Categories
Jealousy Loss Perspective Questions Unexplained Waiting

The Green-Eyed Monster

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There have been times that I have found myself thinking, “When will it be my turn?” These kinds of thoughts usually find their way into my mind when someone else has had their breakthrough when I think I am deserving of one as well. To be honest, there have been times I thought I deserved it even more than they did. I’m sure no one else has ever felt this way (queue sarcastic eye roll) but the reality is that we’re sorely tempted to compare our situations with what others are facing and weigh their value on our scale of what is fair.

Books have been written, seminars and conferences dedicated to climbing “the ladder of success.” All of us will, at some point, reach for a goal that often has to do with financial, social, or physical success. We want the promotion, the prestige, new house, car, and to be in the best shape of our lives. It feels great when someone recognizes our efforts or blessings and we feel deflated when others seem to be moving towards success while it seems we are lagging behind.

Why do we engage in this internal competition?

We’re quick to quote Scripture and verse for our own need for encouragement, but loathe to shower on others what we crave for ourselves. The green monster of jealousy, yes it sounds horrible but it is what it is, will find its way into our lives as if by stealth and we may go a long while unaware of its dangerous presence in our lives. The only way to counter jealousy is to sow authentic joy into those who have had a breakthrough.

Acts 20:35, “it’s more blessed to give than to receive” quoted frequently in the sense of giving financial gifts, works not only in our lives when we physically offer a gift to someone – it is equally powerful when we rejoice with those who have come through a situation and seen God work for them.

Years ago when our family was young, we experienced a series of 4 miscarriages after having our first child. For nearly 5 years, we had miscarriage after miscarriage; it was a trying time for us. As have many who have struggled with repetitive miscarriages, I found it difficult to rejoice with other young moms-to-be when they announced their pregnancies. Sometimes I would avoid those situations as much as possible so I could lick my wounds. Understandable as my actions were, they weren’t helping me long-term to heal emotionally. There’s something about sowing into others that births joy and healing to our own wounded and disappointed souls.

As difficult as it was for me to be happy for others, I always felt better when I summoned the courage to do so even though my feelings of grief still lingered. In turn, I reaped the strength I needed and was able to grieve and heal from those losses. My turn did come later and now I find myself a mother of 4 and grandmother of 2. I was reminded of the sting of those years recently when, during our move to Burundi from Malawi in late May this year, a vase I had that had been given to me full of flowers when we lost one of our babies, shattered. I had kept the vase with me everywhere I went; in some way it was a connection to those little ones who never saw one sunrise, and when it shattered, I felt the sting. Memories washed over me for a few hours while I unpacked. Whilst I felt the sorrow of the losses, I felt a greater thanksgiving for God bringing me through those dark days and leading me to one of the greatest lessons of my life – rejoicing with those who rejoice.

God is always looking for what is best for us. He never, yes never, assigns anything to us meant to harm us – no matter how hard it might be in the moment, the end result is good, so good. The green-eyed monster is always looking to raise its ugly head in our lives in order to keep us stagnant, stale, in pain, and broken. So what’s the remedy? Sowing into those around us, then we will discover the real life-changing breakthrough that is not like a momentary blessing of a promotion or even having children (for our kids grow up and move away). The breakthrough God is trying to get us to is one that will have lifelong and even eternal impact, we only must summon the courage and look past our own pain to slay the green-eyed monster.

Romans 12:9-15 NIV Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” 

 

Categories
Choices New Year Questions Why

Above My Pay Grade

Today I’m sharing a podcast I posted today about things we just don’t understand. Click the link below to hear the episode.

https://leakpeters.podbean.com/e/above-my-pay-grade/

Categories
Faith Fasting Journey Missions New Year Fast Questions The Unexpected

A Zacchaeus Moment

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I have a friend who loves to put puzzles together; she’s amazing. She has the patience to work any puzzle to the end. She will often talk about her puzzles, describing how long she works on them to complete the picture. Every piece is studied and put aside on the table – to be used when it fits in its rightful place. Oftentimes those pieces won’t fit for days or weeks as other pieces have to be fit first. In due time, the puzzle is completed and every piece in place.

