Of This I’m Certain

We quickly became friends. We bonded over the complexity and unfamiliarity of a new job. We weren’t sure we would survive the training. It was so intense. We struggled together. Each encouraging the other when we struggled. We worked together for six months. She found something new. Something more suited to her strengths. So she moved on. Just knowing she won’t walk through the door again makes me sad. I walk past her empty office longing to see her. To stop and chat. A new person will soon take her place. Life goes on. But those memories of our time together will live strong.

I know one who won’t leave me when times get tough.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. 
Of this I’m certain.

I think of another dear friend. She has faced tough times. Many tough times. But her faith in God has not wavered. I value her friendship more than I can say. Our bond has held strong through many years of separation. Our work brought us together. Then a move separated us. We met while young. Many years have passed. But I remember the many meaningful conversations. There was a time when I thought I would never see her again this side of heaven. Now we live nearby. Work nearby. We’ve picked up where we left off. It feels so good.

No matter where my path may lead, I have One who walks with me. One who will never leave my side. Of this I’m certain. 


Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. Ecclesiastes 4:9


There’s another friend who has my heart. She has faced loss time and time again. But God has provided the desires of her heart. She listens when he speaks to her. And he does. She speaks words of truth and faith to me. Right when I need it. She encourages me. She prays for me. She is a true friend.

Some friendships are for a season. Others are for life. But with each friendship, there are new learnings. New experiences. New challenges. When does trust set in? Who will open up first? Who will disappoint first?
Friendships are necessary for a good life. True friends build up the other. Support the other. Correct the other. Speak words of truth without fear.

Good friends are hard to find. You never know when one will cross your path. I find that I must always be open to that new person I meet. They may become a new close friend.

Common bonds are so important. And sometimes rare. When you connect with that one special someone, hold on and make that friendship count. Put in the work to build that relationship. Sacrifice. Get real and share. Dare to trust. Have fun. Through the good times and the bad, be the friend. Don’t give up. 

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Of this I’m certain.

Desperately Seeking a Miracle

She had a serious medical problem. She had been bleeding for twelve years. Desperate for help, she had tried every medical option available to her. She had spent all her money visiting every doctor. She could find no cure.

Imagine being her. Doctor appointment after doctor appointment. She tried every medicinal and herbal remedy. She spent her last dollar. For what? None of the doctors could heal her. In fact, her condition worsened. She could find no cure.

She was in the crowd on that fateful day. It was a huge crowd with people bumping into each other with every move. Everywhere she turned, there were more people. They were waiting to hear the man speak. The man called Jesus. Everyone was talking about him. They had heard of the miracles this man could perform. They were amazed and curious. Would he perform a miracle that day?

She reached for the hem of Jesus’ garment. Grasping for the last straw of hope. What else had she tried? Quick fixes from old wives’ tales.  Every doctor that friends and neighbors had recommended.  She was desperate.  She needed relief.  Twelve years is a long time to suffer.


When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.  I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.  Isaiah 41:17-18


Would I have been willing to reach out and touch the garment? Would I have dared to think the impossible might happen just by grasping onto the hem of fabric? But oh. It wasn’t the garment that was powerful. It wasn’t the pushing and shoving of people that caused her to reach out. It was a desperate faith. An act of pure trusting belief. What could it hurt? Right? Just to touch his garment? Who would even know?

But at that touch, he felt the surge of power leave his body.  He felt the instantaneous parting of God’s healing power flow from him through that hemline into someone else.  And she knew that she had been healed.  She knew that her act of faith had been revealed.

Have you ever been at your wit’s end?  You’ve tried everything you can think of.  Exhausted your budget.  And nothing worked.  Nothing you tried could fix the problem.  It continued to worsen.  You could see no hope in sight.  You had nowhere to turn. Then suddenly, in the midst of searching, a solution arises from the fog of despair.  You reach out to touch the hem of the garment as the Miracle Maker walks by.  You dare to dream again of a pain free life.  You dare to imagine life and health restored.  Or relationships healed.  Or wayward children come home. Once you’ve touched the garment, there’s no turning back.  You felt the power of belief.  You experienced the healing you sought. 

The thing is. In order for her miracle to happen. In order for her to be healed. She had to reach out and touch the hem of the garment as Jesus walked by. If she had never reached out, she wouldn’t have been healed. She would have continued down the path of suffering. I wonder. How many times do I have a miracle within my grasp, but I don’t reach out. How often has the opportunity for a miracle walked right by me, and I didn’t bravely reach outside my comfort zone? What miracles have I missed in life because I wasn’t obedient?

Hoping for a miracle?  Looking for a cure? Reach out and touch the One who makes miracles happen.

The Act of Obedience

Obedience is a long slow path to eternity.  It’s not always easy when I’m asked to do something out of my comfort zone. Or if I’m asked to stop doing something I enjoy. But oh. It should be an easy act. This obedience. When I think of who I’m obeying. And why I’m obeying. 

