Waiting in the Wings for the Prodigal

wp-image-806648896March 2009

“I’m beginning to realize Lord, how you must feel. I’ve done the very same thing to You at times that my child has done to me.  I want to help her, to be there for her, but she won’t let me. How many times have you wanted to be there for me but I wouldn’t let you?”

I sat there, alone in my room, trying to cope with the stinging pain of rejection.  Rejection from my own precious child, still so young and in need at this difficult time in her life, who I felt now more than ever, needed us, her mom and dad. Yet, she chose to leave. She left to be with people who in no way loved her anywhere near as much as her dad and I did.

As I sat there on my bed feeling hopelessly consumed by my grief, I began to realize the truth about my own prodigal moments with my Heavenly Father.  “She doesn’t feel as though she needs me right now, Lord”, I cried through swollen tear stained eyes.  “There have been times when I’ve felt I didn’t need you.”

“She pushes me away. I’ve pushed you away too.”

“She turns to people who don’t have the right answers or who don’t even care for her or love her as much as I do.  Oh dear Lord!  How often have I run to other people instead of you?”

“She doesn’t trust my guidance and direction in this situation.  How many times have I not trusted you?”

“I feel so unwanted, unneeded by her.  How many times have I made you feel unwanted, not needed?”

Oh Father!” I sobbed. At that moment, I was no longer wallowing in my own pain. Instead, I found myself feeling the pain that my heavenly Father felt every time I, his precious daughter, had rejected his loving, caring guidance and direction.

If you are the parent of a prodigal child,  you know how painful it can be being forced to wait in the wings knowing you can help the child that you love so much, yet he/she refuses your loving guidance and direction.

How many times though, have we made the foolish mistake of leaving our loving heavenly Father waiting in the wings to help us?  It’s painful for Him to be left to wait in the wings for us as well.

Please forgive us God, for there have been times that we ourselves have been the prodigal.

 

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Love, A Reflection of God

wp-image-1597455316March 2009

As I sit in my bed stroking the soft blonde hair of my precious sleeping 7 year old laying next to me, I am overcome by my feelings of love for him that are welling up within me.  “Thank you, Father, for blessing me with him”, I whisper softly.  “Thank you God, for all of my children.”

At that moment I’m reminded of God’s love for me.  My love for my little boy is so strong, yet, God’s love for me makes mine look like nothing.  I know this, yet I still cannot comprehend it.

“Love.  It’s a reflection of God.  It IS God. God is love and He created us to love as well.

Love itself is proof that we were created by a higher power.  Are we supposed to believe that love is some sort of by product of evolution?  That the ability to love is just happenstance?  How absurd!

I think about the atheist, who, like the Christian, feels love and I wonder how someone can feel the kind of love like one feels for their child and yet not believe in God’s existence.  How can one not see the connection? Even if all the many ways in which God reveals His existence and His presence among us were removed, love alone would be proof positive of God’s existence.

As for the atheist, I’m reminded that sadly, it’s their choice not to believe.  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them, for since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that people are without excuse.  Romans 1:18-20

Next time you feel the overwhelming sense of love flowing through your heart as you look at your precious child, multiply that by a million times and you still haven’t even begun to come close to God’s love for you!

 

 

How Are You Showing Your Gratitude for the Ultimate Sacrifice?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

Have you ever wondered what it might be like if we could somehow “repay” Jesus for what he did for us by laying down His life for us?

The reality is that we can never repay Jesus for His ultimate sacrifice.  Salvation through Christ Jesus is a wonderful gift, which freely and lavishly flows from God’s amazing grace.  There is nothing we could ever do to earn His forgiveness, not now, not ever.

Think about it though.  If someone, perhaps even a complete stranger were to do something kind for us, like bail us out of some kind of trouble, perhaps even saving our very life, we would most certainly be forever grateful to that person.  We would ask with the deepest of sincerity, “How can I repay you?”  We would be searching in earnest for the best way that we knew how, to show our gratitude to that person for their unselfish act committed on our behalf.

Anything that anyone on this earth has done for us though, pales in comparison to what Jesus did for us.  He committed the ultimate sacrifice, by freely and knowingly submitting Himself to a violent, brutal death on a cross in order to save us from our sins. I don’t know about you, but I know of no one else who would be willing to do all for me that Jesus has.

So what are we doing to “repay” Jesus or show our gratitude for His unselfish act of love and mercy carried out toward us?  Do we “repay” Him with sin by living lives full of lies, envy, greed, idolatry, hate, gossip, anger, dissensions, selfish ambitions, or any of the other things mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21?  Perhaps we “repay” Him by living our lives on our own terms as though He doesn’t even exist.

