I Got Nothin”

Twirling a pen in my hand I just sat there. I stared at the card in front of me, waiting for an idea, for something, anything, to say. A few words popped into my brain but they seemed trite and shallow. So I sat there, staring at the card waiting for the right words but I got nothin’.

Over the past couple of weeks I have had to sign way too many greeting cards. Generally I like choosing and signing cards but this most recent batch were all for the unhappy occasions of life: Get Well, Thinking of You, and the saddest, With Sympathy.

What is there to say when the news is bad/sad? When you know the person receiving the card is struggling and in pain, physically, emotionally or both? What do you say when the person is standing in front of you with tears in their eyes?

Other peoples pain can take us by surprise, leaving us at a loss for words, uncertain how to acknowledge their sorrow, how to support, not knowing what to say or do. My heart hurts for the other person and I have that sinking feeling of frustration; that any words I might say trivialize their pain. There are times when silence is best, a hug, a comforting touch might be all that is needed and wanted but there has to be some verbal or written response, some words of understanding, some acknowledgement…

In the midst of pain our hearts cry out for comfort, for an answer or reason, for hope that the pain serves some purpose and that life is not meaningless. I always pause; I don’t want to say or write anything stupid and I don’t want to make the situation worse. I want to be sincere and genuine; I can’t know exactly how the other person feels but I do know what it feels like to lose someone, to be afraid, to worry. I want my few words to be comforting, positive and hopeful.

The Bible has a lot to say about pain and suffering. Jesus is described as a man of sorrows; He knows what if feels like to be lonely, rejected, mocked and tortured. Many of the psalms are vivid descriptions of the authors’ fears, despair and pain. Many of those who wrote and are written about in the Bible experienced great loss and prolonged suffering.

Through all of the sorrow and challenge in the Bible runs a long and unbroken thread of hope; the hope of a better life, of an eternal home, of a promised Messiah, of blessing, of purpose. The hope spoken of and demonstrated in familiar Bible stories is not just a vague wish but also the absolute certainty that God has permitted every experience, good and bad. It is a sure hope for those who trust Him and believe in Jesus that God has a plan and His plan is for our good.

But, sometimes God’s Word is not welcomed or wanted and even openly opposed. It makes me profoundly sad that His words of comfort and strength cannot be shared and that is why it has been so difficult to sign the cards, to say the words. All the “acceptable” words, the “politically correct” words (whatever those are) have no real meaning or substance and everything the world offers is only temporary.

When I cannot share the hope of heaven, the love of God, His plan, His comfort, His peace, His presence, His eternal and greater purpose there truly is no meaningful hope I can offer, no words of lasting comfort.   Apart from God, from Jesus and His Word,

I got nothin’…

 

Whom have I in heaven but you and besides you I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25, 26

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bursting the Bubble

Bubble – noun –anything lacking firmness, substance or permanence; an illusion or delusion.

Every day we get reminders our world is a dangerous place. Home invasions, car jacking’s, terrorist bombs are tragic and terrifying daily occurrences. Bomb sniffing dogs, home alarm systems, gates, fences, and security guards are in place to feed our cherished illusion of safety and security. We are shocked when these “foolproof” systems fail and rush to blame someone/thing/agency. Some of our safety nets are more ordinary and seem justifiable; investing for retirement, eating the right foods, not eating the “wrong” things, endless warning labels.

For three years Jesus had traveled, taught and lived in close and constant contact with his 12 disciples. He had told them His time with them was short; He knew He was hours away from betrayal and a horrific public death yet they still just did not get it (Luke 22:24 – 38). They continued to think Jesus was going to be a glorious and majestic King who would deliver the nation of Israel from Rome’s oppressive rule; their bubble was about to burst.

So they argue about which of them was regarded as the greatest (v24). Don’t you just love how easy it is to relate to these men? How quickly the “self” and pride rears it’s ugly head? We hear about a co-workers promotion and, to our shame, our very first thought is, “Oh but I work just as hard/harder than they do!”

Peter, the disciple most likely to put his foot in his mouth, boldly declares that he is ready to follow Jesus to prison and death (v33) but Jesus knows his weakness and, very soon, Peter will know it too. God allows trials and testing to burst our bubble of self-confidence, independence and strength; to reveal our desperate need to depend on Him and to increase our faith.

