Archives For uncertainty

Draw Near to GodLet’s face it. We all struggle from time to time with the minor annoyances and frustrations in life.

Here are a few of mine this week:

  • A lawn mower that needs repair
  • A missing package that was shipped to my Mom
  • An expired debit card
  • A missed appointment
  • A forgotten password

The fact is that some of these issues are of my own doing, others not so much. Most of you know that my Dad recently passed away. And considering the events of the past couple weeks, I really need to just show myself the grace I try to extend to others. However, for some reason I tend to operate as if I’m super-human and somehow too good to be bothered by such little problems. I mean, the world is full of issues and stresses and pain and suffering that I cannot begin to fully comprehend.

In my own little world I can think of . . .

  • Several friends facing difficult situations with aging parents
  • Several babies and young children hospitalized and fighting for another day of life
  • Several friends praying for their children to find their way back to God
  • A friend facing unemployment
  • A family facing certain eviction from their home
  • A family suffering the woes of severe debt
  • A friend prepping for a medical school exam
  • A family embroiled in relational strife and heated conflict
  • A family begging Russia to let them adopt the little girl they met several months ago

There are so many other issues that come to mind. It can be overwhelming.

Then I think about the broader problems in our world:

  • Those who have no peace due to wars and constant turmoil
  • Those who have no clean drinking water
  • Those who have no food to eat
  • Those who have no family or friends
  • Those who have no shelter
  • Those who are truly innocent but incarcerated

When I’m tempted to let my day be ruined by the small stuff, it helps me to remember those who are dealing with really BIG stuff. I can’t imagine facing such challenges without an abiding faith in Jesus Christ. I hear other believers say that a lot. But here’s the thing: So many of us turn to Him only after we’ve exhausted all other possible solutions. How crazy is that?!

We’d do well to learn from little children. When toddlers are hurt, scared, or in apparent danger, they look first to Mom, Dad, or another safe adult for help. They don’t try to fix things all by themselves. They don’t beat themselves up for all the ways they may have contributed to the problem. They just call the name of the one who can help — and, if possible, they run straight into their open arms.

Maybe you’re having a bad day. Or maybe you just thought you were. Whatever the case may be, whether it’s broken cars, broken appliances, broken bones, broken promises, or broken relationships, take the time to think outside yourself and realize that God may be trying to tell you something that you really need to hear. In my own life I’ve found that it’s much easier to hear His still small voice when I’m listening for it.

In the midst of a noisy, troubled world, may you experience the presence of the Lord in a powerful way today.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. – James 4:8a, ESV

IT’S YOUR TURN!
What is God teaching you through your own struggles this week?

2012reflections-shadowIt’s time to wrap up another calendar year and turn the page to a new one.

Our nation and our world have faced a plethora of challenges this year — many of them serious and challenging. While all the TV news programs have found a way to highlight the stories that mattered most, chances are that their stories were not the ones that most impacted your life.

Maybe you said goodbye to a loved one — through death or divorce.

Maybe you sent your first, last, or only child off to college or into the work force.

Maybe you lost a job — and/or took a new one.

Maybe you welcomed a new baby into the family.

Maybe you participated in a mission project — in your community or half-way around the world.

You probably did a lot of things that will never be mentioned in a ‘year in review’ report. But these things were meaningful to you because they were personal.

Tennyson wrote, “I am part of all that I have met.” We’d be hard-pressed to find a statement that rings more true. It’s true of the good things, the bad things, the ugly things. Whether we like it or not, everything we personally experience shapes us, our attitudes, and our perspective on life.

As we head full speed into a brand new year, I hope you’ll take time to reflect on the year that was. So often we fail to adequately process the events of this life. Instead we bounce like a pinball from one experience to another, taking no care to really think about how those experiences change us.

It has been said that pictures are worth a thousand words. Whether those are actual photos or mental images, I encourage you to take time to think through your pictures from the year that was.

Laugh.

Cry.

Meditate.

Grieve.

Give thanks.

Pray.

However you do it, acknowledge the impact of 2012, complete with its triumphs and its tragedies. Realize that there is absolutely nothing you can do to change what is past.

As a kid growing up, my parents had a plaque on the living room wall. Its message sticks with me even today:

Look to this day. Yesterday is a dream; tomorrow is a vision.

Jesus Himself took care to remind us that we can’t control everything. The older I get, the more I understand exactly how little I do control. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always found comfort in these words from Matthew 6:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:25-30, ESV

As we close the door on 2012, let’s look to the new year with anticipation of what God will teach us in the next 12 months. Give Him your fears, your doubts, your hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Know that He is absolutely trustworthy. You can depend on Him. He is never surprised and never uncaring. He is faithful, forgiving, and fully involved in the events of this life.

I’ll leave you today with an Irish blessing that is my prayer for you in the year that awaits:

May the friendships you make,
Be those which endure,
And all of your grey clouds
Be small ones for sure.
And trusting in Him
To Whom we all pray,
May a song fill your heart,
Every step of the way.

IT’S YOUR TURN!
What did God teach you in 2012?