Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Archive for March, 2012

When All Else Fails

Night is falling and the power is off, but I can draft a blog post as long as the computer battery holds up. And last week the water was off for a couple of days .  At times like these I give thanks for things I normally take for granted, including also Internet, food, air, health, freedom, and the list goes on.

I can manage without some of these things for a short time, especially when it’s temporary.  I’ve been very blessed to have lived in security and freedom, unlike so many who see no end to daily suffering from physical pain, deprivation, or oppression.

But—here’s the part I hate to think about, much less put in writing—how will I handle it if the time comes when it’s me in that position?  Jesus warned us of coming suffering and persecution, and why should I be exempt?  When that time comes, will I fall apart, or will I live in calm trust in the One who controls all?  The words of this song challenge me:

Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own his cause or blush to speak His name?

Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease
While others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?

Sure I must fight if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy word.

Women Who Win

Two women are the heroines of the story in Judges 4.  Both had key roles in defeating Israel’s enemy, but in very different ways. One was an up-front public figure—Deborah.  She was a prophet and also a judge who would hold court under a palm tree.  When God gave her a message for Barak, sending him to gather an army and fight their oppressors, Barak insisted on Deborah going with him!  So she was not only a prophet and a judge but a co-general of a victorious army!

But the final stroke was dealt by another woman, Jael, who never even left home!  When the fleeing enemy general stumbled into her tent (a supposed ally), she tucked him in for a nap and then finished him off.  Quite a daring deed as well!

God has a special purpose for all kinds of people—the outgoing public figures and the quiet homebodies.  What if either of these women had declined to do their daring deeds when God prompted them and gave opportunity? 

When I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 12:10

Watering and Waiting

If it dies, it won’t be because I didn’t water it!  For two weeks now I’ve been conscientiously tending a corner of my tiny front yard where a friend planted a tiny hibiscus twig with a beautiful yellow bud on it.  The original buds and leaves disappeared within a few days and I thought it was a goner.  But I kept watering as instructed, and now there seems to be a new green leaf on it! 

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My mom is great with plants and my dad was an avid gardener.  My own gardening efforts began and ended the summer Dad gave me a little plot in his garden.  I planted four cabbage seeds.  Two of them came up and I watched, fascinated as real heads of cabbage formed in my spot!  Until the day when the bugs riddled them and I hoed them down in frustration.

I’m going to try to be more patient with this hibiscus because I look forward to enjoying a beautiful plant like that.  It reminds me to be faithful in other endeavors where I don’t see any progress, watering them with prayer and maybe sometimes even with tears.  If it’s God’s work, it will turn out beautiful.

By the way, check out this website for a  feast of unfurling flowers:  http://tinyurl.com/3gxmeze

The Ultimate Melodrama

We enjoyed a high school play a couple of weeks ago—a melodrama!  The students delighted us as they played their carefully scripted and predictable parts.  We cheered and booed on cue as the hero and the villain, respectively, came onstage. 

Why do we like melodrama? Maybe because we can safely predict a  satisfying conclusion, no matter what happens before then.  There’s a Damsel in Distress, tormented by the Villain.  Then along comes the Hero who falls in love with the Damsel and eventually puts an end to the Villain.  He then sweeps the Damsel onto his horse and they ride away into the Sunset, where they Live Happily Ever After.  And of course there’s the audience who cheers and boos.

This is how we want our stories to end.  How we want our lives to work out.  Have you read the book of Revelation lately?  All the ingredients are there—but this is no fictitious melodrama—it will really happen!

The Damsel is introduced in chapters 1-3—the Church in various places.

The Audience—amazing beings and humans surrounding God’s throne in heaven, punctuating the whole story with their cheers of praise.  (4:8, 11; 5:9-14 et al)

The Distress—that’s most of the book of Revelation, isn’t it?  Persecution (6:9-11; 7:14) and all kinds of disasters released from seals, bowls, and trumpets.

The Villain—three of them:  the Dragon (12:3-18; 20:1-3), the Beast from the sea (13:1-8), and the Beast from the earth (13:11-18). 

The Hero—the Lamb (5:5-8; 7:17) a.k.a. the Rider on the White Horse, a.k.a. King of kings and Lord of lords (19:11-16, 21) who totally annihilates his enemies!

The Defeat of the Villains—Into the Lake of Fire. (19:20, 20:10)

The Wedding and endless Honeymoon, on a New Earth ruled from a dazzling City that descends from heaven.  (21:10 – 22:5)

And the Wedding Invitation?  Come!  Anyone who wants to!  (22:17) Be a part of this better-than-fiction drama that will soon unfold.  Be (part of) the Damsel no longer in distress but in the arms of her beloved and beautiful Savior!

Passing the Torch

Occasionally we hear about parents who boast that they are not training their children in any religion so they can choose for themselves without any outside influence.

I am reminded of what happened to the Israelites after they finally entered the land of Canaan from which they’d been “exiled” for 400 years in Egyptian slavery and then 40 more years in wilderness wanderings.  The book of Judges starts out with two sobering statements:

“The Israelites served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the leaders who outlived him—those who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.”  (2:7)

“After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.  Then the Israelites did what was evil in the LORD’s sight…” (2:10-11)

What happened?  The parents’ generation had all these things going for them:

They’d seen God’s miracles during their lifetime and heard of those that their parent had experienced.

They had seen their own parents die in the wilderness because of their unbelief in God.  (Numbers 26:64-65)

They had heard Moses’ dire warnings of what would happen to them and their descendants if they would ever “forget” God and turn away from Him.  (Deuteronomy 28:15-68)

They had vowed solemnly to serve the Lord alone. (Joshua 24:16-27)

Did they forget to teach and train their children?  Who dropped the ball?   Why didn’t the torch get passed?  Are we parents and grandparents diligent in our responsibility of passing on the faith to our children—through our teaching, our lives, and our prayer?  What could be more important?  (See Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children live in the truth.          (3 John 4)

Helping Daddy Worry

Tomorrow I’m going to be “celebrating” (in my heart) the birthday of my eldest son Nathan—halfway around the world.  Coincidentally, I’m in the process of keyboarding the contents of his baby book, and here are a couple of the gems Smile.

Age 4:  Why are there a so many seeds in watermelon?  Maybe God thought they were raisins.

Age 5:  My husband had taken the two boys along to town and had mechanical trouble on the way.  When they got home, I got this report:

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I smile at that because it seems so silly and useless.  But how many times do I “help God worry” over things that go wrong in my life?  Do you suppose He thinks it’s funny or sad?

Is Jesus Late?

She’s dead.  Jesus didn’t make it in time.  Now it’s too late.  This is the despair of Jairus’ servant who came and found that Jesus had stopped on the way to speak to a desperate woman. (Mark 5:21-43)

Mary and Martha also wondered why Jesus didn’t come faster when they’d sent word that their brother was dying. (John 11) In fact, when Jesus got the sisters’ urgent message, he stayed where he was for two more days! 

Was it harder for Jesus to raise a dead person than to heal a sick one?  Why doesn’t Jesus respond urgently to our emergencies?  Is it because He has a better plan? Is he stacking the deck against Himself in order to show a more magnificent miracle? 

And in the meantime, how does He address those in distress?  He spoke tenderly to Mary and Martha and wept at Lazarus’ tomb.  He comforted Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just trust me.”

That voice comes to me in my big and small crises.  Jesus is always on time.  Be still and trust Him.

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