Jan 272011
 

 She pushed on, further and further, gathering a few twigs here and there that had been missed by others. Suddenly, a long shadow crossed her path. Startled, she looked up and involuntarily gasped.  Skin bronze-baked by the sun, lips cracked and bleeding,  the man swayed slightly in the harsh wind that blew his long, unkempt beard. His clothes were dusty and sweatstained.

He leaned toward her. Dark, piercing eyes arrested her attention. His mouth opened and he spoke, his first words sounding like a rusty, long-unused hinge, then growing smoother, deep and rich-

He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 1 Kings 17:10 NIV

His voice quickly dissipated in the oppressive heat. She slowly stood, keeping her eyes fixed on him.  Her heart began to beat, drumming loudly against her rib cage. “Give”, she heard the voice between heartbeats. She involuntarily looked around her for the source.  Looking  back at the man, her eyes softened as she recognized his need. She nodded slightly and turned to make her way back to the well at the edge of town.

“And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” verse 11

Incredulously, she turned again to face the man.  Surely he wasn’t serious!

 “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” verse 12

His gaze never wavered.

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. verse 13

Have you ever been asked to give in a way that didn’t make sense?  God does not need to make His requests subject to a test of obvious logic in our minds.

Father, give me the faith to give when You say to give and how You say to give.

Jan 232011
 

The woman slowly made her way up the hill. She stumbled, fatigue and hunger etched clearly on her face. In her mind, she clearly saw her young son standing hopefully in the doorway of their small home. His stomach already distended, his arms and legs pathetic in their skeletal appearance. It would not be long now. She only hoped to find a few overlooked dry branches to start a small fire, cooking their last bit of flour and meal into their last bread for their last meal. The last until they died. A solitary tear made its way down her dusty cheek, leaving a track behind.

She heard the voice in her head again. “Give,” the voice said.  Every day for the last seven days she had heard the voice.  Every day she tried to dismiss it as a product of her hunger induced delirium. Every day she thought,”I have nothing to give- nothing! Who could ask this of me?”

Then the word of the LORD came to him:  “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 1 Kings 17:8-9

Do you ever feel that too much is being asked of you? Have you ever thought, “If people knew the stress load I am carrying, they wouldn’t ask more of me.” Or “They know what a tough time I’m having. How could they justify asking anything of me?”

Have you heard a voice saying, “Give?” In what areas of your life have you been recently challenged to give?

Father, why do You ask me to give when what I really need is to get?

Jan 152011
 

The world is full of striving people. People working to be worthy. Worthy of advancement in the workplace. Worthy of love by parents or spouse. Worthy of love be the God of the universe. Worthy of heaven. How much peace would flood our lives if we believed the truth, the truth that our Heavenly Father loves us just the way we are, that there is nothing we can do to make Him love us any more or any less than He does right now!

I believe that truth with all my heart! I also know that when most of us speak of that kind of love, we follow it with a “but”, a qualification of some kind. There is no “but”. There is an “and”, however.  Our Father loves us unconditionally, not based on our actions AND He knows that our lives will be filled with so much more joy when we learn to love like Him. Listen to the words of the song, You Lift Me Up, by Rachel Lampa: 

Climbing on a cloud
Dancing on a day dream
I don’t have a doubt
Just how good this life can be
You lift me upRunning in the rain
Singing in the sunshine
Telling all the world
Why I’m so in love with life
You lift me up
You lift me up
And I’m touching the blue sky
You lift me up
I’m on top of the world
I’m getting closer to heaven
In every little thing I love
You lift me up

Father,  You lift me up! Whenever I let you power me to love like You, I look more like You! Prompt me to let You do that more and more. Not to earn anything from You, but just for the sheer joy of pleasing You and reflecting You!

Jan 032011
 

Christmas is over. While a few of us diehards still have lighted trees still gracing our living rooms, the gifts are gone, the mounds of crumpled paper are bagged, the favorite Christmas music and movies are put away for another year. Seasonal clothes and candies are starting to disappear. Christmas sermons and concerts are past. School breaks are almost over. What’s next?

My blog posts over the last several weeks were an attempt to make the season real to me in a fresh and meaningful way. The journey has been a successful one for me. I have spent much more time meditating on the Gift of Jesus and what it teaches us about our Father’s love.  But what now? Is it time to put those thoughts away for another year? Is it time to forget about this Gift until next year’s December?

As I begin, it is December 31, the last day of 2010. What does that mean to you? Is it a relief? Or do you wish the year could continue for a few more days? Does January bleakness threaten to give you a depressing case of the Post Christmas Blues? If you have one dependably firing synapse left, you might even be considering making a resolution for the new year. As I finished the last of the Christmas posts, I wondered what this experience should mean to me. Where am I in this story? What meaning do I find? What is it that calls to me in this story?

Mary, the expectant virgin, opening up her life, her body, her soul to her God, willing to let Him do the impossible through her. Will I choose to live totally open like Mary, holding nothing back?

Joseph, the shamed, yet upright husband to be, ready to listen to an angel’s dream, ready to make a courageous stand out of love and obedience, no matter the terrible cost to his reputation and relationships. Will I choose to make hard decisions, choosing what is loving and right, rather than what is comfortable and convenient?

The shepherds, poverty-stricken, society-excluded, quick to respond instantly to the angel’s light, not letting their social position, their wardrobe, or their jobs prevent them from coming to Jesus. Am I willing to let nothing stand in my way as I come to Him?

The wise men, willing to cross desert and culture, standing alone against prejudice and disbelief, giving their best, all for one glorious moment of worship. Will I give all that I have and all that I am, just to bring Him glory?

Days later, I still struggle with the question. Where am I in this story? Where are you?

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