Eternity in Our Hearts

Bringing what endures into everyday life


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Five Minute Friday :: path

Trust in the Lord with all our heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5 – 6

Father, in my understanding, I’m prone to think that a straight path is linear and predictable, progressing in neat and timely fashion from Point A to Point B to Point C. I confess that I’ve often expected the path of a Christ-follower to look like this.

But Lord, nothing seems straightforward these days. How long will I wander? Here I am, humbled and needful and seeking.

How I need Your grace to move forward in faith, not in my own plans but in Your wiser ways. I think You are asking me to release what I thought “straight” was meant to be. Could it be that I have sought a clear path more than I have sought You, Yourself? Forgive me, Lord, for seeking clarity more than Your company.

In the midst of these interruptions, delays, and detours, I want to bury hope in the ground, but Lord, I ask for a seed of faith to sow instead. As my heart aches with disappointment, I long to believe that You have appointed something lovely to rise from the soil of my need. If the fruit is a deeper dependence upon You, I will taste and see that You are good.

And when this path is steep and strewn with obstacles, strengthen me to surrender my inclination for the easy roads. May I step forward bravely because You are a true and trustworthy guide.

Father, I pray for the grace to keep my eyes on the path you have chosen for me uniquely, and not the path of another. Sometimes I stumble through a fog of comparison. I look around instead of looking ahead. In those moments, Father, I need You to fix my gaze straight to Christ.

Help me, Lord, to remember that Your upward calling on my life is firstly to You, not to a job or a role or an accomplishment or whatever I think makes me significant.

Gracious Father, I know that as long as You’re with me, there is more joy in this journey than a direct route to Point C could ever offer.  Walk with me, and I with You, and that is enough.  Amen.

________

Five Minute Friday is a weekly link-up where we write for five minutes on a specific word of the week. Click [here] to head to Kate Motaung’s site for more thoughts on the word “path.”

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Five Minute Friday :: Yes

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As I lifted the rear door of our SUV, my mother’s decorative table tumbled out and fell to the driveway before I could catch it. I turned it back onto its (now) wobbly legs and ran my hands over the fresh scratches and dents. I had promised Mom that I would bring her prized table to the new apartment, and feeling heavy-laden with dozens of other boxes and possessions to transport, I had become careless and hurried. My friend, who watched me load the car, cautioned me to secure the little table, but I brushed off her advice and went on my rushed way.

And so I stood, feeling foolish and failed, over the damage. For a second, I wondered if the neighbor – seen from the corner of my eye – was watching. Then all the feelings of fatigue and frustration came over me, and I didn’t care who knew that I messed up again. I whimpered aloud a familiar & exasperated question – one that I’ve asked myself as a student, a wife, daughter, mom, Christ-follower ….

WHY do I try so hard?

All my life I’ve been a try-hard girl. I used to blame it on my dad, as if his work ethic had been transmitted into my genes. But no, the truth is that my identity has most often been found in my ability to achieve and to please and to satisfy my own ego and other people. And so I push and strive, and my life is pulled along by compulsion instead of joy and fulfillment.

I’m tired.

I know there’s a better way, and I can choose it, if only I would.

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Ironically, I guess, I close my eyes and imagine a table. And Jesus has made a place for me. A table is an invitation to pause, to sit, to have conversation, and to receive. When I meet Jesus here, I leave behind my identity of an achiever. With Jesus, there is never obligation. Simply invitation.

Jesus invites me to say yes to His offer of freedom from other’s opinions, from my own striving. I gave my Savior my most significant “yes” many years ago, as a child. And since then, He’s invited me to countless sacred “yeses” – to agree with Him that abundant life isn’t found in obligation but in opportunity. And the opportunities that He offers are never burdensome. Instead, they are life-giving, grace-filled, and ripple into eternity.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~ Jesus’ invitation, Matthew 11:28 – 29 (The Message).

** Lord Jesus, You invite me to grace and You compel me with love. I never have to fear Your displeasure, and my life doesn’t have to be motivated by “should-to” and “ought-to.” Instead, I get to say Yes to who I am in Christ and to participate in Your sacred, life-giving, eternal purposes. Please help me to discern the difference between obligation and invitation and to freely offer You my best yes **

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Five Minute Friday” is a weekly opportunity for writers to write for five minutes on the same topic. Stop by Kate’s place @ katemotaung.com to read what other bloggers are writing about the word “yes.”