Jesus reminds Peter (v35) of the time He had sent him out into the world with nothing yet, Peter was taken care of; Jesus kept the twelve close, in a bubble of protection and provision, they did not fully understand all He had told them and were ignorant of the future. That is all about to change.

The disciples point out the two swords they have in their possession and Jesus ends the discussion abruptly, “It is enough.” (v38)

What is “enough”? The swords? No way can two swords deter the well-trained and armed Roman soldiers. Talking? Was Jesus angry at their thick heads and foolishness, tired of explanations? I don’t think so. As I read this story again it struck me in a new way.

Jesus death and resurrection burst the bubble of safety; the veil was torn and access to the most holy place was exposed for all to see. The torn veil, truth exposed, means the moment of decision is at hand and each person must choose to accept or reject Jesus. The disciples were about to be sent out into their world to pour out all that Jesus had poured into them for the past years.

Like these men, we can choose; we can stay within our safety bubble or pick up our weapons, step out in faith and follow Jesus.

We delude ourselves by thinking earthly and man-made systems, walls and fences, big bank accounts and airport scanners keep us safe and secure.   We often live as if doing the “right thing” (whatever THAT is) gives us a guarantee and complete protection. The bubble of people-pleasing safety, of shortsighted living, of trusting emotions instead of truth, of trusting myself is the greatest illusion.

Jesus’ abrupt “enough” is His instruction to take my great treasure (Jesus Himself) and invest my time and energy in the only real security and safety; my guaranteed eternity in heaven.  My weapons (the Word and the Spirit) will sustain the life of faith I am called to live and tools I can and should share with anyone and everyone.

“Enough” is my daily challenge. Oh Lord, show me how to live a life that demonstrates my belief that You are enough. Keep my heart and mind focused only on You!

“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

 

Too Many Lemons

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” 

Bah, Humbug!

We all know disappointments are one of life’s unpleasant certainties.  There are times things just do not work out the way we hoped or planned, sometimes it WILL rain on your parade.  People disappoint us, they don’t meet our expectations, they don’t keep commitments, they leave.  We can disappoint ourselves when we fail, when we hurt someone we care about, when we give up, again…

I hate that saying about lemonade out of lemons.  There are times you simply cannot make lemonade out of a bitter disappointment so what can you do when your heart is breaking and your spirit is crushed by disappointment?

Run to God – when Jesus finally arrives after Lazarus was already entombed, Martha goes out to Him immediately, she expresses her disappointment vehemently and asks Jesus to make it right.  God knows everything that is happening and He has allowed the situation; get honest with Him, pour out your disappointment to Him, ask Him for what you want.

Rest – God performs an amazing miracle through Elijah yet Elijah runs and hides when he hears that Jezebel wants him dead.  Full of despair and disappointment, Elijah asks God to let him die.  The Lord provides food, shade and time of rest and recuperation for him.  I have a tendency to try to work around disappointments, my mind spins as I attempt to figure out some alternate plan.  I’m learning to wait on God; He never sleeps and is ever active in my life.  His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts.  He has plans I know nothing about and it is much bigger than me.  I need to let His plan unfold; to stop trying to manipulate my solution and wait on His, trusting that it is for my good and His glory.

Remain – during His most desperate hours in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus closest disciples fell asleep as He pleaded with the Father.  You can hear the disappointment in His voice when He confronts them about their inability to stay awake even for a single hour.  Abandoned by those He trusted most, Jesus remains.  He knows what He must do, He knows He will face it alone.  Ultimately, even if we have friends and supporters to encourage us when disappointments come, we face them alone..

Resolve – Jesus looked into the eyes of His betrayer, Judas and, just hours after His arrest, He looks into Peter’s eyes as Peter denies knowing Him.  Jesus never wavered in His love for those who betrayed and denied Him.  My resolve to forgive, to lovingly confront and to continue to love those who disappoint me has to come from God.  My flesh screams for justice, for fairness and, even, to inflict hurt in return.  God wants to change the way I think so His light can shine through my tears as I become more like Jesus.

