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

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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.

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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!

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Pandemic Lessons from Macy McCombs

I had the opportunity to interview Macy Mc Combs, a freshman at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) when the 2020 pandemic hit our country. It is through her personal lens that I bring some insights today. 

So, Macy was thoroughly enjoying her new college life last February–new classes, new friendships, and a new future in accounting. She was busy from dawn to the time she crashed, happy, but exhausted. When the surprising lockdown came, despite everyone’s expectation that it would last only a few weeks, it was soon apparent, all classes were going virtual. But, Macy kept her nose at the grindstone, and  finished from home with straight A’s second semester.

So, what’s the big deal, you may ask, and what changed in Macy’s world? Life came to an abrupt halt in the McCombs household during the Covid-19 mandate to “stay home and stay safe.” A daughter of a pastor, Macy and the entire family was accustomed to being engaged in  church activities. Macy’s father knew he had to do something in order to provide ministry to his flock. Instead of engaging in the many opportunities at church, suddenly, “…church came home and there were no boundaries anymore.”

Macy writes about how the entire family was thrown into leadership responsibilities to make everything run smoothly virtually. Without question Macy and her siblings were eager to their father and mother. Yet, over time, one fact loomed over all the rest. There was no choice. There was no going home to rest. Home and church were one. Eventually, that took its toll. At the time of Macy’s writing a few months ago, she had led worship every single week for 17 weeks straight, and many more after that, I am sure.

The exciting part of Macy’s unique experience is what she learned. That is always the essential component of our life trials. How do we grow from being squeezed from pressures beyond our control? Macy shared a number of things she learned. Among the most important lessons, Macy had time to contemplate her former lifestyle, on-the-go constantly, participating in all the opportunities her young life held. That’s America! In her own words, Macy said, “I have learned that I can never take life for granted. I learned that it is necessary to slow down sometimes and spend extra time with God.” Macy has seen how fractured her days were rushing from one thing to another to make it all fit into her finite hours. She was overwhelmed, though wanting to take in every available opportunity! Learning to slow down in our culture is a big thing, and not easily  done.

Having chatted with many adults as well as young adults or teenagers during this Covid revolution, this is a common theme. Everyone is seeing how a little slower pace has some positive results. If one is a person of faith, it may even help roots go deeper and spiritual strength grow stronger. More Bible study time, more prayer time, more contemplation and reflection can be very nurturing to one’s being. Macy shared her time in a Kelly Minter Bible study called “No Other Gods.” In her words, “God totally rocked my world and my heart through that Bible study, and I wouldn’t have been able to go through it so intently if it hadn’t been for the pandemic.”

Macy, thank you for sharing your heart with me, and with all my Blog followers. You are a light to those around you, I am sure. I will close with Macy’s reflection on God’s intentions for all of us who will gather near Him. “I think God was using this time to make the world lie down in green pastures like it talks about in Psalm 23. He wanted us to slow down and come back to Him so He could restore us and give us rest.”

Macy has taken advantage of this time to rest in God’s love, to be refreshed. Have you?

 

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Hopes, Dreams, Expectations

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Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

So, here you are, looking into the future and wondering whatever in the world it will look like. At certain times in a young person’s life, the future seems wide open with opportunities. At other times, not so much. I know how excited I felt at being able to finally go after my childhood dreams and be “on my own.”

Each one of you have been blessed with a talent or maybe many, something unique to who you are. You may not know exactly what you want to do, but you are poised to leave childhood behind, and get into the adult sphere. Independence sounds so good, right?

Perhaps you’re an athlete. Or a musician. Maybe you worked hard to make good grades, and you were accepted into the university. Maybe you have in mind a certain kind of job, and you want to go out and earn a living for yourself. Maybe you have been accepted to the graduate school you want to attend. What about that sport you excel at, and want to play? What is that next step in your life?

Right now, at this time in history, the world shut down right in the middle of your school semester. No goodbye parties. No last formal dances. No graduations. How does all of this impact you personally? Do you feel like you’ve experienced a profound loss? Or does it feel okay to simply move forward when the time is right?

