A Reminder for Today

PrintThe following is a powerful reminder and promise for today. Sometimes the truth is difficult to seek, hear, sift through, and incorporate into our lives.

Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us.
We hope for light, but there is darkness; for brightness, but we live in the night.
We grope along a wall like the blind; we grope like those without eyes.
We stumble at noon as though it were twilight; we are like the dead among those who are healthy.
We all growl like bears and moan like doves.
We hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.
For our transgressions have multiplied before You, and our sins testify against us.
For our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities:
transgression and deception against the Lordturning away from following our God,
speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering lying words from the heart.
Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far off.
For truth has stumbled in the public square, and honesty cannot enter.
Truth is missing, and whoever turns from evil is plundered.

The Lord saw that there was no justice, and He was offended.
He saw that there was no man—He was amazed that there was no one interceding;
so His own arm brought salvation, and His own righteousness supported Him.
He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head;
He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and He wrapped Himself in zeal as in a cloak. (Isaiah 59:9-17)

I’m thankful for Truth, not the idea, but the person.

The Beginning and the End

love_endures_foreverPsalm 118 begins and ends with the same words:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 118:1,29)

What if we bookended every day, every situation, every conversation with this reminder? How would this consistent claim give context to everything we do, say, and think?

We repeat things to ourselves all the time. We have favorite mantras we live by and repeatedly claim. We share them with others as we deem appropriate. But how truthful is what we claim to ourselves? How humble are we to seek the truth in what we live by?

How will you bookend today? How will you fill the in-between?

Quit Reminding Me

“Be careful. Don’t hit your head.”

My dad repeated the warning at least a half dozen times. He was still recovering for surgery, so he directed, while I got some things ready for winter. One of the tasks was winterizing the dog pens. With each run, I reached in to the get a dog, placed him or her in a temporary dog box, got the pen ready for winter, then put the dog back in the pen. But I wasn’t used to the smaller gates into the pens. Unlike our dog’s pen, I couldn’t just lean in unless I wanted to bash my head.

Which I did the very last time I was putting away a dog. In fact, I bashed it about the time I thought, “I’m really glad my dad cares enough to keep reminding me, but does he think I’m an idiot who can’t remember a warning?”

Well, yes. Apparently, I am.

I reeled back as he asked if I was okay. “I don’t know,” I said. “Am I bleeding?”

I wasn’t, and we both laughed, but I had a knot on my forehead for several days and had small scabs from the imprint the fencing left behind.

We might get irritated when someone repeatedly reminds us of something, whether it’s something we should do or something we shouldn’t. But many times, we actually need those repeated reminders. We lose focus and easily forget.

Are you surrounding yourself with people who hold you to God’s standard, who know it well enough to hold you accountable? Are you consistently filling yourself with reminders by becoming increasingly familiar with God’s Word, not just what you remember, assume, or are told?

There’s always learning to receive and respond to and reminders about that learning.

Remember to get to it today.

Noise Can Be an Excellent Reminder

My hotel room wasn’t the quietest one I’d ever had. It was in a nice neighborhood. It wasn’t cheap. But…it was in the medical district of a large city, and I heard emergency sirens throughout the evening and night. When I heard the first few in the afternoon, I wondered how I’d ever get a decent night’s sleep. As I settled in to write that evening, God reminded me that noises and other distractions aren’t always bad. Sometimes, they are reminders. It really didn’t matter if I got a decent night’s sleep; perhaps waking up to a siren and taking a moment to pray for the person who was suffering, his or her family, and the medical personnel–all who were not getting a decent night’s sleep–was the best use of my nighttime.

Sometimes the distractions around us aren’t good ones, but sometimes they are. Before you get annoyed today by an interruption or surprising noise, pause long enough to discern where your focus is supposed to go. Spend time as God intends.

Refreshed by Surprise

corn-field-and-country-road_129708_thumbI was doing well the day after a tough day. Meeting with a friend, helping someone, and getting things done around the house was helping. But there were still remnants of weariness, and the heat wasn’t helping, especially since I decided to mow and take a walk late afternoon.

Taking a long, hot walk ended up more refreshing than I expected.

A couple miles into the walk, on one of my favorite country roads, I felt something odd. A cool breeze met the sweat on my skin and I shivered. I looked up to see if a storm was brewing but saw no clouds. I looked at the corn to determine the direction of the wind, but the leaves were only slightly fluttering. The wind I felt made no sense by what I could see, but I was going to enjoy every moment.

As I followed a turn in the road, the breeze intensified. I walked tall and breathed deeply. And I sighed.

I thanked God for respite, for His presence and provision. Life is difficult sometimes, but He never ceases to invest in my life. I can get so focused on myself and my circumstances that I miss out on the glimpses of His glory and peace. He comforts me, but I choose to stress instead. He nudges me, yet I try to maintain control. He shows up, and I take Him for granted or ignore Him.

Not today.

That unseen breeze reminded me. He doesn’t take all my problems away, but He gives me mercy and grace through them. He doesn’t show up as I expect, but I’m thankful for that, because He shows up His way. And His way is always better. I might get weary, but He doesn’t. Just like the breeze, I can’t see Him, but I feel His presence. I don’t fully understand Him, yet I trust Him. When I follow Him well, He surprises me with the refreshment I need, just at the right time and place.

Listen and watch for Him today. Set aside your expectations and simply trust Him to meet you where you are. Accept what He gives you. He is always willing to give you His presence, and that is the most refreshing gift of all.

