A Year in the Life

I remember the day well. It started out the same as most work days. But before that work day was over, my work was over. I saw the email. It was from HR. Can you come to my office? As I walked past my boss’s desk, I noticed she wasn’t there. Red flags sprang up all around me. I knew what I didn’t want to know. My job was over.

I sat in that office hearing the news. I’m sorry. Your job has been eliminated. You don’t have the skill set that we’re looking for. You’ve done nothing wrong. But we no longer want or need you.

Crushing. Heartbreaking. Humiliating. I packed up my belongings and walked out the front door. Never to return. At my age I wondered. Would I ever work again?


If God is for us, who can ever be against us. Romans 8:31


I’ve learned a lot about myself since that day. I’ve learned a lot more about God. I’ve learned that he never leaves me. I’ve learned that he loves me so much. whether I’m employed or not. I’ve learned that he will take care of me. He’ll provide for all of my needs. I already knew all those things about God. But he proved himself time and again.

The thing is. I did get another job. Five months later. And this job has kept me close to God. This is not the job I would have chosen for myself. But it’s the job God has chosen for me. So I go every day. I do the job. Oh. I pray a lot. I need God to help me do this job he’s chosen for me. And he is. He always shows up to work on time. He strengthens me. He equips me to do the work. He calms my fears.

New ones have come after me. They ask the same haunting questions I once asked. Can I do this? Will I be able to learn all the complicated steps? I assure them that yes. Yes they will.

I’ve struggled with this job. I’ve wanted to run the other way and never look back. But I hold on. For one reason only. God has placed me here and God will release me in his time.

Through this past year, I’ve learned to trust God in all things. He has said he would empower me. And he has. He has said I am equipped for the job. And I’ve found that I am. He has shown his love to me in so many ways I cannot comprehend. He has proven so faithful. His promises are true.

I’ve learned that God is for me. Not against me. I’ve learned that he fights for me. He is my stronghold. He never lets go of me. He is the Almighty God in my little corner of the universe.

Attitude Adjustment

I saw the text early that morning. Someone is out sick today. I need you to fill in for her.  Immediately I was annoyed. My work day was all planned. I didn’t want to disrupt my plans. I had lots to do and little time. Now I would have less time. I had a bad attitude before I ever left the house. I prayed on the drive to work that God would change my attitude. If I needed help, I would hope someone would step up for me. Why am I not willing to do the same?

Later after the work was distributed, I realized I wouldn’t have to fill in for my sick coworker. Then I was flooded with relief. And guilt. I had just gotten a reprieve and I had trouble accepting it. Now I wanted to help. But I couldn’t. What was wrong with me? I now had the day ahead of me. My schedule was intact. Why wasn’t I happy with that? It’s what I wanted.

I have to remind myself that I am working for God. And no one else. I need to focus on pleasing him. No one else.

I received news that I didn’t want to hear. More attitude adjustment needed. Where he sends, I go. When he says stay, I stay. When he says trust, I surrender.

I overheard the conversation. He was asked to do something. He answered honestly. I don’t want to, but I will. Perhaps I should take his cue.

I hear two or three of them laughing and talking. Sounds like a good time.  A sorority I wasn’t invited to join. Disappointed. Annoyed. Jealous. But why? Why do I care if I’m not included? They could be up to no good. They could be plotting revenge. Or they could actually be working. Why do I concern myself with issues that aren’t mine?


Do everything without complaining and arguing. Philippians 2:14


I read about the Israelites. God had just delivered them from slavery in Egypt. He parted the waters of the Red Sea and walked them across dry land to the other side. He killed those pursuing them. Three days into their journey they start complaining. How soon they forgot the miracles God had just performed to save their lives. To give them freedom. To take them to their promised home.

They continued to grumble and complain. They said they would prefer to go back to Egypt and be slaves again. Later, they said they would prefer to die in the desert than be killed by their unknown enemies. So that’s what happened. God gave them what they wanted. He allowed them to die in the desert. Never seeing his promise fulfilled. Why? Because they were a stubborn, grumbling nation. They took their eyes off of God and thought more of themselves. They failed to focus on his promises. They sought their own remedy. So God left them to themselves.

I must remember to keep my eyes on God. I must remember to listen to Him. Read his word. Trust him. Obey him. His promises are true. He doesn’t lie.

I really do want to please God. I want to be more like him. Every day. Why is it so hard? Why do I feel I’m always falling short? My attitude stinks. My actions speak louder than my words. I complain. I compare. I judge. I want to do right. I want to be a good example to those around me. I want to be a better person. But I can’t do it on my own. I’m such a failure on my own. I need God’s help. Please God, be merciful to me a sinner.

