Impatient With Someone Else’s Weakness

Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble. The Lord protects and preserves them—they are counted among the blessed in the land—he does not give them over to the desire of their foes. Psalm 41:1-2

My strengths make me able to handle certain challenges. While I may excel in those areas, I can be certain that I’ll struggle in others. My weaknesses put me at a disadvantage. Because each of us is unique, what comprises our individual challenges differ.

Even though I know this theoretically, it’s easy to be impatient with someone else’s weakness. My mercy seems to have limits as I say under my breath, “Why can’t they just get it together!” It is judgment without discernment. I fail to take into account that their weakness is not my weakness nor is their strength, my strength. It’s likely that they are also impatient with me when I struggle with my personal Achilles heel. Many things contribute to the causes of impatience. Culture, biases, training, arrogance ~ all these can erase needed compassion. Examples:

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  • I know an extremely wealthy Christian woman who has no compassion for the poor. Worth tens of millions, she gives liberally to charities. She also has mercy for the sick. But when it comes to the poor, she really believes that they have created their own destiny. If they worked harder or had made different choices, they would live comfortably. For a time, I was in her circle of friends and I can tell you that I, personally, suffered from her bias at a time when we faced financial hardship.
  • I also know a healthy, energetic person who can’t understand those who live in chronic pain. She puts time limits on her empathy.
  • And how many of us know people who have never tasted clinical depression. As a result, they won’t empathize with those who live with shadows ever at their heels.

Whatever the cause of our judgments, God needs to help us. Transformation starts with an acknowledgement that man’s mercy falls short of God’s mercy. David wants us to know that God has high regard for those in need. He does not leave them. He blesses them. He fiercely protects them from their foes. How ironic would it be for me to judge the needy, walk by, and then carry on with the ministry God has entrusted to me? One thing for sure, I am not like Jesus.

Oh, how I know. Even with the spiritual gift of mercy, I have a long way to go to resemble You. Amen

Coming Home With Words

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.  Psalm 32:5

King David is clear in today’s scripture about the importance of words in the process of repentance.    He’s not preaching a sermon to his subjects.  He’s reveals his own path back to God by letting us hear the nature of his personal prayer.

Imagine if you had a prodigal son who spurned your love and went off on a long journey.  You mourned for him, prayed for him, and waited for his return.  One day, you wake up to see him sleeping in his old room.  He gets up in the morning and says little.  It’s obvious that he’s come home to stay because he unpacked completely, started engaging in household routines but gave no explanation about where’s been or why he’s come back.  It wouldn’t be long until you’d erupt and say, “Look, we have to talk about this.  Where have you been?  What have you been doing?  Why are you home?”  

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We can never stray from God and go back without a language of repentance and self-disclosure.  “Lord, I went away because ___________.  I’ve been off doing _______________.  My heart feels ______________.  Please forgive me for ____________.”

The only way to make a solid return is with words.  It’s not because He needs to hear them. Unlike we human parents, He knows the thoughts and intents of His children’s hearts.  We need to speak because, by speaking, we are changed.  The dam breaks and acknowledgement of our actions and feelings brings what was hidden into the Light.  The elephant in the room of our relationship with God has been acknowledged.

Words are a gift we give to God that only come back to benefit us in the long run.  When we speak words of repentance, we are bathed in forgiveness.  When we speak words of praise, we are delivered from the chains of darkness.  When we speak words that reveal our own story, we gain self-awareness.  When we speak words of faith, we surmount the barriers of unbelief.  When we sing, we push back the darkness.  Let’s take our words and live in the presence of the Lord today.

If I am wordless, I am poor.  Breathe on my tongue, Jesus.  Release my language of remorse and repentance.  Amen

What Comes With Belonging

I am yours, save me!  Psalm 119:94

Some time ago, my husband was out doing errands when he saw a heavy set older woman lying in a parking lot, bleeding.  She had fallen outside her car.  An even older woman was at her side, trying to help her turn over to get up, but it was obvious that she was not being succesful.  A crowd stood around; no one seemed particularly interested in doing anything but watching.  You see, the woman who fell didn’t belong to any of them.  She was not part of their family.

Ron went over, knelt down, and asked them if they needed help.  “Oh please!”, the injured woman pleaded.  She wrapped her arms around his neck and he lifted her off the ground and took assessment of the situation to see if an EMT was needed.  She declined the help and after a few minutes declared that she was able to drive home, even though she was scraped up pretty badly.

Doctor holding a senior patiens 's hand on a walking stick - special medical care concept for Alzheimer 's syndrome.

