Faithful Father

Imagine being Joseph.  His fiancee runs off to visit her cousin.  She’s gone for three months.  And when she returns, she breaks his heart.  Oh.  She isn’t dumping him.  She tells him she’s pregnant.  Makes a man wonder what his girl has been doing for those three months she was visiting her so-called cousin.  He knows without a doubt that the baby isn’t his.  Because they haven’t.

She says the baby’s father is God.  How is a man supposed to believe that?  Can he trust her?  After all, they’re engaged.  Not married.  Should he just break up with her and move on?   Even though they aren’t married, breaking up would still signal a divorce.  Because he knew.  He knew if he agreed to marry her, the people of their village would spread the rumors.  Oh.  That couple.  They didn’t wait until they married.   But they can’t prove they were waiting.  Because now there is a baby on the way.

What if God asked the impossible of you?  Would you be willing?  If God asks you to move out of your comfort zone, would you?  How far out of your comfort zone are you willing to go, even if it is God who’s doing the asking?

The baby wasn’t his.  He knew it.  She knew it.  Did everyone else know it? He wanted to divorce her.  Quietly.  Not make more of a public spectacle of her than she already was.  He could.  You know. 

But the dream was so real.  The angel was right there.  Marry her.  He said.  She speaks the truth.  She has been faithful.  This child is God’s.  Name him Jesus.  Joseph actually heard from God in a dream.  So he did it.  He married her.  Knowing what everyone would say.  


What is impossible with man is possible with God.  Luke 18:27


This man.  Joseph.  His betrothed was carrying the Son of God.  How was he to be a father to God?  He wasn’t qualified.  He was just a carpenter.  How could he do this?  Would this child want to become a carpenter?  If he and Mary were fortunate enough to have their own sons, how would they compare?  Would others be able to tell the difference between God’s son and Joseph’s sons?

How is one to be faithful when the world says to run the other way?

Joseph didn’t know God’s plan.  Joseph didn’t know that God’s Son was to be born in the lineage of King David.  Joseph was in that lineage.  God’s plan worked out perfectly.  No.   Joseph wasn’t the biological father, but he fulfilled the plan God had laid out for him.

Oh.  It wasn’t Joseph’s place to be in the spotlight.  He didn’t have the leading role.  But support roles provide stability and depth for the leading role.  It wasn’t his birth that was announced to the shepherds.  It wasn’t his death on the cross.  His role may seem small, but really.  His role was father.  Role model.  Family leader.  Bread winner.  Not much is written about him, but words aren’t enough.  He did everything by being faithful to God’s plan.  What seemed impossible for him was made possible through God’s purpose and leading.  

Sure.  Joseph doubted at first.  He even considered saying no.  But when that angel appeared in the dream, he realized this was God at work.  God was fulfilling the promise and prophesies that had been passed down for so long.  And Joseph was part of the plan.  God was using Joseph to raise this God child.  

Oh.  My role may not be as leader.  I may be the supporting role in a much bigger plan.   There are times I don’t feel worthy of the role I’m playing in God’s plan.  There are times I would choose to step aside.  But God who calls is also faithful.  If he calls, he equips.  And in that equipping and following the plan, I find that God is so much more than a word so often used in vain by many.  God makes the impossible possible.  All I must do is believe and trust.  And obey.

Favored Child

They say she’s pregnant.  Everybody is spreading the rumors.  Oh.  She’s engaged to that guy named Joseph.  She says she’s a virgin.  But she can’t prove it.  I bet her parents are mortified.  She should be so ashamed.  I wonder what will happen now.  He doesn’t have to marry her if the baby isn’t his.  Rightly so.

She’s so young.  So much to learn about life.  and love.  How will she manage if Joseph pushes her aside.  Quietly divorces her.  She would be a single mother.  Shunned for sure.

But that angel.  Gabriel.  He said this baby was God’s son.  He said she was honored and chosen.  She was favored among women.  So why do the neighbors look at her so shamefully.  She has nothing to be ashamed of.  and no way to prove it.

How do you stand up for the truth when it looks like you’re not being honest?  How could you be favored and forsaken at the same time?

