Where Are You, Daddy?

I was walking through a park the other day when what I came upon brought a huge smile to my face.  The scene was of a little girl and her father playing together.  First, he was pushing her on the swing until she called out that she wanted to stop.  Then, squealing in delight, she ran as fast as her little legs would go, shouting, “Catch me, Daddy!”  She ran a little way, turned around, but her father was no where to be seen.

I slowed to watch what would happen.  I had observed her father slip behind some shrubbery.  The little girl didn’t seem at all dismayed that she couldn’t readily see him.  She trotted in one direction and then another, calling out, “Where are you, Daddy?”  When he finally jumped out from his hiding place, she ran to him laughing all the way.  He hugged her, lifted her up and set her down again, took her hand, and the two walked off chattering happily.

It struck me the total trust the little girl had in her father.  He had seemingly disappeared but she showed no fear.  Instead, she looked and called out, “Where are you, Daddy?” When he appeared, it wasn’t relief she exhibited, but simple joy in his presence.  I knew she never doubted that he would come.

I thought to myself, if only we were as trusting in our Heavenly Father.  We can’t see Him with our eyes; perhaps we feel He is hiding, but the evidence of His presence is all around us.  We can see the things He has made, and we can see the results of His blessings in our lives.  We can sense His nearness when we feel afraid, and we can feel His joy just by thinking about Him.  We may forget His presence, but He is always there, just as we are reminded in Genesis 28:16: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not even aware of it.”

There is a song, one of my very favorites, that brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.  It reminds me of the vastness of God’s love, of His overwhelming and undeserved grace, of His mercy without end:  Surely The Presence Of The Lord Is In This Place by Lanny Wolfe

Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.
I can feel His mighty power and His grace.
I can feel the brush of angel’s wings
I see glory on His face
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.

In the midst of His children
The Lord said He would be.
It doesn’t take very many
It can be just two or three.
And I feel that same sweet Spirit
That I’ve felt oft times before.
Surely I can say
I’ve been with the Lord

There’s a holy hush around us
As God’s glory fills this place.
I’ve touched the hem of His garment
I can almost see His face.
And my heart is overflowing
With the fullness of His joy.
I know without a doubt
That I’ve been with the Lord

We Give Thanks

This is Thanksgiving time in America; a time when we reflect upon our blessings of this past year, but everyday, anywhere, for anyone, it can be a time of thanksgiving because of this:

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved..”  Romans 10:9-10

“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world.  Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned…But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift.  For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many.  But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, God’s Son Jesus Christ.”  Romans 5:12&15

To anyone, no matter what the sin, if you ask God’s forgiveness, He will wash you clean in heart and give you a brand new life from the inside out. He will be with you for all your days.  He will touch you with His love and peace.  He will give you eternal life with Him when life on earth is done.

Oh, what a time of thankfulness to know you are Continue reading “We Give Thanks”

The Day The Donkey Trusted Me

My neighbor over the road has not been well. Therefore, I have had the joy of taking care of her donkeys that live in the field behind her house. There are several adult donkeys and three little ones. I love going over each morning to fill their trough with water and to put grain in their food trays. Often, I just stand there, watching them as they eat and drink.

They are very curious about me. They now know what time of the morning I appear. Several of them begin braying. All of them come close to the fence in anticipation of what I will have for them. However, there are only a few who let me touch them. The others look on, they step close, they sniff my hand, but as soon as I lift my hand to pat them on the head, they back away. To me, it seems they have a longing in their eyes that says, I want to trust you but I’m just too afraid.

This morning, there was a joyful break-through! One of the younger donkeys came close, sniffed my hand, and stood still as I lifted my hand to pat him on the head! As I walked back across the road, I was ecstatic! The little donkey trusted me! I can hardly wait until tomorrow morning when I can go back to show love to that little donkey some more!

Aren’t we, at times, like scared little donkeys? Our Heavenly Father only ever loves us. He feeds and waters us. He kisses us with His love in each new day that dawns, with every friend that hugs us, in the laughter of children. In the darkest of storms He is there helping us through. Then, when He stands at the fence, longing to reach out and draw us to Himself, we step back in fear. What will He do? Where will He tell me to go? What will He require of me?

