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Have you seen those cartoons where the guy is riding his bicycle up a very steep hill? He’s struggling, doing his best but running out of steam. Then a vehicle comes by him headed in the same direction and the man grabs onto the back of it and the rest of the ride up the hill is easier.
In my life, there have been many occasions where I’ve heard people say that “religion” in general or following Christ in particular is for weak people. Those who can’t make it on their own and need a crutch.
Recently I injured my knee. At first I could barely walk on it. Then the doctor suggested crutches. I winced, remembering the many weeks I’d spent on them when I had hip surgery several years ago. I finally gave in and pulled out the crutches. Suddenly I had much more freedom to move about. It didn’t hurt to walk with the crutches. I needed them and they served a purpose. Why do we feel resentment about having a problem and needing help to deal with it? Why do we see that as some kind of weakness? Don’t we all have things we would do better if we had a little assistance?
Back to the man on the bicycle. He may have made it up the hill on his own. No doubt having to walk his bike for part of the journey. But his decision to grasp on to help that presented itself wasn’t a sign of weakness to me. It was a sign of him having a healthy perspective of his own limitations. He let go of his pride and grasped a better solution. And just because he did so doesn’t mean he’s coasting or being lazy. As you can imagine, if he let go of the handle bars and expected a completely free ride, he would have ended up in the ditch needing a few bandages.
Following Christ doesn’t mean surrendering your responsibility. He expects you to cooperate with His plan. He is there to be everything you need but he also wants you to follow through with the things He tells you to do. The scriptures are full of examples where man came to the end of himself and stretched out his hand to God. God took his hand and led him forward to live and serve for the rest of his days.
Perhaps you’ve seen that poem that talks about the footprints in the sand and ends with one set of footprints where Jesus is now carrying you. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes we have completely collapsed and God picks us up and carries us. But other times, I think God chooses instead to walk alongside us and let us lean on His strength. He says, “I’m here with you, lean on me.”
We still have a responsibility to keep holding on and to keep moving forward. Just like my crutches. They give me the freedom to keep moving even when all the parts aren’t working right on their own. It takes letting go of pride and latching on to the greatest source of help around. A loving Father who wants to see you at the top of that hill.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)
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Lately we’ve been challenged by many things at once. A year ago my husband Randy, started his own business. Three weeks later he ended up in the hospital with a life-threatening diagnosis. How were we supposed to survive with no income and so many health issues?
Now, a year later, we are still trying to make a go of it. The business is growing slowly, Randy’s energy is returning slowly, and the income is coming in slowly. “Slowly” isn’t always an easy pace to accept.
We know that God has promised to provide. Sometimes we look at the numbers and shake our heads wondering just how it will all work. Then we remember something that God showed Randy a few months ago. He was feeling like he should make a business decision that seemed a little scary to us. It would require even more trust than we felt we already had.
But God gave Randy a picture of floodgates. Now, if you had lived in Iowa when we did in 2008 you would understand what it feels like to think about floods and the massive structures that hold back the water. As the water levels rose hourly, we anxiously listened to the news to hear if the water would breach the spillway and come rushing down upon the city. It did finally happen and those downstream braced themselves for the arrival of millions of gallons of water with no way to protect their homes. It was a scary time.
But the picture God gave Randy was of a different kind of flood. It was a picture of the Father opening the floodgates of blessing. If we chose to be obedient and do what He had instructed us to do He promised to open the floodgates. We are standing on that promise now. We have to believe the gates have been opened. We don’t see the signs yet. There has been no miraculous inflow of income. No huge jump in Randy’s energy levels. We are still just plodding along…waiting.
All we have is the promise. But we know from our Iowa experience that when the floodgates spill what they have been holding back, it takes a while for everything to arrive downstream. We believe it’s coming and are waiting to see the first glimpse of His blessings coming around the bend in the river. Now, when it looks like things will never work out we have a signal to help us remember God’s promise. We look at each other and just say, “floodgates.”
What have you been waiting for? Have you been trusting God for a promise and see no evidence of His answer? Remember the floodgates and keep on trusting. It may be just around the bend.
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV)
From the very first day, the moment we gave our hearts to the Lord, we have been taught that the key to walking with the Lord is trust. We must trust Him to know what’s best for us. We can to trust Him to supply everything we need.
