In Need of Rest?

“What’s the best advice you were ever given?” A simple question, posed in the context of a game. I knew my answer right away. Like most people, I’ve heard lots of good advice:

“Exercise and eat right.”

“Don’t run with scissors.”

 “Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”

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The Princess Bride’s Vizzini

But the best advice I’ve ever received was this: Continue reading “In Need of Rest?”

Living in the Middle of a Miracle

Follow Me

 

If you were writing about a pivotal moment in your life, how would you frame it? What would lead up to it; what would follow? Would you be careful in the words you chose? One of the gospel writers had the chance to do just that.

The gospel writers were careful in their arrangement of their texts. The ancient writers did not always place events in consecutive order; sometimes they wrote more thematically, depending on what they wanted to highlight in a given passage.

Which brings me to Matthew. Continue reading “Living in the Middle of a Miracle”

Asking Questions

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As humans, we tend to ask questions:

Where did all of this—the earth, the trees, the people, everything—come from?

Does God exist?

Who is God?

Why should I believe in God—and why the God who is revealed in Christianity and not some other God?

Why am I here? What part do I have to play on the earth?

What happens to people when they die?

And you know what? Questions are not only fine; they are often good. Questioning means we’re thinking about things. We don’t question the things we take for granted.

Continue reading “Asking Questions”

How Great Is Your God?

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–Photo by Unsplash via Pixabay

For You are great and do wondrous deeds; You alone are God.

–Psalm 86:10

When I was a child, God was there, a sort of background music that I was aware of from time to time. Accepted, not closely questioned, just a part of life. It wasn’t until I was in high school, and then later in college, that the hard questions came; and then He exploded into my consciousness and my life.

As the years pass, I’ve noticed a sort of spiritual Benjamin Button phenomenon: I’m getting smaller in my own eyes, but my God is getting bigger.

His will for my life used to be so narrow; you had to be careful not to miss it, for if you were off by just a little, the gap would grow wider and wider between you and God’s will for you, and you’d miss it entirely.

Or so I was told.

God expects you to act this way or that, to befriend only these kinds of people, to dress like this, to believe like that, to live this way.

So some would have us believe.

And some of those things are good, and right, and true. But not all of them, and not all the time. And it’s an exhausting way to live–because the onus is on the believer, who must do right, think right, be right all the time.

Now, however, I see that in Christ life broadens out to a series of affirmatives, a stone tossed into a pond–a paint-filled brush dipped in water?–the circles of blessing and connection widening.

In place of the no, there is a yes: Yes, we accept these people and love them as friends. Yes, we question, we explore, we continually seek.  Yes, we admit that we don’t have all the answers, because that is how we continue to grow.

It used to be that the Bible was the Answer Book; now, it is the Book that leads me to ask better questions, and to find truer answers. May it be that for you as well.

Floating Out to Sea

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Photo by Beachfan1000 via Pixabay

Every summer as the boys were growing up, we tried to go to the ocean, at least for a few days. Going to the beach meant walking the boardwalk, playing the games at the arcade, riding the rides. It meant lunch at the diner, renting a bike surrey and flying kites at dusk. The boys had favorite shops, favorite restaurants, favorite things to do.

But above all, it meant time at the ocean—digging in the sand, chasing seagulls, playing in the water, jumping waves. If you went during the week, you could take a raft out and just float.

Not long ago, we were talking about our beach trips with our older son, Rob. He recalled lots of fun times, and then he casually mentioned, “I remember the time I was on the raft and almost floated out to sea.”

Wait—what?

The time he almost floated out to sea? We had no idea he’d ever thought that. But, as a boy, that was his reality. He had been floating on the raft, and he thought he had gone far from everyone. He was, as far as he knew, alone—and if he was to get back to shore, it was up to him to propel the raft. Otherwise, we’d never see him again.

Poor Rob!

What he apparently hadn’t realized was that all he had to do was turn and look in the other direction: His dad, ever watchful, had never been more than a couple of yards away.

Rob is now an adult.  We felt awful that he had ever thought that—but he had never mentioned it, and we had no idea. We talked with him about it, of course. It was so ingrained in his memory that we had to convince him that he really hadn’t been alone, that his dad had been nearby the whole time—even though he knew we loved him.

It’s pretty obvious where this is going, isn’t it? But it’s true. When we think we’re floating away, that we’re alone on a vast sea, with the safety of the shore and the people we care about receding into the distance … Then it’s time to turn around. The Father is there; He’s always nearby. He won’t abandon us.

“God assured us, ‘I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you’ …”

—Hebrews 13:5

 

Painting Our Sorrows: The God Who Sees You

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The Universe, watercolor and ink, via Pixabay

Your life contains bright, swirling colors, joyously flowing brushstrokes covering swathes of canvas. But it probably contains the darker, more somber tones as well … sadness, conflict, anger. Hues of abandonment, of rejection, of misunderstanding.

Both combine to create a landscape of your life; or, perhaps, a portrait of who you are. The darkness balances the light, showing the brightness all the more clearly. And often, given enough time, we can look back at the darker sections of the painting and see how God has painted in and around those parts, giving light and life to them, using them as the backdrop against which the light shines out.

That’s how it must have been for Hagar.

Continue reading “Painting Our Sorrows: The God Who Sees You”