Why?

Why?  It’s the question of the ages.  I remember my brother telling of an exam that was taken in a university.  The professor gave the final exam but it only had one question…Why?

Students wrote for long periods of time…some for a couple of hours, some for less but all working diligently to answer  the question of “why”.  The highest grade in the class was given to the student who answered the quickest and left class almost immediately.  His answer…why not? Somehow we think that difficult times, hard stuff, is not and are not suppose to happen to us.  But, why not?

The question of ‘why’ comes to the minds of all people at some time or another.

Why me?

Why do I have to endure such loneliness?

Why did that person reject me?

Why do I have to suffer?

Why is my  marriage in trouble?

Why didn’t my child listen?

Why is life so hard?

Why, why, why????

There is an answer to the why which I’ll get to but most of the time when someone says “why” many people will reply with something like…”you may not ever understand why until we get to heaven” or something along those lines.  And that answeer has some merit.  Until heaven, I may not fully understand why two of my brothers had to die at young ages.  Until heaven, I may not fully understand why so many people I love have moved away or we’ve “busied” ourselves out of having time to be together.  Until heaven, I may not fully understand why I, and many others like me, have had to go through the majority of life suffering with an “invisible” disease (you know, the kind where you look fine on the outside but inside you’re not) or an obviously visible disease.  Until heaven, I may not fully understand how it is that Christians can see things so differently when we’re all suppose to be led by the same Spirit.  Until heaven…

Actually, I think part of the issue with wanting to have “why” answered has to do with the fact that I don’t always listen.  When I ask “why” do I really want God to answer?  I may not like the answer or be comfortable with the answer.  We’re told to trust Him with the “why’s”.  And, I try hard to do just that which is more difficult at some times than at others.  But, sometimes I also think the answer is much easier than thought…just like the exam taker I wrote about earlier.

In His word, God says things like He wants us to conformed into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29), and we are to become like the One who created us (Colossians 3:10), and that we are to be transformed into His likeness (II Corinthians 3:18).  Considering what we are like before we are in Christ and where we are now, we have to be remade, renewed, remolded, reshaped.

I used to know a woman who made pottery.  I was always amazed at how she beat up on the clay that she used and then when she had it looking like she wanted, she put it in this incredibly hot kiln.  But, the result of the reshaping, remolding, and putting the item through the heat, etc was a beautiful product.

There’s the “why”.  I can’t go from where I’ve been and where I am to where He wants me to be without going through a bit of or a lot of beating up, pressure, force, heat…all of the things that, if I allow them to, will have a part in conforming me and transforming me into the image of the One who sacrificed all for me.

So, the next time you feel like asking “why”, remember how much God loves you and wants to make you over anew into His own image.  These people that spend tons of money and time having makeovers…He was the original makeover Transformer!!!!

“Lord, today, when those pressures, disappointments, heart hurts, constraints, frustrations come my way, may I remember that it is all for  Your glory and may I listen and hear what You want me to learn through it.  May You be glorified.”

HOPE

The dictionary has several definitions for “hope”.  The ones I like are “confident desire” and “trust”.  There are many people who have hope in a lot of different things or for many different things.  One might hope that the weather is good for an outing.  Someone might hope that she does well on some type of test.  A person may hope that a certain plan goes off without a hitch.  Another individual might hope that they get time with a special friend.  A sports lover may hope that their team does well in a sporting event.

Other “hopes” are a  bit more serious in nature.  One person might hope his or her child comes home from fighting in a war or survives some type of battle here at home.  Someone might hope that they, or someone they love, get over an illness.  Another person might hope that their marriage will last or be restored.  An individual might hope that the bank doesn’t take their home when the bills have piled up too high.

But, hope in God and what He has done, is doing, and will do is different.  In reading God’s Word one can see all through it the absolute sovereignty of God.  There is not one time when God lost control, lost direction, lost hope, lost purpose, or lost His power. He does not and has not lost His way, lost His graciousness, lost His focus, or lost His mind.  He does not lose sight of His children nor His plans for them, in fact, that is a promise of the Old Testament.  He does not lose or loose His hold on those whom He loves and has in His hand.  He does not forget to take care of those who trust in Him.  He does not let go and He never will.

He’s got your back.  He’s out in front of you.  He’s walking beside you and at times carrying you.  He’s hovering over you.  He’s residing within you.  He will never let you go.  When there’s any doubt…remember who wants you to doubt and give the enemy a swift verbal kick in the proverbial tousch and send him packing.  This is done by saying the name of Jesus, quoting Bible verses…or reading them outloud, by listening to or singing praise music, and by putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6).

Hope in God is like no other.  There is reason to hope.  There is reason not to lose hope.  There is reason to hang on to hope because in doing so, you are hoping in, hanging on to, and trusting the One and only, the Almighty, the One who knows you best and loves you most.