Photo credits –

http://bossfight.co/old-room-random-stuff-furniture/

http://bossfight.co/woman-sitting-table/

Boss Fight – Completely Free (do whatever you want) High Resolution Stock Images & Photos, Daily

Loving this book, Your Sacred Yes by Susie Larson, and highly recommend it –

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Five Minute Friday :: Here

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My daddy had a few pet peeves, and I remember a certain one occasionally when checking out at the grocery store. Daddy got aggravated whenever a cashier handed the receipt with a “Here you go …” I suppose he considered it a poor substitute for “thank you.” And now I notice that “here you go” instead of “thank you” is fairly commonplace, but I receive it with a smile as I imagine Daddy muttering under his breath.

In Daddy’s ears, “Here you go,” was dismissive – as in “move along now.…” But “thank you” was appreciative – as in “we’re glad you visited our store.” Pet peeves, including my own, are usually just minor annoyances. Even as Daddy grumbled about this, I didn’t see it as any big deal … “Here you go” rolls off the tongue just like “how are you?” But sometimes pet peeves reveal a state of the heart, and I think Daddy, like the rest of us, wanted to be seen and acknowledged.

Thinking about Daddy’s cause for aggravation reminds me of how easily I go through life in a dismissive way. In my rushing about, how often do I pause and see those around me? I long to move through my days with more awareness of the people and gifts that bestow life with sacred qualities.  I think about my relationship with my heavenly Father and how often I approach Him with a “Here you go” attitude:

“Here you go, God. I’m saying a casual blessing over my food.”

“Here you go, God. I’m reading a Bible verse this morning.”

“Here you go, God. I’m putting my hard-earned money in the plate.”

And then I walk away, and my “here you go” is meaningless. Perhaps I’m even hoping that God moves along so that I can get on with my business.

Heavenly Father, thank You for this simple reminder about gratitude. I confess that I often don’t take time to acknowledge Your presence and see Your gifts. In truth, sometimes I just want to focus on my own agenda. I ask for Your forgiveness and seek the help of Your Spirit in pausing, offering my true thanksgiving, and inviting You into every part of this day. Also, I ask that You would help me to see other people as You see them, never dismissively but as persons loved and valued in Your sight. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Here I am to worship and offer a thankful heart. Amen.

Five Minute Friday” is a weekly opportunity for writers to write for five minutes on the same topic. Stop by Kate’s place @ katemotaung.com to read what other bloggers are writing about the word “here.”

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Five Minute Friday :: Open

I picture myself on the potter’s wheel, a lump of clay. With love and wisdom, the persistent, ever-patient Potter has mashed and pressed, kneading the air pockets out of my soul. He knows how I am prone to the hollowness of vain pursuits and busy-ness and desires of this world. When exposed to heat (think of the extreme temperatures of a kiln), these air pockets cause clay to literally explode. But as the Potter kneads away at my distraction and self-absorption, He protects from contamination and harm. And as His Spirit sprinkles this brittle clay with pure and living water, He softens, refines. How I long to be malleable for whatever the Potter has intended.

Finally, it’s a comfortable place to be, centered on this wheel – a lump of clay – smooth, solid, pliable, round, saturated.

And completely full of myself.

Flicker, Jason Hill, CC 2.0

Through these years in the hands of the Master Potter, I’ve come to understand that the Potter-Clay relationship works only when the clay submits to the Potter’s design. In order to become a vessel fit for the Potter’s purposes – a pitcher, for instance – the clay simply cannot be full of itself.

“Opening” is the part of the pottery process in which the Potter presses and pulls to move the clay aside and create space. A potter cannot make a vessel unless his fingers press deep inside and open.

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Psalm 51:6

Friends, you and I are not meant to follow a religious system that commands us to shape up. Instead, Grace gives us a Savior who reaches in to shape us. To clear out everything that has distracted and indulged us and hindered space for Him and His design. To purposefully create us to be something more beautiful … emptied of ourselves and filled with Him and poured out for others. The process of opening requires surrender and yes, often it is painful, yet when we allow God space for His Spirit, we become receivers — vessels emptied of ourselves and filled, even overflowing with grace.

