the parents’ anguish as they wait for news. We applaud the bravery of the rescuers.

Thai parents

Las Vegas Review Journal (reviewjournal.com)/AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

And we have hope. So far, 8 have been brought out of their cavernous confines. 1 rescuer has died. 5 still wait and hope.

Remember in 2010 when 33 Chilean miners were rescued from their collapsed mine where they had been trapped for 69 days? 69 days.

People around the world cheered when the first miner was taken out. We were so grateful they were all safe and well.

And most of us didn’t even know them.

Even before that, in October of 1987, 18-month-old Jessica McClure was rescued from a well in her aunt’s backyard after 58 consecutive hours of efforts by rescuers. “I had God on my side that day,” Jessica says in a 2017 issue of PEOPLE. “My life is a miracle.”

Both the miners’ story and that of baby Jessica were made into movies.

And now, the world is focused on Thailand and 13 human beings who had to have wondered if they were going to survive. 8 are out. 5 more to go.

thai shoes

trtworld.com/Thai News Pix via AP /AP

When a British diver finally found them, they were so happy and asked if they were going to be taken out that day. Unfortunately, their deliverance is going to take time. Food and medical care were delivered to them.

And hope. Hope was brought in that day.

In the early days after they were located, some were predicting they may have to stay in that cave until monsoon season is over. You know how long that is?

4 months.

Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Darkness. Fear. Depleting air supply. Little food. All these things have confronted these boys and young men. But they have had each other to encourage and talk to and hold onto hope with.

As one by one their teammates and companions have been taken to the surface, how must those who are still waiting feel? Is excitement building or is anxiety riding right behind?

Will they make it out alive? Will they come back for me?  Who will be the last one left?

And so we pray.

You are seen. You are loved. You are not alone.

thai rescuers

kare11.com

We hope for your rescue because we ourselves are in need of rescuing from the kingdom of darkness.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13).

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” (Matthew 18:12).

 

 

Wait For It

I tried an exercise recently that involved writing every day on a random subject for 12 minutes. I called it my Daily Dozen. I asked my Facebook friends to give me a one-word prompt that I would use, in the order I received them. I was overwhelmed with 88 responses.

IMG_5878So I spent nearly 3 months writing every day. I loved the process as it really stretched me to talk about words as diverse as “abide” and “zombies,” from “chihuahuas” to “cats.” It was amazing to me how often the word for the day aligned with the calendar. As my 3 months of daily posts came to an end at the beginning of January, it was very appropriate that the word would be “waiting.”

We had been waiting for our first grandchild to be born. And wouldn’t you know it, he was a week late.

We don’t like waiting for things.

Waiting to hear news of whether our kid got into the college of their choice.

Waiting for tests results from a biopsy.

Waiting for a job.

Waiting for God to provide a spouse.

Waiting can cause unease and anxiety. Especially when we’re not sure what the outcome will be. Our minds usually go to the worst-case scenario. It’s easy for us to jump to conclusions and then let worry take over.

But worry gets us nowhere.

“They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they will walk and not faint” (Is. 40:31).

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Ps. 27:14).

It seems that if the Bible encourages us to wait, then maybe it’s not such a bad thing. We’re not used to delayed gratification. We have microwaves and Instapots and Amazon Now. We want things when we want them.

But God doesn’t work that way.

Micah 7:7 says, “But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my FullSizeRender 2salvation; my God will hear me.”

I haven’t come across any Scripture that encourages us to be impatient. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit includes patience.

Whaaat?

Amazing, isn’t it?

There must be something to that. God would not promote it if He didn’t consider it a good thing.

Romans 8:25 says, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

If we are focused on the Lord, then we have hope rather than fear when we are waiting for something, because we see that the Lord is good. We see that all His ways are good. We see that He does not let us down.

IMG_8908When I was anxious after a late-term ultrasound showed a dilation in our grandson’s bowels, I was not focusing on who the Lord is. I wanted the baby to come quickly so that we could find out what this dilation was. But that wasn’t trusting, that was fearing.

If God is good, and He is, then our waiting will never be in vain.

 

 

Hands: A Guest Post Poem

My 15-year-old daughter, Morgan, is quite an incredible writer. I have posted essays of hers before (see this one from when she was 10, and this one from when she was 13). Once again, I share her work with you.

As I lie here in the new year, I reflect on my past, and as I do so, my eyes slowly fall to my hands.

baby hand

Morgan’s baby hand with Momma’s.

These hands, that have done so much. These hands that have helped build houses, and destroy them. These hands that have held both monstrous and precious things. These hands that have written poems and painted masterpieces (at least in my mind). These hands that have drawn stick figures of best friends in a park.

These hands have done so much. They have wiped away tears, caused comfort and hurt. They are both yin and yang as they fold together for prayer. The things they have done, the monuments they have touched.

You wouldn’t think it at first glance, but they are the most experienced part of our bodies. They have realized things that our brains did not record. They have felt things that our feet could not reach. They have done things that the rest of our body could never deem possible.

sand hand

Morgan’s hand, 4th grade

These hands that have broken objects, and fixed them. These hands that can carry a gun in one hand and a child in another. These hands that are so complex, they require more bones than the rest of our body. These hands that so often go unnoticed, yet hold the most fascinating stories. These hands that have seen sorrows, hardships, joys, and triumphs.

Hands that have helped me climb mountains and explore caverns. Hands that have helped me beat a punching bag and hold a small kitten. These hands that hold so many memories and trials.

These hands are God’s. He holds them as you lift them for praise. He holds them as you raise fists in the air, as you ask Him why? He holds them as you cry. He holds them as you laugh. Because like your hands, He is always there by your side no matter what it is you are going through.

linus

Morgan’s hands hold a sleeping Linus.

Because like your hands, He is with you through hardships and successes. Because like your hands, He will help you build what needs to be built in your life, and tear down the walls that you had so foolishly built.

God holds the whole world, but He also holds your hands. He places his hands on your face as you melt into His presence. Take a look at your hands, and wonder what stories they hold, and how God has been with you, every step of the way.