Monday, July 28, 2014

God Understands

     Often times when we are faced with something difficult or scary, we wonder if anyone really understands how we feel.  I asked myself that
when I went in for my heart catheterization a couple of weeks ago.  Yes, I had prayed about it, and been prayed for by many other brothers and sisters in Christ including my dear family.  However, when it comes to the day and time, there is always some apprehension that goes with any test.  We think about the outcome and consider the possibilities.  Ultimately, we know that we are in God's Hands, but calming the nerves is often hard.
     As always, I turned to the Bible to seek God's counsel in His Word.  There are so many scriptures that assure us of His love and tender care.  Psalm 103:13-18 tells us:  "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.  For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.  As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.  But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children, to those who keep His covenant and remember to do His commandments."  These words ring with truth and comfort.
     Knowing that God has compassion for us and is aware of our frail frame helps us know we can trust in Him.  We are His children through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  Nothing can separate us from His love or tear us out of His hand.  While our physical bodies will one day die, our souls live forever under the care of our Great Shepherd Jesus Christ.
     Another scripture I read and found comfort in is Psalm 145:9:  "The Lord is good to all, and His mercy over all that He has made."  His mercy knows no end, and when we face scary things, it is good to meditate on these scriptures.
     When we arrived at the hospital for the procedure that day, I was pleasantly surprised to see scriptures written on the walls.  The hospital is run by the Adventist system, and they are not afraid to post scripture for all to see.  What comfort as I came upon verse after verse reminding me that God was with me all the way.   It was at that moment that I realized that God not only understood my fear, but He was there to give me peace. There are many occasions when we think no one really knows what we are going through, but God does.  He walked this earth, breathed the same air we breathe, He experienced temptation, rejection and abuse, but unlike us, He never sinned.  Therefore, He knows what we are going through.  He is our perfect high priest who is fully able to identify with every emotion, thought and feeling that we have; yet, He has overcome the world.  Because we are in Him, we too shall overcome.
     Knowing that God understands our pain, our fear, or regret in the various circumstances in life should encourage us during difficult times.  We must remember that nothing is impossible to face with God's help.  The Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 8:37 that "we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."  Daily we must remind ourselves that when no one else understands us, God does.  Selah!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Make Room for Interruptions

     Over the years, I have learned that there is nothing more certain in a day than interruptions.  When our four children were small, it was a rare day when a telephone call, meal preparation or housecleaning was put on hold due to a crisis of some sort that needed immediate attention.  This is just a part of life.  We can make all the plans we want to, but God often has other priorities for our life.  His sovereign plan is always the best.  Psalm 33:10-11 reads:  "The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.  The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations."  There is a difference between our shaky plans and God's sovereign will.  He can see the beginning to the end of all things; therefore He allows those interruptions to come our way.
 
Children can interrupt us with requests to read
but what a blessing and privilege it is!
 For example, look at the account of Mary in Luke 1:26-31.  Here is a young virgin who is betrothed to a fine man.  She is going about her daily routine when suddenly an angel appears to her with the news that she will be the mother of the long-awaited Messiah.  She was troubled and shocked by the news that she would give birth to a child though she was not yet married.  If she were found to be with child outside of marriage, she could be accused of unfaithfulness to her betrothed.  This was a major interruption, and yet, an unparalleled blessing from God's Hand.  Mary yielded to God's will for her life, and delivered the Son of God who would one day deliver her from her sins.
     In Acts 9:1-9, we read about another interruption that radically changed a man's life.  Here we see Saul of Tarsus.  He was a man who hated Christians and persecuted them to the death.  He was traveling on the road to Damascus to carry out further orders to put Christians in jail.  However,  a light flashed around him causing him to fall to the ground, and he heard the voice of Jesus asking him why he was persecuting Him.  This was an amazing interruption in a life that was dedicated to the destruction of Christians.  Of course, we know how it ends.  Saul becomes a believer in Jesus Christ and turns the known world of his day upside down by taking the Gospel to the Gentiles.
     Both of these cases point to the fact that God has a perfect plan which often over rides our daily list of "to do's".  The problem comes in when we look upon interruptions with frustration, fear, irritation and doubt.  What we see as an obstacle to getting something done may really be, in fact, a greater blessing than we could ever realize.
     Recently, when I went in for some heart testing, I felt it might be a waste of time or interruption to my daily routine.  Nevertheless, I went through the tests and discovered there was a problem and it was addressed putting me back on the road to improved health.  I believe it was one of those divine interruptions we often complain about.  It has made me realize that we need to look upon intrusions from a different perspective.  We need to be able to exchange our "to do list" for His when He brings along interruptions.  Seeing it as an opportunity to serve the Lord will change our response to interruptions.  Selah!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Overwhelmed, Burnt Out and Just Plain Exhausted