Can you see the Potter’s hand in your life today? How might you allow Him space? Together, let’s pay attention to the transforming, opening power of quietness, prayer, and time with God in His Word. Let us take courage and embrace the surrender of being as we were meant to be – emptied and filled and poured out.

But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

“Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives.”  2 Corinthians 4:5-12, The Message

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“five-minute friday” is a weekly opportunity for writers to write on one topic for five minutes and share on Kate’s blog {here}. Stop by Kate’s place @ katemotaung.com to see what other bloggers are writing about the word “open.”

The Potter/Clay metaphor is Scripture is filled with beautiful descriptions of God’s commitment to refining and shaping His children (See Jeremiah 18 and Isaiah 64:8). I have learned much through the years from studying the ways the Potter shapes us. I highly recommend a beautiful book written by Diana Pavlac Glyer, Clay in the Potter’s Hands. Through spending hours at the potter’s wheel, Diana makes the process of creating pottery come alive and connects us to the deep meanings of this metaphor.

 

 


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“New” {Five Minute Friday}

Yesterday’s sunrise felt like a gift to me, so I made a u-turn in the midst of morning rush hour to find a place where I could stop and capture a picture.

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Who could count the sunrises since the words: “Let there be light”? The rising of the sun has a feeling of old and yet new for this is the character of the One who gives them. And this is what my soul craves.

This week I’ve confronted pride and selfishness in my heart, mourned over changing relationships, succumbed to a surge of guilt & sadness over donating & tossing Daddy’s things, yelled at drivers who keep on the brakes for no apparent reason, and scorned my indulgence, realizing afresh the poverty in this world.

As I type, the dawn has not yet emerged. I don’t know if today’s sunrise will be photo-worthy. But something in me knows that ancient faithfulness remains and new mercies await. And so, no matter what my eyes see, my heart remembers: He is worthy; He is trustworthy.

And He gives today as the first day of the rest of my life.

While the sun rises, I present this needful soul to the Giver and ask for a heart seeking not to understand. I can step out of darkness guided by His hand.

His Spirit draws my attention to a favorite book, so I open and read:

“God loves us with an everlasting love. He is unutterably merciful and kind, and sees to it that not a day passes without the opportunity for new applications of the old truth of becoming a child of God.” Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart

Today’s grace takes place of yesterday’s grace, and the same will be true tomorrow. God’s mercies are ever the same, ever fresh, ever old, ever young.

As this day dawns, I will trust Him anew.

*****

Lamentations 3: 19 – 24

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

*****

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

 


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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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“Tell” {Five Minute Friday}

How can we regard our neighbors’ chains and cage our words?

The world groans weary. Brilliant genius succumbs to darkness. Cities rage against restraint.  Little ones wander from their homelands in search of welfare. Missiles launch, piercing sky and sanity. The spilling of believers’ blood shocks our souls.

Fears run rampant like viruses, fastening our neighbors with ropes of addiction, depression, hopelessness.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isaiah 58: 6 – 7)

For such a time as this: the set-free must say something.

Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly.

Spend our words on freedom for the voiceless.

Advocate for the sanctity of life at every stage of the spectrum.

Give a reason for our hope.

Proclaim a Day when tears will end.

No, we don’t have it all together. But we have Him who holds all things together.

If not me and you, possessors of Peace, then who?

“…and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday … You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:10 – 11)

Let us tell a thirsty world.

Jesus, He is Living Water.

Let us tell a dreary world.

Jesus, He is Light of Life.

Let us tell a hungry world.

Jesus, He is Living Bread.

Let us tell a browbeaten world.

Jesus, He is Overcomer.

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so … (Psalm 107:2)

It’s time to tell. “… tell how much God has done for you.”  (Luke 8:39).

How can we regard our neighbors’ chains and cage our words?

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Five Minute Friday is a weekly gathering of “tellers” hosted by Kate Motaung. We write for 5 minutes to express our thoughts on the same word prompt. Find words of hope here.

Related: What Does It Mean to Speak Life?