SCARS

Scars

FullSizeRender (1)She sat down beside me in the dining room, running her fingers over a scar on her leg. “I love scars,” my 15 year old announced. I sat silently waiting for my deep thinker’s epiphany to tumble out.  She pointed from scar to scar and explained the memories they evoked.  She said, “Scars tell stories”.  From bike chains to dog fangs, spills and falls, she shared the cause of each.  The tales were part of my fair skinned girl’s story.

Scars make us wonder, they make us notice. Scars matter.  At the Dairy Queen a lady stood at the other window.  She was flawless from head to….ankle.  Her ankle bore the scares of what appeared to be several surgeries and her strappy blingy sandals did not hide them. I wondered if she was a runner or soccer player or if she injured her ankle skiing or biking.  What was the story behind her scar?

The scar conversation with my daughter weighed heavily as I pondered about the unseenIMG_1384 scars in our lives.  The wounds inflicted on our spirits, on our souls, on our hearts, on our minds.  We all carry unseen scars that are perhaps to painful to share about.

The scars on my child’s legs and hands are evidence of healed wounds.  What about unseen scars?  Have they healed or has the world picked our scabs so much that our unseen wounds continue to fester and weep? Does she have unseen scars?

Unseen scars manifest themselves in various ways.  People who lash out harshly, judge unjustly, withdraw, overmedicate, hibernate or live in fear might be the walking wounded, nursing scars that have yet to heal.
100_5805Recently, I encountered one of the wounded whose unseen scars compelled them to behave irrationally. The confrontation left me reeling and contemplating a well crafted, scathing and justified retort until my eyes fell upon a scar on my hand.  Swallowing the words and stuffing my anger, the path of peace seemed to be more important than proving my case.  Pondering the unseen scars that led to the raw anger gushed out took the focus off my wounds and put it on their unseen ones.

The bible says: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,” Proverbs 16:32a  Being slow to anger doesn’t come naturally to me.  “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.” Proverbs 19:11

Ephesians 4:31 is pretty clear on how we are to handle others: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”  I’m still unsure of the fallout from the angry encounter but one thing is pretty clear when I pray about it.  “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” – Exodus 14:14.

“I see it on the cross
The nails You took for me
Scars can change the world
Scars can set me free”

Mandisa – “What Scars are for”

I see scars differently now.  I see them as reminders of healing and restoration. Like the FullSizeRender (2)scars Christ bore for us that we might be healed and restored. It’s the unseen scars, the scars still healing that I’m trying to focus on.  Scars tell stories.  When offended, I guess the important thing is to rest in our defense, the one the Lord promises.  To lay the offense at His nail scarred feet.  Let His scars change your world.

 

 

POINT TO PONDER:  Do your scars seen or unseen make you retreat or lash out?  Have you taken your wounds to the ONE who was wounded for us? His scars were for the sake of our healing and restoration what keeps you from laying them at his feet?

Catch us Monday thru Friday at 7:15am EST for #HOPEscope on www.periscope.tv Look for Connie P. Shoemaker or kissedbycreator   You can also watch replays on katch.me search for kissedbycreator .

 

From Wrecked to Reminded

DSC_0260Lately I feel like the ball on God’s ping pong table. As if I am bouncing from one tragedy to the next.  It would appear, if my Facebook page is any indicator, many of us share the same predicament.

On Sunday scrolling through my Facebook feed, I learned of the unexplained sudden death of a healthy sixth month old.  I was wrecked as I read of his mother’s anguished cries and aching arms.  I sucked air in as the tears squeezed4264164845_da35e12f33_z out. I uttered a small prayer for comfort and let the grief settle in for this momma I didn’t even know and the toddler she never would.

Scrolling a little further I read the news that a baby we prayed for regarding an encephalitic condition in the womb was born whole and healthy. I worshiped and praised sharing this answered prayer while weeping for the empty crib and childless mother.

God seems to allow crushing tragedy into our lives or into the life of someone we love, that leaves us wrecked.  Speechless or reeling, grasping desperately at the whys?

  • Why did this happen?
  • Why did God allow this?
  • Why could something so bad happen to this good person?

