Just Love Each Other

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.  Psalm 36:7

I had my first ever dream about Jesus, Yeshua, a few months ago.  I have thought of it often.  To be quite honest, it was a bit convicting.

In the dream, I saw a hallway with several white doors.  The doors opened and a person came out from behind each door.  We all then entered a common room where Yeshua was.  The group was made up of both men and women, probably in their 20s and 30s.  Yeshua looked around the room and said, in an exasperated yet pleading voice, “Just love each other!”  I immediately awoke.

Confession time.  I have not always been a loving person, and I still struggle with this at times.  Even as a Christian.

Isn’t love the trait that sets believers in Jesus apart from others?

By this, all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.  John 13:35

Isn’t that one of the greatest commandments that Jesus spoke of?

Love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27

So how can someone say they are a Christian and not love people?

Well, different reasons, I suppose.  We all come to Jesus with baggage.  We have all walked through life and picked up scars along the way.  Rejection from peers, the painful end of a close friendship, verbal or physical abuse from parents or a spouse, harsh or embarrassing comments from a teacher or supervisor, the heartbreaking end of a relationship or marriage, just to name a few.

None of us are immune.

In my case, there was fear of being hurt by people.  It was safer to make my heart a kind of fortress, where only a few select people were allowed in.  I didn’t do much outside of time spent with those select few because it was safe there.

What I didn’t understand was that what I thought was a sanctuary was actually a prison.

Thank God, He loves us baggage and all, and He bids us come to Him and leave the baggage at His feet.  Letting go is a process, though, because we’re often not even aware of the baggage we’re carrying.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

Slowly, as we spend more and more time in God’s presence, praying and reading the Bible, He shows us what we’ve been carrying, and then He enables us to give it to Him. That thing is then no longer a weight to carry, but becomes the very thing the Lord uses to help set someone else free.

I’m so thankful that the Lord doesn’t leave us the way He finds us.

The more time we spend with Him, the more we become like Him, and He is love.  He fills us with love for others.

But how do we really love in a practical way, day to day?  I’m still learning, but one of the things that has helped me is a question I heard somewhere that really stuck with me:  why do we assume a person’s worst intentions when they hurt us, but expect them to assume our best intentions when we hurt them?

Can’t we assume that their actions were never to hurt us?  Can’t we believe the best, and look for the best?

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Can’t we forgive when necessary and not get offended every time our toes get stepped on?

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

It’s not easy, is it?  But it is possible.

We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Looking at His love, at His sacrifice, and seeing our own sinfulness…knowing that even when we were in our filthiness, our unloveliness, recognizing how truly wretched we were, how can we, who have been loved and forgiven much, not do the same?

There are so many ways to love others.  We can encourage people when we see them struggling.  We can pray for them.  We can offer physical assistance if needed.  We can help them financially.  Whatever gifts the Lord has placed in us are to be used in serving each other, and by doing this, God is pleased and honored.

I have found myself crying out to the Lord, more and more, to help me love people with His love.  To help me see people the way He sees them.  To be filled with his compassion.  I believe these are prayers that are dear to His heart, and He is answering.  He is transforming me with His love.  I know He will do the same for you if you ask Him.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Lord, help us to love others the way that you do.  So fill us with your love and compassion that it overflows and touches everyone we meet.  Give us eyes to really see the people around us, and give us the empathy to want to relieve their pain.  Lord, Your Word says that he who waters will himself be watered.  You water us continually with your love.  Help us to do the same.

Best Friends

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1

I lay in the dark, waiting for the alarm clock to sound, with an old familiar theme song running through my head.  We’re talking OLD.  Think late 1960s.  I haven’t heard it in many, many years.

     People let me tell you about my best friend

     He’s a warm hearted person who’ll love me till the              end

If you grew up watching reruns of the television show The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, you recognized those lyrics immediately.  Yes, I’m dating myself, as I was a child when the show was on the air.

