I chose a life verse in my mid-twenties. It was a statement. For years I had compared myself to society and felt I had REALLY missed out. But then I read Matthew 6:33, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” It comforted me. It held me together. It promised me that if I kept God first, I would never miss out. In fact, everything God intended would be mine.
And as the years tick on, this verse still holds true, even though my circumstances have totally changed. I still seek him first and he still gives all things. Strength to step out. Courage to speak. The spark to imagine.
He is so good.
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It might not be what I want, but it is just as valid and good. Because with God, not every closed road is a bad thing in life. It means that God has something else in mind, something I could never have imagined possible. For with him, this adventure is his plan.
He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love,” when we feel alone.
He says, “My word is a lamp to your feet,” when we get confused.
He says, “Do not be afraid,” when life overwhelms.
Because, in every problem, God will ALWAYS fulfill his promise.
Not long ago, in a certain situation, I thought I was right. I couldn’t even listen to a challenge from a friend. But later I read a verse, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you…” (Matthew 18:15) Sigh! This verse was about me…
A lady once told me, “Because I live alone, no one ever disagrees with me. So, in my eyes I am always right. But I need people to challenge me, no matter how distasteful.”
Now, it is true that not every challenge comes from a good heart. But whatever comments come our way, it is good to lift each one up and take an honest look.
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As I watched the river break its banks, a verse came to mind: “His voice was like the roar of rushing waters.” (Ezekiel 43:2) God was speaking. Was I listening?
This is what I heard… Just as this river overflowed its banks, so God breaks free from the banks we build around him. He won’t be controlled or hemmed in by our standards, but often he lives within them, just because he know how easily we scare. But then comes the moment where he shows who he is. His awesome power. His purpose and direction. His majesty.
He gives us a glimpse so that we can live the same way. A torrent of his love.
It seems like our lives are being other-directed. We are told how to live it and what to pursue. And those others also come across as unfathomably wise, assuring us that they can sort all our problems. But what about God?
If we stopped to think about it, if God made our ears, that means he can hear us. If he made our eyes, he sees us. He knows what is happening in our world – Covid 19 – and he isn’t standing by idle. He keeps trying to get our attention, saying, “Nothing happens by mistake. Someone’s greed precipitated this pandemic, someone’s disregard for creation and humanity.”
But those others contradict him, telling us, “WE’RE in control. Just be patient. With that vaccine WE will save the world.”
God responds: “That plan is human. Greed will cause yet another tragedy. Greed will keep causing harm.” Our human hearts are bent that way, and no vaccine can ever save our hearts from greed. Only God can.
From Psalm 94:8-11. (Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash)
Yesterday I took someone on a hike through a wood. We strode down paths that twisted and crossed. She asked, “Do you ever walk here alone?” I shook my head, “No, these woods are safe, but I would feel unsafe if I went by myself. Two of us together is fine.”
She agreed – the woods were fine- but then she asked that question again, “Do you ever walk here alone?” It surprised me and I answered the exact same way. But then I understood. She wanted to know if I knew where I was going, if I knew the way. She wanted to know if she was safe with ME.
This is a scary question, full stop. Do people feel safe when they interact with me? Thankfully, my friend finally did.
A year ago exactly, On Unclipped Wings slipped onto the market almost unnoticed. But God noticed. Often, he reminds me how important it was to write it. It comes through Bible verses, or an unexpected comment from someone.
He also reminds me that our stories are entwined. For, whatever happens in my life, or in any of our lives, he is right there with us, holding us up and cheering us on. And through his participation, our stories become his story as well. So when he says, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven,” (Matthew 4:16) it is so very true.
To God, my flickering flame or that gigantic spotlight are both lights worth sharing. Both are important. Both are good.
Fifty years ago today, I prayed, “Dear God, please be my boss.” I was starry-eyed and fourteen. Life would be grand. But God redefined my definition of ‘grand’.
I used to walk past a house with rusty paint pots lined up out front. It took me years to notice the red geraniums that grew in each one. Those horrid pots distracted my gaze and I totally missed the grand.
There is so much that is grand. A person who can still laugh even though wracked with pain. A person who can forgive even though an injustice still causes havoc in their life. A person who can finally push aside fear and speak up for the silenced.
These are the things that still leave me starry-eyed, and I never want to lose their grandeur.
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If we can do something well and with a flair, people call us talented. Yet I knew someone who could sing and a voice teacher suggested that he study professionally. But this person never did and only talked about his talent.
Some of us, however, might think, ‘I wish I had a talent. I’m not good at anything and I would love to boast about at least one thing in my life.’ But each one of us does have a talent – our natural aptitude to love.
Jesus said, “Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) He said it because all of us have the ability and flair to love well. And he doesn’t want us to just talk about it. He wants us to develop this most extraordinary talent with daring and unyielding courage.
Photo by Bart LaRue on Unsplash