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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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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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?
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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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Where is the Son?

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While visiting our seven-year-old Kansas grandson recently, Max excitedly burst into the house carrying a bouquet of sunflowers … for me! He had convinced his mama to buy them for me when they were shopping. The uniqueness of this spray of flowers was that each large flower head was drooping, bowing down from its stem, rather than standing upright.

Maxwell explained with confidence that they were simply being sunflowers which are always looking for the sun. Of course, I graciously accepted his gift with an exclamation of his thoughtfulness. His daddy brought some filler plants in from the yard, which somewhat improved their countenance.

In reflecting on the downcast sunflowers, I was taken back by the image above of the girl gazing in the opposite direction. If the flowers symbolically seek the Sun, shouldn’t we also seek the Son, Jesus, for our Source? Yes, of course. There are times and seasons when we may be tempted to think we’re capable of handling life all on our own. All is well, finances are secure, health is good, and we have done it all ourselves. We may pat ourselves on the back and expect our fans to applaud because we’re successfully sailing along in our strength. Who needs God anyway, one might ask?

But, often that isn’t the way life works. You know that. I know that. Sometimes, nothing seems to go our way. So in those times we can misguidedly plunder through our days, lacking the Son in the messiness of life, lacking His strength, peace, and His Omnipotent wisdom for guidance. Scripture is replete with advice for living a complete and satisfying life, in the good times and bad.

In Hebrews 12:1-2 we are reminded to “… fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter or our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Yes, indeed, as the sunflowers seek the sun, we are advised to “fix our eyes ….” Where? On the Son.

Psalm 34:5-6 tells us that “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” More evidence that when we don’t look to ourselves, in our good old American independence, we will become radiant. We will be the sunflowers of humanity, with faces tilted upward with dignity, grace, and assurance. If you are feeling downcast today, pick up the Bible, and look to God’s Word to you. He will be your strength and radiance.

I don’t know about you, but I need to seek the light of Christ … daily. Whenever I try to go it alone, I quickly become the wilty-headed sunflower, looking at the problems at my feet, instead of the Son’s LIGHT as my Source. I encourage all of us to not lose sight of God’s amazing gift, even in the hard times. When we “look up,” we will find the resources necessary to finish the race victoriously. Not because of our own tremendous capabilities, but because of our loving God and Provider. Look up to the Son, beloved children of God, and become all you are meant to be.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin,” 1 John 1:7. 

 

 

“STOP!”

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Most of us, including me, love sunshine. The old John Denver song (for those of you old enough to remember) comes to mind: “Sunshine on My Shoulders” of course … makes me happy! Somehow the sun has the power to transform a cold winter day from dreary to cheery. Sunshine delights the eyes as it illuminates and accentuates the early blooms of spring. Sunshine intensifies the glory of crimson and yellow fall leaves, leaving an onlooker breathless from its vibrant display.

However, in real life, not every day is so perfectly beautiful and filled with light. Your “skies” may turn dark. Storm clouds might roll in hard and fast.  If you are from Tornado Alley, like I am, you may run to take cover as the green-gray cloud soup drapes itself over the land, and tiny funnel-shaped structures dip and dance overhead. There are certainly vivid Bible stories depicting the fears and consequences of storms at sea. Think of dear old Jonah who was trying to escape God’s directives. The Lord sent a great wind and a storm so wicked that the sailors were all afraid their ship would break up, leaving them to drown in the sea. God needed to get Jonah’s attention. And, he used that storm to speak to Jonah’s heart. When storm clouds threaten, do you call on the Lord?

When Jesus and his disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee, a sudden and furious squall arose. (Mark 4:35-42) Waves crashed over the boat, nearly swamping it. The disciples thought they might die, yet Jesus slept in the stern of the fishing vessel until they awakened him. He fussed a bit at their unbelief. “Do you still have no faith?” he asked. But, before he spoke to the disciples, he got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Wow. Just like that. The storm subsided. The disciples were in disbelief even though they had been following him for awhile! Yet, they feared death and destruction in that moment, when they couldn’t see the sunshine, but felt the wind. Yet, Jesus was right there. He was with them in that boat. Do we ever doubt where He is during the storms, or do we remember He is with us?