Mozambique SunriseWhen I sink down and feel the weight of the sorrow or pain and slog through the mire of the unknown; I get to that part where my boots get stuck in the mud.  I can go no further, think no more, no words to say, save for one….Jesus.  I wait.  Much like Augustine when he penned these words:

“In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it dazzled me.” ~ Augustine

 

I wait for the glory. I wait for the dazzle and it comes. Not always quickly. But it comes.

Just that one word.  Jesus.  It is the word when all others fail.  It is the white flag waving at the end of a battered or IV tethered hand or a shaking fist.  Jesus.

And then He does it.  He reminds us of Who HE is.  He dazzles.

It could be a totally unrelated answer to prayer or some miracle coming out of the current tragedy.  He never fails.  His glory is somehow revealed.

It’s like a small pat on the hand of a frightened child or the comfort of a parent waking a childOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA from a night terror.  He reminds us that he is there.  That he is on the throne.  He knows. He sees. He hears. He shapes.

The repercussions of the tragedy continue to unfold.  The tears are still cried and dried.  But the dazzling.  The glory reminds us that we are not walking it alone or unseen. The Glory gives hint to purpose.

While the mysteries of the Why’s may never be answered on this side of eternity.  The comfort of the Who comes.  It comes with dazzling glory.

Perhaps if we share more of the Dazzling with others, even just the daily dazzling it would offer hope to those in darkness – those still wrestling with the Whys.

See, we get prayer requests daily on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope…the requests come in droves.  What about the Answers?  Maybe we need to start just posting our Answers to prayers, our praises for how God shows up daily. The dazzling of glory moments in our day, not just the dark ones.

“Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.” – Psalm 96:3

If you’ve followed the story of Joey and Rory Feek, you’ve witnessed the devastation of ovarian cancer on this little country music clan.  In his blog thislifeilive.com  Rory talks about their life quite candidly.  I admire his strength and his faith during this heart wrecking journey.  There is hope in his words…I think he sees the dazzling through his tears because his words bear witness and bring glory to God.  I pray for Joey and their family daily.  I pray for  Dazzle for them.

If you are walking through the darkness.  If you are prayed out, talked out, or tuckered out; say the name of Jesus.  Then wait for it….

The dazzling will come.  HIS Glory will shine.

 

POINT TO PONDER:  If you’ve felt the dazzle amidst a wound share it here, encourage others.  When we see there is a purpose to our pain it gives us strength to endure.

 

Catch us Monday thru Friday at 7:15am EST for #HOPEscope on www.periscope.tv Look for Connie P. Shoemaker or kissedbycreator!  You can also watch replays on katch.me search for kissedbycreator .

 

 

Hand crafted by God

 

It was Palm Sunday when the photo of my soon to be 21 son came onto my phone.  My eyes were drawn to Jacob’s hand. Attempt 2 at china photo The one that was boasting a thumbs up on a 12,000 foot peak. In China.  China?  How did my little boy go from lying on the floor and playing with Matchbox cars to a Man on top of a mountain half a world away.  How did his chubby little fingers turn into the strong man hand that found its way to China?~Time.

cross in palmEarlier that day, because it was Palm Sunday, I was contemplating the hands of Christ.  Now I know that Palm Sunday is really about the branches…from a palm tree.  But my wordsmith mind was busy juxtaposing the whole vine and branches and nails in the palm and what must it have been like for Mary.

Mary, the mother of Jesus and the first holder offolded hands Jesus’ hand.  Her son too found himself on top of a mountain.  I wonder what she thought. When she received Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh as baby gifts did it plant a seed of knowing or did the whole trajectory of Holy Week take her by surprise? Culminating by weeks end with the raw groaning pangs of seeing her little boy’s palms brutally pierced and bleeding.

Her boy was innocent.  He was falsely accused. Her hands were tied, his fate was in the hands of his Father. I can remember going to bat for my son when he was falsely accused and standing up for him in his defense.  Mary didn’t have that chance.

101_9456Pontius Pilate washed his hands of Jesus which sent him to the cross.Palm Sunday forced my thoughts back to the hands.

God’s hand shaped and formed universe and he breathed life into all of humanity.

