“We’re getting closer,” I replied to my tiny great-grandma who was seated in the wheelchair I was pushing. “We’ll walk outside now because I think I can find the building easier that way.” At 92 years old, Grammie Lee’s frail body seemed to add no weight to the wheelchair as I pushed her on the sidewalk towards the apartment where we would meet my grandmother.
“Would you look at those flowers!” Grammie Lee exclaimed in her small voice. “The yellows are so pretty!” I glanced across the street and spotted the patch of yellow pansies she was talking about. “Yeah, they’re nice!” I tried to muster up some enthusiasm to match my great-grandma’s. Where was that building? The retirement community had such a large campus that I sometimes stopped to get my bearings.
A few minutes later I heard a sound come from the chair. “What, Grammie Lee?” I leaned forward to listen. “Look at those little flowers in the ivy! Who would have known they were there? Aren’t they beautiful?” I looked at the greenery that lined the sidewalk. Sure enough, there were small green flowers hidden among the leaves. I marveled at how Grammie Lee seemed to notice all these things that I would pass by otherwise. What would it be like to see things through her eyes? I decided to try it.
“Grammie Lee, look at that!” I pointed to a pair of geese with two goslings following close behind. “Oh, yes.” She spent a few moments admiring the animals.
By the time we found the apartment building, my heart felt a lot lighter.
Grammie Lee is able to have a joyful attitude even though she can’t participate in many of the activities that go on around her. Her secret lies in Psalm 9:1: “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Giving thanks to God means looking for those tiny blessings that we might pass by every day. Our whole heart should be occupied in telling of His miracles, even if they are as common as a yellow flower.
Has your heart felt especially burdened lately? Try taking a walk and making a point of giving thanks to God for making the beautiful things around you.
I watched in the mirror as the young woman curled my hair. The formal event was staring in just a few hours, and a group of my friends had gathered to prepare together. The lady smiled as she held the curling iron steady. “So what is your book about?” She asked.
I remembered that my mom had mentioned it to her earlier. “It’s a devotional to help teen girls who have gone through their parents divorce.” I replied. “I just finished it the other day, and I’m really excited about it!”
“Wow, that’s great! You’re writing from experience, I assume?”
I paused to think of a way to answer. I didn’t like to sound like I was complaining when I told someone about my book and the circumstances that brought me to write it.
Have you ever felt a twinge of guilt when talking about your problems or prayer requests? As though maybe you were exaggerating? I have definitely felt this when writing blog posts about the challenges of divorce. I wonder if I’m exaggerating the situation or if I’m prolonging the whole experience. Maybe I should just stick with devotional writing without including personal stories, I think.
I was contemplating this the other day when I realized something: if I don’t acknowledge the difficulty of a situation, how can God be glorified in it? God’s power is manifested when it is obvious that the solution did not come from me. We see proof of this in 2 Corinthians 12:9 after Paul asks God to take away a significant challenge in his life. God answers “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” Paul then concludes that he will talk gladly about his weaknesses so that “the power of Christ may rest upon [him].”
Do you avoid talking about your failures? Paul didn’t. Our failures and challenges, when contrasted against God’s power, bring glory to God.
This is Holy Week and Spring Break sometimes doesn’t allow us the time to focus on the depth and gravity of the cross. Please download a crucifixion movie and watch it on your mobile device. Zero in on the events leading up to Jesus’ arrest and the brutality of His crucifixion. I’m the first to admit how painful these events are to watch and you may feel the same, but it should be painful for us to watch because Jesus wore our skin at the cross.
One of my favorite old hymns, At the Cross, was written by Issac Watts in 1707. The refrain below still humbles me to tears. Substitute your name for I when reading it.
Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
When we think about the scene at the cross and all the anger, hatred, and abuse hurled at Jesus that day, the first assumption is that evil was the victor. Think about your own situation. Do you feel defeated even though you’re trying to do what Jesus wants you to do? The bad guys win again? This is what the disciples thought, too. They felt betrayed. Jesus, their master, was gone.
Thank goodness the story doesn’t end here, but let’s stay at the cross for a couple of days and try to fully understand how privileged we really are. Forgiveness came with a heavy price and we need to never take this lightly. Is there someone you need to forgive? Come to the cross and learn from the Master.
My purpose for recommending you watch the movie or even see a play about the crucifixion is because we can’t even begin to fathom the gory details of that day. Visual presentations help me grasp the pain and the purpose of Jesus’ death. Any problems I have pale in comparison when I watch what Jesus did for me.
Know I’m Praying for You,
I double-checked the power bar at the top of the screen on my laptop. Yep. Even after five minutes of fiddling with the cord, it still wasn’t charging the battery. I began to think of all the online homework that would be due in the next couple of days and groaned. What was I going to do without my laptop? I quickly put it in sleep mode to conserve the little battery that was left so that I would be able to print anything that was absolutely necessary.
During the next week or so before my friend was able to fix my power cord, I began to realize just how dependent I was on my computer. Several times I unthinkingly reached for my laptop before remembering that I couldn’t use it.
This made me wonder: what would it be like if the dependence that I obviously had on my technology was invested in God instead? All throughout the Psalms, the writers describe God as our help, stronghold, level ground, rock, and salvation. Shouldn’t that be where my hope is placed?
In the coming days, I am going to seek a new dependence on God. What if I was as desperate after losing my Bible as I was after not having my laptop? I want to be addicted to God! Here are some ways I am going to cultivate dependence:
- Putting my mind on him first thing every morning. In the coming days I want to grow in having him on my mind as soon as I wake up.
- Seeking him out before every homework assignment. I don’t know about you, but I often get caught up in the things on my to-do list without stopping to take time for God. Maybe taking time to speak with him before each project will help me with this.
- Limiting Facebook. I’ve realized lately just how much time I spend reading about other peoples’ lives! While this is great in small quantities, it can quickly eat up precious time that I could use towards other things.
Will you join me in seeking out a new level of dependence on God for your life? What are you doing right now to spend time with Him or to remind yourself of your need for him?
Specks of light reflected off the waters and sparkled around the gigantic room. Thousands of eyes were focused on the girl reading her testimony, the story of how God had worked in her life, before a pastor would baptize her. I stood in the background waiting for my turn. Today I would tell the church about how God had changed my life through his fatherhood.
But just before my friend in the baptismal was submerged, fear gripped my heart. What was I thinking! Reading my personal story in front of at least two thousand people – strangers and friends?! Most had never heard my story before or didn’t even know about my parents divorce. How embarrassing. I wished I could melt through the floor and give the pastor a last-minute excuse, but it was too late. The crowd was clapping enthusiastically for my friend and people were signaling that it was my turn to step into the baptismal pool. Even if I wanted to, there was no chance of turning back now. I took in a short breath and shakily walked down the slippery stairs. I uttered a desperate cry, “Oh God, please be with me!”
Instantly my fears vanished like they had never existed. As I walked to the front of the small pool and took the microphone from a smiling pastor, I knew unmistakably that God would be with me. Already I could feel the peace of his presence.
Read God’s promise to us in Isaiah 41:10: “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” God has promised to be with us! There is no reason to fear, because God has given his word to help, strengthen, and uphold us. What do you fear? Are you ready to trust God with that fear? Make a habit of seeking your Father’s presence in your life because he will help you to overcome your deepest anxieties.
Comment and tell me, have you had a similar experience to mine where God has miraculously removed your fears?