Meeting a Problem Head-On

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’” John 18:4 NIV

With Easter still fresh on our minds today, let’s take a look at one of the lessons we can learn from the age-old story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Many insights and truths can be drawn from this dramatic real-life event, but let’s focus today on how Jesus handled a problem that came looking for him on that dark night before his crucifixion.

When confronted with the most dreaded and excruciating hours of his life, what did Jesus do? He met the ordeal head-on. Scripture tells us that while Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane—after eating his last Passover meal with his disciples and after spending time in agonizing prayer—some soldiers and religious officials led by Judas came looking for him.

Since Jesus knew all that was about to happen, he could have handled the situation in a number of ways. As soon as the threat was spotted, he could have run for his life and told his disciples to do the same. Or he could have had the disciples stay and cause a delay while he made his getaway. Or since it was nighttime, he might have even told everyone to hide.

But Jesus didn’t do any of those things. Instead, he summoned his courage and went out to meet the threat. He told them he was the one they were looking for. Then he tried to protect his disciples by asking that they be let go. When one of the disciples drew his sword and began to put up a fight, Jesus stopped him and said, “‘Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’” (v. 11) Yes, he was ready to meet the life and death challenge head-on.

How was he able to do this? Love for us. His desire to pay the price for our sins and offer us eternal life instead. Also love for his Father and his commitment to do the Father’s will. And I’m sure he gained strength from the Father during his Garden of Gethsemane prayer time. We’re told in the scriptures that an angel even came and strengthened him there (Luke 22:43.) All of these things combined helped Jesus face his moment of truth.

Are any of us faced with an overwhelming situation? Let’s take strength from the example of Jesus and from the strength God so willingly gives and then go out and meet the challenge head-on. Let’s drink the cup the Father has given us. Let’s bring glory to his name.

“‘The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God and I will exalt him.’” Exodus 15:2

*When has God given you strength to face a dreaded ordeal?

The next issue of Life Notes, my inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in each quarterly issue, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a gift valued at $20 (shipping included) from Beigetone Soaps and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by TimOve, Creative Commons License

I’ll Be Your Wall

6076879792_800b7d9c5b_zDizziness. Vertigo. An injured foot or leg. Any one of these things can find us reaching out to someone or something for support. I’ve been there before, and I’m sure you have, too.

A friend of mine, in fact, copes day in and day out with a medical condition that makes it challenging for her to walk at times. Not long ago during an outing together, a bad spell struck. The distance to a nearby bench loomed large, but with great effort and the help of the cane she carries for just such times, she managed to make it.

After resting for awhile and taking some medicine to ease the symptoms, she felt ready to attempt the next leg of our journey. I had parked the car as close as to the building as possible, but now it felt miles away. Once again, with concentration and slow steps, she moved forward.

At one point, she paused to regroup and said, “If I just had a wall…” I answered instantly, “I’ll be your wall.” I knew she just needed a steadying influence on her side without the cane. With her characteristic good attitude, she made light of the situation, and I joined in. By the way, no matter what we get ourselves into, it seems we always end up laughing about something. I love that about our friendship.

I was glad to be her wall that day. Happy to be her steadying influence. Heaven knows, she’s been mine time and again. But I guess that’s what friendship is all about, isn’t it?

And let’s not forget, we have another Friend always ready to be our steadying influence, always standing by. Next time a bad spell of discouragement, heartache, or pain strikes you, just turn your thoughts to Him. I bet you’ll hear Him whispering, “Don’t worry. I’ll be your wall…”

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10 KJV

*When has a friend been a wall for you?

*Hope you were blessed by this encore post from Sept. 2009!

*Flickr photo by Jens Rost, Creative Commons License

When Interruptions Derail Your Day

452728921_ca54149293_z

I admit it—I don’t deal real well with interruptions to my plans. It tends to drive me crazy when I’m not accomplishing the things I wanted to. Anyone else identify?

I do try to battle my poor reaction to interruptions, though. I start my day by saying, “Lord, this day is yours and so am I. My times are in your hands.” But somewhere along the way, I find myself grabbing that time back. I hate it when I do that. I say one thing and do another.

Recently I read an entry in Sarah Young’s newest devotional book Jesus Always, and it gave me great—albeit convicting—insight into my struggle with interruptions. It also pointed out a better approach to dealing with them. And I found it very interesting that this approach emphasizes trust—the very word I chose as my theme word for 2017.

