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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.

Rest

Rest

A few days ago I wrote a post about relaxation on my Facebook author page and how that isn’t the same thing as rest. On Sunday I was sitting in my family room watching football, which can be relaxing, if your team wasn’t in the process of losing mostly because they gave up 4 turnovers.

Sigh

But I digress. It was a relaxing afternoon, but I must admit, that my mind was still running and therefore I’m not sure I was really experiencing rest.

Jesus said, “Come to Me all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

He’s not saying, “I’ll give you a break for a little while so you can catch your breath.” He’s talking about true rest, where our burdens are not our burdens anymore. We have laid them on the deep, strong shoulders of Jesus, and He takes them. Forever.

Sunday is called a day of rest, but in this time, there is still a lot of controversy about that. Some people say you can’t do any work at all. You can’t mow your lawn, you can’t do your laundry, you can’t cook.

Some take it to mean you shouldn’t go shopping or out to eat, because then you’re making someone else work.

I think I can make dinner and be totally at rest because my mind is stayed on Him.

Or I can be sitting and reading a book and be burdened by things that are not mine to carry, and be very much not at rest.

So rest for me means a lifestyle. Sabbath rest means I am trusting in Jesus to always carry my burdens. I am fixing my eyes on Him. I am filling my mind with praise music and talking about Him with those I spend time with.

This is not just on Sundays.

I can’t go to church and not do all those things that people say I should not do on Sundays, and then turn around on Monday morning with a knot in my stomach because of all the cares I am hauling around.

Some versions of the Bible use “rest” when they’re talking about death. Maybe that can look like dying to yourself over those things you want to carry but shouldn’t. Maybe that’s taking an analogy too far, but it makes sense.

Rest. Don’t pick up that thing that’s not yours to carry. Don’t take on that task that’s not yours to do. Don’t worry about that situation over which you have no control.

IMG_3895Psalm 62:1: “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.”

 

A Neat and Orderly Life

I’m a list maker. I love having things written out clearly so that I can follow guidelines and get things done. It makes me happy to check things off. Lists are lifesavers sometimes when there’s a lot to do and remember.

Too bad life isn’t like that.

I’d love to have the checklist for a good marriage, happy and successful children who are following Jesus, a personal ministry that encourages people to walk with God in truth and grace.

IMG_4473Fact of the matter is, life is messy and grace is a big, borderless blob that ebbs and flows and doesn’t look the same for any two people.

One married couple might find the key to a happy marriage is weekly date nights and nightly prayer. Another might work split shifts and barely get to see each other, but love and support and cheer each other on in a rocky season. Is one marriage more successful or godly than the other?

One family may put their children in the best private schools money can buy, serve only organic, non-gmo, whole foods and have weekly family game nights to build a happy, healthy family. A single parent might struggle to get the kids out the door to public school every morning with a couple of bucks for cafeteria food. Game nights? That’s a joke. Unless sleeping on the couch while the kids play video games counts. Are the first family’s kids guaranteed to be following Jesus and the other’s guaranteed to fail?

It’s not that easy. A popular evangelistic booklet has illustrations of what life looks like with Jesus on the outside of a person’s life and then with Jesus inside a person’s life.

4 laws self directed4 laws spirit directed

 

 

 

 

I can understand the concept, I really can. But the reality is that, even with Jesus directing our life, even when we are completely submitted to Him, all our little circles aren’t going to be neatly lined up and orderly.

Life will still be messy.IMG_4361

The difference is that we don’t have to figure it out for ourselves. We have a Savior who knows our suffering and invites us to lean into Him and let Him carry our burdens. Our sight isn’t short, looking only at the problems that confront us. We keep our gaze fixed on the face of Jesus. We see the love and compassion in His eyes. We know we’re not alone.

There’s much talk these days about being authentic and real and transparent. That scares me a little bit, thinking that people will spill details of family troubles that rightly should be shared with only a few safe people they know will pray for them and support and encourage them in the process. That doesn’t mean you paste on a smile and say everything is hunky dory, but a simple, “It is well with my soul,” can speak to waves crashing over us and leaving us broken, but hopeful.

In his second letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul wrote: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9, NIV).

IMG_3902We don’t do any good for anybody if we put on a mask and tell everyone that we’re doing great if we’re not doing great. Our trials aren’t just for us. Chances are, something we’re going through will be experienced by someone else down the road, and they will be encouraged to know that they are not alone, and that someone actually survived the trial and found themselves closer to Jesus because of it.

And another thing. This may come as a surprise to some people. Ready?

Everyone sins. That’s right. Everybody. Jesus was the only person who never sinned. We are all in need of that wonderful, gooey grace that has no borders and no rules. So why pretend like we don’t suffer or have hard times or messy lives?

The next person who says to me, “I’m doing great!” in response to my question, “How are you?” I’m going to look them in the eye and say, “Really? Nothing you need prayer for? Nothing that’s worrying you or stressing you out or causing you to lose sleep?”

I don’t expect strangers to reveal all their deep dark secrets, but darn it, my friends better be honest with me when I ask them.

Because I know better. I know they’re human.

IMG_0654

Just Who Do I Think I Am, Anyway?

I’m think I’m lost.

fullsizeoutput_7d81And I’m trying to figure out how to find myself again.

I knew months ago that there would be a lot of change for me this summer, but since it was (supposedly) all good, I hoped it wouldn’t cause grief. But grief has creeped up on me, causing me to doubt the decisions I made that brought about some of this change.

Some changes were just part of life happening. Positions in which I had served for many, years ended or were taken away. 2 of my 3 kids have moved or are moving out of my house. And then I made the decision to leave the organization of which I had been a part for 32 years.

As I see multitudes of friends posting pictures on social media of their summer travels that will end in the Cru staff conference in Ft. Collins, Colo., and I anticipate my husband leaving tomorrow to attend without me for the first time in more than 26 years, I find myself grieving more than I thought I would.

Yes, I made the decision to leave and pursue a writing career. I could have stayed. But the discontent that had been bubbling on the back burner would still have been there. Still a big part of me wants to be in Colorado with my closest friends.IMG_4361

It was time, though. At the point of my decision, I didn’t doubt that this was what God was leading me to do.

Yet I grieve. And I fear. And I doubt that I have what it takes to make a go of this full-time writing thing.

Where is this that I have found myself? Did I hear God correctly? Maybe I made a big mistake.

My writing muscles have atrophied. I don’t even know what it’s like anymore to pitch articles and do research. And what topics do I even care about? What am I learned enough in to even consider writing for others?

Just who do I think I am, anyway?

And so the tears come.

Soon, summer will be over and my daughter will get into the swing of school. And I will figure out what God wants me to say and to whom He wants me to say it. Are there likely to be rejections? Of course. I’ve already received my first. But after not using my brain for anything more than teaching 6th graders language arts and Latin for the past 5 years, my muscles may hurt for awhile. I may want to quit because it’s too hard.

IMG_4473And at unexpected times the grief of what is left behind might crawl out of the corner in which I’ve placed it. Some days I might let it come out and sit in my lap, and I will embrace it for awhile. Then I will point it back to the corner, hoping it will stay there longer than the time before.

And the joy of the Lord will be my strength.

Who do I think I am? I’m just a girl, sitting in front of a computer, trying to write from my heart, asking people to love what I have to say.