Christmas Peace – Attainable or Not?

Silent Night. Holy Night. All is calm. All is bright.

Christmas peace? Have you figured out how to attain peace in the flurry of America’s holiday? Most people I know are racing the clock trying to get their to-do list done! Check. Check. Check. Food planning, shopping, and preparing is a top consumer of our energies. But, then, sadly, we have many who are not even sure if they will have food to eat or where they will lay their heads. Our attention is drawn to their needs as well. We also have the special events to add to our calendars. All good.

But, many folks are tired, while praying to experience a few “Hallmark moments” with their families and friends before all is done. How do we lay hold of this Christmas Peace? Is it even possible … ?

Was the First Christmas Silent?

Thinking on a descriptor of the historic first Christmas, the word “silent” might be a stretch. Without doubt, it was a holy scene as the newborn Christ child entered our world. Who would have imagined God would send his Son in the form of a human baby?

But, when the angels sang the night Jesus was born, they boldly proclaimed the good news from the starlit skies. In addition, it was probably not silent as Mary delivered God’s son. There were birth pangs. Her body was fully human as was the child she carried. She no doubt cried. Baby Jesus must have cried with his first breaths to exercise and clear his lungs. Were the animals so dumbstruck they stood without a single moooo or baaaa? Not likely.

“Silent Night” Calls My Seeking Heart

What does your heart yearn for? What does my heart seek? I long for God’s presence in my busyness. I hunger for those moments when my heart is undistracted. God calls me to sit with him and listen. He desires me to know His peace, the one that passes all human understanding, (Philippians 4:7).

Therefore, in reflecting on the reason my favorite church service is Christmas Eve, I believe it reveals my heartfelt desire. Christmas eve (as celebrated in my church) reveals my quest for peace. As we sing “Silent Night,” candles flicker, illuminating the sanctuary with a soft light. Everyone’s face is aglow. The familiar Carol resonates in its simple truth as we give thanks to God for His wonderful gift of Christ.

“Silent Night” – a Glimpse of “Heavenly Peace”

This “Silent Night Moment” is a glimpse of God’s greatest gift – his presence in the midst of it all. On a personal level, my life can get over-booked and over-committed. Necessary responsibilities remind me of all that is yet undone on “my lists.” I don’t see much peace in our chaotic world.

However, it is not SILENCE I crave. It is God’s PEACE. The definition of peace is “a state of tranquility or quiet.” It is God with us — Immanuel! “Sleep in heavenly peace …” the refrain sings out.

My Prayer for You

This Christmas I send my prayers for you to embrace this beautiful peace God has for each of us. Think on the wonderful gift of Jesus, and how He is WITH you whenever and wherever you are.

May He lift your burdens as scripture says in Matthew 11:28-30: “I will give you rest.” What a promise to our world-weary hearts. Merry Christmas and peace to you in this holy season.

Until we meet again …

Listen and watch this beautiful music video to calm your spirit.

https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=19L_Gnul8Rc&feature=sharehttps://music.youtube.com/watch?v=19L_Gnul8Rc&feature=share

view of a beautiful sunset

What Makes a Friend a Friend?

Photo by Saeid Anvar on Pexels.com

Losing a Close Friend Is Not Easy

A few weeks ago I had been inspired to write on God’s faithful love to pursue us no matter what we do or wherever we go. But life happened, as they say, and now I must write from a new perspective.

“This” happened: We lost a very close friend–sooner than we thought we would. At our mature ages, loss happens more often than we’d like. I have found we must hold close what we have while we have it, yet freely release our loved ones into God’s hands when it’s time. This is not profound, but it can be forgotten in our hectic daily responsibilities. So simple. So true. Yet so often forgotten.

Loss can happen anytime, but sometimes it catches us by surprise. Even when we expect someone may beat us to Heaven, the loss for our day-to-day living remains. It can hurt even when we know our dear one is rejoicing, healed and whole, in Heaven.

Acquaintances come and go in our lives, but friends are different. I believe most people realize how friendships enrich our lives. I pray you have had the joy of knowing at least one true friendship in your lifetime and maybe many more.

Yet we are mortal, and we don’t always have the privilege of living all of our days with a dear friend, who sticks “closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 promises our true friends do not leave us, even in difficult times. This kind of friendship comes with a commitment and an agape love — higher than human friendship based on common interests. Also, in Proverbs 17:17, we read how a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. The only way this can be true is when the relationship is Christ-centered, not based on a common interest. Why? Our interests and desires will change over time and then friends often drift apart.