I’ve had things happen to me in life that I couldn’t explain and there are still some things I can’t explain; they still don’t have a place to fit into in my life. So, those pieces just sit out on the periphery of the puzzle, waiting to be fit at the right moment. They are prepared for the time they will be needed. Yet, until that moment comes, those pieces won’t make sense. Like my friend, they have to sit on the side of the puzzle table until they fit.

Jesus went to a city called Jericho (Luke 19:1-10) and in that city, there was a man named Zacchaeus. I remember being a young child in Sunday School singing, “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he! He climbed up in a sycamore tree the Lord he wanted to see!” The problem Zacchaeus had was greater than his lack of height; he was a tax collector and leaping over his despised status among his countrymen was no small task (pun not intended).

How was this short man, who no one wanted to help (really, even today who wants to help a tax collector?), supposed to get a glimpse of the Lord Jesus as He passed by? He didn’t even consider that Jesus would stop to change his life forever – that would be impossible for he was nothing but despised by all who surrounded him. Why would Jesus consider stopping for him? However, Zacchaeus did hope to at least get a glimpse of the Lord as he passed through the city.

If you read Luke 19:1-10, you’ll see that Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus as he was quite short – he needed a boost. Sitting in the tree, Jesus drew near to him and engaged him in conversation and from that point on, Zacchaeus’ life was forever changed. He restored money to those he had stolen from, his character changed from the inside out.

But have you ever considered that long before Zacchaeus climbed the tree, God planted it to meet his need? He placed a piece of the puzzle in the right place so at the right time, Zacchaeus would encounter Jesus. Until that time, it was a random tree that at best offered shade for weary travelers on warm summer days. It wasn’t until Jesus walked through Jericho and met Zacchaeus that the real purpose of the tree was revealed: it was meant to bring Zacchaeus closer to Jesus.

I imagine Zacchaeus had no intention of even speaking with Jesus and might have even scurried off in fear had Jesus begun walking towards him. In the tree, Zacchaeus was cornered on his branch. He had nowhere to hide.

There are pieces of the puzzle that will fit into our lives just at the moment they are designed to fit; we simply need to leave the pieces alone until the Zacchaeus moment arrives.

It will fit perfectly.

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Psalm 18:30 NLT “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection.”

 

Categories
Beginnings Choices Fasting Kingdom Missions New Year Obedience Questions

A Captive Audience

We are taught from an early age to “think for ourselves.” Indeed, having the ability to reason a situation through is something best learned early on. My youngest daughter is in 4th grade and she is learning how to think before answering; when she thinks first and processes the work, she generally gets a better grade which makes everyone happy!

Solving math problems definitely requires more brain power for some (like me) more than others. Thankfully, my daughter has learned this skill at a much faster pace than I did. I wasn’t the automatic math genius in school – I spent a great deal of time training my mind to think problems through. Once I finally mastered this skill of reasoning and thought, my grades improved. What I wasn’t prepared for in daily life as an adult when facing life issues was understanding that reasoning life problems through like algebraic equations won’t always produce the correct results.

All of that work to train my thoughts in a certain way had to change.

2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

In my mind, as I learned to navigate this path called my walk with God, I often found myself arguing with the issues I faced.

Trusting God for His wisdom when facing civil unrest? My mind told me to run but my heart said stay; there was an internal argument taking place in my mind daily in those days. My old debate class lessons quickly found their way back to the forefront of my mind.

Trusting God for buildings when our tent where we meet keeps blowing over? Where was the money going to come from? Math arguments come in handy here, I’d tell myself hundreds of thousands won’t multiply from zero as zero times anything still equals zero!

Much like the lessons I learned at school, lessons of reasoning, I’ve learned another lesson: mentally working out how to walk with God simply won’t work. Much like you can’t apply algebra to conjugating verbs, earthly reasoning cannot apply in our walk with God.

