Monday, August 27, 2012

Living in the Place of Trust

"It's time to pick up the toys!” 
The church nursery workers look forward to announcing this.
(The toddlers often have a different opinion)

One of our boys knew the significance of this statement and taught me a valuable lesson this week. 

Unlike most of the children, he wasn’t too thrilled about being in the nursery.

He missed his mom.
He knew she would be back “in a little bit” (whatever that translates into in a 3-year-old mind).  But he also knew she would only come back after the toys had been put away.

So ten minutes into nursery time, he started picking up toys. 

Toys picked up meant mom was coming back, nursery time was over, and life would be better.

Time wasn’t going by fast enough. 
Maybe this would turn the clock.

It was cute to watch a 3-year-old mind work this way.
Not so cute when I saw a mirror-image of myself in that 3-year-old-picking-up-toys.

Seasons come and go—in nature and in life.  But sometimes I want to hurry them up. 

Like the boy eager to do the last thing required before his unwanted “season” was over, I grasp at things that might mean life can be different.

We, the mature nursery workers, tried to distract the toddler; tried to speak reality to him. 
The toys were fun. 
Something to enjoy right now; not something to put away.

We knew the toys could be a source of joy, if he would accept them as better than what he wanted instead. 

But the 3-year-old had made up his mind that playing with toys wasn’t best.

What he didn’t realize was that putting the toys  away would never change the fact that playing with them was his “calling” right then.

“In a little bit” that would change. In the meantime, life would be happier for him (and for those around him) if he would trust those of us who had the bigger perspective.

We watched as the discontented toddler struggled to see the joy of the present.

And I envisioned my heavenly Father watching the same thing in me.

He has provided what He wants me to be occupied with right now.
Trying to put it all away only destroys my peace and joy.

Our God can read the clock.

Our job is to occupy ourselves with the gifts He’s given now, and trust His perspective for tomorrow.

When we live in that place of trust, “in a little bit” we’ll hear Him say: “It's time to pick up the toys.”

What about you? What helps you live today’s season in the place of trust?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Valuable Substance

They say, “Pictures never lie . . .” 
Sometimes you wish they did.
(And sometimes you wish they were censored from the family photo albums.)

But there’s one picture I wish I had.

A photo that looked something like this person’s.
Not many have the privilege of seeing what they looked like at this age.

9-week human embryo
Imagine what you and I looked like even before this.
When our eyes, and fingers, and spine weren’t even partly formed.

Imagine seeing ourselves as only a 9-hour embryo, for instance.
When we were only “substance.”

I discovered recently that when the Bible says, “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. . . ” (Psalm 139:16), the word “substance” is Hebrew for “an unformed mass, as an embryo.”

In other words . . . there is Somebody who actually looked at us when we were simply unformed matter.

God’s eyes saw what we looked like.  He protected us in our mother’s womb (v.13).

And He designed what we would look like as we were forming.
Like embroidery (v.15).

You and I were “fearfully” (respectfully) and “wonderfully” (distinguishably) made (v.14).

And it all happened where only His eyes could see.

Yes. “Pictures never lie.”

But think of this . . . you and I were valuable in His eyes when we were only "substance."

And we’re valuable to Him still.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Simply Unseen

You’re driving down the street, and suddenly remember the name of someone with an urgent need.
So you pray.

You pull over for an ambulance.
And you pray.

Someone gets on your nerves.
You stop and pray.
(Yes, that’s the best antidote. No, I don’t do it often as I should.)

You jerk awake at 2:00 a.m.
And you pray.

It’s time for morning devotions.
So you pray.

You pray.

We talk as if there’s Someone always ready to listen.
Someone who’s always there.

And He is.

That’s why we pray at any given moment.

We subconsciously assume He's always there to hear our prayers.

But what about the rest of the day?

Psalm 139 says, He’s “acquainted” with ALL our ways. (v.3)
He’s familiar with our entire course of life (every minute detail!).

He is at your right hand.

Simply unseen.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Holding Together

I have no idea who this couple is.  

I snapped their picture at Cannon Beach one day, because they intrigued me.

They have a story I wish I knew, and I wanted to ask questions.  
How long had they been in love?  What had they been through all those years? What had held them together?  

What is the secret of making it through the ups and downs of life?

I didn’t ask this couple.
But I studied the lives of Aquila and Priscilla this week, and I found the answer.
Not only for couples, but anybody going through ups and downs.

There was a “constant” in Aquila and Priscilla’s life together.
There was a solid truth that Paul never lost in his life alone.

Something we could each take to heart as they did, and let it change our perspective.

Aquila and Priscilla worked with Paul at tentmaking.
They opened their home to Paul for a year and a half.
They traveled together.
They ministered together.
They were willing to “lay down their own necks” for Paul if that would have helped him the most.

A church met in their home in at least two different cities. 

They had the joy of mentoring a stalwart man of God.  Apollos was eloquent and “mighty in the Scriptures,” but he needed guidance.  This couple taught him, and he listened.

According to church tradition, Aquila and Priscilla were beheaded together--martyred for their faith at the same time.

If Paul had put a tombstone on their grave, he may have written the same words more permanently etched in his epistle to the Romans:  “My helpers in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 16:3)

They were always coming alongside others to serve.

Someone once said, “The servant of God is not the one reaching for the top, but the one reaching for the towel.”

This was definitely true of Aquila and Priscilla.

But there’s more to that "epitaph" than just thanksgiving for their service.

They were “. . . in Christ.”

Aquila and Priscilla went through the ups and downs of life with that solid truth holding them together.

And Paul did, too.

These godly individuals worked a day job, served others, taught the Scriptures, and sacrificed their lives.

But what mattered most to them was that they were “in Christ.”

No matter what they lost in life, nobody could take that away.
No matter what they gained, nothing was better.

Their occupation was their livelihood.
But who they were in Christ was their life.

That’s the secret to holding together, no matter the ups and downs.

(Click Here to listen to "Aquila and Priscilla")