For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word. ~ Isaiah 66:2

thorns

The hand of God punished.

“You who have forsaken Me,” declares the LORD, “You keep going backward So I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am tired of relenting!” ~ Jeremiah 15:6


The hand of God saved and protected.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”~ Isaiah 41:10

His hands Healed.

Hands in fountain“Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” ~ Matthew 8:3

His hands offered proof.

“And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” ~ John 20:20

From His beginning and from ours we have been in the palm of His Hand.  He goes with us, he will never leave us.  He never lets go of us.  He was pierced for our transgressions.  He was falsely accused and willingly executed on our behalf.  When life becomes a handful, remember who is really holding it all together.

Point to Ponder:  Has there been a time when you truly felt the hand of God in your life? How did you know it? What did it feel like?

Leave a comment about how you knew and felt the hand of God guiding you.

Those who comment AND sign up on the email list (top right) will be considered for a drawing of a special Kissed by the Creator token crafted by the hand of God.  Totally Genuine and Nothing Artificially Added.  Prizes will be awarded on April 15th!

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Our God REIGNS…even when it rains!

Weather has always fascinated me.  Currently I am dealing with Rain…did you know?100_5401

1: Rain can fall up to 22 miles per hour.

2: One droplet of rain stays in Earth’s atmosphere for about 10 days.

3: Rain isn’t a teardrop shape,  it’s actually ovular.

4: Every second, 16 million tons of water is evaporated from the surface of Earth.

5: Every second, 16 million tons of water precipitates back onto Earths’ surface (Water Cycle!).

( according to: http://explainers.nysci.org/post/72706480434/5-facts-about-rain-you-probably-didnt-know-1)

IMG_2422Scripture is fraught with references to weather.  There is talk of clouds, sun, storms, rain, snow, lightening, thunder, and of course, the famous one…the flood.  This is one I can relate to currently as the water rises in my basement.  It’s a combination of snow melt and spring rains and a situation that started when our township forced residents make mandatory changes to our septic systems.

The process took all the solid matter like clay, and years of packed dirt out of our back yard and replaced it with new gravel and porous material along with slanting the back yard toward the house, much to our dismay.

Now this current flood is not as bad as ones we’ve had in the IMG_2449past or as destructive because we’ve somewhat prepared for it by storing items in plastic and raising things off the floor and adding second pump. However the clean up is daunting.  Drying out and taking precautions to prevent mold…its all so draining (no pun intended) but as I sit waiting for the waters to subside I think about the fact that Our God REIGNS…even when it rains.

This entire situation reminds me that when we lose the solid – the bedrock firmness of our faith…when we replace the solid truth with porous stuff that is easily moveable our faith becomes ripe for the flooding of the world into it. 

IMG_2391As the world seeps into the crevices we’ve allowed – often under the disguise of “tolerance” with the lies of “just this once” or “I won’t actually do it, just read about it” the leaking makes our truth dank, moldy and repulsive.

The foundations of our faith, just like the foundation of my house are vulnerable to penetration unless we are surrounded by a firm solid wall of protection.  Not only can our faith suffer, but our witness as well.

It’s hard not to get mired down in our soggy wet storms and take our eyes off the SON.  When we do that we are left with just soggy wet feet. Our trials or storms can lead us to grumble and complain which can breed bitterness if left unchecked.  If we keep our eyes on the Son ~ HE will give us the opportunity to turn our valleys into victories.

People are watching.  Unbelievers are watching.  Our children are watching how we navigate the flood waters.  Where is our higher ground?  What do we cling to as the waters swirl around us?  Will our actions encourage others to follow to where we’ve set our eyes?

IMG_2466Ironically or perhaps not I stumbled across this verse today:

The LORD sat as King at the flood; Yes, the LORD sits as King forever. ~ Psalm 29:10

Preparing for the flood starts in the heart. One of the ways we can stand firm as the water rises is to seek the LORD first.

As I listened to the rain and saw the water seeping in, despite two pumps working to keep it at bay, I had a choice.  I could let this destroy my attitude and my day or I could ask God to turn it into something that would bless others.