She left home to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  The angel who visited Mary had told her that Elizabeth was also having a baby.  That same angel had also visited Elizabeth’s husband six months earlier.  Now Elizabeth was also pregnant.  Elizabeth was considered too old to have children and Mary was too young.  But they were both miraculously pregnant, and their sons were God’s chosen to spread the good news.  God planned each of these pregnancies.  God chose the names of these two baby boys.  Elizabeth’s son was John.  Mary’s son was Jesus.  John’s purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus.  Jesus’ purpose was to die for our sins.  

Mary could have withdrawn in fear.  But instead she visited her cousin who immediately recognized she was carrying the Son of God.  She could have felt rejected by man.  But instead she rejoiced at the favor God had shown her.  



Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Luke 1:30


Did Mary realize how much love her Heavenly Father had for her?  Did she realize that when she was weak, he would make her strong.  Did she know that He would fill her with his power to raise this God child?  Did she know that He would comfort her years later when she walked through the storm of losing this firstborn son.  

After all, her son was the hope of the world.  He was the promised Messiah.  Gabriel told Mary that the word of God will not fail.  She believed him.  She trusted him.  She was all in.  Regardless of the consequences.  If she had known then what she later learned in life, would she have been so willing?  Would she have felt so favored?  Would she have called herself blessed among women?

Mary could have refused, but she willingly accepted the gift she was offered.  She didn’t even hesitate.  She felt honored and blessed to be chosen to carry the Son of God.

I think of the gifts I’ve been given by my God.  I am called to use my gifts.  Do I feel honored and chosen for the gifts I’m given?  After all, I’m not asked to bear the Son of God.  Why do my gifts feel so heavy at times?  Is that how Mary felt?  Did her load become more than she could bear?

The thing is.  Mary was favored, but her life wasn’t easy or pain free.   God didn’t leave her once she was pregnant.  He stayed with her and walked with her through the path of motherhood and life.  He empowered her and equipped her to do the work he laid out for her.   Why wouldn’t he do the same for me?

Mission Field

The ones I work with cheat.  They speak ill of others.  They don’t respect authority.  They speak with crude words.  They lie.  They steal time from the company.  They look out only for themselves.

I wonder why I have anything to do with them.  Then I remember.  I’m one of them.  I’m no better than them.  Oh.  I work hard.  I do my best.

They are my mission field.  The ones I am called to serve.  To love them as Jesus does.  To care for them.  This is my battlefield.  To fight off Satan’s advances in a place where his ways are popular.  If I don’t fight Satan there, who will.  If I don’t share God’s love with them, who will.

I’ve worked with this type throughout the years.  It’s nothing new.  But I find that I must stay close to my Heavenly Father so I don’t become one of them.  Oh.  I’m not better than them.  I’m just like them.  But I’ve found the One in whom my soul delights.  I want to please Him rather than myself.  I want to serve Him rather than myself.

They’re lost to the truth.  They don’t know that God loves them.  They don’t know he’s the one true relationship they’ve been searching for all this time.  But I know it.  I know the truth.  I know the One they seek.  I can lead them to him.  I can help them find him.

After all.  Jesus didn’t turn away from those who weren’t like him.  He loved the unlovable.  He had dinner at the cheating tax collector’s house.  He struck up a conversation with a woman who was shunned by her community.  He stood with a woman caught in adultery.

Jesus didn’t spend time only with those who followed him.  He sought out others who needed what he had to offer.  He made himself available to those who didn’t know they needed him.


You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.  God is not a secret to be kept.  Matthew 5:14


He saw the tax collector sitting in a tree.  Jesus knew this man had gotten rich by cheating others of out large sums of money.  But he still invited himself to the man’s house for dinner.  This man turned his life around and gave half his wealth to the poor and returned money to those he had cheated.  All because Jesus took time for him and showed him the way of  love and forgiveness.

Jesus started a conversation with the woman with the questionable past.  He spoke first, asking for a drink of water.  He told her things about herself he shouldn’t have known.  He loved her in spite of the fact that she had had five husbands and was living with another man.  This woman who was shunned by her community ran to tell them about this man who knew everything about her.  She and her village were changed because of the simple message of love and forgiveness.

The woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus.  Her accusers were trying to trick him, but he didn’t play their game.  They wanted her stoned to death.  So Jesus suggested the one in the group who had never sinned should throw the first stone.  One by one they quietly walked away.  The woman’s accusers were guilty of sins, just as she was.  But Jesus didn’t condemn her.  Instead, in love he told her to leave her life of sin.  He showed her love and forgiveness.

So.  Who do I think I am that I shouldn’t spend time with those who don’t believe as I do?  Why should I surround myself only with those like me?  Why do I think I can ignore those I come in contact with who have sin written all over their face?  For I’m just like them.  I have sin written all over my face, but it’s been washed clean in Jesus’ blood.   I’m no better than them, but I’ve accepted the gift of eternal life.

Yes.  I must be Jesus to those I work with.  Perhaps they can turn from cheating.  From their gossip.  From self-centeredness.  But not only them.  I think of the one who delivers my groceries every week.  Does he need Jesus in his life?  I think of the one who cuts my hair.  My massage therapist.  What about my neighbors?  The people at the dog park.  Who can I be Jesus to today?

A Life Cut Short

She stopped by the office on Monday to bring lunch to her husband.  She ran into the building with his salad, paying no attention to the burning car in the parking lot.  She didn’t even notice the fire trucks.  She had one thing on her mind.  Her busy husband needed his lunch.

Less than two days later, she was surrounded by another fire.  This time the fire was at her home.  Her husband was out of town on business.  Home alone.  Sleeping alone.  She wasn’t even aware of the fire.  Smoke inhalation was the cause of death.  She died in her bed.  Asleep and alone.

She was busy with family and work and charity events.  She was always smiling and friendly with everyone.  She didn’t know a stranger.  She made time for her daughters and grandchildren.  She was loved by many.  Best friends to her inner circle.

Her life was cut short.  She was in the prime of her life.  But what is the prime of life when you don’t know how long your life will be?  Shouldn’t every day be the prime of life?  Especially when we don’t know our last day?

I didn’t know her.  I knew of her.  Oh.  I had met her a few times.  I had seen the joy of life radiating from her.  I had seen her happiness bubbling as she showed off her grandson.  I knew of her love for her husband.  But I didn’t know her.


Each of us will give a personal account to God.  Romans 14:12


I wonder if she knew her Creator.  I wonder if she had a personal relationship with God.  Because now she has come face to face with him.  Oh.  She was involved in volunteer work.  She was kind.  She was good.  But was she ready, without notice, to meet her final reward.  Was it a reward or was it a punishment?  Where is her soul spending eternity?

The thing is.  Life is not certain for anyone.  No one knows when their last day will come.    Maybe there will be a warning.  A diagnosis.  An accident.  Medical treatments.  Prolonged illness.  Or death could come as a thief in the night.  Maybe there will be time to accept Christ as Savior and experience forgiveness. But maybe not.  One never knows.

The one thing we do know is that all will die.  Each of us will breathe our last breath at the appointed time.  Unless Jesus comes back in our lifetime and takes his faithful to heaven, we will all die.  Will we be ready to stand face to face with God?  Will we hear the words we want to hear?  Welcome home, my good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your master.  Let’s celebrate.

Some will hear those words.  Many won’t.  Many will be cast to the depths of hell.  Those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior will not face an eternity in heaven.   Oh.  There are those who don’t believe in hell.  There are some who believe if God is a loving God, why would he send good people to hell.

The thing is.  God loves everyone and wants everyone to meet him in heaven.  He gave us the ability to choose for ourselves how we live our lives.  With him or without him.  That choice determines where we spend eternity.  We choose.

I saw it happen just three days ago.  I was driving along a busy road, running errands at lunch time.  The squirrel was running fast and ran into the street.  I noticed it and had plenty of time to slow down.  The driver in the other lane didn’t.  Next thing I knew, the squirrel was not moving.  Oh.  It was in such a hurry to get somewhere, but time stood still for that little one.  Perhaps, he was rushing to store up for the winter months that are upon us.  No need.

Oh.  I know the squirrel doesn’t have a soul.  I know that squirrel will never have to answer for its actions.  I know that squirrel will never stand before his maker.  But I do know that his life was cut far short.

It can happen to anyone at any time.  Ready or not.  Time is running out for each of us.  The countdown has begun, and we never know when our time will come.  Are you ready?