Though I didn’t have my milestone events swept away in high school, or college, I know many Americans have encountered major storms in the midst of their best hopes and dreams. We don’t have to go back in history very far to remember all the young men and women who either postponed their dreams to go fight for our freedom, or perhaps lost their dreams altogether. During the Great Depression, Americans lost many of their comforts, their “normal” way of life, and of course, in some instances, even the daily blessings of food and housing.

We can go back to each dramatic period in history to see that we are not the first to face interruptions to our plans as we have during Covid-19. As you studied in history, the foundation of our nation was shaken to its core during the onset of the Civil War. States chose to withdraw from the Union, and families were sometimes split as to who they would fight for. It was not uncommon for cousins to be fighting cousins on the battlefield, or fathers and grandfathers fighting on the other side against their own flesh and blood. Everyone’s normal lives were changed and farmland became battleground. I can’t even imagine.

The Bible tells us that human life is brief. When a person is standing on tiptoes leaning into their individual future, life seems to be very long. To see life in a larger frame, even an eternal perspective, Psalm 102:15 says, “Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone–as though we had never been here.” (NLT) Yet, there is a much larger picture here, if you believe in God and His promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Today may be brief compared to eternity, but that doesn’t eliminate God’s love or promises. In the same Psalm, we read, “But, the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear (revere) him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments!” (NLT)

What do we do when we find our hopes dashed? How do we go on? Where does our hope come from? Loss is painful, no matter the size of it. What are your thoughts?

 

Where do I find hope?

The Lifter of My Head

Where do I find hope?
Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

So many life changes have occurred since I last wrote, and by now pastors, singers, and people gifted to share faith have offered abundant advice, truths, and prayers to help us handle our catastrophe. When we first heard about Covid-19, fear ripped across our land. What untold millions would be impacted by this new and deadly disease? We listened to the news ad nauseum; enormous numbers of people would succumb, they said, calculated on little known reports coming from other countries.

We were vulnerable. As the curtailing of a “normal” American lifestyle became our status quo, I prayed and read my Bible. I found scriptures which calmed my own troubled heart, and wanted to share them. Yet, I felt scattered, and struggled to think I had anything of value to add to this conversation.

I was suddenly thrust into the quest for basic supplies: Sam’s Club in the wee hours of the morning, online shopping (forget the sales) requiring curbside pickup, discovering many items were limited for purchase, or there were none at all. Finding toilet paper became a central topic of conversation among friends and family, sometimes as a joke, sometimes as a serious point of desperate need.

I prayed for America and its leadership daily. I prayed and still pray for our nation to seek God’s will in this time of stopping our usual endeavors. Yet, in agreement with others, I don’t pray for us to return to “normal.” Why? Because as a whole, our culture has turned its back on God. The Biblical roots of our nation have been replaced by secular humanism and “tolerance” of most everything … but Christianity. Long held truths and foundational American beliefs have been challenged as wrong, outdated, or simply problematic.

So where are we in this limbo state? American life = busy. Everyone is busy. If we are busy, life is as it should be goes the mantra. Children are busy. Parents are scrambling to keep up with jobs and “busy children.” Even many seniors keep busy. Some are chasing all the to-do’s on their bucket lists or looking for ways to find comfort in their final years. The enemy of our souls wants to keep us busy. Then there is no time to ponder the deeper things, the things that truly matter when nothing else does.

When this life is over, will you have a relationship with the God of the universe? Are you grounded in a faith that assures you will live your eternal life in a heavenly place, a place where there are no more tears and sorrow? Your spirit will live eternally. But do you know where? In Psalm 46:10, God speaks his truth over us busy ones: “Be still, and know that I am God.” One day when you face your own mortality, this will be the only thing you need.