DSC_0090Hopefully this little “blessing” of a reality check will give you the incentive to check the walls around your faith.  How firm is your foundation?  Will it be ready when the flood waters come?

While writing, my playlist hit on this song by Jesus Culture:  Our God Reigns.  If your spirit is in need of a little revival you might want to take a moment, crank up the speakers and revel in the REIGN!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jpf7q4VnRU

Point to Ponder: Are you ready for the rain? How can you show God Reigning in your life to someone who is watching?



37 Degrees and Sunny

101_9325The other day I walked out of the house into a bright sunny day, surprised to see the temp in the car read 37.  Car was frosted over but the thought of a coat or jacket was far from my mind as the sun blinded my eyes.   My spirits were high and I felt ready to tackle the day.

Flashback to a week earlier it was 47 degrees and cloudy with a chance of rain and I was bundled up like a mummy wearing a turtleneck, a jacket and a coat!

Pondering the difference of that day and this, I realized it was all about the Sun.  ~ Have you noticed what a difference the sun makes?

DSC_1697

Recently I experienced a beloved friend transition from earth to heaven.  In observing the family surrounding her, I saw the ones walking in the SonShine – making plans to release her to Jesus.  They focused on her pain free life ahead and being grateful for each moment.  While others, seemingly remained cloudy in their acceptance of the inevitable and were unable to relinquish her into the heavenly realm.

DSC_2232Just like navigating a ship, plane or boat in the sunshine; there is a sense of clarity and a vision beyond the end of your vessel.  So too is operating in the SonShine.  There is a clarity and an abilty to think long term and a vision of how the Will of God is at work.

Operating a vessel in cloudy or foggy conditions, leaves room for error in judgment, mistakes and missed opportunities, operating your life away from the Son..yields the same misfortunes.

Are you facing a challenge? Are the Clouds too thick?  Let your forecast be for the Son to shine and  God to reign in
DSC_0881your life.  The Son can make all the difference.

Point to Ponder: What area of your life needs SONglasses?  How can you change what you are doing so that the Light of HIS wisdom mercy and grace can illuminate your cloudy situation?

 

 

 

 

The Pressing

The sun was barely up and a hint of Fall was in the air.  Geese passed overhead in shifting patterns. The crickets continued chirping their good night song, the air was still and the mist hung. And I began that last walk of vacation.  It had been a week of food, fun, friends, laughter, waves and just God showing up big in Michigan.  This was the final day of our last adventure before number one son headed some 12 hours away to a Military school in Vermont.  My heart was heavy with that “after the holidays” feeling ~ when all your anticipation is spent and the trimmings lie in tatters. 

Part way around the misty lake I found the perfect spot to begin my quiet time.  A wonderful warm rock invited me to sit and watch the business of the lake and the awesomeness of my Creator in action.  As lovely as it all was, I couldn’t shake the heaviness, the looming sadness of the last day of vacation and the future that was poised before me.  In the next week my oldest would be a college freshman and my youngest would begin Middle School and one of my dearest friends would embark upon the toughest chapter of her life.  Change was anything but sweet for me.

My mind had already begun to transition from the tranquil lake setting to my “to do” list which made entering into worship a challenge.  To my left was a pretty purple bush, I bent to sniff it.  Nothing. The feathery branches were soft and lush and inviting to the touch, so I ran my fingers through them gently and sniffed.  Nothing.  I looked again because it looked like lavender.  I thought it should smell.  I pinched off a finger-sized stalk and I rolled it in my hands. Instantly the aroma of lavender burst forth and immersed me in a cloud of delightful fragrance.  Of course, I thanked my Creator and with the lavender in my hand I continued around the lake.

The more I pressed the purple flowers, the stronger the smell became.  I walked and prayed as the lavender wafted and when it waned, I pressed harder. As I prayed I felt God showing me that many of his beautiful creations only become beautiful or useful in the pressing.  Olives, Grapes and even apples become even more of blessing when pressed.

Recently I was reading about flax seeds and while they are healthy to digest and act as fiber, it is only when they are crushed or pressed that the hard hulls release their powerful Omega – 3 ‘s.