I’d like to share portions of that entry here today in case any of you fight a similar battle with yourself. I pray it blesses and helps you—and I pray I’ll remember to apply it to my life. Here it is:

“When things are not going your way, refuse to get flustered . . . Your desire to feel in control is often the culprit behind your frustration. You plan your day and expect others to behave in ways that expedite your plans. When that doesn’t happen, you face a choice: to resent the situation or to trust in Me. Remember that I am in control and My ways are higher than yours . . . Instead of getting agitated about setbacks to your schedule, use them as reminders: I am your Savior-God, and you are My beloved follower. Relax in My sovereign control, trusting in My unfailing Love.” Sarah Young, January 16 entry in Jesus Always (italics are phrases from scripture, Isaiah 55:9 and Psalm 13:5)

“But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands;” Psalm 31:14-15a

*Do you struggle with dealing with life’s interruptions too?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out tomorrow. Sign-up is free and to the right. Your name won’t be included in the giveaway draw until the next issue comes out, but it’s not too late to receive this issue. Sign up today!

*Flickr photo by MOEVIEW is Aaron Molina, Creative Commons License

2017 Theme Word: Trust

15004178998_fdf4bb1e5c_zThe launch of a new year means different things to different people, but for me it means it’s time to focus on a new theme word for the year. I’ve never been big into New Year’s resolutions, but the past several years, I’ve chosen a theme word to help guide me through the year. It’s a practice I highly recommend. I can honestly say it has benefited me time and again.

This year the word the Lord kept bringing to my attention in the waning weeks of 2016 was trust. It wasn’t a word that was on my theme-word radar so to speak. Initially the words balance and simplify came to mind, but as I asked God to guide my choice, the word trust kept popping up, first in one place and then another. Isn’t it great how God gives us direction as we seek his guidance?

I’ve got to admit when I sensed God directing me to the word trust, fear tried to sneak in. Why was God leading me to the word trust? Is something bad going to happen? Is God trying to prepare me to trust in him? Of course, I immediately realized I would have to trust him even with this. I shouldn’t run from the word trust. I needed to follow his lead and yes, trust him come what may.

So, I don’t know how the word trust will play out in my life this year, but it will be interesting to see how it offers me direction, comfort, peace, and yes, perhaps even challenge as the year goes on.

Right now when I think of trust, I think of believing, resting, or staying faithful, and I know it will be good to grow in all of these areas. But who knows, God may have something in mind that hasn’t even occurred to me. After all, he works like that quite often, doesn’t he?

One thing is certain, though—God is trustworthy. So with trust as my word for the year, I’ll go forward fully trusting in him and the good work he will do in my life. Join me?

“LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.” Psalm 84:12 NIV

*Have you chosen a theme word or an anchor verse for 2017?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a Starbucks gift card and a signed copy of my book to use personally, to give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by SFB579 Namaste, Creative Commons License

Beauty and Blessings on the Way to a Goal Achieved

IMG_8917

When we’re trying to achieve a challenging goal, we may find the climb especially difficult. We may grow weary and wonder if we can hold out to see the view from the top, from the vantage point of a goal achieved. We may feel sorely tempted to give up.

But I’ve got good news. Good news that can help keep us pushing onward.

We don’t have to wait until we achieve the goal to experience the joy of the journey. If we take time to look, we can find beauty and blessings along the way.

This summer on our trip to Colorado, my sisters and I got a reminder of this truth when we decided to take the hike to the top of the mountain at Hoosier Pass on the Continental Divide. The information we had about the hike made it sound fairly easy, but we got more than we bargained for. The altitude along with the steady and sometimes steep climb had us huffing and puffing and wondering if we’d be able to achieve our goal after all.

I’m happy to report we did indeed reach the top, but we also stopped frequently along the way to catch our breath and soak in the beauty of the natural wonders around us. The mountainside dotted with the reds, yellows, purples, whites, and blues of happy little wildflowers. The majestic snow-covered peaks in the distance. The winding river and reservoir in the valley below. Each one a blessing along the difficult way to our goal achieved.

If any of us find ourselves on a difficult or painful journey today, let’s keep our eyes open for the joys that can be ours when we stop and look for them. Let’s take frequent breathers when we need them. Let’s allow the wonders we see to recharge us for the rest of the journey. Let’s enjoy the beauty and blessings along the way.

“. . . the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trust in him.” Psalm 32:10b

*What beauty or blessings have been yours on a difficult road?

*My photo