Just Passing Through

road Sometimes I feel like it’s a long road I’m on.

Some days the road is smooth and level, and I can see so clearly in all directions. My steps are firm and I know my way. It’s as if I’m being led in just the right way.

Other days the road is bumpy, or it’s dark and I can’t see my way. I’ve never been so lost in my life. Getting lost makes the fear build in the pit of one’s stomach. The dread grows to terror and it’s hard to make one foot keep moving in front of the other. Sometimes you even just have to have faith that the road is still there under your feet. I don’t know what keeps me going, but someone leads my way or maybe even carries me through the worst.

And then there are the uphill days. I can see the light at the top of the steep hill, and that light pulls me forward. It’s a hard climb, but I can see the goal in sight and that will keep me going. Sometimes the difficulty of the terrain becomes all consuming.

It’s so easy to think that it is all just me and the road. Walking this road is all there is.

And then I remember. There really is a purpose, and there really is a Destination. On this earth, we’re just passing through.

When Nothing Comes Easy

frustration I had to laugh when I saw this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt. For the past couple of weeks, nothing has really felt easy.

You know those kind of weeks, right? The ones where we feel pulled in way too many directions and just can’t seem to find our center? That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. I work from home part-time and I’ve had some tricky matters to deal with there, I’m up against a deadline on a volunteer committee I serve on, I have a two-year-old who is going through a difficult phase and really needs his mommy.

And oh yes, I’m also pregnant and exhausted. Soooo exhausted. I remember being tired with my first little one, but not this bone crushingly fatigued.

So, how have I been living life? Well, it feels like I’ve been plodding through jello – or maybe a vat of molasses – the entire way. And I’ll admit that part of me feels a little entitled. With so many things making life more difficult, it’s easy to slip into feeling like I deserve to have something go my way.

And yet, as I fall into that thinking, I also read Scripture and see so many examples of God’s faithfulness. Things don’t always come easily for his people. In fact, we’re promised trials in this life. So what do we have? We have God with us. We do not walk alone.

This week, I have been reading in Psalms and I was especially struck as I came across the words, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”(Psalms 119:71-72) This runs so opposite to much of what we’re taught to think by the culture. And yet, God’s word holds true. I don’t often (read that, pretty much never) have the primary impulse to be thankful for trials in my life but in looking back, I can see that God has taught me through these trials. Most importantly, I can also see how God has been there with me, just as He promises us He will be.

So how does this change my thinking? Well, I know life isn’t always easy. But I also know we’re not alone.

He is Alive!

easterlily I hold a very specific picture of Easter services in my mind. So many memories of being seated with my family, light streaming into our church, and the congregation rising to sing one of the most joyous hymns of the faith:

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

One can feel the excitement and wonder building in the congregation. Hands raise here and there, heads thrown back as if to see what lies above.

Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!

Even before the pastor begins to preach, even before the first passage of Scripture is read to the waiting worshippers, we celebrate one of the great miracles of our faith.

Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

I love Christmas for its promise, but I love Easter for its radiant joy. Christ is indeed alive, and on Resurrection Sunday, it feels as though the very stones will cry out from the vastness of the wonder and celebration. Christ has resurrected from the dead, we who were dead in our sins can live!

Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!

Triumphant indeed. Christ has conquered sin and death. We are alive. We are alive in Him. Now let us go forth and celebrate!
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This Little Light of Mine

lightofmine This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine…
I grew up singing this song and I’ve always enjoyed it. There’s long been a bit of a disconnect, though.

We sing about letting our little lights shine, but when it comes to sharing that good news, we clam up. We’re afraid to offend, afraid to be different from the world around us.

I know that I do it, and it’s something that happens to most of my friends as well.

The fact that we have been saved from death in sin by the grace of God is the most wonderful and amazing news in the world. It should be shared. Heck, we’ve been commanded to share it in Matthew 28, among other places in the Bible.

Now, I’m not saying that all Christians should start handing out tracts on street corners or haranguing passers-by. I’m not entirely sure I’d consider that sharing anyway; that’s more forcing oneself into the lives of strangers.

However, there are so many ways we can share God’s love with the world. Simply treating those around us with love is a start. Letting folks know that you’re praying for them in times of trouble helps, too. When questions about faith and life come up, it takes courage to speak up, but I find that simply mentioning that my faith is what gives me strength has opened the door to many good conversations with friends and acquaintances.

So many discussions of evangelism that I’ve seen take the form of training folks for full-time missionary work. If you are called to be a missionary as your primary vocation, this is great. However, I would love to see more helpful(i.e. practical) instruction for the rest of us on how to share the Gospel with people we encounter day to day. After all, you never know how God might be moving in someone else’s heart!

Start Spreading the News

news When I saw this week’s prompt of “News”, my first thought was “Extra, extra – read all about it!” Have you every heard those words uttered with anything other than excitement?

Excitement

That might be the quality sometimes missing in our news. Most of the news is my life is mundane family news – some joyful, some not. It’s the glue of daily life, though. I treasure it, but it doesn’t send me rocketing out of my chair and running down the block to share with all the neighbors.