The song remained on my mind throughout the day…and throughout the week.  I would find myself humming it while waiting in line to pay at the grocery store, or while driving through rush hour traffic on my way to work.  Standing at my kitchen sink, in the middle of washing dishes, I’d find myself singing it.

I began thinking of the friends I have had over the years.  Each one special, each friendship for a specific period of my life.  Friends have come, friends have gone, and some friends have even come back, thanks to social media.  That’s just a part of life, and you have likely experienced the same.

I thought of my best friend when I was growing up, who read my heartfelt, and at times dramatic, teenage poetry, where I poured out my heart while trying to find out how to make sense of life and figure out where I belonged. From Barbie dolls to bicycles to boys; Detroit, Sault Sainte Marie, and Mackinac Island, where we watched Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour filming Somewhere in Time. Riding our bikes to McDonald’s with coupons from her church bulletins, where $1 each would get both of us an entire meal. Frances, I know I’ve said it before, but I’m so glad you found me again (thank you, Facebook!).

From Girl Scouts to heated political discussions to renewed hearts and minds; to new churches, and both witnessing and participating in healings, and blessings beyond our wildest dreams. Melinda, you have journeyed with me as we began delving deeper into scripture, where we discovered that the Bible, true when it was written, is still very much true today – miracles and all. I have so enjoyed this journey with you.

From sibling rivalry to love and acceptance, through marriages and remarriages, Girl Scouts, softball, and living across the world from each other. My friend and sister, Sandy, who listened as I cried and helped me through the very hardest thing I’ve ever gone through – divorce – and helped me find that life could still be good, and even become normal again. Sandy, there is no one I would rather call sister than you.

Of course, my mom, who has always loved me, encouraged me, believed in me, and who drew me to the Savior. Through nights of grueling homework, teaching me everything she knew about cooking, cleaning, sewing, and crafting. I will never forget that when I was away for a few days, she completely redecorated my bedroom, and refinished pieces of beautiful, antique furniture for it. Mom, I am so thankful to have you for my mother, and to have you as a friend as well.

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

So many other friends throughout the years, too, all put in my path at just the right time, to provide encouragement, education, and fun! I’m thankful for each one of them.  There is another Friend, though, who was there the whole time, loving me, guiding me, even when I wasn’t aware of it.

I mentioned in my last writing that I participated in a church-wide fast recently.  I’m not ready to discuss the two biggest revelations to come out of that time, but suffice it to say that this song was a prelude to what was to come.

So people, let me tell you about my Best Friend! 😊

He is the one spoken of throughout the Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament – the Redeemer, the Deliverer, the Savior, the Messiah who was to come, and come He did.  Yeshua, Jesus.  He came to bridge the gap between a holy God and unholy people.  He came to be the final sin sacrifice so that we could be forgiven for everything we had ever, and would ever, do wrong.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

He is a Friend of Sinners

But the Son of Man goes around eating and drinking, and you say, “That man eats and drinks too much! He is even a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Yet Wisdom is shown to be right by what it does. Matthew 11:19

Yeshua didn’t hang around the popular ones, or the rich ones, or the ones with high status in society.  Not that they weren’t welcome to follow Him, too, but the people who followed Him were typically overlooked, disliked, unpopular, and rejected by society.  They knew who they were.  They knew their faults.  So did He, but He saw them as they could be.  He saw how very important they were to His Father, and if they were important to His Father, they were important to Him. Can you imagine how they must have felt?

You are important to the Father, too, and if you’re important to the Father, you’re important to Yeshua. And if you’re important to them, you are important to me.

He Leads by Example

I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. John 13:15-17

Although He was abused, He never tried to get even. And when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He had faith in God, who judges fairly. 1 Peter 2:23

Yeshua taught that it is better to give than to receive. He taught that we should put others first – that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated. He taught that who we are on the inside is more important than who people see on the outside because our Father sees it all. He didn’t repay evil with evil or insult with insult, and He received plenty of both. He was obedient in everything, going as far as to allow Himself to be nailed to a cross, where He would give up His life for us.  Even in death, He asked the Father to forgive those who had betrayed Him.