I know we cannot always rebuke every storm in our lives and see it instantly dissolve. Yet, I want to take this analogy one step further. Oftentimes, our storms are not physical or environmental. Sometimes, they take place in our heads and hearts … a heaviness, a loneliness, a lack of joy, a grief that doesn’t seem to end. I want to encourage you to take heart. Though you may not see miracles every day, Jesus did tell the disciples in John 14:12, “,,, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” 

When you feel some torment from your spiritual antagonist, Satan himself, put on your spiritual armor and stand your ground. In James 4:7 we are reminded to submit ourselves, to God. Then, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” 

I had a bad dream a week ago and it was a reminder of this principle. A dark and shadowy cloud formation was following me. I noticed it but kept walking. Then, I began running. It followed relentlessly. In this dream, I suddenly turned around to face that fearsome thing, and shouted, “STOP!” And, it did!

I know. This was a dream. There was no real threat to me or my loved ones.  Yet, I do believe the Lord speaks to us in dreams. The dark cloud stopped in its tracks, and I, in joyful amazement, praised God. It was only a dream, but symbolic, no doubt.  I will wear my spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-18). When I feel the darkness of the Enemy discouraging me from fulfilling God’s purposes, I will boldly proclaim, “STOP! In the name of Jesus!” I pray this imagery will be an encouragement to you as well. I pray that you won’t be overcome by the one who wants you to lose hope in the storms of life.    

My Daddy’s Face

“Where is daddy’s face?” asked my six-year-old granddaughter. “I can’t find him!”

The child turned over random puzzle pieces, examining the details for clues. The puzzle had been a gift created from family photos, each image represented a favorite memory.

Shrugging her little shoulders, Cassie replied, “I know he’s here! I just need to look harder.”

“Look, Cass, is this Daddy’s eye and nose?” I asked, holding up a piece. “Yes, yes, I see him!” my sweet grandchild answered.

I was reminded that sometimes I, too, have searched for my Father’s “face” among the disassembled puzzle pieces of my life. I’ve even cried out. “Where are you?” In those times of darkness, I have to trust and remember who my Heavenly Father is. Like Cassie, I need to remember to “look harder” for evidence of God’s presence, instead of fixating on the unsolved problem. It seems to be human nature to painfully focus on what is wrong, those missing pieces.

Yet we have assurance that God has not abandoned us. In Romans 8:38-39, He comforts His children. “For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ((NLT).  What an all-encompassing promise!

Exodus explains that God’s face is hidden from view because He is so holy. “But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live,” Exodus 33:20 (NLT). The Bible is explicit. God is not withholding his presence because he is an unkind Father, but He is so sinless that we could not survive a face-to-face encounter. Thus, enters Christ. He is why we can have relationship with this Holy God. Through the sacrifice of Christ, the penalty for our sins have been laid to rest, absolved, on the cross. Father God can now see us as forgiven and perfect in His sight! The gift of Christ made a way for us to be brought back into an intimate relationship with perfect Father God!

We have been given the promise of seeing Father God face to face … someday … in heaven. “And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there–no need for lamps or sun–for the Lord God will shine on them,” Revelation 22:3-5a (NLT). I will then be perfected, and though in awe, I’m sure, I will see Him clearly, face to face. As the song title says, “I can only imagine …” what that will be like.

Even when I feel like young Cassie, searching for the comfort of my Father’s face and presence, I can say with the confidence of a child, I know He is with me. Look for His presence around you. Listen for His voice, and watch for evidence in all ways. As you search for your Spiritual Father  in the middle of your unsolved puzzle, know He is near. You can encounter His presence. “Come close to God, and God will come close to you,” James 4:8 (NLT). His desire is to comfort you with great love and compassion. Look up from your despair, and He will show His face when you need it most.