Kindness that speaks volumes
By Joyce Pelletier
1 Peter 1:5-7 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge; self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love.
All of my Christian journey has been filled with so much kindness from my brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a key ingredient in where this kindness comes from; the Holy Spirit.
Nearly ten years ago, Maurice had his aortic valve replaced. It was only his second major surgery in his lifetime. We had every reason to believe that it should all go well.
The surgical procedure went quite well. Following recovery, he was sent to ICU, which is quite normal. Two days later he was placed in the step-down unit, and that’s when things went sour. The problem was not the surgery, but the medication that not only kept him somewhat pain free but also with an element of confusion. Little did the doctor realize that the medication caused him to be anxious, irrational and restless.
I was with him soon after he first arrived from ICU. He became confused at where he was and why. We were sitting in his room when he started having hallucinations, like he was sitting in the doctor’s waiting room or thinking he wasn’t sick at all, a door to a closet turned into a refrigerator. This didn’t help the situation we were experiencing.
The nurses came to his room and asked me to step out of the room so they could discern what the problem was. I was quite concerned at that point. I started pacing the hall and praying that God would send someone to help. As soon as I prayed that prayer, I turned around and I saw a familiar face coming down the hall towards me. It was one of our dearest friends.
Art listened to my concerns and simply said “It will be okay!” He also told me why he was there. He felt led by the Lord go to the hospital to see Maurice. I was so amazed. There was no question, and I knew God sent Art. Things started to turn around as the doctors decided to stop giving him that medicine.
Art spent several hours with us as Maurice went through the struggle to figure it all out. They put an alarm on his bed as well as moved him to the room nearest the nurse’s station.
Art was there for us. We talked about many things. Finally, mid-afternoon, Art went home. By that time the medication was wearing off and I felt safe enough to return home to get some rest myself.
Art showed us kindness, comfort, calmness, and love. This revealed what his true friendship was. The surgery turned out successful. The struggle at the hospital was somewhat traumatic. But God’s kindness through our friend, Art, gave me the courage to not be afraid. Somehow also knowing the clarity of each part of the situation, somehow calmed me to know God was in control.
So many times, I’ve had the opportunity to be in a place consoling a friend or run into someone who needed a special word of comfort. For me it was a totally unexpected and unplanned occurrence. Realizing that it was Jesus who sent me, it started to make sense. We often hear the word, “God-incidences” related to this kind of event. It’s then we know God sends us to someone such as this that is unexpected.
It is so important to realize, we can’t only be givers of God’s comfort and word. There are so many times for us to receive this as well. If each of us only give, who’s there to receive? Role reversal is so valuable in learning how to give and receive. Jesus gave all the time, but there was a time when He received, when Mary washed his feet.
James 4:7 says
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.
Since I was a wee one I have had trouble with submit. And surrender. And obey. But mostly submit. I have heard stories about when I was small and my dad would say "don't touch my guitar". Every time he picked it up to play it was full of crayons or toys.
As I have grown I have learned to dislike the word even more. As a teen I remember the fear of being followed by a police car. So much so that I would pull into the nearest parking lot and pretend I was going into the store to avoid driving in front of them. Not that I was doing anything wrong, but I had this deep fear of authority.
As I grew, life taught me that I could rely on no on but myself. At age 19, I had two small children as a divorced woman.
I was stubbornly defiant refusing any sort of help from anyone.
God repeatedly showed me His goodness and grace as I fought Him at every turn. At times I imagine Him rolling His eyes and sighing as I willfully pushed my own agenda instead of accepting His prompting. Yet gently and patiently He waited... every time. Not once withholding the blessings or His gifts because of my stubbornness. Even in the hardest places I can see now that He was with me. That He protected me, even shielded me from harm.
So many times I heard "get out of my way" when He was doing something in someone's life.
As I have slowly learned to let God lead, to respond to His gentle nudges, and to be open to His greater plan for my life, I have seen things grow and blossom as I could never have imagined. There is no joy quite like that which I feel when giving to another at His prompting or seeing Him moving in a life I have been praying for. His plan is so much greater on a seriously grander scale than mine could ever be. If I just submit to His will.
I have learned that submit has a new meaning to me now. I can accept that His plan is for a greater good. To build me and grow me but not to harm me. As it turns out it wasn't all about me after all.
