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Monday, October 28, 2013

Hold on. It's just about to get good.

I hate when it happens.  You probably do to. 

You're watching a football game (or whatever sport you're into) on TV with friends and your team is going nowhere fast.  You're trying to persevere through it to show support, but three-fourths of the way through you throw up your hands and say, "Just forget it.  This game's a wash."  You pick up your stuff and leave.  An hour later you receive a call from your friends who finished watching the game until the end.  They are screaming and cheering on the other end of the phone saying, "We did it!  We actually won!"  You listen to the chaos over the phone as they try to catch their breath to explain that there was a game-changing play. At the eleventh hour, your team pulled through and won the whole thing!  You left just before things really started getting good.  You sigh with regret.

The same thing can happen with a movie.  It's a slow start.  You try to give it the benefit of the doubt but you're losing faith in the plot with each scene that goes by.  Three-fourths of the way through you throw up your hands and say to your friends, "Just forget it.  This movie's a waste."  You pick up your stuff and leave.  The next day you run into your friends and they say, "Hey!  It's too bad you left when you did.  There was a cool twist at the end that no one saw coming.  Sorry you didn't stick around to see it.  It was well worth it to hold out to the very end."  You sigh with regret. 

And the same thing can happen to our faith and Christian walk.  We try to walk it out.  We give it a chance.  We give it years of our lives, hours of our service, sweat from our brow.  We feel like we have given it a fair shot.  But, at the three-quarter mark, we are tired.  In some ways, we're actually disgusted.  We look around and say to our friends, "Just forget it.  This Jesus thing is a joke."  Or we say, "This church thing is for the birds."  Or we say, "This life of giving and service and sacrifice is not for me.  I'm out."  We pick up our stuff and leave. 

But, just like in the scenario of the game and the movie, we need to realize that it's not over until it's over.  If we walk out now, we might be leaving just before things start getting really good.  Who's to say that God doesn't have a game-changing move up His sleeve?  Who's to say that He's done writing the script?  Maybe there's a twist He has planned that no one saw coming.  And, if you leave now you will surely miss it. 

Don't be the one that leaves the game early.  Don't be the one that regrets not finishing to see how the story ends.  Stick around.  One thing is for sure... when God is in it, no one is ever disappointed.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Teardrops Keep Falling On My Head

There is nothing more heartbreaking to me than to watch a parent grieve for their child.  Maybe the child is lost.  Maybe the child died.  Maybe the child was removed from under their care and they have little to no connection with them now.

I remember catching some news coverage on the 12th anniversary of 9/11 this year.  A tearful woman spoke behind the microphone to the crowds saying, "I keep waiting for the pain to go away."  Her broken heart was still so raw after 12 long years of missing her son.

There are many times when I pray and feel this kind of grief.  Not my own grief, God's grief.  The grief of a Father who longs to draw His children close -- a broken-hearted Daddy that keeps calling but His children don't hear the phone or ignore the rings. 

His teardrops keep falling on my head.  I taste the salty substance in my heart as He lets me feel His grief for the multitude that don't know Him.  All I can do is weep with Him and then say, "Lord, what can I do?"

"Pray, Valerie.  Pray.  Pray, Valerie.  Pray." He whispers.

Intercessory Prayer is just that.  You are intersecting what's going on.  You put yourself between the People, that are lost in the dark, and the God of all Light that can lead them out of it, and you pray forth the will of God.  We are like Esther in the Old Testament.  We see people that are on the brink of death and we can't keep silent.  We choose to speak up before the King and bravely say, "Be merciful!  Help us God!  Only You can make the blind man see and the lost son come home!"


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rock Solid

When I was younger, I used to love the sensation of standing in the lake and feeling the wet sand between my toes.  Though at first it held my weight up, I would purposefully stand there knowing that it wouldn't be long before I would start to feel myself sink into the sand.  I played the game knowing that the sand was a false sense of security and I had better not linger there too long.
I also loved, though, swimming out into the lake and climbing up onto the big rocks that protruded out from the water like an island.  My sister and I would swim out to it, climb on and rest there in the sun.  We knew we could trust the rock to hold us.  It was a true sense of security.
It's an old analogy, but one that still stands firm.  Jesus is the only Rock we can trust and find True Security in.  I can't tell you how many mornings I wake up feeling insecure.  I feel shaky about my relationship with God which consequently makes everything else feel unsure as well.  I realize in those moments that I have been putting my trust in things that are built on sand. 
When I realize this, I say to myself, "Well, of course, you're going to feel shaky, Valerie!  Those things are built on sinking sand!  You're feeling shaky because you're feeling the sand shift under you.  Inevitably, if you stay there long enough you'll surely sink!"
It's then that I shift my thinking to what I know is true and begin to pray.  And just as faithful as the sun rises, I feel His Presence again and He reminds me that He is the immovable Rock.  What can shake me when I am so secure in His Love? 
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In Love With The Audience

What if God took away your audience as you served Him?

Maybe you're a writer.  What if people stopped reading your work? 
Maybe you're a musician.  What if you only played or sang to empty rooms?
Maybe you're a giver.  What if everyone ceased knowing you were?

Answer honestly.

Would you still write?  Would you still play and sing?  Would you still give?  No one is watching now.  There is neither pressure to perform nor the support of others to validate it.  It is just you and your God.  What happens next when all is stripped away?

Do you feel relieved?  Maybe you only did what you did because you felt pressured to. 

Or, do you feel worthless now?  "What's the point?" you might say, "without the nod and praise of others?"

It's a question of the heart and your motivation.  If you are looking to man to affirm you, then this scenario would wreck you.  But, if you are living to please Him, it wouldn't matter much to you at all.

When a man is in love with a woman, it doesn't matter if he loves her for all to see or if he loves her in private.  His heart is not caught up in who's watching, it's caught up in the Beloved he's looking at.  An audience doesn't change his affection.

Are you in love with HIM or in love with the audience?