The Thrill of Hope

The thrill of hope. I’ve been seeing that phrase on everything Christmas this year. It’s a marketing slogan for one company. It’s the title of Advent devotionals. Oh. The words are taken from a well known Christmas song “O Holy Night”. We sing it every year, but do we notice the words we’re singing? Do we pay attention to the meaning of the words?

The thrill of hope. What is that?

thrill/THril/noun a sudden feeling of excitement and pleasure.

hope/hōp/noun a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

My dog looks up at me with anticipation. Her tail is wagging faster than a foot can walk. It beats against my leg, as in rhythm with a band only she can hear. It beats so hard and long that I’m surprised she isn’t sore or injured from the constant movement. She’s waiting for her favorite treat. Or for a walk outside. Perhaps she’s longing for a trip to the dog park. She knows the thrill of hope. Hoping that her anticipation will turn into reality.


Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19


It’s December.  The seemingly longest month of the year.  At least in terms of darkness and light.  With the time change in the fall, the days are getting longer.  They’re so long now that it seems we spend more time in the dark than we do in the light.  I drive to work in the dark.  I drive home in the fading sun.  If the sun shines in the morning, the day suddenly seems full of hope.  It brings an anticipation of good things to come.  Until the darkness falls again.

When January turns the corner, I feel hope rising.  I know that by the end of the first month of the new year, the days will begin to lengthen by one minute a day.  Doesn’t seem like much.  One minute.  But that’s 31 minutes by the end of January.  By the end of February, there’s 28 more minutes.  Almost a full hour of light has been added in the darkest of winters.  It brings the thrill of hope that spring is coming.  That spring will show up again as it always does.

God will make a way through the wilderness. He will make a river in the desert. If he can do those things, why not trust him to make a way through your wilderness? Why not trust him to lead you to the river in your dry wasteland? He will, you know. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But God will make a way. He is working for you. Not against you. In his sweet timing and perfect plan, God’s way will shine forth as the dawning day.

The thrill of hope keeps me holding on to the promises God has given. The thrill of hope lets me know that my eternal future is brighter than I can imagine. My hope is in heaven. This life will have trouble, but the thrill of eternal hope moves me forward as I cling to God’s love, forgiveness, grace and mercy.

The thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. ‎–Placide Cappeau

Honor and Kindness

World kindness day was recently celebrated. So I searched for some encouraging phrases about kindness.

  • If you can be anything, be kind.
  • Choose your words wisely.
  • Perform random acts of kindness.
  • Always be a little kinder than necessary.
  • Kindness is free. Let’s pass it on.

These are all great words of wisdom. Words easier said than done. Why is that?

When someone offends me or slows me down, why are my first thoughts to go for the jugular instead of offering a warm hand of understanding. Most people are looking for redemption while withholding it from others. Why is it so difficult to be kind to others when that’s all anyone is looking for in their own moments of failure?

Why is kindness so hard? Why does it seem that we’re being put out if we have to extend a helping hand or apologize? Especially when it’s someone who rubs us the wrong way.

It’s critical that we choose to honor those we disagree with. –John Bevere


What comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart.  Matthew 15:18


It most likely started as a practical joke. A prized possession was missing. If it was taken as a joke, then the joke soon got out of hand. The owner was highly offended. Management got involved. Soon HR was on the scene. The joke had gone too far too fast, without the possibility of being reeled in. The supposed offender did not raise their hand in humility and repentance. They were too embarrassed. What could they say? What would become of them? What type of punishment would be administered?

A week later the offended was still visibly upset. She couldn’t move past the incident. Her inexpensive souvenir was gone. Lost forever. She filed an incident report with Security and building management. I was the key witness. I was the one person who had knowledge of this item’s last whereabouts. A lot of pressure for something that had been blown too far out of proportion.

Now she is making veiled threats if the offender is ever identified. But basically, the truth of what’s in her heart has been identified. The state of her heart has been placed on public display. It isn’t pretty. Retaliation. Vengeance. Bitterness. Hatred. One never would have thought that this behavior would come from her. But what is within becomes outward if the opportunity arises.

Everyone we disagree with bears the image of God. –Greg McNichols

Why is it so easy to lash out at someone rather than take a step back and breathe? 

When someone rubs you the wrong way, just step back. Just for a minute. When you’re in the checkout line and the person checking out has a full cart, just take a breath. Not a noticeable sigh. Pause. Just know that at one time or another, you too have been the cause of someone else’s frustration.