 

The God I Know

Oh.  Heavenly Father, God and Creator of the Universe.  You knew me before I was born.  You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  You numbered my days before I breathed my first breath.  You alone decided I would be born, and you alone will decide when my days are complete.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made by You.

You alone planned my days.  You know my accomplishments.  You know my failures.  You love me in my most lovely days, and you love me when I’m less than lovely.

You go before me and you follow me.  You surround me with your presence.  You work for me.  You fight for me.  Your heavenly armies follow me.  I can never escape from your Spirit.  Your hand guides me.  Your strength supports me.  You equip me for your work.  I am never far from your thoughts.

You search me.  You know my thoughts.  You read my mind.  You hear my words.  You test me.  You know my anxious thoughts.  Yet you still love me.  You won’t turn away when I call.

You are the first and the last.  The alpha and the omega.  The beginning and the end.  You never had a beginning and you’ll never end.  You are always.  You are eternal.  You are everlasting.

Oh.  You are three in one.  God, you are the Father.  Jesus Christ, you are the Son.  Holy Spirit, you are my Guide.  All of you complete the never-ending circle of the one and only God.  There are no limits to what you can do.  You are powerful.  You are able to do anything and everything.   At any time.

You are the God of peace.  You are kind.  Compassionate.  Loving.  Generous.  You meet all my needs and provide me with blessings.  Your grace is free and undeserved.  Your mercies are new every day.


I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  Revelation 22:13


Your ways are beyond understanding. You are a good good Father. You know best.  You love unconditionally.  You love the lovely and the unlovely.  You are merciful and yet you’re just. You will repay and you will punish.  But oh.  Your blessings are unfathomable. Your love is endless.  Your grace is unearned.

You love everyone. Red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in your sight.  The lame. The blind. The sick.  The homeless.  The rich.  The poor.  The thief.  The artist.  The CEO.  The hourly worker.  You love those who are hurting. You love those who have hurt others.  You love the honest.  You love the liar.  You do not discriminate.

You allow Satan to tempt and trick your people.  You allow wars and disease and famine.  You allow untimely deaths and accidents.  Job loss.  Destruction.  Horrible crimes.  You could stop these, yet you don’t.  You allow nature to take its course.  You allow the sun to rise and set every single day.  You allow mankind to choose you or not to choose you.  You’ve given us a free will to live our lives as we see fit.  With you.  or without you.  And through it all, you love us.  No matter what we choose.

You offer forgiveness.  No questions asked.  You stand waiting for us to choose you over everything else we hold dear.  You offer eternal life.  You offer a heavenly reward.  You gave your Son.  For everyone.

Your work is never left undone. You finish everything you start.  You work thoroughly and perfectly.  You are the Master Creator, creating works of art for your pleasure and purpose.  You are the Master Carpenter, building an eternal home for those who follow your ways.

Through everything, you never change. The good. The bad. The ugly. You’re constant. You speak only the truth. You don’t lie. You keep your promises. In your own time.  Because for you a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is a day.  Time is nothing to you. Yet you created time.  In those 7 days, you created day and night.  Dark and light. Sun and moon.  Sea and land.  Food and flower.  Creature and man.

You are the final Judge.  You will have the last say about how I’ve lived my life.  You alone will decide if I am worthy to enter heaven’s gates.  Oh.  I’m unworthy.  But you alone, God, will determine my eternity.

You correct me when I’m wrong.  You counsel me when I need guidance.  You challenge me to trust you when I’m out of my comfort zone.  You carry me through the most difficult of times.

God, you are fair.  You judge and punish as you see fit.   You are impartial.  You decide who will rise and who will fall.  You allow rain to fall on the just and on the unjust.  You have enemies, but you fight cleanly and fairly.

God, you never change.  You’re always right.  You have the final say in all matters.  No one is better than you.  You alone determine the outcome of all events.  You alone are God.  You are the only God.  The one and only God.  All knees will bow to you at some unknown time.  All lips will confess you as Lord at the appointed time.

Bless your holy name.  Amen.

