Too Busy to Meet?

I didn’t want to go, but too much time had passed since I’d been with my friend. We’d made a date. How could I cancel at the last minute?

And if I didn’t see her that day—when? Would there ever be a perfect lull in our lives to get together?

Even so, the weight of everything I should be doing pressed me down. By the time I met my friend, I felt like a simmering pressure cooker about to blow.

She smiled and hugged me. Then she listened while I ranted about life and how I didn’t have any strength. Finally, I buttoned my lips and allowed her to speak. She understood because her life was no less hectic.

Not unlike most of my friends when I ask them, “How are you?”

They reply, “Busy.”

We’re not just busy, we live in a hurry.

We’re always driving in the fast lane to get to the next thing. Rarely engaged in the moment.

That gray afternoon, I made myself STOP for two hours. The world didn’t stop spinning, but my mind did!

My friend mentioned a devotion she’d read which helped her. She talked about the Lord’s faithfulness in her life which led to a discussion about God’s sweet grace.

Somewhere between “hello” and our goodbye hug, the weight lifted from my bent shoulders. My mind rested as though I’d had a long nap. My spirit was refreshed.

I never did what “I thought I needed to do” that day.

The Lord nudged me in a different direction. I spent the evening with my husband at an event I had no desire to attend. Turned out to be a wise choice.

If I hadn’t slowed down to meet my friend, and bring God into our conversation,  I doubt my spirit would have felt God’s nudge much less gladly obeyed Him.

My mentor Loretta told me years ago, “Slowing down is necessary to hear God’s voice.”

So why is this a lesson I keep learning?

Every morning, I have a standing date to meet with the Lord.

When I choose to skip it and hurry into my day, I’m like the ignorant child C.S. Lewis described in Weight of Glory:

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“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

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“The words I have spoken to you, they are full of the Spirit and life.” John 6:63

 

When’s the last time you slowed down to meet with the Lord?

Photos: http://www.jennywredephotography.com

 

 

Seeking God isn’t Fast Food

He stood in front of the open refrigerator. Scanned the shelves of cold food.

Perhaps if he waited long enough, the sandwich meat would read his mind. Then it could squeeze past the slab of bacon, open the deli drawer, and wave, “Here I am!”

Only, he was starving so he hollered, “I thought you bought turkey meat?”

“Did you search in the deli drawer?”

“Ohhhhh, there it is!”

This is not the first time this has happened—particularly when several males were living here—which leads me to believe….

Men bring home the bacon, but they’re often helpless when it comes to finding it—at least in my house.

You’d think our refrigerator was a giant, black hole. Food gets lost. Sometimes it turns green to get our attention. And still the men in my life, stand there, staring into the cold abyss.

No doubt, I have the same blank expression on my face when I open the car hood and look at the thingamabobs. Which leads me to my point—albeit not humorous.

Not everything is in plain view. If we’re not searching, we can’t expect to find it.

God says, “If you seek Me with all your heart, you will find Me.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

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Seek God.

Once He’s found….continually seek Him.

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face alwaysSearch for the LORD and for his strength; continually seek him.…” (Psalm 105:4)

When I served as a jail chaplain, women inmates learned that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10).

As we searched the scriptures, they’d put their faith in Christ and declare, “I’m a new person since I found Jesus.”

When they left jail, some of them returned to their old habits and landed back in jail—frustrated.

Addictions are difficult to overcome especially when the person’s environment and peers don’t change. However, the inmates admitted they had stopped seeking Jesus.

I’m no different. My life flounders when I stop seeking the Lord and rely, instead, on my own strength, wisdom, and ability to love others.

Seeking God requires effort. We can’t idly wait for God to show Himself. He says, “Seek Me with all your heart.”

Spiritual disciplines like Bible reading, prayer, one-on-one discipleship, and corporate worship are the means of seeking the Lord.

But seeking Him is more than a means of meeting our personal needs.

God wants to be wanted. He doesn’t want a passive, fast food relationship.

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Instead of consuming daily devotions as we gulp a cup of coffee and hurry out the door….

