Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Mirror

When Christian believers gather in churches, everything that can go wrong sooner or later does. Outsiders, on observing this, conclude that there is nothing to the religion business except, perhaps, business--and dishonest business at that. Eugene Peterson (The Message: Commentary introduction to the book of James)

Those who hear and don’t act are like those who
glance in the mirror; walk away, and two minutes
later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

James 1:24 (The Message)

Looking in a mirror at oneself isn’t always pleasant. I remember when my daughter was a toddler she loved looking at her reflection in the glass, in mirrors, anything that confirmed what she looked like. Her reflection was comforting and she saw nothing “wrong” with the image. What I noticed was, as she got older, she began to see herself with a more critical eye. Now she has joined my ranks where she only looks at herself in the mirror, in the morning, with her eyes barely open!

Using the Bible as a mirror to reflect our lives becomes a minefield. Much like walking away from our physical image we pick and choose which “images” in the Bible we want to reflect. There’s comfort in the reflection that we are loved by God, but, the image grows harsher when we read that our enemies deserve love as well. Being forgiven is so appreciated, until what is reflected back is that we first must speak our sin. It is so much easier to ignore it.

There are indeed sticky parts of the Bible, with emphasis on sticky! Like running into a spider web, we find it difficult to shake off the Biblical truths that we don’t like. Loving each other sounds like Shangri-La until the “other” wrongs us and instead of “going to your brother” (Matthew 18:15) you go to everyone but him and their tongues continue the fire.

Hearing and acting takes an effort of one’s will. God cannot make us “do” anything but he has given us a mirror that reflects how we are doing!

Jesus, help me to look into your mirror
and see not only how I look now, but
the image you desire to see.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Working with James

For the next few days I would like to explore meditations in the book of James. I will be using The Message translation throughout. Eugene Petersen has written a wonderful brief commentary on this book and so each day I will include a portion of his writings as well. Here is a how Peterson opens his commentary on the book of James:

When Christian believers gather in churches, everything that can go wrong sooner or later does.

Doesn't that spark a desire to read James again? Blessing on you as you read today's meditation below.

It's an Oxymoron

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges
come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life
is forced into the open and shows its true colors.

James 1:2-3 (The Message)

It wasn’t until I was in college that I heard the word, oxymoron. Besides liking the “sound” of the word, the logophile in me quickly copied it onto my brain’s hard drive. A coming together of two thoughts, two words that seem to contradict each other, in fact, may even seem to cancel each other out. Linking tests and challenges with gift is an oxymoron at its finest.

Reflecting on the various challenges that have appeared in my life over the years, I discover that it is in the looking back that I am able to see the “gift” part. In the midst of it, I usually couldn’t see the broad place, that the psalmist describes (Psalm 18:19), for the boulders, mountains and forests that lay in between.

But, of this I am certain; who I was then, is a dull reflection of the “me” I am now. Age has, in this respect, made me more agile. With each test I’m a little quicker to my knees. The challenges aren’t quite so daunting and that is saying something because, like some kind of weird obstacle course, they seem to be getting trickier, meaner and more exhausting!

Now, with resolve and clarity, I can say that I long for my faith to “show its true color.” There are no promises of the condition I’ll be in when I come out to the broad place, but my fervent prayer is that how I lived, how I conducted myself “in the thick of it” will be an arrow pointing to the One who can make all things new.

Jesus, while I can’t see the end
I know and believe that you will see me through.
Help me, to keep moving forward, and with each
step let me grow stronger and more agile.

Monday, September 28, 2009


When a man or woman commits any sin, the
person has broken trust with God, is guilty, and
must confess the sin.

Numbers 5:7

As a Jesus follower I have been part of a number of Christian “cultures.” I have wondered at how certain theological doctrines came to take such an important role in each of them. The tenets of the Christian faith are the same, but there exists in all Christian “cultures” certain doctrines that seem to be “lines in the sand” for separation and clarification, creating a Christian placement of sorts.

There is one common denominator.--sin and repentance. At one conference, I sat in a Presbyterian sanctuary listening to Southern Baptist, Anne Graham Lotz preach that if sin is allowed to continue in an individual’s life, or in the life of a Christian community, and repentance is ignored, ultimately the presence of the Holy Spirit will cease to be exist. Why? Because sin separates us.