It is so rewarding to see the growth in all those around me as we all have grown in community. I can even see now that what was once referred to by others as stubbornness or defiance is really the gift of not giving up on others. A gift that He can use for good.
Thank you for never giving up. Thank you that you can use all things for good and you never let go of me. That your plans are so much greater than anything I can dream or hope for. I am grateful that you desire your very best for me. That when I follow your lead you create divine appointments and bring blessings after blessings. Help me to submit to your will in all things, to allow you to advance your kingdom.
In Jesus precious name.
The "Someday" Complex
BY GABRIELLA FECHER
“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it”
I don’t live in the present tense. Instead, my mind perpetually floats in this dreamy, far-off “Someday.”
I’ve been like this since I was a little kid, mapping out my list of life goals with glitter gel pens as I hid in the long grass in the fields behind our house. “Someday” felt more real to me than the music of the cicadas at sunset, the speckling of trees on the horizon, or the rhythmic sway of the grass in which I buried myself. “I’ll go there someday,” I’d say as I circled countries on a map. “I’m going to publish these someday,” I’d muse as I scribbled meaningless stories and poems into my notebooks. And, of course, I still do it. “Someday, I’ll have a house like that,” I tell a friend as we drive through Vermont roads.
Someday. I like to pretend that this “Someday” is just some version of hope that I am clinging to, but it’s not. In fact, the “Someday” perspective— if not grounded in the Word and assuredly gathered from the Holy Spirit— is simply a perspective that locks us into a survival mode. It’s a frame of mind that indirectly tells us that life is just something to push through like a defensive line in football. Honestly, the notion that we’re just meant to “make it through” is physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting.
It’s striving after a passing feeling or achievement that promises peace, joy, or fulfillment. It conjures up the idea that there is a timeline, an order, a list that must be followed. Each aspect of “Someday” is assigned some hierarchical value that drives our pursuit. We labor and toil after these distant goals only to find that we’re “striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:11). It’s vanity. It’s often a mechanism to keep us focused on something — rather than Someone— to which we attribute more meaning than is right. That “Someday” item can be a trap, an idol, a distraction, an all-consuming presence that promises rewards that it never had the power to give. It sucks life, energy, and focus from today.
Instead, we need God-honoring and God-fueled hope. We’re told that we actually have a “God of hope” (identity) who wants us to “abound in hope” (action) by the work and power of His Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). Hope is a beautiful thing— a lifeline, a breath of air, a resting place— if grounded in His Word (Psalm 119:114; 130:5). Our very soul can rest securely in hope if anchored in God alone (Psalm 62:5) and we can find it through the “encouragement of the Scriptures” (Romans 15:4). The result of this hope brings joy (Proverbs 10:28), something for which we erroneously search in achievements, statuses, opportunities, and material possessions.
The thing is: hope doesn’t take away from today like the “Someday” complex does. It recognizes that an all-powerful God holds each and every aspect of our numbered days in His hands. He breathes life and fulfilmment through His Word, His Spirit, and His nature. And life, we’re told, is a gift. “This is the day that the LORD has made,” the Psalmist wrote; “let us rejoice and be glad in it” (118:24). To be able to fully rejoice and be glad in the present day that God gave us is to surrender to His presence, finding in His capable hands the assurance that tomorrow is already taken care of. It is then that our focus and our energy is directed toward what matters. God gave us everything we need for today. Why else would He declare, “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble”(Matthew 6:34)?
Elisabeth Elliot famously wrote, “The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived— not always looked forward to as though ‘real’ living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow.” We don’t have the strength, the energy, the focus, or the necessity to strive after the “Someday.” Instead, we rest in hope and rejoice in the day He gave us.
BY JOYCE PELLETIER
Continuing with Psalm 139:17-18:
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were, I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.
Have you ever considered counting the grains of sand on a beach? Or in a cup? You are probably thinking, “that is impossible.” You’d be correct on that assessment!
Does it mean we don’t comprehend it? No, if anything, the truth is we’d all be hard pressed to even consider doing that. Now, if it were cups of sand to fill a bucket, well, that is possible. However, this is not what this Psalm says. When we consider that God already knows the numbers, He doesn’t have to count them. What is being said, is that it is a countless number to state, but God’s thoughts are far greater than the grains of sand. The number guess would indicate endless thoughts. How awesome is that?
