When Changes Come In Waves

Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.  Psalm 42:7

Have you ever been knocked over by a huge wave?  I have.  As a child of 5 years old, I almost drowned when I was knocked under, then tumbled round and round for what seemed like an eternity.  I couldn’t get my footing for the next wave that came so down I went again.  My parents plucked me out of the water.  To this day, I’m not real fond of the ocean deep.

Too many changes in one’s life, all at once, put a person in a fragile place emotionally. It seems too much to process as each change knocks me off my feet like a towering wave.  I have no perspective as I struggle to discern direction.  When I initiate the changes, it’s easier. But most change is what happens to me and I have no control over it.

Apocalyptic dramatic background - giant tsunami waves, dark stormy sky

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‘All Is Well’ Is It A Myth?

You have dealt well with your servant, O Lord, according to your word.  Psalm 119:65

God always deals well with His faithful servants.  His care is bountiful even though His favor may be hidden from those who watch for external blessings in our lives.  I remember hearing Richard Wurmbrand speak.  A Romanian pastor, imprisoned for 14 years for his faith, tortured brutally, spoke of the internal springs of love and grace that were birthed in his heart while in prison.  His spirit grew rich though his body suffered.

Sun Through YosemiteHis testimony planted a seed of truth in me as a 15 year old teenager.  I realized that oftentimes a person can be externally prosperous while internally poor.  The life of the Christian, one called to share in the sufferings of Christ, is often externally oppressed and internally rich.  At the end of a saint’s life, glowing testimonies abound as to the gracious ways of God and the power of His indwelling Spirit.  The abundant life that flourishes inside the heart and mind of the suffering would shock any unbeliever.  They are so accustomed to equating well-being to circumstances.

Even to believers, this can all seem convoluted when we talk about well being.  If one serves God, shouldn’t life go smoothly?  Shouldn’t there be evidence of external blessing?  These expectations are rooted in faulty theology.  I should fixate on deliverance from pain more than I should look for ways to glorify God in my pain.  I am not advocating pain for the surpassing value of pain’s sake.  I am, however, thinking of you and aching for you if you’re suffering greatly and made to feel guilty for it.  There are many reasons we suffer and one of them is because Christ told us we would.  He warned us that ‘just as the world hated him, it would also hate us and kill us for our faith.’   The subject of God can be discussed safely in most cultures.  Talk of Jesus, however, brings peril.

In spite of our cross, our souls can know peace, even joy.  God can be trusted; even in dungeons.

In the dark valleys of my life, You have dealt graciously with me.  You’re teaching me that I do not need mountaintops to inspire songs of praise.  In Jesus name,  Amen

The Faces of God

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.  Psalm 17:15

 People have many faces. Meeting a stranger, I can often tell a lot about them from an initial glance. Their face can be inviting, stoic, hard, relaxed, gentle, depending on their state of heart. Whether I’m aware of it or not, I read a total stranger’s face to know how to proceed with a conversation. If I can tell this much about someone I don’t know at all, how much more can I read about a person I know well? I often tell Ron, my husband, that I can tell what kind of day he had by the way he walk up the driveway.  I realize writing this that I have a habit of looking at the faces of all my loved ones as they walk to the back door. Our home is full of windows and I can see past their demeanor before they even touch the door handle.

God has many faces as well. The Hebrew word for ‘face’ is not singular but plural. Interesting, isn’t it? And this word is found in so many places where the English word ‘face’ is absent. In today’s scripture, the word ‘face’ is really ‘faces’. How does that work?  Well, whatever I need, there is a face to accompany it.

Tree Silhouette Against Starry Night Sky --- Image by © Robert Llewellyn/Corbis

When I need a protector, God’s face is fierce. When I flirt with other first loves, His face is jealous. When I’m hurting, his face is tender. When I’ve lost my way, His face is strong. When enemies come against me, His face is angry. When I grieve, His face is streaked with tears.

Sometimes I will say that a certain person is complex. They are deep and have many sides to them. If this is so, how many are the faces of God! He is wild and unpredictable yet always driven by love and holiness. He cannot be second-guessed. Yet at the same time, I can depend on His love and goodness toward me.

Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” Translation? “He who has seen my faces has seen the Father.” Beautiful, isn’t it? And as an image bearer of my Father, the same is to be said about me. That is humbling enough to send me to my knees. Will the many faces I wear today, and the moods and thoughts behind them, lead others to experience the various faces of God? May it be by the power of God’s Spirit.

I love Your Word. The beauty of it, hidden in the Hebrew language, is a storehouse of golden nuggets. I crave to know and understand Your many faces.  In Jesus’ name, In Jesus’ name, Amen

When I Hear God’s Voice

The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.  Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.  Psalm 50:1-2

Christ’s death on the cross was for everyone.  The call is universal and it is sounded out to all men and women.  Jesus showed us the way to heaven, revealed that He is the door, and announced that He was the light of the world.  But men have always loved darkness rather than light.  Instead of the light being attractive, we are repelled by it.  Christ is just not desirable to us.  His light is too bright and we shield our eyes from it and turn away.

So, who will believe if all people love darkness?  The ones God specifically calls; the ones whose eyes are opened to see His glory.  Ah, this call is personal.  This call came to us by name.

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Whenever God speaks a word, it is effective.

  • God spoke a Word and this dead planet began to pulsate with life.  What once looked like Mars began to grow green.
  • God spoke a Word to a dead man, a decaying man, wrapped up like a mummy, and this man came to life.  His body regenerated.  “Lazarus, come forth!” was the call.  God’s Word produced life out of death.
  • God spoke a Word, called my name, and I was awakened out of spiritual death.  The call prompted me to turn and look into the face of Christ.  I understood His message of salvation and believed.  If He hadn’t spoken to me and opened my eyes, I would have continued on my death march.

Nobody knows whom God will call.  Because of that, my heart reaches out to God in prayer for those who haven’t yet heard their name spoken by God.  Now, Christ is still unattractive to them, even repulsive. Once God calls their name, they will never be the same.

The call is powerful like dynamite.  It transformed a brutal murderer into a zealot.  The Damascus road was the place it happened.  Paul was the man.   I know this transformation, too.  Don’t you?  The longer I live near Jesus and soak in His Words, the more I cease to know the old me.  You’ll never know how many times I read old journals and respond out loud, “What was your problem, Christine?” 

The call is to a new life.  Don’t walk!  Run to Calvary if you are hearing your name whispered in your soul.

Oh, still speak.  I love how You speak to me.  I love the results of Your touch on my life.  Amen

Why Do We Hurt The Ones We Love?

The insolent smear me with lies; their heart is unfeeling like fat.  Psalm 119: 69, 70

I often wonder how people can do what they do.  (That includes me when I sin.)   Here, at least in one instance, the answer is given.  The sin ~ someone concocted a series of lies about another person for personal payoff.   The cause ~ their heart was fattened by pleasure over time and ceased to feel remorse over the pain they caused.

Consider a rebellious child who acts out.  Others can give into him to stop the tantrums.  But without discipline, he will repeat the tantrums until they become a way of life.  The pleasure he feels when he gets what he wants will become his drug of choice and he will cease to regret the acts he commits in favor of feeling good.  Without Jesus, there will be no remorse.

Young crying businesswoman with arms covering head from rain

If you’ve suffered at the hands of one who never said “I’m sorry,” you may have asked the question, “How could this person do this to me and not even feel badly that they hurt me?”  This scripture answers the question.  The pleasure they got by sinning against you numbed their conscience. They may have seen your tears, heard your pain expressed, but shrugged their shoulders.  You just couldn’t understand such coldness of heart.

God is our instructor today.  An unfeeling heart develops over time, never overnight.  It belongs to the person who has been fattened by the pleasures of his choices, even choices that have caused pain to someone he claims to love.

Only God can transform the heart of a sinner.  Only God can comfort the victims.  The sinner must love Jesus more than the payoff of self-gratification and the victim must love Jesus more than taking revenge.

Jesus, you knew the hearts of men.  You were not deceived.  Teach me to look beyond their behavior to the spiritual cause.  I need to pray for others’ spiritual disease instead of just asking you to stop their behavior.  Spirit, show me how to pray.  Amen

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When My Day Falls Apart Early

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Sometimes you know by 8:00 a.m. that your day is going to be difficult. Already, things have unraveled and your peace has gone south. Already, your day’s reservoir of patience has been used up.

