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Christian Blog Comfort Hope

God is God, Wherever You Are

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For many of us, these times we’re living through have brought forceful emotions to the surface. For me, this has been particularly visible through mood swings and dreams.

I’ve always been susceptible to up and down emotions, but COVID 19, and now racial tensions on a national level, have taken things up a notch. The hills, drops, and loops of my life roller coaster are larger and occur more frequently.

Hyper-vigilance is the new norm. An unexpected loud sound–FedEx guy rings the doorbell and the dogs go nuts–sends my adrenaline soaring. A typically low-grade frustration takes me from sea level to death valley in a microsecond. It’s like I’m sailing on an even keel one moment, and slipping on a banana peel the next.

Uncertainty impacts the mind.

My pre-covid emotions were driving a Toyota Prius. Currently, I’m cruising in something more like this:


Dreams: they reveal our subconscious desires, and lately mine have been most enchanting. Two nights in a row, I’ve dreamed of intense platonic interactions with others.

Dream number one involves a heart-to-heart conversation with a former colleague I haven’t seen in years. In the second dream, I’m bear-hugging a childhood friend. I’ve also dreamed I’m at some sort of adult summer camp with a bunch of strangers, hiking through the wilderness and making smores by the fire.

Obviously, I’m craving connection with others.

Isolation impacts the mind.

Uncertainty and isolation pack a one-two punch that can put you on the canvas in a heartbeat.

For me, it’s always comforting to look in the Bible for someone who faced a similar situation. Evidently, the psalmist was going through a bit of a dry spell when he wrote this:

As the deer pants for the streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God, when can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2 NIV)

Clearly, here’s a person craving connection, but with God, not man. Maybe this is the secret.

In another psalm, there’s a different deer:

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights. (Psalm 18:32-33 NIV)

Thirsty for a drink, or standing on the heights, God is the one who sustains.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13

God is God, wherever you are,

follows your heart–no matter how far.

Sees every turn. Knows every scar.

He’s still God–wherever you are.

Categories
Comfort Faith Security

Promises, Promises

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For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

2 Corinthians 1:20

Have you ever had this experience? Your new electronic gizmo isn’t working properly, but there’s a number to call for customer service- “Satisfaction Guaranteed.” Did I say customer service? It should be called customer NO service! What you get when you call is a computer generated recording with a lengthy menu of choices, none of which fit your particular problem. To add insult to injury, just press 9 to repeat the same worthless menu again! Your odds of actually talking with a real person are up there with winning the lottery.

On the other hand, when God says, “Satisfaction Guaranteed,” He really means it. Every one of His promises comes with an automatic, “Yes.”

Here are a couple of my favorites:

Draw near to God and He will draw near to You.

James 4:8

Isn’t it great that God is willing to come close to us? Like two boats coming alongside each other, our loving Father is willing to link up.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Matthew 7:7

Here,Christ Himself reminds us that God doesn’t hide from those who seek Him in earnest (Jeremiah 29:13). Look for God and you will find Him.

Promises, promises. Man makes them, but doesn’t always keep them.

God does.

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

2 Corinthians 7:1

Categories
Anxiety Comfort Peace Protection Security

Don’t Feed the Fears

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

My family loves to celebrate Independence Day, but our little dog doesn’t. To say she’s afraid of fireworks is putting it mildly.

Sami, a terrier mix, is the picture of tenaciousness. Need a rodent out of the shed? She’s your girl. Just leave the door open and she’ll come out in a few minutes with one in her mouth. But when fireworks fly, our little spitfire turns into a drama queen.

Just so you have the picture: she shakes, cries, slobbers, whines, and generally runs around inconsolably. Plus, once the fireworks start, she absolutely refuses to go outside to potty. I forgot to say we live in a small town where it’s LEGAL for EVERYONE to pop firecrackers on July 4.

Every year, we come up with a game plan to mitigate Sami’s fears. We try to schedule her outside potty breaks between barrages, and take road trips to areas that are fireworks free. No, we haven’t tried a “Thunder Shirt.” Maybe next year.

Doggie yoga doesn’t work either.