Recently, I had an issue with the control button for my implant for my pain management in my spinal cord. It prompted me to do an update on the control. Following it asked for a Passcode, which I didn’t have before. Thinking that they were indicating that it was required. I put a code in, then forgot to write it down. When I went to lower the number for the strength, well, I could not do it because of the missing Passcode. Another problem is that it was a Friday, and no one was available until Monday. Stressor #2
This put me in a medical dilemma. One I didn’t anticipate. Well, that morning anxiety and stress built up and the next day came to a head, because the pain was increasing. I contacted the company responsible for this lovely device and they couldn’t help me. I could not get into the program because they had my incorrect phone number on file to send a code. Stressor #3.
After speaking with the third technician, she suggested going to the Apple Store to have the control wiped out of its programs, so they could have me go through another encounter with the rep. It seemed like there was one thing after another.
I followed their recommendation and contacted the rep in charge of my case and he was busy all day so we never connected to get this resolved until the next afternoon. We worked on the phone to correct this and after putting the login info in a number too many to count, like the sand. So, we gave up. He was sending me a temporary control until we could get together to see what the problem is. The device never showed up. A week after his attempt to send me a temp controller, we talked. He decided to overnight another control and once I got it, we’d get it connected on the phone.
The next morning the control arrived 5 minutes after its designated time of arrival. After texting the rep, he called me to set it up for me to use. Eureka! I am now on track again and they will fix the original control, once they are in the area to get together. From the moment I was back on the program, I felt all the stress fall off me like a walk on a rainy day.
All through this ordeal I know God is walking with me. He had lessons to teach me. The day I had to drive to Williston, was sunny and the air was fresh, mild and the whole time coming home, I knew God used that little journey to show me that He was in control, not the little 2 X 4” iPod device to push the buttons.
Now that this pesky incident is behind me. I look at Psalm 139:18 read what it says that when I am awake, I am still with God. All these little things to remind me I do not walk alone. Also, that even though things don’t get done on “My Scheduling,” God’s schedule works better. This three week delay after delay, ordeal is all normal again. All these lessons that God allows seem pesky for the moment, but if I would consider the grains of sand, I am lifted out of yet another “pot-hole” on the Highway of life, knowing my GPS is controlled by our amazing Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Insight from a cup of countless grains of sand!
BY JORDAN MAYER
“I therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with on another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call - one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
There's an oft-used church saying that when you see a "therefore" in the Bible, you should be asking yourself, "What's the 'therefore' there for?" Paul has just spent three chapters laying a foundation for the Ephesians before beginning chapter four. This "therefore" marks a turning point in his letter. In essence, Paul is saying that, in light of what he has just written, there is now an application and implication. So what has Paul been saying?
First, we must begin with our natural state before God. We are said to be spiritually dead in our sins (2:1), children of wrath by nature and by choice (2:3). We are trespassers against God's holy and perfect law. The works we carry out are in pursuit of our own sinful passions and desires (2:3). We are without hope and without God (2:12).
Just as God spoke light into the dark and formless void (Genesis 1:2-3), He speaks life into our spiritually dead state. God makes us alive together with Christ (2:5)!
But what we learn about God in this passage is that His plan of redemption was not reactionary, but preordained. Before the foundations of the world were even laid, God chose us and sought us for adoption (1:4-5). He came, not because we were so lovely or worthy of saving, but because He was rich in mercy, glorious in grace, and great in love.
And yet, the Gospel is not merely what saves us from our sin, it is also the power to live a transformed life. For upon accepting the Gospel, we are given the promised Holy Spirit (1:13). We are strengthened with His power (3:16). This is what is made available to us in Christ. And yet, how quick we are to pray for more of His grace, or more peace, or more strength. But how can He give any more of what He has already freely and fully provided? As Paul reminds us in the opening chapter, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (1:3)! Thus, our task is not to petition Him for a greater portion, but merely to seek to be filled by His fullness (3:19).
In light of what Christ has done and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are urged to walk. The Christian life does not end at conversion, it is there that it begins. As the Gospel transforms our hearts, it begins to transform our lives.
In particular, it revolutionizes our relationships. In Paul’s day, there were few relational dynamics more stark than that of Jew and Gentile. The Jews enjoyed a rich history as God’s chosen people, well acquainted with the law and prophets. By all intents and purposes, they were as near to God as anyone could be. On the other hand, the Gentiles found themselves alienated from Israel, not even being allowed to go beyond the outer temple court to worship. They were ignorant to the things of God and strangers to the law. And yet, in the end, those who were near and those who were far off were equally lost.
