fbpx
Large Print

Hopes and Longings

By |2022-11-24T01:33:05-05:00November 24th, 2022|

When I moved to England, the American holiday of Thanksgiving became just another Thursday in November. Although I created a feast the weekend after, I longed to be with family and friends on the day. Yet I understood that my longings weren’t unique to me. We all yearn to be with people dear to us on special occasions and holidays. And even when we’re celebrating, we may miss someone who’s not with us or we may pray for our fractured family to be at peace.

During these times, praying and pondering the wisdom of the Bible has helped me, including one of King Solomon’s proverbs: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). In this proverb, one of the pithy sayings through which Solomon shared his wisdom, he notes the effect that “hope deferred” can have: the delay of something much longed for can result in angst and pain. But when the desire is fulfilled, it’s like a tree of life—something that allows us to feel refreshed and renewed.

Some of our hopes and desires might not be fulfilled right away, and some might only be met through God after we die. Whatever our longing, we can trust in Him, knowing He loves us unceasingly. And, one day, we’ll be reunited with loved ones as we feast with Him and give thanks to Him (see Revelation 19:6–9).

Trusting Our Future to God

By |2022-11-23T01:33:03-05:00November 23rd, 2022|

In 2010, Laszlo Hanyecz made the first purchase with bitcoin (a digital currency), paying 10,000 bitcoins for two pizzas. In 2021, the value of those bitcoins would have been roughly $685 million. Back before the value skyrocketed, he kept paying for pizzas with coins, spending 100,000 bitcoins total. If he’d kept those bitcoins, their value would’ve made him a billionaire sixty-eight times over and placed him on the Forbes’ “richest people in the world” list. If only he’d known what was coming.

Of course, Hanyecz couldn’t possibly have known. None of us could have. Despite our attempts to comprehend and control the future, Ecclesiastes rings true: “No one knows what is coming” (10:14). Some of us delude ourselves into thinking we know more than we do, or worse, that we possess some special insight about another person’s life or future. But as Ecclesiastes pointedly asks: “who can tell someone else what will happen after them?” (v. 14). No one.

Scripture contrasts a wise and a foolish person, and one of the many distinctions between the two is humility about the future (Proverbs 27:1). A wise person recognizes that only God truly knows what’s over the horizon as they make decisions. But foolish people presume knowledge that isn’t theirs. May we have wisdom, trusting our future to the only One who actually knows it.

Keep Your Guard Up

By |2022-11-16T01:33:07-05:00November 16th, 2022|

A man and several friends went through a ski resort gate posted with avalanche warning signs and started snowboarding. On the second trip down, someone shouted, “Avalanche!” But the man couldn’t escape and perished in the cascading snow. Some criticized him, calling him a novice. But he wasn’t; he was an “avalanche-certified backcountry guide.” One researcher said that skiers and snowboarders with the most avalanche training are more likely to give in to faulty reasoning. “[The snowboarder] died because he was lulled into letting his guard down.”

As Israel prepared to go into the Promised Land, God wanted His people to keep their guard up—to be careful and alert. So He commanded them to obey all His “decrees and laws” (Deuteronomy 4:1–2) and remember His past judgment on those who disobeyed (vv. 3–4). They needed to “be careful” to examine themselves and keep watch over their inner lives (v. 9). This would help them keep their guard up against spiritual dangers from without and spiritual apathy from within.

It's easy for us to let our guard down and fall into apathy and self-deception. But God can give us strength to avoid falling in life and forgiveness by His grace when we do. By following Him and resting in His wisdom and provision, we can keep our guard up and make good decisions!

Signs of Life

By |2022-10-15T02:33:11-04:00October 15th, 2022|

When my daughter received a pair of pet crabs as a gift, she filled a glass tank with sand so the creatures could climb and dig. She supplied water, protein, and vegetable scraps for their dining pleasure. They seemed happy, so it was shocking when they disappeared one day. We searched everywhere. Finally, we learned they were likely under the sand, and would be there for about two months as they shed their exoskeletons.

