And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. Then he turned away from them and wept. And he returned to them and spoke to them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes. Genesis 42:22-24

The meaning of tears is often complicated. If someone pinned me down and asked me why Joseph cried in this scene, I couldn’t definitively say. There are probably many reasons. He heard his brothers discuss their sin against him in person. He loved them but was sad about their sin. He was grieved over the testing he was about to inflict. These are just three possible causes for why he turned his back to weep privately.

Jesus asked Mary, “Why are you crying?” I often don’t know myself. I’ve used all the clichés. “I just need a good cry.” “I don’t know why I’m crying.” “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

How much weeping is done without knowledge of what’s buried down deep? A lot. We really don’t know ourselves as God knows us. I often ask Him, “Why am I so upset by this? Show me, please.” I have a Father who, not only sees every tear but, could write a novel on what each one means. When emotions swirl in my head and form nothing but cobwebs, Abba can sort them out. Strand by strand, he disentangles the web and gives insight into the matters of my own heart. If I don’t know myself through God’s eyes, I don’t know myself at all.

Is there anything more painful than to cry and to experience ridicule while doing it? “There she is – crying again.” They believe a mountain is being made out of a molehill. They think they know why there are tears when, in fact, they often have no idea.   No wonder we are trained so young to hide our tears and stuff the bulk of them into the dark places of our soul. There, they stagnate, accumulate, and turn us into stoics.

When betrayals are as personal and complicated as Joseph’s, tears will be plentiful. For any today who can’t find an end to their weeping and can’t seem to find resolution, the Counselor promises joy in the morning. Closure is promised if I’m willing to put myself into His safe hands.

I don’t need to protect my heart from You, Father. I submit it fully. Amen

 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:66-69

 I was once spiritually and chronically shortsighted (and it was easy because I was in distress).  God looked guilty when I considered my circumstances. No matter which way I looked at things, I felt that He failed to love me the way He should if He was really a good Father. Angry and hurt, I made some very bad spiritual decisions. Now, years later ~ here’s what I would say to do if you and God are not intimate right now.

  1. Go toward him, not away from him. The very one you’re angry with is usually the last one you want to run to for help. And yet, God invites all of us to pour out our complaint. If you don’t have God, who will you run to for help?
  2. Verbalize your issues. When things swirl in your head, there is not clear thinking and the cobwebs only multiply. Talk to God. Write out what you’re thinking and feeling. Spell out the conclusions you’ve made about him. Repent for name-calling.
  3. Ask God to take you to the right scriptures and open up your heart to them. He is the God who promises to write His Word on our hearts.
  4. Look for a temporary mediator with skin on. Verbalize your issues for the 2nd time to a seasoned Christian who has survived crushing times. They have, most likely, felt the same things you’re dealing with and yet God has gotten them to the other side with their faith in tact. They will offer perspective that is life saving and valuable.

The truth shall set each one of us free. Assassination of God’s character, which results in estrangement, afflicts children of God at some point in their lives. Anger seems justified but it never is. God will not cooperate in our demand that He prove His own goodness. Trust, faith, and humility ensure that we will escape painful spiritual detours.

You, Jesus, proved everything in Your incarnation. Let me bask in the story of the Gospel. Amen

Question: Are you talking with the right people? Who is feeding your anger against God? Angry people love to hang out with angry people.

Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.  And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.  Genesis 18:27,33

If I don’t know the nature of God well, my prayers will be out of line.  If I don’t bow before a holy Judge, I will be arrogant.  If I don’t know how much He loves, I will be fearful to ask for too much.

Abraham spent a long time pleading with God, searching His mind on the matter of how many righteous would be enough for God to spare the city of Sodom.  Abraham didn’t know and pressed God to reveal the limits of His grace.  He was both bold and humble as he took the request to the limit.

I have been blessed enough to be near great men and women of God.  One thing they had in common; they asked God for the unthinkable.  They didn’t doubt at all that He could give them what they asked.  Most were visionary, type-A personalities.  But not all.  I also knew meek men and women who asked with confidence.  Boldness does not equal arrogance.