My sweet son is going to be pressed as he faces the rigorous challenges of military life.  My (sometimes) sweet redhead is going to be pressed into her public school experience with new friends, new teachings and ideas that are in opposition to what she’s known.  And I will be pressed in dealing with a dear friend who is being wrung out by the choices of her mate. 

My prayer is that in the pressing, may the true beauty and purpose of the Lord be revealed in our lives.  That enduring the pressing can bring a sweet aroma to those around and they will see Jesus in us.

Point to Ponder:  Are you being pressed, does it feel like you are bearing more than you can stand? My prayer is that the aroma, the fruit of that pressing, though you can’t see it now, will be a sweet aroma to someone who desperately needs immersed in HIS delightful fragrance.

A matter of the heart.

Did you know?

* The average adult heart beats 72 times a minute; 100,000 times a day; 3,600,000 times a year; and 2.5 billion times during a lifetime.

* You have 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your heart

* The heart begins beating at four weeks after conception and does not stop until death.

* More than 2,500 Americans die from heart disease each day, equaling one death every 34 seconds

The topic of the heart is near to mine after the past two weeks.  Recently, my father in law collapsed at home and died before he reached the hospital. He was 71 “apparent heart attack” reads the obituary.  My husband’s life is forever altered as dad was his friend and golfing buddy all rolled into one. 

I lost my father when he was only 54 due to his 3rd and final heart attack. When I was pregnant with my first child, my mother suffered a heart attack.  My brother in law died at the age of 24 of an Arrhythmia of the heart. And my own brother merely 15 months older than I,  just underwent a heart cath on Tuesday.  To say I have a “history” with matters of the heart is an understatement.

As my daughter and I were driving from my mother in law’s house in Ohio  back to ours in Pennsylvania on Wednesday after the funeral, my husband called me with news that he had been taken by ambulance to the hospital for chest pains. I was 2 hours away still from our house, another 45minutes from the hospital. My own heart sank. I first called on God then the people who needed to manage my life and kids for at least the next 24 hours.

I came home dropped off the dog and the 11 year old, funeral flowers and food, and headed to the hospital where I found an indignant husband anxious to be released. My husband is an athlete. He is in great shape physically working out about 4x a week and competing in triathlons and races via running and biking all year long, and he always has. 

His resting heart rate is 52. His blood pressure and cholesterol levels are amazing and the envy of most of his doctors…yet here he was in the care of cardiac specialists.  After a stress test which he nailed and a night of observation he was permitted to go home.  Apparently the stress of a broken heart can wreak havoc on even the strongest of bodies.  It was diagnosed as an esophageal spasm due to stress. We were given a prescription for Prilosec and sent on our way. 

As I was praying and trying to find a “good” or “GOD” part of ending this exhausting week in the Emergency Room I pondered God’s heart.  Everything we endure has a purpose.  He is so gracious and walks with us through trials. 

In my heart, I felt like GOD allowed this to happen in order to assure Brian’s mom and me that his HEART was PERFECT so that his mom and I wouldn’t even have to worry about him following in his father’s footsteps.    

How like God to know my fears and concerns even before I did and assure me that “all is well”.

Point to Ponder:  In what ways has God given you “Blessed Assurance” about something to alleviate your worries?

Remembering 9-11

When tragedy struck on 9-11, I was a homeschool mom of 3. Since then I have met survivors, victims families, and taught about 9-11 as history. That day I turned on the computer and recorded in real time my feelings and thoughts. My kids were ages 7, 5 and 10 mos. Below is that journal entry simply cut and pasted here. We read it each year to REMEMBER. (photos are not mine, I tried to find credits where I could~see below)

 My dear sweet ones,                                                                           Sept. 11, 2001

 Today was the worst day in the history of America since I have been born.  We watched with grave disbelief as terrorists forever changed my country.  They brazenly hijacked 4 planes filled with fuel and set out to destroy.  Their first target was the World Trade Center Towers in which nearly 50,000 innocent people worked daily.  They struck at around 9 am, just as their workdays were starting.  Then they struck our center of nations defenses, the Pentagon, and one attempt was thwarted to attack the command center and retreat of the president, Camp David.  That plane was downed about 60 or so miles from here in a clearing in the mountains.  Close to 300 people were killed on the hijacked planes and a total body count can’t even be speculated. 

