Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thou Knowest

During a phone call with a dear friend I hadn't talked with in several months, we updated each other on the careers and locations of our children and grandchildren. I could scarcely believe the diversity represented in their lives. Hers lived in different states and had a wide range of careers. My grandchildren, who are younger than hers, are still in school, yet also have a wide array of abilities and interests. As always, I was amazed by all that because I still picture her children and my daughters the way they were 20 plus years ago--still in school and/or just entering the work force. Those children are now parents of children who are as the parents were in what seems such a short time ago.

As I reflected on that, I recalled a prayer I'd heard recently.  (See text on photo.)

Those ancient words express far better than I ever could the prayer of my own heart regarding myself. And if I paraphrase it slightly, I can also pray it on behalf others, including my children and grandchildren, as well as those of my long-time friend: "Jesus Christ, Lord Almighty, Who didst create them and redeem them and hast brought them now to that which they are, Thou knowest what Thou wilt have them to be. Deal with them according to Thy lovingkindness and show them Thy mercy, Lord. Amen."

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Beautiful Soul

At my request, a friend e-mailed me a photo she'd taken of the garden stone someone had given her after her husband passed away.

Since then, I've given much thought to what makes a beautiful soul. I've concluded that a beautiful soul is a Christ-like soul. Loving. Giving. Forgiving. Tender. Kind. Humble. Unselfish. Loyal. Honest. Wise. Warm. Welcoming. Authentic. Faithful...

People with such beautiful souls do leave a trail of  beautiful memories. Consequently, we grieve deeply and for a long time when they pass away. We yearn to be near them again, to love and be loved by them again, to nurture and be nurtured by them again...

To be sure their legacy continues, we can follow their example and become beautiful souls who also make beautiful memories and leave a trail of them for our loved ones to cherish--and follow.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Even Though...

When the goings-on of life break our hearts, we can avoid going down the dark road to depression if only we'll follow the example of Habakkuk. (His struggle to hold onto his faith is described in the Old Testament book of the Bible that bears his name.)

He, like we often are, was deeply troubled over what was going on. He wondered why God allowed certain things to happen. He feared the future. He wondered if life would ever be good again.

In the third and final chapter of his book, Habakkuk experienced a renewal of his faith in God when he began to pray. "I am filled with awe by the amazing thing you have done. In this time of our deep need, begin again to help us, as you did in years gone by (v. 2).

As he waited quietly yet confidently for God's help in the current crisis, Habakkuk made a bold statement of faith: "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine, even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign LORD is my strength (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NLT).

Knowing full well that God would strengthen him to survive the current crisis, Habakkuk began the arduous climb out of the valley of fear and despair.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

He Will Come!

Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;
his going out is sure as the dawn; 
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.
~Hosea 6:3, ESV

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Yielded and Still, Seeking His Will

Often, I know what to do, but not how to do it. (Is that true of you, too?)

Thus, I benefit greatly from the personal experience stories shared by others. For example, while reading A Lifetime of Positive Thinking by Ruth Stafford Peale, I eagerly read about how she and her husband, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, sought guidance from God. In one of the many “life stories” she shares in the book, she tells about how they prayed. 

The two of them would meet in his office or in a room in their home, and Dr. Peale would often say something like this, “Lord, we have this problem. You know what it is without our telling. Please guide us in the right direction. Make us receptive to Your will.” Having clearly and simply stated their request for God’s guidance, Dr. Peale would conclude the short prayer by saying, “We thank You for this help that You are now giving us.”

As they waited quietly and expectantly for God to answer, they didn’t babble on and on about the specific matter for which they were seeking God’s guidance. Neither did they discuss possible solutions. Instead, they read and/or reflected on relevant verses from the Bible, verses such as: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) and “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

After a while, either Dr. or Mrs. Peale would say, “It seems to me this is the way to deal with this” or “I believe we’ve been on the wrong track with this one. Perhaps we should handle it this way.” More likely than not, the other felt the same; and, thus, “a clear line of action would open up where things [had been] obscure before” (p. 20).

After reading about how they prayed, I decided to try it. As I prepared to write this article, I didn’t know what God wanted me to write about. I had lots and lots of ideas, but I didn’t know which one to choose. So, I followed the Peales’ example. I sat quietly “before the Lord” and waited for Him to instruct me. I closed my eyes and suddenly the chorus of the old song, Speak to My Heart popped into my mind. I made those words, written by B.B. McKinney in 1927, the prayer of my heart.

My sweet Mama,
who was often yielded and still
in the presence of her God.
As I hummed them, I suddenly recalled the above story from Ruth Peale’s book and sensed that God wanted me to share it with you so that we would be reminded of the importance of sitting quietly before Him as we seek His will and His ways. If we will be “yielded and still” before Him, He will speak to us. He will show us not only what to do but also how and when to do it.

Monday, August 14, 2017

My Vow

Vows. Promises. Commitments. Most of us take them lightly, don't we? I confess that I do, though I am struggling each day to keep the promises I make and, thus, prove dependable and trustworthy.

One commitment I made over 30 years ago was to write for God. For periods of time, I'd write regularly. But sometimes I'd lapse and write every now and then--mainly when a deadline was looming. But in recent days, God has been reminding me of His call upon my life, and I've resolved to get going again with that. To do so, I'll need to stay focused on my renewed commitment because it's so easy to get distracted, so easy to let other things take up the time I could have used to write--and should have.

To help me stay focused, I've written one Bible verse (see photo) on several "sticky notes" and placed them around the house. God directed my attention to this verse today during my early morning Bible reading time, but that was made by Ethan the Ezrahite centuries ago. Since it's still a good one, I'm also vowing to use every opportunity to make known God's faithfulness, to use every opportunity to remind myself, as well as others, of not only the faithfulness of God but also of His great love and mercy, of His complete forgiveness, of His unlimited power, of His....

Will you make that same vow? Will you vow to speak often with your Lord and to speak often about Him? Will you use your mouth, your voice--your speaking voice or your writing voice or your singing voice-- to make Him known to others?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Final Words

My husband and I made our funeral arrangements months ago. Choosing my own coffin was easier than I thought it would be, but I’m still agonizing over which songs I’d like played and/or sung during my service. Why, you ask, is that so difficult? I want the words in the songs to serve as my final words to my loved ones. Thus, it's hard to choose only a few out of all the many songs I love.

One day when I was struggling to decide, I read the last few chapters in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, which contain Moses’ parting words to the children of God whom he had led for more than 40 years. With the people assembled near the border of the land God had promised to give them, Moses reminded them of what God had commanded them to do when they entered it.       

Then Moses said, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land…” (Deuteronomy 32:46-47, ESV, emphasis added).

Like Moses, I want my final words to urge others to know God better, to love Him even more, and to faithfully obey Him. I trust that the Scripture-based songs I select will do just that.