Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Things I'm Not Thankful For...Yet

Week Twenty-Two - Returning Well

I was privileged to participate in an online devotional through a Facebook group called Friends in Ministry this past week.  As I came to work on today’s blog, I thought you might also benefit from this thought. 

The other day, the British government started talking about ways to get us all out of our homes and back to work.  I have to be honest.  It caused me to panic a bit.  Not because I’m afraid of the virus, but because I have enjoyed having time at home, with the Lord, with Tom, and just to rest and think and be.  I don’t get extended times like this very often.  Do you?

Well, my little panic prompted me to get hold of my dear friend, RuthAnn, and I opened my brief moment of fear to her.  Can’t we be so thankful for good friends?  Friends, who don’t judge us, just let us be ourselves and love us anyway?  Well, we had a short chat online, and my little fear was quenched.

But, you know the Lord?  He heard my quivering heart, and just couldn’t let it drop! 

I picked up my Springs in the Valley devotional the next morning and began reading.  At first, I couldn’t figure out what the author was trying to say.  Something about Jesus being submissive for thirty years stuck at home with his brothers and sisters who did not believe in him and that He was our example in submission.  Okay.  And then—

“If God is putting you through a spell of submission, and you seem to be losing your individuality and everything else, it is because Jesus is making you one with Him.”  Right…that’s nice….so?

Then, the devotional begins telling the story of a doctor who had been on the front lines of the war treating the wounded.  He had been sent back to rest.  As he was taking a walk, enjoying the beauty of the earth, life seemed very sweet.  He was having a hard time thinking about going back to the front and the horrors of war.  “And, with that,” the devotion reads, “through the gap in the hedge there came a shepherd laddie tending his flock of some two dozen sheep.  He was not driving them with two barking dogs; he went first, and the sheep were following him; if one loitered, he called it by name, and it came running to him.  So, they moved on down the lane, up a little hill, up to the brow and over it, and out of the doctor’s life.  He stood staring, as he heard the words of John 10:4, “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them.” 

And, then the penny dropped!  I understood what God was saying to me.

“Gail,” He said, “Just as you have accepted isolation to be My hand, you must re-enter the world knowing I have called you to return. Rest for now, and enjoy our sweet communion, but then, Return – I am leading you back into service.  Don’t hesitate at the re-opening of life, but renew your commitment to follow.”

Ah, my heart began to pray, “Lord, let me go back better!  I’m so thankful for this time we have had together, and I know You go before me into tomorrow.  You are calling me to follow.  I must inhale the future, and exhale the past! Lord, give me the
grace to re-enter.”

You know, re-entering will require the same kind of faith and obedience that carried us through isolation.  We will need that confidence – that confident reckless abandon that says, “Here am I Lord, send me. “

So, let’s go forward knowing He is going before us. “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them.” John 10:4

Don’t be afraid of tomorrow; God is already there!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Week Twenty-One - Alone

Genesis 2:18 reads, “And the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone.”

I had to laugh out loud!  If God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone, then why are we in this isolation?

I know there are times in life when we feel we need no comrade.  We want to be alone, to think, to pray, to have some peace and quiet, or just to let things process and regain our focus.  But the majority of us are gregarious.  We like to hear other voices and see other people and have some sort of physical contact.  Forced isolation is hard.

However, the vast majority of us are not really alone.  Most of us have at least one family member quarantined with us.  Some of you, however, might actually be the sole individual inside your four walls.  Maybe these thoughts will be an encouragement to you.

Think with me about these times when people were alone, and let’s see what we can draw for ourselves.

Isaiah was alone in the temple when he had a close encounter with the God of Eternity.
Joshua was alone near Jericho when the Captain of the Lord’s hosts met with him.
Jacob was alone at Bethel.  There, he wrestled with God and secured a blessing.
Mary was alone when the angel brought her the message of a coming Saviour.
Elisha was plowing alone when the mantle fell on his shoulders.
Noah was alone as he built the ark and took the long voyage.
Hagar was crying alone in the desert when God found her.
Moses was alone when he saw the burning bush.
Abraham wandered and worshiped alone.
Daniel dined and prayed alone.
Jesus lived and died alone.

Here’s the thing – when we are alone, we have a better chance of being joined by the One who makes our hearts burn.  One who generates hope and creativity.  The One who speaks to our deepest need. 

Sometimes, He wants us alone so He can come alongside. 

When God says is it not good that man should be alone, I know the reference is to the coming creation of woman, but can we look at it this way?

God knows we need company, and He is the best one with whom we can share our time.  We are never truly alone, for He is always there.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  He knows we need a companion and what better companion could we have?

So, in our isolation, let’s look for this Friend and see how He will work in our lives, what He will teach us, and the direction He has for our future.

If you haven’t yet taken time to get alone with Him, don’t wait!  Get into your prayer closet and spend some quiet time alone with the Lord.  Let Him speak to your heart and meet your need. He’s waiting to join you there.

If you are looking for more encouragement, please check out my video devotionals.  They can be found on the Beside the Well blog page, or on YouTube at my channel, Gail Gritts.  There is also a Kindle book entitled, Light that Shines, which is the script from the first twelve videos.  If you are feeling alone, please reach out!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Week Twenty - A Waste of Time

Amy Carmichael wrote, “A good master never wastes his servant’s time.”  What a grand ideal for business, to never waste your employee’s time on senseless tasks or duties beneath their ability.

But when we take this statement and compare it to our Lord, I find even greater truth and assurance.  Even though, I have been a long time learning it!

There have been times in my life and ministry when I have wondered what in the world I was doing.  Everything seemed so monotonous, so repetitive, and like there was no end and no fruit.  Long years of sowing seed, expansive times of waiting and expectation, and that long dark tunnel of depression all seemed such a waste of time.

