He Wasn’t Afraid

He wasn’t afraid to die for us.

The human part of Him was probably afraid of the immense pain the beatings and the crucifixion His body would have to go through. I’m sure the ridicule and hateful words hurled at Him as He dragged the cross to the place where His earthly ministry would come to an end were emotionally painful. Imagine hearing those people screaming at Him as if He were a criminal, not knowing how innocent He really was.

He wasn’t afraid of the physical challenge of dragging the cross all through the town and up the hill to the Grand Finale of Golgotha, His death to be a public spectacle to warn and amuse the masses.

That’s not why He asked if the cup could be taken from Him. That’s not why He asked why His Heavenly Father had forsaken Him.

The greatest pain He felt was the lack of communion with the Father. Having taken the sin of the entire world literally upon Himself, He and His Father needed to be separated. That was the source of His greatest agony. That was the true sacrifice.

And that’s not even the most amazing part!

Yes, He died for us. He paved the way for us to join Him in Heaven someday and to not have to pay for our sins. Because of His sacrifice, we no longer need to be separated from God. For any reason.

But the story doesn’t end there. He rose again. He fulfilled the prophecy. The bridge between man and God was rebuilt. The only thing that can keep us from God is our unbelief and our unwillingness to let Him save us.

In our world today, with COVID-19 and other situations we find ourselves dealing with right now, it’s easy to feel isolated. It’s easy to feel abandoned by God. But we weren’t. We aren’t. And we never will be.

The self-imposed isolation that Jesus endured for our salvation fulfills the promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. The purely unselfish gift He gave us that guarantees us eternity with our Savior will go on throughout all generations, forever.

He is risen.

Indeed.

“What is God doing?”

There has been a lot of fear and nervousness in our world since COVID-19 became a reality. So much uncertainty. All ordained and allowed by God.

I have seen hearts broken, lives lost, bodies and relationships broken and/or healed, opportunities given and taken away, souls saved, and so many ups and downs that I can hardly catch my breath.

What is God doing?

I don’t know.

I do know He promises that everything He does is for our good and His glory. I can see how things like miraculous healing and extraordinary feats of bravery and courage can be used as examples of hope. But I can’t explain how that works when we lose people we love or when the circumstances are just too painful to bear. How does the death of the father of one of my friends from COVID-19 bring glory to anyone, especially God?

I don’t understand. But maybe I’m not supposed to.

Maybe I’m just supposed to cry out to God and let Him hold me as the tears stream down my face. Maybe I’m supposed to take this pain and use what I am learning to try to help someone else. Maybe it’s just part of the price we pay to have free will and because we have to deal with the sin that is in this world.

Is that how God gets the glory? By me leaning on Him? By acknowledging that He’s God and I’m not?

Does God still get glorified when I question His actions? Am I being disobedient when I disagree with His choices? Will He still love me when I raise my fists in anger, screaming at the top of my voice before I collapse in an emotional heap in the corner? Will He still cherish me when I sit numbly on the couch, unable to speak, even in prayer?

He says He will. He promises He will never leave me or forsake me. He promised. And He never breaks His promises.

I don’t know what God is doing. I may never know. And that’s OK. Even when I turn away from Him, I am never alone. He is right there, right by my side, ready to hold me, when I am ready to let Him.

For now, that’s all I need to know.

In a Twinkling, Everything Changed…Or, Did It?

I live in Binghamton, New York, where we are now under a curfew decreed by our mayor to help keep us safe from the Covid-19 virus. As if forcibly staying home between 10pm and 5am will magically make all of this craziness disappear.

Guess what, folks? In my job, I don’t have the option of staying home. I am a direct support professional (DSP) at a group home for people who have special needs. If I don’t show up for work, someone either has to come in to take my place or staff that have been working a looooong shift already can’t go home unless someone replaces them. We take care of people, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That doesn’t change because of any illness.