As we mature in our walk we get better at this. We see God’s faithfulness and it builds our faith in Him. We see His hand in our lives when we are desperate for help and we are grateful. This is especially true when we are faced with things that we know we are unable to manage on our own.
Actually, have you ever noticed that it is much easier to trust God when the issue is a major one? We seem to find it easier to trust Him when we know that He’s our only hope. We know there is absolutely no way we can do anything about our situation so we release everything to God and allow Him to work.
It’s the little things in our daily lives that we somehow think we can manage on our own that trip us up. We try to do it on our own and get frustrated and anxious. Why is it that we aren’t as quick to ask for God’s help with the little things? Do we think He isn’t interested? Or too busy? That He doesn’t want to be bothered with all the small details of our lives?
Take a few moments to read this passage from Matthew. To me, this sounds like God is definitely interested in the little things.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6: 25-34(NASB)
Our Heavenly Father wants to be involved in all areas of our lives. Every day is a fresh opportunity to allow the Lord access to every little thing. Practice inviting Him into the small details of your life.
If you are a parent you will remember how frequently your young child asked the question, “why?” Why do I have to come in? Why do I have to take a bath? Why does she get to go but I have to stay home? The question has endless variations. And sometimes we get so tired of hearing it that we want to say “because I said so.” We just want them to trust us. To understand that our way is the best way because we love them.
I think God wants the same trust from us. He wants us to believe that His way is the best way. That He has our best interests in mind when He allows life’s events to happen. Isaiah tells us “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)
Perhaps the question we should ask instead of “why?” is “how?”
How do You want me to grow through this experience? How can I allow You to work in me and through me? How do You want to use what I am learning to make me more like Jesus? Those are the kinds of questions the Lord longs for us to ask Him. He will be more than happy to answer them! What questions can you ask Him today?
“On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?” Romans 9:20-21 (NASB)
I have a long scar on my left elbow and another one on my hip. They mark the spots where a surgeon went in and fixed something. When I see those scars I can either be disgusted because they are unsightly or I can remember how things were before the surgeries. They are a reminder of how something wrong was made right. I can choose to see them in a different perspective if I remember why they are there.
You could argue that not all scars are from positive changes. Not all scars were the result of a choice to improve your situation. There are some scars that are a result of horrible mistreatment. Or perhaps they are emotional scars from abuse that no one can see but you. Even those scars can be seen in a different light if you decide to allow it. Some scars from unspeakable events still have a positive side. They are symbols of survival. Whatever it was that caused the scar did not win. You survived and have the marks to prove it.
I have another very long scar from an unplanned C-section. It is a reminder of a time when God safely delivered my precious Alex whose life was in danger. When I see that scar I think of the miracle of his birth and how God rescued my premature baby. I will wear that scar with joy because my baby was saved.
Jesus bears His own scars. It wasn’t because He needed something fixed. It was because you did. He bears the scars for something that you needed in order to spend eternity with Him. When He see those scars He remembers that evil caused them but evil didn’t win. When He looks at His scars, He sees you and He has no regrets.
“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,” – 1 Peter 3:18(NASB)
It’s been over 25 years since I felt God calling me to write. Since that time I have managed to raise and homeschool 7 boys, moved to a new state twice and have watched 4 of my boys get married. I have also become grandma to 8 little ones I call my treasures.
I’ve been busy but have managed to produce a weekly devotion every Monday for the past 7 years here on this blog. God has been faithful and each week I have had something to write about. About 5 years ago Randy and I decided to collect some of the devotions and put them in an ebook for Kindle. For a long time we have talked about having it published in print form but some major life changes got in the way.
Finally, I am excited to announce that my book, “Growing in Godliness,” is now available in paperback on Amazon.com. It’s an actually book that I can hold in my hand! I never believed it would happen but thanks to a labor of love from my husband, I am in print!
Click on the image to purchase the print book or ebook from Amazon.com.
Romans 5:15 says, “But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.”
This verse makes it very clear that the obedience or disobedience of just one person can have incredible impact. Adam impacted all of creation by his actions. Praise God! Jesus did too!
We know we will never have the kind of influence that either Adam or Jesus did but we still have the opportunity to make a difference. We can make a difference in the small corner of the world where God chose to place us. He equipped each of us with talents and character traits that make us just the right person to reach those He places in our path.