It shouldn’t be that difficult to understand. Have you ever witnessed two people refusing to talk to each other? If left unresolved it will carry them farther and farther away from each other.

The hard part is confessing the sin that distances us from each other as well as from the embrace of the Trinity. Believing in confession of sin and practicing it, reside on opposite plateaus of the Grand Canyon. Confession and repentance requires going down into the depths in order to come up on the other side. But, the alternative is living a life separated from God.

Getting down where sin resides won’t be pretty. But, when we climb up and reach the other side, the hot shower of God’s love will have washed all the dirt away.

Jesus, I confess that I have broken trust with you
by refusing to look at certain behaviors,
thoughts and attitudes that separate me from You.
I ask for Your forgiveness. Give me the comfort of your embrace.


Friday, September 25, 2009

I'm a Branch

I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer.
He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes.

John 15:1-2 (The Message)

For several years we lived in a region known for its verdant wine valley. Acres of rolling, grapevine covered hills were a pastoral view for miles. In between, there were sheep grazing in the fields. It looked pristine and in perfect order.

This was my only image of the area until a few months after our arrival I drove the winding, twisting road and spotted smoke in the distance. Rounding the curve into the valley I was startled. The vineyards had been massacred! The verdant hills were replaced with miles of fence-post like pieces of wood. Smoke was rising from small burning piles of tangled vines. Pruning season had begun.

Jesus used visual images like this when he taught his disciples. It may well have been pruning season when he made his comparison. And, like me, perhaps the startling “result of pruning” image caused them pain in the looking.

Whether in our churches or individual lives, God uses the act of pruning to rid what doesn’t produce the way he intended. Unfortunately, like the vineyards in my wine valley, it can be severe as well as uncomfortable. As the Farmer he sees the amount and quality each branch is producing and what his harvest will be.

What he looks for are not necessarily the prettiest, sturdiest or even abundantly producing branches but the branches whose fruit will, by their very quality, bear witness to his perfect farming ability. And at different times, even those will get pruned in order to keep producing the very best.

Jesus, I want to be a branch that is always connected
to you. Train me, prune me, shape me that I might produce
fruit that reveals Your perfect nature.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Distinctive Melodies

If…lifeless instruments, such as the flute or harp,
do not give indistinct notes, how will anyone know
what is played?

I Corinthians 14:8

Enthusiastically they reasoned, if other kids could do it what was stopping them! They would form a band. After all, they “knew” all the popular songs. Rehearsals would be at our home. One of them had a keyboard, another a violin, a few of them could sing, even a small set of drums appeared on the appointed day. An hour later they were gone. “What happened to rehearsal?” I asked my daughter. “Oh, it didn’t sound very good. None of us really knew how to play the instruments.”

The next time you listen to your favorite piece of music remember what is required to produce the notes. Your enjoyment didn’t just happen. Before the music made its way out of your stereo or iPod, a huge amount of time, effort, dedication, commitment and practice preceded.

Some, like myself, may play an instrument but you’ll never hear my recordings! Long ago I stopped practicing and while I may still have the ability to sit down and play through a piece, the music isn’t very distinctive.

The community of believers is full of musicians. Some have learned the beginning spiritual lessons reciting them as crisply as a “C” scale, but that’s where it stops. Others want to learn how to be a follower. Satisfied with do’s and don’ts the music they produce, while clear, is stilted, never becoming anything more. Then there are those who want to live the Jesus way. Learning, practicing, feeling the music in their marrow, their lives become distinctive melodies that encourage others to become Music students.

Jesus, forgive me when I don’t take the time to
keep learning and practicing what it
means to be Your follower. Help me to be a melody
that draws people to You

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No Pretending

But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind.
I get to the heart…I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.
Jeremiah 17:10

Once, while participating in a healing conference, the leader took us through a spiritual exercise of seeing our hearts as a garden. “What do the walls look like surrounding the garden? Are they stone, a picket fence, what condition are they in or are there walls at all?” she asked. “Now, go into the garden. What is growing? Are there weeds? Any flowers? What about weeds pretending to be flowers?”

Continuing through the exercise, she reminded us that God knew the difference between flowers and weeds in our respective gardens. The “seeds” we had planted in our spiritual soil would ultimately reveal their identity. And, no matter how relieved we were to see that any “weed seeds” didn’t really look that bad and perhaps the incidents that planted them could remain hidden, God knows weeds.