I’m talking to myself here. 

You should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you. Matthew 7:12

I wonder what would happen if I treated everyone the way I wanted to be treated. Sure. I get it. Not everyone wants to be treated the way I do, but I want to be treated kindly.  And fairly. I want others to respect my privacy and my opinion. We don’t have to agree, but we can still get along. 

It sounds like common sense to me, but I’ve come to realize that some aren’t born with common sense. The Bible says that we are only evil all the time. Without God as our guide and compass, we will be unkind. We will treat others unfairly. We will take when we should give. We will undermine the goodness of others. We will steal, kill, cheat and lie. We want to have our way and we want it now.

What will it take to change? What has to happen to get the ugly out of your heart?  Hearts can change. Repentance. Forgiveness. New habits. New attitude. God is in the business of changing hearts. We must be willing.

Soul Surgery

The patient had complained of unusual symptoms. Heartache. Unfulfillment. Despair. A nagging ache of hopelessness. Unsure where to turn. He was self medicating, but it wasn’t helping. He was searching for help in all the wrong places. All hope seemed lost.

He heard of the master surgeon. He scheduled an appointment. Curiosity brought me here. He said. I’ve heard it’s a radical surgery, but I want to know more. Tell me about the procedure and recovery time. I’m a busy man, and I don’t have time to be laid up. But I’m desperate for healing.

The patient asked about the cost of the surgery. The wise surgeon looked at him and opened wide his arms. Someone else has already paid the price. For you, this surgery is free.

The surgeon noted on the patient’s chart that there was no prep for the surgery. We see best results to this type of surgery when you come as you are. You are welcome in your current state. There was a large note at the top of the chart:

Come as you are. Do not try to change your current routines before surgery. All adjustments to your care will be made during rehabilitation.

The soul is lying on the operating table. The surgeon opens up the soul. There is a hunt for goodness. Kindness. Love. Peace. Joy. Patience. Truth. Honor. But all that can be found is darkness mixed with hatred and anger. Lust and fear. Dishonesty. Greed. Grudges. Gluttony. Adultery. Addictions. The cords of selfishness are wrapped so tightly around the soul that any good intentions are strangled.

It started slowly at first. Seemingly unnoticeable. A white lie led to a bigger lie. Until now, truth is hard to find. Where once peace and love ruled the heart, now grudges and discord run rampant. 

The surgeon tries desperately to find some noble deed that’s worth saving. But the search is fruitless. Life support can’t support a soulless life. The madness must end. If truth be told, truth hasn’t been told in so long that it’s unrecognizable.

As the soul was laid bare on that table, the surgeon saw that this particular surgery would be long and complicated. It was as if time stood still. But for this surgeon, a minute was as a day. And a day was as a minute. For all intents and purposes, this soul would need a miracle. 

During the procedure, he removes every wrong act and thought from the patient. He wipes out all record of wrongdoing. He cleans up the arteries and increases blood flow. Any tumors or growths are cut away. As the surgeon closes up the incision, he covers up the wound with his own red blood. He will not remember what he has seen in that soul he has made clean.


Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13


The surgeon was later asked if it was possible to find any life in this lifeless soul. Was there any reason to hold out hope for a new beginning? Could this soul be saved if fed a proper diet? If specific life saving disciplines were established, could this soul be fruitful and multiply? Was a miracle possible? Oh. He said. Miracles are my specialty.

Recovery would require discipline. Soul therapy would need to be scheduled on a regular basis. This soul’s eternity was at stake. Healing would take a lifetime.

In the follow up appointment, the patient asked about rehabilitation. What is involved? How long will it take? How many sessions? Can you recommend a good therapist? Where will the therapy sessions be held? Does my insurance cover this part of recovery?

The master surgeon sat down and explained that the rehabilitation would be long and arduous. It would be difficult. At times, painful. But, oh the joy when hurdles have been crossed. When victories have been won. When old lifestyle habits have been conquered. When new disciplines have been set in place.

