Eternity in Our Hearts

Bringing what endures into everyday life


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The change of seasons {and what-ifs, if-onlys, or what-abouts …}

With every waning summer, my daughter eagerly gathers school supplies (yet complains that she must actually use them). While my girl organizes her goods, I work alongside, sorting through dusty boxes of my parents’ possessions. She stacks brightly colored notebooks while I finger through crinkled photos and yellowed letters.

My daughter’s collection is new while mine is old, but our feelings are the same. We’re a little sad, nostalgic, and apprehensive about the unknowns ahead of us.

As we enter a season dotted with yellow leaves and school buses, I realize that the cycles of climate are relatively predictable but the seasons of life are sometimes not so.

These new seasons arrive by way of the inevitable passages of time, losses or gains, or circumstances that can’t be predicted or controlled. We tend to think of “new” as bright and shiny, like a streak-free, stainless steel refrigerator. But new doesn’t always arrive in a pretty package. The recent divorcee, widow, empty nester, or anyone with an unexpected diagnosis understands this. Either way, whether change causes rejoicing or sorrow, all of us must navigate the stresses and uncertainties of seasons where life looks different than it has before.

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Of Jesus’ disciples, I relate especially well with Peter (Who doesn’t, right?) From the first, adventurous moment he followed Jesus, Peter’s circumstances were as up-and-down as his impulsive personality.

As part of Jesus’ inner circle, Peter was eyewitness to glorious moments. He was the passionate leader of the twelve, and in Jesus’ eyes, the “Rock.” Even still, he experienced infamous growing pains, had devastating failings, and earned rebuke from his Master.

Although he had expected the Kingdom to come through uprising and triumph, Peter learned that following Christ is revolutionary in that the last will be first, the meek inherit the earth, and a cross precedes a crown.

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Peter must have struggled, as we all do, with “what-ifs,” “if-onlys,” and “what-abouts…” But if we flip between the pages of the Gospels and his epistles (1 & 2 Peter), we discover a man who became firm and faithful.

At first glance, head-strong Peter doesn’t seem the sort to worry with “what ifs …” He sees Jesus walking on the sea; Jesus says, “Come;” and Peter exits the boat. We know, however, that Peter’s faith and feet give way to the water, because he wonders, “What if I heard Him wrong?” “What if He’s not really there?”

In the past two years, I’ve asked the same questions more than I can count. I’ve experienced the strains of caregiving, lost my beloved father, took a new job, traveled on mission, become the mother of a teenager. In better moments, I trust Jesus despite turbulent winds and step forward with him into the mysteries.

But when the waves slap hard, I lose my focus. “What-ifs” take me down. But Jesus, always He is there, saying “It is I; don’t be afraid.” He extends His hand, my lifeline, and pulls me up time and again. And every day I have a choice, like Peter, to look upon what if or what isWhat if = fear of the unknown. What is = faith in the one who says “It is I. Don’t be afraid.” The two equations can’t coexist.

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Every day I make mistakes, and especially when a new situation stresses me out. Learning to navigate role reversals with an aging parent is tough. When I feel inexperienced and unsure, I beat myself up (as in “if only I hadn’t done this” or “if only I had done that …”)

Whenever I mess up, I have a choice to rehearse my “if-onlys” and stay stuck or to receive mercies with each new day and begin again. After a series of missteps and disgrace, Peter resigned himself to a boatload of regret and a lifetime of fishing (for real fish, not men).

But the risen Jesus walked where sand meets water to seek Peter out, to open a new chapter in this fisherman’s story. And Peter “threw himself into the sea” (again) to meet Jesus at the shore and embrace another chance. When we forgive ourselves, we affirm Jesus’ work on the cross. We remember that we are the receivers, not the achievers. We get to partcipate in His story, and His forgiveness and sufficiency cover us. With hearts saturated with grace, we can humbly move forward.

In Acts 3, we find Peter at the “Beautiful Gate” where he heals a lame beggar. As a crowd gathers, Peter proclaims the Gospel, and many who hear come to faith in Jesus.

In this passage of Scripture, the Greek word for “Beautiful” comes from the root “hora” – meaning the right hour or right season; beautiful in its timing.  Peter – emptied of his ego, freed from regret, and dependent upon the Holy Spirit – was finally the right man in the right season to preach at the Beautiful Gate.

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If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God in that name” became the heart’s cry of a transformed man who had once cowered from identification with Christ (1 Peter 4:16).

