“The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.”
-Deuteronomy 33:27 NLT
When my children were close to walking on their own, they leaned heavily on me for balance. They’d hold onto my arm for stability, and I would lead them. Eventually, Caroline, Daniel, and Harrison each built up confidence enough to balance themselves and walk confidently across the room. But when it comes to their spiritual lives, I pray they’ll never stop leaning on the Lord and the biblical truths their dad and I have taught.
In his book on the life of King David, Chuck Swindoll explains that every person is “built to be a leaner.” But he warns about the danger of leaning on other people, other things, or even ourselves, rather than the Lord. In Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV, God’s Word reminds us to, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
When we are small, we naturally and rightly lean on our parents. As we grow, however, we must learn to lean on the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s the only Friend who will never fail us or let us fall.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
-Romans 8:31 ESV
The morning was overcast and dreary. In my rearview mirror, I noticed Daniel’s head tilting up toward the sky. “Mommy,” he asked, “have you ever thought how the clouds are the sun’s bullies?”
“No, sweetheart, I haven’t,” I replied. “But isn’t it comforting to know even when we cannot see the sun, it still shines? The sun always wins.”
In life, storm clouds are always on the horizon. We get a bad grade on a test we thought we did well on. Dad gets fired. We catch the flu and miss an important game. Our best friend moves away.
But, we need these cloudy days to keep our faith fit. If everything goes our way all the time, we’d most likely be centered on ourselves and not on our Savior. Psalm 121:2 ESV is a good reminder, “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”
Even though we may not see the Lord during those gray days, the fact is He is there and He sees us. We delight Him most when we choose to march by faith in the rain—beneath the rainbow—knowing He loves us and has His best in store for us. Remember, the Son always wins.
I wish the picture featured on this post was a stock photograph. It’s not. Our dynamic duo was tossing a lacrosse ball outside of the designated boundaries in our front yard. A catch was missed, but a teachable moment was made.
In Caroline’s words, “Mommy, I just didn’t think something like this would happen.” Yet, it’s exactly what we warned them about.
As we all evaluated the broken glass, I couldn’t avoid the “told you so” lesson and highlighting how the damage would have been prevented had they just obeyed Mom and Dad. They know not to throw anything toward the house. But knowing and doing are two different things and Caroline and Daniel were now forced to face the consequences.
Having heard the fifth commandment so many times, I am certain our twins can recite it: “Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). However, there is a big difference between hearing and heeding the Word of God. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
God’s Word is true and His principles are for our protection. He tells us to respect our parents and He lists no age limit. He says not to be unequally yoked in our dating relationships and He means it. He defines patience as the first attribute of love and He expects us to wait until our wedding night. When the temptation seems so strong, we need to trust the One whose promise is stronger. Jesus always makes a way.
Often we don’t get to immediately see or hear the impact of our choices as did Caroline and Daniel this week. Between you and me, I’m rather glad they did. Hopefully, they will remember this broken window before their first date.
My sister, Christa, is one of the most wonderful gals I know. The former Miss Clemson University is beautiful, compassionate, charming, warm, intelligent, creative, fun-loving, and absolutely hilarious. Often, she’ll call and say, “You won’t believe what I just did…” And, sure enough, she’ll proceed to tell me something that is quite hard to imagine. Such was the case January 1, 2014.
Annually, my sister and her family spend the week after Christmas in Aspen, Colorado. After enjoying their New Year’s Eve dinner, Christa and her party exited the restaurant and wanted to mark the memory with a photograph. She tapped a stranger, who looked to be attempting to hide a cigarette habit, on his shoulder. The man turned and, seeing the camera, beamed a megawatt smile. As he moved closer, Christa asked, “Would you mind taking a picture for me?” In hindsight, Christa said he seemed rather stunned.
With her camera in his hand, the thoughtful man backed up to make sure he could fit everyone in and then snapped two photos. He had put his finger over the lens in the first. Christa thanked him profusely while her group whispered at how familiar the photographer’s face had looked and how they loved his accent. After the man returned to his table, the Maitre d’ informed my sister the familiarity was reasonable. The stranger was Russell Crowe.
I’ve giggled often thinking of how the Lord may have used that moment in the life of Russell Crowe. When Christa approached holding a camera, I’m certain Mr. Crowe fully expected to be asked if his face could be photographed. Expectations can be surprising. They can frustrate us, drive us, help us, or hurt us depending upon where they are placed.
I’ve been re-reading in Genesis about the life of a biblical superstar, Joseph, and pondering a lot about properly placed expectations. When he was sent by his daddy to search for his brothers, I seriously doubt Joseph expected to be sold into slavery. Yet, not one tantrum is thrown by this kidnapped teen. When falsely accused by Potiphar’s wicked wife and cast into a dingy dungeon, Joseph is not seen curled up in a ball sobbing. He is so confident in God’s sovereignty over his circumstances that Genesis 40:6-7 shows Joseph thinking, not about himself, but his fellow prisoners, “When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they looked distraught. So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were in custody with him in his master’s house, ‘Why do you look so sad today?’” Here’s a guy that’s faced one trial after another for years and we find him more concerned about two fellow inmates having a bad day. And, to think, one of these clowns will forget about Joseph’s kindnesses and leave him confined another two years! Still, Joseph never utters, “Why me, Lord?”
Why not? Because Joseph’s unwavering obedience to his faultless Master overrode any expectation he had of fickle man. The life of Joseph is marked by a continual focus outside of himself and onto his Lord. I don’t know what you’re hoping for today or how many times you’ve been left out, let down, or the last one picked. This same God who was with Joseph is with us. May we get to Chapter 50 of our lives and, like Joseph, say to our betrayers, assailants, adversaries, competitors, and critics, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20). The Lord’s plan is perfect and, as long as we keep the lens on Him, everything is going to develop far beyond our greatest expectation.
“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…”.
I Peter 1:3 (NIV)
Unpacking… and heartbroken over the news of Kate Spade’s death Tuesday morning. I’ll never forget my excitement opening that beautiful rectangular Kate Spade gift box Lee brought home for Valentine’s Day years ago. Inside was the most gorgeous leather purse –a vibrant bright green.
Lee, seeing a picture of Kate in happier times, commented: “If we had lived in the same town, I could have easily seen y’all as friends.” Honestly, I could too.
Kind of convicting, really. Made me wonder if I’d have been the courageous Christian friend Kate Spade needed. Not one of her “groupies,” but the gal who loved her enough to tell her that any attempt for fulfillment outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ is futile.
The story is told of a young Robert Louis Stevenson looking outside at night from his bedroom window and seeing someone whose job it was to light the lanterns lining the street. Robert’s nanny entered the room and asked what had him so engaged. The boy’s gaze was unmoved as he replied, “I’m watching a man cut holes in the darkness.”
As Christians, evangelism is not an accessory to be worn when it’s comfortable. We are called to “cut holes in the darkness” of this weary-worn world bearing witness that Jesus died for our sins and rose again. He alone is able to free us from the strongholds that attempt to steal our joy and sap our strength to press on with purpose when life’s pressures mount.
I didn’t know Kate Spade personally, but I have a lot of neighbors dying and desperate and who need to hear about the hope God extends to us in Christ Jesus. May I be as bold in my Christian witness as Kate was with color.