There is no time limit to the rehabilitation, he continued. It will last a lifetime. You, the patient, play a large role in your own success. But you can’t do it alone. You will need help. You will need others who have survived and are still on the road of recovery to help and guide you. But choose wisely where you seek advice. There will be those who have been through the surgery, but didn’t fulfill the rehabilitation requirements. They will try to lead you astray. They will say that the surgery was a mistake. Don’t listen to them. Then there are others who have never had the surgery. They will be as slippery as snakes with their advice. Run from them with every ounce of strength you can find. Stay close to those who continue to seek rehabilitation. Spend time with them.

You will need to schedule daily appointments with me, the surgeon advised. Please make sure to do this, as it is of utmost importance to your survival. Continue to read the prescription that I wrote for you. It will tell you all about me, but it was written with you in mind. Call me anytime you think of me. I am always available. Do not hesitate to call me at any time of the day or night. I cannot stress enough how important this step is in your healing. Many who have come through the surgery with flying colors fall short in this area. It weakens them and opens them up to unnecessary heartache and trials. Please. Please. Please. Remember that this is most important for your recovery and survival.

This surgeon has seen a lot of souls in his day.  His daily schedule is always full, but he’s willing to perform any surgery at any time. Day or night. He is always on call. He reserves time each day for last minute appointments. He is always available for emergency surgeries. He orchestrates each surgery, but he has a band of helpers. A host of heaven’s armies are at his disposal.  Heavenly angels perform at his bidding.

The surgeon inspects each soul as if it’s his favorite. He opens up the soul and does a thorough inspection. He has seen some souls hardened by abuse and despair. Crusty and misshapen by bad attitudes, grudges, lies, distorted truths, shame and regret. Can those souls be saved? Only the surgeon knows. He is the giver of life. And he is the taker of life. He alone decides the final resting place of the soul. It is a great responsibility. Only fit for a sovereign God.

Garden of My Heart

I knelt there in the flowerbed. The weeds had been mowed down. The stubble was all that remained of the flowers of the summer. What once was full of beauty, color and life was now brown, broken and dry. No use for it.

I began cleaning up the remaining fallen leaves. I pulled the overgrown weeds that had been left to grow wild. The flowerbed hadn’t received the best of attention this summer. Life got busy. I was tired. My free time was spent relaxing and doing more enjoyable tasks. Cleaning flowerbeds and pulling weeds isn’t my idea of fun. Oh. It’s a necessity for a beautiful flowerbed, but it can be hard work. It can take time. And after a week of hard work, I was looking for a break come Saturday.

My spiritual life is much like my flowerbed. It has its moments where it shines. Where I’m in perfect rhythm with my God and Savior. Where I’m obeying and seeing the fruits of my hard labor. Where I’m pulling the weeds of disobedience and pride from my spiritual flowerbed. Where I’m spending time in prayer and Bible study. Where I’m sharing moments with godly friends who share similar beliefs. Encouraging and building up each other.

I think of the times that I don’t keep my spiritual garden tidy. I’m tired and stressed. Perhaps I’m frustrated about a situation and a bad attitude creeps in. I could be expecting an answer to prayer that doesn’t come or it doesn’t happen in the way I want. The seeds of doubt begin to grow. A dose of self pity makes its annual appearance. The perennial questioning of why continues to bloom each season.


I love you, Lord. You are my strength. Psalms 18:1


Too much sun and rain, both good in and of themselves, cause gardens to grow quickly and abundantly. It also means that the garden needs constant attention. It’s easy for weeds to overtake a garden. Pulling weeds. Deadheading worn out blooms. Trimming and thinning out overgrowth. Pruning old branches that have left their prime. Making sure the best flower buds are the ones that bloom. It’s a necessary, never ending task. If left on its own, the garden will lose its beauty and grace. If routinely tended, it will provide hours of pleasure and fulfillment.

The same goes for my heart. Bible reading and prayer are good for the soul. Too much is never enough. But there’s more involved to keeping the heart right. It takes action. Hard work. It takes cleaning out the cobwebs of a cluttered mind that can lead one astray. It means making sure the self-centered desires and actions are rooted out by God’s will and plan. Allowing God to prune the budding heart so that only the most beautiful buds will blossom.

I’ve read that sheep need to be sheared on a regular basis. If left unsheared, a sheep’s wool will add extra pounds to the sheep’s weight. This will cause unnecessary health problems, and it can even be life threatening. The sheep needs continual grooming and care from his shepherd. He needs his shepherd.