And that is ultimate end of disappointment, choosing to remain, to face it alone, to put one foot in front of the other and walk through it when my heart is breaking.   Disappointments may crush me for a time but God always gives me the resolve to see them as delays not devastation, as a change in plan, a chance to try a new plan.  Some big disappointments have turned out to be the best thing ever.  God shows me the depth of my own sinfulness when my disappointment is a result of someone else’s actions – I have to confess, I have been a Peter.  Disappointments remind me that I am totally dependent on God, He will never disappointment me I and need to stay on His path wherever and however it may lead.

“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”  Sometimes that is true but not all the time.  Sometimes I’m in the mood to make a chocolate shake!

 

 

 

 

Oh, Danny Boy…

Oh, Danny Boy!

Whenever we move from one year to another there are lists all over media…Top Stories, Funniest Moments, Most Influential People, etc. etc. you’ve seen them. I don’t mind confessing that I like lists; not only do I like these re-cap lists but I like the ones that tell you 10 Ways to Organize Your Closet, 6 Foods to Eat Now and I also like making lists. I make grocery lists, vacation lists, I have lists of restaurants I want to visit, books I have read, books I want to read – yep, I’m one of those!

Lists help me stay organized and focused, help me set personal goals, let me find things easily and, most important, remember stuff.   A well-written list is clear, exact, and brief. When life is very busy and chaotic, a list helps me feel like I have been productive as I cross off the “dones”.

Perhaps my little OLM (Obsessive List Making) may seem weird to you but it works for me and I think God must like lists too because His Word is full of them.  The Ten Commandments comes to mind as one of God’s most well known lists but recently I found an amazing list in the Book of Daniel.

As a young Israelite man, Daniel was taken to the land of Babylon to serve in the household of the king. He served for about 70 years and, in the Book of Daniel, he describes his experiences.

In Chapter 10, Daniel had been mourning, fasting and praying for 3 weeks.   He sees a vision of an amazing man dressed in linen with a face like lightening. The man speaks to him, calling him a man of high esteem (v11)…How did Daniel become “a man of high esteem”?!

Ready? Here’s the list, Daniel was:

DETERMINED – Daniel “made up his mind that he would not defile himself” – Daniel was a man of firm resolve, strong in mind, determined.

 OBEDIENT – He seeks permission from the commander to not defile himself – he obeyed earthly authority! He was bold, not afraid to speak to the authority over him when he knew he answered to God.

WISE – When the commander said he was afraid of his leaders, Daniel had a wise solution, “lets do a test!”

DEPENDED ON GOD – Daniel is asked to interpret the Kings dreams. By asking for time to consider the dream – he demonstrates wisdom. He consults his friends, he knows he needs support, together they ask God, he depends completely on God to supply. Chapter 2 has a wonderful prayer of praise to God, he was a man who knew the source of wisdom and blessing, he was humble.

GOOD INFLUENCE – Daniel’s three friends face a horrible test when they are ordered to worship a statue. Daniel’s example of strength much have been a good influence.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abnego refuse to worship the statue and are thrown into a raging inferno, they trust God to deliver them.

COMPASSIONATE – The king has a dream and God gives Daniel the interpretation. Daniel is appalled by the meaning of this dream and wishes, for Nebuchadnezzer’s sake, that the dream did not apply to him, a man of caring and compassion!

HONORABLE AND HARD WORKING – There’s a new king on the throne.   It was common for a new ruler to kill any servants that might possibly be loyal to the old king. Not only did Daniel serve well, he distinguished himself. Daniel was accomplished, and worked hard with excellence.

PRAYERFUL – When the order is given to pray to the King, Daniel is found making his usual petitions and supplication to the Lord. Daniel was a man of consistent and disciplined prayer.

GUARDED HIS TONGUE – Daniel never speaks against those who plotted against him; he was a man of honor. He does not cry out or plead for mercy when put into the lion’s den, he trusted his God. When the pit is opened, he still honors the king who put him in there and gives glory to God. Daniels example caused this pagan king to praise the one true God and give the order that all should honor God.

KNEW THE WORD – Daniel read the Word (Chapter 9 – he reads the words of Jeremiah). He was a man of prayer and fasting. He was a man of confession who humbled himself before God and confessed the sins of the people. He was deeply grieved over sin. He knows God has allowed these difficult days and knows that God has the power to because of His great compassion.

