RUNNING IN THE LIGHT

In the quiet, before what is really occurring is truly known, the veil of darkness is lifted. Ever so slowly and gently, the warmth of the sun begins to creep into the cracks and crevices, into the corners and closets, driving away shadows along its way. The dark has left behind a weariness that is felt within the depths of the soul and cuts to the very center of the heart, the pain so overwhelming that the beginnings of the dawn are not even noticed. But the Father knows.

Ever gentle, ever faithful, and ever kind, the Father reaches down and begins to bandage the wounds left behind. He lovingly wipes away each tear and cherishes what each individual tear represents. As the intensity of the pain eases, He gently turns the face that is cradled in His hands toward the sun. The warmth shining in is so comforting, so soothing. The warmth brings with it a sense of calm and a peace that runs deep into the wounded places. Although wounded and weary, restoration is coming, peace is returning, and healing has begun.

Easing out of the corner and beginning to struggle to stand, a steady hand is offered, but this hand is unlike any other. This hand radiates power. This hand carries within it a boundless unfathomable love. This hand bears scars and written with in the scars, I find my name. I find my name carved into His hand! Within His hands, I find my healing, but it is a healing that is only found within scars left behind by nails.

Holding onto His hand, I rise. Holding onto Him, I find solid ground beneath my feet and the strength in which to stand. Focusing on Him, I find the assurance that all which remains broken will be healed, that strength will be renewed.

With one glance at the smile on His face, my soul begins to take flight. With wings like eagles, my heart begins to soar. Caught up in the strength of His hands, I find the courage to run once again. In His light alone does that which once was weary and broken become renewed and restored. Carried on by His everlasting arms, I run once again, for I am running in His light.

Never Forget

The excitement of Christmas morning comes along. The anticipation is so thick you can almost cut it with a knife. The constant wondering if you are going to receive the gift you wanted so badly is finally met with the amazing realization that you did!! The most fantastic gift ever given to you has been received that morning! Joy is incredible! The excitement is palpable! Success!!!

Fast forward to week later… The gift is still awesome. You are still amazed that it worked out the way you hoped it would… It is still the coolest thing ever!! You still remember to be grateful.

Now, fast forward six months down the road… Gift? What gift? “I don’t remember”…”oh, yeah, well, I guess I remember that”… It was a fantastic gift at the time, but what about now…. “I am happy you got that for me, but I already expressed my gratitude when you gave it to me.”

Is that not how we as human being tend to be? We are excited for what we receive right now, but we so quickly forget once the emotions have quieted down and the “calm” returns. While the newness is intact, we are grateful, we are happy, we are excited, and we do not hesitate to share it. Once the newness begins to wear off, we slowly loose most of these until we eventually lose it all – and ultimately forget.

How much more so do we do the same with the faithfulness of God? With the providence of God? With the grace of God? How often do we take Him for granted, forget to be grateful for all of the blessings He pours on our lives, or forget that He is holy?

Reading through the Old Testament, one theme seems to be repeated on a regular basis – constant reminders to never forget.

When the Children of Israel were being delivered from Egypt and instructions given for the first Passover, they were told to celebrate this every year at the same time so that they never forget. When the Israelites were saved through the bravery of Esther, they were instructed to remember that day every year so that they never forget. The feasts and celebrations that are observed throughout the year all serve that same purpose – they celebrate an important event in Jewish history when the providence of God was manifested on their behalf and they are to remember it always. Seemingly minor details, such as the manner in which they pray and the prayers that are said, were designed to ensure that they did not forget to be mindful of God, to be focused on pleasing God, following Him, and on not their own desires.