This year as we begin afresh once again, I’ve set my arguments aside. Arguments of why it can’t be done are now my captive audience as I surrender to the process of solving problems in a much more effective way – in the way of the Kingdom. My feeble attempts at solving don’t amount to much anyway in the face of issues that are obviously far beyond my pay grade: comforting the bereaved, growing new churches, expanding into new countries, and loving those who don’t love me back.

My thoughts are captive. I’m listening. I’m learning.

Categories
Choices Church planting Endurance Faith Journey Ministry Missions Perspective Questions Rescue Rest

Drop It

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My life has been spent carrying things. I have carried my babies, their bags, bits of furniture, luggage, cardboard boxes, not to mention the countless groceries I’ve carried from store to home. I’m that mom who would rather nearly break her arms carrying 25 grocery bags than having to return to the car more than once.

I didn’t even mention the times I’ve carried my children’s back packs, school books, PE supplies, and lunch boxes. My firstborn started going to school in 1991 in France and I’ve been carrying my kids’ school things ever since. I calculated that by the time my 4th child finishes school, I will have been carrying school supplies for 30 years. That’s a long time to be carrying things.

I want to get carrying things over with – but there seems to be no end to my burden bearing.

“Mom, can you carry my jacket?”

“Mom, can you bring my water bottle?”

“Mom, can you please carry my bag? I’m so tired!”

Here in Africa, my litany of complaints is really very petty in the face of what I see people here carrying each and every day. It doesn’t matter the whether they feel well or not for in Africa, carrying things is often the hinge that swings the doors of life to be open or closed.

Women have to haul water for their families daily as many, if not most of them, have no access to running water in their homes. Without water, life simply comes to a standstill. Someone has to fetch water for the children to drink, to wash dishes and clothes, to bathe, and to water thirsty crops. After hauling the water, there’s firewood, harvested crops, and food to haul. All the while, babies that are too small to be left alone are carried on their mothers’ backs.

When you see people here carrying their loads here, they’re bent low under the weight of their burdens. Every muscle in their bodies seem to tremble with each step with the effort they put out to move forward.

Indeed, my little burdens seem very insignificant.

Psalm 146:8b TLB “He lifts the burdens from those bent down beneath their loads.”

As those who labor strain under the weight of their loads, so many of us today are straining under the various loads we carry daily. We might not carry firewood or water, but the loads we carry are heavy nonetheless. The strain can be seen in our faces; it feels as if we can’t take another step but somehow, we manage to put another foot forward.

Some time ago, I helped a lady who was a pedestrian passing me by as I walked nearby our house. She had a baby on her back and was carrying a suitcase. She also had, if I remember correctly, a load on her head. She had dropped her umbrella and while many were passing her by, no one stopped to help her pick it up. When I saw she needed help, I picked the umbrella off the ground and gave it to her and also helped to better secure her baby’s blanket that was tightly wrapped around her. She quietly said, “Dzikomo” (translated “Thank You” in the local language of Chichewa) and I smiled at her. Then, she was gone on her way.

I have this picture in my mind; we’re like this lady trembling under the strain of the load she was carrying with no one to help. We’re all alone, no one is bothering to notice that we’re about to buckle under the heavy weight that we’re carrying.

People in this world will disappoint us and we often further disappoint ourselves when we expect others to understand us or want to help us when it feels as if we are going to collapse under the weight of life. We would do well not to project these expectations on others as we don’t know what weights they’re carrying – perhaps they’re hoping we would help them carry their burdens. It might be they’re not as thoughtless as we think. We never know what other people are facing from day to day and the very thing we’re hoping they would do for us, they might be hoping we would do the same for them.

Enter Jesus – He Who can live up to and surpass all expectations we might have. No, He doesn’t “live up to” what standards we might set. He actually exceeds them. It is in this exceeding (Ephesians 3:20,21) that we misunderstand His abilities. We wonder, “Why didn’t You come sooner? Why did I have to carry this so far?” The answer isn’t what we would suppose it to be for the answer is found in the form of a question or two: “Why did we wait so long to give Him the load? Why did we hold on for so long?”