Actively Dying

Actively dying.  It’s a strange idea.  And a stranger act.  Have you seen it, though?  Someone who is actively dying? 

It’s a deathbed scene.  Not the place most people choose to be. 

Internally, the person is reliving their life.  They are working through unresolved issues and situations that happened in their life.  Oh.  It may not be pretty.  It may end tragically.  But people need to resolve issues before they pass on.  Some passings are peaceful.  Others are fraught with anxiety and rehashing of events past.  Some who are actively dying ask for loved ones.  They want to see the person one last time.  Perhaps to hold their hand.  Look them in the eye.  Say some final words.  Then they’re free to leave this earth.  Their final business is finished. 

Others go in peace.  They’ve worked through their unresolved issues long before their last breath.  They’ve forgiven.  Mended fences.  Said their piece.  Let bygones be bygones.  They’re free to go. 

We’re all actively dying from the moment we’re born.  Oh.  We’ve just begun to live.  We haven’t hit our peak.  But we’re dying.  We can’t count our toes.  We can’t even walk.  But we’re dying.  You see.  We’re born to die.  It’s that simple.  It doesn’t matter what happens in life.  It doesn’t matter what we do.  It doesn’t matter how long we live.  We will die.


If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. Luke 9:23-24


I find the older I get, the more I’m actively dying.  I have to die to myself everyday.  Every.  Day.  I have to die to my wants.  My dreams.  My goals.  I have to place myself and everything about me in God’s hands every day.  I die to myself.  It isn’t my way that I want.  It’s God’s way. 

I have to make peace with my mistakes.  My attitudes.  My words that should not have been spoken. 

In my actively dying state, I need to forgive those who have hurt me.  I need to mend fences where there are tears.  I must work on resolving issues that still cause me to lose my breath.

The dying to myself is sometimes painful.  The letting go of my will. The tearing down of my gods. The softening of my stubborn ways. Oh. The pain is real.

When a rose bush is pruned, part of the branch is cut off. Left useless so the stronger, fuller branches can grow and produce more fruit. The same goes with the pruning of my stubborn soul.  I must allow God to cut off my dead and useless branches. Then he can prune the branches that are bearing fruit to produce even more. I must be willing.

How Big is God

I remember the song. I remember the singer. He had a big voice. He sang big. He was a big man, yet he sang about how small he was. Compared to God. Compared to God, he was a heartbeat. He was a soul. He was loved.
He was part of God’s plan.

But compared to God, what was he?

The man just won his sixth Super Bowl. He won his first Super Bowl in his second season of play. He’s played in eleven Super Bowl games. And some think he should have already retired. But he keeps playing. He says he isn’t done yet. Some people think he’s a god. Some people are tired of him.

But compared to God, what is he?

A billionaire is the President of the United States. Another billionaire is talking about challenging him. Billionaires. Some people think they’re gods. Sometimes they think they are, too. There are over two thousand billionaires in the world today. They’re richer than ever. They can buy anything. Do anything. Live anywhere. Travel anywhere. Have anything their hearts desire.

But compared to God, what are they?


“To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One. Isaiah 40:25


Though man may strive to go beyond the reach of space
To crawl beyond the distant shim’ring stars
This world’s a room so small within my Master’s house
The open sky’s but a portion of His yard

How big is God? How big and wide His vast domain
To try and tell, these lips can only start
He’s big enough to rule His mighty universe
Yet small enough to live within my heart

As winter’s chill may cause the tiny seed to fall
To lie asleep till waked by summer’s rain
The heart grown cold will warm and throb with life anew
The Master’s touch will bring the glow again

–Stuart Hamblen

Only God has held the ocean in his hands. Only God has measured the heavens with his fingers. Only God knows the number of hairs on my head. No one but God knows the number of times this heart of mine will beat. No one but God knows the weight of the earth.

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. He doesn’t need advice or instruction. He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name.

Some use his name as a swear word. They take his name in vain without a single thought to what they’re saying. Little do they know that God has many names. Sure. God is small enough to live within my heart. But belittling him and who he is by using his name in vain makes the speaker even smaller. Oh. People do it all the time without a second thought.

He feeds the birds. He cares for the flowers. Won’t he do the same for me? He saw me and knew me when I was in my mother’s womb. He searches every heart. He knows every thought. He sees every troubles.

He sends the snow like white wool. He scatters frost upon the ground like ashes. He hurls the hail like stone. He sends his winds, and the ice thaws.

Can he be compared to an idol formed in a mold, overlaid with gold and weighed down with silver chains? The Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. No one can measure his greatness. May his name be praised.

