I’m taking a break from my normal genre to share thoughts related to my eldest granddaughter, Emmeline, who will celebrate her 11th birthday in May. In God’s wisdom, He allowed her to be born with a brain tumor. In God’s providence, he has provided excellent medical care and financial help through all these years. In God’s goodness, he has supported her with an “army” of prayer supporters who have stood behind her faithfully. And now, still in God’s plan, a “growth” of some sort has appeared on her brain stem, triggering alarming symptoms.
Emmeline is an incredibly beautiful and sweet girl who loves the Lord, enjoys making greeting cards and treasures her friends. She is big sister to five younger siblings and enjoys the love and care of devoted parents. Most of all, she is loved by God—Who doesn’t make mistakes!
As our family heads into a new part of this journey with her, we pray that we can all keep our eyes on the Lord, leaning ever harder on His goodness, grace, provision, strength, and mercy. May He be glorified in Emmeline and her family no matter where this leads. And may those who watch be drawn closer to Him.
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!
How often do we read words in the Bible (or sing a song) without really understanding what they mean? Especially when it’s poetry. The words and phrases sound beautiful to our ears and uplift our spirits. But our mind can also be engaged in our worship when we “unpack” these words. For example, the 11th chapter of Romans ends in a beautiful hymn of praise to God:
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36 NIV)
Now look again at the bolded words above. Take a minute to think what all those prepositional phrases are saying about God.
from him–He is the source.
through him–He is the means.
to him–He is the goal.
Or, as another version spells it out more explicitly:
For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. (Romans 11:36 NLT)
Ezra saw God in everything! As I read his book, I find a liberal dose of Providence peppered throughout. God stirring hearts, watching over people, causing a king to be favorable, and placing his “gracious hand” on his people. Just look at the things that were accomplished as a direct result of God’s intervention in chapters 1-8:
–The Persian king released the captive Jews to return to their homeland. (1:1)
–Jewish leaders decided to go back and rebuild the Temple which had been destroyed. (1:5)
–Their enemies were unsuccessful in stopping them. (5:5)
–The king supported their work on the temple. (6:22)
–The king gave Ezra all he asked for, for his trip to Jerusalem. (7:6)
–God gave Ezra wisdom to appoint leaders. (7:25)
–God encouraged him in his efforts to prepare for the trip. (7:28)
–God provided the right people to go along and serve in the Temple. (8:18)
–God protected them from enemies on the bandit-infested route. (8:31)
And the work was done! So why am I discouraged about the “impossible” tasks on my plate?
I’m up earlier than normal today, looking out a second story window, seeing the darkness and listening to the delightful varied songs of a bird somewhere in the vicinity. This kind of bird seems to sing only in the pre-dawn hour before the other birds chirp in, which is why I rarely hear them.
My heart is singing too this morning because God is good.
He has shown his love by giving my husband a safe trip back here to Asia last night..
He is good and loving even when I experience physical pain that mystifies and scares me.
He is good when I face the unknowns and threats of the coming year.
He is so good to give me His Word which encourages and delights me daily.
Now it’s getting lighter. As I look over the treetops at the mountains beyond, a cloud that resembles a man’s right hand is lying right on top of the mountain, as in blessing. Because God has his hands on this world and on my life, I can go into this day with confidence!
In my closet hangs an “elderly” aqua top that I cannot part with. Here’s the story. Many years ago I needed a plain short-sleeved aqua top to go with a certain split skirt that I could wear for riding a motorcycle to church in various villages from week to week. (We’d hire a motorcycle to take the two of us, but sometimes others would ride along, as many as 5 passengers besides the driver!)
I prayed about what I needed and headed for the bins in the nearest store where hundreds of tops were thrown willy-nilly. And guess what—it was there! Exactly what I needed—right size, color and style.
It’s fun to see how my Father provides my clothes. I think He smiles, too, when he sees me find the surprises He’s tucked away for me.
Oh, I also have to mention that last week, I needed a new pair of black dress shoes as I noticed that mine were pinching my toes. But before I could get to a shoe store, someone asked us to take bags of clothing to a second-hand store. And in one of those bags were the perfect black shoes for me.
On the other hand, I’m frustrated in this nomadic life when I can’t find a certain sweater or nightgown or piece of jewelry that I “knew” I’d packed in a certain place. Lord, please help me to be content with what You provide, not to fret about what I don’t have (or can’t find), and to keep focused on what is important to you.
Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers of the field grow; they do not work or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these! And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, won’t he clothe you even more, you people of little faith? So then, don’t worry saying, …‘What will we wear?’ For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:28-33 NET)