Friday, September 27, 2013

Dear God, PLEASE ... write me a note.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:6-8 (NIV)

Have you ever had the feeling there is something critical to your very being right in front of you, just out of reach?

In my lifetime I have prayed for anyone I knew or knew of in need. Maybe the acknowledgment of my life being blessed, in more ways than not, kept me from praying for myself.

In a colleague’s office two years ago I notice the book, The Me I Want to Be, which leads me to join a small group, where study of the book would begin in two weeks. EPIC events begin to take place in my life.  

Late one evening after returning from my third trip in four months to Louisiana, I sit at my laptop in the dining room. Weary, I wonder why answers elude me. “I’m just not getting it. Dear God, PLEASE … write me a note.”

Reaching to power off my computer, a strong urge compels me to the website of the cemetery where Papa is buried.  “Why?” I ask, following the lead. For the first time since my thankful entry several years ago, there is a post. It reads, “You are still remembered!!”  My heart leaps. It was posted two days before what would be Papa’s 70th birthday—except—it’s not for Papa—it’s for me. This contact is my “note,” the first of several.

Heavenly Father, your presence in our lives is as important as our every breath. In times of distress we ask to be wrapped in your safe and loving arms. Thank you for your faithfulness which is within reach, a prayer away. Amen.

© 2013 Atalie Shackelford

Friday, September 20, 2013

Rusty Beans

And those parts that we think aren’t worth very much are the ones which we treat with greater care. 1 Corinthians 12:23a (GNT)

So much rain fell this year! While welcome, it always seemed to come when the beans needed picking. (A tip to novice gardeners: do not pick beans when they are wet! Doing so makes the plant rust.) A few times I picked them when damp—better an unattractive harvest than no harvest at all—but mostly when dry, albeit oversized. 

So yesterday I washed my millionth extra-large string bean, running it through a French cutter in preparation for canning. Rust-spotted veggies were set aside to be composted (canning books prophesy dire consequences when using sub-par vegetables). Eyeing the brown pile made me wonder about just cooking them up. 

Composting forgotten, I sautéed the offending beans in sesame oil. Ideas began to flow, and garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, and soy sauce soon joined the party. Mmmmm! The smell! The taste! And no one would ever know they were rusty. After that, I looked for the faintest excuse to sauté more. 

In God’s economy, the last shall be first, and the first shall be last (Mark 10:31). He calls leaders to be servants. Jesus Himself washed His disciples’ feet. He had concern for widows and orphans. He healed the afflicted. In Luke 5, religious leaders asked Jesus why He ate with sinners. His response? The sick need help, not the healthy. 

The weak, unlovely, or defective often are snubbed by a world that holds its own idea of perfection in an unforgiving clasp. But if we look through God’s eyes, we will find treasure in the most unlikely places. Look past that rust! 

Father, teach us to see others the way you do, and to treat one another with honor. 

© 2013 Katherine A. Fuller

Friday, September 13, 2013

Little Boy with His Can of Soup

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1 (NIV)

 A little boy sat quietly on the dimly-lit basement stairs with a can of soup beside him. He was waiting patiently for someone to open the can and warm up his lunch. That boy was my youngest grandson.

There are occasions when my grandchildren are not so quiet, nor are they patient. Sometimes they are insistent and want my attention right now.

“I’m hungry. I want lunch now, Grandma.”

We wait expectantly for God to answer our prayers for direction in our lives or to reveal His purpose for us. Sometimes we wait patiently for Him to reveal new opportunities for ministry. Deuteronomy 4:7c tells us “the Lord God is near us whenever we pray to him.”

Frustration rears its head when an answer seems to take longer than we think it should. Day after day, we plead our case before the Lord, just as David did in Psalm 4:1. 

“Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God . . . hear my prayer.”  

It may be a matter of trust. When the Israelites cried out to God during a battle in 1 Chronicles 5, He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him. Do we trust God for His answer to our request? Are we willing to sit quietly waiting for His reply? His timing is always perfect.

My son poked his head into the stairwell. “Come on, son,” he said, taking the can of soup, “Let’s have lunch.”

Dear Father, you know what we need before we ask. Teach us to trust you as we wait patiently for answers to our prayers.

© 2013 Diane E. Hussey

Friday, September 6, 2013

Labor? Are you Kidding?

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

“I hate this job,” the teenaged cashier called over to his friend who was scanning groceries at the next register. He scanned an item, stopped to text a friend, scanned something else, stopped to read his friend’s reply, and then boldly told the customer, “I don’t get paid enough to bag your groceries.”

The attitude of this teen shows that he has much to learn about work ethic and the concept of service to others. He needs advice and role models at his work place, but perhaps those he would turn to have poor attitudes as well.

Many adults who are blessed to have work, also begrudge it. It’s hard to fit in the demands of work when one is already plagued by strained relationships, stretched finances, dying relatives, morning traffic, along with multiple responsibilities and obligations. Is it any wonder that so many find it difficult to give their all on the job or keep a positive mindset about work, when they’re already carrying such a heavy load?

We can have a better attitude on the job and do what is expected of us, too, if we first give our burdens to the Lord. How about we let Him manage the weight of the world, so we can freely shine for Him on the job and everywhere else we go?

Lord I release my burdens to you. Free me. Help me shine for you while I work.

© 2013 Nance