Tag Archives: hope

Everyone relates to the Prodigal Son…What about the Dad?

Everyone relates to the Prodigal Son…What about the Dad?
Everyone relates to the Prodigal Son…What about the Dad?

I read plenty of blogs and books about forgiveness and grace and how the Father’s arms are open wide.  I also read posts about hope for children as they grow and how everything will be ok. Really?

But what if you are in the position of the Dad in that story.  (Luke 15:11-23) What if your child is still out there in the pig pen, even though you did the best you could. How do you get to the place of daily living and being ready to open those arms when and IF they return?

I love that picture of love, grace and forgiveness for the returning son.  I am a true recipient of it.  I was in the mud and the muck and my heavenly father lifted me right out of it.  (Ps 40:2

) I don’t even remember running to Him – He was just there, pulling me to himself, washing the grime and shame right off my face.  He beckoned me and I went.  Without that daily grace and love in my life I just know I would curl up in a ball and never function.

It’s that unconditional love that I have been given that stirs the desire in me to share it with everyone, especially my children.  I want to be that person, patiently waiting with open arms, filled with love and grace.  But what if that child doesn’t want it and what if they never come?  And what about those times I just don’t think I can?

Nothing in life guarantees that the sweet toddler you can’t get enough of will grow into the adult you have envisioned.  The reality is, they will grow up and be the person they want to be, and God will allow trials and consequences to grow and shape them.  (James 1:2-4) You can love them till it hurts and it might not make a difference for a very long time or seemingly never at all.  How then do you have hope and patience?  How do you get through those times of blaming yourself, fear or regret?

One of my favorite verses is Phil 4:13. “You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you.” We can do all things. We can love when it seems undeserved. We can bite our tongues when all we want to do is scream.  (Col 3:12-13) We can pray continually and feel the flood of God’s peace fill our hearts and minds when all seems lost. (Phil 4:6-7) We can rest in the real hope that God is sovereign, and He can and will take care of everything, either in this world or the next. (Rom 8:28) We can cast our burdens on Him, and He will take it. (Ps 55:22) We can be that person, with open arms, without judgment, when the prodigal returns.  Even if that child doesn’t return, we can cry out in the stillness of pain, and know that God is God and that can still be enough.

Find your peace and hope in the eternal Abba Father that is worthy of it. Love your children and enjoy the moments you have with mother prayingthem. It’s the closest example we have of how God loves us. Just never forget they belong to Him first, last and forever.   We can do our humanly best, and even our worst, and God is still in control.  I believe that’s how the Prodigal Son’s father did it.  His hope was always in the sovereign One who made us all.

One of my favorite quotes is this: “Everything will be ok in the end.  If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.” Fernando Sabino

Sometimes the end takes a very long time to get here and sometimes it’s here in a flash. Either way, it’s never quite what we expected.  But, if we’ve spent time dwelling in the awareness of the ever-present God, and we’ve learned to acknowledge Him in all our ways, when that end finally does arrive, we will be ok… And what a celebration it will be!…Really.

 

Life Scales

Life Scales

Thinking about what to post this week was difficult.  There are so many things on my heart, but I never feel lead to share them – I usually write when I feel pressed upon – or pressured, whichever comes first.

I asked my husband what I should write about and he went off on the upcoming election… I just turned around and walked away.  I asked my college kid, and she said, “Broke college kids”… I said, no, so she said I should write about, “The increase of younger people getting married”… I responded, that I didn’t really know anyone that has done that recently.  So, then she told me to write about prostitution.  Really?  I then got a text from her, informing me that I was the blogger and I should figure it out myself.  My youngest son, in his obvious humbleness, told me to write about how wonderful he is….  I’m not going to ask anyone else.  I’m realizing that it probably wasn’t a good idea to ask them in the first place.

So, I figured it out on my own and here it is…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life “scales”.  One side being worldly, responsibilities, hobbies, entertainment, etc., and the other side, kingdom work.  Now, don’t go jumping on the “covered by grace” train, I know I can’t earn my salvation, (Eph 2:8) but I am called to participate in the work of the kingdom.  Wearing the Jesus Team jersey comes with responsibility.  (Rom 12) The reasoning for the work can’t be driven by the belief that your salvation depends on it.  It’s supposed to driven by the Spirit that you have dwelling within you, and your gratitude for salvation – and the love you have for your Savior.

I used a marriage as an example when I explained it to my kids.  If you marry someone, (enter into a covenant relationship) and you never spend time getting to know them better, (reading the Word) or doing anything they asked you to, (kingdom work), or even talked to them all the time, (praying), how good would that marriage be?  Makes sense, right?

Reading the Word isn’t as hard as it used to be.  I look forward to it.  I can’t describe the peace it has brought into my life…  Praying without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17) has always been easy…If you know me, this shouldn’t be a surprise.  Sometimes I feel like that verse was put in there just for me, “Sure God! I will talk to you ALLL day!” I so got that one.

It’s the kingdom work that I stumble on.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to serve. But it’s more like, depending on my mood, or the need, time, location, energy level, schedule,  is it in my “gifting”?  Do I do it for the glory or for God’s glory?

I do believe that running our company with Christian values makes a difference.  Serving in our local body of believers is very important, (Rom 12) and just being pleasant, does shine a light for the most part. (especially while driving in the Atlanta area) I even try to scatter seeds by mentioning my faith often, and I offer to pray for those that seem to need it.  But do I do what Christ himself as asked me to do?  (Matt 28:18-20) Have I shared the gospel lately or served when it wasn’t so easy?  Ah… No.

