Monday, August 25, 2008

Walking on Water

You’ve heard the story. It is three o’clock in the morning. A storm is raging on the lake where Jesus’ disciples are sailing without Him. Jesus walks across the turbulent waters toward the boat. When Peter sees Him, he offers to step out onto the water. At Jesus’ command, “Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus” (Matthew 14:29, NIV).

It is easy to rush through this passage in Matthew. I know how the story turns out. Peter takes his eyes off Christ, his faith falters and he promptly sinks. But today, one verse caught my attention, “Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” Maybe it was because someone remarked that we have never walked on water. I respectfully beg to differ.

Walking on water is a miraculous feat that defies the laws of man and nature. I see believers walk on water every day. Each time someone picks up their cross and moves in the direction God would have them go, they are defying the laws of man and nature.

When a woman reaches out once again to an aging father who has wounded her deeply, she is walking on water. When an expectant mother chooses life for her child with special needs, she is walking on water. When a betrayed wife commits to doing her part to repair a marriage, she is walking on water. When a woman bolsters her family in the wake of bad news from her doctor, she is walking on water.

We have all had those bright and shining moments when we leaned on our Lord and got it right. We have all done things, great or small that were humanly impossible. I am guilty of rushing past those memories to fret over the rest of the story, the part where my faith falters and I sink. Today, I feel called to pause, to savor the times I fell into step with God and got a taste of what it will be like when I am made like Him. I invite you to join me for a moment of joy and hope, to consider when you or those around you truly have walked on water.

May you feel His grace today,
Gail W.

The last Word:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9, NIV.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Stand in Awe

Pens, check. Notebook paper, check. That’s it for me. If my children show up at school with something to write with and on, my job is done. Back-to-school and Christmas are my favorite seasons for minimalism. As things are, forging through WalMart in August has come to resemble December’s mania. When did back-to-school shopping become a blood sport? When did a school supply list become a two page downloadable document? Holy cow, when did I start longing for the “good old days”?

This season brings to mind the gratitude I feel for those who teach, especially those who homeschool. When my youngest started kindergarten, I was dancing in the street as the school bus pulled away with my precious cargo. The patience required to teach children is a trait I only hope to have in heaven. For now, I praise God for others with the gift of leading children through the maze of becoming educated. To nurture the heart and mind of a child is a pearl of greatest price in my book.

As America’s youth relinquish the remote(s), get their heads out of the fridge and head back to school, I thank God for the men and women who teach them. I will think of them as my grocery bills shrink back to their pre-summer baseline. With each afternoon of uninterrupted work time, I will sing, "Hosanna!" on their behalf. For those who are homeschooling, please know there’s a nurse in Virginia who would empty a dozen bedpans to sidestep the tasks before you this week. How great is our God who has gifted each of us for the many and varied tasks required to build His Kingdom!

May you feel His grace today,
Gail W.

The last Word:
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.
Romans 12: 4-6, NIV.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My iTune Prayer

In 1972, I was in junior high school. That year, Bill Withers recorded a hit song, “Use Me”. I don’t remember much about ninth grade, but I know every word of the lyrics to “Use Me”. Decades of listening to Oldies Radio will do that for you.

Bill Withers’ lyrics came to mind today when a friend informed me that God was using me to help her. The chorus of “Use Me” goes,

“I want to spread the news,
If it feels this good getting used,
You just keep on using me
Until you use me up.”

I would like to say this is my prayer for being used by God. Lord, just keep on using me until You use me up. In my heart of hearts, such a prayer terrifies me. Truthfully, I have spent many a moment resenting being used up. You may know that place where commitments and good intentions outpace human time and energy.

But when I am spiritually fit, this idea fills me with joy and expectation. What could be better than being used by the Creator of the universe until there is nothing left of us? The relief on my friend’s face when I suggested an answer to a difficult problem reminded me of Bill Withers’ lyrics, “If it feels this good getting used . . . .”

What about you? Where would God use you today? If you are like me, you may want to start by praying to rely on Him rather than self to get the job done. Then we can willingly, even joyfully, ask, “Keep on using me until You use me up.”

May you feel His grace today,
Gail W.

The last Word:
For it is by grace you have been saved. . . for we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 4: 8, 10 NIV.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Easily Amused: It's a Gift

“119 Illegal African Clawed Frogs Seized in Nevada,” read the headline. According to the Associated Press, wildlife officials raided three homes in the Reno area and captured the frogs in question. It seems that these hooligan frogs can destroy native frogs and “entire ecosystems”. No charges have been filed so far. Thankfully, the people in possession of the illegal frogs are fully cooperating with law enforcement to “get any and all prohibited frogs off the streets,” the Nevada Department of Wildlife stated on Wednesday.

If you think this story is funny, you should knock it off. It is actually based on one of the earliest biblical mandates. Remember when God gave man dominion "over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Genesis 1: 26)? He was probably thinking about African clawed frogs when He said that.

The prophet Zechariah warned against despising “the day of small things” (4:10). The news is filled with wars and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes. I was grateful to come across this happy story of the brave men and women keeping the streets of Nevada safe for law-abiding frogs and people alike. What small but significant job has God assigned to you today? Let us embrace the tasks that lie before us, no matter how inconsequential they seem at the time.

May you feel His grace today,
Gail W.

The last Word:
A merry heart doeth good like medicine.
Proverbs 17:22, KJV.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mark the Date

Good morning, Friends!

Given our topic of discussion over the past week, I wanted to pass along news I heard today. On Thursday, 8/7/08 at 9pmET, Christian troubador Steven Curtis Chapman has an hour-long interview on CNN's Larry King Live. Earlier this summer, Steven's five year old daughter was killed when her teenage brother backed into her in the driveway of their home. Thursday's interview focuses on God showing the family how to live in a world that will never be the same again for them. I highly recommend watching or taping this interview if you are able.

May you feel His grace today,
Gail W.

The last Word:
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:25, NIV.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Long and Winding Road: Conclusion

Eli, Bill and Z started out well in comforting their grieving friend Job (see post 07/31/08). Let him who has ears, hear: they were on a roll until they opened their mouths. From there, the whole thing went south faster than you can say “toasted foot sandwich”.

What can you say to someone who has suffered a great loss? Eli, Bill and Z teach us what not to say. They tried to come up with a reason for what had happened. Eli started with an admonition that Job’s tragedy must have resulted from sin, “Who, being innocent, has ever perished?” (Job 4:7). Even if someone dies with needle tracks and a syringe in their arm, this is not the way to approach a grieving family.

Bill chimes in with a strategy for Job to alleviate his suffering, “If you are pure and upright, even now he [God] will rouse himself on your behalf” (Job 8:6). Z agrees that Job just needs to “Put away the sin that is in your hand” (Job 11:14). Is God’s comfort something the broken-hearted must earn by responding correctly to their loss?

The danger is the kernel of truth behind the guys’ advice. Yes, we can draw closer to God by examining our lives and repenting of anything that separates us from full intimacy with Him. But when we are crushed beyond measure, God is full of grace and mercy. He longs to attend His children in their sorrow. Our sacred task as believers is to reflect this to our fellows.

When approaching the bereaved, we do well to always ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom. The greatest gifts we may bring are our presence, our unedited sorrow and a welcoming silence even when it feels uncomfortable. More harm than good results when we try to explain the inexplicable. The full account of Job’s journey demonstrates that there is ALWAYS more to the story than we mere mortals are apt to know or understand.

May you feel His grace today,
Gail W.

The last Word:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55: 8, 9 (NIV).