     Having raised four normal, healthy and very active children, I can say "Amen" to the title above.  There were days when I felt overwhelmed as I homeschooled them, cooked the meals, did the laundry and delivered them to the many activities they were involved with in our community.  At other times, I felt burnt out and just plain exhausted because I had no extended family around my husband and I to assist with the children.  However, I did have some precious friends in Christ who came to my aid.
     Both ladies could see that I needed some quiet time to work on lesson plans apart from the children; so for about one week, one of the ladies lent me her kitchen table in the afternoons while the other dear lady helped to clean my home for me.  What a treat!  The children were looked after, I got my lesson planning done for the upcoming school year, and I had a time in which I could enjoy some quiet.  I needed that, but I resisted the whole proposition at first.  My pride made me want to do it all on my own.  How foolish!  However, there was another person in the Bible who thought he could handle things all on his own.
     In Exodus 18:13-24, we see Moses sitting to judge over people who had disputes from the rising of the sun till evening.  Verse 13-14 reads:  "The next day Moses sat to judge the people from morning till evening.  When Moses' father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, 'What is this that you are doing for the people?  Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?'"  Now, Moses' father-in-law Jethro had a good point.  How can one man keep up a schedule like that without becoming overwhelmed, burnt out and exhausted?  However Moses pointed out that he had to settle the disputes arising and make the people know God's statutes and laws.  While this seems legitimate, Jethro pointed out that it was not effective in verses 17-18:  "Moses' father-in-law said to him, 'What you are doing is not good.  You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for this thing is too heavy for you.  You are not able to do it alone."
Big Ben in London reminds us that
we must use our time wisely.
     Most of us can speculate as to how Moses might have felt being offered unsolicited advice from his father-in-law, but Jethro went on to tell him a plan to have wise men who loved God help him in judging the many cases that needed to come before the Lord.  By breaking down the task, the people would receive justice and Moses would be relieved of having all the burden thrust upon him.  Surprisingly, Moses listened to Jethro.  We read in verse 24:  "So Moses listened to his father-in-law and did all that he had said."
     There are two things we can draw from this story and apply in our own lives if we will.  First, we need to listen (verse 24) as Moses did.  He accepted his father-in-law's sound advice.  Secondly, we must be willing to accept help (as described in verse 25).  There are times when we don't accept the help we need due to pride, but that is not always the case.
     Sometimes life is just moving so fast with so many demands piled up on us that we hardly have time to react or even contemplate asking someone for advice or help.  Ah, but God reminds us in His Word (as seen in this story) that we need to surround ourselves with wise counselors who can offer us advice drawn from their experience and wisdom.  We don't have to run in circles pretending to be "Super Dad" or "Super Mom".  We can listen to a wise father-in-law as Moses did or a dear Christian friend as I did when I was overwhelmed with busyness in my life.
     Taking prayerful advice and learning to delegate responsibility helped Moses deal with a large responsibility.  He was not less of a person for taking this action.  In fact, it made him a more capable leader because he was able to use his time more effectively.
     Those ladies who came to me many years ago and offered me relief were blessings in my life.  I am happy they saw my need, approached me and gave me the opportunity to have a mini retreat.  We all need to be able to accept help, advice and godly counsel when it is offered.  Then we need to act on it so that we will not be burnt out or overwhelmed.  God cannot use us when we are carrying a load by ourselves that we were never intended to carry.  We must allow others the privilege of helping us.  Both the person who helps and the one who receives will be blessed.  Selah!