Daniel, the man of high esteem, is given a wonderful promise. The angelic being tells him to “go your way to the end, then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.” Daniel 12:13

Daniel obeyed and honored God all his life. There is no record of his ever asking for anything for himself yet God gifted him with great wisdom, gave him favor with 3 different rulers/kings and preserved his life. Over and over Daniel consistently demonstrates wisdom, integrity, humility, obedience and devotion to God.

Want to be a person of High Esteem? Be a Daniel!

 

When Your World Quakes…

Before…

Routine keeps me on time, on task, nothing forgotten.  Mental to-do list of who, what, where, when and how.  Small warning signs of trouble may be ignored but this time, God was speaking, preparing for the test and trial.  I knew something was coming, I did not know what.  Easy to praise the Lord when life is going according to my plan but much too easy to coast and think, “I got this…”

During…

The major interruption.  The unexpected, unplanned, unanticipated event; not on my schedule.  All routine out the window, calendar useless, reminders, lists, obligations, email alerts all ignored.

The cords of death encompassed me, and the torrents of ungodliness terrified me. The cords of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me. Psalm 18:4, 5

Trying to breathe, to remain calm, to put two coherent thoughts together.  Who to call/text?  There is one, the One who is above all others.  In these moments, I can only fall at His feet.  Heart pounding, I open His Word…

“I love You, O Lord, my strength.” The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. … In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple,
and my cry for help before Him came into His ears.Psalm 18:1 – 3, 6

This enemy is bigger than any ever imagined and foundations are cracking, rendered powerless, without knowledge, adrift without a schedule or plan to follow.  Refusing to dwell on what might happen, what could happen, what is the worst that could happen; choosing to focus on the One Who gave His permission for this trial, this test.

Then the earth shook and quaked; and the foundations of the mountains were trembling and were shaken, … He bowed the heavens also, and came down with thick darkness under His feet. He rode upon a cherub and flew; and He sped upon the wings of the wind. Psalm 18:7, 9 – 10

God rushes in, He allows every earthquake to accomplish His purposes and He stands at the epicenter with His arms wide.  He gives strength to bear my burden, He sends Aarons and Hurs to keep my arms strong and heart lifted to Him.

He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me. Psalm 18:16 – 19

The quake was strong, intense and thankfully short.  There were aftershocks that occurred without warning; they were accompanied by shortness of breath, sleeplessness, loss of appetite and ability to focus, a constant sense of anxiety.  God, His character, His Word, His Truth needed to be repeated, often, and deeply planted to recognize and reject the lies, to slow the breathing, to quiet the mind.

As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God, the God who girds me with strength and makes my way blameless? He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places. He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great. You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped. Psalm 18:30 – 36

After…

Back on schedule with minor, manageable, interruptions; they are welcome after all the rocking and rolling.  God chose to deliver and give what was requested, He was gracious and merciful to me.  Ultimately He gave the one thing He always and consistently gives, His gave according to His will and purpose.  Would I be praising the Lord as much if my request did not agree with His will?  Difficult to say, I like to think I would and I know I would trust Him to lead me through whatever He allows and I know there will always be another quake. Lord, help me continue to sing…

The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of my salvation, … He delivers me from my enemies; surely You lift me above those who rise up against me..Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O Lord, and I will sing praises to Your name. Psalm 46 – 49

Twenty Three

Twenty three years ago yesterday I:

  • got saved,
  • surrendered my life to Christ,
  • became a Christian,
  • was born again.

There was a great cloud of witnesses present as my husband and I walked forward in response to an invitation from the pulpit.  It was not the first invitation that my ears had “heard” but it was the first one my heart truly heard and received.  Until that day God had been drawing me to repentance; I had been resisting His invitation; saying, “Not today, God, not today.”

God had been softening the hard soil of my heart, seeds were being planted, the roots and vines of His Word were twining their way through my spirit.  I saw Jesus as so desirable that day; I wanted Him desperately.  I had wanted Him for some time, I just didn’t know it was Him I wanted. My longing for Jesus was stronger than the sin and shame that encumbered me – I fixed my eyes on Him and His promise.  As I walked toward Him I sensed Him running towards me like the father of the prodigal, running down the path to welcome his son home.