I can see the fear in the donkeys’ eyes as I stand there longing to reach out and pat them on the head, stroking their silky ears. They know I’ve never done them harm. I’ve only ever provided for them and blessed them. Our Heavenly Father has never done us any harm either. He provides and blesses us; still, we jump back in fear when He longs to draw us close.

I could see the glimmer of relief and enjoyment when that little donkey finally let me pet him. I hope he comes close tomorrow, too. I hope we all get close to our Heavenly Father, also. He’s always waiting. He never pulls away. We’re the only ones that do that. Let’s move beyond our fears. Let’s step close to the One who loves us with a passion that cannot be measured.

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.”

The Beauty Of The Wait

The whole world seems to operate in a “hurry up” mode! When we know we want something, we want it now! It’s not just today’s world. Impatience has always been a part of human nature. There’s nothing wrong with the anticipation that comes from wanting something so badly that you can barely stand it. That’s the excitement! Remember when you were a kid thinking about Christmas? The wait was agonizing, but when the morning arrived, oh was it worth it! If your parents had gone ahead and given you your presents in November, Christmas morning wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun. We mustn’t forget the joy that comes with the waiting.

It’s the same in our spiritual world. We tell ourselves that we trust God’s timing, but would He please hurry up? It’s impossible to imagine the mess that we’d all be in if we got things immediately when we wanted them. Refusing to wait could even be a dangerous thing.

As an example, think of babies being born. Proud parents make ready, getting bedding, cribs, clothing, and toys ready for their new arrival. At times they can hardly wait, but it’s most advantageous when the full nine months are passed before a baby is born. Premature babies have such a struggle. Some survive the early birth; sadly, others do not.

It’s best if the birth takes place at the appropriate time because very important things are taking place during the wait. In week 7, the baby’s eyelids are forming. By week 9, the baby has ear lobes and his or her own set of fingerprints! In 5 months, the baby can hear, taste, smell, feel, and see shades of light. After 6 months the baby develops lungs. If birth begins to take place in the middle of any of the above, there are difficult, and often, grieving consequences.

It’s the same in the birthing of God’s plans for our lives. We humans want to either rush things we hope for, or we want to delay things that make us afraid. We have a natural fear of the unknown, but never forget that God’s ways are always, without exception, planned with our own good in His mind.

Are you waiting for something? Remember this loving promise from God’s Word: “Therefore will the Lord wait that He may be gracious to you.” Isaiah 30:18

Who Knows The End From The Beginning?

I was just reading the story of Ruth in the Old Testament. As I did so, the thought came to me — Who knows the end from the beginning? Before we answer that question, let’s take a look at one of the characters in the story. Naomi.

Naomi was married and had two sons. There was a terrible famine in Judah where they lived, so Naomi’s husband took the family to the land of Moab. I wonder how Naomi felt leaving family and friends to go and live in another country with foreign customs? It might have been a lonely endeavor, but perhaps Naomi took some joy in her daughters-in-law, because both her sons married in Moab.

However, whether Naomi found joy or not, it would have been short lived; there in that foreign land, her husband and sons died. Naomi was left alone with no one to care for her or her daughters-in-law, because it was the culture of the time for women to be cared for by the men. When a woman did not have the care of a man, she was in a very difficult position.

News came that crops were now better in Judah; the famine was no more. Therefore, understandably, Naomi decides to return to her homeland. One of her daughters-in-law, Ruth, insists on going with her. We read in the first chapter that, as Naomi arrived in Bethlehem, the entire town took notice. Everyone was talking about it, spreading the news that Naomi had come back. The people of Judah were so happy. They were shouting, “Naomi has come home!” Although the people were happy, we read that Naomi was not happy at all. In Ruth 1:20-21, the words of Naomi are recorded, “Don’t call me Naomi. Instead, call me Mara (that means Bitter) because the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Wy should you call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy?”