In one of their final conversations, Jesus gives Peter a startling prophecy that Peter would die as a martyr, apparently by crucifixion (John 21: 18 – 19). But Peter doesn’t even absorb the gravity of the news before he asks about John: “What about this man?” And Jesus’ reply is freeing to anyone who struggles with comparison as I do – “What is that to you? You follow Me.”

Oh, how often I compare myself to people in different, seemingly easier or happier, seasons of life. But Jesus has given me a ministry in this place of life, and although it’s not what I hoped or anticipated, it’s filled with grace. He asks me to simply follow one trusting step at a time, and He produces fruit in due season.

During travels around Albania, friends and I toured a citadel built atop a steep mount. While I took pictures of the sweeping vistas, my friend was drawn to the ancient doors and beautiful gates. Since then, I see a gate as a metaphor for a place in faith where Jesus calls us forward. He doesn’t promise a wide-range view, and sometimes the way ahead is unclear to us. At times it’s painful.

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But I’m learning to receive new, perhaps difficult seasons, as hinges that open to deeper dependence upon God.  Yes, I occasionally stumble along an untried path, but even my fears and failures are stepping stones along an eternal course. Everything else may fall away, but Jesus is forever. His will prevails. His grace holds fast.

Friends, let us swing wide opportunities to place everything into the hands that opened the gates of heaven for us. Let us believe that God is the master of every season and makes everything – every heartache, regret, and transition – beautiful in His time. One certainty remains. Since Jesus secured our eternal destiny, surely He is trustworthy in every path along the way.

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There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens.

God has made everything beautiful in its time … and has set eternity in our hearts ~ from Ecclesiastes 3.

I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:9).

 

 


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Hold {Five Minute Friday}

I often wonder about the poor widow as she approached the offering box at the temple, holding her two small coins, all that she had. What was in her mind, in her heart? Perhaps …

If only I had more to give …

– If only I could be like these rich people …

– What if I have nothing left to take care of my needs?

– What if I never see a return on what I give?

Sometimes I consider the smallness of what I hold. These are gifts that my heart wants to give. But I also hold onto hesitations and questions …

If only I had more to give …

– If only I could be like her …

– If only I were more bold …

– What if all this time in seminary and serving is wasted?

– What if I can’t overcome my weaknesses?

– What if I fail?

But the glory of the widow’s offering was in her release. Jesus called her offering, although it was the least, the greatest. Following her opened heart, her hands loosened their hold. Releasing her reluctance and regret, she gave.

When we clutch onto our own understanding, the what-ifs and the if-onlys begin to take a strong hold upon our souls. But today holds new opportunities for me and for you to allow Jesus to open our fingers. We have this choice – to clutch or to consider Him trustworthy.

When we live life open-handed, palms upturned in worship and surrender, nothing is wasted. The eternal measure of life is found not in what we gain but in what we give. The risk of failure outweighs the regret of never trying. Weakness becomes a portal for His power. Resting in grace, we allow Jesus to hold strong.

Releasing our hold upon what we think is success – even if we don’t see the outcomes in this life – we discover that the offering is freeing and fulfilling.

And Jesus calls it faithful.

*****

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Five Minute Friday is a weekly gathering of writers who write for 5 minutes on the same prompt, this week “hold.” Find the community and their fast & faith-filled words here.

Luke 21: 1 – 4, Just then Jesus looked up and saw the rich people dropping offerings in the collection plate. Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies. He said, “The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all!”

Photo credit: Lightstock


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5 Random and Real-Life Things I Learned This Summer

1. I still can’t figure out exactly how a day becomes a “DAY.” Wednesday, July 30 is Paperback Book Day, Father’s-in-Law Day (oops, I missed it), and Cheesecake Day (bah, I missed it!).

So I want to know — who determines these days and how will I know when one is coming? It’s critical that Insect Repellant Awareness Day not catch me unaware again (June 3, btw).

If you never want to miss an important occasion (like Two Different Colored Shoes Day, May 3), you can check out Days of the Year to stay informed.

Oh, I did learn that in the US, a day is eligible to become a National “DAY” if an organizer can gain 100,000 signatures on an e-petition.

— Sorry, but Hairball Awareness Day is taken (April 25), but as far I can tell, Toilet Plunger Day can be totally yours. —

2. Honestly and somehow I didn’t realize the prevalence of economic orphans. After my mission trip to Albania, however, I have sweet faces etched in my mind and heart. Many of the Albanian children in the Bethany orphanage have at least one living but impoverished parent.