 

God Sees All

She asked me to help.  As I stood at her desk, I happened to see an email that was not for my eyes.  I saw words I shouldn’t have seen.  What was I to do now?  I couldn’t unsee what I shouldn’t have seen.  It wasn’t my information to see.  It wasn’t my news to share.  I couldn’t erase it.  I had to keep quiet.

It wasn’t a place I wanted to be.  Knowing information that I shouldn’t know.  Once known, it’s always known.  Now the waiting begins.  Until someone else shares the news.  I wasn’t going to spread gossip.  Even if the information was true.  I was keeping quiet.

I recently overheard one side of a conversation.  She was on the phone in the ladies room.  First thing in the morning.  I overheard words she spoke in private.  I took a pregnancy test this morning.  It was positive.  It was a conversation she didn’t want anyone to hear.  But there we were.  In the same room.  At the same time.  I didn’t know her.  She didn’t know me.  But now I know something about her that she wanted kept private.  What am I to do?

I couldn’t unhear what I had overheard.  I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop.  I didn’t even know her, but now I know her secret.  I know information that I wasn’t supposed to know.  I’m keeping the news to myself.


The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.  Proverbs 15:3


There is one who sees everything, hears everything and knows everything.  That is not me.  That is God.

Is the fact that God sees all a warning to you, or is it an encouragement to you?

I read that sentence in the daily devotion, and it jumped out at me.  I guess it just depends on the day.  That’s what I think.

I need to be reminded that every word I say is heard.  Every thought I think is read.  Every action I take is seen.  What I say and do in secret, really isn’t secret.  How often should I be ashamed and confess?

Some days I need to be reminded that I am being watched. That all my words and actions are seen and heard by God.  I need the nudge to be kinder.  To say polite words.  To use my indoor voice.  To treat others the way I want to be treated.  I do need that watchful eye on me.  Even when I want to hide.

Other days, just knowing that God sees all feels like a gentle hug of comfort to me.  It feels as if I’m sitting in front of a fire keeping warm.  It tells me that I’m not overlooked when I’m feeling lonely.  It reassures me that I’m being seen when I feel unseen.  It lets me know that he sees my needs and will provide.

A popular song tells us that God is watching us.  from a distance.  If that is true, then why do I feel him closer than a heartbeat?  Why do I sometimes feel that he’s walking right beside me?  Why do I feel a nudge when I’m disobedient?  Can a God who sees me from a distance be so close?  At the same time?

       In a world quick to condemn, criticize and overreact, be quick to be kind.                  ~~Rachel Macy Stafford 

Yes, please.  Because God is watching and he sees us when we condemn others.  When we criticize those who are different.  When we overreact to others when we’re misunderstood.  He also sees us when we’re kind.  And loving.  And caring.  When we serve others who may never acknowledge what we do.  He sees.  He sees us.  All the time.

Another Chance

I had scheduled the massage a few weeks earlier.  I even got a confirmation the day before reminding me of the appointment.  But when I arrived at the appointed time, my massage therapist wasn’t there.  He wasn’t in when he should have been.   He was at a training class in another city.  But no one told me.

Oh.  I was upset.  I was very unhappy.  To find out I wasn’t going to get the massage I desperately needed felt like an insult.  A hard slap in the face on an early Saturday morning.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to tell them I would never be back.  Don’t ask if I want to reschedule.  But I didn’t.

How many chances do you give someone when they mess up?  How many times do you say.  Oh.  It’s ok.  No problem.  How many times do you let someone disappoint you before realizing they’re not good for you?

The thing is.  I liked him.  Oh.  I liked his work.  He has strength in his hands that I’ve never experienced.  And with each massage, I would get a lesson in massage therapy and anatomy and physiology.  Even if I didn’t ask for it.  He’s passionate about his work.  He tries to work out all the tight spots in the small amount of time he has with me.  Oh.  It’s never enough time.  I have too many tight muscles.  Too many issues.

He talks to me about the muscles he working on.  Deltoid.  Biceps.  Quads.  Minimus.  Hamstrings.  He talks about foot stretches.  He mentions fascia and flexibility.  Don’t look down so much.  He says.  He gives advice on how to care for my body.

So I’ve given him a second chance.  A chance to prove himself.  The thing is.  I don’t know if the scheduling problem was his fault or someone else’s.  So why wouldn’t I give him a second chance?