Never lose HOPE.  Keep your hope exactly where it is meant to be.  On and in Elohim, Mighty God, Eternal Father, the One who saves.  The One who is always there for you.

“Today, dear, dear Sovereign, let my hope be in You.  Let my strength come from You.  Let my mind be only on You.  May my eyes be always on Your blessed face.”

Read Psalm 71:5, 14-16

A Few of My Favorite Things

My husband               My son                   My parents                  My siblings

My church family     My friends                  the ocean               the lake

rushing rivers        waterfalls  the first rainfall of the season    the grand oak trees

butterflies                Canada     books        reading         the book of Daniel

Mary and Hannah in the Bible    God’s word hidden deep within my heart

music               Diet Dr. Pepper         my dog

sleep                         writing                               health                teaching

These are a few of my favorite things…as the song goes…

I love pondering, remembering, reminiscing, enjoying these things.  I love…in different ways…all of these things and people…but…there’s always a “but” now isn’t there….

These are a few of the wonderful blessings with which God has blessed my life.  I really wanted to list all of the people with whom God has blessed my life over the years.  But, there would not be enough room.

These blessed things and the blessings of people are a treasure but I can easily make any of these things an idol…that thing or person that becomes more important to me, of a stronger influence in my heart, that which takes more time…than God.

I’m thankful that lately I’ve been challenged to take a serious look at where I spend my energy, attention, time, dedication, etc.  I’m thankful that once again, God has been reminding me that He wants to be first…above all.

The things that can steal my attention, worship, loyalty, reverence can easily be the things I think I’m doing “for” Him.  The things that can rob His praise and awe can be stress and worry and heartache.  The evil one has such a deceitful, cunning way of trying to dislodge my focus from where and on Whom it needs to be.  There are some areas I am generally aware and know the warning signs…but, it’s when I get blindsided…

But, that’s when I am reminded again by His sweet, quiet whispers that He is there to help me and strengthen me and get my mind and heart and eyes back on Him.  He reminds me of Who is most important.  He sings over me (Zephaniah 3:17) and brings back to me the memories of the times past when He has seen me through, pulled me through, walked me through, carried me through.

Those “favorite things” can’t do that for me.  Oh, my family, loved ones, friends can help remind me.  His creation can point my attention to Him.  But, HE is the One Who raises me up to walk with Him, to worship Him anew, to hope in Him, to trust Him, to lodge my faith in Him, to love Him because He first loved me.

“Lord, today…one day at a time, moment by moment may I be directed toYou.  May I worship only You.  May my heart always draw nearer to You.  Nothing but You.  No one but You.  For You are…You will always be…I love You, Lord.”

Memories

Memories are kind of funny things. A certain smell can take me back to my grandmother’s kitchen so quickly. A thought snapshot brings a flood of memories of my brother. A friend’s name can bring such warmth while remembering something we shared. A certain verse can remind me of something God did as He revealed Himself to me through His word. When I hear a certain song it transports me back to jr. high, the choir I was in and the special times we shared. A book reminds me of struggles shared with colleagues while teaching. Re-visiting a favorite place reminds me of times shared with my husband as we walked along the beach. Driving down a certain road makes me remember teaching my son to drive and the fondness of time with him.

I remember the things I’ve known and though the older I get the fuzzier some of those memories are, they are still precious and they are mine and they are treasures because of the experience and because of the person with whom they are shared.

This week we shared communion in our church body. It is a time to be thankful. A time to ponder. A time to be taken back. A time to remember. In order to truly remember I first must come to know.

I remember my brother because of how well I knew him. I remember my grandmother, my friends, my favorite verses, that song, that book, that ocean view, my husband, my son…I remember because I have known.

I can remember in communion because of how I have come to know Christ in a personal way. I remember what He has done for me, though I will never understand it all until heaven. It’s only because of what I have come to know that I can remember.

I remember His sacrifice. I remember His love. I remember His pain. I remember His humiliation. I remember His suffering. I remember His death. I remember His victory. I remember because He has allowed me to know…to know Him, to get to know Him, to love Him, to grow to love Him more, to hear Him, to sense Him, to be stretched by Him, to be surrounded by Him, to be engulfed by Him, to be consumed by Him, to be held by Him, to be known by Him, to be called by name by Him, to be called His own.

These are the most precious of memories. Not because I was there to experience what He went through but because He has taught me and shown me and let me come to know if only partially for now.

Memories of where God has brought me are what help to keep me grounded. They are also what give me wings. Wings to soar to new heights in Him. Wings to glide in His strength. Wings to carry me through the next memory builder.

“Lord, may I never forget. Please continue to move me forward anticipating all You are going to do. Thank-you for letting me be part of You. May I always remember-You-always You.”