It’s the going out and sharing the reason for my hope that trips me up.  It’s stepping out of the boat, when it’s not convenient, or easy, and maybe it’s even a little scary…But that’s when God will get the glory, because you couldn’t have done it without him.

We told our youngest son that he couldn’t have a fantasy sports team this week, because his scales were already too “sports heavy”.  You might think we’re mean, or too strict, but we are trying to teach him to manage his time wisely, and to be aware of the delicate balance of it.  As a young Christian man, he has the same responsibilities that I do in the Kingdom.  

We are never given a redo of time.  We will not wake up on Ground Hog Day, over and over again.  But even though days have passed, God, through His grace, gives us brand new ones.  With each tick of the clock, and breath in our lungs, we can adjust our scales (Pro 16:11) as often as we need to.  I’m putting sharing the gospel back on mine.

Do you know that Christ loves you so much that he died for you?

How do you make sharing the gospel a regular practice in your life?

Gratitude

Gratitude

Most folks have heard the term “gratitude list”.  Usually when things are a total mess in ones life, someone will suggest making that list.  That’s how I learned about it anyway.

It was many years ago, and I really didn’t have much hope, to say the least.  I got a notebook, and tried to list the things I was grateful for.  It was hard at first, since I really didn’t have anything at the time.  I was freshly single, with 3 kids, no job, no savings and I was in a new state, without any family or friends.  I didn’t even have my salvation.  I found that notebook recently and this is a few of the things I wrote:

My daughter’s eyes. My son’s eyes. My children’s giggles. My mom & brother. Birds. Fall. My friend Lees’ laugh. The Bible. White clouds against a blue sky.

That was it for my first list.  The short list did grow and eventually I had a whole book of lists from that season in my life. There were a few more seasons that came, where I had to go back and just read those lists to remind me what my blessings were.

Today my list is miles and miles long.  I am Job before Satan messed with him… well, maybe not as wealthy.

The top of my list is my salvation.  I know that no matter what happens in this life, I will be with my God for eternity.  I didn’t deserve it, and I am always in awe that it’s mine.  Second, is my husband.  He’s the bomb.  Really.  My kids are always on my list, even when they are driving me nuts and my mom and family are permanent happy sighs as well.  My friends are like whipped cream and chocolate syrup on my ice-cream.  Some days, when I am noticing,  I will thank God for a green light or even a red one.  There’s that perfect cup of coffee and humming birds hanging out by the window.  A song, a word, a prayer, a hug or a smile.  Laughing to tears and making someone’s day are some all time favorites. There’s lots of food on my list and books, my health and even my occasional sanity. Recently, I added a puppy to our house… she is close to the top of my list, even when she wants to play at 4 in the morning…

So, do you have a list?  What is your silver lining in this messy world we live in?  If you have never made a list, I suggest that you do.  It will open your eyes and your heart to all that you are blessed with, and it will be there for you in those times that you might forget.

Serious Saturday…Have you ever visited a jail?

Serious Saturday…Have you ever visited a jail?

Have you ever visited a loved one in jail?  I have.

Here is my experience from this side of the glass…

 Jail is a place for all types of “criminals” no matter what the severity of their crime.  They are separated into different areas, but it’s all the same building… So, all of the visitors are in one area, waiting.  Some are going to see a drug dealer.  Other’s are waiting to see someone who can’t control their anger, while others are waiting to see someone who tried something, once, and got caught… The list of crimes is long and diverse.

The waiting area is a somber place to be.  There is always a mom or two, holding a little one, or two.  You can find people of all ages, races, and economic levels.  They all look different, except for their expressions.  Sorrow is the common ground.  No one looks happy to be there, and some can’t even suppress their tears.  No one chit chats, (which is hard for me, even when I am sad) Most folks don’t even make eye contact.  There is an overwhelming, oppressive cloud of hopelessness.

When the visiting time approaches, everyone must go through a metal detector, and then walk down a really, really long hall… The hall that I have walked seems like a mile long. Everyone walks fast, and silently.  The only sound besides the echos of the shoes hitting the floor, is the occasional sniffle.  Then you reach the window, sit in the hard plastic chair, and pick up the phone to speak to your loved one, from the other side of the glass.

I can tell you that it is not pleasant.  It’s a desperate feeling of total helplessness.

The few times that I have visited someone in jail, I wept, not only for the person I love, but for the realization that this is the place Jesus would go first if he were here in the flesh.  He wouldn’t stop by my church, he would be at the jail.  He would put his hand up to every window, and offer hope.  He would walk through the walls, and take each inmate in his arms, and offer them comfort and peace.  He would forgive them, and carry them though restoration, if they would let him.  Because He loves them.  Just as much as He loves me and you.

As hard as it is for us, on this side of the glass, it’s a million times harder for most of those that are now trapped by their own mistakes.  The consequences of breaking the law are long , difficult, and expensive.

Let’s not deceive ourselves that we are too good to be in jail either… How many on this side of the glass, are living out the consequences of a sin or lie, that keeps them in bondage?  Many people are trapped in a belief that keeps them in a mental prison, where there are no visitors…

The good news is that there is always hope.  Praise the God who allows all things, and always offers grace.  He is always there, with his arms open wide, waiting for us to come to Him.  Whether you are in a jail cell, or mental bondage, or just loving someone who is, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28)

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

When you have the love of Christ, there is no more bondage, no matter what side of the glass you are on. Really.

If you need prayer for a loved one, or for yourself, I would be honored to do so…