And now, because of the virus, it’s even more important for us to keep our folks safe. Extra hand washing. Screening people who come in and out of the group homes. Watching close for any signs of illness. Constantly striving to keep the group homes as clean as possible to diminish not only the possibility of Covid-19, but also all the other illnesses we usually deal with this time of year, like the flu and stomach bugs. Praying that we don’t catch anything ourselves or spread stuff around to our families, friends, co-workers, church families…anyone we come in contact with.

I am also concerned as a mom of 4 who has 2 kids that work in a grocery store, 1 that works in a pharmacy, and 1 that works in a hospital. I am trying not to let my nervousness get the best of me, but I can’t help worrying that they are at risk because of the different types of people they come in contact with. What if they catch it at work from someone?

What if…

I can choose to make myself crazy, worrying about what might POSSIBLY happen, or I can pray for the situation at hand. It feels like this just dropped on us so quickly, as if, in a twinkling, everything changed.

But, did it?

None of this is a surprise to God. He knew we would be going through this situation even as far back as the creation of the Earth. He will be glorified through this, although we may not know how, or even why.

Psalm 34:4 (NIV) says “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” We can trust that when we have questions about what is going on in our crazy world, we can ask Him and He will not only give us an answer, He will walk through our fear with us.

1 Peter 5:7 (NIV) says “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Did you catch the 2 words that make this verse so special? The first one is all. We are to cast all our anxiety on God. Not some. Not just a little bit. All. No holding back. No pretending to be brave when we really aren’t. The second word is cares. God cares for us. He doesn’t just tolerate us or observe us with disdain. He cares for us because He is our Heavenly Father and He loves us.

Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV) says “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” God is present with us in every situation. We never go through anything alone, even if we try to push Him away. We can trust that He will walk with us through every trial of our lives, no matter how impossible it may seem.

God is with us, through Covid-19, through personal difficulties, through pain and sorrow, through joy and celebration. He is the Lord of all. He is the Master of all. Nothing gets by Him, nothing happens without His permission. All is designed as part of His Will.

What am I Afraid Of?

OK, I admit it. I am wishy-washy.

I constantly talk myself out of trying new things, of going after what I’ve always dreamed of.

Why do I do that? What am I afraid of?

Am I afraid of failure? Of trying something new, something that matters to me, and losing the appeal? Am I afraid that the reality won’t be as satisfying as the dream?

Am I afraid of the hard work that will need to be put into making something happen? Am I afraid it’s going against God’s will for my life to want something?

Maybe it’s all of it.

Maybe I don’t believe in my own abilities. Maybe I don’t think God would actually give me something I’ve always wanted because deep down I don’t believe I deserve it. Maybe I don’t believe I have any talent or any reason to think anyone would think I’m worth paying attention to.

Maybe.

But if I don’t try, if I don’t give it my all, something in my soul will die. My heartlight will go out and I will lose my ability to dream. That’s one of the parts of myself I actually like. I don’t want to lose that vital part.

So, I’m taking a risk. I’m putting myself out there, embracing my desire to write, put out content, and take the chance of sharing myself through the written word with others. Some people might enjoy reading what I have to say. Some people may not, and that’s OK. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep at it. God put this desire in me. I need to trust that He did it for a reason.

Maybe someday I’ll put out a best seller. Maybe someday my words will touch one of my Facebook friends or a complete stranger. Maybe I’ll just get fulfillment from getting it “out there”, reaching no one, but finding relief from simply writing it on my blog.

Looks like I’m about to find out.

Building Pyramids is back.

I am no longer afraid.

