Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Tongue’s Tale

“Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3

I was having an ordinary moment with a family member the other day when he alerted me I’d crossed a line. The rebuke was so gentle that the sting mirrored it. I hadn’t meant to hurt or offend, and I rushed to say so. “I know you didn’t,” was the loving reply. I offered an apology, and his gracious acceptance gave the incident a peaceful burial. 

 Upon reflection, two thoughts have sprung from those few uncomfortable moments. 

First, sometimes it’s not what we say, but how we say it that’s wrong. Frustration or anger have a way of turning the most benign words into weapons. I thought back to a few other things I’d said in recent days that I could have delivered with more sensitivity. (Forgive me, Lord.) 

Second, oftentimes people don’t tell us that we’ve hurt them, but it doesn’t mean we’re not guilty. Sometimes only the Holy Spirit makes us aware of what we’ve done. I’ve tried to duck the conviction because no one actually said anything, but no, I can’t use that as an excuse. If ever my words could have had a gentler expression, to that degree I am guilty of harshness to the delicate and unseen part of the recipient’s emotions. It is not the way of Christ, and I want to be like Him. 

If this is your heart’s desire too, may we pray this together: 

Dear God,  make my mouth an instrument of love, not of hurt. I ask that your spirit change my heart so that gentleness flows from my lips. Let meekness control my tongue so that it takes the time to construct the best words to say in the best way. Amen! 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

On-Time God

As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.“ Psalm 18:30

The day started early. I rolled over and picked up my phone just to piddle like I do when I’m relaxed. Then I saw that someone I love had called at an hour that could only mean something was wrong. Bolting upright, I scurried to a part of the house where I could be free to talk with the volume distress always provokes in me, and dialed this one I love. The words I heard concocted a strange soup of desperation, frustration, and deep concern in my heart. I was in rescue mode. I threw out the lifeline of hope, but my loved one was hard-pressed to take hold of it. The tears of my loved one tears shook me internally while my own failed to come until the lengthy call was over.

I  texted several friends for prayer. “I can’t bear this alone,” I thought, “but who will stand with me, kneel with me at this intruding hour?”  A few who came to mind were having their own crises, but I didn't remember that until after pressing “send”.

Before the dings and chimes indicated replies from folks whose sleep I may have interrupted, God was my only audience. A prayer with three words was all I could choke out over and over. A rebuke about "vain repetition" made a rude appearance in my mind. The love of Jesus kicked it out and reminded me that His Spirit could decipher the paragraphs my heart was praying in those three words.

Friends texted their support and I replied with gratitude.

I retired back to bed with my Bible, thumbing through the psalms for comfort. At first, the songs weren’t appropriate, happy beats on a heart that felt beaten. Then my eyes landed on a psalm that thundered with the anger I was feeling toward my loved one’s oppressors. Thank you, King David, for keeping it real and writing it down just like you felt it! Our God’s ears don’t have to be coddled. He’s the author of those emotions that won’t perch right in a pew, as well as those that feel holier.

I checked my email to avoid my distress’s cold stare and found a new email from an old friend. Pregnant with the kind of encouragement that destined it to be printed and posted on my bathroom mirror,  the letter felt like a kiss from God. It had nothing to do with my sore spot, but it helped with the sting all the same.

Thank you, Lord, for caring friends. Thank You for hearing what I can’t say. I bless You for your Word that comforts me, and  I thank you for timing that letter to arrive just when I needed a reminder that You care. You seemed far away in my distress but in reality, You showed up in each of those encounters. You truly are my on-time God.

Friday, September 22, 2017

While You Are Hurting

 "I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live."  Psalm 116:1-2

It had been lurking in the shadows of my heart: a hurt I had incurred about a week prior. Busyness made it shy, but when the quiet came, the hurt limped back  to center stage. 
Then one night, I was in a noisy place, a place of worship. Most of the songs were unfamiliar; therefore singing while gleaning the truth made an awkward dance. 

Enter the beautiful blindsiding. 

The Spirit prompted the worship leader to break the cadence of the service with an invitation to lift up a burden. Without my permission, my hurt came to the forefront. I tried to stifle it's bruised hand reaching for the altar. It complied, but manifested itself in tears instead. No! No! I didn't want to cry in this unfamiliar place, but the woo to lay that burden down had an irresistible seduction. It was as though Jesus came to me, held my uplifted face between His hands and said, "Tell me all about it." Everything and everyone around me seemed excused from this private time with my Saviour.  I didn't say anything I hadn't said to Him before about this matter, and I knew this hurt wasn't going to heal overnight, but this time my keen awareness of His tender listening was enough. 

Sometimes listening to someone is the most Christ-like thing you can do. No solutions...no rescue...just the loan of your time, attention, and ears. Though you say no words, a healing exchange transacts. A burden is cut in half, and it's weight redistributes. A lightness blows the fragrance of hope through the place once packed with heaviness. What a beautiful gift!

Know this! Jesus is an ever-present help in time of trouble. Sometimes His presence speaks and dead hopes arise. Sometimes He answers before You even ask. Other times His still, small voice says nothing, but the comfort comes in knowing He cares enough to listen while you are hurting. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Comfort in Your Waiting Place

"For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay." Habakkuk 2:3

Have you ever started out on a venture that took longer and was much harder than you anticipated? Maybe you've thought of quitting and writing it all off as a big mistake. You know you can't do that, but it feels good to talk about it for a moment, right? 

