Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Week Thirty - Hanging on Nothing

Do you ever wake up with an idea floating in your head? I do. I wake with vivid images and sometimes exciting prospects and ideas. It drives my husband crazy. Thankfully for him, I don't follow through with the majority of them. But the other day, I woke with a thought that I had to write down, and I wanted to share it today.

My mind's image was of this little planet we call Earth hanging on nothing - suspended in space with only the power of God keeping it in position. Then, I tried to imagine what would happen if the Law of Gravity lost its power. We would simply fall off!  Like those space programs, where the little astronaut falls out of the ship and goes floating across the galaxy, we would all be drifting aimlessly into the abyss of darkness or be fried by the heat of the sun. Who knows! I'm not adequately educated in space science, but my mind drew its own pictures.

As I allowed my imagination to entertain this quandary, another much wiser thought took control. Have you ever heard of laminin? Laminin is a cell adhesion molecule in our body. Like glue, it holds the membranes of our bodies together and has the shape of a cross. I don't think that is an accident of science, especially when it read Colossians 1:17, "And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." So Jesus was not only active in creation, but he is the one who holds all things together. And then I thought, Jesus is gravity!

He is gravity both in the sense of holding this universe together and in the idea of our being grounding, solid, and having our feet firmly planted in truth because He is the truth. So our Saviour is as secure as the fact that our bodies won't come unglued, and we won't randomly fall off this planet.

There is another scripture in Jeremiah 31:35, 36 which reads, "Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for the light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; the Lord of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever." In other words, God's design for the sun, moon, and waters stands forever. It is unchangeable and fully reliable. That is how secure we can be in God.

And our faith, our wavering, puny faith, needs to be ground and glued to the fact of the reliability and consistency of our God. He will not let us fall apart. He holds us together. We can be firmly planted in that truth. Jesus is gravity both in the physical sense of holding the universe together and spiritually as a place in which we rest our faith.

This world doesn't hang on nothing; it hangs on God's power. It was spoken into existence by his word, which will endure to the end. And our lives aren't hanging on nothing either. We have an all-powerful, eternal God and Saviour lovingly and purposefully holding us together.

So today, don't fall apart. Instead, plant your feet firmly in the Saviour's love and let him hold you together!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Week Twenty-Nine - Treat Me Gently

Today, I'm enjoying time with special friends. You know the kind - the ones with whom you feel comfortable, the ones who allow you to be yourself as you draw strength from each other?

    Leslie Weatherhead said, "A true friend is one to whom you can tip out all of the contents of your heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away."

   I am challenged to think, "Am I that kind of friend? Do I allow people to tip out the contents of their hearts? Do my friends see me as a safe place to share burdens?

There is a short passage in James 3:17 that holds a little phrase, "easily intreated." Do you know what that means? It means easily drawn, sincere and open, approachable, and has the idea of compliance and diplomacy. The passage describes wisdom, but we can relate this easily to the qualities of a good friend. There are other characteristics here in James 3 that also translate into friendship, qualities like purity, peace, gentleness, mercy, and acceptance. So, what kind of friend are you when these definitions are applied?

Another question we might ask ourselves is, "When my friends share their hearts, can I tell the difference between windy words and words of meaning, or do I throw in my junk and create more drama? We all need that place to dump our stuff on the table and get some help sorting things out. Sometimes, just hearing our junk in words or looking at the mess is all we need. A good friend knows we will most usually find our way to the truth if they lend a listening ear.

Let me give you a word of warning here. When your friend comes to offload, they don't want to hear, "I told you so, or "Well, that happened to me too." They just want you to listen. If you jump on the bandwagon with them, you aren't helping them solve their problem; you become another weight for them to carry, and add fuel to the fire. So learn, learn, learn, to be a good listener.

That brings us to some other questions, "Am I gentle with my friends? Or judgmental? Am I considerate or harsh? Am I patient or eagerly waiting to tell my side of the story? I've known times when I have borne my heart to someone I considered a friend only to have them turn on me with words that didn't answer my quandary or added to my heaviness. My heart stopped as I realized I had poured my heart out to someone cold and calculating. They revelled in the morsels of my pain and offered no soothing balm. They were not a safe place. So let's be warned - don't be this type of friend. Keep your heart and lips from harsh, judging words and seek to be a safe place.

Ask yourself these questions. "Do my words have the aroma of kindness? Do my friends trust I will not injure them, even if I have to speak the truth in love? Do I bathe my words in prayer before they escape my lips?"

There's a fine line between speaking the truth in love and slicing someone with a spiteful knife. When your friend lays open their heart, they are making themselves vulnerable. They aren't sure you will understand, might not be confident they have explained themselves fully, and could even be harboring condemning guilt over a situation. They need your gentle hand - the gentlest touch - that will lovingly and carefully help them unravel their fears and find the way to truth. Or, as Leslie Weatherhead put it, "sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away." Remember, they have placed the gift of confidence in you, and you, as their friend, have the utmost responsibility to not injure them but point them to hope in Christ.

We are all looking for a friend like this, and we cherish the ones who fill this bill. But the question for us today is, what type of friend am I?