Throughout my life there have been decisions I have regretted, things I wish I had done differently or not done at all.  The decision to follow Christ was one of my best decisions ever and it changed my perspective on any and all decisions made before and since.  I continue to run the race that has been set before me; my pace may vary but my eyes remain fixed on Jesus; He sets my pace.  The cross has grown larger, taking up more space in the range of my vision; the high cost He paid for me.  The author and perfecter of my faith, Jesus, no longer has to run toward me – we walk together now, as we have every day of the past twenty three years.  I am grateful today and will be grateful into eternity.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run withendurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1,2

If you don’t know the peace and security of being a follower of Christ you can give your heart to Him right now.  Here is web site that will help you:  Peace with God  If you prayed to receive Christ with a sincere heart today – Happy Birthday to You!  You are in for a great race!

Glorious Clothing

For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10

Finding clothes I like, at the price I want to pay, that are comfortable and stylish is a challenge.  For me, shopping requires planning and preparation.  Not too long ago I went ISO pants suitable for work.  I knew it would not be easy.  I ate a hearty breakfast for energy.  I wore an outfit that would be easy to take off and put back on so I would not end up a wrinkled mess when I was done.  A pair of  flat, comfortable shoes were an important tactical decision.  I picked “pizza day” to shop so I would not need to rush home to make dinner, just make a phone call to arrange delivery.  I was focused, I was prepared, I was determined.  I hit the racks, flipping aside hanger after hanger of rejects and pulling the rare but possible contender.  Two hours later, after three rounds in the dressing room, trying on 18 pairs of different pants all labeled as the same size – victory!!  One pair fit perfectly, was the color I wanted, were on sale.  I drove home tired and happy with one pair of pants and two matching tops.  Can I get an “Amen”, sisters?!?

My search to find “just the right thing” is a pale reflection of the desire God has given us to dress appropriately.  Isaiah 61:10 describes the beautiful and perfect outfit God has chosen for me.

  • The garment of salvation – a brand new garment that fits me perfectly because it was designed by the Master Designer just for me, the perfect size, the right price – FREE.  The garment that cost me nothing cost Jesus everything.
  • The robe of righteousness – red, the same red as the blood Jesus shed on the cross.  When God sees me, He sees the red robe, He declares that I am in right standing before Him.  He sees nothing else.
  • The bridegroom’s garland – a fragrant ring of colorful flowers that encircle the neck of the happy groom.  Each flower, joined together in an unbroken circle representing the complete joining of the groom to his bride; Jesus, the groom, I, the bride.
  • The bride’s jewels – each one carefully chosen to adorn and enhance the beauty of the lovely bride; each jewel represents my treasure preserved and saved for this special day, this moment.  The bride herself is a jewel, rare, precious, highly valued.

God’s outfit is simple, it is not one size fits all or even most.  It fits me and it is glorious.  God’s outfit for you will be same but different, your garland, your jewels will be unique to you and fit you perfectly.  God dresses me and sees me in my outfit already; I will not see myself in it until I get to heaven.  On that day, my clothes shopping days will be over forever and I will not need or want any other clothing.  Hallelujah – I cannot wait!!

Men of Issachar

Media is blowing up with news, controversy and opinions on Caitlyn/Bruce Jenner and the Duggar family.  Arguments and accusations fly back and forth.  Christians are accused of hiding truth, of being judgmental.   Some Christians are appalled and angry at the situation and the generalizations of Christians as unkind and unloving; other Christians cry that America is worse than Sodom and Gomorrah.  It can be difficult to know how to respond amidst the confusion.

David, the great King of Israel, was able to achieve his many battle victories because of God’s blessing and his faithful followers; his Mighty Men.  1 Chronicles 12 describes the Mighty Men as men who were:

  • Ambidextrous – could handle weapons with both right and left hands.
  • Well-trained.
  • Faces like lions.
  • Swift as gazelles.
  • The least of which was equal to 100 “regular” men, the greatest equal to 1,000.
  • Strong and brave swimmers, crossing the Jordan when it was at flood stage.

Two groups of men in particular capture my attention:

  • Sons of Issachar were few in number, only 200, but they are commended as men who understood the times and had knowledge of what to do, and,
  • the men of Zebulun who had undivided hearts.