In 2018, may we all learn to let go of the bags; to drop them. He’s ready to lift them.

 

 

Categories
Endurance Faith Patience Preparation Questions

It Will Take As Long It Takes

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“How can I possibly get this done in time?” I asked myself frantically. “How in the world am I supposed to have this lesson done by Thursday morning, let alone have it proofread ahead of time?” I had talked myself out of even trying; I convinced myself that any attempt to get the lesson written in English and then translated into Swahili would be futile.

In 1987, I finished three months of language school and soon after found myself being expected to teach a class in the language I had just studied: Swahili. I was only six months out of my studies and had been given a translator to assist me during my first few months post-language school. Those were good months! I had enough understanding to hear and understand the topics of conversation; having a translator kept me from forcing myself to become conversational on my own.

The smooth sailing was short-lived; the translator was needed for others who knew less of the language than I did; it was time to teach on my own in Swahili. I was assigned to teach a class on prayer. The class met on Thursday mornings for one and a half hours, which felt like an eternity of time to fill. I was barely conversational at that point; I had to carry a dictionary with me whenever I went anywhere. Going to the market was always an adventure: I would go (trusty dictionary in hand of course) with a list that I had translated into Swahili beforehand and meet the ladies who were there selling their produce. Always smiling, they helped me unlock the meaning to words and phrases I failed to find in my dictionary on my own.

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When I finally summoned enough courage, I opened my lesson book and began with the title, which was simple enough, “Prayer.” On a corresponding sheet of paper, this was pre-laptop and printer days, I handwrote the title in Swahili, “Maombi.” I encouraged myself, “This is like translating the grocery list.” I worked over an entire day to write and translate the first page, I had several more to go before my first lesson was complete – and there were, if memory is serving me correctly, ten full lessons that I had to write, translate, and teach. When, after a week, my first lesson was complete (over ten carefully handwritten pages), I went to have it proofread by Shirley Hagemeier who was, with her husband Ralph, our senior missionary. By the time she was finished, my poor translation skills were on full display. Shirley, being the gentle lady that she is, encouraged me. She said, “Be patient, every week you will get a bit better.”

Week after week, I walked to Shirley’s house to have my paper checked for errors. Week after week, I watched my skills slowly improve. The time required for me to write and translate the class filled my days; I had difficulty keeping up with going to the market, cooking (that’s another blog for another day), and other necessary and unglamorous life-duties. By the end of my first term teaching in Swahili, however, I began to find myself not only reading my painstakingly written notes, but I was also able to answer some of the students’ questions without first having to go home and translate the question and then write out their answers.

After two years of speaking Swahili, we moved to another city away from Ralph and Shirley where we taught in one of their extension Bible schools. I was quite comfortable by that point with living in Africa, and moved around the city we had moved to easily without a dictionary. In time, I became acquainted with another missionary, Mrs. Grooms, who had served as a missionary for many years. She was fluent in Swahili as well as a couple of other languages spoken in the region and was an encouraging soul. One day, over a cup of coffee, she told me that while I was doing well with language study, that language study was not over. I would spend my first five years on the field studying language.

I left her house that day, my three-year-old in tow, thinking I was fluent enough in Swahili. Three more years of language study didn’t sound appealing to me at all – I bristled at the thought. Surely there were more important things to do than learn languages! However, in the back of my mind I knew that Mrs. Grooms was right. Swahili was a great language to know but there were great swaths of people who didn’t speak Swahili. If I learned French, a major language in Central/West Africa, I could communicate with even more people.