Does that attitude sound familiar? Have you ever walked Naomi’s path, finding yourself in an undesirable situation, and blaming it all on God? Why has God done this or that? Why has God taken my joy? Poor God, He gets blamed for lots of life’s mishaps. We tell ourselves that God isn’t interested. He’s not helping me. He’s leaving me to suffer alone. Have you ever felt that way? If so, you’re not alone, and take heart; God understands. How can He understand? One, because He knows the frailty of our minds, and in this instance, we are reminded, too, that, He knows the end from the beginning.

As our story continues, we see how Ruth meets a distant family relative named Boaz. Boaz comes to love Ruth and goes through the proper, cultural custom, to marry Ruth. Very quickly, Ruth has a child. Read what the story tells us in 4:15-17. The women are talking to Naomi and they say this, “May this child restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you so much and who has been better to you than seven sons! Naomi took care of the baby and cared for him as if he were her own. The women said, ‘Naomi has a son again!’ And the baby was named Obed, who was the father of Jessie, and the grandfather of David.

How about that! There was Naomi suffering terribly, blaming God; but all along, because God knows the end from the beginning, He knew His plans were to bless her above all she could ever dream. God did bless magnificently — Naomi’s grandson, Obed, was in the direct line from whom Jesus would be born. Isn’t that amazing? If only Naomi could have known, but no one sees into the future. Only God knows the end from the beginning. The next time life brings suffering, remember how God works in our lives. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Therefore, no matter what we are going through, we may grab hold of hope, because our God is working on our behalf. After all, our God knows the end from the beginning.

When God Shakes Up Our World

Many of you will remember the stories I have told of our partially blind cat, Kitty, who lives on the screened in front porch.  She’s happy in her little world.  She knows where everything is around her; all is familiar.  It’s safe.  She’s satisfied with her world.  However, I saw that it could be better.  Kitty’s porch needed a coat of paint.

Therefore, early one morning this week, I came out onto the porch with a gallon can of paint, some old newspapers to scatter around, and a paint brush.  I wondered how Kitty would react.  As I took the lid off the paint and dipped in my brush, Kitty approached cautiously.  I began to apply paint — up and down went the movement of my arm.  Kitty was doing her best to focus on my movements.  What was it?  What was happening to her little world where everything had been in order?  What happened to the  two rocking chairs?  Where was her bed?

Cautiously she came closer; then she jumped back.  Her anxiety was obvious.  I talked soothingly to her, calling her name, but I kept painting.  Finally, after much heedfulness, Kitty approached close enough so that  I could reach out and touch her.  Oh, yes, that was better.  Her body, rigid with fear, relaxed to my touch.  It was me, of that she was now certain.  She came even closer.  After more minutes, Kitty was walking with ease around the paint can, around me, and then — Kitty was helping me paint.  She walked between me and the wall.  When she emerged, she was no longer all black on her body.  She now displayed a side of white.  I brushed over the place where Kitty had helped me paint.

More minutes passed, and Kitty lost interest in what I was doing.  She went to her perch, jumped up, and even took a little snooze.  She still didn’t understand what I was doing, but just knowing it was me took her fear away.  Whatever I was doing, Kitty trusted me.  In truth, I was indeed making her porch, comfortable to her liking, even better.  It is now fresh and white.  The rocking chairs are painted, too.

As I spent the morning painting, I contemplated how we often respond to God when He sees that our worlds need improving.  He enters and shakes things up.  What is He doing?  We like things the way they are; nothing needs changing.  We become fearful because we don’t understand what God is doing or why He is allowing something to take place in our lives.  Like Kitty, we approach cautiously, distrusting.  Fear grabs hold.

However, also like Kitty, when we choose to come close to our heavenly Father, in spite of the fear; in spite of the fact that we don’t understand why He is allowing certain things to take place in our worlds — then like Kitty, we sense His touch.  We know it’s Him.  We can trust Him.  Maybe we even try to help God paint.  We might mess up, but He will fix the smudges.  Our heavenly Father delights when we come close to Him.  He loves it when we desire to take part in what He is doing; when we trust that all will turn out just fine, because He is in charge.