I am like that sheep. If left to my own devices, I will add extra baggage to my life. If I don’t allow God to groom the ungodly areas of my life, my poor habits and desires will take control. My soul will be weighed down and threatened, if it is left without a steady diet of spiritual food.

My soul needs constant attention. Daily feedings from God’s word and an attitude of prayer keep my soul alive and healthy. My prayer is that I remain disciplined to keep my soul in check, so I stay close to the One who loves me most and knows me best. I need my Shepherd.

A Season for Everything

It was the springtime. We were house hunting. We knew our budget, the type of house and location we were looking for. We walked into the house one Sunday afternoon. It was outdated. The house had a tired kitchen, ugly wallpaper, faded carpet, and outdated bathrooms. In fact, the entire house reeked of the 80’s.

But we fell in love with the house. The location was private and beautiful. The neighborhood was quiet and small. We made an offer. A lowball offer. After all, we would have to update the entire house unless we wanted the vintage look. We didn’t.

The offer was rejected. Our realtor suggested we wait three weeks. If no offer was received by then, the owner would reduce the price. Low and behold, that is what happened. We made another offer. They countered. Finally, we agreed upon a price. The house was ours.

The previous owner must have loved bearded irises. The south side of the house was planted with multiple colors of the flower. The iris is a flower I’ve never been fond of. I knew she had to love irises, because she had a huge bouquet of them sitting on the dining room table when we toured the house. It was iris season. I’m sure she was very proud of her iris bed. What she didn’t know was that I had plans to get rid of every last iris.

I imagine the former owner had most likely spent many hours in her iris bed. Planting. Weeding. Pruning. Deadheading. Cutting the fresh blooms to enjoy indoors.

But once she sold the house, all bets were off for that iris bed. I had plans, and they didn’t include irises. What she didn’t know was that I loved peonies, roses and zinnias. Instead of having all purple flowers, I wanted to see some pinks and reds and oranges. Even yellow.

I waited a couple of years before I decided it was time to make some changes. The flower bed was bigger than I realized, so I only managed to dig up one third of the bulbs the first fall. The next year, I removed another third of the bulbs. Finally, this year I’ve dug out the remaining third of the flowerbed.

Now I can begin the real work of making the flowerbed mine.


We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now. Ecclesiastes 1:11


It’s easy to be offended when someone comes along and makes changes to what you once held dear. Times change. Interests are updated. People grow.  What was once new is now old, and what was old is now new again.  

Change can be liberating or exhausting.  Depending on what side of the equation you’re on, someone else’s decision to change may just be the motivation to get you out of your comfort zone.  It may be the nudge to actually move on when moving on wasn’t on your mind.

Letting go of old and beloved flowers or habits or traditions or jobs can take your breath away, or it can bring new life. It all depends on the attitude of
adjustment.  It doesn’t have to be offensive.

I came to hate all my hard work here on earth, for I must leave to others everything I have earned. And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? Yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work under the sun. How meaningless!  So I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all my hard work in this world.  Some people work wisely with knowledge and skill, then must leave the fruit of their efforts to someone who hasn’t worked for it. This, too, is meaningless, a great tragedy.  Ecclesiastes 2:18-21 

The flowerbed that once held colorful bearded irises will produce something different in the spring.  White peonies.  Pink roses.  Orange Chinese lanterns.  The possibilities are endless.  Each season, the flowerbed that only held irises will now shine with new colors and blooms.  It will have a new look.  A future owner will never know irises once grew in the space.  But then again, they may remove all my hard work and start a fresh new space.  It is expected.  It is accepted.  There are times when change needs to occur in order for stagnation to be replaced by fresh newness.

There is a time and a season for everything.  Adjusting to change is hard, especially when it isn’t an expected or desired change.  Newness can bring new life and new opportunities that one would never have experienced if the change hadn’t occurred.  

It isn’t easy to embrace change, but moving on to new pastures can be refreshing and invigorating.  Otherwise, change can cause an inner death and allow a root of bitterness to grow.  Accept change.  Allow the newness of discomfort to challenge and renew your spirit.  New life blooms ahead in the new season.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 

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Inside Out

Over the past nine years, I have changed my eating habits. I started by eating clean, so I removed processed foods, white sugar, white flour and pop. As the years progressed, my eating habits changed even further. I removed gluten, grains and soy. I’ve even removed dairy, eggs, corn and peanuts. I eat low fat.