What exactly is a friend? I’ve pondered my friendships as I look back over the years. Some elements remain the same. When I was little, I played and laughed and sometimes even cried with my best friends. When I became a teenager, I also played and laughed and sometimes cried with my friends. Oh, yes, we did experience emotional bonding in those days.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

As a mature adult, my friends share more in common with me than how well we “play” together. Sometimes that means we have common interests or hobbies, but that is not the glue that binds us. The truest of my friends and I share a similar worldview. That also means our motives are similar, which tends to drive our choices in life.

A true friend will love in all situations, even if it means having that difficult talk–the “speaking the truth in love” talk (Ephesians 4:15)–perhaps the you-have-strayed-from-God’s-path-talk. Even when we don’t share the same joys and interests, we hold fast to even more vital, eternal perspectives. When the love of God is a part of this friend equation, then we can experience true Christian fellowship, even in adversity.

Our dear friend, Wayne Parrish, was an overall “good person,” but that’s not why we were friends. He was not perfect, any more than the rest of us. However, we had the privilege of sharing life from its highs to its lows, from the most enjoyable times to the direst of circumstances. We shared our faith in Christ, which was the glue that held our friendship together. We laughed, we loved, we respected one another. His passing will leave an empty place in our lives. Thank God we have memories of all the times we shared, and a present joy for his eternal reward in Heaven. I have no doubt he is worshipping his Lord and Savior now and is fully healed with a heavenly body. I can’t wait to join him one day. What a grand reunion it will be.

If we can learn anything from this little post, it would be to never take a single day for granted. Cherish life, serve those God puts in our paths, and never miss the opportunity to tell someone you love them.

May the Lord bless you week ahead, and show you who He has given you to cherish daily.

Speaking Light into Darkness

A biblical scene – of Jesus Christ landing a hand for help with the sun shining near his face

An Aching America – A Hurting World

As I listened to the words of a new (to me) song this morning, I found my heart in the lyrics. I have to be honest, tears flowed from my eyes as I heard it. Have you ever had music speak to you like that? Here’s a taste: “I just want to speak the name of Jesus over every heart and every mind ’cause I know there is peace within your presence–I speak Jesus. I just want to speak the name of Jesus ’til every dark addiction starts to break, declaring there is hope and there is freedom — I speak Jesus.

Good News

Here’s what I see. There is sooooo much going on, and the pandemic accentuated what was already hurting. I could make a list of the “things gone wrong,” but I won’t. You have eyes, ears, and you are walking in this messed up world like I am. So I am going to speak truth to brokenness, bring Good News to seeking hearts.

The Deep Stuff

Yes, folks. There is good news! But, in my heart of hearts, I believe the choices for finding answers, real answers to what hurts so bad, is found not in fixing things. “Fixing” always makes us feel victorious for a short time. It could eliminate a source of aggravation, frustration, and even raw physical pain if we need healing. But, it’s the deeper hurt of which I speak.

Need Inner Healing?

How do we find the source of healing for the wrongful things other broken people have imposed on us? Maybe we were little innocent kids when it happened. Maybe we were impressionable teens who needed a positive influence, but found none. Maybe we were adults trying our best to make a life for ourselves and our children, and we experienced rejection or loss. Heart pain. Trying to figure out how to live life with joy?

Answers with Eternal Consequences

Oh, how I would love to carry a light into your life, even if only a spark the size of a match. But, much more is available! I would give you Jesus. We may grieve, but we do not grieve without hope. God never tells us not to grieve, but not to grieve like those without hope. We have answers beyond the grave! No one will ever find the body of Jesus because his tomb is empty – he was raised from the dead. And, he is coming back for us. “So you must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him,” Matthew 24:42-44 (NIV). He WILL come. Look up and be encouraged. Be ready.

Here’s the link to this beautiful song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v-PiaVb8j_nbw

INTRODUCING “ROMANCE” AND A GUEST

Hello to Donna Schlacter

I am excited to introduce you to a romance and suspense novelist who is also my guest blogger today. Donna Schlacter, also known as Leeann Betts, is a known as a hybrid author, who writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published 50 times in books and is a member of several esteemed writers groups. She teaches writing, facilitates a critique group, ghostwrites, edits, and judges writing contests. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. You will find her latest book cover and her personal photo below. Enjoy her blog entry!

