I can’t bear this on my own…

20200324_155530

I can’t bear these people on my own. They’re too heavy for me. ~Numbers 11:14

Sometimes life is just more than I can handle. Some days it is all I can do to manage what I need to do for that day. In reading Numbers chapter 11 we read where Moses is feeling overwhelmed with leading the Israelites. They aren’t happy with the fact that God has been providing them just manna to eat. Now they are complaining that they want meat to eat too. Moses cries out to God in verse 13, “Where am I to get meat for all these people? They are crying before me and saying, ‘Give us meat, so we can eat’.”

The first thing Moses did when he realized he had come to the end of his rope in this situation was to admit, “I can’t bear these people on my own. They’re too heavy for me.” This allowed God to say, “I can!” The problem was bigger than Moses but once he allowed God into the situation it allowed God to go to work.

I often forget that God is waiting on the sidelines for me to call out to Him for my needs. God wants to work in my life but He isn’t going to come into the situation without my invitation. I first need to call out to God, “Help, this is more than me!” I need to realize Who can get the job done and then I need to let Him.

Dear God, help us this day to reach out to You when things feel more than we can bear. Come into the circumstances we are dealing with today and help us feel assured that You will make a way for us through this day and the days ahead. Amen.

In God’s Hand

hand.jpg

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 43:30

One of my jobs at church is our social media pages. I scroll through feeds a couple of times a day looking for items to pass along to the church. As I was scrolling one morning, trying to not look too closely at all the COVID-19 bombardment of articles out there, I stumbled across this photo. I was so struck by this image. This little guy fits so securely in its parent’s hand. She is not struggling to get out of the parent’s grasp but resting and even drawing comfort for being there. This made me think of God holding me!

Whether we are on the front lines of this pandemic or sheltered at home, we can rest assured of God going with us through these times. Psalm 139:10-12 says, “Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me and the light around me become night, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

One of my favorite verses in scripture is Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” After seeing this image, I will forever connect this verse and this picture together. Before I always envisioned myself being still among whatever I was going through and trusting that God was taking care of things I couldn’t see. Now, when I need that verse to calm my anxiety (I often use it as a breath prayer) I will see myself sheltered in God’s hand as he carries me through not just this present time but in all the times ahead.

Dear God, Help me to find solace in the stillness you provide. Calm my anxieties so that I can know that You are God and that You will lead us through ALL our days ahead. Amen. 

 

 

*I could not find the original post of this picture. Since in my search I found thousands of pages using it, I believe it to be an open stock picture. If anyone finds the original photographer I would love to give credit.

A Smile and a Kind Word

20170606_092659

So then, let’s work for the good of all whenever we have an opportunity, and especially for those in the household of faith. ~Galatians 6:10 (CEB)

A smile and a kind word, I would say that this is my mother’s ministry. I grew up with my mother always smiling to those she met and giving a smile. It seems like such a simple thing. It seems that it couldn’t really make a difference, but I have seen many eye light up when my mother smiles.

Often I forget that we are called even in the little things of life to serve Christ. If I put on God’s eyes and look around, His ears and listen, He is calling me to reach out every day even in the little things. Acknowledging a cashier and asking them about their day, holding open the door for someone, letting someone ahead of me in line who only has a couple of items, a smile, these are all things that I can do to serve Christ. Sometimes these “small things” can impact someone greatly. I will probably never know how my small actions may impact someone’s life this day but I am called to be Christ even in the small things that I do.

Lord may I not be so caught up with my own life that I forget to look out beyond myself. May I notice those around me with a smile and a kind word today. Amen.

Joy in the Moment

20180420_102559

A joyful heart helps healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones ~Proverbs 17:22 (CEB)

Sometimes I get caught up in looking at the big picture. The worries and stress of the day seem to steal all joy and I forget to live in the moment. When I forget to live in the moment, I forget to take joy in things like the melodies my son picks out on his guitar or the texts I get from my husband. When I get caught up in my worries I forget to see my flowers pushing up from the ground getting ready to bloom. I forget to laugh at my dog as she takes serious her task of chasing the rabbits. I forget to listen to the bird’s songs or listen as the wind rustles the wind chimes on my back porch.

Seeing things piece by piece and searching for the joy in the moment helps to lighten my day. When I get to worrying about all the things that I have no power to fix at this moment, those things that are out of my control, I allow those things to steal the simple joys from my heart. Missing out on these simple things soon finds my spirit hurting.