92% of children living in Sri Lankan orphanages are economic orphans. The percentage in Liberia is tragically higher – 98%.

Biblically, it’s not an option to look away. When adoption doors closed to my husband and me, God opened our eyes to the fulfillment of James 1:27 through other means. Looking locally is important, I think, in our own communities and in the places where children are economically orphaned. Here, there are many ways to come alongside an adopting family in their preparation, travel, and transition. And there, we can support organizations and ministries that create sustainable income and livelihood opportunities so that families can stay together.

Orphans, and would-be orphans, need us to not look away.

3. Trend alert – state pride!  I guess it’s not new to love where you live, but I see this everywhere these days – state pendants, t-shirts, and bumper stickers. This could be a bummer if your state is Colorado (and square). Here in NC, we’re catching up with our Texan friends who charted the state-pride course for us 🙂

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4. How have I never heard of the Golden Ratio? Mind-blowing! As a counselor at Genesis University camp, I learned that the golden ratio is nature’s blueprint. The composition of natural objects and their geometric shapes, radial symmetry, or natural spirals are consistent with this mathematical proportion. We find the golden ratio in insects, seashells, honeycombs, seed heads, fruit (pineapple for instance), ocean waves, flower petals, and pine cones, just to name a few.

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When God instructed Noah to build the ark (Genesis 6) and Moses to construct the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 27), He gave specific dimensions that fit the golden ratio.

AND the very design for you and for me, the DNA molecule, is based on the golden ratio.

When the most elemental structures of the world are so perfectly and consistently proportioned, it truly takes more faith to believe in randomness.

May I suggest that we choose sacredness instead? —

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Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3).

5. The most gripping story of the summer for me personally has prompted news reporters into my hometown.  I see them taping their reports from Nancy Writebol’s church a few miles from my house.

We know about Mrs. Writebol of Serving In Mission (SIM), along with Dr. Kent Brantly of NC-based Samaritan’s Purse, because they have chosen a path of sacrifice by ministering to ebola victims in Liberia.

We work where it’s dangerous. We work where people die, where there is great suffering,” said Ken Isaacs, representing Samaritan’s Purse.

When Mrs. Writebol’s husband was asked why he and his wife would serve where few will go he responded: “What else could we do when our King bidded us to go into this harvest field and when He said there are souls needing to hear about Christ?

With fervency, we pray for healing for Mrs. Writebol and Dr. Brantly. And yet, they have already surrendered all, having followed their Savior in the way of death. They entered a world not their home and exchanged comforts and conveniences for the sake of the Cross. Dr. Brantly requested that Mrs. Writebol receive the one ration of an experimental drug that arrived yesterday.

Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25).

Although I’ve been a Christ-follower for years it’s changing me, this hit-home-lesson of devotion to Christ and denial-to-self. The national media reports talk about a virus, and even with a heavy heart, I see victory.

There’s something else about this story that’s contagious – The Gospel is spreading.

Whatever happens this side of Heaven, Mrs. Writebol and Dr. Brantly have given what they could not have kept and gained what they will never, under any circumstances, lose.

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Thank you for reading these serious and not-so-serious thoughts. And thank you to Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky who offers these “What I Learned in …” link-ups. Having this opportunity to share helps me to take a more wide-eyed look around my world. There is much I need to see.

Join me, and let’s widen our lens.

— What have you learned this summer? —

Please leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you!

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Commencement

In April, we celebrate new things.

Like our new baby birds 🙂

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And new flowers –

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New babies –

Aww, Elisabeth Grace - my great-niece. Isn't she precious?

Aww, Elisabeth Grace – my great-niece. Isn’t she precious?

Since this is a season of new things, I’m introducing Eternity in Our Hearts as my new blog today. If you’ve come from my previous blog, dimly burning, I welcome you and hope that you’ll stay awhile and become part of this community which is so dear to me.

If you’ve subscribed to dimly burning, I would be thrilled and grateful for your support of the new blog. You have been dear, patient friends to me as I’ve journeyed through seasons of grief, parenthood (with a tween!), marriage, and faith.

These seasons have taught me that in the midst of heartbreak, life continues because – as a responsible adult – I have to show up everyday whether I want to or not. But in my heart of hearts, I know that this is not all there is. God has placed eternity in our hearts.

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.

