Monthly Archives: September 2013

A Chapter Closed-at least for now.

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Today a chapter in my book of life closed-temporarily.  Someone who I’ve become friends with over the years succumbed to the pressure of cancer and she has moved from her life on earth to her eternal life in Heaven.  Sweet Kathleen fought a courageous battle. The odds were against her.  Sadly, dear loved ones, including a husband and two children, are facing one of the toughest nights of their lives right now.

I knew Kathleen was coming close to the end of her life among us.  Two days ago I saw two deer in the neighbor’s front yard while I was taking a walk.  My thoughts went to Kathleen immediately. I wondered if her time had come.  It made me think of Psalm 42.  It wasn’t time yet.

Today I walked again and the cloud formation above me was shaped as a beautiful cross.  I wondered again.  How is Kathleen?  Hours later I learned from a friend she had passed.  

I had to attend a meeting following the notice and my thoughts were sad; my heart aching for Kathleen’s family.  I entered the meeting place and went to the open chair at the table.  As I began to sit I noticed something on the chair.  It was the metal heart shown at the top of this message.  I have no idea why it was there, but it made me think of God’s deep, wide and everlasting love.  He will not leave us not forget us. 

I didn’t have a chance to speak to Kathleen directly before she died.  Her husband and children wouldn’t know me very well, but I knew of her pride of them.  I would want them to know Kathleen touched my life in a beautiful way.  She made me smile and laugh.  She was a lovely woman.  She was part of a chapter in my life and I was blessed to know her.

 

Psalm 42- The Living Bible

42 As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. Where can I find him to come and stand before him? 3 Day and night I weep for his help, and all the while my enemies taunt me. “Where is this God of yours?” they scoff.

4-5 Take courage, my soul! Do you remember those times (but how could you ever forget them!) when you led a great procession to the Temple on festival days, singing with joy, praising the Lord? Why then be downcast? Why be discouraged and sad? Hope in God! I shall yet praise him again. Yes, I shall again praise him for his help.[a]

6 Yet I am standing here depressed and gloomy, but I will meditate upon your kindness to this lovely land where the Jordan River flows and where Mount Hermon and Mount Mizar stand. 7 All your waves and billows have gone over me, and floods of sorrow pour upon me like a thundering cataract.[b]

8 Yet day by day the Lord also pours out his steadfast love upon me, and through the night I sing his songs and pray to God who gives me life.

9 “O God my Rock,” I cry, “why have you forsaken me? Why must I suffer these attacks from my enemies?” 10 Their taunts pierce me like a fatal wound; again and again they scoff, “Where is that God of yours?” 11 But, O my soul, don’t be discouraged. Don’t be upset. Expect God to act! For I know that I shall again have plenty of reason to praise him for all that he will do. He is my help! He is my God!

 

 

Walking On Water

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Sometimes I share things from on line resources that are said in a great way that I can’t really make any better.  Today I came across a devotion that is brief and to the point with a message that unfortunately I need to hear time and time again.  I need to hear it over and over because I am just like the followers of Jesus who saw an amazing miracle of feeding 5000 with a few fish and loaves of bread and then forgot all about it when the next hill to climb presented itself.  

(from LCC Devotions  devotion@lutheranchurchcharities.org)

Walking On Water – Part 1

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. Matthew 14:22

When you find yourself in trouble, do you sometimes think, ‘I must have done something wrong, perhaps I’ve missed God’s will and He’s punishing me’? No. Trouble is multi-sourced, and frequently unrelated to our wrongdoing or God’s punishment. The disciples weren’t in the storm by disobeying, but by obeying Jesus; not by rejecting God’s will, but by embracing it. The Bible says, ‘… Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go… ’, and they obeyed. At times you’ll find yourself in troubled waters because you did what was right rather than what was popular, easy or selfish. (I don’t know if I’ve really thought of that in that way before myself). When that happens, here are some helpful lessons from the disciples’ experience: 1) Obedience doesn’t guarantee there will be no storms. The disciples had just seen Jesus feed five thousand people with five bread rolls and two fish, and end up with more food than He started with. Shouldn’t their faith have been strengthened? Yet they forgot it completely when fear came knocking. Jesus had told them He’d meet them on the other shore, yet they forgot His miracle-working power and His promise and gave in to anxiety (Guilty). Understand this: When God doesn’t solve your problem, He will show up in the middle of it and cause you to come out with your faith fortified.

2) Fear doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It’s just a reminder that you’re human, and, like the disciples, you’ve forgotten Who has the power and Who’s in charge. And these are lessons that transform your trial into triumph.

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I have often felt a failure for not having more faith in Jesus whom I profess to be my Lord and Savior.  Do I really believe that?  In my heart of hearts I have to say, YES!  But, how can I then forget about the fishes and loaves and panic when the new storm is coming?  Jesus must have known the outcome of calling the disciples to the boat and their reaction to Him walking on the water.  They freaked- at least Peter did. I would probably be the same way.  But, Jesus kind of created a freaky situation so He could remind them of His power and calm them.  By doing that their faith could grow.  Jesus gives opportunities over and over again to show we can trust Him; have faith in Him.  It’s one of the hardest things I have tried in my life.  Trusting in something I can’t see; trusting in Jesus. He has yet to let me down, but I continue to have moments of panic through difficult times.

Someone once used an analogy with me in talking about how we build muscle.  To an extent you actually tear the muscle when you work it out and your body goes into repair mode to fill in the gaps and make it stronger (pardon me if I don’t have the exact science of that down right).  The point is sometimes to become stronger we need a little pain and restructuring so that we will come back stronger.   In relation to this blog it means that with each challenge, worry and anxiety-maker we face, we hopefully get a little stronger and are better able to rely on the presence of our Father to walk through it with us and bring all to a satisfactory conclusion.  To be satisfactory, though, the outcome must be what God wants it to be and not what we want it to be.  That hurts sometimes and reminds me of my selfish nature.

None of us wants trials.  No one wants pain or hurt.  God has proven we need that so we can learn though. If our trials keep us growing in our faith that gives us opportunity to reach the lives of others who don’t have that certainty.

God doesn’t call us to do a lot in our lives really.  He calls us to bring others to Him.  His message is simple-Love Him/Love Others; God first.  As selfish people we have a really hard time believing our time on earth is that simple.  And the opportunities are there though we don’t always seize them.  

There is an end of the line for each of us- hard as that is to say.  God knows the plan and He puts me and you in places to do the work He wants us to do- even though we often have no idea what it is.  I haven’t become wise enough to deal with my trials in a completely obedient and trusting manner. That probably means more “opportunities” to practice trusting Him are in my future.  As I grow I am hopefully impacting the lives of others around me who can see my faith expanding and joy that my faith brings.   I expect my life will be that way to the very end- whether I have many years to go or I will be called home in short order.   It would be my honor to face God with all the trials in my timeline of life,  and be able to show with each one I’ve trusted Him more and more so He will say to me, “Well done good and faithful servant- you touched lives for me and you made a difference.”