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Return to “Normal”

Psalm 116:5-7 -“Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.”

We made it back home and now “normal” begins. School begins today for my kids, 2 days late. Work is back to a more normal rate. My husband is back into the swing of his job. Soccer and cheer both have practice today. Life is a bit more normal.

These last 2 weeks have been challenging to say the least. They have been wrought with travel. They have been doused with love and compassion. They have been full of all kinds of emotion. They have been quite tiring. But they have been surrounded by God. 

He has been my firm place through it all. He has provided for me in ways I can’t explain. He has comforted me with His word and through His people.

And now, as we get back to “normal”, I know that He will be with me through that as well. 

I’m not so sure about the “return to rest” part. But I guess that the insanity of my normal is, in it’s own way, restful. When busyness surrounds me, I find peace in it. There is a serenity in having things planned out and kinda knowing what is coming up next. I find joy in knowing that my kids are busy and happy and in the process of being successful. I take comfort in knowing that God is with all of us and that He will provide all that we need.

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Temporary good-bye

I Thessalonians 4:14-18 – “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Well, I find myself on the road again. This time, we are headed to a funeral. Grandpa lost his battle here on earth but won a far greater prize – the presence of Jesus. As my little niece so appropriately put it, “Grandpa closed his eyes and when he opened them again, he saw Jesus.” How cool is that!

But as comforting as it is to know that he is in the presence of His Savior, we still have to say good-bye or rather, so long for now. And that’s not always the easiest task to accomplish. 

You see, we all are a bit selfish. We want him here. We don’t want to have to face all the challenges of living without him. We want it to be easy. We want to go up to his house and have him go with us to get the 4 wheeler out of the shed. We want to see him stand at the gate to the pasture and call the cows. We want to fuss at him about not putting his own socks on (long story). We want to hear him give grandma a hard time and laugh at his quirky little ways. But that’s not the case with this trip.

This time, we go to comfort one another. We go to say our “so-long for now” and to lay him to rest. We go to remember. We go to cry. We go to laugh. We go to give our support.

But one day, in the not too distant future, I imagine, we will see him again. We will see him, my dad, my grandma, my other grandpa, my uncles, and all the friends and loved ones who have gone on before us to the presence of God. Jesus will come back. Those graves we so diligently keep will burst open. We who are left will meet Jesus in the air. Oh….I can’t wait! Even so Lord Jesus come!

So amongst all the tears and sadness, I will be holding to hope. I will be smiling on the inside because I know this is just a temporary good-bye. This is just another bump in the road. Grandpa knew it. Daddy knew it. All of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior know it. Death is hard. Death is sad. Death seems so final. But it’s not. Jesus has overcome death. And that is why I will be smiling on the inside – because I know it is just temporary.

Shelter

Jeremiah 16:17 – “For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.”

Well, we made it! We made it to our vacation spot among the hills and mountains out west. And it is BEAUTIFUL!! I’m sitting outside wrapped in a blanket that I know will repulse me in a few hours because it will be so incredibly hot. But for now, the warmth feels good. 

As we were driving here yesterday, we crossed a lot of desert type land. Flat. Dry. Scrub bushy. A Joshua tree here and there. But really, no place to hide. No place to take shelter from the blazing sun. No place to pause for a respite. 

When I saw this verse this morning, the terrain I witnessed yesterday was brought to mind. When we walk with God through this life, He is our shelter. He is our place of refuge. He is our place to hide. He our fountain of Living Water. 

He sees all our actions. He hears all our thoughts. He knows the intent of our heart. We can’t hide from Him whether we choose to follow Him or not. 

We think we can pull one over on God. We think that little scrub bush is going to give us all we need. We think that straggly little tree will provide all the shelter we need from the oppression of this world. The pride in our heart keeps us from accepting what is good and perfect. Our pride keeps us from seeing His blessings and protection. 

So this week, as I look out across God’s amazing landscape while walking through the desert, trust me when I say I will truly appreciate God’s shelter and protection – because without Him, this old world is really, really hot. 

Under the cloud

Matthew 28:20b – “and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

I have been reading a fictional account of a Biblical truth regarding Caleb. It tells of his life and story as it relates to the children of Israel and their exodus from Egypt. While reading it the other day, I couldn’t help but stop and ponder for a moment about how it must have felt the day that the cloud was no longer over the children of Israel. 

Think about it, from the time they left Egypt until they crossed the Jordan river, they had a cloud to provide protection from the hot sun in the day and warmth from the fire within at night. There was an entire generation that grew up under that cloud. They were a generation that knew only of the cloud and its’ movement. They were a generation that had only eaten manna from Heaven. 