Some may ask what’s left to eat. Fruits and vegetables, of course. I drink a big fruit smoothie for breakfast. I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day. I eat potatoes like they’re going out of style. I’ll eat a salad and steamed veggies at lunch. I throw in some chicken or beef with my salad and steamed veggies at dinner. Occasionally, I’ll throw in a chocolate treat as a treat.

I’ve recently begun juicing. I’ll drink a big glass of celery juice early in the morning. I’ve read that it’s supposed to heal your insides. It’s supposed to heal your body of many unknown diseases and ailments. So I’m drinking it. To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of eating celery. But drinking it? Well, it tastes like liquid celery.

Over the weeks and months I’ve been drinking it, I’ve become accustomed to the flavor. It’s still not my favorite, but it’s tolerable. I’m waiting to see if it does its internal magic. Some say the healing could take months or years. I’m still waiting. I’m not sure what healing I need, but I sure would like to get rid of some aches and pains, plus a few extra pounds.

There are days when I do eat eggs or dairy or gluten. I thoroughly enjoyed a cheeseburger lettuce wrap and fries the other day. I can’t say I’m perfect at eating this way, but I do my best. I lapse from time to time. I tell myself that eating the foods on my “NO” list won’t kill me, so it’s ok. But eating them may prolong or slow down any internal healing.


He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 1 Peter 2:24


I think of my soul. My spiritual life. As a person who has made the decision to be a Christian, my life is different. I need to heal from the inside out in order to be presentable to God on the day of judgment.

I’ve learned that it’s not about all the do’s and don’ts of being a Christian that make me closer to God. I’ve discovered that as a believer, I must change certain behaviors and attitudes. I’ve found that in order to heal from the inside out as a believer, I must walk the walk of Christ. I’ve learned that my life must match up to His teachings. I must lose my pride and selfish ways in order to follow and obey my Savior.

Oh. There are certain things I don’t do. There are certain words I don’t say. There are certain events I choose not to participate in. There are lines I don’t cross. But there are also certain activities that I make sure to join. There are habits I must develop in order to make Jesus Christ my priority.

I attend church. I am involved in a Bible study. I share a portion of my income to build God’s kingdom. I pray. I read the Bible. I have close friends who are also followers of Christ. I have found that doing those things isn’t enough, though.

I’ve learned that it’s not so much the giving up of things, but it’s the giving in to obedience. Obeying what the Healer says. Going where he says go. Staying when he says stay. Listening to the words he says. Saying the words he provides. Acting out his love to those who need it most.

I must work to heal my insides of judging others. I must work to rid myself of gossip. I must remove anything in my life that takes priority over my relationship with Christ. This healing will take a lifetime. Daily I learn more about my weaknesses and failures as I walk this journey. But I don’t walk alone. I am walking side by side with the Healer.

I find that as I heal, I sometimes fall back into my old ways. I will mistreat someone. I will develop a bad attitude. I will gossip. I will think more highly of myself than I do of others. This healing is a lifelong process.

This healing from the inside out isn’t really about me. It’s about who is healing me. The one who died to save me and forgive my sins. My healing will make this unworthy soul worthy to stand in his presence for eternity.

I also must constantly remind myself that everyone I meet is in a struggle for spiritual survival, whether they know it or not. I must view others as Christ does — a soul in need of salvation. When I look at others, I must have concern for them, because they too will stand in judgment for their eternal destiny. They too require healing from the inside out. I carry a message that provides healing not only for me, but for everyone I meet.

Close to You

It was a beautiful fall morning, and I was working in my flower bed. It was time to prepare for the unknown weather conditions of the upcoming winter. It was time to prepare the outdoors for cold weather.

When I went indoors to gather my garden tools, my dog was sitting by the front door. She was waiting for me. Hoping I would come indoors and spend time with her. On a Saturday afternoon, she prefers to sit by my side. She enjoys being in my presence.

So I got her leash and tied her up outside near the flower bed. She wanted so badly to be near me that she sat right in the middle of the flower bed. She sat as close as she could possibly get to me. She just wanted to be with me. She loves me. She trusts me. She enjoys being with me.

After awhile, she ventured further away. She sat several feet away in the grass enjoying the beautiful day. She sat where she could always see me. She wanted to keep me in her line of sight. She wanted me to know that she was waiting for me to come close. She hoped I would take a break from my work to sit down and rub her belly. She wanted me to make time for her. She wanted to know that I felt the same love for her that she felt for me.