The Essence of Love

by Donna Schlachter writing as Leeann Betts

You don’t believe it, but there it is–when you least expect it, when you really don’t want it, or you think its passed you by, when it seems like a burden, a blessing, or simply a bad day, when you don’t remember what a kiss is–except something made Hershey’s–there it is…Cupid and and his arrow.

Why is it that it always happens when you least expect it? Someone much wiser than me said that love is like a butterfly–the more you chase after it, the harder it is to find. We spend our lives looking for that elusive one who will make us complete. When we find that person, we call them our soulmate. Do you know why that is?

Because that’s how God created us–with a part of us missing. Some may call it our urge to procreate. Some call it our ego looking for the one who can and will fulfill itself. I call it the plan of God.

The Bible says that God created man, and that no animal was found that was a suitable companion for him. And so, God took a part of man and created woman. He took the feminine part of man, the part that operates on intuition, verbal communication, and touch, to create the perfect mate. Each creation has something the other wants. Each creation requires the other to be complete. Each creation requires the other to continue the species.

What a wonderful plan–to create us as individuals yet create us to need each other. God’s plan in the physical mirrors His plan for the spiritual. God created human beings for fellowship with Him, because nothing else He had created was suitable for that purpose. He created us with free will, because love without a choice is not love, but slavery. He created us in the form of a trinity, just as He is a Trinity. And He breathed into us His very essence. His breath of life, His spirit. That is the missing link between animal and man. Only it’s not missing and has never been missing. It is the essence of God in us.

ALWAYS A WEDDING PLANNER

If you love romance stories, you’ll enjoy reading Donna’s Always a Wedding Planner and The Worst Kept Secret. Discover how keeping secrets from each other threatens four women’s friendships, wedding business, and own ability to find love in Loveland, CO.

Check it out here: https://tinyurl.com/snczsf9x

Books on Amazon: https//amzn.to/2ci5Xqq

or Donna’s website: http://www.DonnaSchlacter.com

Stay connected and learn about new releases, preorders, and presales. Receive a free ebook for signing up for her free newsletter! http://www.DonnaSchlachter.com/blog

FaceTime

Redeemer hugging unhappy man, faith in God, spiritual protection, eternity

FaceTime with God?

One frustrating day, I felt no peace. I knew I needed some quality quiet time. Then, I cried out, “I need FaceTime with Jesus!” It made me laugh, but at the same time, I recognized the bold truth I had spoken.

During Covid, I couldn’t wait to FaceTime or Zoom with our kids and their families. I needed that personal face-to-face time with my loves. Though the digital presence of our precious ones wasn’t nearly as wonderful as in-person hugs, it was still refreshing to my lonely heart.

IN PERSON WITH JESUS?

Today we don’t have the privilege of running up to Jesus for a physical hug, or even falling on our knees to worship in his physical presence. But, God assures us in Deuteronomy 31:6, we can be strong because He never leaves us. He explained to his disciples about the all-important Gift he would leave when he went back to Heaven–the Holy Spirit of God would dwell within us here on Earth. (Acts 1)

JACOBNEED FOR TIMEOUT WITH GOD

In Genesis 32, there is a most intriguing scripture passage about Jacob. If you remember Jacob, he was a conniver, always seeking to make himself top-dog, so to speak. He even cheated his brother out of his inheritance through his lies and deceit. Well, God placed dear Jacob in a situation–a situation where Jacob was alone, where God finally had his full attention. In verses 21-32, Jacob wrestles with “someone” all through the night.

With whom did Jacob wrestle? In verse 28, the wrestling man tells Jacob, “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” Then in verse 30, Jacob names the place where this occurred, Peniel (which means “face of God”). In his own words, Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” God knew he had to have a face-to-face meeting with his boy Jacob in order to get his life turned around.

BUT WHAT ABOUT ME?

So how does this work in my life? In yours? We know Holy Spirit is available to us if we believe what Jesus said. All we have to do is ask for him to come into our lives. We know God has endowed His word with truths to direct our paths. Holy Spirit, one of the three persons of the Trinity of God, enlightens our minds as we study the inspired words. And … to “FaceTime” with Jesus, you need only pray and listen as you study His Word. Even if your only known words are, “Help!” God hears, draws near, and is with you. In James 4:8, one of my favorite verses, we are consoled: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”

I pray your day is blessed as you make time to spiritually draw near to God. We all need Him to give us His peace which passes all human understanding in these days of much striving and contention.

Sending love and hugs … from me to you.