A year later I found myself in another classroom in France studying French and another year later (three years after Mrs. Groom’s comment) I was sitting down to study my 3rd language: Kirundi (the language spoken in Burundi where we had gone to plant our first church). Shirley Hagemeier’s words rang in the back of my mind as all the languages jumbled together in my mind: “Be patient.” It was apparent, by that time, that Africa was to play a major role in my life and I had learned to be patient with the process. As the years passed, I learned two more languages, translated more classes, books, and lessons than I can remember. Five years actually was a conservative period of time spent learning language – it may be more like seven or ten years of language study for the career missionary.

I no longer worry about how long a process will take; it will take as long as it takes. There’s always a reason God puts us through His processes – and we are not always going to be privy to His reasons. Those feelings I have of frustration at His process is an indicator of my weak faith and foolish pride. If I truly trust in Him, then I have no option but to submit and follow Him answering, “Yes, Lord.”

There were bonuses to my submitting to God’s process: not only did I learn how to communicate without translators, I learned patience, perseverance, and the cultural nuances that one learns only when digging into the language of the people of the land. I was also easier to live with when I gave up struggling with the process.

How long will it take to get it over and done with? It takes as long as it takes, but hidden in the time it takes will be the elements needed to take you on parts of your journey that are yet unknown to you, but not to your Father.

Psalm 9:10 TLB “All those who know your mercy, Lord, will count on you for help. For you have never yet forsaken those who trust in you.”

Categories
Faith Family Judgment Questions Rejection Uncategorized

The Untouchables and The Elite

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I have children. That statement alone says a lot. If you have raised children and hear someone say, “I have children” you suddenly bond with that person quickly. Parents of children can say one word or one phrase such as “I told the kids to clean their rooms” or “I had a parent/teacher conference” and a collective sigh of understanding rises among them.

Then our kids, as life is happening, say things like, “You never listen to me!” When over and over you have heard them saying, “My backpack is tearing I need a new one.” Or, “I want to join the swim team.” And in the time that works for you, you break out the money and buy needed things for them for school or sport – and they act surprised and ask, “How did you know?” When you’ve heard them all along.

I like to think that as an adult I have outgrown childish tendencies like these – but unfortunately I find myself falling short. I am guilty of being surprised or even ungrateful when God sends blessings and answers to prayer time and again and I continue to accuse Him of not hearing my cries for help.

In John 9 Jesus is coming from a time (in chapter 8) where He was teaching in the temple, having contentious discussions with the Pharisees, declaring Himself to be the Light of the World, speaking to the Jews (the crowds following Him) challenging them about whose descendants they were (they insisted they were children of Abraham, saying that alone was enough to save them), and He brought it all to a culmination by declaring He was the “I Am that I Am.” Infuriating the Jews to the point of them wanting to stone Him – but He “slipped away.”

After all that drama Jesus is found chatting with His disciples. I imagine they were all in a panic about what had just happened to them. Can you visualize them talking among themselves, “We almost got killed back there! Is this guy worth our lives? We’ve got to talk to Him.” And they looked for opportunities to take Jesus to task.

The disciples’ opportunity came In John 9 when they walked down a street, saw a blind beggar and asked the eternally difficult question, “Why was this man born blind? Whose fault was it?” For they thought that there must’ve been someone at fault.

Jesus’ answer is amazing in John 9:3 Message “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look Instead for what God can do.”

After Jesus had answered the disciples’ question, He turned His attention to this man. Here’s someone who had been born blind. In this time and age, there was little done for people born blind. They were perceived to have sinned or their parents had sinned – whatever the case, society deemed him as an “untouchable.”

Those people born sick, blind, or leprous or widowed or born out of wedlock were the outcasts of society. Not many dared to relate to them. Who, I wonder, are today’s untouchables? Who are they that are our unclean? Have you ever seen a child falling off the deep end of life and find yourself saying, “Oh if the parents had just…” Bringing condemnation where condemnation only hurts and doesn’t help; those kinds of people are our untouchables.

Society’s rulers of that day, religious leaders, Pharisees, had placed conditions on those who were deemed to be “acceptable.” They had made it impossible for anyone and everyone to approach God; they had become exclusive, elitist. People with physical faults were unacceptable; they reasoned that there must have been a sin committed to result in this problem.

