Friday, February 27, 2009

Stand

I have a question for you. What do you do when life doesn't make sense? When a loved one is tragically killed in a car accident? When your doctor says, "It's cancer". When you are suddenly laid off from work? When your dream dies? When you are left with a million questions and not one single answer? What do you do?

You stand. That's what you do. It's as simple and as critical as that.

For some reason, when we find our self experiencing a trial or hardship, our humanness demands to know why. At first, our questions are almost always me-centered. Why me? Why did this have to happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? Then, God gets thrown in to the questioning. Why would God allow this to happen? Why would a God of love let me suffer like this? Why didn't God step in and do something to stop this?

More times than not, our questioning only leads us to feelings of confusion, anger, or despondency, not the answer we are so desperately seeking. In our need to find answers, we often find our self overlooking or forgetting what we DO know, in search of that which we may never know, at least not on this side of Heaven. In times like these, we need to stop trying to understand, and to simply stand.

At a very low point in my life, I found myself playing the "why" game with God. Day in and day out I kept pleading with him for an answer. I believed if I could just understand the "why" behind what was happening, I would be able to deal with it, accept it and move on. God remained silent. For months, I wrestled with my emotions and my God.

Finally, one day God did speak. "Stacy, if you keep trying to under-stand why, you are going to go under! Simply stand on what you DO know. You know I am all love, all the time and you can trust me with your life. You know I want only the best for you and I am always working everything out for your good and my glory. Quit trying to understand this. Instead, stand on who I am and the promises I have made to you." While this word from God wasn't the answer to my question, it most certainly was the answer to my peace.

Today, if you find yourself drowning in a sea of questions, fighting to keep your faith above the water and your eyes on God, only to get pulled under by the current of confusion, doubt and anger time and time again, why not stop struggling and simply stand on the foundation of God's unfailing love for you? You may have to surrender your need to know why, but the peace you will discover in it's place will be more than worth it. More importantly, your continued trust and faith in God depends on it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Divine Appointment


It was late. I was tired. My husband and I both hungry. As I drove out of the parking lot, I phone my husband to tell him I would soon be home. As we discussed "dinner plans", it was decided take out was our best option and I, the best one to pick it up since I was already out.

I soon found myself at a local sandwich shop. After placing our order, I took a nearby seat and began the process of waiting. All I could think of was getting home, eating, and going to bed. My thoughts were soon interrupted by the voice of an irate customer. Her complaints were trivial. Obviously, her tirade was more about drawing attention to herself than to her order.

The young lady assisting her was amazing. Through all the verbal abuse, unreasonable complaints and demands placed on her by this customer, her countenance never changed. Her smile remained and her voice was calm and remarkably pleasant. As I sat there witnessing this scene, I felt impressed by God to commend this young lady for her professionalism. As soon as my number was called and my order ready, I would approach her at the counter and pass along words of much deserved praise and recognition.

Impressed by the behavior of this young lady, my eyes continued to follow her as she worked. After completing an order, she headed to the phone and began to call someone. I couldn't help overhearing her conversation. Evidently, no one had shown up to babysit her young children and they were home alone. It was quite obvious she had made several earlier calls, just like this one, in hopes of locating someone to watch over her little ones until her shift ended and she could return home. From the look on her face, this phone call only brought with it another "No, I'm sorry I can't" along with mounting fear for her children. As she hung up, she sat in a chair, rubbing her forehead with one hand while wiping tears with her other.

My number was called and I approached the counter to pick up our order. I had been waiting for this moment to speak with her, but now, she was sitting in the back portion of the kitchen. Silently I prayed the Lord would give me the opportunity. She looked up and surprisingly, I was able to catch her eye with the wave of my hand. She smiled and made her way to the counter.

"Yes? How can I help you? Is there something wrong with your order?" she asked, trying to hide the fear in her heart and the tears in her eyes.

"No." I replied. "I just couldn't leave here tonight without telling you how much I appreciate the professional and kind manner in which you dealt with that difficult customer earlier. I know it wasn't easy for you. God provided you with the inner strength you needed. He is always right here with you, and just like He gave you the strength to deal with that woman, He will give you the strength to deal with whatever may be happening in your life right at this very moment. He cares for you and He will be faithful to provide you with all you need. I will be praying for you"

She smiled, thanked me, and handed me my order. I walked in the direction of the door and she returned to her work.

As I reached my car, I bowed my head in prayer. As I had watched in disgust, the behaviour of the self-absorbed customer, God had opened my eyes to see my own selfishness reflected through her actions. How my "I"-rate behaviour must disgust my Heavenly Father! Lord, forgive me. As I had watched the beauty of the young lady serving, I had seen my own need for more of Christ in my heart and life. Lord, live in and through me. As I had glimpsed the deeply hidden anguish in this young woman's life, I had been reminded to speak more kinder and treat others more gently, for we never know what they may be facing in their lives. Lord, teach me to love. As I was given the privilege to speak words of affirmation and encouragement to this hurting heart, I was convicted to seek out every door of opportunity to share words of hope, love and truth with those around me.
Lord, use me to speak your words to others.

As I drove home, I realized I was no longer feeling upset, tired and fatigued. Instead, I felt refreshed! I prayed the young lady at the sandwich shop felt refreshed too!



Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Awesome Truth

Today, I overheard a conversation.

