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.
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.