“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
“. . . inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16b
How’s your day going? Sometimes our days get lopsided with work, serving, distractions, or anxieties. Over many years, I have found that being intentional about how I fill even the tiniest of openings in my day will have an overall effect on my sense of well-being and even my usefulness.
For me, each day should include something that
• Builds relationship
• Feeds my mind
• Takes a step toward a goal
• Refreshes my spirit
• Shares God’s love
• Is kind to my body
These things don’t have to take a lot of time, but if we don’t seek them out, they won’t happen. For example, building relationship might be spending the evening with a family member or it may be a simple hallway conversation at work. Being kind to my body might be a complete workout or it might be making good food choices at lunch. Refreshing my spirit might be taking a walk or could be as simple as gazing out the window for a few minutes, thanking God for His beautiful creation. Feeding my mind might be reading a chapter in a thought-provoking book or simply listening to a TED Talk on my iPad.
God is at work in the small stuff. He loves to use our minutes and hours to redirect our thoughts to Him. Over time, these little things change the way we see the world around us. Then, as we pay attention, we find ourselves becoming more joyful, hopeful, and peaceful. And that’s pretty great!
If you were aware of how precious today is, you could hardly live through it. Unless you are aware of how precious it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all. – Frederick Buechner
“Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17
Sometimes life is hard. We find ourselves caught up in situations we can’t control. At that point, we have a choice either to trust God or break into a thousand pieces. I have learned that when God puts us in that kind of a bind, He has a purpose. He is stretching us to make us usable beyond our wildest dreams. When I protested recently, He said something like this,
I know it’s hard to trust Me with everything, especially with those you love. If you can’t trust Me, trust My purpose. Everything that comes into your life is meant to help you, not to hurt you.
Look at how I stretched the disciples beyond their comfort zones:
- Sending them out two by two, asking them to heal, cast out demons, announce the kingdom. They were fishermen and common men. These were villages and people they knew. It was a stretch!
- Storms on the Sea of Galilee – pretty scary.
- Confrontations with the Pharisees. My disciples honored these rulers and cringed when I countered them.
- John the Baptist’s death. That just didn’t fit into their thinking.
- Speaking in parables. They wanted everyone to understand what they had found. Couldn’t figure out why I didn’t speak in plain language.
- My treatment of my earthly family. So counter-cultural. They cringed then, too.
I stretched them beyond recognition, but look who they became. Trust My purpose. It has a goal and it is good.
“It is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.” – C. S. Lewis
“Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever?” – C. S. Lewis
Last week I met a woman who told me about her daughter Kristy who was diagnosed with cancer at age 31. When the severity of the situation was known and she realized she had only a few months to live, Kristy sat in the backyard of her Georgia home asking God to walk with her through this frightening journey.
As she sat there, a peacock strutted out, opened wide his astounding tail feathers, and just stood there. Kristy immediately knew this peacock was a gift from her heavenly Father who wanted her to know how much He loved her. But it wasn’t until later that she discovered what it really meant.
You see, early Christian tombs were often decorated with symbols showing the deceased’s commitment to Christ. The cross did not come to be the accepted symbol of Christianity until the third century. So, at the Catacombs in Rome, the most common symbols were the fish (ichthus) and the peacock. Why a peacock? In the ancient world the peacock represented eternal life.
God had, indeed, given Kristy a great message. I imagine when she arrived in Heaven a few months later, she said something like “Oh, now I understand.” And it wouldn’t have been just about peacocks – it would have been about her whole life: the pain, the joys, the brevity, and the promise of eternal life that the peacock represented in her backyard that day.
Sometimes when we need it most, God pulls back the curtain and gives us a peek into His heart and His eternal plan. When He does, we love Him even more!
“I love the Lord because He heard my plea for mercy and listened to me.” – Psalm 116:1-2b (NET)
“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” – Micah 7:7
“They do not cry to Me from their hearts, but they wail upon their beds.” (Hosea 7:14)
Can we relate to God’s people in this verse? They had allowed their desperation to throw them into a downward emotional spiral and there seemed no way out. It happens to all of us at times. But we don’t have to stay there.
Do you see the alternative God gives? He invites us to cry to Him from our hearts. How do we do that? We get out of our beds, move intentionally into His presence, look at Him, pause, and realize who He is. Then, we are ready for heartfelt prayer. When the focus is on Him and not on us, we turn our situation over to the One who loves us completely and the only One who can actually do something about the problems we face.
Then, over time, we find the Holy Spirit makes a great exchange for us.
- He takes our anxiety and gives us peace.
- He takes our self-pity and gives us trust.
- He takes our desperation and gives us hope.
We get to choose: Wailing? Or honest prayer? God is waiting at this very moment to hear the cries of our heart.
“God wants to completely fill you and unite Himself to you. Let the vain, complaining babble of self-love be silenced so that in the stillness of the heart you may listen to the love of God.” – Francois de Fenelon
I retired once after a long and interesting business career. A few years after that retirement, I was invited to go back to work to help shape an online education program for training students in Bible, ministry, and Christian leadership.
“God give me hills to climb and strength for climbing.” – Arthur Guiterman
After a few energetic years in that role, I sensed that God was ready for me to hand over the leadership to someone else. I stepped away, but with mixed emotions. I had given three years of focused commitment to a particular ministry and it was no longer mine to lead. Now what?
Then I read about Jesus and His disciples. Many had left their livelihoods, homes, and families to follow Him. They put all their trust in Him and His plan for the world in which they lived. They gave him three years of focused commitment. Then He was killed and everything changed. Now what?
I can imagine reading their minds that Friday night: “After all this, I guess my life will just go back to ‘normal’. That’s going to be hard after the events of the past few years.” They would have had that right. How do you go back to “normal” after three amazing years with Jesus? What a surprise awaited them on Sunday morning – they had not counted on resurrection. They had no idea what their new “normal” would now mean!
My own post-career ‘I guess my life will just go back to normal’ thoughts were there, too, but God’s loud and clear message to me was this: “Don’t ever presume you know what your life will be like. There is always a new normal on the horizon. I have plans that include surprises – like resurrection!”
Isn’t that exciting? As we go through today, let’s live in anticipation of God’s surprises. He is not finished with us yet!
“. . . I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told.” – Habakkuk 1:5