Categories
Christian Living Discipleship

Drawn to the Light

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105

One night this summer, I accidentally left the garage door up with the lights turned on. It was three hours later before I discovered my oversight. As I opened the door that leads into the garage from the laundry room, I was greeted with a surreal sight: dozens of moths! They were on the walls, hanging from the ceiling and covering both vehicles like polka dots.

They all looked similar to this one.

I decided the best thing to do was to simply turn off the lights and shut all the doors. The moths will go nowhere in the dark, I thought: “I’ll deal with it in the morning.”

But early the next day when I opened the door, there were just a few little brown insects to be seen. Only when I walked to the other side of the garage did I discover what happened overnight.

Most of the moths had landed on the floor—fanning out from a night light. It was the only source of luminescence in the room, shining only 0.4 watts, yet most of them found their way too it!


This begs the question, just how much of God’s light does a person need?

King David wrote of God’s Word being a lamp for his feet and a light for his path (Psalm 119:105). This doesn’t sound like the airport runway lights I’d prefer, but it must be enough to find The Way, or David wouldn’t have said it.

Jesus Himself spoke about how just a little bit of the right stuff is a big deal in the kingdom of God. Remember the parable He told about having faith like a mustard seed (Mark 4:30)?

As an amatuer bread baker, it still amazes me just how little yeast is needed for a whole batch of dough! “Surely, one packet isn’t enough,” I tell my wife every time. But the balls of dough keep rising until they triple in size! Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to such an experience (Matthew 13:33).

As a child of God, out on life’s ocean, it’s often hard to find my bearings. And when I can’t see but a few feet in front of me, it’s tempting to pray for lighthouses, fog horns and flares–something BIG to show me The Way. However, like He did with Elijah, God often speaks in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:11-13).

I suppose the moral of the moths is to tune in to the light of God we have, no matter how small. Flood light faith isn’t always needed.

God’s best to you in your journey.

Categories
courage Hope

What Happened to Hope?

“hope” by @polsifter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I rolled up early one morning last week to one of my favorite running routes on the U.S. Army post where I work. It’s a fairly straight, flat road lined with mature shade trees next to a huge field. Just on the other side of the trees there’s a little creek. This particular morning, a light fog blanketed everything. It was the picture of serenity.

However, despite the setting, I started my run brooding over a stressful situation at work that seemed to have no feasible solution. But then I heard something.

Over the hum of the nearby interstate, an unseen group of basic trainees was calling out cadence. I pictured them running in formation as they chanted together at the top of their lungs:

🎶“Everywhere we go-oh, people wanna know-o, who we are, where we come from, so we tell them who we are…”🎶

These aren’t basic trainees, but I imagine it looked something like this.

As the sound of the soon to be soldiers faded into the distance, my sinking thoughts were buoyed by a fresh revelation:

If they can do that, I can do this!

The majority of basic trainees are miles from home—many for the first time— and dealing with a new “normal”, one where drill instructors make ALL the decisions. Homesick and uncertain what’s coming next, these brave young people must stick together to survive the next 10 weeks. Their Esprit de corps, the devotion they have toward each other and the group as a whole, is literally their life-line.

Perhaps the title of this piece should be, “What happened to hope?” Okay, I already changed it; my first one was pretty lame.😀

Anyway, this is what I heard in the soldiers’ chanting: hope for the future. But for the world at large this idea is no longer in vogue.

It’s painfully clear these days that (to many) hope is like a wind up toy with an ever-weakening spring. A quick check at thesaurus.com confirms it. Synonyms for hope include, anticipation and expectation, but also fool’s paradise and pipe dream.

However, for the Christian, hope is as certain as the character of God.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Hebrews 10:24-25

I love the metaphor, “spur one another on.” It’s like every believer is calling out in formation with all their might, “MORE LOVE AND GOOD DEEDS!!”

These days there are plenty of reasons for a child of God to lose hope, but none of them are good ones.

Now is not the time for swerving, by God! And I mean that literally, not sacrilegiously. 😁🙏

Here are a few more of my favorite “hold on to hope” scriptures. Please share some of yours, if you’d like.


“The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 43:5

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Hold on to HOPE!

Categories
Christian Blog Comfort Hope

God is God, Wherever You Are

Photo by Farrel Nobel on Unsplash

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
Hope Perspective

The Sky is Probably NOT Falling

“Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to one who searches for it.”