My childhood was spent near those who were self-loathing but called it humility.  I was also near those who were arrogant but called themselves great men of faith.  How misguided.  To hate oneself is not humility.  To lead boldly with no regard for the well-being of people is not wearing the spiritual power Jesus modeled.

I’m praying for boldness and humility every single day because timidity and self-critique runs in my bones.  God has given me a message and calling that falls flat without the presence of either one.  If I faint, the message of strategic prayer turns wimpy.  If I am hard on myself, my voice is gets weaker and weaker.  Of all lessons, God has been working on these two for the past five years.  You can pray for me today and I will pray for you.

Abraham had your ear for the full length of his pleading.  You didn’t walk away from boldness because he knew his place.  Dust and ashes, yet loved and favored by You.  Amen

But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat.  John 6: 20-21

Jesus’ disciples are in a boat in the middle of the sea.  The opposite shore is nowhere in sight.  It is dark and the sea is churning.  Uncertainty and fear overtake them.  At that moment, Jesus appears and is walking toward them on top of the water.  They had just seen Him feed five thousand people with one small meal yet this sight is beyond comprehension.  His power continually surprises them.  Each time it is manifested, it is in an other worldly context and their finite minds are challenged.

Jesus, knowing their fear, “It’s Me. Don’t be afraid.”  Like a child whose parent shows up to take care of everything, their fears turn to calm.  Pounding heartbeats normalized.  Adrenalin subsided. Consider how the elements of this story live on past the disciple’s time.

All of us are navigating our lives.  Often, there’s no light on our path. Wisdom for the next step is completely elusive. The shore is behind us. Everything familiar is out of sight.  We are in uncharted waters, feeling inadequate.  The sea is beginning to churn.  Passages are difficult enough without storms complicating them.  Fears begin to intensify and rational thought decreases.  Roar of the waves bombard our senses and functioning normally is not an option.

Where is Jesus?  He is on the horizon and asks to be invited into the boat.  His words can be heard even in the midst of the storm.  “It’s Me.  Don’t be afraid.”  We realize we don’t have to make the voyage alone.  The One who can control the storm with a mere whisper is our companion.

Never has a voice been as sweet as Yours, Lord, heard quietly beneath the noise of my life. You have not abandoned Me. Take me safely home.  Amen

 

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They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?  John 8:33

The necessary and beneficial conviction of scripture is lost on me if I paint with too broad a brush.  I am like the Pharisees who heard Jesus speaking about knowing the truth and being set free.  They took a broad glance at their lives and didn’t see slavery anywhere.  They were indignant at his inferences.  They couldn’t see that they were enslaved to the deception that veiled His deity.

I can also paint with too broad a brush.  I should stop and ask Jesus, “What do you mean by that as far as I’m concerned?” Instead, I take a quick peek across the horizon of my life and check ‘enslavements’ off my list.  Alcohol, prescription drug addition, anger, sexual immorality. As they’re crossed off, I’m beginning to feel good about myself.  I declare that I am absolved completely of Jesus’ words.

Not so fast.  I have not entered the territory of my soul where thoughts run rampant, where fears control, where depression taunts and ensnares.  I have my default ways of thinking that lead me to places like hopelessness, like resentment, like futility.  Am I not in slavery to my own soul without repeated applications of scripture?  Others around me may not see the chains on my wrist as my countenance often bears no trace of bondage.  Yet, without application of Jesus’ words, the minefields of my mind will never be disarmed.  The doorway to a new world of new thought processes will never be made available to me.  David said that God delighted in him, rescued him, and brought him out into a spacious place.  He was not referring, I believe, to something geographical.  He was speaking of a spacious inner world where faith, hope, and trust shatters prison bars.

