A Day of Waiting

We all do it. Waiting is built into every moment of our day, every moment of our week, every moment of our month, every moment of our year, and every moment of our life. There are almost too many examples of waiting to list, but I’m going to list a few. We wait for our meal to be ready. We wait in traffic. We wait in line at the grocery store and at the Department of Motor Vehicles. We wait for our next vacation or the next holiday to come. We wait for the next phase of our life to begin. I could keep going, but I think you have the general idea.

However, we aren’t very patient with our waiting. Many inventions over the last hundred and fifty years have been things which have shortened our waiting time. Inventions such as the microwave, the computer, the Internet and email, the automobile, the I-Phone and texting, and the airplane have all been things which have improved life in our society. At the same time though, I believe they have contributed to the growth of our impatience. When, for example, is the last time you have heard of someone who has sent a letter by regular mail? We also get impatient when our next day package being sent by Amazon is not in our hands at the exact time they said it would be.

Over two thousand years ago though, this day was a day of waiting. Jesus had been crucified on Good Friday, and his disciples had fled. Mary, his mother, and his followers were all mourning His death. It seemed there was no reprieve. There was no Internet to send an email from Jesus saying, “Whoops, I was just kidding. I’m still alive.” No, on this day, everyone thought He was gone and wasn’t coming back. It seemed as if all hope was gone. They didn’t understand that Sunday was coming. They didn’t understand what Jesus had tried to tell them. They didn’t know the miracle that was about to happen.

We, on the other hand, know what happened. We know that Sunday came and that Jesus, who had died for all of our sins, came back to life on that day over two thousand years ago. We know Jesus is the Son of God! This knowledge of His death and resurrection and the grace He gives all of us if we would only believe spread all over the world. It didn’t happen instantaneously, but this knowledge couldn’t be contained, couldn’t be suppressed, and the disciples’ efforts all those years ago are the reason you and I know about Jesus today.

Waiting is not a bad thing then. Good things can come from waiting. So, the next time I get impatient over having to wait for something, I will remember that time over 2000 years ago when the world was still and when the greatest miracle of all time was about to happen.

God’s blessings on all of you today, and Happy Easter to all of you tomorrow!

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Writing through a Fog

This is an entry for the Writing Contest: Writers Crushing Doubt hosted by  Positive Writer.  http://positivewriter.com/writing-contest-2016/  I post this here because Christians rarely discuss depression, and it is just as worthy a topic as any other illness. So, without further adieu, here is my entry.

 

Four and a half years ago, my family and I moved to a new city for my husband to take a job. I had tried my hand at some fan fiction over the previous year and had received favorable feedback. My plans of participating in a novel-writing contest though were derailed when I lost our third child. Oh, I said I wasn’t going to stop. I said I was going to keep writing, but something settled over me. A thick, black, dark something I couldn’t define. We barely knew anyone in the city, and I wasn’t sure what to do. I tried to put words to paper. Tried to write stories, but they all sounded wrong, sounded nothing like what I had written earlier.

I moved through the first part of 2012 barely managing to keep it together, but then the question came that would change all of our lives. My son asked if we could find a church in our new community. Something inside me broke a little, and I decided to say yes. Meeting the people at the church lifted my spirits, but there was something still there. It was a fog I couldn’t get past in my attempts to write. This fog made me doubt my ability, made me doubt I had something worth saying, and in late 2012, I was considering putting up my notebooks and my pens for good. I didn’t want to. Something in me was yearning to break free, but I didn’t know how to make the fog stop, how to make the pain stop.

Through speaking with the pastor of the church we had been attending, I finally realized at the beginning of 2013 I was suffering from depression. It had crippled me to the point where I could no longer see the good in my life. My pastor offered to counsel me, and I accepted. It didn’t take long for him to get clued in as to how I coped with the world, and he suggested I journal what I was feeling and be completely honest about it. See, that was something I was afraid to do—be completely honest. I did what he suggested though because I trusted him, and the fog started lifting. I had a place where I could be completely honest with myself, and it was a place I didn’t have to share with anyone else.

Since that time, I have filled many journals and written blog posts and stories. None of my stories have been published yet, but I know that is only a matter of time. I am grateful for the fog of depression and doubt lifting and look forward to encouraging others who have experienced the same crippling doubt about their writing ability.

Preparing for Easter

Preparing for Easter is different from preparing for Christmas. When I think about Christmas, I think about how Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem and I think about buying gifts and spending time with family and friends, all of which are causes for celebration. Yes, preparing for the celebration of His birth does involve a certain amount of reflection on what it all actually means, but it’s different for Easter.

