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Bearing burdens

Lamentations 3:27-33 – “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.”

This was my son’s Scripture choice for the devotion he did for us last night. Deep content for a 15 year old boy, but he nailed it. 

When it comes to bearing burdens, we all are challenged by it. Sometimes we want to take the burden from our friend or loved one and carry it for them. Sometimes we want to give our burden away because we just don’t want to deal with it anymore. 

But neither one of those options is the way God wants us to handle things. He wants us to carry our own burden while allowing Him to lighten the load. Sometimes He does this by sending someone into our life to walk alongside us and help ease the load. Sometimes He wants us to give the burden completely to Him and let Him deal with it. 

Nowhere does it say to let another human take care of our burden. The Bible does tell us to “bear one another’s burdens” but that means by prayer and assistance. Not taking it on completely as our own. We have a tendency to want to take over when it comes to something like that. We want to own it and make it better. I think that’s the pride in our life wanting to do that. 

Yet, when we bear our own burden, it can sometimes get tough. We may feel overwhelmed and overtaken. We may feel buried under the weight of responsibility. Yet, God knows exactly where we are at in the situation. He knows what we need and when we need it. And waiting for Him can be hard. When it gets hard, I think that is when we go running and whining to someone else to take the difficulty away. What we need to do is buckle down and carry on. 

During my son’s devotion, he said that it was good for kids to learn to bear their own burdens while they are young and have parents there to help. He said that they needed to learn to take responsibility even when it is hard. And part of that responsibility is knowing when to turn it over and knowing when to ask for help. 

He’s a pretty wise young man. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with him because I know it will be incredible.

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Let love lead

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

Ok, first of all – if you aren’t familiar with KJV, “charity” means “love”. Charity is an old English word for love. 

Moving on..

Have you ever had a situation in your life in which someone you care about doesn’t do or act the way that you think they should? Their decisions don’t line up with what you are expecting. You think that your way is the correct and only way to handle the situation. And when the person you care about takes a path different from the one you had laid out in your head, well, that just won’t do. You get all in a fuss and begin to question their ability to choose for themself. You think they need an intervention. 

What they really need is love (go ahead – let you inner Beatle go at it!). 

When you love someone (and I’m not just talking about your spouse – I’m talking about ANYBODY you care about), these verses cover them. That means that you (and I) need to invoke all these wonderful attributes into that relationship. Patience, kindness, lack of pride, unselfishness, long suffering- these are the kinds of actions that need to be present whenever we love someone. 

But when they are thinking and behaving outside of our realm of what we believe for them, it gets tough. As long as they are within our little box for them, we are good – no relationship strains or challenges. But we all know that no one stays in the box. People are constantly outside their little box we give them to exist in. And that’s where we have to put love into action. 

We need to be patient with them, give them space to think things through and make their own choices. And when those choices don’t look like what we think they should, we have to be kind and long suffering. We haven’t walked in their shoes. We have walked alongside them, but to know the real ins and outs of what is going on inside their head is impossible. We have to remove our prideful and selfish behaviors that want to step in and intervene. They don’t need us to tell them what to do. They need us to listen and understand that they are trying to figure out what is next. We all deal with life and situations differently. We see problems in a variety of lights. We view opportunities with unique perspectives. Loving someone means respecting that uniqueness and embracing the time that it takes them to sort it all out. 

So today, maybe you have someone in your life that is trying to figure it all out. Maybe that person is going through major life changes or maybe they are just having one of those days. Either way, love them as the Holy Spirit instructed Paul to tell us here in these verses. You may not understand their choices, their problems or their thought process but remember that you don’t have to – you just need to bathe them in prayer and let Jesus take control of the situation. We can only walk so far with them, but He can walk the entire way.  

The waiting game

Psalm 27:14 – “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”

Who likes to wait? Who wants to sit around wondering what will happen? Isn’t that the reason we sneak a peak at the end of the book? Isn’t that when most people find trouble – while they are waiting?

We are a “I want it and I want it NOW” kind of people. We despise waiting. But it seems like our life is full of waiting – doctor’s offices, grocery store, traffic – you name it, and I have probably waited for it. 

Waiting can be a tricky thing. There are times that require us to wait and see what happens. There are other times when we think we know what’s going to happen, but we still have to wait. 

Waiting can teach us or waiting can harm us. It can teach us patience and trust. But when we ignore these lessons, we often find ourself in anxiety and trouble. 

Some people approach waiting with worry. They feel they have no control and therefore they become fearful and anxious. They dwell on what cannot be controlled and become concerned that horrible things are going to happen. 

But the other side of the coin is to trust and be patient. That is the hard part. While waiting, one can learn to turn it all over in prayer. Every last detail can be laid at the cross for Jesus to handle. That too is tough. We like to think that we need to carry just a little bit. We think that it is necessary to hold on to something just in case. This shows mistrust. This is an indicator that the trust factor isn’t fully there. 

