Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hope Deferred

It hurt, because they didn’t understand it.

Kyle and Heidi—my son and daughter-in-law—had wanted children for a long time. They eagerly anticipated their first, and assumed it would be easy. But it didn’t happen. Not for months. Then, not for years. They yearned for one; they ached to hold a baby that together they had created.

Each time they came home to visit it seemed that one of our family was either expecting, or had just delivered a baby. As much as they rejoiced for others, they longed for it to be their turn. To announce. To wait. To meet. To rejoice. To love.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick…(Proverbs 13:12a). They experienced the truth of it. Every month they hoped. Every month the hope went unfulfilled. The doctors could find no reason for their inability to conceive. But five years went by. Then six. Then seven.

They clung to God’s promises: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this” (Psalm 37:4-5). They leaned on Him when they grew weary, and reminded each other; “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23). But it was so hard…

They wondered if they were they doing something wrong. They knew God always answers prayers, but they also knew that sometimes He says no. Over and over they took their sorrow to the Lord and laid it down. It just didn’t make sense to any of us, because Kyle and Heidi would be the kind of parents every child should have; parents who love Jesus and would raise their kids to love Him, too. They knew God might continue to say no, because He said…

“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

Still, they dreamed, and did not lose heart. They continued to ask, to seek and to knock (Matthew 7:8). They held on to hope when some of us struggled to.

Today, Heidi is 22 weeks pregnant with their little girl. No extraordinary measures, just their own miracle. Every little movement Heidi feels is a reminder of God moving in answer to their prayers, and every sonogram is a picture of God’s grace to them. This little girl has no idea how lucky she is, but Kyle and Heidi definitely know that is God alone who blessed them with her.

 Kyle and Heidi

It’s true, “Hope deferred makes a heart sick, BUT a longing fulfilled is a tree of life”! (Psalm 13:12)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.              James 1:17

Further reflection:

1. Do you have a dream that is still unfulfilled?

2. How is your relationship with the Lord doing while you wait?

3. Knowing that God sometimes says “No” to what we ask for, what would your attitude be if your dream never came to fruition?

Father, You alone are sovereign. You rule over all, and control all things. Thank You that in Your mercy and grace You saw fit to grant the desire of Kyle and Heidi’s hearts, and bless them with this little girl. May she grow strong and healthy, so she may live to recognize and recount the miracle of her birth. May she bring great joy not only to Kyle and Heidi and those of us who already love her, but to You above all.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Moonlight? Not really…

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.                               Psalm 19:1-4

All of nature reflects the reality and character of God. Without using words, it screams out what He’s like. But I never really thought too much about it in relationship to the moon. Oh, I’d always admired its beauty when it was full. But how it illustrates who God is? Nope.

Recently I read some interesting facts about the moon. Even the most luminous, the brightest of full moons has no light of its own. The light we see is actually sunlight that has been reflected by the moon’s surface. The sun is the original source of what we see as moonlight.

full moon

Now, things can change the appearance of moonlight.

There are eclipses, which can be full or partial. They happen when the earth comes between the moon and the sun; the dark part we see is hidden by the earth, while the bright part remains lit by the sun. That’s what creates the crescent moon, or the absence of a visible moon altogether.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The moon can sometimes even appear red in an eclipse as the reflected light is distorted!

red moon

There are also two phases that characterize the changing moon; waxing, or waning. Waxing moons are continually growing toward becoming a full moon, and every night it reflects a little more of the sun’s light. A waning moon, however, is declining, and the light it reflects diminishes as darkness becomes more prevalent.

Ultimately, though the moon has no light of its own, it can still illuminate the darkness. It’s just the matter of the degree to which we see the reflected light.

So to make the correlation, we are all moons. Bear with me here.

We, too, have no spiritual light in and of ourselves. God alone is the source of light, and any light we have is given by the Son (1 John 1:5). When we directly reflect His light to others it is only the reflection of God’s glory.

Sometimes we allow other things to get in the way, things that pull at our hearts and, when indulged, get between us and our relationship with the Lord. Those parts remain in partial—or even full—darkness within us. Our ability to reflect Jesus’ light diminishes accordingly (James 1:13-14).