The thought these terrorists were so close to us, even though it was our airspace is quite sobering.  I have a feeling that this is not the end, but a beginning of testing for America, which used to be known as a super power.  Now, our vulnerability has been shown to the world. 

Praise God that so far, all those we know and love are safe and sound.  

The prevailing feeling of dread and sadness is quite oppressive this evening as we await a State of the Union address from President Bush. The state of the union is pretty bleak at this point. 

You kids watched the disaster today on CNN but I am not sure how much of the magnitude of this disaster you are processing.   It is history in the making and the worst day in the history of our United States.  I pray that it will be only a memory for you and that in your lives you will not experience human casualties such as we are facing. 

We are a nation in mourning.  Well over 200 Firefighters are dead and 78 Police are missing and presumed killed.  The confidence in our nation has been shaken.  TV reports are calling this a second Pearl Harbor.

 President Bush just spoke and quoted Psalm 23.  He is a Godly man and I pray his wisdom will prevail and he will be sensitive to the leading of God as the details of this tragedy are sorted out. 

I put you both to bed tonight and read to you Psalm 94.  It speaks of God’s revenge upon the wicked and of how HE will be our refuge in times of trials and fear.  He is the rock upon which we stand and our mighty fortress.   At times like these I am so thankful for the legacy my family has instilled in me – The legacy of a powerful and just God who is our defender and friend, comforter and convictor, our rock, our fortress our haven and our healer.  I pray that you will also carry that legacy forward and hold fast to it at times when faith is so easily and brutally shaken. 

This day, September 11 will be one I will never forget.  It is a day I never thought would come.  I picked up our precious baby Rachel and I feared what was in store for her sweet life down the road.  As I tucked each of you and touched your soft skin and hair I ached for your safety and assurance horrific things such as happened today would never touch your lives. 

I shut out the light and walked away with a renewed determination to work at instilling the scriptures and the values that are found in the bible.  God forbid that one day you live in a world that prohibits bible ownership, you will have the truths in your heart and the hymns of praise will be on your lips.

 I love you my little lambs, my gifts from God.  I go to bed tonight with a heavy heart for all those kids who will be waiting up for parents that will never come home.  For all the promises made by parents who will never return to fulfill them.  I go to bed feeling thankful though somewhat guilty for our safety and our life.  May God continue to protect us all and keep us together as a family until His return.

 Love,

Mom 

9-10-2011: I hope we remember how we felt the next day also. The soar of patriotism. Pride in our country, unabashed praying in public, compassion for neighbors and strangers who were grieving.  We can’t go back to 9-10-01 and undo the tragedy.  But we can go back to 9-12-01 and revisit and renew our hope in a country of people who were united and prayerful through loss.

Point to Ponder: Were you more patriotic in 2001 than you are in 2011? Do you trust God more or less now than in 2001?

PHOTO: Ariel  (Det. Greg Semendinger/NYC Police Aviation Unit)

Prayer at crosss http://saintmychaljudge.blogspot.com/  911 Praying photo

Skyline New York Mag . com

Lessons from the Wilderness

(thanks for your continued patience during our do-over of the Kissed by the Creator site)

I am in the middle of teaching a 12 week series on Connecting with the Creator through his creations.  This week as I was preparing my discussion on The Wilderness Speaks, I became keenly aware of the words that describe physical wilderness.  Words like: desolate, barren, lonely, deserted, dangerous, wasteland and void.  Words that at certain times in my life, described my journey through a spiritual wilderness.

Tanzania

In preparing and reading about the impact of Wilderness(physical) in the lives of people throughout Biblical history, it struck a chord that the physical wilderness journey taught similar lessons that would be valuable during sojourns of spiritual wilderness.

The story of Moses in the Old Testament, leading the Israelites through the desert is fraught with tales of their give and take relationship with God. The consequences of their disobedience, repentance and reconnecting with God read like a travel log. Their time in the wilderness was a time of trial and testing. God met their every need in the wilderness from raining down manna to rocks springing forth with water.  It was also during the time in the wilderness that God issued his Commandments, guiding their moral lives. Basically the only way to have needs met is to be in a position of need.  The Israelites would not have been able to fully appreciate the promise land without first experiencing the desert.