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:4)

Misguided by Pride

directionsI designed a Prayer Walk for the upcoming Living Proof Live (Beth Moore) event in Springfield, IL. (If you’d like to take a virtual walk through, check out the photos and instructions here.) My youngest daughter and I had visited the park a few weeks earlier to take scouting notes of the best route and places to stop along the way. Since our park visit followed a downpour of rain, we had to take off our shoes and wade through the paved pathways. As we puddle-jumped this way and that, I scrawled notes and was a bit concerned I wouldn’t be able to read my writing later.

I filled in the gaps between my messy notes and unfocused memories and created a one-page guide to the Prayer Walk. I greeted the first two women who arrived, handed them guides and added the basics of where to begin and in what direction to proceed toward the second stop. When the next woman arrived, I quickly gave her a guide but no additional instructions because another woman pulled up and had some questions about the event. We finished talked, and I decided to leave the guides in an obvious place and take my camera around the Prayer Walk locations to share the journey with our group on Facebook. However, I didn’t want to intrude on anyone’s prayer experience, so I glanced ahead on the trail to find the woman who had recently started to make sure I was aware of where she was.

I couldn’t find her.

I searched the trail through several stations and still didn’t see her. Where could she have gone? There’s really nowhere to hide at this park. I began to scan a broader area…and finally found her! She was on the opposite end of the Prayer Walk, going in the opposite direction. The Prayer Walk was designed as a large loop, and she was doing it backwards? I tried to quietly call her name, but she couldn’t hear me, so I started jogging after her. Once I found her, she laughed and explained her confusion. She said she had misread the directions. I got her back on the right track and jumped a little ahead of her to take the photos.

Then I decided to figure out how she misread the directions. I like maps, and I’m pretty good at directions, so I was curious how she got confused. As I was creating the guide, I tried to make the instructions very clear, because I know not everyone is comfortable with following directions.

It didn’t take long for me to realize: the problem wasn’t a woman misreading instructions. The problem was the way I wrote them. Yes, it made sense to me, but when I reread them with fresh eyes, they weren’t as clear as I thought they were. I had confidently created the Prayer Walk directions—confidently created them with confusion!

Of course, I could simply clarify to others as they arrived, so it wasn’t a big problem, but it made me laugh. How many times am I certain I’ve done something well or that I’m aware and well-informed about something, yet I later discover that my confidence wasn’t as sure-footed as I thought?

Just a reminder that pride can not only lead me astray, but if I’m not attentive, it can lead others astray, too!

(Dis)Comforts of Home

I’ll usually sacrifice a few hours of sleep for the comfort of my own bed, so when I recently scheduled a trip to Atlanta, I decided to fly in and out the same day. That meant a 3:45 a.m. wake-up call, full day of training and networking with women’s ministry leaders, and bedtime around 1:30 a.m. Because it was a dark-to-dark day, I knew I needed to rest on the plane.

I can usually doze before the plane taxis for take-off. I’d strategically booked a window seat to insure a headrest, so once I boarded the plane, I settled in and shut my eyes. A minute passed. Then another and another. And then, I heard it. A faint, familiar sound interrupted my peace…

The man next to me was snoring.

Not as loudly as my husband but enough to disturb my sleep – and cause me to smile. I thought to myself, “It’s just like being at home!”

Travel companies spend millions of dollars to create and convey the comfortable experiences of the familiar. I’m not sure snoring neighbors is an effective marketing plan, but it still made me smile.

If I couldn’t sleep beside my husband, at least I could experience a small piece of home even if it’s a home experience I typically strongly dislike.

How often do we experience something as negative until we can no longer experience it? Of course, I was only away on a short trip, but what about all the things that annoy us most about a family member – and then we miss when they move or pass away? Some of the annoying habits are often what we miss right away, because they’re habits, and we readily notice their absence.

The discomforts of home are sometimes the very things that comfort us as reminders of home. I’m not referring to the life-changing, traumatic things of home. I’m thinking in much more light-hearted terms. And to be honest, how we respond often depends on what terms we separated from someone. If the separation was negative, we’re more likely to continue being annoyed by habits.

But let’s think more from a positive perspective. Have fun with this for a minute.

What has annoyed you about your children, parents, spouse, friends, and so on that you missed once the person was away from you?

I’d create a list, but it might create an issue with some of the people I love!

Really, it’s not unlike how I sometimes respond spiritually. Faith isn’t convenient. It can interrupt the rhythm of the day. It requires more out of me than I’m willing to give at times. I’m prompted to yield when I want to do things my way. I have (what I think to be) good reasons. Faith isn’t comfortable – or is it?

What happens when I’m outside my norm? I look for, rest in, and cling to what’s firmly grounded and familiar to me, which is – I’m thankful to say – my faith. Within the discomfort of life, I find comfort.

Faith isn’t comfortable, yet it’s steeped in comfort.

The wide path of convenience might be easier, but it doesn’t make it best. The narrow road has its own set of challenges. The overgrowth scratches my legs. I can only see glimpses of what’s ahead. I have to walk by myself at times. And I have to pay attention to the subtle clues of terrain obstacles and directional challenges.

But it’s the only path I want to be on. It’s the path I want to be most familiar. There is comfort in the discomfort.

I didn’t get much sleep on my early morning flight.

It’s okay. I had a comforting flight.

The gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to true life. Matthew 7:14