…in everything, give thanks…

How easy it is to rejoice and give thanks to God… when it is a beautiful day and the sun is out and the birds are singing and everything is going “your way” and “all is right with the world”…

But… how hard it is to rejoice and give thanks when that is not the case… during those times when life seems to be crashing in all around you and you feel as though you are engulfed and about to drown in one of the many storms that life can throw at you…

Rejoice and give thanks to God then???  Seriously???

Yet, that is what God’s word says we should do in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

But… when a child of ours has died… when we are struggling to make ends meet financially, and no matter what we do, it doesn’t seem to be working… when we or a loved one has just been diagnosed with stage four cancer, and nothing was wrong two weeks ago… when the love of our life has just died, and there is a hole in our heart deep enough and wide enough that someone could drive a mac truck through… when we have been betrayed by someone we have loved and trusted… when we have been the one who has hurt another or done something illegal or unethical or immoral, and now we have to face the consequences of our choices… when life just isn’t working out the way we think it should, and there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it…

In these times and so many others not mentioned…

How can we rejoice?  How can we give thanks?

Perhaps in those difficult and challenging times, we can find a way to rejoice and give thanks to God…  if we can understand that it is NOT God’s will that these circumstances be happening in our lives…  and if we can realize that we will not be rejoicing about or giving thanks FOR the circumstances that are happening in our lives…

But if we can remember that no matter where we are in life, and no matter what is happening in our lives, that God is there to love us and to give us strength and courage and that God will walk with us through every circumstance that happens in our lives… even the ones we cause through our own sinfulness…

If we can remember that, maybe then we can find a way to rejoice and give thanks…

So why am I thinking about this today?

Because… the day is beautiful… and the sun is out… and the birds are singing… and everything is going “my way”… and “all is right with the world”… and I just thought how easy it was to rejoice and give thanks to God…

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the way of love … for the sake of the Bride

Yesterday afternoon, I began to read a new book:

For the Sake of the Bride: Restoring the Church to Her Intended Beauty” by Steve Harper

In this book, Steve talks about “the way of love” as he has been led to understand it through his Lenten experience of 2014.  I have reached the point in the book that Steve has called the “intermission”… a time to pause reading, and pray.  At this point in the book, during the “intermission”, Steve asks the readers to pray for God’s Holy Spirit to put us (me) “within the way of love as never before.”

Steve isn’t talking about “love” as the world usually thinks of love…you know, hugs and kisses and boyfriends and girlfriends and Valentine’s Day and all that stuff…

No, so far in this book, Steve has been talking about “love” as God expresses it and offers it towards us and wants us to extend to other humans…you know, unconditional love towards everybody, no matter who and no matter what…forever and ever, amen… Steve has been talking about making this type of love the basis for everything we do, think and say, as we relate to everyone in the world…well, actually, to this point in the book, he has been laying the biblical foundations for making this type of love the basis for everything we do, think and say, as we relate to everyone in the world…

And here, at this juncture, he asks each of us readers to pray for God’s Holy Spirit to put us “within the way of love as never before.”

We aren’t to pray that God’s Holy Spirit does this for “the other guy”, rather that the Holy Spirit does it for ourselves…for each one of us…

I am to pray that the Holy Spirit will put me “within the way of love as never before.”

God’s way of love, the way that I am to love others, all others, is not easy… What will God’s way of love demand of me and how will it change me and where will it send me and who will it send me to?

I suspect that I will spend the rest of my life listening for God’s guidance and answers to those questions… and asking God for the courage to say, “Yes, Lord…whatever, and whenever, and wherever and whoever”!

I will pray as Steve has asked (then finish reading the book)… and I’ll trust God for the rest.

…a time to heal…

We sat on his back porch, David* and I, thinking and talking about life and death, living and dying, and, without specifically saying the word, healing…  He had always enjoyed being outside, but as his life was slowly ebbing away, he was finding so much more beauty in the creation around him than he had ever noticed before.  He was grasping at life, even as his was being taken from him.

“For the first time,” David said, “I feel as though the cancer really has a hold on me.”

This was not my first visit with David, and I could see, even without his having said so, that his disease process was taking its toll on his body.

David continued to share with me how he had been re-establishing contact with family members, some with whom he had not spoken in years… his mother and his brothers and sisters and his now adult children… Over the past few weeks, they had all been coming to visit.  There was still one sister that he’d spoken with, but who had not yet been able to get down to visit. A time had been set though, and within the next few weeks, she would be coming…

I knew that he had already discussed with his mother his funeral and memorial services… who he wanted to officiate… where the services would be held… what he wanted them to be like… where his remains would go… things of this type. Other things he was getting set up and in place as well…

As our visit ended in prayer, knowing he was dying, and that there wasn’t anything that would change that, he said:

For the first time in a long time, I feel really good on the inside.

Healing, in the midst of encroaching death…

A sacred time…

 

*not his real name

change… the only constant… and this blog…

Lately, I have taken a break from doing any blogging…  besides which, when I have recently had thoughts that I felt I really needed to blog about, so “the world” would know just how wise and philosophical and spiritual and faithful and funny and eloquent and (yeah, right… you get the picture) I was… well in those moments, I was never near enough to a computer, iPad or iPhone to be able to blog about it…  And that was probably just as well… because I know that I am not really all those things I just mentioned… well, not very often anyway…

The other thing is that I have multiple blogs that I have started over the past few years, that I write to…because I have thought in the past that I would use each of the different blogs to share an aspect or two of my life and thoughts… kind of “compartmentalizing” the varying parts of my life…

But I’m not sure I’m all that comfortable anymore with “compartmentalizing” the things and thoughts and stories of my life that I want to share…  because all of them rolled into one make me who I am now and who I am becoming, as God continues to work in my life…

So… I’m going to change the focus of this blog, just a little…  and incorporate more of what one of my other blogs, Faith Trek, was originally supposed to be…  In case you’re wondering, it was supposed to be a blog about my faith journey…but it is now more like a place where I post devotional thoughts, or scripture verses I like, or “religious” sayings and quotes, or stuff to get people to think about their faith journey…

None of that is bad, and I’ll probably keep using it as it has become… but things about my faith journey, well those stories will be posted in this blog, because they are a part of the story of my life…  (I have discovered that the focus for this blog has also changed slightly… it has become more personal… a place for me to share stories from my life… instead of sharing the stories of others, which was part of it’s original intent)…

So…  I may change this blog’s name… well I haven’t decided on that yet… but if you open the blog and find a slightly different name, don’t panic…  And, naturally… I will probably also change the look, or the “theme” of the blog, as they call it… maybe…

Well, you know what “they” say:

Change is the only constant in the universe!   ~they

love and kindness…

There isn’t much time to gladden hearts of those who travel with us.  So be quick to love and make haste to be kind.        ~Henri-Frederic Amiel

As 2014 begins, may we all be quick to show love and hasty to be kind… so that we don’t wait too long and run out of time…

For not only do we not know how long others will be traveling with us in this earthly life, we also do not know how long we will have the privilege of traveling in this earthly life… so use it wisely and spend it in love and kindness.