I pondered a recent descent into a spiritual wilderness or valley, where I wasn’t seeing a burning bush or getting messages carved in stone, let alone hearing His still small voice. During that wilderness experience I was both disobedient and repentant and though it didn’t seem like it at the time, my needs were met.  There is no way I could fully appreciate the blessings that came from that valley if I hadn’t walked the barren ground.

Another poignant trip to the wilderness recorded in the Bible is that of Jesus where he fasted for 40 days then successfully endured and withstood the temptations of Satan.  Matthew 4:2-3 says “And after He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights He then became hungry. And the tempter came to him and said, “IF you are the Son of God, command these stones become bread.”

Temptations happen in the wilderness. They seem to come when we are at our weakest.  Satan waited until Christ was hungry to tempt him and he tempted him with what HE was thinking about – food.  How often do our temptations come about what is filling our thoughts?

The danger of this temptation wasn’t asking Jesus to miraculously make bread because Jesus did go on to create bread for the multitudes.  The danger of this temptation was that Satan’ proposed this to question Christ’s authority and identity.

Spiritual wilderness can often challenge our identity in Christ because after all we are not “feeling” it right? Satan will use our time in the Wilderness to test “whose” we are and what we are made of.

If our call is to be “Christlike” then it goes without saying that we will not only find ourselves in the wilderness, but we will find ourselves tested and tempted during those times. 

Jesus faced off Satan by quoting scripture. He used a passage from Deuteronomy 8 to refute the first temptation.

 “It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word

that proceeds from the mouth of God.”(Matthew 4:4)

Jesus’ response to Satan was an indicator of what he really relied on.  He relied on God, his Father not a temporary fix – food or bread.  We can’t ever underestimate the value of relying on God even when we aren’t “feeling” it.

Satan continued to tempt Jesus during his stay in the wilderness but what happened at the end is the good part. “Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him (Matthew 4:11)

In both accounts, the wilderness was a place of transformation.  Change happened.  The Israelites were free and received their promised land and Jesus was launched into his ministry.

So while in the midst of the Wilderness it doesn’t seem like God is moving, the results are often seen when we emerge – changed, transformed and ready for…

Point to Ponder:

Have you been sojourning in the wilderness or perhaps just returned, what did you learn?

Life’s Tsunamis

In reading about deadly storm surges and tsunamis, I learned the height and speed of the water are determined by the landscape of the deep ocean floor. What we see in the surge, is based on what lies unseen in the formation of the ocean floor.

In December 2004 a tsunami hit Indonesia and left more than 150,000 people dead or missing and millions more homeless in 11 countries, making it the most destructive tsunami in recorded history. It was a normal day. Sunny blue skies, but unbeknownst to the masses, an earthquake deep in the Indian Ocean generated enough energy to send a wall of water rushing the shorelines and waterways hundreds of miles away. There was no real warning for many.

Walls of water can rush at 600 MPH leaving in their wake desolation and devastation.

Tsunamis can be a result of seismic activity or storms.

The 2004 Tsunami in Indonesia affected people who didn’t feel the earthquake and were nowhere near the epicenter, yet the consequences for many were life altering.

Occasionally life can resemble a tsunami leaving desolation and devastation in its wake. Conflict, betrayal, a lie, a diagnosis and a clear sky day can turn on a dime without warning. What about the times when we are caught up in the surges of someone else’s life. We aren’t the cause or even near it when it happens yet we are rocked by its shockwaves…often unexpectedly.

Surviving a tsunami or storm surge is about leverage.

Our only salvation from being swept away in a surge is being tethered to something larger and stronger than ourselves and the force of the surge itself.

Emotional tsunami’s can enter our lives without warning. Being prepared and assured of a solid foundation can help us weather the surge. How will you stand firm in the face of that diagnosis, that loss, that grief, that broken trust?

Our Creator promises to be a refuge.

Psalm 9:9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Point to Ponder: What lies unseen in our hearts? What determines the force of our surges, of our waves as they crash ashore? Where is our stronghold?

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