Why is that? Is it because of what Easter actually involves? Is it because of Jesus’  sacrifice on the cross? I believe so. Easter represents the resurrection of my Lord and Savior, the coming back to life on Sunday after His death on Friday. We call this day Good Friday, but how can there be anything good about it. Jesus died for all of us, died for all of the sins we have committed or the sins we ever will commit. It is almost too much for me to wrap my head around. In those moments, He experienced all of our pain.

I wonder if I could do that. I wonder if I could die for someone I loved. I doubt anyone could truly answer that question until they were faced with the possibility of losing a loved one, but my first instinct at answering the question would be to say no. Why is that, you ask? Because all of us have a selfish nature that doesn’t want and doesn’t like to contemplate death.

It makes what Jesus did for us all the more amazing. He went to His death willingly. He walked with His cross willingly. I wonder if He knew He was going to be resurrected. I’m guessing He did because He was God in the flesh, but, still, He took on our pain willingly. My pain. And I’ve had more than my share in this life. He’s been there through all of it though even when I turned my back on Him. But, now, after five decades on this earth, I have a relationship with my Lord and Savior where I can talk to Him and be completely honest. He knows when I hurt, and He cares; more than anyone else on this earth, He cares. Why is that, you ask? Because Jesus is the only one who has ever died for me.

So, when I’m preparing my heart and my mind for Easter, I think these thoughts most of all. Jesus died for me, and today, if you don’t know Him as Lord and Savior, I would leave you with this. Jesus died for you too! All He asks is for you to believe in Him.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Everyone Can Pray

Yesterday morning, I sat in on a Bible class that talked about Martin Luther and referenced verses of Scripture that he said allowed all of us who believe, access to God without an intermediary. Here are some examples.

Romans 1:16-17 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed–a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.'”

Another example is from Galatians 3:13-14. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written. ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

Paul also says in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

So, if we are all free to believe in God, to pray to God, I wonder why those of us in Protestant denominations still think the only people who are good enough to pray with others are those in church leadership or their wives. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that I often write about experiences I have in my church, and this experience is one I have had recently. It threw me for a loop. I know I don’t have the most perfectly worded prayers, but I know they are sincere. My relationship with God has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years, and I know it has grown because of the time I have spent in prayer. So, when I was told I was not good enough to pray because I was not a shepherd’s wife, I was hurt. I was very hurt. I really didn’t know what to say. I found the person a shepherd, and the requested prayer was offered.

Why can’t we pray for each other? Why can’t all of us offer prayers for each other? Why are the people in leadership the only ones considered good enough to pray? I’ve had these questions racing around in my head since the incident happened, and they’ve been complicated by the shepherd selection process we’ve been in for the last few weeks. I look at the people who have been selected, and while they are all worthy of the position of leadership, I wonder what makes them more worthy to pray for people than me. I want to grow. I want to serve. I want to be the hands and feet of Christ. But, I can’t do that if I’m not allowed to try.

I end by saying this. The next time a friend offers to pray with you, don’t reject them in favor of someone who is in church leadership. Let them pray!

Signed,

Someone who is not a shepherd’s wife.

Giving Our Best so God Gets the Glory

I’m not so sure about this title, but it’s the only one I can think of at the moment so I’m going to let it stand. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. So many times, when we do well at something, we want to take all the glory and the credit, and we don’t want to give God any of it. It’s almost like we think we can handle all of it ourselves, and God is not necessary. But, then, when things go badly, we rush immediately to pray and cry out to God to heal or correct the bad thing and depend on Him for our strength and courage. God doesn’t want that. He wants us to talk to Him all of the time, not just during the bad times. The trick, I think, is to get the focus off of ourselves and get it to where it’s supposed to be…on God.

There is a time though when it’s tough to do that, and it’s when we are practicing something to become better at it. When we’re practicing a particular sport, a musical instrument, some kind of creative enterprise, or even just doing our best with schoolwork or our jobs, it’s hard not to think of the accolades we can get if we get good enough at whatever we’re practicing or in simpler terms, if we’re thinking about ourselves. What if we, who are Christians, changed our thinking about this? If, when we practiced something, we practiced it for God’s glory instead of our own. If, when we succeeded at something, we gave God the glory and didn’t take any for ourselves.

Examples of giving our best to God abound in Scripture. Some of these have to do with offerings or tithes, but others are more related to giving everything to God, in other words, our best. Malachi 3:10 is the best example of giving our best through offerings and tithes.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

Colossians 3:17 talks about doing everything in Jesus’ name, what ever we do.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it ALL (emphasis mine) in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

I think this last example proves my point well. God wants us to do our best at everything so He can get the glory. He wants to be seen through us so others can come to know Him, and if we are His, we should want that too. May we all do our best for His glory!

God’s blessings on all of you today!