Galatians 6:9 “Don’t be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

[https://www.givehim15.com – a valuable prayer resource]

Biblegateway.com (NIV)

Oh, to Know Him …

Think of someone you love with your whole heart– someone you want to spend time with, someone who loves you too. This is a relationship where you are known, even with your foibles and imperfections, yet loved deeply. That’s how God, the Creator of all the Universes, feels about you. Yes, you. And, yes, me. How do I know? “The Bible tells me so.”

In the book of Genesis, Jacob, the twin brother of Esau, was a guy with a troubling track record. He was a self-absorbed schemer and swindler. He stole his brother’s inheritance by tricking his father as he was dying. Jacob knew there was a Jehovah God, Yahweh. Yet, there was a distance between Jacob and God. No wonder with Jacob’s deceitful heart. He always referred to God as the father of Abraham and Isaac (Jacob’s father). We could describe his view of God as formal, not intimate. I would go further to say I doubt in his early years, he “knew” God at all.

One night Jacob had a vivid dream (Genesis 28). As a child, you may have sung “Jacob’s Ladder” retelling this biblical account. He dreamed of a ladder with angels climbing up and down from Heaven. Then, during the dream, the Lord spoke to Jacob and made a promise to him about his future inheritance and the blessings to be poured out on his descendants. Jacob awakened, knowing the Lord had visited him. Yet, even after this encounter, he had the audacity to say he wasn’t sure whether or not to make Yahweh his God. He leveraged this tenuous relationship by vowing he would make God his God, IF God blessed him. That sounds a little like what we call “foxhole prayers,” those prayers of desperation. “If you let me live, God, I’ll become a Christian.” Jacob obviously did not have a connection to his father’s God. I would add, it’s also good that God Almighty is a patient God with much mercy for his petulant children.

Two decades later, Jacob had a second encounter with God, which changed the dynamics of their relationship. This time God was so personal and powerful that Jacob referred to the place as Penuel, which means “face of God.” Now instead of seeing God as an impersonal ruler, Jacob saw an affectionate Father. The Hebrew word for face is paneh —  presence. We don’t see God’s face in a physical way, but the Scripture tells us again and again that we can live in His presence. Later Jacob finds himself alone with God, and God takes him on — they wrestle! I can’t even imagine. There is much more to the story here, but I will add that God wanted Jacob to acknowledge his selfish heart. God had some big plans for Jacob, but first Jacob had to yield. God wanted Jacob to stop being a selfish conniver, and become transformed by God’s love, wisdom, and grace.

If you have ever had a loving, transparent relationship with another human being, whether it was a spouse, parent, or maybe even a child, you know it is a treasure. I remember fondly how I enjoyed sitting across the small kitchen table with my dad when I was an “adult child.” We had a connection. I understood how much he loved me, and he knew how much I loved him. I wanted to spend time with him, face to face. I enjoyed the pleasure of his company. I yearned to be with him whenever I could, and I miss him now.

The Bible shows us how God made you for a “face-to-face” relationship with Him. Wouldn’t you rather know the pleasure of spending time in the presence of God instead of just knowing about Him? Yield your dreams to the One who made you, and understands you best. Seek Him. Take time to listen and talk to the One who loves you beyond measure and is waiting for you to turn your face to His. He awaits the pleasure of YOUR company.

Choosing Peace

Photo by Becky D. McMillen, Baldwin, KS

Have you noticed how life sometimes runs on parallel tracks? Good things can take place in the midst of not-so-pleasant circumstances. When I saw this image, it reminded me of this facet of life on planet earth. In this photo, we see the beauty of two seasons, complementing each other in color and form. The delicate flowers of a redbud tree are accentuated with the flakes of a late spring snow, enhancing both snow and flowers.

If I imagined myself to be a redbud flower, I might not feel the positive vibes of a blast of cold invading my springtime. Imagine bursting forth in your best show of first blooms, to find yourself shivering under a pile of freezing fluff. Sort of sets you back.

In our daily humanity, we may recognize layers of goodness while being struck with a serious loss or disabling event. Laying in a hospital bed recovering from a painful surgery, I heard a simple praise song in my room. I was miserable, and only half-asleep, but the sweet voice sounded like an angel. A nurse had begun singing along with music I had playing on my cell phone. Her kindness and love deeply touched my heart.