It was a painful exercise. Looking at ourselves or our believing community and allowing God to point to the “weeds pretending to be flowers” is an exercise in humility. And, the exercise doesn’t end with God’s pointing finger. In identifying what is “pretend”, God says, I want to get to the root of this weed. I want to do what one does with weeds in gardens.

Beware! It hurts when God starts pulling weeds. He does whatever it takes to get at the root. Afterwards we discover our gardens fairly bare. But with humility comes repentance for what is exposed and removed. And, what remains will be a garden free of weeds pretending to be flowers but soil that is ready for good seed planting.

Loving God, here is my heart’s garden. No matter
how painful, pull out every weed that pretends to a flower.
Plant in me seeds that produce true beauty and reveal Your glory.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

An Original

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit
into it without even thinking.

Romans 12:2a

Caught in a circle of friends, Trevor found it difficult to say “no” to anything they proposed. If you asked, “Who are you?” he would declare himself independent and free thinking, unaffected by peer pressure but his decisions about how to live were evidence to the contrary. It was clear that at the core of his being was an uncertainty about identity, consequently adjusting to the culture was much easier--it didn’t take a lot of thought. Besides, he wanted friends!

There is a great deal of pressure to be identical to everyone else. While the culture may tout originality, take a look around. From tattoos to handbags to expensive cars to haircuts there is more imitation and conforming than uniqueness.

Jesus followers are called to be uniquely different from the culture. What that demands of us is serious thinking about how each of us will accomplish that goal. Every day we are confronted with “norms” that at the outset were off center, but over time quickly became enmeshed in the culture. Consequently, creating a distinction about what makes living the Jesus way unique, has become more and more of a challenge.

Living with a heightened awareness of one’s culture isn’t a bad practice for the Jesus follower. Daily asking questions about the impact on one’s spirit and spiritual life as a result of TV shows, magazines, advertisements or friends keeps us thinking about how we should live. In a culture of sameness, the life of a Jesus follower should be attractive by its originality.

Jesus, you avoided cultural traps
staying focused on Your purpose.
It was Your originality that attracted crowds.
Help me stay alert to anything
that keeps me from being an original for You.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Facing a Goliath

The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear
will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.

I Samuel 17:17

In the midst of challenging times it is usually almost impossible to see what possible good could come from the experience. When the darkness has settled it takes every ounce of energy to sometimes just wake up in the morning. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a loss of employment, relationship conflicts, illness or whatever may be troubling, it all feels like being paw swiped by a "lion."

It isn’t until we see the light of day that we start flexing our “muscles” and discover that we’ve made it to the other side. We’re grateful that the trauma is over and hope to live in the light for a long, long time. Then one day we feel the swipe of a "bear." It’s then that we discover that our “muscles” are stronger this time around.David was confident when he talked with Saul about how he would handle Goliath. As a shepherd it had been necessary to fend off some vicious attacks. Consequently, he was in excellent shape. But he never forgot who granted him life after each encounter.

Building up spiritual strength requires some serious work outs. Every difficulty, every tough encounter, every conflict builds up the necessary muscle for the possibility of facing a Goliath. Not everyone will necessarily face a Goliath, nevertheless, when the “lions” and “bears” attack they are what will strengthen us for the possibility. And, our assurance can be like David--the Lord who grants you life from these swipes will also be there for any Goliath.

God, it’s difficult to see that “bear” and “lion”attacks
can be part of what strengthens me.
Because of you I can face any Goliath.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It's a Killer

The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer.
With our tongues we bless God our Father;
with the same tongues we curse the very
men and women he made in his image.

James 3:8b-9

Christians can be brutal. I know this from experience. Preparing myself for worship one Sunday morning the woman sitting at my right turned and whispered, “You know I’ve talked to a few people who don’t think your husband is very friendly.” Another was listening to a distraught member of another congregation tell me the stuff she had heard about my marriage that caused me to wonder whose marriage she was talking about! Along with other juicy lies, none of it had any substance. It was simply a matter of a tongue running wild.

While most people would agree that “gossip” is wrong, Christians have found that if they wrap it in the garment of “sharing” or being “concerned” it has a more appealing appearance. Once, while leading a Bible study in James, I asked the question, “Should you listen to gossip, or should you refuse, encouraging the individual to speak to the person involved.” “Oh, honey,” replied one long time member, “It’s not gossip. People need someone to talk to and sometimes they need to just get things off their chest.”