I rescheduled with him.  He was there at the appointed time.  He didn’t say a word about the jumbled schedule.  But toward the end of my massage, he said the words I wanted to hear.  Do you need to be anywhere?  Because I can keep working on you.  Twenty-five minutes later, he finished the massage.

Disappointment a couple weeks earlier turned into an extra long massage.  His generosity won me back.  His work is great.  His technique is effective.  I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t given him another chance to prove himself.  He is worth it.


I have loved you with an everlasting love.  I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.  Jeremiah 31:3


Sometimes I don’t understand how God works in my life.  I don’t know why He allows bad things to happen.  I don’t know why He lets me wait on things that seem to be good.  I don’t know why He doesn’t answer some prayers.

I do know that God hears my every prayer.  He knows my pain.  He knows my hurts and longings.  Oh.  He doesn’t take them away just because I ask.  But he does stand with me through the ups and downs of life.

How many times does God forgive me when I sin? He always forgives me. Never once has he turned his back on me.  Each time I stumble in my desire to be godly, God forgives me when I ask.  He brings me back into his arms of love.  Oh.  There are times he disciplines me.  There are times of pruning the dead branches when there is no growth.

He talks to me about acceptance.  Kindness.  Generosity.  Don’t be so negative.  Help others.  He reminds me that I’m not perfect.  I’m forgiven.  He asks for my trust.

He teaches me lessons about life and love and contentment.  Even when I don’t ask.  He shows me everlasting love even when I don’t deserve it.  He blesses me when I least expect it.  He never gives up on me.  He’s always available when I need him.  He always out gives and out loves me.

But then again.  I don’t understand why God would choose to bless me with a great life.  I’m thankful and I’m loved.  I’m chosen and I’m forgiven.

Fair Weather Fan

I am a fan of a certain football team.  I love it when they’re winning.  I cheer for them when they beat their opponents.  I sit and watch the game when they are playing well.  I’m proud to call them my team when they have a winning season.

But there are times when I look the other way.  When the team just can’t seem to do anything right in a game.  When the score is lopsided and not in their favor.  When they’re not playing well.  Well.  I tend to walk out of the room.  I find something.  Anything else to do but watch my team humiliate themselves.  It’s too painful.

I’ve never attended a game in person.  I can say it’s because I don’t like big crowds.  Or that tickets would be impossible to get.  Or that I don’t want to sit outside in uncertain weather.  But really.  What would I do if I went to a game and my team didn’t really show up to play?  I couldn’t sit through it.  I would need a way out.  I would need to escape.  My heart wouldn’t be in the game.

My team is often in the news.  When they’ve won an impossible game.  When they have a winning record.  When their star player makes an incredible play.  When there’s talk of the national championship.  But there are times when they’ve been in the news for all the wrong reasons.  It’s disheartening to hear talk of a great team or coach or player who has played poorly or acted foolishly.  Rumors fly.  Speculation is rampant.  The full story is never told publicly.

I admit it.  I am a fair weather fan.  If things aren’t going well with my team, I look away.  Oh.  I walk away from the game.  Oh.  I love that team.  But my support is only skin deep.  Does that mean I’m not a fan?  Or.  Does it mean I speak with my lips and not from the heart?  I haven’t sold out completely to the team I call my own.  Is that a double standard?


Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.  Matthew 12:30


I am a Christian.  I have asked God to forgive my sins.  I have vowed to follow Christ for all my days.  I love it when he blesses me.  I am thankful when he answers my prayers.  I am humbled when he shows his love to me in ways I never imagined.

There are times when God doesn’t answer the prayers I want him to answer.  Or he doesn’t answer in the way I wish he would.  There are times he allows me to walk a rocky road.  There are days when it seems he’s not fighting for me.  But the thing is.  I have to know and accept the truth about God.  I know he is always fighting for me.  He is working hard for me.  Always.

God is always with me.  He fights my every battle.  He walks every step with me.  When the going gets tough in my life, he’s right there with me.  He doesn’t give up on me when I give up on the situation.  He equips me to do the work he has set out for me.

God loves me.  Always.  It doesn’t matter if I return his love.  His love never changes.  Even when I act unlovely.  Even when I fail.  Even when I turn my eyes to smaller gods.  He still loves me.  When I come running back to him, he’s waiting with outstretched arms.