As I face the Coronavirus head on, I know it has been a disrupter. On a lighter level it has stopped me from pursuing some of my present goals. I halted what had been pressing projects to sew masks for family and friends. It caused me to learn how to maintain relationships through technology. It forced me to learn new ways to gather food and supplies without entering a store. It has temporarily stripped our economy, and while the government prints money, we wonder how it will ever be repaid. And, most deeply, my heart aches as I grieve the loss of a sister-in-law who was struck down by this dreaded contagion. But, God. He has her in his care at this very moment. Because of her relationship with Jesus Christ, I can peacefully release her. 

Yes, I have hope. God is sovereign over all things. If you believe there is a Creator, He is a power we cannot fully grasp: omniscient, omnipotent, and eternal, for starters. But, we know a lot about Him, and His will is for our good. Will this pause in life be something God can use for good in my life? What will I do with this pause in life? He makes clear from the beginning of scripture to the last page, he desires a relationship with the people he created. He made us for relationship. He loves you. He loves me. It is God himself who is the “lifter of my head” when sorrows make me downcast. He is for me, not against me. He has a good plan for my life, and promises an eternal home filled with beauty and joy. He calls me to come near; he awaits patiently when I am lost in earthly “busyness.” He calls us to come now.

“So do not fear, for I am with you. Don’t 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 (NIV)

Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord

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Did you ever “find” animals and shapes in the clouds when you were a child? My father and I used to have such fun doing that. Later in life, I tried identifying optical illusions, searching for images that were not immediately recognizable. I confess, I don’t always discover the hidden objects as quickly as others. I have read that “seeing” what is hidden within the “visible” is a function of our perception, our ability to respond and interpret sensory information.

In Scripture, we learn that God performed miraculous healing of physical eyes on a number of occasions so people could see. But, He also opened the eyes of humans to perceive things which were, at first, unseen in the natural. In one instance in 2 Kings, God encouraged the Israelites of the spiritual armaments He had prepared to protect them.

In 2 Kings 6:16, the Lord encouraged the servant of Elisha in this way. The king of Syria was making war against Israel, and had sent a great army specifically to capture Elisha. “And Elisha prayed and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see,” (2 Kings 6:17 KJV). The servant had seen the physical presence of the enormous threat against them … with his own eyes. He was afraid of what seemed to be Elisha’s certain death. But God intervened and opened the servant’s eyes. He suddenly saw God’s army, horses, and chariots of fire all around Elisha, a compelling counterforce.

God allowed the vision, the spiritual revelation, so they would regain courage in face of a seemingly insurmountable Enemy. At first, they had only seen with their physical eyes, and the threat was real. Yet, there was more provision behind the scenes. God had His invisible army, even more powerful than the Syrian forces prepared to defend His children.

We live in a physical world, yet as humans with a mind, body, and spirit nature, why should we be surprised that there might be more to “see” in any given circumstance? Are we looking for God’s spiritual viewpoint when we face our trials and “insurmountables”? We often cannot see more than the present circumstances, and when those are painfully difficult, we lose heart.

King David prayed to the Lord: “Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things from Your law,” (Psalm 119:18 KJV). Maybe we would be wise to pray the Lord open our eyes so we can see things in a dimension that God sees. What might we be missing by not praying that prayer? Maybe we need courage in times of attack. Perhaps, we don’t see the invisible forces He has already provided for us when we think we are alone.

God made it clear that He wants a relationship with us. He loved us while we were yet far from Him, out doing our own thing, apart from His will. How do we know this?  He sent Jesus, His Son, to take the penalty of our sins so our most perfect, loving God could once again walk with us and talk with us as He had originally planned. After that, it was left to us to choose to align our lives by asking forgiveness, and accepting His free gift of relationship. We can be confident in our prayers that God is for us. He chose not to stay apart from us, and made a way for us to have relationship again after sin had, by its very nature, separated us from His Perfect Love.

As the worship song lyrics by Michael W. Smith affirms, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, Open the eyes of my heart, I want to see You, I want to see You …” Let Him show you the spiritual dimension of life, tearing back the curtain of our physical and mental limitations. “I want to see You, Lord.”

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