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An end not yet in sight.

Anxiety catches me unaware as I turn the page to a new month.

My plan was to retreat during spring break at a cabin in the treetops somewhere in Tennessee. Away from home responsibilities and work. I would breathe fresh air, contemplate my life direction, write in my journal, read good books, visit a few thrift stores, eat out, and generally relax.

That changed a few weeks ago as I canceled one thing after another, marking out time with friends, church, band practice, piano lessons, doctor appointments, and trips to the grocery. Two weeks of confinement looked doable. Thirty more days feels daunting.

I walked with Maisie after watching the morning news, talking myself down from the ledge of worry and fear, speaking Bible verses I’ve learned, hoping to change my thought process. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in You.” “The Lord is my refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.”

Even the glass-half-full people are dealing with the angst of world crises. Anyone watching the news is susceptible to uneasy concern. Change happens daily as I try to keep up. Am I allowed to leave my house? Can I work in the garden? Is it OK to walk my lane and wave to my neighbors? Do I need a mask to visit the grocery or will a scarf protect me?

And what is really happening to my dear ones who are miles away from me? How can I support them when I’m in confinement?

I read tips for coping with the pandemic. I wash my hands until they are beginning to crack. Authorities say dark days are ahead.

On the positive side of my coin, I work hard in the garden. Minimizing and making them more manageable is a way to use my hyper energy.

I plan virtual piano lessons with my students, looking forward to a sort of normalcy with them. This challenges me technologically, but I know seeing their faces will boost my mood.

At this point, there is little I can do except stay home, self-distance as directed, reach out to people any way I can. And pray. Praying focuses me on mighty God who is stronger than any virus.

I remember a story in 1 Samuel 30:6.

And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.

David encouraged himself in the Lord. I can do the same. I look backward, remembering the days of my life, how God was with me, how He brought me through difficult pathways, how He taught me to depend on Him, how He is the strong God and my Savior.

I encourage myself in the Lord.

Proverbs 3:5-6 became a song my mother sang when she was alive. I can almost hear her powerful voice, filled with faith, eyes closed in a prayer of worship. In the great cloud of witnesses in Heaven, I wonder if she is singing to us right now. I will join the chorus.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.

If you are fighting anxiety, join the multitude. Admitting and naming a thing takes away some of its power. But then encourage yourself in the Lord. He is here, as near as your next breath.

A friend sent me a verse after we talked by phone, 3 John 14. It seems an appropriate closing to my friends, wherever you are.

I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here [Sweet William and Maisie] send their greetings.

Don’t be afraid. God is near.


Sunday grace

Predawn darkness. Sound of perking coffee. Fresh air from an opened window.

The new day begins. I sit in the stillness, Bible open in my lap and prayer list in my hand. I read, pray, listen.

God was awake before I heard the alarm. He kept watch through the night. He waited in expectation for me to come. He desires fellowship with me.

I stand amazed.

Before the sun crests the tree tops, birds begin their chorus. First one, then others join. The little woods becomes a symphony of song.

The words I pray are no surprise to my Father. He knows the needs before I ask. He understands my feeble effort to express my requests, remembering that I am dust. He determines the times and seasons and works His plan to bring about His will.

What more could I ask?

I journal and pour out my heart on paper. God comprehends more than the words I try to write, the longings so tangible that I ache, the storm brewing that needs a calming.

As near as my breath, He speaks peace. “Fear not. I am with you.”

I rest in Him, a Sabbath rest that incompasses every day of the week. It is the choice I make as I rise to face the day. Whatever it brings, I know God loves me. He hears my prayers. He answers according to His perfect will, accomplishing His purpose in me and those I love.

This is grace.

Sunday grace.

Sunday grace

I’m such a saver of memories.

I’m a keeper, this I know for sure. I don’t swing to the side of hoarding, but my family will tell you I hold onto things. Like the grandchildren’s animal-shaped sippy cups, though the three of them are practically adults. Like the dolls I played with when I was a child. Like our son’s cub scout shirt. Like my dad’s hammer and my mother’s girlhood autograph book.

And then there are the cards people sent. These are difficult to part with. They hold deep sentiment and recollections of people who have been important to me.

I have a small file cabinet in the upstairs office. It contains things saved: trip maps used recently, Bible studies I’ve taught, my high school report cards and resumes of my work history, among many other things, filed alphabetically of course. Those drawers hold pieces of my life, and somehow remind me who I am as much as the photos organized in boxes.

I determined I would go through the file cabinet while this year is still new and throw out what I can, to lighten the load of stuff kept. And there were piles of papers that went into the trash.

Occasionally I will come upon something special. As I was finishing this final organizing project, I found a 3-by-5 inch lined index card with a simple eight line poem written in my mother’s handwriting. She’s been gone from this earth for 36 years, but I know her penmanship well.

She was such an example of faith to me. I watched her live it out through many hard places. As she faced death, I asked her if she was afraid. She immediately replied “No.” She had learned that Jesus is faithful through her years, and she didn’t worry about her future.

There is no author to whom I can give credit for this simple verse. But it is worth sharing.

Doubt sees the obstacles
Faith sees the way.
Doubt sees the darkest night.
Faith sees the day.
Doubt dreads to take a step.
Faith soars high.
Doubt questions, Who believes?”
Faith answers, “I.”

Sunday grace.

Sunday grace

 

Lord, we thank You for all of Your good gifts.

Scripture says You satisfy the thirsty and fill the hungry with good things.  I believe this is true, though sometimes your good gifts are shrouded in mystery, dressed in darkness, and accompanied by confusion and pain.