Quite frankly, it can be kind of fun to listen to stuff about other people! Nevertheless, if you know that what you’re hearing is several times removed, or hasn’t been discussed with the person in question, you are participating in the destruction of the Christian community. The tongue is a wanton killer.

If our tongues both bless God and curse His creation how meaningful is the blessing? When a tongue runs wild, ego is in control. In short, gossip is telling God that what he created is less than satisfactory. Boy, does that takes nerve!

Jesus, forgive me for the times I’ve listened to a wanton killer.
My desire is to be part of building up your creation.
Help me to have the courage to boldly speak against the
words that seek to destroy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Assume His Presence

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in…

Psalm 121:8

Numerous times I have felt it necessary to “tell” God what he needed to do—“Be with us now.” “Be with Mary.” “Take care of my family.” “Guard and protect Pete as he travels.” My “to do” list for God is endless. I forget that asking for God’s presence isn’t necessary. Acknowledging his presence is another matter entirely.

Listen closely to most prayers and you’ll hear the majority of Christians telling God that he needs to do something. Perhaps there’s a brief thanksgiving and then a quick dash towards the request line. And, of course, the request line is always the longest. It’s almost as though God is viewed as a type of cosmic waiter, standing by patiently waiting for our orders because he has no idea what we could possibly need.

Some may argue that, as with a waiter, it’s appropriate to acknowledge our needs. There is a distinct difference however, between acknowledging our needs to God and telling him what needs to be done. I remember once telling God that he needed to take a particular person out of my life…they steadfastly remained until the time came when I acknowledged God’s will keep character. Instead of my telling I needed to be told.

There is concreteness to the word will. So, when we pray our starting point should be an assumption…the Lord will keep. Our requests then build on that assumption and become acknowledgements of our own inabilities. God knows. What we need is the ability to believe it.

God, I acknowledge your presence with me. I believe
that there is no empty space between you and me.
Help me to be continually aware of your watchful eye.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Be Persistent

Many tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder,
“Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!”

Mark 10:48 (The Message)

Bartimaeus had learned that if he was going to get attention, he had to be the one who yelled loudest. One of many who depended on the “generosity of strangers”, he knew that sitting quietly didn’t get any clinks in his bowl. His keen hearing alerted him to the tread of feet long before his companions. Waiting for the right moment, he would pitch his voice so that the first voice heard would be the one remembered.

When one of the “senses” is lost, the remaining ones go on hyper alert. So, it’s not surprising that with his “don’t look at him” status, Bartimaeus heard numerous conversations. Even if he hadn’t listened, Bartimaeus could feel that something was abuzz and he determined a plan.

Positioning himself carefully, he waited. There was no mistaking it, not only could he hear the commotion but the dirt beneath him poofed with the weight of hundreds of feet. He had heard about the crowds, but had never anticipated them to be quite so huge. On this day, however, money wasn’t what Bartimaeus was after. His time had come!

Jesus! Mercy, have mercy on me! Repeatedly he pitched his voice over the clamor and repeatedly he heard mouths shushing and hands pushing to quiet him. Continuing to persist in his request he finally heard through the din, “What can I do for you?” In a flash Bartimaeus prayed—I want to see. And instantly he saw the eyes of his Healer.

Bartimaeus is probably identified in Mark’s gospel because, with the radical change of his physical life, perhaps he was one of those who couldn’t stop talking about what Jesus had done for him. The early church remembered him. He is after all the perfect example of persistent and believing prayer.
Jesus, thank you for healing Bartimaeus and
in so doing showing me that prayer cannot be anything
but persistent and believing.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Excellent Standard

God blessed the seventh day…
because on that day he rested from his work.

Genesis 2:4 (The Message)

The significance of the first Monday of September has lost its original glory. Somewhere along the years its meaning was forgotten replacing it with sheer relief for the “long” weekend. As a tribute to the workers who labored for the “well-being” of our country, Labor Day, was established. It takes, after all, hard work to do anything well.

God labored for the “well-being” of his creation. During each creative season he put together all that would make for a perfect, cohesive, and well planned universe. No detail was left out even giving “man” the strength to carry on the “well-being” of God’s creation. And when each of God’s “days” was finished he knew that his labors had produced something good.