I made Kitty’s world better for her.  I would never hurt her even though I knew she would experience some fear at first.  It’s the same with our heavenly Father.  He would never hurt us, even though He knows that we may experience fear when He begins to change things around.  He has our best interests in His own heart at all times.  Isn’t that amazing!  What pure love.

God is always working things to our good — even when it hurts.  We can trust Him with everything that we don’t understand.  God will always paint our world to His glory and to our good, and He will do it in perfect time.  The Psalmist says it well in the  following:

Oh Lord my God, You have performed many wonders for us.  Your plans for us are too numerous to list.  You have no equal.  If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.”  Psalm 40:5

Walking In Mommy’s and Daddy’s Shoes

I was watching TV the other day when an advertisement came on showing little children walking in their parents’ shoes.  There was a little girl with beads around her neck, dangling to the floor, her feet inside her mother’s high heels.  Then, a little boy comes into view wearing his father’s boots, the tops reaching him, mid-thigh.  Their faces were all smiles as they scuffled forward in their parents’ shoes.  What fun!

This act reveals something very important — love and trust.  If these children didn’t love their parents, they wouldn’t have desired to wear their shoes; if they didn’t trust their parents, they wouldn’t have dared put them on for fear of making them angry for having done so.  They could dare to imitate only because of love and trust shared between them.

It’s the same with our heavenly Father, too.  We desire to be like Him when we love and trust Him.  Here, then, comes the question:  How do we learn to trust God when we’re so afraid?  If we don’t trust Him, we can never hope to be like Him.  Does He really even love us, no matter what?  Fears and doubts can smother a weak trust.  What can we do?

Let’s think back to the above little children wearing their parents’ shoes.  How did they come to easily love and trust them?  It can only be — through watching what they do, spending time with them,  and paying attention to what they say.  It’s no different with our heavenly Father.  When we observe the world He has made, and the works He does in another person’s life, we see His love, and our trust grows.  When we spend time with Him, meditating on the loveliness of His instruction to us, and take time, too, to listen to Him speak into our hearts, we know His love, and our trust grows.   Observing, spending time together, and listening — those are key elements in any relationship on which to build love and trust.

As we learn to build upon the love of our Father, trusting His ways with us, then we come to understand the wonderful plan He has designed, individually for each of us.  May you be blessed as you build your love and trust in your Father.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster. to give you a future and a hope.  In those days, when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.'”  Jeremiah 29:11-13

When Plans Get Changed

I am reminded this week that there are times in our lives when plans change or get halted altogether.  Sometimes we don’t actually like the plans that have been arranged.  In those situations we rejoice and perhaps heave a sigh of relief when it doesn’t come together.  At other times, a changed plan can be a huge frustration and great disappointment.

I have faced many situations that included a changed plan.  It happened again this week, but different from being a frustrating situation, I was pleased with the change.  I was due to make an international flight, but my mother had unexpected surgery, so I changed my flight plans.   As I said, this has not been frustrating in the least.  I love my mother, love being in Alabama enjoying the country life, so a delay in departure has been peaceful for me.  But what about those times when a changed plan makes one want to scream in exasperation?

For the Christian, there is a wonderful reminder from our Father’s Word:  “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'”  Jeremiah 29:11  Isn’t that truly beautiful?  Just think about it — Father God, Creator of the universe, has also created a plan, taylor-made for you and for me.  Contemplate even further — no matter how aggravating or downright infuriating a change of plans may make us feel, let us remind ourselves that the plans of our Heavenly Father are always for our good, always with our  future in mind, and always to give us hope.

Remember, too, our God is the master of change.  He changed the leper’s sores into clean flesh, water into wine, Lazareths’ death into new life, the tyrant Saul into the Apostle Paul, a storm on the sea into calm waters, and He changed you and me from being bound by sin into freedom through the blood of Jesus.

When we  take time to ponder upon God’s own thoughts about His plans for us, it puts the changes that come our way into proper perspective.   Humanly speaking, we might say, “the apple cart has been upset,” but spiritually speaking we have to say, “Father’s changing something into good for me.”   It’s what our Father does — takes what we think is bad, and makes it a blessing.