In Christ, those who appeared far off are brought near by His blood (2:13). Once strangers and aliens, God declares them fellow citizens and members of His household (2:19). In Christ, those who were near, but condemned by the law, find peace with God. And in reconciling our relationship with God, Christ reconciles us to each other. Suddenly, whatever social, economic, political, or cultural divides fade away. Whatever we were before Christ gives way to who we are in Christ. In Him we are one body together (2:16).
We are unified through the Spirit and bonded together in peace. Notice that we are not called to create unity or peace, but to maintain it. Peace does not come within ourselves, but in Christ. For He, himself, is our peace (2:14). Likewise, it was the purpose and plan of God to unite all things in Him (1:10). Christ has accomplished the work, now we must bear it out in our own lives. So to walk in a manner worthy of our calling is to walk in the power of the Gospel, the power of a life transformed by Christ. We are given new natures and new affections, we are made new creations. And in being made new, we are joined together as one. One body. One Spirit. One hope. One Lord. One faith. One baptism. One God and Father of all.
As many of you know, I have made the decision to leave Daybreak Community Church. As such, this is my farewell post of sorts. My aim in writing has always been to draw attention to and meditate upon the great riches of the Word of God. In a phrase, to divide the spoils of His Word. So I can think of no fitting end than to dwell on the immense treasure of the Gospel. For all of Scripture points to the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is in light of the truth of the Gospel that several Daybreakers have reminded me of its implication, much like Paul did to the Ephesians. Though we may be apart, we are truly one in Christ, connected together in the peaceful bonds of His love!
So it is my ernest prayer that we all “may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:18-19).
“To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (3:21).
May it be so!
Hold My Hand
BY GABRIELLA FECHER
“Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.”
Today, I held my father’s hand in mine as he lay in the hospice bed, unresponsive.
I had held that same hand so many times in my life and it never once felt like this. The fingers were cold and weak— and not gripping mine back— but I desperately held on because I didn’t want it to be the last time I held his hand like this. Once I let go, I wouldn’t get the chance again.
This was the same hand that I had clenched so tightly that my knuckles were white back when I was seven years old and scared of going on the ferris wheel. He hadn’t let go from the moment we stepped into that brightly-colored Contraption of Doom until the moment my glittery purple sneakers stepped off. This was the hand that held mine as we jumped off the dock into the green lake, the cold water enveloping us both. The hand that spun me in circles across the dance floor and the kitchen like they were one in the same. The hand that pulled me up from the snow heap after he himself shoved me in, giggling the whole way.
When a parent holds a child’s hand, it often brings about a sense of security, protection, peace, affection, and comfort. There’s a reason so many children cling to their parents when they encounter something scary or even new; that small gesture contributes to a sense of not being alone. We are assured that someone wiser and stronger is there, sharing the moment and the space with us. That “someone” is guiding us, reassuring us, or simply making the moment more special.
In my own grief journey this week, I stumbled on Isaiah 42:5-6:
“Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
‘I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;’”
I’m drawn to the visual of a God stretching heavens and earth, breathing life into its inhabitants. The power and majesty that is exemplified here is one that demands reverence and glory. He is the Creator, the Life Giver, the Artist who molds and shapes, the LORD of all. This picture demonstrates a handiwork of greatness that our human mind can’t even fathom.
And yet He holds my hand.
The placement of that one phrase— “I will take you by the hand and keep you” — right after this majestic scene is no mistake. It fits perfectly into this space that calls for the glory due to His name. The Alpha and Omega connects with us. Our fingerprints— our very identity— comes into contact with His. After all, His nature is simultaneously one of power and tenderness, magnitude and intimacy, protection and comfort.
The mighty hand that “laid the foundation of the earth” and “spread out the heavens” (Isaiah 48:13) is the same hand that “will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:16-17), uphold us (Isaiah 41:10), and support us (Psalm 18:35). We’re told that no one and nothing can take us from this hand (John 10:29) that holds our own.
And He never stops holding it. The Psalmist wrote, “Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand” (Psalm 73:23). Only a few verses later, he writes, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” That connection with God and the corresponding strength, guidance, and comfort bolster us when our hearts fail, the discouragement creeps in, and the grief washes over us. This connection is the Comfort of all comforts, the type that speaks to the soul without always needing words.