Last night, we left the house at dusk–just before the “festivities” started– and made our way to a firework-less town where no outdoor displays were planned. Sami enjoyed a walk at a park and we drove around a bit. So far so good.

“Let’s get some ice cream,” I said, trying to not seem anxious. But as we got closer to our favorite little shop, there were flashes ahead in the distance.

Oh NO! The casino up ahead must have gotten a special permit; they were putting on a HUGE display and we were headed straight for it!


Too late. Sami was already shaking like a leaf; time to turn around.

Sometime early on July 5 we made it home in one piece, and everyone began to calm down.

A day later, what happened reads like a second-rate dystopian novel–where every moment comes complete with its own artillery.

Thank God there’s a plan for such emergencies. “I’ve got this,” says the Almighty. “Just drive away from the fireworks.”

Don’t feed the fears.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/07/05/dont-feed-the-fears/

Categories
Christian Blog Comfort

Teddy Bear Out The Window

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The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18

My wife and I were driving to church this morning, and there he was: a little brown teddy bear lying face down on the shoulder of the interstate. Both of us agreed there must be a story behind this seemingly lost friend, one that involves a heartbroken little person.

Isn’t it interesting how we develop emotional attachments to objects like stuffed animals? Somehow, they generate security and help us self-soothe.

Until I was about 4 years old, my “teddy bear” was a small crocheted blanket the family aptly named, “Nasty.” I’m told (I don’t remember any of this), I refused to let go of Nasty long enough for him to be washed. And when my mother occasionally did coax my little comforter from my grasp—for a much needed bath–I stood in the utility room and cried the WHOLE time.

I still have Nasty. He is safe in a trunk with several other family heirlooms. Yet other adult appropriate security blankets have taken his place. A special co-worker, a much loved family member or mentor, or even a favorite chair, I’m sure you can relate.

Psalm 34:18 says that God is CLOSE to the broken hearted; He doesn’t keep driving when our teddy bears go out the window. He also helps those who are crushed in spirit; He sent an angel to comfort Jesus when he collapsed at the cusp of His own crucifixion (Luke 22:40-46).

And He will comfort you and me. Guaranteed.

Check out the very next verse of Psalm 34!

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;

Psalm 34:19a

Hold on Teddy, Daddy’s coming…

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/06/09/teddy-bear-out-the-window/

Categories
Comfort grace Hope Perseverance

Turning Mirrors Into Windows

monochrome photography of people jogging through the woods
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“As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” Proverbs 27:19 NIV

“Are you a runner?”

This simple question came to me from an avid runner and former track coach. At the time, I was an absolute newbie–training for my first quarter marathon (6.55 miles)–and hadn’t seriously considered continuing beyond that. However, the instant my friend expressed these four simple words, “Are you a runner?,” I heard myself say, “I AM a runner!”

Five years earlier, I’d lost my mother to cancer, only four years after losing my father to the same disease. When my dad died, it was like the mantle of caring for my mother passed to me. But when my mom passed away, it felt like the earth stopped turning; a part of me died too.

A local cancer treatment center hosts a road race every October to raise money for research. It’s called “The Spirit of Survival.” Friends encouraged me to participate, but I wouldn’t  buy it. I was stuck brooding over thoughts like, “Why did this happen?”, and, “What’s the use?” After all,” I protested, “nothing could have saved my mom and dad; it’s too late for them anyway.” Uplifting, huh?

Fast forward to the summer of 2016, when I finally decided to give the upcoming Spirit of  Survival a try.  “Maybe it will help me deal with losing mom and dad.”, I thought–not quite believing it. I began training in July.  Surprisingly, almost as soon as I took to the roads, I felt a reconnection with my parents! The fog of grief surrounding me began to break, leaving a warmth where there had been only shadows.

Running soon became my all-purpose balm for the soul, and it still is to this day. The quarter marathon became a half marathon (13.1 miles) a year later. And when I turned 50 in 2018, I ran my first marathon (26.2 miles)!

But this perpetual adventure in healing and self discovery could have been cut short, had someone not recognized my potential and cared enough to bring it to my attention. The world needs more reliable narrators, like my friend coach Breeze, who turn mirrors into windows.

