After my daughter left on her first trip out of the country on a mission trip with a large group from our new church, I found myself waiting with eager anticipation for contact from or about her and the group. When each one came I was thrilled for the news and soon awaiting the next communication with similar eagerness, but with a peace and absence of worry. I knew communication would be limited. At one point she mentioned in a brief message she had been feeling sick and I eagerly awaited more news, but knowing I had been told that “no news is good news” and feeling mostly confident that the group leaders would contact me if there was much of a problem, I was not terribly worried. Because of her battle with Lyme disease (a second daughter to get this disease; see the link in the sidebar to read about the first) I know that something that is a minor annoyance to others has the potential to cause major problems for her. So, with Facebook at the ready I posted a brief note and was pleasantly delighted in having many folks register not only their well wishes, but their prayers for her and the next communication received said she was feeling better! Delightedly thankful to God and our prayerful Facebook friends I am now awaiting the news that they have safely landed back in the U.S.
On a different note, I am finding a lot more commentary lately referring to the end times and the coming of our Lord Jesus as so much in the news and the world’s state of affairs seem to have gotten people thinking more along that line. We sing songs and hear sermons and read Bible verses about the second coming of Jesus Christ, and know it is imminent, yet it also seems hard to grasp at times. There have been many times and places across the span of decades when it appeared to folks that it must be on the brink, yet here we are all these years later. We know we should wait with eager anticipation for his coming. Yet we also know that there is work to be done. Are we putting it off; are we frantically rushing to get it all done (as if company’s coming and you don’t want them to see your house in a mess)? What is the right/best response or course of action? When things seem to be falling apart it seems easier to wish for Jesus to come and put a stop to it all, lamenting the state of our surroundings. Yet, when we remember the purpose of the wait – – so that as many as will would have the opportunity to come to Jesus and be saved from their sins and destruction – – it points to the need to consider what we do during the wait, however long or short it may be. Do we wait and lament that the longer it takes the more the world goes crazy? Or do we realize that while we wait, we have something to do, perhaps even to hasten the coming of Jesus, in the work of bringing the lost to him? Could it be that WE Christians are partly responsible for the things going on in the world around us, and that it CONTINUES for so long because we aren’t as diligent in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ as we should be?
As this mamma waits on her daughter’s return from her first mission trip, where I know she was way outside her comfort zone, and waits for the trickle of stories and insights from the past several days to unfold, I wait with eager anticipation knowing she has grown in her relationship to God and has helped to spread the Gospel of Christ and perhaps brought his second coming just a little bit closer.
“I’m in, right out, right up, right down, right happy all the time . . .” – – so the children’s song goes. Yet, even as a child I wasn’t so sure about that “happy all the time” part. Is anyone really happy ALL the time? Later I learned about biblical, spiritual joy. JOY: A deep down happiness that supersedes the surface emotion and that, for a Christian, can really be had because of their deep, personal relationship with Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And I believe that.
But, it sometimes feels like that joy is buried really deep down, and that the surface emotions are getting the better of me/us. This past month has had it’s ups and downs for our family and for me personally, and as I reflect on the circumstances and those REAL surface emotions, I realize that the joy that was seemingly buried, was really not so deep after all, and that with a little dusting off it was quickly brought back to the surface. But that joy needs to be fed, and nurtured, just as any relationship does. That is what my personal prayer time and Bible study and fellowship with other Christians at Church (such as this great worship service this morning
https://vimeo.com/131588047) and one on one does for me. It nurtures my inner joy so that is never buried too deep, whatever comes my way. How about you?
Prayer. Many people resort to prayer when they feel there is nothing else to do to help them in a tough situation. Many pray regular prayers, even memorize and speak them from rote. Often I think we may pray prayers of habit or obligation or just routine, not really expecting much to come of it. The Bible says we should pray expectantly, and with faith in our generous God.
James 1:5-7 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.
We have been praying all together as a family in the evenings before bed, and this past Friday night, I asked that we pray for opportunities to be kind to the poor, in relation to a verse we had read aloud. (The Bible has a lot to say on being kind to the poor. See this list of related verses: Poor ) Then yesterday, Saturday afternoon a man showed up at our front door. In hindsight, I know this was an answer to that prayer – – why I hadn’t thought of it at the time, I don’t know for sure. Was it a test? If so, I failed miserably. Instead of being kind, I was rather unkind, probing to see if his story rang true; where he was coming from, where he was going and why – – as if it were really any of my business. My “business” should have been to be kind. But I withheld it. Oh, I gave him a measly little cup of tea (which he didn’t drink as it wasn’t really cold enough having been fresh brewed and melting the tad bit of ice I had added.) He asked for a hamburger. Why didn’t I make him one? I am stingy. Sad to admit, but true. I am so used to pinching pennies and trying to stretch a dollar, focused on feeding and providing for my own family that I have become stingy instead of generous. Pride. Am I prideful? (gasp!) I don’t want to be. I am rather disgusted by my pride. I have nothing to be prideful about, yet here I was a stay-at-home mom who hasn’t held a “job” in decades telling this stranger that he is going about it all wrong and instead of traveling on foot taking odd jobs and handouts, he should stay and get a job to save some money for transportation. What audasity! I am truly ashamed, and also shocked at myself. But I want you to see that I admitting these faults. I teach the children that they need to admit their wrongdoing in order for change to take place, so that’s what I am doing. Another thing, my husband. Tired as he was, he gave the stranger the last two apples in the fruit basket (we have more today after a quick side trip to the store) and drove him to the city one and a half hours north of us where he wanted to go on his way north. And, he didn’t badger him with questions. My husband was kind. Yet the man kept saying over to me as well, “thank you for your kindness . . . thank you for helping me” and yet, I felt I wasn’t really open to being very kind. It is sort of a feeling of needing to have a boundary up for protection that if I let it down I would be vulnerable. Perhaps that feeling hearkens from days gone by growing up when there was this taught and understood premise that we shouldn’t talk to strangers and should be suspicious of them. Or perhaps from all the bad news stories over the years that has made me cynical. Perhaps it is mommy instinct that makes me want to resist needy strangers for my kids’ sakes. Yet on this Saturday there was no threat or danger to me or my family, not even a hint, just poor person who I had the opportunity to show kindness to (in answer to my very own prayer). I wish I had made him a hamburger. But I didn’t. I could have been a better role model to my kids. But I wasn’t. I could have shown true Christian kindness. But I failed. I am glad my husband did not fail. He was ready to show kindness. I pray that I will be ready the next time God gives me the opportunity and that my life will be one of generosity, not selfishness or pride. I pray for more opportunities to show kindness. Thanks for reading.