Oh, it sounds easy – “Just pray about it and let God deal with it. He’s got it all under control.” And yes, that’s absolutely true. And that’s what our heart is telling us but our minds are spinning and churning out scenarios that can bring us into a stew. 

So, how do you make the two things work together- mind and heart? I have no idea. Let me know if you figure that one out. I think we all face this challenge of waiting, worrying and trusting. It’s tough. 

“Hurry up and wait!” That’s seems to be a common theme some days in my life. But you know what, there is a reason that I need that lesson. I’m waiting on a much bigger event than getting my teeth cleaned – I’m waiting on the return of my Savior. 

And as I wait on Him, I’m learning to trust Him in the little things. I’m  trying to learn that I don’t have to know all the answers right this second. I’m trying to learn that it’s okay to have uncertainty in some things (just not eternity). I’m trying to learn that there is a reason that I’m waiting. 

You will probably find yourself waiting sometime today, I can pretty much guarantee it. So what are you going to do while you wait? Will you sit there and wiggle and squirm and wonder and stress out? Or will you calm down a bit, pray and count your blessings? Maybe it will be a bit of both scenes, that’s probably my answer. I’m trying to learn more of an holy way to approach things, but it is a process. It takes time – more waiting. 😉

Don’t DIY

Genesis 15:1 – ” After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”

“Do-it yourself” stuff is all the rage. There is an entire app just for one to look up anything and everything that you can do for yourself. There are stores devoted to getting things around the house “fixed up” by Harry Homeowner himself. We like to do things ourself. In a world where you can get just about everything done by someone else for a price, it feels good to know that you accomplished some great feat all by yourself.

But there are some things that we just cannot do ourself – salvation, for one thing. We cannot attain our own salvation. We can’t work for it. We can’t buy it. We can’t steal it. It has to be given to us. Praise God! I don’t think I could handle the stress of trying to accomplish that task!

There are other ways that we try to out-do God. We try to protect ourself. Now, sure, there are things that we can do, items we can have on hand and such, that will protect us. Security systems, firearms, pepper spray, self-defense techniques, car seats and seat belts, wellness visits to the doctor – these are all ways that we can protect ourself. But as a follower of Christ, we have the best protection we could possibly imagine – we have God as our shield.

When I did a study of the armor of God one time, I learned that the to used for “shield” isn’t some small, dinky, upper body covering thing. No, this “shield” is more like a door that you hide behind. It is huge and all-protecting. You don’t have to worry about anything getting past that thing! The only way to get hurt while having this shield in your armory is to leave it behind.

This is the protection that God is offering everyone who puts their faith and trust in Him. This is the kind of protection He was offering Abraham. This is the same protection He offers you and me today. How cool is that??

In the last part of this verse, God describes Himself as Abraham’s “exceeding great reward”. Now, we LOVE rewards. We love accolades. We love bonuses. We love experiencing and seeing the fruit of our labor. And we want it now. No delayed gratification- that’s for the birds!  We are like that little girl from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. We whine and ball our fist and get all red faced while screaming, “I want it now!”  We never have been good at waiting.

God had promised Abraham a son. Abraham and Sarah were just as bad as us about waiting. But God had promised to be Abraham’s “exceeding great reward”. God promised to be all the reward that Abraham would ever need and/or want. He has made that promise to us today.

It’s the idea of being forward focused. It’s remembering that the best is yet to come. It’s accepting that things may never be the best while we are here and serving Him, but one day, oh one day, I can’t even explain how good things will be. I can only read and try to comprehend how good Heaven will be. I can’t imagine that kind of reward. But I believe with all my heart, that if God said it and/or promised it, that it is a guarantee!

So let me encourage you today – stay behind the shield and remember that the best is yet to come. Sometimes that can be challenging. We don’t want to wait for God to rescue us. And we certainly don’t want to wait to get our reward. But just like that ketchup commercial used to say, “The best things in life come to those who wait.”

Ugh! Waiting…

Psalm 40:1-3 – “I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.”

My daughter is now in seventh grade. When my son entered the same grade, he got a cell phone. So this weekend, we went to change carriers and get her a new phone. Oh my, what a practice in patience. I had forgotten how long it takes to transfer a line and start up a new phone. We were in the store for more than an hour. One hour of doing nothing but sitting and occasionally getting up to sign something. 

Now, I realize that this is a trivial manner – “first world problems” as my husband calls them. Yet, why is it not so much of a burden to wait an hour for a new phone but to wait upon an answer from God seems like the wait of the ages? True, He may take a bit longer than an hour to get back to us, but still. The point is that we will gladly wait that hour of our life to get what we want but when it comes to spiritual matters we expect them to be answered right away.  

Sometimes God says to wait. Sometimes we have a few more lessons to get under our belt before He answers our prayer. And sometimes, God just flat out says “no” and we don’t like that word, do we? We are not accustomed to being told “no”. 