He is Compassionate

Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:35-36

Yeshua consistently put the needs of others before His own needs. He even woke early in the mornings to spend time with His Father, praying. Once His day of ministry began, it was nonstop.  Connecting with crowds of people, healing the sick, teaching His disciples, talking about His Father, casting out demons, confronting religious leaders who were outwardly perfect in conduct but lacking in love, and that barely scratches the surface. He even provided meals on occasion! Throughout His busy days, however, He never failed to elevate others and put their needs before His own.

He isn’t the type to see a need and not do something about it. His compassion led Him to heal the sick that came to Him and feed the hungry. He uses us, His modern-day disciples, to do the same.

He Loves Me Enough to Tell Me the Truth

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

He loves me like no one else ever has, or ever will. He loves me enough to tell me the truth, even when it’s not what I want to hear, and even if it hurts. But that’s what love does, right? It always does the absolute best for the object of affection. He loves me, and He loves you, too.

He Desires Unity

I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message. May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me. John 17:20-23

Notice He didn’t mention anything about skin color, gender, or any other division. He wanted unity then and He still desires it now. There won’t be any denominations in heaven – no separation by skin color, either. So if we pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” and there is no separation in heaven, why would we continue to allow differences to separate us here?

There is so much more that I could write about Yeshua, but this is enough for now. If you don’t know Him, I’d be happy to introduce you. His Jewish name is Yeshua. His name translated from the Greek texts into English is Jesus, and you can call Him either one. Yeshua, meet my new friend. New friend, meet Yeshua, Jesus. Now, new friend, just start talking to Him! He’s the BEST listener! You can also read about His life in the Bible, especially in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, where you can read the actual words that He spoke.

Oil and incense bring joy to the heart, and the sweetness of a friend is better than self-counsel. Proverbs 27:9

There is Freedom in Surrender

But from eternity to eternity the LORD’s faithful love is toward those who fear Him, and His righteousness toward the grandchildren of those who keep His covenant, who remember to observe His precepts. Psalm 103:17-18

My church is nearing the end of a 21-day church-wide fast.  I have fasted with close friends before, but I’ve never fasted with a large group of people.  Our pastor said at the beginning of the fast that we would all be changed by the end of it.  He was certainly right about that.

On the first day of the fast, we were each given a sheet of paper that contained a list of prayer topics and verses for each day of the fast, and throughout, we have been provided with frequent encouragement via text as well.  This has proven to be very beneficial, as we are covering many needs for ourselves and our church family, as well as our communities, our country, and the rest of the world.  I will be writing about some of the things the Lord has shown me during this fast, but today I want to share about the very first thing that He began speaking about.

Submission.

The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines submission this way:

1. The act of submitting; the act of yielding to power or authority; surrender of the person and power to the control or government of another.

2. Acknowledgment of inferiority or dependence; humble or suppliant behavior.

3. Acknowledgment of a fault; confession or error.

4. Obedience; compliance with the commands or laws of a superior.

5.Resignation; a yielding of one’s will to the will or appointment of a superior without murmuring.

Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9

We are to submit to God, to the government, to teachers, to supervisors…basically to anyone who is in authority over us. The Bible talks about wives submitting to their husbands, and children to their parents.  I am only writing today about submission to God.  Total, complete surrender.

What does submission look like to me?  What should it look like?

To me, it looks like writing when I don’t necessarily feel like writing.

It looks like fasting, when I’d much rather go get a plate of food, or even a little snack, right now, to satisfy my growling stomach.

It looks like continuing to pray when I don’t see any results, especially when the prayers include the salvation of loved ones.  God’s heart is for all to come to the knowledge of Him.

It’s not saying the first thing that comes to mind when someone has either wronged me or I have perceived a wrong.