This dog guards me like it’s nobody’s business. She stands glued to my side. She even protects me from the man whose name I share. She will stand in front of me to make sure I’m ok when he and I are in the same room. If he tries to hug me, she jumps on him. She protects me from her perceived evils. She is my guard and protector.


The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalms 145:18


Oh. How my Heavenly Father does the same for me. He loves me. He wants me to spend time with him. He’s always there. Waiting. Hoping I’ll set aside the things I call important to be with him.

There are times he sits so close that I can’t move without bumping into him. And I love that. I want to always be in his presence. Don’t I? There are other times that he is watching from the sidelines. He’s hoping that I’ll put down my garden tools of life and choose to open his word. The book of life he’s given me to read. He wants to be with me. He wants me to love him the way that he loves me. He wants to spend time with me. He wants me to want to spend time with him. But he doesn’t force me. He allows me to choose my priorities and allegiances.

God is my protector. He is my shield and defender in time of battle. He goes before me and behind me. He surrounds me with his presence. In known dangers and even in unknown, he is with me. He hides me in the cleft of the rock and covers me with his blood of redemption.

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalms 23:1-6

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Sure Footing

He noticed wrongdoing at work. He took it as long as he could. So he talked to his bosses. They listened. Offered to help. Told him to be cautious. The harassment continued. So a formal complaint was filed and a hearing was scheduled.

His family prayed. His friends prayed. His church prayed. They hoped and prayed that the wrongs would be righted. That the bullies would be put in their place.

That didn’t happen.

His boss sided with the bad guys. He was told to forget it and move on. No wrongdoing was found. It was just personality differences. That’s what they said.

Now what? How was he supposed to continue working with people he couldn’t trust? How would he get a fair review from sketchy reviewers? What was his next step? What should he do?

How does someone handle life when God hasn’t come through for him? At least in the way he hoped and needed. What does a person do when life gets tougher when it was already tough enough?

Our situational difficulty may be our spiritual necessity. Kandy Persall

Someone else seemed to have the world at his fingertips. His career was looking up. He was going to make a name for himself. Things were going his way. Until they weren’t.  Until his world came crashing down. He lost the business. He lost his family. Then he lost hope. He had nowhere to turn.

It seemed that the foundation his faith was built on was shifting sand. Not the solid rock he thought it was. Was his faith in himself or in God? The test was becoming far too real for comfort. Failure had never been an option, but now it seemed all other options were gone. Where was hope when he needed it most?

What do you do when life throws you a curve ball that you just can’t dodge. How do you trust God when he seems to have let you down?

She had a rough day at work. She was out with friends eating dinner. The first thing she did was order a drink. To take the edge off.  She needed to calm down. Calm her nerves. That’s what she said.

Why was her first thought to numb the stress? Why not walk through the stress with God by your side?  Why not open the word of God? Find a biblical promise to guide you and hold you through the stresses of life? She says she trusts God, but why is alcohol the first comfort she reaches for?


But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. Psalms 73:2


At times, all we have during our hurts, trials and disappointments is Jesus. He’s the calm in the storm. He’s the light shining in the darkest night. He’s the fighter in the fight for survival. He’s the refuge when the going gets tough.

Isn’t Jesus enough? Has he proven himself to you? Do you let him prove himself or do you run straight to that bottle? Or that lottery ticket?  Or that website? Or that credit card?

When will Jesus be enough if you’ve never let him show you that he is enough?

Pain hurts. Fear scares. Pride puffs. Disappointment disappoints. Through it all. God still stands. He is always victorious in his battles.  

Even when our feet slip and our footing is unsure in this life, God is the anchor. He is the rock. He is the current in the stream of life. He stays with us and keeps us from falling if we reach for him. If he is the source of strength we turn to in our most difficult, darkest moments, we will see him shine as bright as the day. His promises are true. He can be trusted. His love is sure even when times aren’t.

I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. C.S. Lewis

Above the Fray

I watched a video recently of sand breaking apart as ocean water washed up on it. The sand that had once looked sturdy, thick and solid was crumbling. With one sweep of an ocean wave, the sand that appeared to be packed tight, instantly split apart and fell into the waves. The sand had no strength against the strong force of the ocean. It wasn’t prepared for the liquid force of nature against each tiny granule. The ocean won that day.