Oh. I obeyed my parents as a child. I’m a rule follower. I like having boundaries. Call me odd. But that’s when I’m at my best.  I’m at my best until I want my way. I want the discomfort to end. I want the rewards to kick in. I want out of the situation. And God has other plans. Or his timing is slower than mine. 

I always have a choice. Walk my path. Which seems quicker and easier. Or wait for God to move. After all, a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day. All in God’s timing. But what if my timeline is shorter than a thousand years? Do I continue to wait? Or do I forge ahead on my own?

There’s an old hymn that I love. Trust and obey. For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.

So I’m waiting. And I’m uncomfortable. And I don’t like it. But I’m at peace. I’m at peace with myself and with God.

Oh. I weigh my options. I may be faced with surprising choices at some point. But for today, I’m where God has placed me. So I sit and wait. Oh. I’m not doing nothing. I’m praying like I’ve never prayed before. I’m reading God’s word. I’m searching for answers. 

He’s telling me to trust and obey. For there’s no other way.


Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. Jeremiah 17:7


When I think of the consequences of disobedience, it’s an easy decision. As long as my head and heart stay in God’s word. Listening for his voice. Because if I don’t stay close to the lover of my soul, the hater of my soul will sneak in to catch me unaware.

Obedience is a daily act. A surrender of my will. A relinquishing of my wants to the divine will of God. It’s a bowing in submission and letting go of all I want. Of who I am. It’s a full surrender of all of me. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Oh. It’s big. It takes all I have at times. But when I consider the cost of disobedience, it’s an easy surrender. 

I have to ask myself. Do I trust God? Do I have confidence in him? Do I believe he will keep his promises? After all, he never lies. He does what is best for me. His timing is perfect. He is with me every step of the way. So I have to trust him, even if I can’t see the path ahead. I have to believe that he will see me through to the end. I do have confidence in Him. Why would I consider doubting Him?

Trust and obey. For there’s no other way.

 

Just Say No

I read her book. She was taught right from wrong. And she followed biblical principles. Life was good. But one bad decision led to another bad decision. Her life began to spiral downward. Then one night, she found herself making a decision to do something she knew was wrong. But oh. It felt so right. In the moment, it felt so right. So she did it.

Now she thinks nothing of doing that thing which once seemed so wrong. The thing she once would have never done, she began doing in secret. Now it’s her lifestyle. She’s living a life she once vowed never to live.

Just because something feels right in the moment doesn’t make it right. It’s easy to ignore a prick of the conscience in the moment. It’s the later regrets that are harder to set aside. The self chiding. The self inflicted shame and loathing. But then it’s too late to go back and undo what’s been. It’s too late to unsay those words. 

So why do it? Why say it? Those things that will later become regrets. Why not turn from them while there’s still time? Why not live so close to God that you immediately turn the other way when sin approaches? Just because you hear a knock on the door doesn’t mean you have to answer it. 

Oh. It’s true. We’re human. We’re going to mess up from time to time. We’re going to fall short of our goal. But if we habitually do it, that tells another story.  


You have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. Romans 8:12


How do we go wrong? How do we suddenly choose to go to the other side? How do we wake up one day and realize we’re in a place we thought we would never be? How did we get there? Oh. It isn’t a sudden choice. We let down our defenses. We lower our standards. We stop looking to the One who guides us.

How does a believer stay true to their beliefs when opportunities to choose another path surround us?

I ask because I want to make sure I’m always listening for God’s voice. Oh. Sometimes He leads me in paths that are not my choosing. But I must follow the path He chooses. Or else I would be sinning.

Even Jesus was tempted by Satan.  Satan tried to woo him away from his beliefs, but Jesus’ faith held strong. Satan tempted Jesus when he was physically weak from fasting. But he had the inner strength to resist.  He said no.  He quoted Scripture to Satan and resisted. We can do the same when Satan tries to tempt us to do wrong.  to step out of the will of God.  We can resist.  We can turn Satan away by quoting Scripture and telling him to leave. We can stand firm in our faith.  

Disobedience to God doesn’t always have to be some big ugly public act. It may be an act of private defiance or selfishness that only God sees. A work of the inner heart. Going when God says stay. Or staying when God says go. It doesn’t have to be a sin that puts you in the public eye.

Discontentment sets in where peace once reigned. All because the grass looked greener on the other side. Or perhaps wanting became a hot pursuit in a never ending cycle. And we couldn’t stop with what we had. A little more was never enough. Or living on the edge is more exciting than obedience. 

We can’t have it both ways. Either we’re pursuing a holy life or we’re not. Which is it?

At some point, we have to ask ourselves. Am I living in the grip of sin? I don’t want to. I know that. But how do I make sure I’m always out of sin’s beck and call? John Piper says that fighting sin is mortal combat. I agree. We’re in a fight for our souls. We’re not fighting flesh and blood. We’re fighting against evil rulers of the unseen world. Oh. It may seem that we’re fighting individuals, at times. But really. It’s a spiritual battle. The truth is. If we’re living as believers, we are not at sin’s beck and call. We can say no.