Proverbs 11:27

In the early 1990’s, social psychologist Roy Baumeister began exploring the negativity bias–the widely accepted belief that bad has a stronger impact on people than good. His team conducted extensive research, hoping to find situations where a single positive circumstance was actually stronger than a negative one.

They couldn’t find any.

In fact, Baumeister and his colleagues discovered that negative life events are typically three to five times stronger than positive ones. In other words, it takes four compliments to make up for one put down.

He lays it all out in his 2019 book, The Power of Bad.

Here’s my favorite take away: our brains are hard-wired to focus on bad, but the rational mind can take this in stride by finding the good.

Baumeister recommends a positivity ratio of 4 to 1 (4 good to 1 bad).

Finding the good isn’t a new idea; it’s as least as old as the 1913 novel, Pollyanna. In the book, a young orphan named Pollyanna uses the “glad game” to cope with the circumstances and sorrows of her life.

Here’s how to play:

Always look for something to be glad about in any situation.

This makes sense. Maybe it’s why gratitude journals are so popular, while keeping an ingratitude journal is a non-starter.

But let’s take it all the way back to the first century. The apostle Paul reminded the Christians in Rome that God uses EVERYTHING for the good of those who love and serve Him (Romans 8:28).

“Child, I got this. It’s ALL good.”

God

Finally, brothers, Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/05/23/the-sky-is-probably-not-falling/

Categories
Hope

The Climb

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more room for God and His rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

Matthew 5:3-4 MSG

Mark grew up in the affluent North Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park, graduating at the top of his class from the prestigious Lake Forest Academy–one of Chicago’s finest private schools.

Since he was a kid, his dream was to attend Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, where his parents met. Mark applied and was accepted, and in the fall of 1996 he moved into the Freshman dormitory–literally across the street from the Pacific ocean!

Things went well, at first, but during his sophomore year–when students are allowed to move off campus–Mark started to party more than he studied and his grades nose-dived.

Late one night, after he drank too much at a party, Mark decided to drive himself home. Traveling at a high rate of speed on the Pacific Coast highway, he lost control–smashing through a guard rail–and flipped his car several times.

Mark sustained a major head injury and was in a coma for a month. When he awoke, there were significant physical and cognitive impairments. He had to drop out of Pepperdine and move back to Chicago for rehab.

It took almost a year for Mark to get back to himself, mostly. The visible injuries healed, but the emotional ones lingered. His dreams had been shattered, not just by one foolish decision, but by one after another–tumbling like dominoes.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve had a few “Mark moments” in life. Rock bottom is a hard place to be. But as low-as-you-can-go is also a good place to start climbing. That’s what Mark discovered, when one desperate day, he happened upon these words:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

Jesus Christ

A paradoxical statement? Perhaps.

I think what Jesus meant is this: it’s easier to find Him when we come to the end of ourselves.

Hold on to the rope.

Photo by Matic Absec on Pexels.com

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/08/24/the-climb/

Categories
Anxiety Hope Self Care

A Trip Down the Stairs

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Heal me, Oh Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise

Jeremiah 17:14

If you fall head-first down a flight of stairs, you’ll be in the hospital for a week and your friends will feel sorry for you. But take an emotional tumble, that FEELS like somersaulting into a wine cellar, and your loved ones may not understand. After all, falling down a flight of stairs is an accident, but FEELING like you’ve done a cerebral cartwheel into the basement is not.

In truth, injuries to the psyche are ALL to REAL, and they leave the scars to prove it.

Confession: I’m a tortured artist type who occasionally struggles with roller-coaster emotions. But I don’t decide to be anxious or sad any more than I’d choose to fall down a flight of stairs. I’m simply one of many who struggle with inexplicable negative feelings.

From the dizzying heights of anxiety, to the double loops of despondency, I’ve experienced the whole enchilada.

Yet the coolest thing is, God always rides along–rooting for me the whole way (Jeremiah 29:11)–and, when it’s over, I always return to a healthier perspective.

I get by with a little help from my friends.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon

So please don’t steer clear of a melancholic buddy. Come along side; ask about their well being. Then bring them back upstairs for some hot chamomile tea and a nap.

Disclaimer:
I speak from my own experience. Your situation may be different. If you struggle with long term anxiety and/or depression, please seek professional help.