Can you imagine what it would have felt like to wake up one morning with none of that there? I tried to find when the cloud left and the manna stopped but didn’t find a specific time. It just seemed to no longer be available. 

Sometimes when we choose to walk away from God, it feels like He is just no longer available. In actuality, it is us that is unavailable. We are the ones who have left Him, not the other way around. 

God never left the children of Israel even when they left Him. He never forgets His promises. He never forgets your name. He always remembers your burdens and successes and faults and highlights. 

So if for some reason or another you feel like you have gotten up and God is…gone, He’s not. You have moved, not Him. 

Search your heart. Identify the sin that has built up the wall that is keeping you from His loving protection and guidance. Tear it down and rest under His cloud. 

Hiding

Psalm 17:5-8 – “Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech. Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings”

The weather was rough last night. We didn’t know if we would have tornados or not. The wind whipped. The rain poured. The sky rumbled. The lightening dance through the sky. But no tornados that I know of in my area. 

But as we headed to church last night, listening to the radio, we couldn’t hear a full song because of all the warnings that were being issued. We called some friends of ours that we knew were over by our church building to ask about the weather over there. When they told us it was okay for now, we headed that way. 

It reminded me of something my grandma said one time – She was cooking Christmas dinner while a storm was raging outside her house. A tornado actually danced across the field across from her house. She just kept basting the turkey. When we asked her, “Grandma, shouldn’t you have tried to get somewhere safe? The tornado could have come right for your house!” She replied, “If the Lord wants you, He gonna git you whether you’re hidin’ or not!” 

God holds all His children in His hand. He knows our fears. He knows our circumstances. He knows it all. And He cares. He cares more than we could ever comprehend. We are the apple of His eye. We can never hid from God. He knows our every step and every thought. 

So the next time you find fear in your heart or uncertainty in your step, remember that God knows. He knows the tornados threatening you. He knows the rocks in your path. He knows the joy in your heart. He understands the concerns that you may have. Let Him be in control of it all. 

Hope. 

Revelation 21:4 – “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

I woke up yesterday morning with something I have I never experienced before – severe pain in my shoulders and upper back. I turned over to turn off my alarm and felt like someone had stabbed me in the shoulders! And it nagged me all day. 

And then I saw the news – a plane full of soccer players went down in Central America. Six people survived. Three were on the soccer team. My son came home and informed me that one of the men who died had just learned he would be a father. My heart broke. 

So much pain. So much sorrow. So many tears. So many fears. 

Bummer. Right? Geesh, Melissa. You sure know how to throw on a wet towel!

But wait! There’s a bright side!

My God, MY GOD!, shall wipe away ALL tears. Not some tears – all tears. All the tears from losing a loved one. All the tears from physical pain. All the tears of the broken hearted. All tears. They shall be wiped away by the hand of the tender and loving God. 

I’m looking forward to that day. It has been a wild and wacky year filled with uncertainty and confusion and anger and frustration. But it has also been a year of hope and laughter and joy as well. 

But one day, when Jesus returns, He will set all things straight. He will make all things new. He will take all the yuck out of the world and make it so much better. 

I’m looking forward to that day. I’m ready for it. And as much as I enjoy the twinkling lights of Christmas, I look forward to the everlasting Light of the world shining for all to see. 

Hope. 

HE IS STILL IN CONTROL

Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Matthew 6:34 – “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Isaiah 14:24 – “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand”

So for the last few days, everyone has asked me, “What do you think about the election?” My response has been, “God is still in control.” A few people have come back with a “Really?” But yesterday, one lady, who is through her lineage a Jew, said to me, “You really believe He is still in control? I’m not so sure.”

I. Was. Heartbroken. I don’t understand how anyone could question whether or not God is in control. But when someone who professes to be a Jew and knowing their heritage and all that God has done for them says to me “Really?”, I am troubled. 

Whether or not you are happy or sad or burdened or depressed or concerned about the way things are going right now, God is in control. He always has been and He always will be. Crazy people may rule the land. (They have been, right?)   Fanatics may be throwing temper tantrums in the street. Extremist may be marching around trying to intimidate everyone. But GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!  

I think the most troubling thing about some of the discussions where people question whether or not He is still in control is this – where is their hope? I HAVE to believe that He is still in control. Otherwise, I think in would curl up in a ball in the corner and wait out the rapture. He is my hope. Knowing that He is in control gets me out of bed and gets me through dealing with crazy people. It is what puts one foot in front of the other. 

My hope, my trust, my comfort is solely in Jesus Christ my Savior. As the old song goes, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust a sweeter strain but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”