When You Can’t See the Path

Sitting at O’Hare waiting for replace to plane to arrive.

I was up at 5am to get to the airport. I’m going to see my parents and some of my siblings! It’s a short visit, but I need to see them. The plane was late departing. I fell into a deep sleep. Half way to the Michigan, the intercom woke me up with: we have to return to Chicago for maintenance. I thought maybe it was a dream. Everyone was so quiet and not talking, so I really didn’t know if the 18 minutes to landing was for Saginaw or Chicago! It wasn’t a dream. We landed back at the same airport we left. United has been good keeping us informed. Will we re-board, re-book or get a new plane? We’re getting a new plane but it has to fly here, so I’m sitting in the airport, thinking.

Coming back to Chicago we were above the clouds. They look much more interesting from above with lots of texture and complex formations. Then we began the descent down into the clouds.

Remember I’m not sure where we would land, so I had no idea of NESW or land/water. We were flying in a cloud, with no visual landmarks.

From the ground we just see gray skies, no sun, no blue. On the plane we trust the laws of gravity, but we don’t know our position in the air. We are putting our trust in the pilot, the navigation system and beacons and aviation control. They know where we are, how high, what the problem is, and then decide the best decision for passenger safety.

Sometimes in life we can’t see where we’re going. The path is foggy and we can barely see landmarks along the way. We wonder if we’ve gotten lost, taken the wrong path or even left the path. We can feel lost, without purpose or direction, wondering if we should just sit down and wait for someone to find us.

You likely know where I’m headed. God is our co-pilot. He knows the path and how to get to our destination. And if we’re lost, He is with us to prompt us or lead us back to the path. He has better radar; He is the ultimate “aviation controller” in our lives.

I’ve been in that place where I haven’t a clue where I’m going (emotionally, spiritually) and I just wanted to sit down, retreat from life, and wait for someone to care. This is a problem that God is excels in solving! He looks for the lost sheep and returns them to the fold. He cares for us and helps us get back on the path.

I am so thankful for this! I can trust Him to get me to the right place. Just like I had to trust the pilots knew where they were going, I have to trust that God is more than able to get me where He has planned for me to be.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭16:11‬ ‭ESV‬

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The Love of God

Lotus flower

Lotus flower

“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”  Ephesians‬ ‭5:1-2‬ ‭MSG‬‬

I want to be like this, every day. To be so filled with the love of God, that I would love everyone, not judge, no conditions, not to some but all. To love everyone I meet on the streets, all walks of life, anywhere in the world! I want to love others so they know of God’s love for them. So I need to love like God loves.

How do I live and honor my God in these days?

Psalm 73:28

I’m reading through the book of Daniel a chapter at a time, reflecting on Babylon and how Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego not only lived, but were seen as successful in a society that was anything but Godly. Today, Daniel 3:16-18 gave me the directions on how I should live in this world that has become so separated from God’s ways.
“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.””
Daniel‬ ‭3:16-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

How should I behave? Today, I’m looking at what these verse say I should do:

  1. I do not need to defend my beliefs.
  2. If that means I will be punished, then so be it.
  3. My God is able to deliver me from the punishment.
  4. But even if God does not deliver me from the punishment, I will still praise Him.
  5. I will not praise the gods of the world, or their images!

Note that the three Hebrew men acknowledged the ruler of the country and were respectful. They used his title in an honorable way. (I think we could learn from this in our politics.)

When I read the Law and the Gospel, it is apparent that many of Gods ways are broken in this world. But yet my call is for me to be accountable to God and to follow His ways in my life. I am not called to judge or condemn, but to follow as an example, so that God may show His Power and Glory through my life. It is not easy to be obedient. The pressures of the day, the list of things to do, the news of even more atrocities, and the flaunting of sin, make it easy for me to think about others and not about me being accountable to God for my sins.

Jesus died on the cross for my sins. When I accepted Him as my Savior, I knew all the sins and mistakes of my past were forgiven and cleansed. But every day I fall short. Every day I need to stay accountable to my Savior. Every day I need to be forgiven and cleansed. When I forget this, it is easy to judge others.

I confess that I fall too easily into condemning sin in others and too reluctant to see my own sin. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did not spend time telling Nebuchadnezzar all the things he was doing wrong. They stood on their beliefs and were not ashamed. They trusted and were obedient to God.

Sometimes, we as Christians, are too quick to point out sin and shortcomings. We judge, we condemn, we do anything but love. How can the lost be saved if we yell in their face and call out their sins? Do they see the love of Jesus in that behavior?

Judgements and division, hatred and anger, are driving emotions to become a god. We sacrifice to the altar of a god that demands a fuel of emotions that are negative.

We should be the voice of calm, of love and acceptance, to the world. We should be willing to be obedient, but not expect others who do not know God to be obedient to His laws.

Psalm 73:28 tells me what I must do:

  1. “But for me it is good to be near God;
  2. I have made the Lord God my refuge,
  3. that I may tell of all your works.”