But now?  I look back and see those years of sowing seed as precious.  They are scattered with memories and people that taught me so much and influenced me greatly. 

Those expansive times when I felt nothing would change, and we’d never get to our goals have now come to fruition, and my expectation was not lost.  God answered prayer.  Not one thing has failed of all He promised. 

And that long dark tunnel of depression?  It holds some of the most valuable keys to my spiritual life.  It stands as a turning point in my life, a beacon that proved the faithfulness of God.

None of these were wasted time.  They all had a purpose, and I remain thankful for them.

Today, as we sit isolated in our homes, let’s remember that this, too, is not a wasted time.  Our good master has a purpose. 

We have the opportunity to use our time wisely.  Psalm 90:12 – “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Let’s think just a bit about the wise use of time as opposed to the foolish.

Some say watching TV is a waste of time.  It is, if there are other things you should be accomplishing, but if it is a release for stress or a planned time of education, information, or entertainment, then it becomes more useful.

Trying to solve everyone’s problems is a waste of time.  You aren’t responsible for their problems, only your own.  So, wasting your energy on things outside your direct responsibility is wasteful.  We aren’t responsible for figuring out how to work the nation through to the new normal, so spending emotional energy when we have no power to create change is wasteful.  We would be better to take this problem to God in prayer, praying for our leaders and the wisdom they need in a time like they have never faced.

Spending energy on complaining about something you could have already changed is a waste of time.  You need to quit procrastinating and get the job done. That would be a more valuable use of time.  Besides, you wear out those around you as they listen to you complaining and making excuses. Productivity is never a waste of time, even if it is simply mowing the lawn or cleaning the garage.

Creating fake problems, so you don’t have to deal with your real issues is a waste of time.  Drama creates drama, but it never solves anything.  It would be better to devote your time to creating genuine resolution.

And, I’d say an attitude of frustration that spills over into complaining, wishing, and angry outbursts because of the current situation is also a waste of time.  Like that old adage, “No sense crying over spilled milk.”  We are where we are.  Fighting against it is a waste of time.

We are better to make good use of our time.  Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

To keep our hopes up and trust our good Master. Psalm 27:13, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

To learn what it means to wait. Psalm 27:14. “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

And know that our times are in His hands.  Psalm 31:15

Our good Master is not wasting our time – let’s be sure we aren’t either!

Thank you for joining me Beside the Well.  You might also like to view my devotional teaching videos on YouTube.  Here is the link -

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Week Nineteen - God's Toolbox

For many of us, Romans 8:28 is a go-to verse when we face trials.  “All things work together for good,” it begins.  We can’t deny that truth, but sometimes we struggle to see how any good comes from terrible things.

It is hard, even now, to see what good can come from this pandemic, but God will be true to His word. He will use it as His tool for good.  We have to keep our hearts and eyes open to see what He does!

The story Jonah gives us an example of how God uses nature as a tool. This man knew God and knew what God had appointed him to do—to preach to Nineveh.  But, Jonah did not want to obey.  He gave in to his rebellious heart and went the opposite direction.  God went to His toolbox to teach him a lesson.

In Jonah 1:17, God prepared a great fish.  In the New Testament, Jesus called it a whale. (Matthew 12:40) Don’t you think that is a rather extreme measure?  Surely, God could have used a different means to get Jonah’s attention?  A thunderstorm, an earthquake, a still small voice? But no!  God chose an enormous fish to make His point!

Later, toward the end of the story, in Jonah 4:6, God uses a gourd.  Jonah loved that gourd!  The shadow of its leaves protected his head from the beating sun as he sat pouting outside the city.  I can just imagine him feeling smug and superior as he sat watching Nineveh repent and believing the gourd’s comfort was God’s hand of approval.

In Jonah 4:7, God pulls out a worm for His next tool.  The hungry little thing ate the whole gourd plant!  Can you imagine Jonah’s distress? 

Then, in Jonah 4:8, God sends a hot and violent wind.  Now Jonah is more confused.  He had obeyed, why weren’t things getting easier?  I don’t think Jonah’s little handmade booth gave him much protection.  He was getting scorched!

Except for the short time under the shade of the gourd, I doubt Jonah appreciated God’s tools.  He couldn’t see how any of this terrible stuff could produce any good.  Still angry and grimacing at the repentance of the Ninevites, he wasn’t even afraid to argue his point with God.  He felt justified in his anger and disappointment and the loss of his gourd.

Let’s go back a bit and look at these tools while we make some application to the situation we are currently facing.

God uses nature as His tool.  Forget Mother Nature, better to be concerned about the Creator!  He can use whatever tool he chooses to get our attention—I think He has our attention right now, don’t you?

God will also use nature to protect us and provide us comfort.  That little gourd plant sprung up in a most unusual place—outside the city.  Not in a garden or cultivated area.  God’s comfort isn’t limited.  He knows where we are and will seek to meet our needs.  Sometimes, though, we get focused on the comfort instead of the Creator.  Like Jonah, we put our appreciation in the wrong place; we rely on the wrong thing. 

God used nature again to remove the object causing Jonah misplaced comfort.  I don’t know if Jonah was a slow learner or so stiff hearted that he didn’t understand, but God had to come again with another tool of discomfort to get his attention.  That hot, violent wind brought Jonah to his knees, not in submission, but to continue complaining and arguing with God.

Here’s the point—God can use whatever tool He chooses to get our attention.  When He does, we are better to yield and place ourselves before the truth of His sovereignty. 

Jonah might have lost his gourd, but he never lost his Lord.  The same is true for us.  Some of our creature-comforts might be lost or disrupted.  We might be facing the tool of God in this pandemic as He moves to create something better.  And if we are, that is God’s call!  How much better for us to humbly yield and trust the Craftsman!