Dirty Hands

He walked into my office and introduced himself. He shook my hand. I knew he would do that. He seems the friendly type. But what he didn’t know was that I had eaten crackers earlier and had licked the salt off my fingers. He also didn’t know that I had washed them afterwards. He didn’t know what my hands had touched, yet he reached for my hand with eagerness. He accepted my handshake regardless of what my hands had previously been doing. No questions asked. He assumed my hands were a safe place.

I think about that. How often do I reach for a hand not knowing where it has been. Not knowing what hurt it has felt. Not knowing what trouble has reached out to place a scar on that skin. Do I reach for the hand with eagerness or reservations? Do I wonder what that hand has held in the past? Oh. I may know of the troubles, but do I ignore them or face them? I want to look them in the eye and offer hope. I may not know that the hand has recently wiped tears from the eyes of its owner. I may not know that the hand has recently held the hand of a lover or of an abuser. I may not know that the hand has been bruised so often by stains of addiction or has been grasped in praise of great accomplishments. But does it matter? Does it matter what the hand has done? Is it not still worthy to be touched? To be held?

That new hand I shake may have just held a newborn babe. Or it may have stirred a pot of stew. Perhaps that hand has reached in the dirt to plant a seed. Or held a sign in protest. That hand may have been raised in pledge to a waving flag. Reached for a handout or given one. But what if that hand has beaten another? Or forced its plans on weaker ones? What if that hand has stolen out of greed? Or just been handed a pink slip? One never knows what the other hand has done. Do we turn it away out of fear? Or do we reach out with a promise of redemption and acceptance?


Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly. John 7:24


How often does someone reach for my hand and wonder what sins are staining it? They may be unaware that my hand is struggling to hold too tightly to my never ending wants. Or that my hands have allowed a new opportunity to slip through my fingers. They may not know that my hand has reached out in a sympathetic hug. Or a congratulatory shake. Perhaps my hand has recently received a stinging slap of rejection. Or has given one. Perhaps my hand could use a soft squeeze of forgiveness. Will they accept me for who I am? Or will they have expectations that I can’t meet?

How often do I pull my hand back from the one reaching out in need? Suppose the hand reaches out in acceptance and faith. Perhaps it’s time to reach for the needy hand and fill it. Or return a favor given in love. Instead of judging the hand grasping for yours, extend an offer of support and friendship. That’s what I would hope would be extended to me. Can’t I do that for the next hand reaching out to me?

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.

Great Commission

I heard the phrase on the news again. I never want another person to have to go through what I’ve gone through. It’s a phrase I hear often on the news. Someone was treated unfairly. Someone’s child was bullied. Someone lost a loved one too soon. Someone was swindled out of their life savings. Someone lost everything. Someone was the victim of a crime. And the list goes on.

We never want others to experience the same difficulties we’ve faced. So we share our story. Hoping someone will learn lessons we learned too late. Hoping our loss will help steer someone clear of the same grief. Or teach them how to cope better than we did.

Does it work? Our sharing? Do others listen and learn from our tough times? We only hope they do. Because we’ve learned from those times that we can survive. We’ve learned some wounds will heal and become scars. Reminders of our suffering. We’ve learned we must forgive. We’ve learned that life goes on. Even when we feel that we can’t. But we do.



But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? Romans 10:14


What if we would say this. I don’t want anyone else to go through life not knowing God. I don’t want anyone to live life thinking they have to be self sufficient. I don’t want anyone else to live without God being their source of strength. I don’t want anyone else to die without being ready to meet God. What would I have to do to make sure that happened?

If only everyone knew that in times of grief, God will give sustaining grace. If only everyone experienced the peace that comes with God’s forgiveness. Do people know that God doesn’t lie? When God makes a promise, He keeps it. Always. Does everyone know that God forgives and forgets? Does everyone know that God is three in one? God the Father. God the Son, Jesus Christ. God the Holy Spirit. They’re all different, but they’re one.

Does it work? Our sharing of our faith? Does sharing how God will never quit loving each of us and that He’s always available make a difference in someone else’s life? I hope and pray that it makes a difference. Otherwise. People will be lost. People will live without hope if they haven’t heard that God loves them.

We should tell our story.  Our hurts. Our fears. Our shame. Our successes.  Our failures.  Our losses. Our redemption.  How else will others know salvation is worth it? How will someone else know that a relationship with God is the most important one they could ever have? How will the world know unless those who walk with Christ lead others to him?

There is a great commission. Go and tell everyone that Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords. That Jesus died for them. That he wants to spend eternity with them in heaven. That they can escape hell.