Or do we “repay” Him by loving Him, by loving others as ourselves, reaching out to help those in need around us?  Are we living our lives in righteousness and continually walking with God?  What about taking up our own cross and dying to ones self on a daily basis as Jesus did during His time on earth? Are we setting a good example as believers by exhibiting godly traits such as love, humility, self control, peace, joy and compassion as ambassadors of Christ should?  Are we sharing the good news of the gospel to a lost and dying world?

Repayment?  That will never happen.  We can’t.  Gratitude however, THAT is the key!  Lets show Him our gratitude.

It’s imperative as believers to genuinely examine our hearts and minds as to how we have or haven’t been showing Christ our gratitude on a daily basis for his unselfish act of love and mercy on our behalf. For me, even as I write this, I am once again feeling pangs of conviction as I’m being reminded of my own short-comings in my daily walk with the Lord.  After all, I would, as the saying goes, do cartwheels to thank and show a complete stranger my gratitude for their act of kindness that pales in comparison to the magnitude of what Christ did for me.

Unbelievers have chosen to reject and ignore the One who made the ultimate sacrifice.  Unfortunately, sometimes we, as believers, are guilty in our own right.  For we sometimes foolishly become complacent and take for granted that all too precious gift of Christ’s sacrifice.

So I ask, “What have you been doing to show your appreciation?”

 

 

 

 

 

The Pain of Love

wp-image-729923988 I had been struggling to cope with our then, barely 17 year old daughters pregnancy and her having left home against our will to live with the baby’s father.  I missed her terribly. Sometimes love hurts. On top of that, I had received a phone call from my father in law’s wife, distraught over the painful news of her daughter’s untimely death in a car accident. Sometimes love hurts.

For the time being I set my own pain aside to focus on the needs of my father in law’s wife. I couldn’t begin to imagine the immense pain she must have felt.

While praying to my heavenly Father, I thought about how He was there as that awful fatal car accident happened.  He was there when my father in law’s wife received the horrifying news of the loss of her daughter and He was there as I laid on my bedroom floor trying to catch my breath, sobbing uncontrollably after my precious daughter with child left home.  “Father”, I whispered. “I know You are a God of love and compassion. You see and feel my pain and anguish. You are witness to billions of people suffering and in pain every day; people hurting one another, hurting themselves. You are there to see the pain of marriages and relationships crumbling, of families being torn apart, people sick, starving, lonely and in despair. You see and hear the grief stricken cries of overwhelming pain when people receive the news about the death of their loved ones. You see it all, Lord!”

Our God, in His never ending love bears the pain and anguish of not just me and my father in law’s wife, but He bears the pain and anguish of the entire broken world!    From my own weak and limited human perspective I find myself asking God how He copes, how He endures the pain.

As I ponder it all in my heart, I’m reminded that my Heavenly Father sees the big picture, the final outcome of His perfect plan; the plan that I, cannot yet see.

If we could see the outcome of His perfect plan, one for our own good right up front, how different things might be for us.  But the reality is that some of our time here in a broken world will be spent in pain not finding the answers that we so desperately hoped for this side of heaven. The purpose may not be clear til we stand face to face with our Lord and Savior.

As I turn to 1 Corinthians 13, I hear His still, small voice. “Yes, Rebecca, love can cause us pain, but it’s my perfect love that gets us through that pain.”

1 Corinthains 13: 4,7,8a tells us : Love is patient, love bears up under anything and everything that comes, it’s hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, it endures everything without weakening and never fails.

Yes, that’s how our loving God endures the pain of love. We can too, through His perfect love for us!

Which God Will You Choose?

wp-image-313851332Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!   Psalm 34:8

For me, as a Christian, God is love and God is all things good.  From the precious baby just born to proud, weepy eyed parents, to the stars he so carefully placed in the sky for us to enjoy, even to the refreshing breeze that blows through on a hot summer day.

Most importantly, God takes great care of those who have called upon Him in the name of His son, Jesus, and surrendered their lives to Him.  For You O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.  Psalm 86:5

God’s grace is amazing in the life of the believer.  Remind you of a song?  We don’t deserve His love, His forgiveness, or His grace, yet, because of Jesus, He lavishly bestows it upon us.  Because of that, as a Christian, I can confidently say the following about God.