Each day as we go to our work, school, volunteer positions or whatever task to which we put ourselves can we say, at the end of the day, “it is good.” God set a work standard when he created the world—excellent. It’s a high, demanding standard but it has been passed along to us as well, his creation.

Working and striving for excellence in whatever we do is a tribute, a “Labor Day” as it were, to our Creator. The world watches to see if our speech matches with our behavior and unfortunately it too often finds us falling short. Remembering and acting on the standard of excellence that God established will be crucial in our ability to communicate to others in God’s creation that we mean what we say and we do it with excellence.

Creative God, thank you for your excellent creation.
Help me to live each day, with the strength
you give me, to strive for excellence
and be a living example of your work.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No Fear

Today my husband and I have been married 31 years. Thank you, Bill for helping me learn how to not allow fear to control my life.
…for God gave us a spirit not of fear
but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7

Darkness terrified me as a child. Plumping my courage I would enter a dark room and shout, “Get out of here!” At bedtime my door remained open for the lighted hallway to pierce the darkness. My patient babysitter sat by my bedside until sleep visited. The weird part of this childhood experience was that in the recesses of my child’s mind I knew I had nothing to fear.

As we grow older we become aware of “legitimate” fears. But, fear is systemic and like a rash that starts in a localized area within a short period it has spread. If left untreated it soon becomes the focus of one’s existence. And “existence” is what it is because fear is a robber of life.

Given the circumstances of conflict and persecution for Timothy no wonder Paul reminds him that fear is not a gift from God. It is a character trait that God never intended for us. Instead He provides antidotes for fear—power, love and self-control. Applying them is like shouting “Get out of here!”

The power comes in not just knowing but believing that God is present, no matter the circumstances—if God is for us who can be against us! Love for others, our life, our circumstances takes shape when we allow ourselves to be enveloped in God’s loving embrace. Understanding that God has not asked us to be in “control” of anything other than what He has given us individually is the self-control antidote. Fear cannot survive when treated with this combined healing ointment.

Loving God, forgive me for the numerous times I allow fear
to spread over my life. It has controlled my thoughts
and my actions for too long.
I need Your antidotes of power, love and self-control.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Filling Your Mind

…I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable…gracious—the best, not the worst…

Philippians 4:8 (The Message)

There once was a church lady who gave her “all” to her congregation. She sang in the choir, taught Sunday School, embraced her role on the elder board, never missed a church social and always was first on the prayer chain. To a casual observer it appeared as though the congregation couldn’t possibly do without her “all.” Her fellow Christians certainly appreciated her ability to get things done. However, they discovered that her “all” was tearing holes in the congregational fabric—her “all” came with a negative view on everything.

Most of us fall into one of two categories—we are either a pessimist or an optimist. While standing in line, listen, and you may discover that pessimists outrank. Restaurants to churches to schools are filled with people whose personal vision of things hasn’t been realized. Nothing or no one is able to measure up to their personal standard—whatever that may be!

Filling our minds on the best, not the worst requires that we step outside of our personal vision and take in the God created landscape—it is far more unique, complex and exhilarating!

Why then, is filling our minds with the true, noble and gracious things of life so challenging? The truth is that often we meditate on our ideas, fill our minds with our desires, seeing everything through our custom made eye glasses. Difficult as it may be, the “all” of a Jesus follower should include focused attention on all that is best, avoiding even a glance at the worst.

Creative God, when You completed each creative season
You saw that it was good.
Change my vision from one of self focus to filling my mind with Your created best.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What You Know

And by this we know that he abides in us,
by the Spirit whom he has given us.

I John 3:24b

As she was driving away, leaving behind her youngest at college, her cry was, “God, will you take care of her?” According to her testimony that she shared with several of us, God responded with a question in return, “What do you know?” And as she began to list all the things that she “knew” about God’s character, His provision, His love, her anxiousness dissipated.

From the time the question, “What do you know?” pierced my own consciousness, a day hasn’t gone by where I haven’t asked myself, “What do you know?”

With so many “unknowns” confronting us, almost on a daily basis, it’s good to stop and remember what we do knowGod abides in us. Whatever is happening in our lives now can often block out the light of what we know to be true from the past. That “issue” niggling at us becomes a distraction and soon we find ourselves stumbling blind. Our fumbling response to these present distractions, hardships, struggles, discouragements can impede our forward progress and prevent us from living vibrant lives in the Kingdom.