When my dog experienced multiple health crises within a short out-of-state “vacation,” a kind veterinarian (our 5th appointment) spent thirty minutes reading all the health reports and deciding on a course of treatment. We were to leave for home the next morning. When we checked out, he had not charged me for anything except the medication. I felt tears well up in my eyes. It was not the money saved, though that was a blessing. It was his compassion. It felt like a hug from God.

I have found that people who are most successful in navigating pain, loss, and devastation don’t immediately jump up and down to embrace their dark trial. They will say, “It was hard.” However, they pass from grief to gratefulness when they recognize God’s provision along the journey. Yes, we may find a freezing jolt to our once-comfortable life, but in recognizing God’s mercy and grace to get us through, we find hope for the sorrows.

God’s peace is promised to us in Philippians 4:6-9. However, with every promise comes an expectation. True? We are told to not be anxious. How does that work, you ask? “I just lost … (fill in the blank), and I’m not supposed to feel the sad and awful reality?” Your husband (or wife) left you after years of marriage. You husband (or wife) died suddenly without any advance warning. You or a loved one receives a diagnosis of a fatal illness, or a health dysfunction without a remedy. Your child breaks off relationship. You know the list of tragedies goes on and on.

However, if you are one who has stepped over that line of faith as a believer in the Creator God of the Universe, He asks us to pray, to tell him what’s on our heart. He says in Philippians 4:6-7 to pray/petition WITH THANKSGIVING. Then comes the answer: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

What a joy to let go of the spirit of heaviness, and release it to Father God, the One who loves you most. Not every woe in this life will have a “happy ever after” ending. In John 16:33, Jesus tells his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  Yield, and receive your peace. We know in Heaven there will be no more sorrow, no more tears. Everlasting joy!

The Consequences of Choice

man holding a sign
 Imageu by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Americans are familiar with choice. It’s second nature to people who have lived in a more or less free society, depending on the period of history. We often glide through our days not giving much thought to all the choices we make. Yet, if we were denied the right to decide, undoubtably, we would squeal. Unless our voices are arbitrarily silenced and we had no recourse, we would not be satisfied without this freedom. Yes, we do yearn to be the master of our destinies. We love the freedom to decide what, when and how we do something.

Our Master Designer, God Almighty, gave us that ability to choose … but with “guidelines.” Well actually, ONE guideline. If you examine Genesis, you discover God’s children were provided with everything they needed in a beautiful place without strife or want. God’s nature is to provide. Yet, the “children” chose to do the only thing God asked them not to do. I have to smile because having raised children, I’ve watched them determinedly attempt scaling all established barriers, even if they were meant for their good.

While visiting a more tropical region, I experienced an unusual and uninvited houseguest. One morning, we found a little creature I nicknamed “Larry the Lizard,” in our kitchen sink. Not being accustomed to wildlife in my work area, I freaked out! I refused to do anything in the kitchen until Larry was free again … outside. Lacking gloves or anything which would help remove this intruder, my husband resorted to a property management housecall. “HELP! WE HAVE A LIZARD STUCK IN THE SINK.”

The more I thought about that little guy sitting at the bottom of the glistening, yet perilous-for-a-lizard bowl, I imagined the surprise when he tumbled down its inescapable slope. Each time he tried to climb out, he slid back to the bottom. What led him to explore in the kitchen, I wondered? What enticed him inside to begin with? I had so many questions.

However, the Lord reminded me how similar we humans are. Wandering about on our own, exploring life’s sights and stimulating possibilities, can land us places the Lord never intended for us–situations with emotional, physical, or spiritual risk. Do we always align our choices with God’s Word? Are we even aware of the choices we make daily? Do we pray before we accidentally slide into some inescapable trap?

Have your choices ever taken you somewhere you didn’t want to be, a place where you couldn’t easily climb back into God’s will? Here is the good news. Unlike poor “Larry,” who did not have a happy end of life, we have a Father God who is waiting for us to come to Him for help. Even in our rebellion, God hears our cries. Yes, there may be unpleasant natural consequences for our wandering choices, but He is faithful to hear. In Isaiah 30:18-19 (TPT), we read, “For this reason the Lord is still waiting to show his favor to you so he can show you his marvelous love. He waits to be gracious to you. He sits on his throne ready to show mercy to you. How compassionate he will be when he hears your cries for help! He will answer you when he hears your voice!”

Your Father God is waiting for you to call to Him, even for rescue, if need be. He sent Jesus, His Son, who not only taught, but took the penalty for generations of rebellious choices, past, present, and future. He made a way for us to have a personal relationship with the God of the Universe, even though he is holy and we are not. With this amazing gift, we are forgiven. And, we are loved beyond measure.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him,” (NIV).