Two months passed, and then another month elapsed, and I had begun to worry that they’d died. The longer we waited, the more impatient I became. Then finally, we saw signs of life, and the crabs emerged from the sand.

I wonder if Israel doubted that God’s prophecy for them would be fulfilled when they lived as exiles in Babylon. Did they feel despair? Did they worry they would be there forever? Through Jeremiah, God had said, “I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to [Jerusalem]” (v. 11). Sure enough, seventy years later, God caused the Persian king Cyrus to allow the Jews to return and rebuild their temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1–4).

In seasons of waiting when it seems like nothing is happening, God hasn’t forgotten us. As the Holy Spirit helps us to develop patience, we can know that He’s the Hope-giver, the Promise Keeper, and the One who controls the future.

Planted in God

By |2022-06-17T09:06:04-04:00June 17th, 2022|

“The wind is tossing the lilacs.” With that opening line of her springtime poem “May,” poet Sara Teasdale captured a vision of lilac bushes waving in gusty breezes. But Teasdale was lamenting a lost love, and her poem soon turned sorrowful.

Our backyard lilacs also encountered a challenge. After having their most lush and beautiful season, they faced the axe of a hard-working lawn man who “trimmed” every bush, chopping them to stubs. I cried. Then, three years later—after barren branches, a bout of powdery mildew, and my faithless plan to dig them up—our long-suffering lilacs rebounded. They just needed time, and I simply needed to wait for what I couldn’t see.

The Bible tells of us many people who waited by faith despite adversity. Noah waited for delayed rain. Caleb waited forty years to live in the Promised Land. Rebekah waited twenty years to conceive a child. Jacob waited seven years to marry Rachel. Simeon waited and waited to see the baby Jesus. Their patience was rewarded.

In contrast, those who look to humans “will be like a bush in the wastelands” (Jeremiah 17:6). Poet Teasdale ended her verse in such gloom. “I go a wintry way,” she concluded. But for believers, “blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,” rejoiced Jeremiah.  “They will be like a tree planted by the water” (vv. 7–8).

The trusting stay planted in God—the One who will walk with us through the joys and adversities of life.

His Peace

By |2022-03-28T09:06:02-04:00March 28th, 2022|

For several months, I coped with intense workplace politics and intrigues. Worrying is second nature to me, so I was surprised to find myself at peace. Instead of feeling anxious, I was able to respond with a calm mind and heart. I knew that this peace could come only from God.

In contrast, there was another period in my life when everything was going well—and yet, I felt a deep unrest in my heart. I knew it was because I was trusting in my own abilities instead of trusting God and His leading. Looking back, I’ve realized that true peace—God’s peace—isn’t defined by our circumstances, but by our trust in Him.

God’s peace comes to us when our minds are steadfast (Isaiah 26:3). In Hebrew, steadfast means “to lean upon.” As we lean on Him, we’ll experience His calming presence.  We can trust in God, remembering that He’ll humble the proud and wicked and smooth the path of those who love Him (vv. 5–7).

When I experienced peace in a season of difficulty rather than ease, I discovered that God’s peace isn’t an absence of conflict, but a profound sense of security even in distress. It’s a peace that surpasses human understanding and guards our hearts and minds in the midst of the most difficult of circumstances (Philippians 4:6−7).

Reclaiming Our Time

By |2022-03-19T09:06:05-04:00March 19th, 2022|

My mother shared with me how she chose not to attend college so she could marry my father in the 1960s, but she always held on to her dream of becoming a home economics teacher. Three children later, though she never received a college degree, she did become a nutritionist aide for the state of Louisiana’s health system. She cooked meals to demonstrate healthier meal choices—much like a home economics teacher. As she shared her dream with me after recounting the events of her life, she proclaimed that God had indeed heard her prayers and given her the desires of her heart.