How can I identify places where I’m enslaved?  Look for what keeps me up at night?  Look at the issues over which I obsess.  Put my finger on the problems I keep trying to problem solve but can’t.  These are the places where, if I’m quiet, I can discern the bars of my cell.  Jesus promises truth for every worry, truth for every trap, and when applied, the cage that Satan promoted will begin to rattle, loosen, and then fall away.  Jesus turns the walls into a dance floor.

I don’t want to apply Your Word with a wide paint brush.  I need  a surgical strike.  Amen

When Changes Come In Waves

August 21, 2019


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.

How do you handle change? Do you have a strategy? It’s easy to conceive man-made ones. 1.) Cope with today and don’t borrow tomorrow’s trouble. 2.) Lean on family and friends.   This is usually the best that we can initiate without God. If things are really hard, these won’t sustain. Inner stability will deteriorate.

There is a certain kind of personality that thrives on change but I contend that it’s change they control. No one likes an unexpected knock on the door that brings tragic news. I’ve had my share of seasons where everyday brought some kind of bad news. Difficult times never seem to last a year. Instead, five years, twelve years, even twenty-two years. I’m very familiar with how that looks since severe depression runs in my extended family. I’ve seen some break with reality. Feeling that I could also follow my genetic leanings, I knew that I must draw close to Jesus and follow His lead in developing spiritual strategies.

What did Jesus do when he felt the pressures of his life? Got alone with His Father to pray. He reviewed the scriptures and God’s history. This is the prescription for any of us today who know that the only stability available to us is the foundation of our faith in God.

  • God knows all things future. He’s not wringing His hands over this change in my life. Acts 8:26
  • God already knows the outcome and, if I’m willing, will lead me safely to the other side. Numbers 23:19
  • God is unchanging. Though my life shifts, He is always the same. I cling to Him and not temporal things. James 1:17
  • God is still a righteous Judge even when it appears evil is winning. Psalms 7:11-13
  • God is faithful and true.   Deut. 32:4

When I’ve lost my footing and can’t see my way forward, when too many changes are happening all at once, I bind myself to You since You are my future.  You pluck me out of the deep and set my feet on solid ground.  In Jesus name, Amen

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Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth and it stands fast.  Psalm 119:90

The oldest thing I own is a cradle that dates back in my family to around 1780.  Before our daughter was born in 1979, a friend and I stripped it and refinished it.  My husband, Ron, repaired some spindles and fortified some slats.  It rocked both our children.  It still exists today and has rocked my two grandsons as well as our family’s cats.   In light of how old antiques can be, I supposed 1780 isn’t that impressive.  European antiques can date back many more centuries.

The fact that a chair, table, or cradle, made by men’s hands, still exists today and is still functional isn’t very impressive when compared to the durability of our planet earth.  Most of what men makes erodes over time.  Its components are not permanent.  God, however, made our planet, touched it with life, set its courses in motion, and hung it permanently in the sky.  However old the earth is, it still works.  It feeds us, keeps us alive, and is stable in its orbit.  God’s faithfulness and power are still the major storyline in the plot of our planet even though it groans for ultimate redemption.

Only God’s hands create something permanent; something trustworthy for us and our descendants, but it goes far beyond that.  What comes out of God’s mouth is also eternal.  The age of the earth serves to remind us of His promises that also know no end.

What kind of WORD can I pass down to my children – that they can tell their children – that will be found true and trustworthy 500 hundred years from now?  Only the Word of God.  When I hug my grandchildren and tell them that God loves them, will always love them, and will be a loving, caring Father their whole life, I give them a message that outlives every family antique.  They will test it, tell their children the same good news, and in eternity, we will share similar stories around a banquet table. No matter who the person to our right is and when he lived His life, his testimony of God’s faithfulness will have the same ring as my story. Enoch’s experience of God’s character will match the experience of my father and mother.  God is unchanging.

What is God establishing in my life today?  Whatever it is, it will last forever because He is the builder.

I stand on my Rock today and trust that You are my everlasting foundation.  I feel the joy of being part of your everlasting story.  Amen