"Ugh! !!!!! My hair isn't right!!!!!! It looks funny!!!!!!!".
Unrealistic words spoken by a six year old as he was headed out the door for school.

" No!!!! It looks awesome!!!!!! "
Realistic words spoken by a three year old unaware he was encouraging his brother.

The six year old smiled. Then, with his head held high, he boldly and confidently stepped out into his day.

After witnessing this, I remarked to the parents of these two amazing boys that we all need a "younger brother" in our lives. Someone who is there to speak not only words of encouragement, but more importantly, words of truth and affirmation. Someone who is in our corner, cheering us on and believing we are truly awesome.

So often our views of ourself, our abilities, our personality, or our job performance become distorted. We start to believe the words spoken by the six year old. "My (fill in the blank) isn't right!!!!! It looks funny!!!!!" Unrealistic thoughts flood our mind. We become uncomfortable with ourself and our own self-doubt begins to blind us to the truth about who we really are.

Thankfully, only child or not, there is someone in each of our lives who knows us. In fact, He knows us even better than we know ourselves. Like the three year old brother, when God hears us speak words of self-condmenation he yells, "NO!!!!! You are awesome!!!!!!. I created you with my own nail-scarred hands. I made you just the way you are for a reason. You have a definite and distinct purpose in this world and you will never be able to be like anyone else because you are you. My one and only, YOU!" Realistic words that need to penetrate the inner most part of our being.

Stop listening to the lies. Start believing and living the truth. You ARE awesome.

Now, smile, and with your head held high, beholding our Creator, boldly and confidently step out into your life. Oh, and while you are looking up, don't forget to also look around you. God isn't the only one who can speak words of encouragement, you know. Share the awesome truth with someone today!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Work in Progress

Driving to work a few days ago, I caught myself singing the words to a familiar song.

"Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving, I'll be a living sanctuary for you."

The words poured effortlessly from my heart and rolled easily off my tongue. And why shouldn't they? It was a beautiful, zippity do dah kind of day. I was on my way to a job I love. My husband had the day off and I was already looking forward to spending some quality time with him when I returned home that evening. Maybe we would go out to eat. Maybe the two of us would whip up something delicious to eat in our kitchen built for one. Whatever we did was going to be fantastic because we would be doing it together. I could hardly wait.

Around noon, my husband called to chat. Our conversation was upbeat and I smiled as I secretly thought of the plans I had for us. As the conversation continued, however, it became evident my husband had some plans of his own. He and some of his friends were going to go to a basketball game that evening and he was wondering if I would like to come along. Since sharing my husband with his buddies and a gym full of screaming fans was not one of the scenarios I had envisioned earlier, I politely declined his invitation and wished him a wonderful evening.

As I hung up the phone, tears of disappointment and yes, even anger filled my eyes. How could he spend the evening with his friends when I had such great plans for he and I? Of course, I knew my thoughts of anger were not valid. My husband knew nothing of my plans. I hadn't shared them with him. In his mind, his evening was free and going to the game, a perfectly good and normal thing to do.

As the anger subsided, I realized my feelings of disappointment were still holding on tight. Soon, this disappointment turned into self-pity and the only thoughts running through my mind were ones about me and the lonely evening I was sure to have. It wasn't a pretty picture. It seemed as though both my zippety and my doo dah had abandoned me in pursuit of "happier pastures".

Later than afternoon, my unhappiness drove me to my knees and the loving arms of my Heavenly Father. Having been convicted of my selfishness, I prayed for forgiveness. Then as God's peace flooded my heart, I prayed for my husband. Not a prayer that he would somehow decide not to go to the game and spend his evening with me, but a heartfelt prayer that he would have an awesome evening with his friends. By the end of my prayer, my long lost friends, zippety and do dah had both moved back into my heart.

Driving home that evening, I remembered my morning commute and the words of invitation and surrender I had sang so boldly. It seemed God had been faithful to take me at my word. He, through the events of my day, was graciously and lovingly preparing me to be a living sanctuary.

As I continued my journey homeward, in a spirit of reverence and humility, I once again begin to sing.

"Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving, I'll be a living sanctuary for you."

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Beauty Not Its Own

This morning, as I peeked out my window to greet the day, I beheld the most magnificent sight. Expecting to see only the black of the early morning sky, I was delighted to find the darkness had been overtaken by the grandeur of the moon, and its illuminating effect on the fluffy clouds polka dotting the usually black canvas. A smile came to my face, as my eyes breathed in this spectacular sight and peace and tranquility flooded my heart. As I sat in the still of the moment, God spoke to me, leaving a heartprint.

The moon itself is not capable of radiating light or beauty. It is merely composed of dirt and rock and has no light giving power of its own. Only when it reflects the light of the sun is the darkness dispelled. Only when it reflects the light of the sun are we blessed with the breathtaking beauty I witnessed.

And so it is the same with you and me. Like the moon, we are made of dust and have no ability to shine on our own. Yet, when we align our life with that of the Creator of the Universe, we become a reflection of His love, dispelling darkness in the lives of those stumbling through a world overshadowed with grief, worry, fear and loneliness. Like the moon, we can be used by God to flood the hearts of others with His peace, tranquility and beauty.

Lord,
Thank you for starting my day in such a beautiful way. As I focus on you today, may your love and your beauty shine forth from me.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen