“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” ~ Hebrews 11:6
This verse brings back a wonderful memory…
When David and I were barely “Mr. and Mrs.” we decided to memorize scripture together. Hebrews 11:6 was our first verse. Sadly, we let the busyness of life and ministry sidetrack us and we didn’t follow through on this plan, but I have never forgotten this verse.
Out of all the verses in God’s word that we could have chosen, this one is a gem. As I read it now almost 39 years down the road, I can see how it has marked our lives and shaped us into who we are today.
Have we always done everything right? No. Have we wandered away from the path of righteousness? Yes… a time or two (or three or four!) 🙂 But through it all, our lives have been grounded on the belief that there is a God in Heaven who loves us; who sent His Son to die for our sins and His Spirit to dwell in our hearts.
Have we dropped the ball and wished for a “magic eraser” so that parts of our story could be re-written? Yes. But day after day, year after year, our hearts have been drawn to the only source of true wisdom and knowledge – God’s holy word. We have sought Him diligently and it has made all the difference in our story.
We often hear “seeing is believing.” But I ask you to consider an alternative… “Faith is believing.” And the only belief that will alter the course of our destiny and change the dynamics of our family’s story is believing in Jesus Christ and pursuing His presence day after day.
This will not only please God, but will bring with it a reward greater than we can begin to imagine.
Once upon a time, my inside cats acquired some unwanted guests – fleas. They were scratching and plucking out hair so something had to be done.
The vet prescribed a tablet that promised to kill the fleas and keep them flea-free for a month. The only problem: getting the cats to consume this wonder working, flea-fleeing medicine. We literally had to hold them down in order to get the tablet down their throats. (I don’t recommend this action unless you absolutely have to!) Lucy wanted nothing to do with it, and left me with a bitten thumb and scratched arms as witness to her aversion.
Never mind that it was what had to be done and that the medicine would take care of their problem. They just could not grasp the meaning behind the undesirable treatment we were putting them through. In fact, they sulked and pouted and kept their distance for a week.
It reminds me of the way we treat our Father God when He has to give us “medicine.” Yep, I’m talking about those times of discipline we must go through to “gain a heart of wisdom.” We don’t like it one little bit and many times we get mad, sulk and pout because God had the audacity to allow us to go through a painful experience.
If only we could embrace the truth that God knows infinitely more than we do about this thing called life…
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ~ God (Isaiah 55:9)
When all is said and done, the unwanted, undesirable experiences “will work together for our good” (Romans 8:28) when we love and trust the Eternal One who alone knows the purpose for the pain…
Trying my best to trust the Great Physician…
The year – 1974. Youth camp is history and I want to see the pictures captured on film; to hold the memories in my hands. I put the film in a mailer and send it to a developer in Atlanta. A couple of weeks later the snapshots arrive in the mail…
The year – 1981. I am expecting my first child. I have no idea whether I will hold a son or daughter…
The year – 1999. My favorite musical group has just released a new CD. I have heard a couple of songs on the radio but have no idea how the rest of the project sounds. I will have to wait until I get home to find out if I paid $15.00 for only one or two good tunes.
My how things have changed!
We see pictures instantly as our cameras take them; if we even have them developed, we can do it on line and pick them up in less than an hour…
Ultrasounds allow us to paint the nursery blue or pink months before the wee one arrives…
Thanks to iTunes and Google Play, we can pick and choose which songs we want to purchase and can listen to them anywhere (as long as our phone or tablet is charged!)
No wonder we want God to do it NOW! Why should we wait upon the LORD? Doesn’t He know that we are living in the 21st Century?
It makes me wonder – have we lost the wonder of the wait? In our quest for the instant have we lost the joy of anticipation? Would we rather walk by sight than by faith?
I don’t know. But I do know that waiting is part of the process God uses to mold us into the people He wants us to be. And one day “through faith and patience [we will] inherit what has been promised.” (Hebrews 6:12)
Hang in there… it will be worth the wait.
My idea of “camping out” is staying in a hotel with a window that gives me a view of trees. But I realize that many families actually go into a forest with a tent and camp out. Maybe you and your family are some of the brave souls who have experienced a week without electricity and hot showers. If so, I am sure you have made some memories that will not soon be forgotten.
There were some things God didn’t want his people to forget either – like where He had brought them from. So every year they were supposed to reenact the early years by camping out in shelters made from tree branches…
“For seven days you must live outside in little shelters… This will remind each new generation of Israelites that I made their ancestors live in shelters when I rescued them from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” ~ Leviticus 23:42-43 NLT
These shelters were meant to be visible reminders of how simply, and dependently, their ancestors lived during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. I don’t know if the kids understood the symbolism, but I am sure they enjoyed these Holydays of camping out like our kids enjoy the vacations we take today. God not only wanted families to make memories together but to remember all He had done for them and where He had brought them from.