God has made everything beautiful for its own time and has set eternity in our hearts, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 11).”

April is what we longed for during the long, cold days of January. But sometimes new seasons, with their closures and beginnings, are messy.

For instance:

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These little maple seed pods are covering our yard, sidewalk, driveway, flower beds, and our lazy dog (no, just kidding). As a kid, I used to love to throw these things up in the air and watch them twirl to the ground. But now, I have to sweep them or pluck them out of the beds before this happens:

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A tree where I don’t need a tree

Often, when we think of “new” we think of things shiny and efficient. But “new” in life is not like a new car. Many times, “new” blows in with a storm, a crisis. New creates a mess. A new divorcee or the new widow knows this. Anyone with a new diagnosis knows this.

Today I’m celebrating a blog with a new title and a new look. I kinda like it and I hope you do too.

And yet, friend, the sufferings and experiences that I’ve witnessed this week tell me that it may be spring outside, but it’s not necessarily spring in your soul.

My husband and I were recently eating outside at a deli on a beautiful day, and a couple walked past us. Because both of them were formally dressed in black, I instantly thought “funeral.” And I remembered how I wore a black dress not so long ago on a day when lots of other people were stringing Christmas lights.

We live in this tension between merriment and mourning. Those who have trusted in Christ live in the now and the now yet. More than ever, I believe that eternal life in Christ begins the moment we say “yes” to Jesus. Living as if we believe this can change everything about the “now.”

We’re entering the season of graduation. At some schools, this final ceremony is known as “commencement.” It’s the end. Yet the beginning. Life will continue as a series of conclusions and commencements. Some people will be ready for these adventures while others are riddled with anxiety. I’ve been both. I suppose it depends in part upon the season but more fully upon my measure of trust in the Timeless One.

I wrote the following words on a January day when the year was young and my heart felt old. I read these words now and I can’t come up with any different words to close one chapter (one blog) and begin another:

The cyclical nature of seasons, even in the bleak midwinter, serves a preparatory purpose. Growth awaits. New life. Hope.

Duke Cancer Center, where I’ll be spending the day tomorrow with Daddy, is newly refurbished. It’s pretty and shiny, and no one wants to be there … You go there and realize that while the seasons of climate are relatively predictable, the seasons of physical life are sometimes not.

And so, when we think we know what to expect, we really don’t. In a mortal world, we see through lenses that are scratched and dulled by the jagged edges of sin, brokenness, and grief.

Even still, in seasons we couldn’t and didn’t predict, there are preparatory purposes. Even here, growth awaits. New life. And Hope. The truth, as told in Ecclesiastes, is that we were created for an eternal world. A different set of eyes are needed.

The season of Hope is not contained to Christmas or Easter morning. It’s not boxed in the attic or hauled to the curb.

Because ultimately each of us needs Someone who created the seasons and knows the scope of time from beginning to end. We need His eyes to see beyond the exterior and into the eternal. To see beyond the mess and into the meaning of it all.

The eternal cannot be boxed or packed or managed. One day everything that once looked messy will have meaning. We will see. For now – in whatever season we find ourselves – let us live with anticipation, fully and with purpose.

The seasons, those present or those that have passed away, hold for us purposes unfolding and promises coming.”

I hope you’ll join me for new seasons at Eternity in Our Hearts.

And if you are in a place where it’s not spring in your soul, I’d like to pray for you … If you want to leave a comment with a request, it’s truly my honor to lift your concerns to our Father.

Holy and eternal Father,

Thank You for being the God of all seasons. I praise You for being the same yesterday, today, and forever. You are before all things and in You all things hold together. I pray today with thanksgiving for the community I’ve come to know through Dimly Burning. I lift these dear ones up to you and ask that You would hold their hearts, especially those who are in a season when circumstances and hope seem dark. Lord, would You open their eyes to Your Word, Your faithful and good character, and Your promises? Give them grace to trust that You are the Guide who makes a stream in the desert and a path in the wilderness. Where they feel weak, rekindle a new dependence upon You that makes a dimly burning wick shine as a lantern for Your glory. When storms blow in, may Your hope be the anchor of their souls. Allow their hearts to rest in the love of the cross and the promise of the empty tomb. May they stand on the truth that any suffering on this side of heaven is nothing compared to everlasting joys that await believers in Christ. May we give all new opportunities and circumstances to You – whether we rejoice or grieve – in the faith that Your unfailing purpose is to make beautiful, eternal things.

