Posted on February 1, 2017
The Holy Spirit ignites within the moment we believe in Christ, opening our eyes and ears to interpret God’s living Word. Prayer is like a flash drive containing the situational solutions to all of our problems. It’s useful to save a few key life verses on it, which is exactly what we’re doing here in the #recall12 series. In our struggle to find a way, God leads us to pray.
This month’s memory verse is a prelude to ‘The Parable of the Persistant Widow.’ Through the story of a woman seeking a judge’s verdict, Jesus taught the his followers the value in persistent and perseverant prayer.
Though our gut’s reaction is to freakishly scramble for hurried solutions, God’s presence beckons to employ a prayerful flow of continued conversation.
“He paid no attention to her request for a while, but then he said to himself,“I don’t care about what God thinks of me, much less what any mere human thinks. But this widow is driving me crazy. She’s never going to quit coming to see me unless I hear her case and provide her legal protection.'” Luke 18:4-5
If this judge “didn’t care,” he wound’t have felt it necessary to broach the topic of this widow’s plight. The prodding of his heart was not his own conscience shifting, but someone else’s prayers being upheld.
God hears us. More importantly, He tells us to keep talking. Keep praying. When frustration emerges, let’s determine to pray into it, wait for God to lead us out of it …and have faith that He will.
“Did you catch what this self-assured judge said? If he can be moved to act justly, won’t God bring justice for His chosen people when they cry to Him day and night? Will He be slow to bring them justice?” Mark 8:6-7
God’s determination to help His people has little to do with our resolve to act rightly. He seeks to help those who seek Him, whether or not we are privy to His reality. God is not dependent upon any human behavior to justify His response. Jesus’ death on the cross gave His believers the opportunity to cry out to the Father in prayer, and trust that He hears and answers.
Gossip hurts. Isolation stings. Injury is painful. Sickness is defeating. Loss is agonizing. God’s voice can seem deafeningly quiet to us when our situation is bleak and our hearts are broken. Though we may not see and here God the way we seek to, the promise of His presence is always present. In a conversation so personal we couldn’t describe it if we wanted to, He leads us through every season in the silent wanderings of our prayers.
Trust that God controls what we do not: healing, death, conception, time, creation and purpose. Ending our prayers “In Jesus Name,” declares our faith in His will over our prayer requests and our lives. We must be careful to pour our hearts out in prayer to Him and then let go. Grasping for control only causes us to sink further into our plight. But when we let go of the answer we want to hear and listen for the one He is laying out before us, miracles become visible. Coincidence connects answered prayer.
The conversations we have with the Father bleed out onto and into life. He’s privy to our seat in the auditorium. Pop in the flash drive, transfer the data over to Him, and download His answer. It’s what Jesus died for …relationship with God.
Father, Praise You for Your listening ear and compassion for us. You tell us to pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1) You are powerful to trump any form of justice set upon this earth with Your omnipotent hand. God, You ARE love. You ARE grace.
Praise for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, allowing us to pour our hearts into Your healing hands. In conversation with You, keep our eyes open and our ears attentive to Your will for our lives over our prayer requests. Surround us with Your purpose for our lives, and compassionate love when life is impossible.
Forgive us for our lack of stamina, and remind us of Jesus death on the cross. Bless Your Spirit to our hearts and minds to remember this verse today, and always. In Jesus Name, Amen.
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Posted on November 18, 2016
My little girl’s tears streamed onto my cheeks as she hugged me tight. Fearful that in the darkness of night our house would catch on fire, unreasonable emotion gripped her blotchy red face. Her pierced blue eyes searched mine for an answer …for comfort …for reassurance …all of which I was unqualified to promise her.
The anxieties we answer to in this life grab us much like Lauren’s sweet six-year-old heart, that can’t bear the thought of being separated from her teddy bear. Life is fragile. We want to look around and depend on each other to get through things that may never happen. We want to believe that everything is going to be ok, but it’s simply not always going to be. In fact, we’re promised that it will get much worse.
We can help our children cope with fear and anxiety by teaching them to pray these Words of God:
“Do not worry.” Matthew 6:34
“Do not fear.” Isaiah 41:10
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:34 (The Message)
Our duty as parents is not to have all the answers, but to point to the One who does. We can aim to protect our children but we cannot promise them safety. Only God is sovereign to make good on the assured direction of their future.
“Lauren, can I pray for you?”
She nodded ‘yes’ through slowing sobs.
“Lord, you tell us not to fear, and not to worry. But that’s hard. We need Your help. Help Lauren not to worry, and not to be afraid. Let her rest in knowing how much you love her. God we pray that You protect and bless our home. Keep it and us safe. In Jesus Name, Amen.”
My godly duty as her mother is to reassure that she is loved …not just by me, but far greater. Her little heart needs to hear that He is good, that she can trust Him, and that He he cares about her fears and worries.
“Jesus explains the futility of such worry for one’s life (Mt 6:25), time (6:27, 34), clothes (6:28), and even what one will eat (6:31). Such a focus is not only a wasted effort on something that one cannot change (cf. Lk 12:25), but it leads to unhealthy anxiety.” Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary
If the thing I want to be able to promise will never harm a hair on her head singes her life, He will get her through. He will love her. He will grow her. He will never leave her side.