If she had been someone’s mother in the crowd, there probably would have been earlier aid.  But she belonged to no one there and couldn’t ask for help.  She couldn’t say what David said to the Lord when he was in trouble.  “I am yours, so save me!”  With ownership comes responsibity and God steps up to the plate with care and faithfulness.  With belonging comes security and the privilege of begging for intervention.  No child of God should swallow their tongue and fail to ask for what they need.  Each has a Father who loves to give and who celebrates need.

What scars my ability to ask boldly are the memories of having belonged somewhere only to have my status ignored.  I ‘technically’ belonged to a family, by virtue of birth, but made to feel that I didn’t belong.  These dynamics are the stuff of earth, of the kingdom of darkness.  Earth is Satan’s orphanage but Jesus died to forgive me and adopt me to make me His own.  I can not be snatched out of His hand.  My status will never change and His love for me will never flicker for a second.  My need does not surprise Him.  He knew well my orphan-story.

    Wherever things are ragged today, wherever I need saving, I have a heavenly Father who reminds me through His Word that I belong.  With that privilege comes the right to echo David’s words.  “I am yours, save me!” 

This story of belonging is not like any other.  Amen

Half Listening

The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just.  Psalm 37:30

To be wise, and to be just, requires alertness.  No one can assess things clearly if they’re zoned out. I ask myself this morning if I’m fully awake?  Has God caused my spiritual senses to arise out of twilight sleep?  Like one who drives a ten-hour trip, I can numb out and not recall the last four hours of the trip.  Unaware of the scenery.  Unaware of traffic.  Just marking time and watching the mile markers change.   Oh, how I can’t afford to miss the command to be wise and discerning.  Never has it been more critical to understand the times I am living than now.

In Matthew 16, the Jewish leaders came to Jesus and asked for a sign, a sign that would confirm who He was and that what He was saying was true.  Jesus was firm that there were signs all around them but they refused to see them.

When David was king at Hebron, a group of warriors called ‘men of Issachar’ came to his aid.  They were described as those ‘who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.’  Is there anything better than keeping company with those who are spiritually astute, who know the mind and heart of God and are able to interpret the times and events!  I shouldn’t have to rely on those who have a prophetic gifting to understand God’s heart on a matter.  Yes, they possess a keen sense of God’s thinking on issues but that wisdom is available to all who seek Him and seek the truth.  ‘Wake me up!’ is what I’m praying.

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  I don’t want to be like someone who is falling asleep; slowly ceasing to hear the creaking in the floors and the din of noise from the other room.  I want to put off the mindset of the world, which is hard to do if I’m on their journey of moral and spiritual decline.  If Jesus were to step into my world today, read the headlines, watch the news, visit a local school, how would He react to the spiritual condition of my city, my church, my children, my home life, my marriage, and to me – most of all?  Would He tell me to wake up or would He just hone my present skills and make me a more effective watchman on the wall?  I don’t want to assume it’s the latter.  I’m asking Him about it and making sure my own sin isn’t numbing out my spiritual senses.

I bind my mind to your mind through the counsel of scripture. Amen

“I’ve Stopped Talking To You.”

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, Lord, as you know. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly. Psalm 40:9-10

What do you do when the person you’re counting on lets you down? Not just once, but over a long period of time? You just don’t understand their absence because the relationship is not platonic, but deep and abiding. Many proclamations of love have been expressed over the years. Then, just when you need them most, they aren’t there for you.

Perhaps the first thing you do is cry out in protest. “Where are you? I need you? I thought you loved me?” But when your words do not move them to draw close, you stop talking and turn the other way.

Such can be the case when I perceive that God is failing me. I’ve prayed for things I believe I need right now. I reason that anyone who loves me wouldn’t withhold it. I try to muster up some faith so I can pray harder, and longer. I may make excuses for God to others but the first signs of disillusionment have already been manifested in the core of my soul. My testimony sounds hollow, even to me. Eventually, armed with the lies of the evil one, I turn away from God’s face and stop talking.

the-biggest-difference-between-being-a-single-woman-and-a-single-man-in-2015Did you see today’s scripture? David is speaking in glowing terms about God’s faithfulness. If I had to guess, I’d say that God just came through for David in some huge way. David is fresh off of some kind of mountaintop experience. But that would be the danger of taking these two verses out of context. David is, in fact, in turmoil and waiting on God. His soul is ragged and desperate. Yet, in spite of this, and in spite of the fact that his eyes have yet to see the saving help he ascribes to God, he is still talking.