But regardless of the answer He gives, He hears every prayer we utter. He listens to them all, even if He doesn’t answer right away. But when He does, He answers in a big way. Not only will He pull us out of our situation, if needed, but He will establish our way and set a new song on our lips. And here is the kicker – when He does all of this, it is our responsibility to give credit where it is due – to Him. We need to be diligent about praising His Name when we receive an answer to prayer. He is God, that makes Him higher than all other names. He doesn’t have to listen to me. He doesn’t have to pick me up when I fall. He doesn’t have to dust me off and set me on the right path and give me new song. But He does, because He loves me that much. And that, dear friend, deserves praise and honor and glory. 

So today, or this week, when you find yourself waiting, whether it be for something or someone, remember that God may be giving you this opportunity to practice patience for a reason – you might need it real soon. 

A Rock and A Hard Place

Exodus 14:13-14 – “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”

Do you ever get freaked out? You have a list as long as you arm to accomplish in one day. The car breaks down on the side of the road. The kids have twelve different places they are supposed to be that day. Your husband is concerned about how you are going to pay the bills this month. Your boss at work is upset over your productivity level. And now you feel a migraine coming on that will stop you dead in your tracks. What’s a girl to do? 

The children of Israel had just seen the magnificence of the Lord. They had seen His mighty hand working in Egypt and they had been released from their bondage. They were free. They had plundered Egypt on their way out. No more did they have to build the pyramids. No more did they have to be in slavery to someone else. God had set them free. Yet here they were trapped between a rock and a hard place, literally. The Red Sea was on one side, mountains on the other two and pharaoh’s army was coming up the other way. They had literally no where to go. And they were freaking out. I believe God had brought them to this place specifically. He had it in His plan to do this awesome and unthinkable feat. This event was going to be one for the history books. But the people couldn’t see past their own terrors and problems. All they could see was death. 

Side note: Have you ever seen “The Incredibles”? You know, the part where the mom and the kids had just jumped out of the airplane before it explodes and when they hit the water the kids are freaking out. They are splashing around saying, “We’re gonna die!” And the mom slaps the water and says, “We are not going to die! You kids had better get a grip or so help me you are going to be grounded for a month!” This, this is what I think of when I read this account of the children of Israel. I know, I’m a weirdo, but it is how my brain works. Welcome to my world. 

Anyway, sometimes we are just like the children of Israel. All we can see is the horribleness in front of us. We don’t see the opportunity for something amazing. We don’t see how God could possibly pull us out of the situation. We think we are doomed. 

Hence the reason Moses spoke to them. Here is my paraphrasing of what Moses said – “Would y’all just chill out! God has got this! I know it doesn’t seem like it but if you will just get a grip, you will see that He is going to do something awesome! These people who are freaking you out, these people who are scaring you to death, you will never, I mean NEVER, see them again! God is going to wipe them out! So, just stop your whining, hush up and trust that He has got this!” Yes, God would say “y’all” – He was speaking to more than three people. 😉

Sometimes in the midst of your insanity, you need to stop and listen. Sometimes God is whispering this very same thing to your heart. You just have to be quiet and hear it. Life is not always going to be a red carpet event. Sometimes you may feel like you are walking in the sewer. Sometimes you may find yourself with a mountain on two sides, a really big body of water on the other and the enemy fast approaching on another. That’s when the unthinkable has to happen. That’s when you have to stop and give it all over to the One who has it all under control. Then, you just wait for Him to show up and show out. It’s a beautiful thing. 

Kalalau Trail

  

Ephesians 4:32 – “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Good morning from Kauai! Yep, it’s like 6:45 AM here. I know on the mainland that it is afternoon or so. 

This is a picture from the 2 mile mark at Kalalau trail. It is amazing! We hiked it the other day, very steep and quite narrow in some spots. 

So, I am guessing that you are wondering what this verse has to do with this picture. Like I said, the trail can be very step and narrow at times. You have to let people pass one at a time. Now, don’t be scared. Our life was never in danger. We would never do that to our children. But, there were times that the terrain was so steep and wet that we would have to go VERY slow and go one at a time down the slippery rocks. That was a little freaky. But the people on the trail were all so nice. I don’t think you could find a group of total strangers so willing to be patient and helpful that the people you will find on the Kalalau trail. 

I don’t know that every one we met was a follower of Christ, but they exuded this verse. They were kind – they offered to take family photos for us. Where could they possibly go with our camera? 😉 They were tenderhearted  – people were making sure that the ones around them were safe. People were also watching out for one another while at the beach or while on the trail. People were forgiving – sometimes you are looking down at the trail and forget that there might be someone else who needs to get by. 

My point in all of this is that we need to show people Christ no matter where we are and no matter what we are doing. People need to see that followers of Christ are a different breed. Just like you go out onto this trail anticipating difficult terrain and an arduous journey, you should go through life with the anticipation of difficult situations and a long, arduous trip home to Heaven. We need to be willing to be kind, to be tenderhearted and to be forgiving because you see, that is what makes us different. That is what shows others that we have Someone special leading our life – Jesus.