Five Minute Friday: Because

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Gentle Reader,

Doing this on time for a change. Many thanks to the lovely Kate. Tonight we write: because.

Go.

Because life is hard. Because sorrows come.

Because we need reminding.

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

Joseph M. Scriven

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

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When the Hits Keep Coming

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Gentle Reader,

Jesus never said that the abundant life would be trouble-free. In fact, He explicitly told His people that “in this world, [they would] have trouble” (John 16:33). That statement stands today. We will have trouble. We simply cannot escape it. So, how is it possible that an abundant life, a life filled with blessings and joy, can also be a frightening, frustrating, painful life?

I’m dwelling on this. Last week I told you that several of my friends are dealing with some really tough things. We’re talking big things here, like death and abusive relationships. Chris and I continue to scrape by on the seat of our financial pants. There always seems to be more bills than there is money. I lay awake last night wondering how we could possibly make it work. My parents are in the same boat. My brother is recovering from his third foot surgery.

I get the trouble part. I’m living that.

Thus it was a bizarre feeling that rose up within me when we took the dogs for a walk last night and spied the barest hint of Autumn color tinging the trees that line the neighborhood pathways. In the midst of struggle, there was beauty. Splashes of gold and vibrant red, lit by the blaze of sunset. I could not have enjoyed the moment more if everything in my life was perfect. I suspect that I enjoyed it because my life is not perfect.

These little reminders from God are what keep us going. I don’t know how we’ll pay all of my medical bills or replace the engine in the stupid, stupid truck. I don’t know how to adequately comfort my friends. I have no money to give my parents to help them and I can’t make my brother’s foot heal any faster. But I do have the changing leaves. I possess a reminder any time I look out the window, a reminder that tells me that there are seasons. That life is never static. That the hardship of the now will not overtake me for I know the One who has overtaken the now (also John 16:33).

I am a pessimistic, deeply cynical person, so I know how impossible the words I am about to write will seem. Nevertheless, it’s true that there’s always something to be thankful for. I am learning that, if I let Him, God will step in a blow that pessimism and that cynicism away. He will give me little glimpses into something better, something more. I’m learning that I can listen to the Enemy’s lies if I want to and travel the path of discontentment and despair, but what’s the point of that? I’m learning that holding on to hope – really, God Himself – is the only thing that makes sense even as it seems senseless.

Why do people die when they do? Why do relationships turn sour? Why does the car have to break down the same time the body does? Why do people run away? I don’t know. I simply don’t have the answers for any of that. All I know is that the leaves are changing. That, somehow, is evidence enough that God is at work.

My journey to faith. (15)

The Detox Diaries, Five Minute Friday Edition: Hands

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Gentle Reader,

It’s Friday (kind of)! We link up with Lisa-Jo (but this week Tonya is guest-posting and it’s awesome)! We write about: hands.

Go. 

The Lord doesn’t speak to me in an audible voice. There are no burning bushes. No directions to build an ark. His voice is quiet. It is an impression on my soul. Yet it is authoritative. He says something, I respond. I have to. I’ve learned the hard way that ignoring Him leads to no good end.

Last night, as I was on the verge of breaking down, I opened my journal and began to pour out all my confused, twisted, rambling thoughts and feelings. I was ready to sob. Ready to scream.

Ready to cave in and give up.

“John Fifteen.”

Two words.

I flipped open my Bible and read:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. – vs. 1-8 (NKJV)

God the Gardener. God the Tender of Tender Flowers.

In His hands, He holds the shears. He knows when and where to cut. He knows what needs to be gotten rid of and what needs to be delicately cut back so that it will produce more. Abundantly more. Flowers weeping rich fragrance. Fruit full of juicy goodness.

His hands, His beautiful, nail-scarred hands, hold each green, pulsing stalk. He considers them. He looks them over. And He cuts. Precisely. Significantly.

Never to dampen the plant. Never to break its spirit.

To make it grow.

Stop.

Pruning hurts. I won’t tell you that it doesn’t. But knowing that God, the Creator of all things, knows the plan backwards, forwards and inside out; that He knows exactly what to throw away and what to cherish; that He works within, around and through me to make me into exactly the person I am supposed to be…that gives me comfort.

My journey to faith. (15)

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.