So how can I be disappointed in my God.  How can I walk away when I know he never gives up on me.  I can count on God.  I can trust him.  And I do.  This is one team I choose to stay with no matter what happens.  God is my God and I am his.  We are in this fight together.

Mercy for Sinners

David had sinned.  Horribly.  It was the type of sin that has brought down giants.  And David had slain giants.  Bears.  Lions.  While he was a boy tending his father’s sheep.  He had even killed a man giant.  A man so large that the other soldiers were dwarfed by him.  Yet David stood up to him.   And David won.  David killed the giant with a stone and sling.  Shot him right square in the forehead and then cut off his giant head.  Oh.  David had won that battle.  He had saved his country.

Yet when it came time to slay the giant of lust, David lost.  He couldn’t conquer the desires of his mind and body.  He had allowed the sight of a beautiful married woman to undo him.  Oh.  He had every right to walk on the roof of his house in the middle of the day.  And she had every right to bathe in privacy on the roof of her house.  It just so happened, that both events took place at the same time.  And David couldn’t control his desire to have this woman.  To make her his own.  At any cost.  Possibly without her permission.  Oh.  He wasn’t thinking of the cost at that moment.  He was thinking of how great it would be to conquer yet another beautiful woman.  Never mind that he had many wives at his disposal.   Never mind that she was married to one of his top warriors.  One of the men who would fight faithfully to the end for this king.  For the king who took advantage of his wife while he was at war.

The woman later returned to David with news of her pregnancy.  You see.  Her husband was at war, so he wasn’t the father.  Everyone would know of the charge of unfaithfulness.  Even if they didn’t know who the father was.  How could David come forward and claim the child as his?  There was punishment for adultery.  Death.  So David did the unthinkable.  Again.   He stooped even lower to hide his adultery.  He made sure this woman’s husband, a mighty warrior, was killed in battle.  Put him on the front lines and then withdraw.  Make sure he is killed.  That was David’s command to General Joab.  And the General obeyed.  Did he really have a choice?  He made sure Uriah the Hittite was killed.   And he made sure that King David knew the man was dead.

After the pregnant widow’s mourning period was over, David did the honorable thing.  He took her into his home and made her his wife.  His wife who was already pregnant with his child.  But no one would be the wiser.  Right?

Perhaps David was too busy in his backslidden condition to remember that God sees everything.  God knows everything.  God is everywhere.  And what is done in secret is still seen and judged by God.   We can’t escape the all-seeing eye of God.

Oh.  How the mighty have fallen for lesser things.  But sin starts small.  And it grows into uncontrollable urges and desires.  It grows into believing that consequences are for others.  Not for me.  I deserve to have whatever I want whenever I want it.  Or so thought David.

But the consequences were great.  And oh.  How he fell.  Perhaps not publicly.  But privately, David fell.  It took a brave man named Nathan who provided wise counsel to open David’s eyes to see how he had lost control of himself.  He knew there would be severe punishment.  In some instances, it would mean death for the offender.  But God had mercy on David.  God spared David’s life when he didn’t have to.  You see.  God wasn’t finished with David.

But the baby who was conceived out of lust and passion was doomed to die.  He only lived for seven days.  And in those seven days, David was a broken man.  He fasted.  He prayed.  He begged God to save his son.  But no.  This baby would not live to be a reminder of the adultery and murder that one man’s lust had caused.  This baby would not survive.

Oh.  During those seven days, David wept and pleaded with God to save his son.  He humbled himself before God.  He asked for God’s forgiveness.  God heard his prayer.


Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love.  Because of your compassion, blot out the stain of my sin.  Psalm 51:1


God is merciful.

God forgave David of the horrible sins of adultery and murder.  Oh.  When the mighty fall, they can be picked up.  Shined up.  They can be forgiven.  But they will be scarred.  They will be bruised and bumped around.  There will be consequences.   But their sins will change color.  They will turn from scarlet to white as snow.  Their sins will be forgotten.  As if their sins were never committed.  As if David had never considered adultery or murder.  As if he had never done those things.  Because when God forgives, he forgets.  And that’s what we usually forget.  We forget that God forgets.