Put Away Your Sword

It is so easy
For us to draw our swords
Ready to do battle
With angry words and disdain
Pledging our godly allegiance
By vanquishing the enemy
Yet when it comes right down to it
And we have to make a quick decision
Between trying to be popular and adored
Or publicly admitting Whose we are
We deny Him three times
Put away your sword
That's not the fight He wants you to fight
Live the way He calls you to live
Love those the world calls unlovable
Put others' needs before your own
The best warriors for God's kingdom
Are the peacemakers willing to sacrifice in His name
Lay your sword at your feet
And remove your shoes
For this is holy ground

Sometimes

Sometimes we are called to speak
Even when we want to be silent
The words don't come easily
But they come
Sometimes we are called to be quiet
Simply listening to what needs to be said
Hearing things that hurt our hearts
But we need to hear them

Sometimes we are called to action
Needing to stand up for what is right and just
Even when what we really want to do is run and hide
But we must act
Sometimes we are called to do nothing
To sit back and observe
All we can do is pray
But we pray hard
Sometimes we are afraid to let go of what is familiar
Because we don't know what will be left in its place
We need to trust
And believe
Sometimes a desperate cry whispered in the dark
Is stronger than a hurricane
Our sincerity is the sacrifice God desires from us
He will always answer
Always

The Invisible Crown

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who wanted to be a princess. Not because she wanted to live in a castle, or wear fancy dresses, or even to meet Prince Charming. She wanted to be a princess because she wanted to feel beautiful and loved, the way she imagined most princesses would feel. But for some reason, she never felt that way. She felt unworthy, even though the people in her life tried to make her see that she was worth loving.

One day, the little girl decided that everyone in her life would be better off without her. She packed a few of her belongings and quietly slipped away into the dark, cold night. She crept through the woods, frightened by all of the nightsounds around her. The tears silently made their way down her trembling face as she remembered her loved ones. She began to sob, sinking onto the ground beneath an old oak tree. She cried for a very long time, reliving memories of the ones she’d left behind. She wished that things could be different but she felt hopeless, unwanted, and worst of all, unloved. Unwelcome, unrelenting thoughts filled her mind. I’ll never be a princess, she thought to herself. I’ll never amount to anything. No one understands me. I feel so alone. She shivered from the cold, and from the fear.

Just then, she noticed a beautiful shining light off in the distance. Mesmerized, she found herself being drawn to it. The light was very bright, almost as bright as the sun, but it did not burn her eyes when she gazed into it. Intrigued and fascinated, she kept walking toward it. I’ve never seen anything more beautiful, she thought. I wonder what it could be?

Suddenly, she realized that she was at the edge of the woods. She looked around and saw a golden crown on top of a green, mossy rock. She carefully picked it up, delicately touching it with reverence and awe. She heard a voice in the darkness say, “Put it on.” She hesitated. “Put it on, ” the Voice repeated. “It’s yours. I made it for you. Just for you.”

The girl placed the crown upon her own head and immediately the feelings of sadness, loneliness, and despair disappeared. In their places were feelings of amazing love, self-acceptance, and worthiness. She was still wearing the same clothes as before, no ball gown or glass slippers. On the outside, she looked the same as she had before the start of her journey, except for the crown she wore. But she knew that there was a difference in her heart and in her spirit.

“I know that you have always wanted to be a princess, ” said the Voice, “and I understand why. But I want you to know that you have always been a princess all along. I will always love you with an everlasting love. You don’t need to prove anything or do anything to earn it. Just let Me love you and let yourself love me.”

The girl smiled; a beautiful, life-changing smile that transformed her, body and soul. The crown on her head became invisible, but she still felt it. She knew she would wear it for the rest of her life, even if she was the only one who ever knew it was there.

She and the Voice talked together all through the night. She shared her secret hopes and wishes with Him and He shared affirmations of His love for her. Before long, the morning had dawned. The girl knew she needed to return home. She walked through the woods and quietly slipped into her house without disturbing anyone. She reached her hand to touch her invisible crown once more and smiled.

“I am a princess,” she declared boldly and proudly. “For I am a daughter of the King.”

Called to Smallness

In the Christian circles I am part of, one popular topic of conversation is finding our true purpose according to God’s Will for our lives. There are certainly a lot of books on this subject. Most of them are very well written, with a positive, uplifting message, obviously designed to make us excited about our lives, our devotion to God, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting these books down. I think they have wonderful things to say. Some even use scripture to help you to understand their points. But with the exception of a few, most of the books I’ve read have focused on dreaming larger than life dreams, being called to do great, visually acknowledged things for the Lord, with tons of admiration and adulation from your own followers. In my opinion, this could be kind of dangerous. After all, we’re not all called to be the next Beth Moore of Francis Chan…are we? I admit, it kind of strokes my ego a bit when I read in a book that the author believes I am so stinking wonderful that to be called to anything less than ultimate, worldwide attention and greatness would be an insult to God.

