Tag Archive | God’s Presence

The Answer is…

Keep your eyes on Jesus!

The question? In last week’s post, you will find it. The world can be distracting and I take my eyes off Jesus letting the circumstances around me dominate my mind.

Matthew 14:28-31

Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand.

Peter was distracted by the wind and waves. He took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink. So many questions have the same answer: Jesus! It seems quite simple, but my earthly flesh rebels. I intend to read His word every day. Then, I oversleep, the dog gets sick, or some other bump in life misdirects me. It seems that’s the first thing dumped off the “TO DO” list. I have told myself, “I will read this afternoon,” and when afternoon arrives there are other bumps in my road. I have put Bible apps on my phone and tablet. Now I can read on my break time. Or just make time wherever I happen to be. I have to choose to do it, to focus on Jesus.

Luke 9:23 

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

The key is to follow Jesus DAILY- 24/7/365. I am still a work in-progress, diamond-in-the-rough. God has redeemed me and given me grace which is all-sufficient! Hallelujah! I hope some of you can relate to this…

lg

A-Movin’ and A-Quakin’ — the Blessing of Shaken Foundations

ImageOf late, does it seem as if everything familiar in your life has begun to shake?  Are your plans continually having to be changed and your routines upended?  Nobody — not even those of us who seem to thrive on adrenaline —  enjoys living in a state of interruptions — full of sidelined plans, broken appointments, aborted goals, and chaotic schedules.  For most of us, life seems to lurch forward at light speed; we are regularly almost late to nearly everything, and more and more details are swallowed up in the “forgotten items” pile of our brains.

As a child, I remember long, lazy summers when I yearned for the much-anticipated first day of school.   I recall the joy and anticipation of the Advent season.   I counted days until visits from favorite relatives or our much-loved vacations to family in the Rocky Mountains.   Everything seemed to take forever to “get here,” and my enjoyment level of everything we had anticipated was unbelievably high.

Now, however, it seems school starts before I can even begin settling down for the summer.  Christmas comes before I am prepared for it.  There is never enough time to plan, much less execute, a lazy weekend with friends or family.   Life literally screams for attention, in spite of my vain efforts to refuse much of what it demands of me.   Schedules swallow me alive, and it seems there is very little room to breathe.

However, I am finding God is present in the whirlwind and the storms.   My plans do not, after all, shape the framework of my peace.   Only Jesus can do that.   All my survival systems and coping mechanisms pale in comparison to His Presence.   In fact, it appears He is currently shaking everything in my operating systems that can be shaken.   He longs for me to rely on Him and Him alone, to seek His Presence and peace in the throes of all the pressures of life.

A well-organized day-planner will NOT give me peace, as people and circumstances have the power to alter the most carefully laid plans.   A better calendar and more well-developed ability to say “no” will not give me rest.   Only Jesus can do that.   In His mercy, He shakes my plans and my systems and my coping mechanisms.  “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 3:11).  God wants our foundation to be on Jesus, the Rock, rather than on anyone or anything else (Matthew 7:25-27).  Only HE will sustain us when the storms of life hit and our plans (our little houses of cards) collapse.

In His mercy, He shakes every foundation that does not reflect His handiwork.   Although He temporarily allows us to go our own way, He promises that everything not built on Him will ultimately fail.  In Haggai 2:6-7, God promises:  “Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land;and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts.”  Truly, it is God’s MERCY and boundless LOVE for us that provoke Him to shake up anything of our own making.   He yearns for us to yearn for Him — and to abandon all other things on which we so easily have come to rely.

Father, help me remove the rubble of my own plans and systems.   Teach me — gently, if possible!  — how to remain solidly planted on the foundation of Your Presence in my life and to rely on Your Word, Your plans, and Your perspective.   Teach me Your way, O Lord.  I choose to walk in Your truth.   Unite my heart to fear Your Name (see Psalm 86:11).  Help me to rejoice in the rubble of my own ways and embrace You — the joy and power of Your Presence in me!

God Trumps our Limitations

ImageToday I attended the funeral of a dear friend’s adult son.   Aside from the obvious sorrow attendant upon losing a close family member, what made this particular situation especially thought-provoking is the fact that this particular man wrestled with physical and mental limitations all his life that most of us have not had to face.  As a result, he was quite a remarkable man.

Although I have many memories of my friend’s son that make me smile, God used one situation to teach me a foundational lesson about His Presence and power.   One day several years ago, I had dragged myself to church after an extremely trying week.   I felt heavy-hearted and full of despair, in spite of my best efforts to resist falling into an emotional tailspin.  It turned out that my friend’s son was serving as a back-up greeter to his parents that day at the service.   I greeted my friend and her husband and proceeded to stop by the bench where their son was seated and said hello to him.   He looked back at me in response, and I literally saw the eyes and heart of Jesus for me reflected in his eyes and face.   I recognized the Presence of the Lord in him, and the heaviness that had weighed me down simply evaporated!

Clearly, the power of God’s Presence in us is NOT hindered by our limitations (real or imagined).  I believe this truth is part of the mystery Paul was describing in Colossians 1:27, the mystery of “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”  God’s power is unfettered — it is not something that depends on US!  That is certainly good news for those of us who find ourselves continually striving to hear God, to please Him, and to speak on His behalf the right way at the right time to others. While those goals are certainly noble, all we really need to do is trust that His Presence in us will shine through us and touch the hearts of those around us.

Although my friend’s son was confined to a physical body that limited his activities, and he never was able to read a Bible, he had the TREASURE, for he knew Jesus, the Lover of His soul.   Jesus used him in countless situations and allowed him to leave a profoundly rich legacy in the hearts of those who knew him.  Thank you, Steven, for the rich deposit you made in my heart!