I aspire to be such a faithful guide. While you join me?

Categories
Comfort Faith Hope Peace Purpose Security

Signs of Hope

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“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  Hebrews 6:19

A recent devotional from Our Daily Bread tells the story of a recovering addict named Elizabeth who leaves encouraging notes on the car windshields of strangers.  She often closes these with the words, “Much love.  Hope sent.”

#inspiring

However, a query into the definition of hope reveals a fickle and fragile relationship between “Happy Days are Here Again” and mankind.

Hope (n.)  the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.  (Source: dictionary.com)

Sounds straightforward to me.  A quick synonym check reveals a delicate situation, however.  Confidence, expectation, and optimism make the list, but so do day dream, fool’s paradise, and castles in the air.

Clearly, the world sees hope as less of an “anchor for the soul” and more like wishful thinking.  To Madison Avenue, the future is a wind up toy with an ever-weakening spring;  expectation has an expiration date.

Thankfully, God doesn’t deal in pipe dreams.  The hope He offers has no shelf life, it’s a perpetual spring.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you.”  1 Peter 1:3-4

I’d like to meet the note leaving hope-giver Elizabeth someday.  She used to look for signs of hope, but now she leaves them for others.

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces,  I would still plant my apple tree.”  Martin Luther

Categories
Comfort grace love Peace Protection

The Miracle in the Rain

“I will be glad and rejoice in Your love,
for You saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.” Psalm 30:7

It was raining steadily as dozens of cars crept through the student drop-off line at my school. Some students prepared for the weather, wearing rubber boots and carrying umbrellas, but others did not. One little girl, in particular, was reluctant to get out of the car in just her tee-shirt and shorts. From the school doorway, I could see her and dad going back and forth.  Finally, I saw him say, “Get OUT of the CAR!”
The dejected youngster exited slowly and began to make her way down the stairs to the building below–head down and arms folded. By the time she reached the door, she was soaked, her clothes polka-dotted with rain. I said, “Good morning, young lady!” But it was too late; she promptly burst into tears.

Several children waiting to go into the building noticed the commotion. Turning to look in unison, they seemed about to take a step back. But then, the most amazing thing happened. One child stepped forward, and then another, and another. The drenched and distraught 2nd grader and I were soon surrounded by smiling students, one of whom exclaimed, “Group Hug!” Quickly, everyone encircled the two of us in a tight ball, frozen in place for a good five seconds.

When everyone let go, a miracle had occurred! The sopping wet youngster was no longer sobbing. She dabbed her eyes with a tissue, offered by another student, and chose to face the day.

As a Christian, it is comforting to believe God knows the troubles of my soul and sees the pouring “rain” on this life’s journey. He is a God of love who helps us love one another. A group of children and a little wet friend just reminded me of this.

black and white clear cool dew
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Categories
Anxiety Comfort Peace Protection Security

The Little Girl and God

smiling girl sitting top of vehicle
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Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:13-14

My wife and I used to teach Sunday School at a shelter for abused, neglected, or abandoned children. One particular morning we encountered a sparkly eyed five-year old with a perpetual grin.  When we started the Bible story, about Jesus and the little children, she seemed particularly attentive. So I asked her, “Have you heard about Jesus?” She said no. Still sensing a connection, I gently probed, “Have you heard about God?” “Oh, I know God,” she said. “We take naps together!”

I said something like, “Oh, you do?!” and then continued with the story. But the rest of the day I tried to wrap my mind around what this sweet little girl said about God–“We take naps together!” I pictured a home, chaotic and out of control; a prison where a frightened little girl hid in her room to escape the negligent adults who were supposed to be her caregivers. She’s hiding in the closet (or maybe under her bed) sobbing inconsolably, but then God Himself comes and comforts her until she falls asleep. And THIS is what she calls “taking naps with God.”

The miracle of God’s little slumber party friend was still on my heart when I said my prayers that evening. I started by thanking Him for looking out for her and for letting me in on the secret. But then, I just couldn’t hold it:

“God, do you take naps with big people?”