If you’re still alive, it’s not too late

Regular David (me)
Categories
Hope

A One Firefly Night

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.

Psalm 43:5

Last night, just after dusk, I sat on the back porch taking in the sounds of nature. There were a few crickets and some bird who didn’t know not to sing after sun down. It was all garden variety, until my eye caught a green blink…blink…blink. A firefly!

Hyper-focused, I tried to guess where the micro flash would come next. Over by the storage shed, near the silhouette of a tree, surely this little guy has company!

But there was only one. A single firefly blinked several times and then was gone.

A one firefly night.

And it happened so fast, I didn’t get the chance to share it with anyone. I ran inside to tell my wife, “Sweetheart, I just saw a firefly. ONE firefly! I think I’ll name him Frosty.”

“Frosty?!”, she said.

“Yes, after Robert Frost. You know, the poet who wrote, Nothing Gold Can Stay?

I then began to quote, unprompted of course, one of my favorite poems:

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost

A single lightning bug–arguably, the most beautiful but fragile of God’s creatures, lives in the words of a famous poet, but also in the heart’s cry of Psalm 43.

Nothing Gold Can Stay.

The scripture, the poem, and the firefly: each say life is GUARANTEED to change. It’s beyond our total control; all one can do is prepare for the inevitable.

Depressing? Perhaps. The free acceptance of an unknown future CAN be.

But you and I know who holds the future.

Put your hope in God; for I will yet praise Him.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/06/27/a-one-firefly-night/

Categories
Hope Purpose Sufficiency

Do Your Thing, Ding-a-ling!

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”

1 Corinithians 12:7

Being a part of a hand bell choir is a rewarding, yet often daunting, experience. Picture nine people standing behind a long line of tables filled with bells. Every ringer plays at least two–one for each hand. Thankfully, you are only responsible for the bells in front of you. A space note in the left hand. A line note in the right. It sounds simple enough, right? But playing your part means finding and following these two notes as they bob up and down in a sea of black ink. Meanwhile, every other ringer at the table is trying to do the same thing! And one mistake can bring EVERYBODY down. It feels like taking a tightrope walk over a waterfall with several of your friends.

“Just play the notes at the proper time and everything will be fine.”

Doris, our brave director.

It seems that playing in a handbell choir is much like being part of a Christian community–the Body of Christ. In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul compares the church to a human body whose many parts make up a whole:

“As it is, there are many parts, but one body…If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

1 Corinthians 12:20,26

In other words, everyone matters if anyone matters at all.

At this point in your Christian journey, please remember the following:

There are parts of the song that can only be played by you.

So do your thing, ding-a-ling!

“Therefore, dear soul, in this life you are receiving a music lesson from the Father. You are being trained to sing in a choir you cannot see, and there will be parts in the chorus that only you can sing.”

George Matheson
Categories
acceptance forgiveness grace Hope Justice

That’s Not Fair!

slippery foot dangerous fall
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging.” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” Romans 12:17-19 The Message

It’s a privilege to spend most of my days teaching four and five-year olds. The miraculous mix of wonder, authenticity, and innocence found in young children is indeed a balm for the soul.

What a pre-kindergartener feels is right on the surface-there is no mask. Such an, “always keeping it REAL” approach to life is inspiring.

Take, for instance, my most recent encounter with a pint-sized Italian girl who speaks almost no English. Twice during class she abruptly stood up, put her little hands on her hips, and bellowed,”Non e giusto!” in her native tongue. A quick check with Google Translate solved the mystery. She was saying, “That’s not fair!”

Of course, it was something relatively insignificant–to an adult. Someone took her place in line; she didn’t get a turn. “Calma per favore,” I said in a pleasant voice–“Calm down, please.”

The next morning, I read the scripture above during my devotional time. Then God whispered, “You know, David, you act like a preschooler sometimes; you let people push your, “That’s not fair!’ button.” I have to admit, He’s right.

I often judge myself by my intentions but judge others by their actions. I take offense and contemplate vengeance without knowing all the facts. I presume to be wiser than God.

#bad recipe

According to Jesus, our response to an offense should be forgiveness (Luke 6:37). We are to desire justice, (Micah 6:8) not revenge.

“Calma per favore,” says the Almighty. “I’ll take care of it.”

Categories
Comfort Faith Hope Peace Purpose Security

Signs of Hope

red lighted candle
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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