I thought twice before picking today’s scripture. All too often, it has been used as a rod of correction on anyone who admits they’re struggling. Please, let’s not do that! Scripture is not meant to be a muzzle; an instrument to encourage denial. How many have stopped talking to put on a happy face after someone scolded them with God’s Word?  I’ve done it – just to fit in.

So what in the world can I rejoice over as I assess the mayhem of my morning? Certainly not the events I endured. Certainly not the temper of a family member who lost it at the breakfast table. But most certainly a faithful Father who will excel, once again, at fingering the ragged edges of my soul and mending them together. I rejoice (with a deep joy and comfort) that I didn’t live through it alone. I know that He saw it all and knows what it will take to help me regain my spiritual equilibrium.

I’ve noticed that I can often handle a crisis much better than an annoyance. It’s amazing what can undo me. The other day, I went to the basement to do some cleaning. One of my chores was to empty used cat litter into a garbage bag and bring it upstairs to put in the trash. It was heavy and as I climbed the stairs, the bag caught on a part of the railing bracket.

Frustrated business woman working with laptop in office

You guessed it ~ litter started running out the bottom through a large hole but I didn’t hear it because the stairs are carpeted. I reached the landing and the litter continued to drain out onto the hall carpets.  Still unaware, I continued on through the house.  It wasn’t until I reached the hardwood floors in our family room that I heard the sound of rain hitting the floor. I turned around to see a very long, and very deep, trail behind me. I was exclaiming out loud to myself ~ “What have you done, Christine? Oh, what have you done?!”  It got the best of me. I put the bag down, went to the piano and played 30 minutes worth of Mozart Sonatas to calm down.  (A childhood coping mechanism.)  Still not able to deal with the mess, I went on to a few other distracting chores before having the calm to start the clean up effort.

I’m embarrassed to admit, really, that something as mundane as that got to me. But it did.  I don’t know about you but I find that I can’t predict what it will be that will nearly undo me.

In ten years, when I’ve long forgotten the events of my morning, God will still be doing what God does ~ watching His children live their lives, engaging His children as they cope with the events, and soothing His children with just the right words. The only One who could possibly know just what to say is the One who knows the mental and emotional pathways that take me to my place of utter frustration and pain.

No matter how your day started, Your Father knows and has something to say that will make your heart feel resilient again.

So I say, “Lord, I am rejoicing in You. You are Lord of my day. In Jesus’ name, Amen

When Parting Is Best

Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God.  Psalm 119:115

In David’s courts, there would be men who would flatter him in order to secure their own place in the palace.  There would also be traitors who would try to get David’s ear and steer him in directions that would sabotage his effective leadership.  Discerning those with ulterior motives was as difficult for David as it is for us but the first line of defense is the recognition that such men exist.  Satan makes sure of it and oftentimes, God allows it, so that our spiritual senses can be sharpened and our wisdom increased.

For a seed to grow and develop, it needs good soil.  The toxic soil of bad company fails to give the seeds of faith the nourishment they need to thrive.  The weeds of bad language, bad advice, and a life of compromise lived out in close proximity, threaten growth.  With little refreshing rains, seeds of spiritual life will sprout, then appear sickly.  They will be a muted shade of green, bent over and withered, and fail to ever mature to bear fruit.

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Spend enough time in the company of people who choose to walk with the world instead of Christ, and you will find it difficult to choose Christ. You will say to yourself, “Either I have to part company or my ability to follow Christ and fight for His kingdom will be affected.”

  • If I spend most of my time with someone who hates Jesus, the spiritual friction will drag me down.  Emotionally, physically, and spiritually, I will see the vibrant edges of my faith wither.
  • If I spend most of my time with a ‘technical Christian’, one who says they love Jesus but appears neutral by the way they live, my passion will be compromised.
  • If I spend much time with radical, faith-filled, passionate believers, their faith will infect me.  My soil becomes rich as we treasure the Word, share our stories, and cheer each other on to greater ventures for the kingdom.

Whom I allow to have access to my ear, daily, affects me.  It is one thing to love the lost and reach out to the hurting with humility.  It is quite another to make them my confidants.  Many today need to make a critical decision to change their company.  Their spiritual survival depends on it.

Loyalty does not equal perpetuating a destructive affiliation.  Teach your church how to exercise discernment with humility.  Amen