There is this word that came up again recently that I had not thought about in years; the word alternate. To me it means not being good enough for the original. I did not think it was a big deal, until I felt a bit of shame and pain with it. I am finding it is best to just tell the Lord how I am feeling and ask for the truth. The answer came in the sweetest, most healing way.
We were watching an episode of The Chosen and the story of Jesus attending a wedding came on. As the account goes, they run out of wine and Mary reports this to Jesus. She also instructs the servers to do whatever He says. He has them fill six jars with water, that were actually used for ceremonial washing, as was a Jewish custom. He then turns the water into wine. The master of the banquet actually proclaimed this the better wine. The hosts were saved from shame by this first miracle of Jesus.
When I saw that scene, an idea occurred to me. Being an alternate was actually an act of grace. What I mean is, I needed more time for Jesus to change me. So much of my heart was not purified, too much selfishness remained. My kingdom was priority and His was not. Through much refining and pressing, He preformed a miracle on my hard heart. Amazing!
The book fair came to the younger kids school this week. Our youngest spent her own money on a book for me. The book is entitled The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds. We read it together and loved it! When she crawled into my lap after dinner, I whispered in her ear how much it meant to me that she thought of me. I told her how it made my heart smile. She stayed in my lap for quite awhile.
I wonder how God feels when we think of Him throughout our day? When we take time to ask His opinion, guidance or simply tell Him we love Him, do you think His heart smiles too? When we open His book and read the greatest collection of words ever written, are we not amazed and have a million questions? And the more we get to know Him, the harder it seems to leave the awareness of His presence don’t you think? Knowing that as much as I love this little girl of mine, God’s love is greater, it is almost too much for one heart to contain. Maybe that is why I write…
Today we will take steps either forward or backward. We can choose to remember that we never go anywhere where we are not in the very presence of God. It is our awareness of His presence that will determine our steps. We will step forward in love to the unseen ones, the hurting ones, the lost ones. We will step backwards in division, name calling, dividing into teams and finger pointing. One brings life and one reminds us all we are in great need of grace. We can let the Lord determine our steps today in every thought, word and action. We can also go our own way, support our own cause or build our own kingdom. A new day is before us. Let us step in love all the day long.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
I wrote down a question in my journal the other morning about faith. I wondered if we are not living by faith, are we truly living? If every need is met, we experience unity in all relationships and we have nothing we are hoping changes, are we living or just self sufficient? Thinking through this question turned my mind to many opportunities. It is a choice I must make to have hope.
Maybe when we become more transparent with our hopes, we become more approachable. Doesn’t it always encourage your heart when you talk with someone who is choosing to have faith, expectant hope in the midst of hard things? Their life is not perfect, but their source of hope is. They somehow seem more alive and have peace to spare. Fear does not seem to be a word they know. I want to be more like that and I am telling God about this desire. Conviction comes to mind, settles into my heart and I feel much lighter. Yes, He will not stop working on growing me up. He is that good.
“And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” Luke 23:45
The question popped in my head the other morning as to what tore my curtain? What event took down the separation in my heart between God and I, making Him approachable? Another way to say it, I guess is what changed our relationship from me knowing about God to trusting Him? It made me stop and think. The answer would be that it was a gradual tear, one event after another where my thoughts, desires, words and actions began to change. With each event the “false gods” I had depended on were taken away and each time I found God to be trustworthy and loving. Pretty soon the curtain was gone and the invitation to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) became real.
One of the hard things about being a mom is knowing each of our children have moments in their lives where they need grace and mercy. They always have a choice to go with confidence to their Heavenly Father’s throne or cover their need with worldly things and damaging behaviors. We can lead them, but I am seeing that showing them is best. And each time they run to their dad or give him a hug, I catch a glimpse of the choice they will make as they get older.