“What do you know?” It’s a question that prompts us to stop, take a deep breath, and reacquaint ourselves with the promise …behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

Jesus, thank you for Your Holy Spirit
that points us always back to You
and the promises that You have kept
throughout all time.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


…be sure your sin will find you out.

Numbers 32:23b

“I hoped that it wouldn’t come out.” The famous last words from a politician who’s extramarital affair had just been exposed. That relationship, which at the time had been so important it had to be kept secret, was suddenly caught in high beams proving that nothing can really be kept secret.

Many probably don’t realize that what has become a part of the "moral" fabric of our society is rooted in the Bible. And yet, even though the truth is as “old as the hills”, keeping sin hidden continues to be a favorite pasttime. A little “white lie”, a “slight” misrepresentation, a “small” omission of facts, a “tiny” twist to the story are all part of what eventually wears down our inward life and we are exposed. Sin will not be hidden.

The challenge for our Christian community today is knowing and identifying the characteristics of sin. In most churches confession of sin is encouraged as an important part of the Christian life and yet, in an environment of total acceptance of all things and non-judgment of anything or anyone, the lines of “sin” have become blurred. We don't want to judge, so what exactly are we to confess?

Just as nothing can be kept truly secret, neither can sin. Ultimately what is sinful will reveal itself through broken relationships, familial discord, heartbreak, soul deterioration, separation from all that one holds dear. Sin is tough that way. It steals our God given gifts, freedoms and purpose, leaving us empty handed. Sin refuses to stay in the shadows.

Jesus, forgive me for the sins I know and those
that have not yet been revealed.
Give me a spirit that rejects what seeks to steal away Your gifts.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hopeful Living

For who hopes for what he sees?

Romans 8:24c

Many children aren’t hopeful, they’re expectant. Eating, bathing, napping, playing all become what they expect during a day. There are exceptions, but, the truth is that all children should be able to live expectantly. Hope shouldn’t necessarily be a part of their lives, because they should be able to see what they expect.

We were once expectant children, but age faded its brilliance as we discovered that, eventually, life offers up numerous unrealized expectations. Gradually we recognize that what we expect, is not always what we see. Our expectations become diminished and we begin using the language of hope—I hope I get that promotion. I hope I get accepted into college. I hope my doctor’s appointment goes well. There is much that we do not see, and yet we remain hopeful.

Being a Jesus follower demands huge amounts of hope. A commitment to Jesus is based on faith in what can’t be seen. The Trinity is not a visual reality, but it is a hopeful one. And as with so much of the other “stuff” in our lives that can’t be seen, but for which we are hopeful, we begin to appreciate that we can believe and hope in something that we don’t necessarily “see.”

It takes work to be hopeful. It’s so much easier to make plans, set agendas, organizing one’s life in such a way that we expect to get certain results. Living a hopeful life is edgy and absolutely crazy. But, one day hope will bring what can’t been seen into focus—the Kingdom of Heaven.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit I want to be able to see You,
hear You, feel You. Help me to know You in a way that is hopeful,
expecting that one day all will be seen.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Life Assignment

Only let each person lead the life
that the Lord has assigned to him,
and to which God has called him.

I Corinthians 7:17

Here is a confession—I compare my life to the lives lived by others and, more often than not, wonder why I couldn’t have their life. Of course, all the lives I envy "appear" to have more than me, not less. Walking down the streets of a mega rich community recently, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to worry about money. I could do ‘wealthy’ quite nicely!” Of course, none of this is based in reality because what I see is the outside stuff not the soul of their lives. That remains hidden. But then, there are those whose lives genuinely seem to be lived more smoothly.

My husband and I have been talking about “signature sins”; those sins that hound us throughout our lives. They are the ones we never quite give over completely to our Father. In sharing our “signature sins” my envy of the “more fortunate lives” was exposed. It’s an ugly sin.

What strikes me about Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians is the message of freedom. When I am distracted by a life “over there” the life I’ve been given wanders off trail and before I know it, I’m struggling to bush whack my way back.

Freedom comes in embracing the life God has assigned me, because only then can I completely trust that, no matter what happens, God will see me through. When I look elsewhere, I lose sight of Who is leading my way.

Jesus, forgive me for my envy of the lives
You have given others.
Help me to embrace my assigned life
With all my heart, soul and mind.