Sep 12, 2013

How Jesus Prayed All Night

There are several Scripture references that tell us sometimes Jesus prayed all night (e.g., Matthew 21:17). For some reason, I always imagine Him out in the wilderness kneeling over a rock, laboring in prayer in the dark.

It is a little intimidating, really, if you think we should try to live as Christ lived. I am pretty protective of my sleep and, honestly, I'm not sure I would be willing or able to do that.

 But as I was sitting on our deck swing one evening, talking to God, I realized my imaginings were probably incorrect. I like to be outside in nature and talk to God, and I think Jesus did, too. He was surrounded by people most days, and He needed solitude to commune with His Father. I can see Him lying in a meadow looking up at the stars, feeling a gentle breeze on His face. I think He soaked up the presence of God with joy during those times.

If “the darkness is light to Him” then He must have thrilled in the beauty around Him. In fact, He probably enjoyed it so much that he never went to bed. I believe Christ's example is not to labor in prayer over a checklist (although fervent prayer can be work). He does, however, teach us to take time and to find solitude and beauty and, most of all, to enjoy the presence of God when we pray. That is something we all can do.

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Sep 4, 2013

God Cares About the Small Things

My husband, Mike, gave me a pair of earrings for my birthday a few years ago. Two months ago, I lost one of them and had given up hope of finding it.

I walk almost every morning on a trail near our home that goes right from the city into the woods (see picture). It's like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia. It is a graveled path that follows a stream, about a mile and a half long. Two weeks ago I happened to look down and see a glint of something underfoot. Curious, I bent down and dug it up and it was that very earring! I'm sure it was mine because I had bent the metal in a particular way. Somehow it was unscathed even though people had been walking on it for two months.

A week later I lost another earring … the other pair that Mike had gotten for me on the same birthday. It was a little discouraging, and even a bit confusing because I felt God had a message for me in restoring the first pair and now I had lost the other earring so what did that mean? I retraced the steps I had taken that day and couldn't find it.

Two days ago, I stopped at a convenience store to go to the ladies room and remembered that was the one place I had been that day that I hadn't checked. I thought I may as well ask the cashier if they had a lost and found. They did and the earring was there! She said it was once-in-a-lifetime luck.
I told her about the other pair and said, “I think God is trying to tell me something.”

She said, “I think he's trying to tell you to put those little rubber backs on your earrings.” Ha ha!
I believe God intervened in restoring those lost earrings.  In honesty, I don't know what the message is except that He cares about every little detail of our lives – He even counts the hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30). If He will take the trouble to reach down into our world of time and space to alter circumstances that really aren't that important, how much more will he restore the big things in our lives.

At times it may seem as though God doesn't care and isn't doing anything, but He does. He may not restore the exact thing that you lost but, if He doesn't, He will give you something better.  “Even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you,” (Zechariah 9:12).

The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none; 
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.
I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia,
the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
the fir and the cypress together
Isaiah 41:17-19

Aug 22, 2013

Lessons From a Veterinarian

I awoke one morning recently with some symptoms that I was afraid could mean kidney failure. I was scared because some of the medications I take for rheumatoid arthritis can do that.

The doctor got me in right away and did a few tests. I remember sitting there in his office before the results came back, talking with God. I was wrestling with myself to get to a point of letting it go into God's hands. He answered me with a word picture about taking our dogs to the vet's.

Snickers (our 12-year-old blind terrier)  is quite stoic and usually unfazed with difficulties that come her way. Doodle (a 5-year-old Maltipoo) gets afraid quite easily. But both of them somehow know that the vet is trying to help them when we go. I believe most animals are like this. No veterinarian would hurt an animal on purpose, but sometimes it is necessary to do a painful procedure to protect the animal from something worse.

The thought God challenged me with is this: Do I have as much faith in God as my dog does in the veterinarian? Do I believe that God takes no pleasure in my suffering and would never allow me to go through something painful unless He was protecting me from something worse? Do I believe that God is at least as good as my veterinarian?

There was no condemnation with these thoughts. Actually it was quite comforting as I mulled it over because it reminded me that God is good and was helping me right then, actually protecting me in that moment, whatever the tests showed.

Soon the doctor came in and told me that it was not my kidneys. It turned out to be a side effect from a medication that they were able to change. I was back to normal in a couple of days. But I continue to carry with me the comfort of what God showed me that day: If a bad thing happens, God will only allow it to protect us from something worse. It is something we would choose for ourselves if we could see what God sees. If you are going through a painful trial, I hope you will be encouraged as well. :)



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