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

It looks like speaking to a person I barely know because He has prompted me to do so, taking me out of my comfort zone.

It’s setting aside my plans for the future, which include staying in my current home, if the Lord is calling me to move.

It’s being content in whatever circumstance I’m in, and not constantly whining to the Lord about my desire to get out of it.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Philippians 4:11

It’s allowing the Lord to be my wedding planner, as He moves things around in His way and in His time, instead of mine. Let me explain.  One day, when I was talking with the Lord (okay, maybe it was more like complaining), asking when the time will be right for my beloved and I to get married, He clearly spoke to my heart that He is my wedding planner.

Sometimes submission comes easily, and sometimes it’s a struggle.

I’m reminded of a pastor I heard once who was speaking on the topic of obedience, and, as he was wont to drive fast, said that his right foot was the last part of his body to get saved.  I confess that I laughed right along with everyone else, while at the same time sympathizing with him.  See, I have secretly believed that I was meant to be a race car driver.  😊

Thankfully, if we belong to the Lord and have surrendered our lives to Him, we don’t have to struggle with this alone.  We have help with submission and everything else we struggle with.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17

Those promptings to help us make good decisions, that’s Him.  The strength to not eat while fasting, or the ability to not retaliate when someone wrongs us, or the courage to do what seems impossible – that’s Him.

And the best part is – when we submit and obey those promptings of the Holy Spirit, the Lord says that He will reveal Himself to us! I don’t know about you, but that is my number one desire.  Jesus (Yeshua) said:

The one who has  My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him. John 14:21

The Lord has given me the word Freedom for this new year.  I’ll write about that another time, as the Lord continues to speak to me about it, but part of His revealing process was to continually bring to mind a song from many, many years ago that I hadn’t thought of in a very long time.  The song was made popular by Debby Boone, and is entitled Surrender.  You can listen to it here.  The entire song is beautiful, but the part that has been most touching to me is the chorus:

For the freedom I seek is the word that You speak

Running deep as a song of my soul

To be totally sure, and totally Yours, and totally surrendered

The Lord’s message to me this week:  There is freedom in surrender.

I pray that there is nothing I haven’t submitted to Him.  What about you?  If there’s anything you haven’t surrendered, will you pray this with me? The Lord can do far more with whatever we’re holding onto than we can.

Lord, if we are holding anything back, we repent, and surrender everything to You now. Help us to submit even when it is difficult or painful. We thank You for forgiveness, and ask for the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives to help us obey in everything.

All the LORD’s ways show faithful love and truth to those who keep His covenant and decrees. Psalm 25:10

Here’s something else I wrote about Freedom.  Check it out!

Whatever He Says, Do It

I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel. Psalm 32:8

I was recently given the opportunity to write something in which I mentioned some of the ways that we can hear God speaking. Some of the ways we can hear Him include Bible verses, songs on the radio, a still small voice within, conversations with friends, a stirring in your spirit when you read or hear something, and dreams and visions. The Lord will give confirmations as well when they are needed.

Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3

Another way the Lord speaks is that an idea will come to mind, and it will be the very last thing you would ever choose for yourself, because it is costly.  Not necessarily monetarily, although that is certainly a possibility, but costly with regards to our lifestyles and comfort levels.

One biblical example is the prophet Hosea.  Hosea was a righteous man, and he was commanded by the Lord to marry a promiscuous woman.  The Lord used that marriage to illustrate His love for Israel.  Though Israel wandered and would get entangled in the pagan worship around her, God loved her and continually sought to bring her back to Him. As I read the story of Hosea and Gomer, I find it interesting that nowhere does it say that Hosea questioned God, questioned His motives, or had second thoughts about obeying.  He obeyed, and the Lord was able to use that obedience to both warn Israel and give her hope.

Jesus replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”  Luke 11:28

It reminds me of a time when I was asked to take in a young woman who was going through a difficult time finding a place to live.  The person making the request knew her well, and spoke very highly of her, mentioning that the young woman, like me, was a follower of Yeshua (Jesus).

I said that I didn’t think so, but that I would pray about it.  I didn’t pray about it very much, though, not like I should have.  See, I had already experienced a roommate situation years before that began well but ended badly, and the last thing I wanted was to repeat the experience.

In addition to this, between family members and all of the pets, we already had a full house, and this full house needed repairs. So yes, I prayed, but only halfheartedly, and I really wasn’t listening for God’s answer.

One night, a few weeks later, I was getting ready to feed our pets, and realized that we were completely out of cat food.  It had been a long, busy day, and I was tired.  For this reason, my daughter and I drove to a higher priced store just a few blocks from our home instead of driving to the less expensive store farther away where we normally purchased pet food.

My daughter offered to go inside and purchase the cat food while I stayed in the car.  I gratefully accepted her offer, and within minutes, she returned to the car, with a bag of cat food in hand.

As we pulled out of the parking space, we saw something dark moving on the ground several yards ahead of us, moving between the parked vehicles at the end of the parking lot.  As we got closer, we saw that it was a kitten limping on three legs.  The fourth leg was missing.  Our hearts melted.

My daughter scooped some of the cat food into her hand and headed toward the kitten.  As she put the food down on the ground, several other kittens came running toward the food.

As I watched this, the Lord clearly spoke to my heart.

“You’re concerned about the kitten, and that’s a good thing.  How much more should you be concerned about My child?”

Ouch, that hurt!  Teary eyed, I drove home knowing that we were soon going to be sharing our home with this young woman.

I wish I could say that by now I have learned that what the Lord does in my life is always for my good, and that I bend obediently to His will, but there are times when I still question what He could possibly be thinking.  During those times, He calls me – calls us – to walk by faith and not by sight.  Obedience always brings blessings.  It may not be immediate, or even apparent until years later, but this is a truth clearly stated in the Word of God.  In this case, it was immediate, and the blessing far exceeded my “sacrifice.”

When Jesus had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.  Luke 5:4-7

I am now facing another challenge, which I will write about another time.  It is another “opportunity to excel,” as a previous supervisor of mine was fond of saying whenever someone in the office was faced with a difficult task.

Have you experienced something similar?  Have you been feeling like the Lord has been leading you (okay, sometimes it feels more like pushing) into a place where you don’t feel comfortable, and don’t particularly want to go?  Trust God.  Seek Him.  Ask Him for confirmation.  Then, whatever He says, do it.

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone water pots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. John 2:1-11

Worth More than Many Sparrows

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24

The text read, “My husband noticed that one of the turbines on your second story roof is broken and opened up.  If it rains you could get rain in there and then a leak into your house.”

Sigh.  The second story?  An added expense with the holidays right around the corner?  Another sigh.

I was thankful that my neighbor had noticed, and was somewhat surprised that I hadn’t noticed it myself.  We had had several windy days over the last week due to a tropical storm off Florida’s coast.  Branches had fallen down from the trees that had already been pruned by Hurricane Irma.

A quick review of the money in hand and upcoming expenses led to the realization that hiring a repairman was out of the question.  Someone was going to have to gather up the courage to brave the second story roof, and that someone was going to have to be me.

I don’t know about you, but I am no fan of heights.  I don’t even like ladders.  This began during my first pregnancy, when I was standing on a small ladder and suddenly felt dizzy.  It has remained with me even after more than two decades.

I didn’t know what the job would entail, but I needed something that would last through the holidays until I could hire someone to fix it properly.  A metallic tape that I had used before seemed like a good choice, so I grabbed the roll and a pair of scissors and made my way to our back balcony, which provided easy access to the first story roof.

I made my way carefully along the roof to the peak, where the two roofs were the shortest distance apart.  Turning around slowly so that I was facing away from the second story roof, I cautiously sat down on the higher roof.  My feet barely touched the lower roof below me.