When I am down, He lifts me up.  But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory and the One who lifts my head. Psalm 3:3 *******  He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap. Psalm 113:7

When I am treated wrongly He is on my side.  The Lord is on my side, I will not fear.  What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper. I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.  Psalm 118:6,7 ******* If God is for us, who can be against us?  Romans 8:31b

When I need someone to talk to, He is always there to listen.  He is my friend.  When the righteous cry for help the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. Psalm 34:17 ***For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their prayer.  1 Peter 3:12a

When I make a mistake or do wrong,  He lovingly convicts me, and bestows mercy on me time and time again.  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22,23

He is my rock, my refuge, my strength, my fortress, my salvation.  The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God my rock in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  Psalm 18:2

He brings me unending peace and joy in a dark, troubled, chaotic world.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7 ******* You make know to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forever more.  Psalm 16:11

Lastly, my God will never forsake me or let me down so I need not fear.   Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31:6

That is the God that, as a believer,  I am so blessed beyond measure to know!

Tragically, many people will never have the astounding privilege of knowing the God that I know.  For there will be those who choose to reject the God of love, peace, joy, refuge and hope.  For them, God will be a God of unspeakable wrath.

For, the same God who so amazingly created this earth, with all of it’s splendor for us to enjoy, will one day, in judgement, bring it to total destruction.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and it’s works will be burned up.  2 Peter 3:10

The same God who lifts me up will be the downfall for the proud and rebellious.  “Behold,  I am against you, O proud one,” declares the Lord of hosts.  “For your day has come, the time when I will punish you.  The proud one shall stumble and fall with no one to raise him up.” Jeremiah 50:31,32a

The very same God who is on my side will be against those who have refused Him and the same God who listens to me and is my friend, will not hear when those who refused to listen to Him try to futily explain their “case.”  “As I called and they would not hear, so they called and I would not hear.” says the Lord of Hosts.  Zechariah 7:13

The God who convicts me lovingly and bestows mercy upon me time and time again when I do wrong, will condemn harshly and show no mercy to those who refused to believe in Him or acknowledge Him even though they so desperately cry out for mercy.  Therefore, I will act in wrath.  My eye will nor spare nor will I have pity.  And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.  Ezekiel 8:18

The God who is my rock, refuge and fortress, will one day be the reason why people cry out for the rocks to fall on them in order to find refuge from His wrath, but they will find no refuge.  Calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come and who can stand?”  Revelation 6:16,17

Finally, the God who is my peace and joy, will be the God of sorrow, distress and eternal damnation for those not written in the book of life.  In flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  2 Thessalonians 1:8 ******* Anyone whose name was not found in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.  Revelation 20:15

Before it’s too late, ask yourself, “Which God do I want to know?”

Live Like the Dandelion!

The dandelion. Probably one of the most disliked, unappreciated “weeds” in God’s creation.

But did you know that the dandelion is also considered an herb?   It’s greens are sometimes used in salads and it’s flowers to make dandelion wine. The dandelion also plays a very important part in the pollinating of fruit trees.

I, for one, love dandelions!  I enjoy seeing their bright yellow round flowers poking up through the grass giving a nice contrast to what would otherwise be a very boring all green lawn.

And have you ever closely inspected a dandelion? So many beautiful, intricate petals that God not only so carefully and lovingly designed, but He also knows exactly how many petals each one has!

We have a lot in common with the dandelion. We too have been carefully and lovingly created by that same God who like the petals of a dandelion,   knows the number of hairs on each of our heads.

Eventually though, those beautiful bright yellow petals, as they age and mature,  turn to a silver gray. The winds of time blow on the dandelion and one by one the beautiful petals which have now turned to seed, leave it’s life giving stem, and are carried off to an unknown destination.

Yes, that dandelion may seemingly  be gone, but it’s life giving seeds, having been carried away by the winds, have landed in new soil, in new locations. Some are taking root right in its own yard, while other seeds having taken root in places much further away, will give life to new dandelions, helping trees elsewhere to bear fruit.

We too, age, mature and turn gray just like the dandelion. Eventually the winds of time will blow over us and we will be no more. We too, like the dandelion will leave some sort of seed behind.

But unlike the dandelion, we have the ability to be more purposeful in where and whom we plant our seeds.  By letting God’s light and love shine through us, we can plant good seeds; seeds of truth, righteousness, love, kindness, and forgiveness,  in those closest to us or in the farthest of places that we can’t even begin to imagine!

I don’t know about you, but I want to plant seeds that will help those after me to grow and bear much fruit for God and His kingdom.
Why not let God’s love and light shine through you while you are still in full bloom!

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