This is the essence of faith; faith that I cannot manufacture on my own. In my need, in my disappointment, in my wilderness, and in my waiting, I brag on God’s love and faithfulness to others. Not only that, but I encourage them to put their lives in His hands. How can this be? Because the foundation of my life rests on the pillars of God’s promises! I know in my spirit that God has not abandoned nor forgotten me. I can, simultaneously, pour out my complaint in prayer and yet speak of His glory in public.

For all the years I shut You out, forgive me. Amen

Stepping Stones

Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.  Lead me by your truth and teach me,  for you are the God who saves me.  All day long I put my hope in you.  Psalm 25:4-5

A woman who takes the time to listen to and obey the voice of God is never stuck.  Every step she takes is leading somewhere.  No gesture is ever inconsequential.  No task performed is ever hollow.  No pain is ever senseless. Everywhere she places her foot is strategic even though she may be unaware of the significance.  Solomon said so.  “The upright one is on a path that makes up a highway.”

Satan’s urgent agenda for us as God’s children is to cause us to distrust God.  If he can alienate our affections, he knows we will lose heart and abandon the way of faith.  One of his biggest lies is the one that says, “This is a dead end.  You’re trapped.”  Oh, how well I know.  I believed that and was crippled by a severe depression in the early nineties.  Everywhere I looked, I saw traps instead of doorways.  I didn’t know that they were a mirage, a smokescreen.  If only someone had told me to call Satan’s bluff with a well-fashioned arrow of the word of God.

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 Now, two decades later, I’m still on a soapbox to declare that each ‘trap’ was really a doorway into glory. I was delivered from my wordlessness when I decided to embrace the truth that God is never cornered, and since He lives in me and orders my steps, I’m not trapped either.  Facing the conflict of my core beliefs and then choosing to believe God over my own thoughts, I was freed to move again.  Slowly, I began to see that every pro-active step I took by faith was profitable. It proved that there were indeed invisible doorways I couldn’t see before.  Everywhere I placed my foot led me to another stepping-stone related to my destiny.

It’s still true for each of us today.  The best of life awaits us even in these difficult times if I define the ‘best’ as opportunities to showcase God’s glory. I intend, until Jesus returns, to become an spirited older lady who teaches others how to pray strategically, embrace the scriptures passionately, and love God wholeheartedly.  I don’t know how well I will sing in another decade or two but I will always play the piano, my flute and wooden recorders.  My dream is that God will continue to anoint me to be a ‘pied piper’ who marches on the kingdom’s highway, calling out to others on the sidelines to step onto the path behind me.   My once compromised faith-walk has become a banner-waving parade for the glory of God.

The destiny You write for every daughter is beautiful. Show me today’s stepping stones.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Mercy and Beauty

Let your mercy come to me that I might live.  Psalm 119:77

The psalmist could not fully understand how his cry for mercy would be fulfilled in Christ.  He saw mercy as a ‘thing’ God would bestow.  Ultimately, God sent mercy as a person.  Mercy touched our eyes so we could see God, forgave our sins so we could approach God, and ultimately died so we could belong to God as sons and daughters.

mercyMercy was not something Jesus had to learn.  It was part of His character.  I can’t understand the kind of love that fuels mercy either.  It was mercy that prompted Him to come as a baby to a turbulent Roman world.  Mercy subjected Him to chaos and murderous plots.  Mercy led Him to die for people who needed forgiveness yet were insulted by the suggestion of their need for it.

The baby who embodied mercy came with a sword in His mouth because mercy comes with a partner.  Truth.  When truth hits hard, mercy is right there to catch me when I fall.  Truth tells me that I’m a sinner and doomed to pay for it.  Mercy reminds me that He loved me enough to pay sin’s price in my place so I can be freed from my guilty verdict.

The sword of truth in Jesus’ mouth was veiled for a time.  He was a baby, like us, who cried  indistinguishable words.  Not for long though.  Once He started speaking, earth has never been the same.  When His Word is read or spoken, the sword still falls.  For any who desire to see, truth invades deception and cuts with a clean slice.  Mercy comes right along behind it.  Jesus, my merciful Savior, offers hope and redemption if I do my part to embrace the truth of my need.

“Let mercy come to me” is a beautiful prayer.  However, the beauty will never be experienced if I pretend I have no need of it.  By brushing it aside, it is cheapened to a mere trinket.  People cry out for want of love, of goodness, of beauty and of mercy and yet refuse to prepare their hearts to see all of this in God.  Mercy is there, resident in Christ.  The kingdom is here now.

I can think of two ways I need your mercy today.  Reveal all my need of You.  Let Your mercy come to me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen