Wait

Wildflowers

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

This originally appeared on my personal Facebook page as part of a writing challenge I participated in to stretch my writing:  Five Minute Friday’s 31 DAYS OF FIVE MINUTE FREE WRITES. This is spontaneous writing in only 5 minutes. The word for the day was “Wait.”

“I wait for the LORD; my soul does wait, and in His word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5

I have always loved wildflowers.  I love the mix of vibrant and muted colors, and the way they appear to be randomly strewn across the ground.  It’s like God Himself reached down with His hand full of flower seeds and scattered them where He wanted a splash of color.  There’s a wildness to them, tamed by no man, yet their beauty shines forth just as their Creator intended.

Have you ever seen a package of wildflower seeds?  A variety of seeds are all mixed together, and you have no idea what flowers are going to grow from the mix.  You plant and wait, and water and wait, and in time their distinct colors, shapes and scents are revealed for all to see.

I have an affinity for a succulent called Desert Rose.  They are my favorite flowers because they thrive on neglect…so even I can grow them.  They don’t bloom very often – mostly after a dry spell, followed by a few days of rain.  When you are fortunate enough to find them in the plant nurseries, they seldom have flowers, and the labels don’t indicate what color flowers will appear.  You take them home, plant, and wait for the surprise.

We are the same!  The times we have the most growth tend to be after dry spells, or times in the wilderness.  We are all in the process of maturing, and we won’t be finished until our time on earth is complete.

Look around and you will see people in stages anywhere from seedlings to mature, flowering shrubs.  We love to comment on the beauty of the fully formed flowers, but aren’t as enthusiastic about the seedlings and the shoots that are without bloom.  We can be impatient, can’t we?  We forget that we were once seedlings ourselves.

Wait.  Have patience.  God is not done with them…or you.

“For we are to God the sweet aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:15

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and I know this very well.” Psalm 139:14

“God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.” Martin Luther

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