Happy Easter!

2021

God is Greater

Witnessing the cultural and political landscape of my beloved America in the past few days, I grieved. It felt like someone had punched me–hard. So many things went wrong, all of which will ultimately hurt our nation. But, this I believe with all my heart. God is greater than any human power, any political party, or any government. He will not be undone. America was his shining light on the hill and God desires it to remain a place of freedom and truth.

lighted pillar candle

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

It is obvious that more recently, many Christians became engaged in the political arena, even if it was only to cast a ballot. For the most part, I don’t believe it was because they became enamored with a charismatic personality. They campaigned, donated, and voted in large numbers for local to national candidates because their biblical principles were at stake.

Those who believe they can politically silence conservative Christian voices are missing something. Our beliefs are not solely political. They are based on our hope and trust in a God we believe formed the universe. We can be expelled from social media, from book contracts, from all forms of media, but we will not be silenced–forever. Why do I say this?

I don’t adhere to my principles because I think I am right. I adhere to my principles because God says they are right. Some feel that makes me a dangerous zealot; I say it makes me a person of integrity, where faith and action align. Biblical principles inform my political and cultural views so they aren’t negotiable. They cannot be changed with the stroke of a pen, with the claim they are outdated.

Therefore, if governing powers designate more progressive laws, antithetical to biblical principles, it is not likely followers of Christ will simply “sit down and shut up.” Although they will bow to the laws of governing authorities, silencing their views has never been a positive solution. This goes to the core foundation of our nation. Freedom of religion and freedom of speech are synonymous to America. People left their countries in Europe and struggled immensely to establish a new land where they could live according to their religious beliefs.

Remove my right to speak or write, and I will find another avenue to express what I believe. Oppression has always created an atmosphere of determination. Thankfully, in my lifetime, America has never demanded the ugly choice between silence or death as in authoritarian countries and I pray it will never do so. Let’s return to the founding principles of our great nation and live in freedom to legally express our views.

God is greater and His plans are higher. His purposes will not be silenced.

I Choose Hope

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

Most of us would like to slam the book of 2020 closed. AND, never look back! Even amidst the rubble of the past year’s worst events, if we’re honest, most of us can identify a few positives. For me, I discovered (once again) how detrimental busyness can be on the human heart and mind. Having no place to go for weeks on end was restrictive– as well as freeing. No guilt for stopping to read, reflect, pray, and align my priorities with God’s will. On a less happy note, I acknowledge there were losses from 2020, the kind which were not recoverable. We have grieved over those, and admittedly pray for a less tumultuous and painful year in 2021.

Yet, I choose hope. I will pray for good things ahead. No matter what lies in those unopened chapters, life has taught me to trust and believe God will sustain me, not ever leaving or forsaking me in the midst of the storm.

As the disciples were caught up in their “unexpected” storm (Mark 4:35), they called out in fear. “Jesus, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus was the human embodiment of the all-powerful Creator of ALL. These men had heard him teach, watched him perform miracles, but in that moment, they were afraid. In such a crisis, we all can resort to desperation, defaulting to fear, not faith. Jesus was surprised at their lack of confidence, but he didn’t leave them in a sinking boat. He was there with them, and they got through the storm. He calmed the seas.

We sometimes wonder “why?” Where is God to deliver me? “Calm my sea, Lord! Take this pain away!” We are not in Heaven yet where every tear will be wiped away … no more death, no more sorrow (Revelation 21:4). God’s first plan was for a perfect place where he had intimate fellowship with His children. God granted them free will, so they would be able to choose relationship with him, not merely be his puppets. In a moment of temptation, they chose to let their desires get ahead of God’s will, releasing evil just so they could be like God themselves.

God desired a relationship with his children so much, he didn’t want to leave them wandering on their own forever. He sent His only Son, Jesus, to Earth. Why? He wanted to be WITH US again. Though Holiness cannot dwell in fellowship with sin, Christ made a way for us to have spiritual intimacy with our Maker the way He intended from the beginning of time. Therefore, I can have hope. I can choose to believe I will never be forsaken, or abandoned in my time of need.

Let’s imagine all the best of blessings in the coming year, knowing God is WITH US. Do not be afraid, but draw close to your Father who loves you dearly. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you,” (James 4:8). Now go have a year– a good year, a year of promise, a year of hope — a year of God-relationship. He will be with you. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!

pexels-photo-Bible