This attachment between Heavenly Father and child is beautiful. He, like a Father, loves us and gives us “eternal comfort and good hope through grace” (2 Thessalonians 2:16). His presence is one that assures us that Someone is already looking out for us— that nothing is going to happen without His guidance and His support. We can, in fact, get on that ferris wheel because He’ll be doing it with us and He knows better than we do. We can jump into unknown waters. We can dance with even more joy because we’re sharing the moment with Him. We can get back up after we fall.
What a comfort it’s been to know that I never have to let go of my Father’s hand.
I Cast My Mind to Calvary
BY JORDAN MAYER
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
During this Holy Week, I've found myself thinking back to the Advent season we celebrated just a few months ago. Christmas marks the coming of Emmanuel, God With Us. Though many in the world secularize Christmas enough to remove any mention of "Christ", others are still content to leave the manger scene as a cutesy story and holiday tradition. A miraculous baby boy, a quaint little stable with lovable farm animals, angels heralding peace and goodwill, and shepherds passing on the good news. On the surface, it sounds like a peaceful bedtime story, and many try to keep it that way. But eventually this baby boy grows into a man, and eventually this man goes on to suffer and die.
There is no sugarcoating the Easter story. Christ's suffering was brutal and horrific. It was undignified and humiliating. His body, bruised and beaten, and blood trickling from His many wounds, is a startling and disturbing sight to envision. Yet, what is more disturbing is not the manner in which He suffered, but the fact that He suffered at all. In a world obsessed with justice, there is no greater injustice than an innocent man suffering a wrongful death. How much more than the perfect Son of God? Though He committed no crime, He was nailed to a criminal's cross. Though He spoke of only truth, He was condemned as a liar (Mark 14:64). He was despised and rejected (Isaiah 53:3), oppressed and afflicted (Isaiah 53:7).
Yet, Jesus willingly suffered. Though He was fully God, enjoying perfect fellowship within the Trinity, he emptied Himself and became a man. The Creator entered into His own creation, humbling Himself and even allowing Himself to be put to death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8), Though the people mocked and jeered, it was within His power and ability to come off of the cross or to summon legions of angels to rise to His defense. But instead, He submitted Himself to His Father's will. "Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?", Jesus says to Peter in the garden of Gethsemane (John 18:11). Or, as Isaiah prophesied several hundred years prior, it was the Father's will to crush Him (Isaiah 53:10).
Why would someone, why would anyone, choose to suffer and die when they did nothing wrong?
He was pierced for my transgressions. He was crushed for my iniquities. The chastisement He bore and the wounds he suffered, He endured on my behalf. Jesus' sacrifice was necessary because it is what my sin demanded. A just and holy God demands wages to be paid for sin, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Jesus paid what I could not. As the nails pierced His hands, they also pierced the record of debt that stood against me (Colossians 2:14).
He died because He loved me, because He loved you. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). And yet, the Bible says that even while we were still enemies of God, Christ died for us (Romans 5:10). While God’s wrath was poured out on Him, Christ’s love was being poured out on us.
The story does not end with our sin. Oh the depth of our sin, but oh how much greater the depth of His love! If I begin as Paul does, "Oh wretched man that I am. Who can deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24), I can also end as Paul ends, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25). For it was on that cursed tree that our Savior declared, "It is finished!" (John 19:30)
If I may offer an encouragement this week, as much for myself as for you, do not be too quick to pass over the pain and anguish of the cross on your way to the empty tomb. Ponder the sacrifice that was made on your behalf. Dwell on the suffering He endured. For as Christ was crucified, our old selves were crucified with Him (Romans 6:6). Boast in the cross and the crucified Savior (Galatians 6:14). For the word of the cross is the power of God to those who are saved (1 Corinthians 1:18). Carry with you the death of Jesus knowing that in Him is also life (2 Corinthians 4:10).
But then rejoice that He did not stay in that grave. For if Christ didn't rise from the dead, we truly are a people to be pitied and we remain in our sin (1 Corinthians 15:17-19). But just as He conquered sin on the cross, He conquered death in the tomb!
He is risen, He is risen indeed!
Darkness to Light
BY JOYCE PELLETIER
"If I say, surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depts of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
It was in the early 70’s when God got a hold of me. I was married for less than 10 years. My life was going nowhere. Our children were six and eight. I was ‘much afraid’ of many things (from Hannah Hurnard’s book, Hinds Feet to High Places.) Death was my greatest roadblock. I thought I had the power to control that anyone I knew or loved would never die, because I could not face that reality.