Amen.


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When You’re in the Valley

Psalm 23, the beloved Shepherd Psalm, is perhaps the best-known chapter of the Bible. Several months ago, at Easter in fact, I read a blog post that drew my attention to Psalm 23 in a new way by placing it in the context of the psalms that surround it. In “Living in the Valley – For Now,” Jonathan Parnell writes that Psalm 22, 23, and 24, when we look at them together, say something even more meaningful about Jesus’ devotion and authority as our Shepherd.

As we read Psalm 22, we recognize Jesus right away in verse 1, especially His agony on the cross:
My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” (22:1; see Matthew 27:46).

“… scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads” (22: 6 – 7; see Matthew 27:39).

“… people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment” (22: 17 – 18; see Matthew 27:35).

As Psalm 22 depicts Jesus’ cross, Psalm 24 describes His coronation:

Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is He, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
He is the King of glory (24: 8 – 10).

Psalm 22 reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice. Psalm 24 proclaims Jesus’ sovereignty and strength. As Jonathan Parnell put so well: “If Psalm 22 is a Good Friday meditation, Psalm 24 is our Easter morning song.”

But between Friday and Sunday, there is sorrow, uncertainty, disappointment, and confusion. There is a valley. There is a shadow of death.

But it is a mere shadow. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Nobody is afraid of a shadow, for a shadow cannot stop a man’s pathway even for a moment.” Sunday’s a-coming. The Light of the World will dispel every shadow of darkness and death. The King of glory is coming.

I wholly lean on the triumphant hope of Psalm 24.

But today …. Today has felt like a valley. On days like these my head knows that Sunday is real but my heart is stuck in Friday. There is sorrow, uncertainty, disappointment, and confusion. I pray for vision yet I am short-sighted. There are steep and rugged mountains in the way.

In Psalm 22, I remember Jesus as Savior. In Psalm 24, I trust Him as Sovereign. But today I find myself in Psalm 23. And I need a Shepherd.

The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.

Between the images of Jesus’ cross and His crown, here is my Comforter. The Messiah is in the middle.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

I fit the characteristics of a sheep – stubborn, needy, timid, and prone to wander (Isaiah 53:6). Yet, as I see in Psalm 22, the Good Shepherd bought me with a very high price.
Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

“The position of Psalm 23 is worthy of notice,” said Spurgeon, “It follows the twenty-second, which is peculiarly the Psalm of the Cross …. It is only after we have read, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” that we come to “The Lord is my Shepherd.” We must know the value of blood-shedding, and see the sword awakened against the Shepherd before we shall be able truly to know the Sweetness of the good Shepherd’s care.”

Because this Shepherd is willing to care for me, a sheep, at such a tremendous cost to Himself, I can trust Him. Because this Lover of my soul is a Shepherd King – a King of glory – I can rest in His ability and authority to command all circumstances and lead me into places for my good – even the valley.

Though I walk through the valley … You are with me.

As a real-life shepherd, Phillip Keller explains that sheep are led to the mountain tops through the valleys because it is the well-watered route. In the valley there are rivers, streams, and still waters. The Shepherd who called Himself the Living Water (John 7:38) will refresh me again and again. Hope quenches my thirsty soul.

And as I’m here in the valley, I remember that the Shepherd is leading me through it. This is not a stopping place. One day I will join Him in Psalm 24.

I am the gate for the sheep,” Jesus said, “Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture … I have come that they may have life and have it to the full (John 10: 7 – 9).

The valley is the gateway to the fullest Life we will ever know. Jesus the Savior, Shepherd, and Sovereign makes it so.

Resources:
“Living in the Valley – For Now.” Jonathan Parnell. April 8, 2013. http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/living-in-the-valley-for-now

Psalm 23 in The Treasury of David by Charles H. Spurgeon http://www.spurgeon.org/treasury/ps023.htm

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller

 


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Whatever

Recently I saw a random quote on Pinterest that could apply to my girl: “I hate it when I’m singing a song and the artist gets the words wrong.”  My daughter could have posted that one; it’s often really cute but true – she creates original interpretations of song lyrics.