Fabric can fray. In order to prevent a bolt of fabric from fraying, the edges of the lengthwise grain of the fabric are tightly and thickly woven. It’s called the selvage. Once cut, though, the fabric can easily fray. If not careful, several inches of fabric can be lost due to the fraying.

Life can be tricky and uncertain. Circumstances out of our control can easily tear us apart. If our faith isn’t firmly grounded in the truth of God’s word, it can fall apart at the slightest notion. If our faith is formed by those who call themselves light but are indeed darkness, will we realize before it’s too late that we’ve been deceived? How strong is faith if it hasn’t been tested and tried? Is it even faith?


If the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! Matthew 6:23


How can a person live above the fray of life without unraveling? How does one hold it together when life is falling apart? When the wind blows the house down? When the waves cause the walls to collapse around you? When you’re accused of wrongdoing even though you’ve done no wrong? When everything seems to go wrong all at the same time? How do you stand in the midst of the crumbling sand? When the test of time tests your faith, does your faith still stand?

Jesus could cite biblical passages to explain his behavior. His entire life was exactly in line with biblical teaching. If someone questioned his actions, he could quote Scripture to back up his behavior. He could discuss biblical passages with comfort and ease. He lived above the fray. Even when tempted, he resisted. Can you? Can I?

How do you explain your behavior?  Does it fall in line with Scripture?  Love your neighbor and your enemy.  Do good to those who persecute you.  Treat others the way you want to be treated.  Turn the other cheek.  Forgive as you have been forgiven.  Don’t steal or kill. Don’t commit adultery. Resist temptation. 

I look at my life. My actions. What part of Scripture do they point to?

How far above the fray do I live? Could my faith unravel at a moment’s notice? Am I living far enough away from the shoreline that I won’t sink or drown? Do I live just close enough to be accepted by those who don’t call themselves believers? Do I toe the line just enough to say I’m a follower of Christ? Does my life reflect continual growth and knowledge of God’s word?

I have to ask myself. Do my thoughts reflect the attitude of Christ? Do my words cast doubt about my relationship with God? Do my actions mirror biblical truth?

Seek the truth. Know the truth. Live the truth.

Invisible

Sometimes I feel invisible at work. I work hard. I do my job well. I don’t cause trouble. If I didn’t speak up about issues I feel strongly about, would I even be noticed?

Is it because I don’t make waves? I don’t cause trouble.  I don’t do personal things at work. So I’m not noticed. That should be a good thing. Right?

Why am I not included in certain group emails or chats that relate to questions I can answer? Why am I not offered preferential treatment like others are?

Why does special treatment pass over me to others who’ve come after me? Because where I work seniority is everything. Except when it comes to me. Or so it seems.

I ask myself these questions but I don’t voice them. But it doesn’t make sense to me.

These are things I ponder. But I don’t want to dwell on them too long, or they could begin to fester. My wondering could become a bad attitude and take me down a path of sin. Sin as in grudges, treating others in a way that puts me and them in a bad light. Gossip. Saying things, true or not, about others just to puff up myself and put them down.  I don’t need that, nor do I want it.


Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. Isaiah 43:1


I received a great performance review. No negative feedback. No suggestions for improvement. A decent raise. But it makes me wonder. What was the feedback they should have given? After all, I’m far from perfect. Or does my reviewer just not know how to give feedback, regardless of it being positive or negative. 

I ponder. I have to leave it all in God’s hands, because his ways are higher than my ways. His plan is perfect. I need to trust him even when I can’t see the road ahead.  Perhaps God is protecting me. Shielding me from petty differences. Guiding me down a narrow path, because the wide path may lead to disgrace or discouragement. Perhaps he has me right where he wants me. And I just need to let go of any feelings of concern that could begin to grow if I dwell long and hard enough on them.

Why can’t I be content where I am? Why do I continue to want what I don’t have, even though I don’t know what I want? And I know that what I have is right for me right now. Do I just want to be noticed and rewarded for doing my job? Is this just an issue of pride trying to replace my humble lot in life?

I know the One who knows my name. I am not invisible to Him. He knows the plans He has for me. Plans to prosper me and not to harm me. Plans to give me hope and a future. He holds my future in his hands. And my future in His hands far outshines the future I can try to manipulate or instigate. I need to be silent and wait for His lead. May His name be praised.