Dear one, if you have been disappointed or let down, let me assure you there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. This friend will never disappoint, never misunderstand, and never deal harshly. Take your stuff to Him. Lay it all out on the table and watch Him gently breathe His love into your situation.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Week Twenty-Eight - The Good Hand of God

Last week, I asked you to join me in an unspoken prayer request. Thank you to the many who reached out and added it to your prayer time. I can now share what prompted my request. 

My oldest daughter had gone to the ear doctor due to significant hearing loss. This prompted the scheduling of an MRI on the Friday before the 4th of July. As they looked to see what might be causing her hearing problem, a small brain tumor was discovered. That moved her into the hands of a neurosurgeon, and an appointment was quickly made for the following Wednesday.

At the consultation, he explained that the tumor is not the cause of her hearing loss but must be addressed. It is not cancerous but requires treatment to prevent future problems. It is called a meningioma. She will need 2-4 treatments by radiation to reduce the tumor, and then, she will be regularly monitored.

This past Friday, she had a follow-up appointment with her ear doctor. He began rejoicing in the Lord for the timing and results of the MRI, the good surgeon she had been given, and the speed in which she was being seen. Her first treatment will be on July 22nd. He saw this as the hand of God protecting her and went on to explain, these types of tumors don't usually present themselves until someone has a seizure. Praise the Lord; it was caught before anything untoward happened. They will look more at her hearing loss after the procedure is completed with the brain tumor.

During my Bible reading a few weeks ago, a short phrase kept catching my attention, "the good hand of our God upon us. (Ezra 7:6, 9, 28, 8:18, 22, 31, and Nehemiah 2:8) I remember meditating on how God's hand had often appeared in my life, and when this current situation presented itself, I found great peace knowing God's hand of protection was around my daughter. He moved everything to the exact time and position for this tumor to be found. Only He can do that!

You know, answers to prayer do not always mean an immediate solution. Sometimes, God's plan means using a situation to point us upward or teach us to trust Him further. The resolution might involve a process, but His good hand takes us through. My daughter has a path ahead of her, but God will remain by her side, and so will all our prayers. Thank you.

I ask you to hold her up in prayer as she faces radiation, and please, continue praying for the lost ones around her. May they see the good hand of God actively at work, and may He draw them to Himself.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Week Twenty-Seven - Prayer Request

It's Tuesday evening, and tomorrow morning my blog should be ready. It isn't. I am staring at the computer, searching through files for ideas, and praying about what to write. Why? Well, sometimes it's hard to express all that is happening.  And sometimes, while you are waiting on the Lord, you must also wait before you share. So today, let me begin by asking for prayer - prayer for God's graciousness and mercy in an unspoken situation.

My husband and I are using Chris Tiegreen's devotional, At His Feet. A couple weeks ago, he wrote a group of devotions around the idea of "All Authority." Let me share with you what I learned.

We are children of "All Authority." "Whatever impresses us, frightens us, threatens us, embitters us, or thrills us - all that we can imagine and more - is under the reign of our Father." God has our back! Nothing we face is outside His authority. I don't know about you, but this fact helps me relax. When I receive bad news, when I anticipate an unknown outcome, I rest in the promise of His authority in my life and in the lives of those I love. There is no obstacle God cannot overcome. Of course, we will not pass through this life without trials, but knowing our Father cares and has authority gives us hope and assurance for the path.

We are partners with "All Authority." We are on the winning side. I like John 15:15, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." I am a friend of God, a servant, a workman. I am not a pawn or a piece of a jigsaw. My life has a united purpose with God. He placed me here intentionally, and He did the same with you. None of us are mistakes; we are God's creation and, thereby, partners with Him. 

That takes me to Philippians 1:6, where I am assured that He began and will continue the work in my life, and Philippians 2:13, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Both verses teach me my value to God and assure me of His activity in my life. Do they do the same thing for you?

And finally, we are a part of the mission of "All Authority." "Our God is the God of the incomprehensibly huge and also the God of the infinitesimally small. In the vastness of creation, we begin to glimpse the height, depth, and breadth of the power of God, which, incredibly, is the same power that is working within us to conform us to His image. It is also the same power that sends us out to accomplish His agenda. And what is that agenda? He makes it plain: Make disciples of all people, baptizing them and teaching them. The highest goal of the God of the infinite and the infinitesimal is to be worshiped - everywhere. And though all creation testifies to His glory, there are places in this world where He is not even known."

Sometimes, we get so focused on who we are and what He can do for us that we forget why we are here! We have a sacred charge, and God wants us to be busy fulfilling it. So what is the goal of God? "Restoring the rebellious race back into the pure image of God." 

Mr. Tiegreen finishes by saying, "Do we want meaning in our lives? Here it is. Do we want to know we are in God's plan? This is it. Do we want to know power? This is the mission that has "all authority" behind it."

Dear friend, too often, we get distracted by the challenges, hurts, and complications around us. They take center stage, and we forget God's main purpose is winning souls, sharing His love, and furthering the Gospel. As His children, we get to partner with Him in this main purpose.

So, may I ask you to add one more thing to my unspoken prayer request? Pray others will come to Christ through this situation.