A couple of summers ago, Caroline and I were on a short road trip, and she was in the backseat, singing along with the well-known worship song “Forever:”

“Forever God is faithful. Forever God is strong. Forever God is with us. Forever…Forever…”

Because she didn’t know she heard the words incorrectly, Caroline’s version went like this: “Whatever God is faithful. Whatever God is strong. Whatever God is with us.  Whatever…Whatever…”

While I was amused with the Caroline version, it struck me that her lyrics were just as true! At the time, my husband was preparing for a two-week mission trip to Asia, and the “what-ifs” almost overwhelmed me.  But in this moment in the car, Caroline’s unique rendering of “Forever” reminded me to trust in God’s goodness and faithfulness in whatever was to come.

In current slang, “what-eh-ver” denotes a flippant or anything-goes attitude. But is life really so carefree?

Not when your husband is traveling across the globe….Not when the doctor’s news is not so good…Not when you’re notified that your services are no longer needed….Not when your kid’s behavior is stealing your sleep and you wonder if your joy is buried under a pile of laundry somewhere …

At times like these, we don’t need a breezy life-philosophy. We need an anchor for the soul. As Caroline’s chorus rolled around in my thoughts, I was reminded of verses in Scripture that use “whatever” in quite a different way:

Psalm 135: 5 – 6 ~ “I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. The Lord does whatever pleases Him in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.”

Psalm 115: 1 – 3 ~ “Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your Name be the glory because of Your love and faithfulness. Why do the nations say “where is their God?’ Our God is in heaven, He does whatever pleases Him.”

The fact that God is able to do whatever He pleases should inspire our worship and faith. He is both completely sovereign and completely good. He shows us through the writings of Isaiah.  In chapter 40, the Word expresses the incomparable greatness of our God.  Isaiah 40:10 says, “The Sovereign Lord comes with power and He rules with a mighty arm.” In the following verse, the mighty God is pictured with mercy: “He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart.” (v.11).

God is strong and He’s my shepherd. God is power and He’s my peace.

God is mighty and He is merciful, so I will trust Him through all the “what-ifs” and “whatevers” in my life. I hope you will too…

So I like Caroline’s version of the song. Though the lyrics aren’t in original form, they’re spot on –

Whatever God is faithful,

Whatever God is strong,

Whatever God is with us,

Whatever, whatever….


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Walk. Run. Soar

“There will be days when you soar and days when you run. But most days, you’ll walk.”

Good thing, I thought. I tried to take up my husband’s favorite hobby, but no, running is not for my knees or me. When he runs in races, I am in the cheering section, and from there I marvel at the diversity among the running sort. Have you ever witnessed a 5 or 10K? There are racers of all ages, body types, and facial expressions. Even those who don’t look the part are pounding the pavement, finish line in sight. Almost always, I think “If that person can run, I can run.” But then reality returns, and I remain the person whose bumper sticker proclaims “0.0”.

And, when I think of soaring, humanly speaking, I picture gravity-defying sports like hang gliding or paragliding. In my world, gravity is good. My only experience that remotely resembles soaring would be ziplining at children’s camp. Which reminds me of the fourth-grade girl on the line next to mine who boldly leapt off the perch while I urged someone to push me off and get it over with. Her victorious voice sailed across the sky with her tiny frame: “I’m beating yoouuuuu…..”

Yes, I am sensible and cautious. Ugh. I long to be adventurous and carefree. A seize-the-day type of girl whose mantra is “Carpe Diem” rather than “Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly.”

Thankfully, the person who told me that most days would entail walking rather than running or soaring meant this in the spiritual sense. He was my trusted mentor and shepherd. Upon my graduation from seminary, Pastor Rosser presented me with a wall plaque that pictured a majestic eagle soaring over the mountain peaks.

Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

I greatly miss Pastor Rosser. At his memorial service, words were spoken of the “good race” that he ran and finished well. Surely Pastor Rosser soared in the power of the Spirit, ran in pursuit of the lost, and walked in daily obedience to His Savior.

“There will be days when you soar and days when you run. But most days, you’ll walk.”

Now that I am well past the peak experience of graduation, I understand the daily-ness of walking. Of course I long to soar upon His strength and run with His perseverance, but most days I focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Time spent in the Word. Prayer. Small steps of relationship-building. Loving my family. Serving my church family. Laundry.

All of these steps (even laundry!) are essential to the trust in the Lord that renews and fuels the soaring, empowers the running, and enables the walking. As we applaud athletes as they soar and run, we understand that their accomplishments involve many, many years of skill building and practice. Not every day offers the opportunity to revel in the roar of the crowd or stand atop a podium. But every day offers a chance to step closer to the goal.

… my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24