We got a call that Maurice’s stepmother passed away. Maurice’s siblings from Connecticut offered to pick Maurice up for a trip to Canada for the funeral. Me being the strong mother, I told Maurice that I was not going to the funeral because we didn’t have anyone to care for the children. He was fine with my choice to stay home.
His brothers arrived and Maurice joined them for this trip to Canada. They weren’t close to their stepmother but went out of respect for their dad.
Not 10 minutes after they left, I found myself hit a huge wall of guilt for my selfish decision to not go. I hit rock bottom in my life and choice. I didn’t support the family. I went to see my oldest and dearest friend to pour out my guilt.
After sharing my heart with her. Instead of condemnation, I received was the truth of who God is. She witnessed to me that afternoon as our kids played unaware in the other room. She led me in the sinner’s prayer. And my life turned completely around. I felt the guilt leave me like a shower washing off my body filled with mud. My life changed that day forever.
The darkness tried to hide me in my sin, but when I opened the door, the ‘Light’ came in. That was all that I needed.
Darkness – what is the first word that comes to you? Mine is ‘sin’! Before I met Jesus, my life was filled with “ME” and what I wanted out of life. I didn’t know God then. I know when I got into a time of stress or difficulty, I was in the dark, because I was not with God. I didn’t know Him then. I would call out to God, but no answer came until this situation.
But you say, “dark is as light to you.” In my sin I tried to hide, but how can I hide when the light reveals what is sin and in darkness. It’s revelation! There was a day when His light showed me how selfish I was and that my life was going nowhere. His light didn’t condemn me! He didn’t take a weapon out to threaten me. He spoke in gentle, yet firm words to my heart. Jesus reached out to help me out of my pit.
On that day of my salvation, I faced the demons of selfishness and saw that it was not good. I surrendered my life to the one who could save me. I could not understand why a ‘Man’ had to die for me. Now, I know differently that His death gave me life. He does that for all of us who believe.
The day I became aware that God truly loved me, was one I will never forget. Since then, my life has not been the same. Sitting at my friend’s table and sharing my regrets, I was able to lay it all down and step onto a new journey for my life. My friend and I continue to be best friends for more than 50 years, for which I am eternally grateful for. We are always there for one another. More coming in the next segment.
Peace in Believing
BY JORDAN MAYER
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
For over a year now, I have been planning to transition into a different role at work. I was presented with a rather amazing opportunity to both fill a need at the company and do something I really enjoy. Talk about a win-win! Yet over these many months, I’ve seen this opportunity seemingly stymied again and again. Although I would consider myself to be a generally optimistic person, I've struggled against the looming cloud of discouragement and disappointment.
Is there something that you’ve been waiting, wanting, and hoping for? Maybe it’s been a lifelong dream or a deep-seated desire. Perhaps it's something that you've prayed long and hard about for weeks, months or even years. It can be difficult when things don’t work out the way we expect. But as I’ve seen again and again, God's Word supplies the answer.
First, I realize that my ways are not God’s ways (Isaiah 55:8). I see only in part, but God sees the whole. I know very little, but God knows all. Given my extensive limitations, I only have a small notion of what I think would be best for me. But I am not God. I cannot see past, present, and future laid out like an unraveled scroll. I cannot weigh in the balances all the countless decisions, actions, and paths to be taken. For four chapters, God answers a man named Job out of the whirlwind, declaring the marvelous and magnificent nature of His sovereignty. Job can only answer thus: “Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know”(Job 42:3).
As a follower of this all-seeing, all-knowing God, I believe that, not only are His ways not my ways, His ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:9)! His ways are better than my ways! He has plans for my life, plans for good to give me a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). If God would so love me that He would send His only son to die on my behalf, how can I not believe that He will also graciously give me all things (Romans 8:32)? This is the Sovereign God who watches over the sparrows and numbers the hairs on my head (Matthew 10:29-31). He is the great Provider who supplies my every need (Philippians 4:19).
Life can take many twists and turns, and it usually does not play out the way we expect. Though we don’t know the outcomes, we do know God. He is good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love toward all who call upon Him (Psalm 86:5).
As Romans 15:13 reminds us, it is in believing in this God of hope that we experience joy and peace. It is not just a joy or a peace, it is all joy and all peace! For in His presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11) and the peace that He provides surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6).