My heart was beating rapidly as I viewed the street below.  My daughter smiled at me from the grass below, with phone in hand, ready to call 911 if the unthinkable happened.

She prayed, I prayed, and soon my heart slowed to a normal beat.  I slowly scooted backwards up the roof toward the peak, where the turbine sat crookedly.  Inch by inch I drew nearer, and was soon examining the turbine, where I discovered that a large screw had come out of one of the brackets that held the turbine in place.

Well, that was good news, right?  Just a screw?  Yes!  Well, except for one thing.  The thought of climbing down and repeating the climb back up was not exactly appealing.

I sat up there for a moment, trying to decide whether or not the tape might do to secure the turbine until I could gather up the courage to do this again.

As I contemplated the situation, my eyes were drawn to the other side of the turbine.  To my surprise and delight, not more than four inches from the turbine sat the missing screw.  Four inches away, on a slanted roof, after days of high winds.  Mind blown.

I twisted the screw back in and covered it with the tape for good measure, and slowly made my way back down, thanking the Lord with each little scoot.

A verse immediately came to mind.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7

And if He remembers even the little sparrows, and cares enough to keep a screw on a slanted roof just for me, certainly He is more than able to help with the bigger things, too.

I think the Lord allowed this not only to build my faith, but the faith of my daughter.  See, my daughter knows how I feel about heights.  She had just seen her mother face her fear, and not only live to tell about it (smile), but experience the miraculous.  Maybe, just maybe, when she is faced with something that causes her to fear, she will resolutely face her fear, step out in faith, and will experience the miraculous, too.

Yeshua (Jesus) was tempted in everything we are, and yet was without sin.  He knows our struggles.  He knows our fears.  He doesn’t ask us to do anything that He Himself wasn’t willing to do.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

When Peter wanted to walk on the water with Him, “Come.”  He says the same to us.  Keep your eyes on Him.  If you falter, rest assured that His hand is there, ready and willing to catch you.

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” Matthew 14:28-33

Perfect Timing

Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14

My home is under renovation right now, and things are in disarray all around me. My house has two balconies, and both have wood that has to be replaced, after standing faithfully for more than four decades. Our plan was to also replace the wood siding on the second story of our home, in addition to several minor things that needed some attention.

The process is slow, and at times, frustrating.  There have been many delays.  I was particularly concerned when the contractor was unexpectedly called out of town shortly after being paid for the siding materials.  The materials were purchased and sat on the side of the house.  Each day that went by and the work did not begin, I grew more impatient. I thought surely the contractor would have arranged for one of the sub-contractors to install the siding while he was away.

He returned, but still the work was not begun. Finally I received a call from the contractor, and he informed me that the siding we had selected was no longer up to code. It seems that with every hurricane, the code gets stricter.

As I reflected on this turn of events, the Lord spoke a familiar, yet unwelcomed, truth to my heart: His delays are always for my good. Always.

See, had the contractor installed the wood siding when I wanted it installed, it would have had to be removed, and it would have cost me greatly, both in time and materials, and we would have had to pay for the more costly option of stucco. The delay saved me time, money, and a bigger headache.

But they that wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Not long after that, Hurricane Irma came onto the scene. I prepared my home as best I could, but there were some things I didn’t have the time, knowledge or strength to do – such as putting boards over my windows.

My beloved came to my rescue. Using leftover wood that the contractor had not yet removed, he, my daughter and I measured and cut the wood, and then covered our windows. My heroes!

I had not been happy that the unused wood was still here, but yet another delay worked in my favor.

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:25-26

I am in awe of the Lord’s goodness to me. If He loves me so much that He allowed these delays for my good, I can rest assured that delays in other areas are for my good as well.

That means your delays are for your good, too. Maybe you’re waiting for the Lord to send you a spouse, or a baby, or a job, or a car, or a house. Maybe you’re waiting for a loved one to come home, or come to the Savior. Maybe you’re waiting for healing.