Perhaps you've been forging ahead so long you've forgotten what your initial goal was. That's OK. This happens when doing something bigger than yourself. 

You are in a prime place that I believe God finds irresistible. You are so dependent and vulnerable that if God does not step in, it's all over with anyway. You've run out of ideas, strength, and any other resource. Good! This may mean you've given your all for Him and He has to take it from here. He can and He will, My Friend. 

May I encourage you to find comfort in this place prickly with uncertainty? Lay your head on the stone of stuck and look toward Heaven. Rest your back in this corner you feel painted, pushed, and backed into and watch what happens next.  God has set the stage for His grand entrance.  (I've learned sometimes God doesn't make His appearance right away. His silence allows time for rest and contemplation.) Then, at the proper time, He steps in. It looks different for each of us, but it's always like a ray of light after a dark season; a word of hope or direction after a long silence. Before you know it, you're back on track. You're more certain, you're revived and full of purpose again. If you think back, you'll see you've been here before, the stakes just seem higher, but the Most High was still there! You didn't come this far to miss out on what's next. Each challenge is a muscle-builder against the next giant. Get rested, get realigned, and then get ready to rise to applaud the King because He IS coming! His shadow will fall on your circumstance and bring joy to your heart and glory to Himself. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

God in the Dark

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 89:1

When you're going through a trial, God's faithfulness can get fuzzy sometimes. It's not that He has fallen short; your perspective has. When stress gets thick, it can clog the artery that once flowed full and strong with remembrance of Who God is, what He has done, and what He promised.

When everything is going well, His goodness is easy to believe, but what about when life sucker-punches you and presses on the windpipe of your faith? Without a rescue, your hope can blackout.

 I have discovered that the Holy Spirit of God is the best  at invading the night spaces when anxiety has burglarized my peace. Sometimes, even before I'm fully awake, He gives my Spirit a word from His Word that turns a sharp and sudden light on the the shadows of fear that crept in. They run, and my heart decompresses. His peace rushes in like a flood.
Other times, I must go out and glean the peace I'm hungry for; but the True Vine is always my faithful Supplier. I  leave His presence full of encouragement and hope till the next feeding.

May the Lord sustain you in your time of trouble. May You find Him to be the positive to your every negative. May your heart be filled with joy by faith until the clouds clear and sight mirrors what your heart trusted would be there. Hang in there, My Friend! Your song of deliverance will make it to your lips in His perfect time.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Prayer of Faith When Life is Hard

Oh, God, I'm hurting. I know You are the Great Healer of hurts. Please heal me. Dry my tears and hold me. You've done it many times before. Do it again, Lord!

I wish for relief today. I desire an end to all that's uncertain, for the light to be turned on in those places dark with uncertainty. I know you can do it, Lord, all power is in Your mighty hand.


I also know Your ways are higher than mine, and You want me to trust You. I understand You are at work when I don't understand. Your power doesn't just work to fulfill my desire; it fulfills Your divine purpose, and I bow my heart and will to Your desire above my own.

I choose to trust Your timing, Your agenda,  Your love. As hard as my current hurt is, I submit to Your schedule for its relief. You are a Healer, no doubt, but You are also a Vinedresser, a Cultivator of character.( John 15:1) Cut, snip, prune, and take away according to Your wisdom. Only preserve my mind. Don't let me lose heart or sight of what is important since trouble tends to be a great liar when I'm hurting.

Thank You that You care enough for me to give me what I need instead of what I want. Take my hand and lead me on into the uncertainty that lies ahead. Whisper words of love and hope to me in the dark. Thank you in advance for what I will become and the heightened beauty I will see in You when we both come out on the other side.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Painful Places on Your Journey?

"My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word." Psalm 119:28

How are you these days, My Friend? Are you weary? Stressed? Anxious or uncertain? All of the above?

Sometimes our spirit droops from the hot sun of adversity, and we need a cool drink of hope, don't we? This has been my story daily for the past few weeks. Certain times of the day seem to be peak droop times. I told myself loudly enough for God to hear that I am sick to death of these daily attacks. I asked Him to give me strength to fight my bully so he will either go away with a sore butt or  just plain go away. (Sometimes I don't want to grow strong as much as I want to just be left alone.)

I have a feeling God is up to something good through this season. He always is.

What do you do in those intense moments when all your worst and most unreasonable fears gang up on you? Where do you go when your most vulnerable places are black and blue from sucker punches?

I have found two places: His Word and His people.

Each morning, God has been faithful to give me a word of reassurance. My spirit rabidly searches for it as I read. Sometimes it's a direct promise on the Bible page. Sometimes it's His presence that comes near while I'm drinking at His fountain of truth. Either way, it's wonderful. He'll do the same for you.

Sometimes a friend of His and mine will speak a word of encouragement. Some don't even realize they were His carrier.

If you are a fellow traveler in a painful season, be encouraged, My Friend. God has planted rest stops on your journey to get you through. I'd love to hear how He has shown up on your road. Maybe we can be each other's encouragers till we each make it to the glad-that's-over and let's-have-a-praise-party part of the road.