And then there’s the national and world news. Much of this is dominated by the upcoming 2016 election. You will pardon me if I confess to you that I spend many of my days fighting the desire the build a blanket fort and hide there. This desire washes over me whenever I read election coverage. Prayer is my best way to combat it, but that’s a subject for another post.

And then there’s The News. The greatest news of all. The news that we are compelled to give voice to in Matthew 28 when Christ commands, “‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”

That reads like some pretty clear instruction to me. Yet it’s so easy to either get lost in the mundane details of daily life or simply to be afraid of giving offense. And we stay silent. And yes, I just said “we.” I’m part of that silence way too often, too.

And what is this amazing news we are to spread? Well, John 3:16 gives a very good start: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Look at that again. How amazing is that? It’s a piece of important news that I simultaneously take too much for granted and yet it also is so huge it blows my mind. This is the news we should be bursting at the seams to share, and I find myself praying more and more that God would guide me in how and when to share.
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This was written for Five Minute Fridays. It’s a wonderful free-writing community, and you should join us here sometime.

Pulled in Way Too Many Directions?

manydirections “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:2

The Scriptural reminder from Colossians seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Of course we should be placing the things of God above our earthly concerns.

However, as soon as we get out of bed, the mundane concerns intrude. What to do about a difficult situation with a friend, a child needing attention, pets to feed, yet another pile of clutter to tame, taxes to complete, errands to run,….the list goes on an on!

No matter what type of lifestyle we have, modern life pulls us all in way too many directions. It can be all too familiar to fall into living in survival mode, just putting out the fires as they arise and falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day.

Putting God, home and family, and all of the most important pieces of our lives first takes intention and real focus. I often have to pray for the ability to focus in my own life. And I’m learning that when I put my focus on God, the rest has a way of falling into place. It isn’t always easy, but He does make the way clear.

And so this year, I’ve returned to what used to be my discipline of spending a brief time with God before I ever even get out of bed. Focusing on Him focuses my whole day.
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The Many Faces of Quiet

1357323840929 When I think of quiet, perhaps I picture a deserted beach, hammock swaying lazily in the sun.

Or maybe an open field, full of light and possibilities.

Maybe it’s a soft, fluffy bed at the end of a productive day.

All very soft and soothing images. Yet sometimes the quiet is majestic. It is the mountains soaring up to meet the sky, as we stand and wonder. As we are reminded, “Be still and know that I am God.

The quiet majesty of God’s creation points me to the great, all-encompassing Father. And in that quiet, I remember His promises. Promises of hope and salvation, reminders to fear and reverence my Lord and Savior.

Sometimes it feels as though all eternity lives in the quiet. God’s power is so great that He has no need to shout. We can see Him in the many different kinds of quiet all around us.

Just Showing Up

blizzarddc All my life I’ve been told that most of life is simply showing up. If you can be there and be present, you’re ahead of the game. Whatever “the game” might be.

As you may know, my home state is expected to get slammed with a blizzard today. The week has been full of monitoring storm tracks, making sure we’re stocked with the supplies I thought we were, and otherwise wondering about the storm that just may find us.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Being prepared for a major storm is crucial. However, obsessing about it and wondering what might happen is optional. And I spent most of my week on that. Looking back I realize I spent so much time and effort focused on Friday and Saturday that I wasn’t really present for all of Monday-Thursday.

And I wonder what I missed.

Most of life really can be described as “showing up.” This week has been a reminder to show up and soak in every moment.

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A Resource Guarded Closely

hourglass Time passes

Seems like an obvious observation, doesn’t it?

And yet, with every passing year, I cannot help but see how time flies by. My friends’ children grow bigger and more amazingly mature in what seems like no time at all. And sometimes, when I look at my own life, it feels like time and change are constants.

Days get packed full of things. Some of these, like pouring into my family, my church and my friendships, have larger meaning. Other chores just keep me busy.

Sometimes I have prioritized things that weren’t really all that worthy. Some days I seized on something that was fun for a moment, but maybe not likely to lead to deeper joy.

There are times when you just need a little bit of light fun and there are some chores that just have to be done, no matter what. However, as I grow away from my 20s when it felt like I had all the time in the world, I am starting to see the value of time.

I don’t want to look at time in a miserly fashion but I can’t help looking at how I choose to use my time. I have only so much of it, so I want to spend my minutes serving where God wants me, loving and spending time with the people who mean most to me and hopefully welcoming new, treasured friends to that circle.

There are so many wonderful ideas, people, and ways to serve God but online and offline. Using our minutes on them wisely is a challenge.

First Days

sunrise Something about the early days of a new year just feels fresh and new. Those first sweet days hold promise.

Promise that we can begin again.

Promise that we can try new things.

Promise that we can fix what’s broken.

It’s sweet, but perhaps an illusion. After all, in Christ we always have a new beginning. And it’s not only at the first of the year. We are new creations whenever we are turned to Him, and through the work of the Spirit we are constantly being refined.

There are so many “first sweet days” and as time rolls on, they grow ever sweeter.

The truth is the sweetest thing of all, and I love to take these first days of the year as a reminder to treasure it. Let me never forget how fresh life has become since I sought to follow Him.