And then, my imagination begins to take flight…imagine my husband and me leading a world-famous megachurch, bring thousands of millions of souls to Christ. And I’m sure that our other ministries, like our Sunday morning TV broadcasts, our weekly podcasts and videos, and our best-selling books would have Satan shaking in fear and trepidation.

But maybe I’m not called to anything quite as elaborate as that. Maybe I’m simply called to be a small light in my tiny sphere of influence. Maybe my personal mission field is to be the “neighborhood mom”, making my house a safe, fun, and wholesome center of activity for my kids and their friends. Maybe my main ministry is to run the church nursery so tired moms can have a break and be refreshed by hearing the Word with the rest of our church family. Maybe I’m called to homeschool so I can educate my children in Biblical values as well as their core school subjects. Maybe I’m called to be a housewife to help my husband with his responsibilities at work and at home and to make myself open to ministry opportunities that wouldn’t be available to me if I worked outside of the home. Maybe I’m called to be a career woman that can bring the love and hope of Christ to my workplace. Maybe I’m called to smile at the old man in front of me at the checkout line in a grocery store because it will be the only human contact he has all week.

It is true, God does call some people to do great things in a very powerful way that may be noticed by others. But isn’t it possible that He calls some of us to smallness, too? According to the Oxford Essential Dictionary, the definition of small (when it pertains to people) is this: “not great in importance, strength, or power.” That got me thinking. I don’t consider myself to be great in importance, power, or strength. But my God, the One who has called me to live the life He has given me, is. Although my life may be considered to be small in the eyes of the world, it isn’t in the eyes of my Creator. How could it be? This is the plan He made specifically for me. When I finally figured that out, it blew me away. Every time I have tried to do my will rather than His, I have been plagued with doubt, fear, anxiety, and all peace fled from me. Now I am content to rest in the Lord and operate within the gifts He has given me, to use for His purposes, not my own. I am called to do whatever He asks me to do, whenever He asks me to do it, trusting Him to equip me with whatever I need to achieve the goals He sets for me.

Whether we are called to perceived greatness or smallness, we are called. All callings are important to the cause of Christ; none are unimportant, weak, or powerless. Our personal mission fields may differ but the outcome should be the same, bringing as many people to Christ as we can.

I Will (Not)

I will gladly praise Your name
Tell everyone I meet how wonderful You are
Share anecdotes of how well You have provided for me
Even slip a twenty to a homeless guy
With a condescending "God bless you"

But I will not submit to Your authority

I will go to Sunday School and prayer meeting
Morning and evening services
I will participate in Bible Study
Aptly listening and soaking it all in
I will even rock toddlers in my lap
Singing silly songs about how much You love everyone

But I will not make You first and foremost in my life

I will get down on my knees
Begging for Your intervention
I will read Your Word
Underlining key passages
Nodding my head emphatically at the sentiment
I will even share those verses with my children
Declaring them to be righteous and true
And strongly encourage them to let those verses guide their lives

But I will not allow Your thoughts to overtake mine

I will sing hymns and praise songs
Magnifying Your majesty
I will worship with fellow believers in corporate assembly
Sharing a smile with members of my church family
I will gladly tithe to help fund projects designed to bring the lost to You
I will even give rides in the church van on Sunday mornings
To children in dubious neighborhoods
As part of my "Christian duty"

But I will not trust You with every aspect of my life

And I will miss out
On the most amazing relationship
I could have ever had

Believing in You is the easy part
Submitting to You is what is difficult

So, I want to change that
I want to experience every benefit
That comes from being Your child
No matter what price needs to be paid

But...
The price has already been paid
By You

I have wasted so much time
Pushing You away
But all that changes

Now