Yet, in Your wise and wonderful way, you plan to redeem each difficulty and bring beauty out of the ash heap. You teach us through our hardships, things like compassion, patience, kindness, endurance, and trust.

You hold us in the cold reality of calamity. When winds of adversity threaten to sink our fragile vessel, You ride the waves with us.

Sometimes you calm the storm. But mostly You offer Yourself as our Peace in the middle of the squall.

As Your child, I believe Your love for me is everlasting. You are sovereign over all my life and what you allow to come into it. I am not a victim of my circumstances. You are watching over all my comings and goings.

You plan good for me, a hope and a future. Your love for me is strong and determined. You have purpose for my pain.

And so I, the sometimes doubter longing to be a faithful believer, once again reaffirm my trust in You, the great God of Heaven and Earth.

Lord, I thank You for all your good gifts.

Sunday grace

What if I really believed?

What if I read the words of Scripture and believed they were true?

What if I took the account of the creation of the world as genuine?

What if I heard the words, “Jesus loves you” and accepted it as fact?

What if I considered the possibility that God has a divine plan for my life?

What if I concluded that the Holy Spirit of God really does live within me?

What if I knew in my heart that Heaven awaits me because of the cross and the blood of Christ?

What if I acknowledged the stories of eye witnesses that Jesus arose from the dead and is alive, making it a reality that I can live too?

What if I were certain that my life has purpose, that my struggles are strategies to make me stronger, that trials are a testing ground of my faith, that victory is available to me in it all, and that I am more than a conqueror through Christ?

What if I simply believed?

I would live differently. I would rejoice and be glad. I would give thanks in all circumstances. I would love God and love others as I am loved.

It would make all the difference in the world.

Believe and see the glory of God.

Sunday grace.

Sunset in Colorado, by travisPhoto by Travis Wright

Christmas grace

Over lunch this week, we sat side by side. In between bites of pork loin and vegetables, we chatted, our conversation never faltering. It was like a tennis game, each of us taking our turn talking and listening.

It is the way of women.

As I meditate upon Mary’s visit to Elizabeth her relative, so many questions circle in my mind. I want more details. What is left untold is left to the imagination.

Mary hurried to the town in the hill country of Judea? What was her hurry? I have my thoughts. People didn’t believe her story of an angel’s visitation, of the Holy Spirit coming upon her, of a pregnancy before she and Joseph were husband and wife. But perhaps Elizabeth would. She was the recipient of her own miracle.

The long journey on foot would have been weary for young Mary. Perhaps she sighed with relief when the house finally came into view. Longing for some refreshment and a place to rest, she knocked on the door.

Elizabeth greeted her and then the joy happened all around them. The presence of the Holy Spirit surrounded the young and the aged and the babes in their wombs. The atmosphere was electric, and their faith in a God who works wonders united in explosive praise.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” — Luke 1:45, NIV

When we believe, we are blessed. When we believe, we honor the God who promised. When we believe, we encourage one another. When we believe, the Holy Spirit is powerful in us.

What are you believing for this day? Does it seem impossible? Have you been waiting long?

“Who has believed and confidently trusted in, relied on, and adhered to our message of salvation? And to whom, if not us, has the arm and infinite power of the Lord been revealed?” — Isaiah 53:1, Amplified Bible

Sometimes we need to gather together and believe with each other. Let faith arise. Let God be exalted Encourage one another with words of confidence and trust in a Mighty Savior.

“My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” — Luke 1:46, 47, KJV

Sunday grace.

 

Image result for google images mary and elizabeth

Walk this way

Finding myself more than halfway through a Bible study becomes melancholy experience for me.

There’s lots of preparation for each and every week that takes a chunk of my time.  But when I gather with a group of wonderful women who become sisters-in-Christ in the truest since of the word, and we talk about God, it is joy.  Plain and simple.

Studying The Armor of God with Priscilla Shirer has been eye-opening to us as we have been awakened to our enemy’s strategies, re-discovering how to fight well, and learning to put into practice what we already knew and what we are learning afresh.

This week’s topic has been the shield of faith, learning that faith is active, moving where God is calling.

I will admit I have had my crises of faith.  Those times when I questioned everything I was ever taught in the face of my present reality.  Times when what I desperately prayed for didn’t materialize.  Times when I wondered if everything I believed was really true.

Often my focus was on me and my faith.  Was it enough?  Was it strong?  Would it be sufficient to accomplish my purpose?

Ms. Shirer made this statement:  “Faith is less about me and more about God.”

I am a dull learner sometimes, having to repeat the same lesson again.  And this time I want to remember this lesson well.

Faith is about a mighty God, a dependable God, a strong and compassionate God.  And let me say it in bold letters, A Faithful God.

When Jesus chided his followers because of their lack of faith, wasn’t it because they were looking at circumstances and themselves rather than looking at Yahweh?  The I Am.  The Self-existent One.  The Everlasting.  The Alpha and Omega.

Oh my, when I look at the God of the Bible who accomplished amazing miracles and who died a selfless, humiliating death for my sake and to pay my unpayable debt of sin, I am filled with a strong faith in a strong God.

Faith is not about me.  Not about how much or how little I have.  Not whether I can talk myself into believing the impossible.

Faith is about a faithful God who can do more than I can imagine or think into reality.  When I fix my eyes on Jesus, when I look toward the only Answer in a broken world of questions, when I see Him in the glory of the One and Only who rules and reigns even when all seems in chaos, then and only then am I filled with faith.

When this vision is before me and making itself at home in my heart, I will have an active faith.  A faith that can move forward where God is calling to me.

I will hear Him say, “Walk this way.”  And I will go with Him.

Walkway

Bruce Park AW Hanks Walkway, Wikipedia