Sunday, July 17, 2011

A letter to my friend...

Sometimes God wraps his gifts in unlikely packages.  Often they come wrapped as tiny, helpless babies.  His greatest gift was born in a stable.  No one could imagine how a tiny baby could change the world.  But that baby grew, and taught, and loved, and healed, and suffered, and died, and rose again.  Along the way, that tiny baby became a man who conquered sin and death and gave us hope for eternity.  He was truly God's greatest gift.

I received a gift from God in the form of a baby girl.  When she was born, I couldn't imagine how that tiny baby would change my life.  She grew, she laughed, she loved, she died.  Along the way, that tiny baby became a little girl who taught me how to trust God, how to love people, how to make the most of every day, how to suffer, how to be brave, and how to keep my focus on eternity.  She was a severe mercy, a blessing, and one of God's greatest gifts to me.

This week you have received a gift from God in the form of a baby boy.  As you look at him, you cannot yet see all the ways he will change your life.  He will grow.  He will laugh.  He will love.  Oh, how he will love!   He will teach you to trust God, to love people, to make the most of every day, to celebrate the little things (which are really the big things) and he will teach you how to be brave.  The world may say that he is not perfect.  God says that he is fearfully and wonderfully made.  You have been given a great gift that will take a lifetime to unwrap.  

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace

Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home
It's not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?
(lyrics by Laura Story)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Eucharisteo: to give thanks; to rejoice

Back in April I started my journal of 1,000 gifts.  It's my Eucharisteo journal--giving thanks to God for what he has given me.  I've named 271 so far...

47. People who adopt orphans
51. Sharing an earbud with my son; sharing his world
57. Real mail in the mailbox
68. Wagging dog tails
81. Father/Son camping trips
83. Wild strawberries among the weeds
100. Butterflies
108. Ginormous bowls of popcorn
129. Early morning walks
133. Teenagers who say thank you
143. Bunnies who want to be held
151. Iced tea mixed with lemonade
167. Clean sinks
184. A peaceful home
186. A husband who loves me
212. Strangers who say hello
215. Dinner parties
224. Roller coasters at night
231. A permanent address (only thought of this one after spending a day with the homeless)
236. Good night kisses
245. A child in my lap
267. Looking in libraries
269. Having a hand to hold

I hope my list will encourage you to notice the gifts God has given you.  Perhaps you haven't recognized the things around you as gifts.  Acts 14:16 says that God has not left us without evidence of himself and his goodness.  For instance, he sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts.  God has put things around us that reveal himself and his goodness--things like rain, food, and joyful hearts (and baby ducks, BFF's, and birthdays).  In John 17:7 Jesus says that everything he has is a gift from God.  In order to live life with a grateful heart, you have to recognize the gifts you have.
in everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:18)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Had enough?

Once upon time there was a prophet named Elijah.  He was a great man of God.  During his lifetime, he stood up to the king, he was fed by ravens, he prayed for a drought in Samaria for three years,  he raised a boy from the dead, he called down fire from heaven, and he killed all the prophets of Baal.  Did I mention he was a great man of God?  But apparently even great men of God get discouraged.  When Elijah found out that the Queen (a Baal worshipper herself) was planning to kill him, he fled for his life.  "He went alone into the wilderness, traveling all day.   He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. 'I have had enough Lord...Take my life.'" After Elijah cried out to God, he collapsed and slept.  As he was sleeping, an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat!"  He looked around and saw some bread and water.  So he ate and drank and slept again.  Then the angel of the Lord touched him again and said, "Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you."  So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel...(1 Kings 19:4-8)


Everyone gets worn out/burned out/discouraged/afraid--even great men of God.  How many times have you said, "I've had enough!  I can't take it anymore!"  It's a common feeling--having had enough--wanting to end the pain.  But God promises that he has a purpose for us and that he will fulfill it.  (Psalm 138:8)  Just because you are discouraged does not mean that you are not a Christian.  It may mean that you are alone in the wilderness.  It may mean that you are tired and hungry.  It may mean that you need to hear a word from the Lord--which is what happens to Elijah later in the story.

When you are worn out/burned out/tired of running you need to take care of your physical needs.  You need rest.  You need food.  It sounds simple, but it's the way God made us.  If you are going through a difficult season of life, take care of yourself.  Sleep. Eat.  If you don't, the journey ahead will be too much for you.

When you are depressed, things look worse than they really are.  In verse 14 Elijah tells God that he is the only prophet of God left.  "And now they are trying to kill me too."  God assures him that he has preserved a remnant of 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal.  Elijah needed to see the situation from God's perspective.

So if today you are saying, "I've had enough!"  Stop.  Rest.  Eat.  Look at your situation from God's perspective.  Listen for His voice.  He will strengthen you for the journey ahead.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)