Your sails are billowing, inflated by a steady breeze gliding you along effortlessly. Like you’re being propelled by an unseen hand. Your health is good, relationships are on an even keel, and there’s cash in your ATM. As your $140 t-shirt says, “Life is good.”
Then, out of the blue, there’s a pink slip. Or your doctor calls --- something about your last blood draw. Or the one whose love you were so sure of leaves. Pick a crisis, any crisis. All you know is “Why me? Why now? Get me out of this @#$% mess, God. And I mean NOW! I can’t take any more!”
As the infomercials shout, “BUT WAIT! If your problem is solved NOW, you’ll miss our special bonus.” Really? What’s that? New Testament writers Paul and James say there’s value in life’s valleys. That’s where we learn to stay the course. That builds character. And that produces hope.
God has a nugget of blessing buried under every pile of manure for those who trust in His Son, Jesus. So, don’t waste your struggles. If you learn to not waste your struggles, you may have a future in waste management. Whaddya think?
Silhouetted against a robin’s egg-blue sky, a majestic bald eagle is carving sweeping figure-8’s. Another eagle, perhaps its mate, glides toward the first. Nearly touching wingtips, they catch an updraft and race out over Puget Sound before returning side-by-side, their white crowns gleaming. Now and then they wave their wings to piggyback a passing zephyr and float along the next leg of their magic carpet ride.
The One who created this aerial ballet provisions them daily with food and feathers. Not one dies until He gives the okay. He also knows your name and the number of your days. That’s why He says …
“Don’t sweat what you’ll eat, where you’ll sleep and what you’ll wear. I’ve got the backs of each flying, crawling and swimming critter, and I’m able to care for you.”
Have you tucked your trust under His wings so that one day He’ll scoop you up in His grandest updraft yet?
While you have a few seconds before your next crisis, you check your smartphone’s news app to see what’s shakin.’ Is it wise to travel overseas now? Does the “mass” in mass transit portend mass destruction? Are our children safe at school?
Has civilization unspooled to the point of no return, regardless of who we vote in to lead and protect us?
“Fear not.” This phrase appears more than 365 times in the Bible. It is God’s Son’s counsel for every situation where His followers feel out of control.
Today Jesus’ words still ring true. “Don’t be troubled. Believe in God, and believe in Me. My Father’s house has many rooms. If that were not true, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again. Then I will bring you into My presence so that you will be where I am."
Do you believe that? Enough to stake your very life on it?
“An optimist,” it’s said, “is a fellow who believes that a housefly is looking for a way to get outside.” How many eternally positive people do you know? Folks whose glasses are forever half-full.
Schroeder, swimming in his oversized catcher’s mitt and chest protector, trudges to the mound, plops the ball in Charlie Brown’s glove and sighs. “Charlie, it’s 3-and-0 again, bases loaded. Still nobody out.”
Charlie shrugs, “What’s gone wrong?”
Schroeder ponders, then replies, “We live in troubled times.”
Indeed we do. But the One who made and loves you offers this counsel in the Manufacturer’s Handbook: “Don’t be anxious about anything. Instead, talk to the Lord about it, and He’ll guard your heart and mind and will be your Peace.”
With Christ, you are an eternity optimist. Isn’t that a game-changer?
Babies have no clue about how life works, expressing themselves (from both ends) without restraint. They live on MST (“MY Standard Time”). Marketers appeal to the child in us by making almost anything our hearts desire available ….. ON DEMAND.
We users (or “abusers”) order what we want, when we want it. Often we can rewind it, freeze-frame it, zoom in or out, fast-forward it, save or delete it! We demand control over what causes pain and what gives pleasure. Maybe gratifying our needs instantly is not how our Maker wired us for maximum performance.
After spending three years with our OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), Peter wrote, “The Lord isn't slow to do what He promised, as some people think. Rather, He is patient for your sake. He doesn't want to destroy anyone but wants all people to have an opportunity to turn to Him and change the way they think and act.”
God’s been patiently waiting for you. And you’re waiting for what?
Is it just our circle, or are an inordinate number of your friends and family also in the hospital these days? Surgeons must be doing a land office business.
Railroaders know about sidings – stretches of track where one train waits for another to pass by on the main line. If train B weren’t chillin’ on the siding, imagine it meeting Train A on the fast track. When you’re sidelined for whatever reason, it’s easy to feel passed by while others are doing “important” things, racing by you in the HOV lane while you’re eating through a straw in front of “Days Of Our Lives.”
One of God’s key reps named Paul wrote, “I have learned to be content in every situation.” Your Creator may have you in a holding pattern for a very good reason. What could you focus on now while you have some unrequested “siding time?”
And how does it feel knowing that God has you in His wheelhouse, right where He wants you and loves you? On time and on track.
In twenty-one seasons with NBA teams I often heard, “Can you get me free tickets?” Usually for big games! I’d scour my network, pleading for freebies. When the Ticket Manager called the day after the game, saying, “Those tickets are still here,” I was sad about that missed opportunity.
God loves us so much that He went to the extreme to have you and me join Him forever in His “Owner’s Box.” He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the ultimate price for your ticket and mine, entitling us to the best seats in the house, with all the privileges enjoyed by the Owner, isolated from all unpleasantness.
Your ticket, bearing your name (but no price since it’s priceless, and not for sale), is waiting for you at Will Call. Don’t miss this opportunity to be with God, forever forgiven of all your sins. It’s a two-step process: (1) God gives you the FAITH to believe that your ticket will actually admit you to His skybox, and (2) you must ACT on that faith by going to Will Call.
It’s God’s gift to you. He left it at Will Call because “Whoever WILL CALL on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Tip-off could be any moment. Have you picked up your ticket?
‘Tis the season for giving, but if we’re separated from loved ones by many miles, we’d rather have their presence than their presents.
Of all the presents ever given, the most valuable is the gift of having all our sins forever forgiven. It’s a game-changing pardon paid in our stead by God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who sacrificed His life for us.
By inviting Jesus to be your Life, you’ll forever be in His presence.
Your government forbids you to turn on any lights after sundown. Shrouded in darkness, you no longer walk about safely, no reading, no looking into someone’s eyes, no sense of security. Your productivity and enjoyment have been slashed. Trying to reverse this law has earned you prosecution and persecution.
When you can take it no longer, you gather family and close friends and strike out for freedom, knowing this adventure could end in devastation or deliverance.
Setting foot on foreign soil, you hunker down to make your surroundings more livable. Time passes, and one day you pause to reflect on all your blessings. After congratulating each other on the courage to sacrifice the known for the unknown, you realize that you don’t deserve all of the applause.
Is it enough to just be thankful to God? Or should we give Him thanks?