On days when we feel despondent and burdened down with care; when our songs tend to the minor instead of the major; when the glass merely has a few drops in it – never mind being “half-empty”; on days such as this we must “dwell in the shelter of the Most High” (Ps. 91:1 NIV) and remember all that our God has done for us.
When we are tempted to complain about what we have or don’t have, then it’s time to remember where God has brought us from… to think back on the early days of our marriage when we didn’t have two dollars to rub together but we had each other and the dream of making a difference in the world side by side.
With the remembering comes the reminder that the same Lord God who was faithful to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land, (meeting every need along the way,) is the One leading us today.
“Camp out” on that idea for a while!
Blessings and peace,
On a recent “date night” David and I decided to go to the grocery store together. This does not rank up there with my top 10 favorite dates, but because of my busier than normal week, it was a necessity. When David goes along with me, it usually ends up costing me… this trip was no exception.
One of his favorite brands of ice cream was on sale – BOGO free. As we approached the freezers I mentioned this and suggested he pick out two containers. He did. Then he picked out two more. (Those of you who know me well know that I tend to be frugal. :O) I felt myself bristle. “You want four?” I asked incredulously. Yep, he did. He could tell by the look on my face that I thought two was a gracious plenty, but four went into the cart.
The next morning in my Bible reading what should I read but these words: “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from your hand.” ~ 1 Chron. 29:14
I heard the Holy Spirit’s gentle chiding, “Sonja, Sonja. Why are you so stingy? Week after week your husband shares his paycheck with you so that you can manage the household and you begrudge to let him have extra?” (Okay, I apologized!)
The same principle holds true in our relationship with our Father God. He has given us gift after gift – health… strength… the ability to make money… the ability to think and reason… the ability to love. Why do we hold back and hesitate to give back to Him?
Think about it…
Many people (I’m talking millions!) buy gifts to show their love and appreciation for a sweetheart on Valentine’s Day. My husband, David, has always gone above and beyond to make me feel loved, but last year left me a wee bit perplexed. Trying to “think outside the box” and give me something unique, he gifted me with flavored coffee pods for the Keurig and a box of gourmet organic oatmeal packets. Nothing says love like food that keeps you regular! 🙂 We have had a good laugh about these gifts. (I think I’m getting Belgian chocolates this year!)
Fancy flavored oatmeal aside, gift-giving has always been a tangible way to express feelings of love and honor. But what about those “gifts” that you can’t put into a package or hold in your hand? I’m talking about the intangible gifts that we can give every day, not just on special occasions.
How about the gift of physical fitness? Taking care of yourself by eating foods that are good for you and exercising so that you can live as long as possible, as healthily as possible…
The gift of spiritual wellness – spending time with the Lord each day so that you are consistently taking on the likeness of Christ…
The gift of forgiveness – even when it is most difficult…
The gift of empathy – putting yourself in their shoes; keeping quiet and listening long enough so that you can recognize and appreciate where the other person is coming from and how they feel about it.
The gift of time – making the time to be together without the distractions of outside influences.
The gift of praying for one another every day…
I could go on and on, but I think you get my drift. Some gifts you just cannot put a price tag on – and those gifts are always the best!
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift!” – 2 Corinthians 9:15
Love, joy and peace,
December is many things, but one of the hallmarks of this month would have to be the opportunities we are given to extend a helping hand to the needy. Red kettles on street corners… paper angels on Christmas trees inscribed with the hopes and dreams of little girls and boys… good-looking Marines collecting toys that will brighten the eyes of tots… Truly this month beckons us to think beyond our own needs and desires.
Yet those with hearts attuned to God’s heart understand that giving to others is not a “December” thing. It is a life-enhancing practice that should be as natural to Christians as breathing air.
Proverbs 19:17… “Giving help to the poor is like loaning money to the LORD. He will pay you back for your kindness.” (ERV)
I sent this verse to a friend of mine who was having financial difficulties. I challenged her to give to a food pantry or some other outreach each week, even if it was only a can of soup or a bar of soap. Why would I give that advice? Because I truly believe that when we give out of our poverty, God will bless us out of His wealth – not just in December, but all year long.
Lord, please help us to understand that the richest among us are not the ones with the most money in the bank, but those with eyes that see the need and hearts that respond in love.
Thank you Father for seeing our need and responding with Jesus…