Through the calamity of this world, God does not promise Christians a free pass from pain. He gifts us the grace, peace and hope to keep walking through it. We grip Him in fear, look to Him in awe, and trust Him with it all …through it all.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Night after night my little Lo cried at bedtime, afraid our house would catch on fire. Night after night we prayed together, and repeated those truths to her tiny heart and my overwhelmed one. Until one night, her brave blue eyes stared right into mine and with a small, still voice, wondered:
“Mom, can I say a special prayer?” I nodded, misty-eyed.
“Dear God, Please bless us and don’t let our house catch on fire. Keep everyone in our family safe, and my teddy and blankie and all of my toys. We love you God and Jesus, Amen.”
Our great God hears the prayers of tender little hearts, and understands their fears.
Sometimes it takes months, years, decades, lifetimes …before the discipline to turn to God first replaces our knee-jerk reaction to solve humanity’s dysfunctional fears and worries. But I believe that when God’s truth repeated is alive, powerful, and in motion.
My greatest prayer as a mother is that my daughters will know that God loves them perfectly, even when I do not.
“The scope of these verses is to silence the fears, and encourage the faith, of the servants of God in their distresses.“ Matthew Henry Commentary on Isaiah 41:10-20
Prayer becomes powerful conversation. The grace of accepting Jesus’ sacrifice as allows us to experience a power that is not of this world. Discernment of text that is much more that black and white letters on a page. It’s much more than a good story. He is God. He was here. And now His Spirit lives in us.
Invisible fire, indeed.
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Posted on February 17, 2014
In an adventure to the craft store, my oldest daughter fell in love with a broken bunny. Anxious to pick out a craft in preparation for what could be yet another snow day tomorrow, she and I both decided that a cute little cloth bunny would be the perfect guinea pig for us as we learn to sew.
If only my three-year old were that easily sufficed. She’s not. I negotiate shopping trips on lollipops. With dreams of being able to wander aimlessly with my toddler toting happily beside me throughout the store entertained by a sweet treat, I hand that first one over like it’s the absolute solution to all that is mayhem in shopping with toddlers.
Little Lo skipped happily around the store picking bouquets of fake flowers for me to smell. But before long, I started to catch that ornery glance through her static-attacked hair (that looked like it hadn’t been brushed in weeks….yet was just hours before.). If only there was a lollipop that she could never finish…
Brianne played happily with her bunny as she toted it along to look at artificial flowers and buttons and thread. She held up multiple fabric squares to the little stuffed creature, then decided that giraffe was a pattern that would fit it perfectly, along with another. Then, I noticed that her precious bunny’s arm was only hanging on by a couple of loose threads.
“Brianne, that bunny’s arm is about to pop off,” I pointed out to her. “Why don’t you put him back and pick out another one?” I suggested. After being distracted briefly by my younger child’s temporary disappearance from my line of sight, I looked expectedly to Brianne to go switch out the bunny.
The look I received did not reflect that of the realistic, and quite logical, request that I had just made. No-no, the look I got instead was one of heartbreak.
“Mom! No! I love this one!” she replied.
“Are you sure?” I plodded. “Don’t you want to pick a bunny that’s not broken?”
After the third and fourth request, and then walking over to the bin of bunnies with her to pick another…hoping a visual would seal the deal…her eyes welled up with tears, and she said to me again,
“I’m already attached to this one,” and held her broken bunny tight….all the way to the checkout line.
That’s my Brianne. To her, that bunny wasn’t broken, it needed to be rescued. It was just as good as any other bunny. It just needed some extra love and a little mending. She is such a creative spirit, and no doubt sees that bunny as an empty canvas for all kinds of new outfits and adventures.
Wouldn’t the world be a more refreshing place if we all took each other at face value, without looking to see if there are ripped seams? What a novel idea it would be to consider who might be hanging on by a couple of threads before we launch into our opinion on their shoes…their job…their kid…their life.
There are lots of days when I feel like more than just my arm is hanging on by a few loose threads. When the chronic pain that I endure simply starts to eat me up. There are many times that I am overcome with doubt about every possible area of my life.
Some days, I just feel like I’m under attack…
And on those days, sometimes after much wallowing on my part…God picks me up, gives me a hug, and says,
“I love this one….I’m already attached.”
Burdened by pain that I can’t explain, confused as all get out at which direction I should go next, feelings at times seemingly hurt beyond repair…life can be crushing sometimes. I’ve trained my daughters to rally in those situations. To let their emotions flow out of them, and then put the pieces back together through hugs and prayers.
As I sat in tears through one such moment yesterday, it was my daughters who came clamoring up the stairs and jumped on my bed, with hugs and “I love you’s,” and so much silliness that I eventually ended up in a pile of cuddles and laughter. What a blessing it is, to be a mother. Through all the doubt it entails, it’s so rewarding to be the recipient of a warm embrace like those we so often give out throughout the day. It’s heavenly encouragement that we’ve done something right.
I think it really is that simple. Like Brianne saw the potential for all kinds of magical things in her broken bunny, God already knows the abundant blessings that will unfold in our lives.
When our spirits are under attack, when we’re feeling like everything is unraveling before our eyes…like the pain is too much to bear, and the circumstances are too hard to understand…He is there, watching it all unfold as planned…
A giraffe print dress for a stuffed bunny.