By God’s grace, I have gotten to experience a renewed sense of His peace in my life. It defies natural explanation or description. I know a contentment that seems out of place in my circumstances. But that is because it comes, not from myself or my situation, but from my Heavenly Father. His peace is always there, ready and available. But it can only be found in His presence, in believing and trusting Him with all our being.
I think of the words from the hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus.
“O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer!"
Prayer is an exercise and measure of our faith. If we don’t believe, we won’t pray. But oh what peace we forfeit when we do not pray, when we do not believe.
So we pray believing that God hears, that He answers, and that He acts. We believe in who He is, what He's done, and what He promises. And it is in believing that we come to experience the joy and peace that God offers in himself. And it is in Him that we hope.
To Hear That You're Heard
BY GABRIELLA FECHER
“But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.”
“God, do you hear me?”
The words were whispered as I sat in my car, enveloped in a swathe of darkness that was only broken up by the dim light of the clock on my dashboard. I had just received news that I never expected nor wanted to hear as I was driving home that night. For some reason, my reaction was to just pull over and go numb.
At some point or the other, we’ve all said those words. Maybe they were whispered into the night sky like mine were; maybe they were shouted in desperation. Maybe they were never audibly spoken, taking the form of thoughts that circulated around our own minds. In those moments, we’re craving some assurance that the Triune God— Creator of all, the Good Shepherd, Lion of Judah, Alpha and Omega, Prince of Peace— is there, sharing the space with us, acting as a Father who notices and cares. We want to know that He, in fact, meant it when He said that He would never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), or when He said that we wouldn't be forgotten by Him (Isaiah 44:21), or that His eye is on those who hope in His steadfast love (Psalm 33:18). We want to know that He meant it and that He meant it for us specifically.
The idea that a God of such magnitude would meet with us in the fear, grief, shame, etc. doesn’t make sense. And yet, the Psalmist wrote, “But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer” (Psalm 66:19). It even says that He “inclined” to hear the prayer (Psalm 40:1), demonstrating not only a willingness to engage with us but a positioning of connection.
It’s significant that He hears. However, it’s just as significant that He also speaks. And, when He does, we have to be ready to hear the answer…because He has one. His answer to that question always reminds us who He is, inviting us to see His hand, hear His Word, and trace His heart. When we effectively hear His answer— an ever-needed reminder of His presence and control in our lives— our response isn’t passive. Interestingly, the word “hear” throughout the Bible is often translated from the Hebrew word, shama (also spelled shema). It appears over a thousand times in Scripture, and always points to an active form of listening. In fact, shama is also translated as “to obey.” The correlation cannot be overlooked. When God speaks, we have to not only believe that He is speaking— and speaking to us specifically— but we also have to do something with what He says. When, for example, the Scripture says that “not one word has failed of all his good promise” (I Kings 8:56), we have to believe that that statement was not an isolated truth for the Israelites; it’s a statement that is just as true for us. And, from there, we have to faithfully apply that truth as a guide, a stronghold, and an encouragement in our daily lives.
The thing about faith is that it can’t be boxed into our comfort zones. It doesn’t come on a silver platter with a nice cup of coffee and a pastry. It’s more like a push into vulnerability, making it impossible to lean on our own understanding. It’s as though the wall that we are leaning against is stripped away from us, and we’re forced (or, rather, welcomed) to change position, orientation, and support. Faith is surrendering the need to see because we know that He is good, true, and faithful to His children. He doesn’t just give us confidence in situations; He is our confidence, promising to equip us (2 Timothy 3:17) and give us rest (Matthew 11:28). His very presence is the epitome of comfort and strength when we can’t even formulate the words beyond the initial question, “God, do you hear me?”
He knows the loneliness you feel in a crowded room, the hurt that hides behind the crevices of the blinding smile you show the world, the fear that is masked by steady calculations and a pretense of control. He knows when you have poured yourself into building a safety net that— in reality— is but a cage that keeps you locked into a narrative or situation that was never intended to be a “forever home.” That night, He knew the news before I did, and He also knew that I would break from it. And what a beautiful thing it is that He knew.
We aren’t able to effectively hide our own brokenness, nor do we need to. The Omniscient God is an Omnipotent One. And, incredibly enough, He’s also an attentive Father who will reassure us that He’s heard every word when He meets us alongside the road in the dark.