Life can be like that for us. Our plans point one way but reality goes another way. But with God, our time and lives can be turned into beautiful displays of His compassion, love, and restoration. God told the people of Judah (Joel 2:21) that He would “repay” them for their lost or destroyed years—brought about by a “locust swarm” (V. 25). He also works to help us in the challenges and unfulfilled dreams we face. For we serve a Redeemer God who honors and rewards our sacrifices for Him (Matthew 19:29).

Whether we’re facing a devastating challenge or a time of unrealized dreams, may we call out to the God who restores and give Him praise.

Never Say “Can’t”

By |2022-02-21T08:06:03-05:00February 21st, 2022|

An accomplished acrobat and aerialist, Jen was born without legs and abandoned at the hospital. Yet she says being put up for adoption was a blessing. “I am here because of the people who poured into me.” Her adoptive family helped her to see she was “born like this for a reason.” They raised her to “never say ‘can’t’ ” and encouraged her in all her pursuits. She meets challenges with an attitude of “How can I tackle this?” and motivates others to do the same.

The Bible tells the stories of many people God used who seemed incapable or unsuited for their calling—but God used them anyway. Moses is a classic example. When God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, he balked (Exodus 3:11; 4:1) and protested, “I am slow of speech and tongue.” God replied, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? . . . Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (4:10–12). When Moses still protested, God provided Aaron to speak for him and assured him He would help them (vv. 13–15).

Like Jen and like Moses, all of us are here for a reason—and God graciously helps us along the way. He supplies people to help us and provides what we need to live for Him.

Spotting God

By |2022-02-19T08:06:02-05:00February 19th, 2022|

A pirouette is a graceful spin that’s executed by ballerinas and contemporary dancers alike. As a child, I loved to do pirouettes in my modern dance class, whirling round and round until I was dizzy in the head and fell to the ground. As I got older, a trick I learned to help me maintain my balance and control was “spotting”—identifying a single point for my eyes to return to each time I made a full circle spin. Having a single focal point was all I needed to master my pirouette with a graceful finish.

We all face many twists and turns in life. When we focus on our problems, however, the things we encounter seem unmanageable, leaving us dizzy and heading toward a disastrous fall. The Bible reminds us that if we keep our minds steadfast, or focused, on God, He’ll keep us in “perfect peace” (Isaiah 26:3). Perfect peace means that no matter how many turns life takes, we can remain calm, assured that God will be with us through our problems and trials. He’s the “Rock eternal” (v. 4)—the ultimate “spot” to fix our eyes on—because His promises never change.

May we keep our eyes on Him as we go through each day, going to Him in prayer and studying His promises in the Scriptures. May we rely on God, our eternal Rock, to help us move gracefully through all of life.

Unanswered Prayers

By |2022-01-30T08:06:04-05:00January 30th, 2022|

Are we there yet? / Not yet. / Are we there yet? / Not yet. That was the back-and-forth game we played on the first (and definitely not the last) sixteen-hour trip back home to Arkansas from Colorado when our children were young. Our oldest two kept the game alive and well, and if I had a dollar for every time they asked, well, I’d have a stack of dollars. It was a question my children were obsessed with, but I (the driver) was equally obsessed wondering, “Are we there yet?” And the answer was “Not yet, but soon.”

Truth be told, most adults are asking a variation on that question although we may not voice it out loud. But we’re asking it for that same reason—we’re tired, and our eyes have grown “weak with sorrow” (Psalm 6:7). We’re “worn out from [our] groaning” (v. 6) about everything from the nightly news to daily frustrations at work to never-ending health problems to relational strains, and the list goes on. We cry out: “Are we there yet? How long, Lord, how long?”

The psalmist knew well that kind of weariness, and honestly brought that key question to God. Like a caring parent, He heard David’s cries and in His great mercy accepted them (v. 9). There was no shame for asking. Likewise, you and I can boldly approach our Father in heaven with our honest cries of “How long?” and His answer might be “Not yet. But soon. I’m good. Trust Me.”   

Go to Top