Within my own soul, I know how quick I am to forget all He has done on my behalf – especially during the rough times – and I also must question myself as to why I am so careless with His grace. If the Almighty, Omniscient God took the time to remind His people and institute celebrations and practices to help keep them focused, should I also not take such determined care to ensure that I do not forget all He has done for me? Should I wait for Easter/Resurrection Sunday to celebrate the fact that my debt is paid, that He became the ultimate sacrifice to cover MY sin, that He made a way for all people to come to the Father through the shedding of His blood on Calvary, and that He loves me more than I can comprehend? Should I wait for Christmas to remember that He willingly set aside His glory in Heaven and His place with the Father to come and be Emmanuel, to be God with us, to live as one of us, to experience all that we do? Should I wait for communion to be observed in church before I seriously take time to search out my heart, deal with hidden, unrepentant sin, and celebrate the Cross of Christ?

Unfortunately, and all too often, the answer to these questions tends to be “yes”…… We tend to get so wrapped up in our day-to-day lives and forget or overlook the ways in which He is moving and working in our lives. Perhaps we, like the Jewish people, need to be more diligent in remembering Him in even the little things in life…. I can only speak from personal experience, but, in talking with my Jewish friends, I am continually convicted of how lazy I tend to be and how casually I treat my relationship with my Father.

We must be more diligent in our relationship with the Almighty. We must take time and make time to remember all that He has done for us, all the He will continue to do. I am so grateful that He remains faithful even when I am faithless! However, I do not want that to be the case any longer! If the Good Lord took the time to institute remembrances throughout the daily lives of His people, we need to be diligent to remember Him as well. After all, He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He knows how easily we forget.

My challenge to myself – and to anyone else who needs the help – is this:

*Find God in everything each day because He really is there if we will take the time to look.
*Be mindful of all the blessings He has poured out on my life and return all the glory back to Him.
*Thank Him continuously and in everything – He is worthy to be praised!
*Don’t let the busyness of my life supersede His authority in my heart or His position in my life.

May you see Him clearer, know Him better, love Him deeper, and cherish Him always.

They Said What???

It has been a very busy week of swimming lessons, work, and working during swimming lesson. Through all of the “busyness”, one thing that has stood out in my mind – and has been repeated in several forms – is the power of our words. I have, unfortunately, witnessed more time than I care to count the fact that “sticks and stones” do not break bones – they break hearts instead.

Proverbs 18:21 says that the power of life and death are in the tongue. Interesting thought…. Does that mean I believe I could kill someone with my words or bring them back to life with the same? Not necessarily, at least not in the physical sense (although I will not discount the possibility of a miracle being performed because our Lord is still in that business), but emotionally and spiritually, it is not only a possibility, it is a regular occurrence. It is so easy to spew hurtful words out of our mouths and kill another’s spirit, crush their dreams, break their heart. Listening to the way in which people speak to each other and about each other, I can only image how it breaks our Father’s heart to see and hear how often we trample on others with our words. Matthew 12:34 (KJV) tells us that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. What then does this really say about the condition of our hearts?

As Christians, we have a peculiar challenge that faces us, especially in the unique environment in which we now live. Yes, we are to live a life that is holy, set apart for Him alone. Yes, we are called to be in the world and not of it – to not be conformed to it. We are called to be Salt and Light to a world that is drowning in darkness that seems to grow darker by the day. The challenge then becomes how do we do this? How do we reach the ones who need Him the most, the ones who appear to be falling ever further into darkness? The answer is love. We must reach them with the love of Jesus first and foremost! If we do not reach them with love and look at them the way Jesus does, how will we ever find their heart?

We must also keep in mind that we do not know the road another has traveled or that their heart may contain secrets known only to God. Careless words thrown about may cause hurt and harm to another who will never say a word. Instead, they will just walk away. They will cry on the inside yet again where no one ever sees. They will fall before the feet of Jesus yet again and beg Him to hold them just one more time. An opportunity to be a blessing to someone who is desperate for a kind word uttered in love has been wasted – again.