We’re invited to “meet with God” in His Word. Pause in the busyness to pray so we can hear His voice and be led by His Spirit.

Christ paid for that privilege when He died on the cross and purchased us with His blood.

Why on earth would anyone settle for less?

 

What are Friends For?

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My friend sniffs, pausing in the middle of her story to get a tissue from her purse.

I wait beside her in the coffee shop.

Mute. Helpless.

Watching huge tears travel down her cheeks like raindrops rolling down a window pane.

She wipes her trail of tears, and I wonder…

Isn’t there a Bible verse about collecting tears in a bottle?

I swallow the knot in my throat. Blink back my own tears.

What can I say to encourage her?

  • Offer to pray with her?
  • Quote a Bible verse?
  • Assure her everything will be alright.

When honestly, I don’t know how things will turn out.

I touch her arm, but hold my tongue. Fearful of being like Job’s friends. Full of platitudes.

Can she feel my empathy? My longing to make things better?

Perhaps it’s enough I’m here to listen.

My friend eventually changes the subject. Mood lightens. Similar to shifting gears on a bicycle after you’ve pedaled on rough terrain and the landscape flattens out.

We hug; agree to pray for one another. Then go our separate ways.

Nothing changed. Nothing solved.

But just the act of sharing—the good, bad, and ugly—lifts our burdens. If only for the moment.

Spirits strengthened. Eyes fixed again on Jesus. We advance into the night….

Trusting a Sovereign God.

Thankful we’re not alone, even if our friends haven’t walked in our shoes or can fully comprehend the pain.

Consider the Virgin Mary who conceived a son and then went in a hurry to visit Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary, she “cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42).

Surely those words were exactly what Mary needed to hear.

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Mary didn’t have to grieve alone.

Years later, when Jesus was dying on a cross, He saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby.

“He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’

Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’

From that hour the disciple took her into his own household (John 19:26, 27).

Mary didn’t have to grieve alone.

Mary Magdalene among others was also there beside her.

Isn’t that what friends are for?

Loving the people God places in our lives.

Especially for such a time as this…..

Have You Felt Invisible?

Have you ever felt invisible?

ID-100111764 Even though you were in a room with people who knew you?

I remember a little girl in kindergarten. One day, during recess, she went to the edge of the playground and sat with her back to her peers.

She said, “I just wanted to know if anyone would notice.”

Imagine being that five-year-old girl. Surrounded by classmates who jumped rope, climbed monkey bars, and laughed—oblivious to her.

Or if they noticed the solitary figure, they weren’t concerned enough to ask her, “Why are you sitting alone?”

They didn’t call her name or beg, “Come and play.”

Who knows what motivated that little girl to sit alone with her back to the crowd. Did the need for affirmation, backfire? Did she build walls of self-protection?

What painful thoughts stabbed her as she waited, and waited, wanting…

To be Noticed. To be Missed.

How does it feel to be invisible?

To hear people talk around you, but act like you’re not there. To have someone ask you a question without waiting for the answer. Or never listen to your words.

Once, there was a man who suffered from seisures, possessed by demons. He lived alone in the tombs, outside a town. People thought him mad, and tried to chain him. But he escaped, and ran wild.

So they avoided him. Pretended he wasn’t there.

Did he feel invisible?

Then one day a Stranger came along and saw the man. The Stranger took pity, and healed him with His words.The people were amazed when they saw the man, in his right mind, sitting at the Stranger’s feet.

How did this happen? Who is this Stranger?

Fearful, the people told the Stranger, “Go away. Leave us alone!”

But imagine the joy of that man who had lived alone among the dead, and was now set free?

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A life forever changed because Someone noticed. Someone cared.

One act of kindness–even from a stranger–can make a difference. Because maybe deep down, inside of us, we’re like that five-year-old girl.

We want Someone to notice.

Can you remember a time someone made a difference in  your life?

Do you know WHO the Stranger was who healed the man?

(Woman Image: Courtesy of Frame Angel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)