Yesterday morning I was praying and telling the Lord how it feels like our community is in such a mess. Maybe you feel the same way too about where you live. What came to mind was this huge ball of tangled blue threads. Can we untangle what appears so knotted up in anger, fear and blindness to truly seeing people? You do not hold a knot up and admire it that is for sure. So what do we do? I did the only thing I know to do, I handed it to the Lord. He has been known to do the impossible. Thread by thread I watched, in my imagination, as each thread was sewn into the hem of His robe. The process was slow as most stitches are, but the result was beautiful.
I read the story of the woman who had heard about Jesus and thought if she could just touch Him, she would be healed. She reached out her hand in faith, touched the hem of His robe and was instantly made well. An idea came to mind. Maybe these tangled threads, when surrendered into His hands, can be used for healing. And maybe when we’ve each been made well and whole, we can tell others. Who knows? Maybe where we live will become known for a place of wellness because we know the source of healing. We have reached out in faith, with our tangled threads and watched Him do the impossible. And this I know with all my heart, when He heals, you are never the same. Praise God!
I was talking with one of the kids today and asking how they were feeling about school. Because of what I heard when he prayed, I wondered if he was feeling anxious. He said it wasn’t what was in front of him at school that worried him, it was what was behind him that did. He said it was the words spoken behind his back, that made school hard. We talked about what scripture says about things behind us and that was new to him. We talked about ways to stand up for yourself, without firing back with hurtful words that will only keep the exchange going. We talked about what was true. If something is said that does not match the identity God gave you, you let it slide right off.
I was thankful for this conversation because our community witnessed first hand this past week the power of our words. A few kids hurt many and the ramifications are big. I have wondered what it would be like to sit down with these kids and hear their reasoning behind their words. All words have roots, where did these come from? It could be these kids are insecure, not knowing who they were created to be. Immaturity plays apart too I would assume, but seeing a person as less than human has a source.
My prayer is that at this low point, that God will meet these young kids. This is not the end of their story and good will come. I know this full well. And we can all be reminded that our words have the power to speak life or death. Let us all choose life and never for a minute stop seeing people.
Are some people born patient or do we become patient? Does waiting ever get easier? As a kid you wait for holidays, birthdays and summer vacation. As adults you wait for change, reconciliation or whatever should come next in life. How do we wait well and not lose hope? I am starting to think it is where we place our hope that is the key. Hope in a person becomes quite a heavy burden for them to bear. Hope in an object feels empty quickly. Hope in a place here on earth is not sustainable and grows old. So if it isn’t these, then what? It is to be placed in God, in love Himself. And the most remarkable thing happens when we hope in what God gives, allows and withholds; we become patient.
Next week I get the opportunity of asking the questions in Bible study. In preparation today, I read the scriptures we will be examining. It is so timely for the days we are living in. Read a few with me, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6). Take any issue that divides us and run it through this verse, not missing what our attitude of mind is to be. Our example is Christ, who we just celebrated His sacrificial death on our behalf. Are we willing to die to ourselves, opinions and all, for others? This is not easy to do for me on my own. I have to have the endurance and encouragement from God.
With so many points of division and opinions, I see an opportunity where we can be a beautiful example of humility, dying to our desires for the sake of others. Perhaps then maybe we can get back to inviting others into the Kingdom, leading the way with one voice and mind in glorifying God. Sounds a bit like heaven, doesn’t it?
“When the Chest of the Covenant of God entered the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, was watching from a window. When she saw King David dancing ecstatically she was filled with contempt.” 1 Chronicles 15:29msg
Our teacher challenged us yesterday in Bible study to not look out the window at other people, but look in the mirror. The concept is easy to grasp, but much harder to live out. Finding fault in others comes almost without thinking, but looking at the faults in ourselves becomes painful. Maybe that is why we avoid it. When I read this verse this morning, I found another woman that seemed to struggle with this very thing. She exchanged an opportunity of worship and celebrating for window watching.
When I choose to judge, it gives me a false sense of elevation; lifting me up above whomever I have put on trial. How much are we missing because of this lofty position? Who might we help, befriend, offer hope, invite into the Kingdom, worship and celebrate beside? Window watching is a place of isolation and division. Perhaps we will all get tired of the view and join in worship, for it is what we were made for.