God doesn’t want me to live with the weight of the world on my shoulders. He has put things in my path to help me enjoy life. He created flowers and bird songs for my enjoyment. He gave me friends and family for comfort and love. May I remember each day to appreciate all that he has blessed me with down to the simplest and smallest of details.

Heavenly Father, help me to remember to stop and smell the flowers, to hear the birds sing, to hug my family. May I not take any of these joys for granted. May they ever be fresh on my heart. Amen.

 

Hard-shelled

10150712580987285

The commandment is a lamp and instruction a light; corrective teaching is the path of life. ~Proverbs 6:23

One day my dog was barking for all she was worth. I knew that bark. It was the type of bark that told me she had found some creature. When my son went out to see what Daisy was barking at, he found that it was a red-eared glider, a turtle whose shell was at least 18 inches long, bigger than what we were used to seeing migrate out of the small lake in our subdivision.

Early spring is the time of year turtles are restless from their winter “hibernation.” This restlessness puts turtles in places they don’t belong to. Sometimes it is just in the wrong back yard or in a neighborhood street. Sometimes their restlessness finds them on a busy highway which for many that try to cross does not end well. That spring restlessness drives them to be places that are not safe for turtles.

I can get restless like those turtles. Despite barking dogs, unknown territory and even dangerous circumstances I can feel driven to go places that I know I should not go. Against the instincts God has placed deep within me I can push past the natural boundaries He would have in place for me.

The good news is God’s word says, “I will instruct you and teach you about the direction you should go. I’ll advise you and keep My eye on you” (Psalms 32:8) If I allow God’s word to penetrate deep within this hard shell of mine, I only have to listen to the guidance He has placed within me and I can find my way home, away from the busy highways which are so dangerous, back to the beautiful lake He has provided. I just need to listen to my God-given instincts.

Dear God, especially today, may we ever be listening for that guidance you place deep within us. Help us take the steps needed in this time to protect ourselves and others from this virus that plagues us. And God, most especially send your spirit to go with us in this time of isolation so we remember that we are beloved children of God, therefore, we are never truly alone. Amen.

 

At Another’s Mercy

20200319_091606.jpg

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. ~Psalm 91:4 and 5.

There have been times that I have found myself in a place where I have had to rely on someone’s mercy for my basic needs. I have found myself relying on someone to provide a place for my stuff, food to eat and a space to lay my head for sleep. It can be awkward and uncomfortable being left to someone else’s discretion for meeting these basic needs. I may not get to eat the type of food I like to eat. I may have to share a small space with my whole family that normally would accommodate just one. There may be no guarantee of when I will get to take a shower and even then I may be rushed through it because others need to use the same bathroom. Staying in someone else’s home can cause moments of discomfort, like when I am hungry, tired or frustrated at having to do things a different way than I would normally do them. In this particular situation, I was simply visiting family for a short time where the minor discomforts were countered with joyous times.

It has occurred to me that with Covid-19 we are facing many discomforts and uncertainties. We don’t always know when or IF our basic needs will be met. Some of the things that brought us joy among life’s hardships seem to be on hold. It can be easy to blame someone for our circumstances and lose our patience with how things are. We don’t know what tomorrow holds.

But Psalm 91 reminds us that God is our shelter, verses 4 and 5 say “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” and verse 14 says “Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him; I will protect him for he acknowledges my name.

Dear God, you see us all wherever we may be. You see our anxieties and our concerns. You know our deepest needs. Thank you for your faithfulness. Help us to find small joys in unexpected places. Send us your Spirit to calm our fears and to remind us that we are your beloved children. Amen.

Even on the Longest Night: God is with you

20170416_063438.jpgMy favorite service during advent is the Longest Night Service we have at Broadway United Methodist Church every year. We always hold it on or near the “Longest Night of the year” which is December 21st, the winter solstice. The purpose of this service is to remind us of the light that Jesus brings in the midst of grief, depression, uncertainty, loneliness, stress or anything else that we experience as “darkness.”

I feel that this service is the most authentic moment we have leading up to the season we call Christmas because sometimes this time of year can seem to hold a lot of darkness, not just because the days are shorter, and that winter has just settled in and spring seems so far away. Maybe the days seem longer because you are missing loved ones, or things have not been going the way you had hoped or expected. Maybe what you thought gave your life meaning –your activities, your achievements, things you considered important, and the meaning that you had given your life feels gone now.

