A nap? Really?

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” – John 13:7

Sometimes we try too hard. We have a problem and think of all kinds of ways we might solve it. But our solutions can be frustrating and unfulfilling, and we often cry out to God asking why he won’t help us.

God has a better way, but sometimes waits for us to get to the end of our own resourcefulness before he acts. In fact, he started that pattern with the very first human.

Here’s how I see it: When God created Adam, he knew he would need a mate, but he waited – waited for Adam to become discontent, to not like being “one-of-a-kind”. Then God paraded the animals in front of Adam, asking Adam to name them, knowing Adam would evaluate each animal as a potential mate. Of course, Adam found none suitable for him and began to get discouraged. That didn’t surprise God! When, finally, Adam despaired of having a partner, God said, in essence, “I have a plan. You take a nap.”

Sometimes we’re not ready to yield to God until we’ve exhausted our own ideas, resources, and energy. When, at last, we quiet down, give up control, and allow God to work, the outcome will, most likely, be something we never could have imagined on our own. Just ask Adam!

So, what is it you have been looking for? A good friend? A new job? Financial security? A way to serve? When you’re ready to give up control, take a nap. Trust God. And wait for him to show you what his plan has been all along. Then do it his way!

“Childlike surrender and trust, I believe, is the defining spirit of authentic discipleship.” – Brennan Manning

#trustingGod

Where’s your prodigal?

” . . . the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining”. – 1 John 2:8b

Has someone you love walked away? Rejected what you believe? Who you are? The way you live? It hurts, doesn’t it? And nothing you do seems to fix the problem.

Then sometimes God steps in. And when he does, we find out he had a plan all along. Onesimus was a slave to Philemon, a 1st-century Christian. One day, Onesimus ran away. Runaway slaves in that time could be put to death. It was a serious crime to break free.

Onesimus headed for Rome, probably thinking he would never be found on the crowded streets. But, God made sure Onesimus met Paul, and Paul introduced him to Jesus. Everything changed for Onesimus at that moment, and Paul apparently told him he had to make things right with Philemon. He had to go back home.

Paul sent him on his way with a letter to Philemon explaining the change in Onesimus now that he was a Jesus follower. He asked Philemon to take Onesimus back, not just as a slave, but as Christian brother. In fact, Paul says that maybe, just maybe, Onesimus’ escape was for an eternal purpose: “For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for awhile, that you might have him back forever.” (v. 15)

God knows the bigger picture: He may have a plan for our prodigals that means we can have them back forever. So we stand still and strong, praying and trusting that, at just the right time, he’ll step in to help them find their way back to him and back to us. Keep the light on.

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” – Anne Lamott

 

 

Me, too.

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“I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show the wonder of your great love”. – Psalm 17:6-7a

The bleeding woman was healed. She came to Jesus in desperation. She came secretly, pushing through the crowds, bending low to touch the edge of His robe, hoping beyond hope His power would flow through to her and stop the bleeding she had experienced for twelve long, expensive, lonely, and frightening years.

She was immediately and completely healed and, amazed, turned to leave. But Jesus did not let her go unnoticed. Instead He called her to face Him in front of the pressing crowd and He lovingly pronounced her clean saying, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

Does anyone else want that? Do you have something in your life from which you want to be released or healed? An old wound? A destructive habit? An illness or condition? A pain-filled relationship? A spiritual frustration?

Me, too, Lord.

Heal me of my past, my pain, all that causes me to bleed.

Free me from my suffering.

May I, too, go in peace.

Me, too, Lord. 

I want to be whole, usable, intimate with You.

“God’s gift was – and is – a visible reminder that He is interested in restoring the lives of those who have been broken, battered, and desperate.” – Jo Kadlecek

 

Two Ways to Pray

We don’t have to wait until we are better people before we go to God. He invites us to come, dirt and all. In fact, it is our recognition of the failure of all our self-improvement programs that humbles us enough to pray the prayer that God is just waiting to hear. Only then can He forgive, restore, and set us on the path to purity and true freedom.

"It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy." Romans 9:16

“It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Romans 9:16

Jesus tells the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. They both went to the Temple to pray.

The Pharisee stood up and prayed boldly.
The tax collector bowed his head and would not even look up to heaven.

The Pharisee spent his prayer time telling God how good he was.
The tax collector told God how sinful he was.

The Pharisee was looking for God’s approval.
The tax collector was looking for God’s mercy.

Only one of them had his prayer answered.

When it comes to our relationship with God, it is never about our being better or about trying harder. It is always about His mercy. He is just waiting for us to see our need and ask for it.  “Have mercy on me a sinner” is a prayer He always answers.

“Our conscious need for daily mercy is our only real boarding pass for heaven. The ego does not like that very much, but the soul fully understands.” – Richard Rohr

Broken

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“When there is nothing left that we can do, God can do anything.” – Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

Have you ever made a bad mistake? Or followed a sinful desire? Or been deeply wounded by someone? If so, you will be able to relate to this story told by a professor from California:

“In my office sits a pot. A student made it as an extra credit assignment in a class for me last Spring. She wanted to do something other than a typical research assignment, so we decided she could do a piece of art.

She went to Home Depot, bought the ceramic pot, broke it into pieces, painted each piece, wrote a New Testament passage on each piece that speaks about God restoring and redeeming us, then made a valiant effort to glue it all together again.

When she delivered her finished assignment to me, I asked her what spiritual lessons she had learned from the exercise. She did not hesitate. ‘Two things,’ she said.

‘First, I discovered that the pieces would never fit perfectly back as they once were. Then I realized that no matter what God did in my life, I would never be exactly as I once was.’

‘Second, it took me far longer to reconstruct the pot than I imagined. And I realized that the work of God in my life might take a lot longer than I expect. I should be patient.'”

Broken? It’s OK. God can work with pieces if we consciously, intentionally give them to Him. Then we need to be patient while He works, knowing He has a beautiful result in mind!

“I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.” – Psalm 51:17 (MSG)

(Story used by permission from Dr. David Timms, Professor of New Testament at William Jessup University. Go to http://www.davidtimms.wordpress.com if you want to read more from him.)

Cracked

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“For God . . . made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 4:6

I’m cracked. Really cracked. I have lived enough years now to look back on my life and recognize the bumps along the way that have caused cracks.

Some came as a result of bad decisions I made, others because of decisions other people made that hurt me in some way. Some are there because of my own sinfulness and failures. Many cracks came just because I live in a broken, sinful world and bad stuff happens to us all.

No matter how those cracks got there, I live with them. They are part of me now. That seemed like a sad thought until I realized the cracks are the places in my life where God was able to reach me, to teach me, to remold me, and to fill me with His light.

With that understanding, being cracked is not so bad. The light has to get in before it can shine out! Cracks allow both.

“Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.” 

I have a feeling that you are cracked, too. Let’s thank God for the experiences in our lives that allow His light to come in. Our cracks make us unique light-givers in God’s gallery of broken, but usable, vessels!

“We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7

  • Quote from Leonard Cohen