Nothing about Jesus was, or is, elitist and this presented a complicated situation for these leaders. He made God accessible to the masses, even those that society wouldn’t touch, He would address face-to-face. Yes, He posed a problem for the elite because they were opposed to the kind of people Jesus wanted to include in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus then turns to this man, an outcast in society, and instructs him on what to do so he can see. He doesn’t even ask the man, “Do you want to see?” He just tells him what to do.

It was trouble enough that a healing was being worked on the Sabbath but also this man was told to “go and wash” at the pool of Siloam. So many religious laws were being broken, but this man obeyed. But I wonder, how did this man make it to the pool of Siloam where Jesus told him to go and wash? In that time it seems the untouchables of society would group together, and these are the ones who probably escorted him to the water. There were no blind schools back in this day, not many people who had compassion to help. He only had his friends who were fellow outcasts. They were most likely sick, blind, leprous, and otherwise unacceptable people. These are the ones escorting him. Imagine how amazed they were that a normal person, let alone someone amazing like Jesus, would stop to address their friend, this blind man.

I try to imagine what this man felt when he bent down to wash his eyes in the water. Was there any sensation in his eyes when his sight came to him? I also try to imagine what it was like when, after washing as Jesus instructed him, what it was like to see for the very first time after a lifetime of blindness.

News spread and the healed man was brought to the Pharisees. Just like it was when he was born, the leaders of the day couldn’t accept him or accept the healing he had experienced. All of their theology was turned on its ear as God did a marvelous thing on the Sabbath. They didn’t understand that the Sabbath was meant to be a day for blessing not bondage.

His parents were summoned once he was healed; imagine, it appears that family wasn’t even caring him for because they had to call them in! All indications point to him being left to fend largely for himself. The first time he physically saw his parents, they aren’t recorded as embracing their son who now saw. They also rejected him by their, “we’re not getting involved” attitude. “Ask him what happened,” was their reply to the miracle when asked by the Pharisees about what had happened for they feared being excommunicated.

So the Pharisees attention was turned again to the healed man. When he was questioned further, he gave God glory for his healing. This was his undoing, thanking God before them, and in the end he was excommunicated from the synagogue. Which was the harshest thing to face in society at that time.

It seems he wasn’t bothered to be put out of the synagogue; he could see. Besides, he was accustomed to being among the unaccepted of society. I imagine when he was thrown out, he just shrugged his shoulders – he could see!

As this was taking place, Jesus was listening, He heard him, and then challenged him:

John 9:35-37 Message “Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and went and found him. He asked him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ The man said, ‘Point him out to me, sir, so that I can believe in him.’ Jesus said, ‘You’re looking right at him. Don’t you recognize my voice?’”

This man had met with Jesus, he had already heard Jesus’ voice when He had sent him to wash at the pool of Siloam but when he encountered Jesus for the second time, he didn’t recognize His voice – he hadn’t been listening for Jesus.

How often have we found ourselves accusing God of not speaking, but we are the ones who do not recognize His voice? He speaks but we don’t recognize Him even though we’ve heard Him before. Then, we try to figure the problem out on our own and work to find out “why?” If we can find the answer, maybe we then can find the solution…then our own voice becomes more important that the Father’s.

The prayers of this man in John 9 were heard but his one problem was that even though he had heard Jesus’ voice before, he didn’t recognize Him when He spoke again. Instead of rebuking him for not recognizing His voice, Jesus once again reassures him and says, “I’m the One, it’s Me.” In the same way, our Father isn’t hiding from us; He is always intent on helping us hear His voice. The key here to this man finally recognizing Jesus’ voice was his heart. He didn’t care about going along with what the crowd accepted, he just wanted to find that One who had healed him.

Once this young man realized it was indeed Jesus Who spoke to Him, he fell down and said, “Master, I believe” and he worshipped.

When my little girl speaks to me, I’ll often bend over to hear her. She likes to whisper in my ear. This is the picture I have of my Father listening to me.