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The Land of the Free, Trusting in God

We no longer live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I feel we live instead, in the land of the fearful and the home of the angry.
Those are my thoughts this morning as I think about the rhetoric of the presidential debates and read the comments posted on my Facebook wall.

I read a devotion today that talked about “practical atheists” as those who do know deep down there is a God, but choose to live as if He doesn’t exist. The Bible verse was:

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” ” Psalm‬ ‭14:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

This describes much of our country today, based on behaviors, rhetoric, and life styles.
So there is no deep trust in God, but in self. And in ourselves we see no way to control the violence and ideologies that we read about in the news.
A friend shared verses to contemplate as we pray for Burkina Faso and the violence that erupted there.

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming. The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright; their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭37:7-15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This should be our posture. Trust in God and know He is in control and is the only one who can deal with the violent attacks that know no border in this world.  I think it used to be easier to be brave when there was a country attacking us. But now, it is an ideology.
So how should we respond to the angry behaviors and rhetoric of our friends and neighbors? They will not be satisfied with ‘trust in God’ because they do not accept that God exists or can be known. I have taken to ignoring certain posts on Facebook and am contemplating hiding some from my feed. Otherwise, my heart gets filled with fear and I struggle to cease doubting and begin trusting again.
It has become too easy to stereotype the ideology that leads to violent attacks, seemingly from nowhere. But only God can see into the hearts and know who is contemplating violence. I can’t. So my call is to love. And this is the verse I’m contemplating:

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Colossians 3:12-17 ESV

Put on love. Return to the land of the free and the home of the brave. Open our arms to those who have been terrorized. Show love, no matter what. This will take bravery. But it will mostly take trusting in God, no matter what.

What A Difference An Apostrophe Makes!

Pure Light

Love’s Pure Light

How many times in my life have I sung Silent Night? How many times have I read the lyrics as I sang this carol. And yet today, an apostrophe gave me pause. What a difference it makes!

In the third verse, the words start:

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light

Not “loves” the verb, but “love’s” the noun. So, I always thought, Jesus, the Son of God, loves the purity of the light of God. But that’s not what it means with an apostrophe.

“Love’s” is a possessive noun. In grammar, we use the apostrophe a few ways: omission of letter, possession and for some plurals. In this case, you have to ask whose love possesses pure light. So I go to math.

Son of God = Jesus
God = Love

Love’s pure light becomes God’s pure light.

So, Jesus is God’s Pure Light. Or Jesus is Pure Light.

Quite a bit of a difference from Jesus loving pure light.

Where is the “there” we are to return from?

Deut 4:29 NLT

Where is the “there” we are coming from? Because from “there” if we search again, we will find the LORD our God.  This is part of a section in Deuteronomy called A Warning Against Idolatry where Moses is instructing the Israelites.  The verse before this one says:

“There, in a foreign land, you will worship idols made from wood and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.” Deuteronomy‬ ‭4:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Worshiping idols made from wood and stone, in today’s terms, could mean idols made of material, or man-made things, as well as elements of the created world. “There” is in a foreign land, a land far away from the LORD our God.

Idolatry is defined in Websters as:  the worship of a picture or object as a god. A thing. An object. Maybe a person. Maybe a feeling. Maybe even a drug, or experience. Some have said it could even be ourselves. Putting ourselves first could be a form of idolatry.

It begs the question, who is an idolator? Who worships idols made of wood and stone? There are a LOT of verses about idols in the Bible, but in Romans, Paul says this:

“They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.”  Romans‬ ‭1:25‬ ‭NLT‬‬

They traded the truth about God for a lie. “There” could be the lies we believe. They worshipped and served the things God created. “There” could be the love and attention we pay to things around us, the things we desire, or the creation, and not the Creator.

My thought is that “there” is any place but God’s Presence. It could also be that “there” is anything we do that doesn’t bring glory to God.

It could be that “there” applies to prodigals, or even those not living a life according to God’s commandments. It easier to think of “there” as not where I am.  I am here, in God’s Presence, because I went to church and worshipped Him yesterday.

But what if “there” is where I go several times a day. When I lose patience. When I don’t cherish every life. When I stray from the commandments. When I lose hope. When I doubt. When I say unkind or untrue things.

That is when the second, marvelous, part of the verse comes in. Hope renewed, doubt cast out, grace abounding, the fruits of the Spirit overflow. Because, ” if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.”  Deuteronomy‬ ‭4:29‬b ‭NLT‬‬

No matter where “there” is, no matter where you have strayed, no matter how far you have strayed or how long, no matter if you’ve never found the LORD our God before, if you search for him with ALL your heart and soul, you WILL find him.

He promises this. And He is a God who is faithful, and patient, and righteous, about all of his children. And you, me, our neighbor, our leaders, even those who hate us, are his children.

Pray that those who are “there” will begin to seek God with all their hearts and souls. Pray they will find God, and choose to worship Him. Forever.