You will never know what kind of difference you can make in the life of another just by choosing to season your words with grace. Being Salt and Light is so much more than helping bring the lost home – it is caring for hurting members of the Body, it is caring for our own, it is being Jesus to those around us. How can we fulfill what Jesus called the first and foremost of the commandments, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves if we are continually trampling others with our words? Before you open your mouth to speak, ask yourself if you would like to be on the other end of your words? If you would not, then respond as Job did when he was speaking with the Lord, “… I put my hand over my mouth.” Job 40:4, NIV

Season your words with kindness. You never know what secrets of the heart someone may have that hear them or what hurts can be unknowingly inflicted by them.

2 Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.
3 A dream comes when there are many cares,
and many words mark the speech of a fool.
6 Do not let your mouth lead you into sin….
7 Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God.
Ecclesiastes 5:2-3, 6, 7, NIV

33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:33-37, NIV

Be Still, My Soul!

This past week in my life seemed to be one of back-tracking. I kept trying to push forward and continuing working on the areas in which I struggle, but the more I pushed, the more I saw myself going backward. I finally stopped and asked the Lord what it was that I was missing, what I had missed. The silence seemed deafening for a while… Something happened a few days ago that has caused me to really sit back and evaluate some places in my heart and life. A rather interesting conversation with a friend had taken place and challenged my heart and mind to go places it had not been in a very long time and try to force words to surface to express feelings long buried in the past. The fear of this was overwhelming at first, but my friend was very patient. Through a few prods and challenges, I realized that I have been held captive by this fear for far too many years – and for no reason. When I pushed beyond the fear, the expected result at the end never appeared. The fear was completely without merit – as so many of them are. The silence from the Lord was preparing my heart for this conversation and He used it to His glory to break down walls in my heart erected so many years ago that I do not remember life without them.

So begins the process of rebuilding… and renewal. I am not sure what is around the next bend, but I do know who will be with me when it is found. There will be new challenges to face, new barriers to cross, but I know that He who started the work in me will be faithful to complete it – and it will better prepare me for whatever work He has for me to do. All I have to do is be still and know that He is God – and that is all I need to know!

During this process, when the doubts and fears creep in and questions begin to swirl, it is important to remember to fix our eyes on Jesus. After all, in the midst of the storm, look what happened to Peter when he took His eyes off the Lord….he sank. However, much with like us, Jesus was there immediately reaching out a hand to pull him up again. During those dark times when you wonder why you were made the way that you were and what purpose the Lord could possibly have with your weaknesses or failures, just remember that it is not WHO you are that is important, but rather WHOSE you are. There is a reason and purpose for everything under heaven – and that those weakness are opportunities for Him to be our strength and show His strength in our lives. We just have to trust that He knows the way, He will guide, and He will comfort during the dark times through the valley and rough rapids of the River.

Beginnings

New beginnings…The concept has been on my heart a lot lately. Perhaps it is because a dark place along the walk with Jesus seems to have drawn to an end and the Son seems to be shinning again or it is because there is a New thing about to begin within the heart? Which it is, I know not, but that does not frighten me anymore. I know who is in charge although I do not know where He is leading me.

Regardless of where each of us are in our lives, each day is a new beginning – a gift from the Father. When He awakens us to a brand new day, we are assured from His Word that His mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is never ending. It is there waiting for us to embrace, nothing else required. We can freely and boldly walk in the assurance that the good work He has started in us, He will be faithful to complete. Each step we take along the path He has lined out for us will never be taken alone.

The question that now must be answered is what is holding us back from walking in the newness of the day, of His mercy, of His love – from claiming our New Beginning? Are we trapped in old methods of thinking, stuck in old mindsets, or too convinced of our own knowledge/abilities? It is time to let it go, to allow Him to lift us out of the pit, set us upon the solid Rock, and walk in the light of His love and grace. When we do, we will not find that our paths are now smoother and easier, but rather we will continue to find that His grace is sufficient, His love is never ending, and His faithfulness with never change.

So, what’s new with you today?? I can tell you what is new with me – I am free!