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Psalm 116:2 NLT “Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath.”

The Father stops everything He is doing to give you His attention when you pray, He’s bending over, He’s listening. Are you?

 

 

 

Categories
Devotion Questions Unexplained

Major Truth in Minor Books

Every year I follow a Bible reading plan that, by this time, brings me to the “minor” prophetic books. I don’t understand why the term “minor” prophets was coined except for the fact that these books are shorter in length than the “major” prophetic books like Isaiah and Jeremiah. From these so-called minor books I’ve learned major truths.

This morning in Habakkuk 1:5 NLT I read, “Look around at the nations; look around and be amazed! For I am doing something you won’t believe even if someone told you about it.” In reading this verse in my devotions, I thought about how many times I have quoted this verse in a positive way, believing God would do something so amazing and out-of-the-box fantastic in my situation. Of course this is what we should expect from God, He is always up to something amazing. But this morning I saw things with a bit of a different perspective.

The past few years have been challenging, a different kind of season where I have seen God work in ways that are amazing but different from the amazing I have been used to. The following verses in Habakkuk 1 verses 6-8 NLT says, “I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands. They are notorious for their cruelty and do whatever they like. Their horses are swifter than cheetahs and fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their charioteers charge from far away. Like eagles, they swoop down to devour their prey.” If we read those verses in context with verse 5, God doesn’t just use uncomfortable and even difficult situations – He sometimes creates them to work out His purpose. 

We all go through times of incredible, indescribable hardship and wonder how things evolved the way they did and how is God going to get us out of our unbelievable situations. As I read further in Habakkuk 3:17-19 NLT, my eyes were opened: “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.”

The answer is “even though…yet I will rejoice” in the face of all kinds of trouble, God is my strength. Why is He working as He is? I really don’t know. What I do know is this: whatever He is accomplishing in the trouble, He is going to take care of me. I won’t slip, my steps will be sure. 

Categories
Questions Unexplained

Ask the Right Question

Have you ever had a rough day? Gone through a rough season in your life and wondered, “Who is to blame for this?” We all have, consciously or not, wondered whose fault it was for the conditions we found ourselves in when life got messy.

Jesus was asked the same question by those wondering why a man had been born blind:

John 9:3 Message “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look Instead for what God can do.”

Some things we simply have to add to a list of “unexplained” items on our life list – for there are many things that will happen in life that are simply that: unexplainable.

How then do we react when the unreasonable, unthinkable, unimaginable, and unexplainable happen? Instead of looking for someone to blame – as the right question.

What can God do?

Everything and anything!

Lea Peters

Categories
Questions

Dad Brought Me

How did I get here?

When I was a child and teenager, the “how did I get here” questions of life never crossed my mind. I suppose it’s because there wasn’t enough history to my life to think about how I got somewhere. If I was ever asked that question, it usually was in reference to how I got to school, a friend’s house or park for a party. Why it was obvious how I got there – my dad brought me. My dad brought me everywhere: to softball practice, youth group, family gatherings, and doctors’ offices when I broke my arm or got bitten by the neighborhood dog (strange thing, that dog was a labrador retriever – not a dog that would typically bite someone!).

Life has a way of taking you places; at least it seems as if life has taken us places. Actually, it’s the Father, our Heavenly Father, Who has brought us places just like our natural fathers brought us places when we were younger. Places that we go don’t seem to mean very much early on in life but as the years pass, we can look back and see that Dad brought us there for a reason. There was something to learn, a person to meet, schools for the children, and churches where we learned to worship.

You aren’t where you are, none of us are, by mistake. We’ve been brought by our Heavenly Father on trails that, for whatever reason, were part of our lives’ journeys. Those trails are often difficult and we wonder, “How in the world did I get here? How am I going to get out?” The answer is very easy, the same Dad Who brought you in will walk with you out.

I’ve wondered these past couple of years, “How did I get here?” Then I remembered, Dad brought me.