Waiting is hard! We try to wait without complaining, try to remain cheerful and hopeful, but sometimes we fail. The Lord knows. He sees, and He understands.

Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. Psalm 103:13-14

Sometimes He sends us reminders through Bible verses at just the right moment, or a message that we hear on the radio or television, or a conversation with a friend. Sometimes He sends us heroes.

I read recently that God is never early and never late. He is never in a hurry, but is always right on time.

Delays. I don’t know what it is that you’ve been longing and praying for, but I know this – the Lord hears you, He sees you, and everything is going to work out in His perfect way and in His perfect time.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

When God Stretches Us

Now the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, those who depend on His faithful love. Psalm 33:18

I’ve been thinking about the growth process of a Christian.  Growth seldom feels good.  Like growing pains in our childhood, it can be a painful experience.  It doesn’t seem to get any easier with experience, either.  In fact, it seems to be even more difficult, at least for me, because as we age, we develop mindsets that we believe are scriptural, yet which are actually based on church, denomination and family traditions and accepted beliefs rather than on the Word of God.  It has led me to question a few things about what the Lord uses to grow us, especially if we welcome His work in our lives and pray for His will to be done in us.

So…when I pray and ask the Lord to help me walk by faith and not by sight, am I asking for more trouble in my life?  More trials?  Is this an open invitation for Him to give me opportunities where I can only walk by faith because absolutely nothing I see with my eyes makes any sense?

When I ask Him to make me more like Yeshua (Jesus), am I asking Him to bring difficult, hard to love people into my life, because He loves difficult, hard to love people?

When I ask Him to give me His heart of compassion, am I asking Him to open my eyes to the pain and difficulties in the lives of those around me, even though it hurts so much to see people suffering, because He has compassion on them and wants to minister to them through me?

When we pray for His kingdom to come, and His will to be done, is this what we’re signing up for?

Yes, I think so.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

It has been a rough week. I have felt like I’ve been standing near the shore in shallow water, while wave after wave after wave has knocked me down. I get back up only to be knocked down again. Over and over. A car repair, an air conditioning repair, another car repair, another air conditioning repair, a contractor issue, a personality clash, added pressure at work, family and friends experiencing illness and life threatening issues, another car repair, a relationship strain…

Lately, I have not been walking by faith or by sight. I haven’t been walking at all! I sat down in the mud and had a pity party. I barely prayed, other than to ask the Lord to FIX THINGS, AND FIX THEM QUICKLY!

Yeah, kind of like a toddler’s tantrum. I am not proud of that at all. I wouldn’t even tell you about it except that I know I’m not the only one out there experiencing these things.

Beloved, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12

That’s not my normal way of handling things. If I’m having one of “those” times, it usually doesn’t last more than a day, two days tops. This one lasted an entire week. I didn’t even have communion with the Lord, which I try to do a few days a week, because I knew I would have to confess my bad attitude and repent. Sigh.

Today I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. The unleavened bread had sat on my table for days, and seemed to taunt me. In reality, it was beckoning me.

Come, be made clean again.

Come, renew your mind.

Come, lay that burden down.

Come, walk in peace again.

Come, be restored.

This time, I couldn’t resist, and I felt the heavy burdens roll off of my shoulders as I spent time with the Lord, confessing, repenting, and being forgiven and loved on. I felt hopeful again, for the first time in days.

How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord, his God. Psalm 146:5

Beloved, if you are going through this now, don’t stay there like I did. It’s just not worth it. Bring it all to the Lord and tell Him how you feel. Let Him pick you up, clean you up, and set you back where you belong.

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm. Psalm 40:2

I can only guess what the Lord is going to teach me through this, but one thing I know, He is faithful, and when all is said and done, I will look back on this time and be thankful for it. That is always His way.

Father, please forgive us for wanting the fruit without the pruning. Please help us to see things through Your eyes, with Your perspective. Help us not to lose hope, but to continue to walk with You in peace and unity. In the name of Your son, Yeshua, I ask these things. Amen.