We can make a difference in our families, our neighborhoods and our workplaces. We can make a difference at the library, in the grocery store or at the doctor’s office. It’s up to us to look for opportunities to impact the world around us for God.
For me all it took was a decision to move my deck chairs to the front yard.
I grew up in a neighborhood where people sat on their front porches and not secluded in their own backyards as is common today. The neighbors all knew each other and on warm summer evenings they visited with each other on their porches. I have wonderful memories of those neighborly relationships.
When we made the decision to move our chairs to the front yard we got some strange looks. But an amazing thing began to happen. Our neighbors started stopping by for a chat. They didn’t always stay long but they keep coming back. We were the only ones in the neighborhood who sat out front and we began to build relationships with our neighbors by this simple act. We just might be the ones who will make a difference.
Ask God where you can make a difference…because it only takes one.
Sometimes life is a mess. We have financial issues, parenting issues, relationship issues, job issues, you name it. Life can be messy.
Perhaps you are dealing with aging parents. Maybe it’s a teen who refuses to believe you know anything at all. Or maybe it’s health issues that you are powerless to change.
Where is God when life gets ugly? When the mess threatens to bury us like a landslide, what is He doing? Is He even noticing us in the middle of our mess?
And what if we made the mess ourselves? We can all remember a time when a poor decision caused us unpredicted difficulties and we’d wished we’d never done it.
But in the midst of all of this is grace. Grace.
What is this grace I speak of? It’s God coming into our circumstances and taking us in His arms. It’s Him listening to our hearts pouring out the grief we feel and understanding every word. It’s God speaking quietly in our ear, “Rest, my child, I can handle all of it. I hold everything in my hands, including you.”
Hear Him speak. Feel His comfort. Rest in His grace.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. “ – Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)
God’s Word is full of promises. He tells us that if we do things His way then what will follow will be good. He has a lot of “if – then” statements. He’s laid it out simply so it’s easy to understand. But it isn’t always so easy to do.
One place in scripture that really speaks to me is in Proverbs 2:1-5. It lays out a list of actions that we are encouraged to take and then it tells us what will result from those actions.
“My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding: For if you cry for discernment, lift up your voice for understanding: If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures: Then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.”
When I read those verses, I see several actions that the Lord encourages us to take. When we see words or phrases like: receive, treasure, attend, incline, cry out and speak out, seek and search, we must make a choice. We can choose to do those things or we can ignore them. But what might we be giving up if we chose to ignore God’s directions? Verse 5 says what we gain is the ability to discern the fear of the Lord and to discover the knowledge of God. Really? God really says we gain discernment and that we can discover His knowledge if we are willing to follow his instructions? Yes!
We must take Him seriously and when we do He has treasures for us that are not found anywhere else. Only God has all knowledge and He promises to share it with us when we do the things He’s told us to in the beginning verses of Proverbs 2. What an amazing offer! What are we waiting for?
How many times in the last week have you seen something in the news or heard someone talking about something that is legal but you know is not pleasing to the Lord? Probably more than you can count.
We could list many things that are indeed legal in our country, or elsewhere in the world that we know are against God’s directives. The ones we think of first are things we probably all agree on. But there are other things that we might not agree on. We might have different ideas about what is “okay” behavior and what isn’t.
Those areas are what I believe Paul was addressing in First Corinthians 6:12 where he says “”I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but I will not be mastered by anything.” (NIV).
The discussion was actually about meat since there had been arguments about what was okay to eat and what was not. Paul’s point was the sometimes it doesn’t matter if it’s allowed or isn’t allowed. You are called to a higher standard. You are called to holiness and sometimes that means choosing NOT to do what everyone else is doing. Sometimes it means choosing to do something so that you don’t have a negative influence on those around you whose faith might be weak.
One example that might help make this clearer is that of a parent and child. There are topics and in some homes even language that could be considered less than appropriate for children to hear. Some parents who don’t even consider God’s ways will choose to change their behavior for the good of their children. There may be no law against it but they know that it is in the best interest of their child.
As children of God, we can all do with less worldly influence. But that means we need to join together and choose to live above the standards that we see around us. We need to be willing to look at our options and consider how our actions influence those around us. We need to be willing to say “yes I can, but I won’t.”
Instead of following the crowd, we would do better to consider what we are told in Romans 14:19: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”