Just like the moon has seasons where it waxes or wanes, we too can go through such seasons. Some seasons we are growing, and His light shines brightly. Other times, such as when we lose our focus or turn away from Him, His light grows dimmer.

The difference is that we have no excuse. But we do have a choice (John 12:46). We can step into the light, or away from it.

The full moon will never look the same to me again.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”             John 8:12

You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.               2 Samuel 22:29

Further reflection:

1. Can you think of a time when your life reflected darkness rather than light?

2. What are some of the things that tend to get between you and your relationship with the Lord?

3. If the moon is a picture of God’s light in your life, would you say it is a waxing moon, or a waning one? Why?

Father, thank You that all of nature cries out Your reality, and that it continually gives me new ways to understand my relationship with You. Please show me those things that I allow to come between us, that hamper the light that You bring. I long to be a waxing moon, and grow to more fully reflect Your light to others.

Monday, June 10, 2013

New York, New York!

It was high-speed, and it made me edgy; nervous. I’d gone that fast before, but never in an elevator!

It really didn’t make sense for me to be so uncomfortable. I’ve parasailed in the Bahamas (http://www.aneverydayvoice.com/2013/05/bahamian-soaring.html ) and went skydiving in Jamul (http://www.aneverydayvoice.com/2013/02/free-falling.html), so going fast wasn’t the issue. But for whatever reason, riding that elevator to the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building with two of my daughters scared me to death!

200398745-001

I could say it was because elevator was high-speed; it was. I could point out that it moved around a lot; it did. But there wasn’t really any reason to think that it wasn’t safe. Hundreds of people use it every day. Yet I come from California, so it was only natural to wonder how much the building would sway during an earthquake. And I was in New York, very near to where the World Trade Center toppled. It actually crossed my mind that the Empire State Building would be a perfect target for terrorists!

Ironically, I was also grateful for the speed, because my focus on my fears and the discombobulating motion caused me to be increasingly uncomfortable and anxious. While neither Bethany nor Megan were at all concerned, I think I held my breath while we were catapulted up the last several floors. I was the only one who let my fears get the best of me! Maybe if I knew the one who engineered the elevator, or better yet, signed off on its safety, I could have enjoyed the ride more.

It was all worth it though, when Bethany, Megan and I stepped out on the observation deck. It was a gorgeously clear day, and all of New York lay sprawled in every direction. We could see helicopters flying at the same height as we were, and looked down on many other skyscrapers. Central Park looked tiny! There was no more fear, but only wonder at the immensity of the city.

Central Park from Empire State Bldg.

Isn’t that the way of things? The journey is often scary, because we tend to focus on what our human nature perceives as risk. Life seems like an out-of-control elevator, and we allow ourselves to imagine the worst case scenario. But more often than not, that thing we fear? Well, it just never happens. And what could have and should have been a time we trusted in the Lord to get us safely where He wants us, became something we feared instead.

God, however, sees the big picture. He knows where He wants to take us, and the best way to get us there. Sometimes a hard journey is necessary to prepare us to fully embrace all that He has for us. It isn’t the easy things in life that cause us to stretch, and struggle, and lean on Him; it’s the hard ones. In the end, He intends the journey, as well as the destination, to be a blessing.

I know this about Him; even if all else fails, He cannot.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Further reflection:

  1. Have you ever looked back at your life’s journey, and wished you’d been able to relax and enjoy the ride?
  2. What stopped you from doing so?
  3. Write Isaiah 41:10 on a 3 x 5 card and find a place to carry it with you. Whenever you start to fret about the journey God has you on, pray it back to Him.

Father, You know there are times when I struggle. My head embraces Your presence and Your purpose in the midst of hard things, but my heart lags behind in trusting You. Please, help me to relax, moment-by-moment fully aware of Your presence, Your sovereignty, and Your control of every circumstance in my life. Thank You that I can fully trust You, not necessarily to keep me safe from harm, but always safely in Your presence.