This “dark night of the soul,” as it is sometimes called, can occur if something happens that you can’t explain away anymore, some disaster which seems to invalidate the meaning that your life had before.  Really what has collapsed then is the whole conceptual framework for your life, the meaning that your mind had given it. So what results is a dark place which in some cases is very close to what is conventionally called depression.

Against all the glitz and cheerful songs, we hear being played everywhere we go, our personal struggles can seem even darker during the Christmas season. In its place, we come face to face with how unwonderful life can be.

Distracted by all the glitz and glamor that we have missed is the true meaning and purpose of Christmas.

The true meaning of Christmas isn’t found in the quaint symbolic manger scenes with Mary and the baby Jesus surrounded by wise men, camels, shepherds, and cute fluffy lambs…

Instead, think back to when we first meet Mary and Joseph. When we are introduced to Mary and Joseph in the gospel story, they have just gotten engaged. According to Jewish tradition, they are essentially married- but not living together yet. A promise has been made. This promise may have been made by their parents for them, but it is binding.

I am sure Mary and Joseph, like most of us, had hopes and plans about what the future would look like, to dream about their life together.

But the dream gets interrupted.

Mary gets a visit from Gabriel and he tells her that she has been chosen to give birth to a baby that will bring salvation to the world. There is a snag to this revelation. She isn’t married yet. This circumstance Mary finds herself in is a bigger scandal than we can envision today.

Can you imagine the turmoil that Mary must have felt? There isn’t just the public humiliation she will have to endure, there is also Hebrew Law that she will have to face. A passage in Jewish scriptures says that if a woman is with child before she does go to live with her husband, she is guilty of adultery, and as a punishment for adultery she could be stoned to death.

So even if she survives having to tell Joseph of her situation, if Joseph decides to divorce her – she and the baby still might not survive.

To not have the support of a husband is a problem because when and where Mary lived, men were the ones who were allowed to make money. It was very difficult for women to make money on their own.

So, without someone who would have money and not being able to make her own money, it would be very difficult for Mary to obtain the things that she would need to raise her baby if she had to raise Jesus on her own.

I am sure that this was not part of the dreams Mary had as a young woman planning for her future.

The news that Mary brings of her pregnancy is a shock to Joseph as well.

Joseph does not want to expose her to public disgrace that would bring upon Mary the harshest religious penalty. He wrestles with what is the right thing to do. He doesn’t want harm to come to her so maybe a quiet divorce to legally break the engagement without any public fuss would be the best thing.

Imagine Joseph’s emotions when he goes to bed that night, as this whole horrible scenario comes crashing down around him. His plans have been pulled out from under him. His dream has been torn apart.

It is into this kind of darkness that our scripture for today declares its message. God speaks to Joseph in a dream using an angel to tell Joseph that he is to wed Mary and help her take care of and help raise Jesus.

The story doesn’t end here. It isn’t the happily ever after ending yet. We know that even though Mary and Joseph listen to and accepted God’s will for their life…. Things don’t get any easier.

There are more trials ahead… like having to travel to Bethlehem while Mary was so close to the birth of Jesus. And when her time came, there was no place for her to go, no family to gather around and support them. It seems as the story goes, they were barely able to have found a stable for shelter.

Even doing the right thing can leave you feeling frightened, alone with a sense of vulnerability.

You would have to agree, that this had to be a dark and desperate time for Mary and Joseph.

It is into this darkest point of the story that Jesus is born.

Scripture tells us that Joseph was told by the angel to call the baby, Emmanuel, which means, “God is with us.”

This is the promise of Christmas.

We were never promised that if we have faith and believe in God then we will be protected from problems and hardships.

No, what we are promised is that in the trials of life, God will be with us.

And God IS with us, but we have to be looking for the signs. Mary encountered Gabriel, Joseph, and the Shepherds had an angel, the wise man saw a star…

God is indeed with us, but he comes to us at times, in ways and through people we might not expect.

As we prepare to celebrate again the first coming of Christ on that first Christmas morning 2000 years ago, we need to ask ourselves if we are being truly open to the signs that point out that God is with us through the trials we are facing.

Are we too afraid of what God may have to say to us to look for angels? Are we too frightened of the journey to follow a star?

Or are we blocking out the signs because we harbor grudges, resentment, bitterness or anger in our hearts?

Advent is the time we are reminded to watch and wait for Jesus, Emmanuel, “God with us.” We are to expect to see him.

What is Christmas?

For God so loved the world… he took on human flesh in the form of a helpless baby… so that he could be with us.

The one who has called goes with us. You are not alone.

 

 

Previous Older Entries