Oh.  We are unworthy.  Our sins are many and are hearts are so human.  We fail so often.  But God will forgive us each time we sin.  If we ask him to forgive us.

Who knows if David ever forgot that son who lived for seven days.  Somehow through the bumpy start of their marriage, David and Bathsheeba moved on.  God gave them more sons.  Their next son was Solomon.  And God loved Solomon.  His name means “beloved of the Lord”.

It’s hard to imagine biblical history without Solomon as the next king of Israel.  It’s hard to imagine who would have worn the title of wisest person who ever lived, if Solomon hadn’t been born.  It’s hard to imagine who would have built the temple of Jerusalem, if not for Solomon.  You see.  If David and Bathsheeba hadn’t been together, all of Solomon’s accomplishments wouldn’t exist.  But because God showed mercy on Solomon’s father, David, Solomon existed.  He ruled the nation of Israel.  He built the temple that King David only dreamed of building.  He was the wisest of all men.  If not for God’s mercy, would Solomon have ever existed?

We can never out-give or out-forgive God.  He is merciful when we least deserve it.

Running in Place

She said she’s in the middle.  The middle of life.

I’ve been thinking about that lately.  I’m not on the mountain top.  But I’m not in the valley.  Oh.  I was in both situations not too long ago.  No.  Not at the same time.  But unemployment was the valley.  Getting a new job was the mountain.  But now.  Now I find I’m in the middle.  And I feel stuck.  Oh.  I should be thankful.  And I am.  But I sometimes I wish I wasn’t where I am.

No.  I don’t want to be back in the valley.  I’m thankful to have a new job.  It’s just that the job is turning out to be something that isn’t comfortable.  Oh.  I have hopes of things evening themselves out.  Of feeling comfortable.  Of feeling that I can do this job.  But for now.  It’s tough.

Elisabeth Elliott said that when you’re in a tough spot, there’s something to do.  Just do the next thing.  Whatever comes next in what you do, just do it.  So that’s what I’m doing.  The next thing.  Don’t look too far ahead.  Just do the next thing.

I’m not running away from the job.  But I do find that I am running.  I’m running to Jesus more and more.  And isn’t that what he wants from us?  In spite of good or bad, I should be running to him.  Running for my life to the life giver.

I find I want to run from my discomfort. But instead I need to run to Jesus. Don’t try to escape the discomfort. Try to embrace it and hold on to the one who has great plans for me. This season could be the time of growth I need for the next phase of my life. Trust God and his plan. Run to him like I’ve never run before.

I’ve never been a runner.  Oh.  I’ve tried.  I’ve tried those starter methods of walking a few minutes.  Then running a few minutes.  In the hopes that I can build up my running time into more minutes.  It just never worked for me.  I couldn’t get my breathing to work right.  So I gave up.  I decided walking was my sport of choice.


Pray that you will not give in to temptation.  Luke 22:40


I think of Jesus.  When he was in the fight for his life.  His human life.  Oh.  He ran.  He ran right to his Father.

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed and asked his Father to remove the cup of suffering from him.  The burden of going to the cross.  Of dying.  He asked to be excused from the discomfort.  From the pain and agony.  Was this his humanity speaking?  What did he know of the suffering that was ahead for him?

The next morning when he heard the angry mob shouting for him to be crucified.  I wonder.  Did he run again to his Father?  Did he beg for mercy once again?

But no.  The night before while crying out to his Father, he surrendered.  He had surrendered his will.  Your will.  Not mine.  Then he stood and walked through the pain.  The torture.  The suffering.  The death.

God refused to change his plans.  He allowed His only Son to be tortured and crucified.  He allowed His Son to die.  But his death fulfilled God’s ultimate plan.  His death provided a way for me to spend eternity with him.  His death was not in vain.

So why should I ask God to remove my discomfort?  Why should I expect God to give me an easy life?  Why should I expect God to remove obstacles that I want out of my way?  Perhaps I should pray that I don’t yield to temptation to walk away from the discomfort when I know I am fulfilling God’s plan.  Perhaps I will find peace in the surrender to God as he walks with me in my pain.  Perhaps in my suffering, I will be anointed with the same power that he has.  I pray that my discomfort will not be in vain.