Oh God, I pray that you would make me like the Sons of Issachar, a woman who understands the times in which I live. Help me to know when to speak and when to stay silent.  Help me to know how to respond;  that my words would be seasoned with salt and useful to those who hear them.  That I would not hesitate to speak truth from Your Word and that I would be a grace-extender in accordance with the great grace I have received.

Oh God, help me to be like the men of Zebulun, that my heart would be totally dedicated to following You as these men followed David.  Help Your church to be unified in purpose; to know You and to make You known.  

Oh God, help me, help all of Your followers, to be found worthy of being called by Your name; of being called Christian.

Mukuntuweap – Stand Straight Land

Years ago I took one of those self-assessment tests.  This particular test was intended to help you understand what to do or where you need to be to feel close to God; the idea is that once you know this about yourself you need to go and do that activity or be in that place – often and regularly.  My assessment told me I hear God best when I am studying His Word and feel especially close to Him when I am out in nature.

This week I was able to combine both when I visited Zion National Park in Utah.  Mukuntuweap, or Stand Straight Land, is the name given to this area by the Paiute Indian people.

As the sun was rising over the peaks of this Stand Straight Land, I turned to Psalms to help me praise the Lord…

“Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth.”  Psalm 50

“May the Lord bless you from Zion, He who made the heaven and the earth.” Psalm 134

“The Lord will reign forever, Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord.”  Psalm 146

…and my favorite…

“How blessed is the man whose strength is in You; in whose heart are the highways to Zion.”  Psalm 84:5

Later that same day, hiking the Kayenta Trail to the Lower Emerald Pool, I was brought to tears by the beauty of this place and how blessed I felt to see and experience a small part of it.  Every few steps I had to stop and gaze at the surrounding rocks and landscape.  Really that is what Zion is, just rocks, trees, tall rock walls, many rising straight up from the ground, and if you’ve seen one rock you’ve seen them all right?

But if Zion and places like it are not such a big deal, just bunches of old rocks, why do people travel from around the world to spend time here?  There are places that are much more accessible, much easier to walk in.  There are temperature controlled places so you are neither too hot or too cold.  It is work to get to the spots with the breath-taking views and other people have already been there and done that so you could just look at their photos and YouTube videos and save yourself some time, money and effort.

I think a lot of people are like me; they long to be in a place where they can feel close to God and that place is in His creation.  Not all of these people know that God is drawing them.  Some will deny this reason.  But something larger than ourselves draws us to see and personally experience beautiful places and the spend time outdoors.  That “something larger” is God and now part of my heart remains on the highway to Zion, among the incredible and beautiful rocks of Stand Straight Land.

“My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”

Tri-focal – Part 2

On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him. But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And he got up and came forward. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?” After looking around at them all, He said to him, “Stretch out your hand!”And he did so; and his hand was restored. But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

Focus on The Man

I have a large scar on the back of my right hand.  I have had this scar since I was a baby and in my younger years it was much larger and very obvious; it has gotten smaller with the passing of time.  I never think much about it unless someone notices and comments. I used to feel very self-conscious and uncomfortable whenever I was asked about it.

Jesus sees the man with the withered hand and tells him to come forward.  I can guess how the man feels, awkward and  uncomfortable, not wanting to be noticed, yet,the man does not hesitate.  Jesus could have healed the man from across the room but He wanted him to come close to Him.  What was it about Jesus that compelled the man to obey?  Whatever it was, I want that same “Jesus fragrance”.  I want to be someone who draws people closer to Jesus.  I want to stay close to Jesus, breathing deep of His aroma.

The man does not hesitate but walks forward; He makes the best decision and moves in the right direction – towards Jesus!  Oh God, help me to continually press in close to you!  The man was willing to be exposed before the crowd when he stretched out his hand and revealed his shame, his embarrassment.  When we expose our weakness, our shame, sin loses its power over us and God’s glory is displayed for all to see.

What did the man think was going to happen?  Jesus did not give a hint.  The man walked forward in faith.  He expected nothing and got everything!  Oh Lord, increase my withered faith to obey you immediately without caring what others think!

Up Next – Focus 3, The Pharisees