..If there is dew on the fleece alone…then I shall know that you will deliver Israel by my hand. Judges 6:25-40 When I was considering Graduate School, I wasn’t certain that I would be accepted anywhere. Of the three schools I considered, only one felt entirely right. As I shared my desire to go back to school, five women who had attended the school I most wanted to attend encouraged me unequivocally to go. They were far more certain than I, that it was where I belonged. In my mind I only had one chance. I was not interested in a backup plan. Besides, applying to school costs money and I didn’t want to waste money on rejection letters. God as my witness, with five references in hand, I sat down and prayed; “Lord I’m only applying to one school, it’s the only place I want to be. If I’m accepted I know that graduate school is where you want me to be as well.” It would have been quite painful had I not been accepted. To be honest, I don’t know what I would have done. Questioning is a part of life, and because of that, “getting to yes” sometimes involves patience on God’s part. Although we don’t always get the answer we hope for, it doesn’t mean that our passion or desire is invalid. We must continue holding to our faith and know that God will work through our questioning.
I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall… Romans 9:19-33 Once while serving as a deacon, I was coming down the steps from the altar, I missed a step and I stumbled, falling face first with the Gospel book still in my hands. Without realizing it I had used the book to keep my face from hitting the tiled floor. Not letting go of the book kept me from being seriously hurt. I’d been doing this for seven years and never stumbled the way I did that day. Although I was completely embarrassed, I smiled my way through the rest of the service. In this journey, we are bound to miss some steps. Stumbling certainly isn’t any fun, particularly when we have worked really long and hard at something. When we find our selves stumbling. We must be careful to not let our faith in God’s plan stumble as well. Instead we build our faith on our desire to do God’s will as we hold firmly to the Gospel and let it embrace us. As obedience to our faith strengthens us, we will rise with a smile every time.
…if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there”, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’ Matthew 17:14-21 This passage always tends to lead us to think that the size of the mustard seed is important. We now know that even Mother Teresa had doubts about whether she was making a difference, a marked contrast to her public image. Somehow even in those dark days she had just enough faith to continue to minister selflessly and tirelessly to the poor. It was what she understood herself called by God to do. I believe she was apparently convinced that it was in the very least, right for her to do. Either way, out of righteousness or faith she helped move the mountains in our minds, and has called many after her to serve, assuring us that it is not necessarily the size of faith alone but that it is important for us to believe what is right for us to do according to God’s call in our lives. She indeed was one seed that moved mountains.
…he gave orders to go over to the other side. Matthew 8:18-27 Jesus had just cured a leper, healed a paralytic from a distance, and touched the hand of Peter’s mother to reduce her fever, but not until he calmed a storm were the disciples amazed! He was about as close as he could get to his disciples while crossing the Sea of Galilee and yet they were still afraid when the winds caused the water to swamp the boat. The disciples assumed that Jesus needed to be awake when all they had to do was trust the presence. I suppose there will always be some element of fear in various aspects of our lives, but through Christ we are spiritually as close to God as we are going to get. If we do what we do in Christ and allow God to do what he does in us, we too must trust the presence of the Lord, and together we will all get to the other side.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:3,4
“What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man (Bartimaeus) said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46-52 We don’t know exactly when it was that Bartimaeus lost his sight. We do know that Christ was willing to return his sight back to him. Everyone at one time or another “loses their way.” Though the struggle in our own timing seems long, in the same way that Christ heard the heart of faith in Bartimaeus, God hears us. Yet, “seeing” doesn’t necessarily mean that the wilderness of doubt, fear, frustration etc., won’t continue to get in our way. However, now that we “see” we know that the way through it is to follow our faith in Christ along the way.
Navigating the Wilderness
…like sheep without a shepherd… Mark 6:30-46 From my own experience, children go through a phase where they will follow you everywhere, including the bathroom. They want to know where you are and what you’re doing at every moment. It’s a time in which rest for the weary isn’t always an option. Looking back, knowing that one day they would be responsible for navigating there own way, those are times I am ever grateful to have had with my own little sheep. After having taught the crowd, the disciples were eager for Jesus to send them on their way. Though weary, Jesus, in his compassion knew that he couldn’t let them go without having fed them in body and spirit that they may be fully strengthened for the journey, as they were in a deserted place. Surely the time would come when they too would have to navigate their own journey in this wilderness and in both faith and hope, it will be times such as these they will remember as they see their way through.
“Lord if you had been here…” John 11:17-29 I remember the last night I spent with my mother in the hospital. I didn’t really want to go but I was scheduled to preach and I only had one day to write a sermon. I waited as long as I could, leaving my mother’s care to the evening nurse who assured me she would call if anything changed, and acquiesced knowing that my sister would be returning first thing in the morning . Exhausted, I took my time getting home taking an hour and forty five minutes as opposed to the usual hour and a half. No sooner had I walked into the house and sat down on the nearest chair, my cell phone rang. Along with my brother and sister we never left her alone. We spent evenings, nights and weekends making sure she knew that we weren’t going to leave her side. When we weren’t there one of her sisters was there to give us some time to do the things we needed to do in our our own personal lives. This went on for weeks. I hadn’t thought of what would happen when no one from the family was able to be with her. I only knew that I wanted to be there if she passed away. As time would have it she died while a stranger was in the room. Had I remained with her would she have lived another day? Jesus loved Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus. His ministry didn’t allow him to physically be with them 24 hours a day. He assures the Martha that her faith in Him makes the difference. So it is with each of us who believes in the presence of the Spirit of God. Even in death, we are never alone.
No Crisis of Faith
I would give anything to have had a job/career/work that I was sincerely passionate about early in my life to fill my days. By passionate I mean something that would give me every opportunity to glorify God through service to other people. Because of that I am not defined by the work that I have done through the years. From a very young age, deep within I have longed to understand God and his presence in my life. I have longed to share that presence with others. I tried many things and spent a lot of money in education and studies. I placed my heart and trust in the people around me, all of which amounted to more struggle than I could have ever imagined when I first started this journey. Although I started a blog ministry of meditation and reflection in 2011, only recently (the end of 2013) have I made the decision to let go of this “work” I’d been seeking and just focus on the relationship that I have always had with the Spirit that God placed in my heart as a child. Since I am not currently working, financially I struggle but I’m not homeless and I eat everyday. How much worse would I be if I did not have the Spirit of God within me?
That Spirit is the one hope that I hold to as I begin to start a new ministry, because aside from my immediate family I have nothing else. Though there are times when I question and challenge that Spirit, I am grateful for the consciousness, knowing and trusting that God has not forgotten my journey in which he has salted my life and he will continue to lead me to the place he has already prepared. I won’t always know what the next step or move will be but I will thank God every day for the salt. As for crisis of faith, when things went from bad to worse, perhaps I should have had one sometime ago, but as a child I was told that I could always talk to God and I believed it. To this day my own personal communication with God wouldn’t allow that crisis to happen. So for as long as that salt is adding flavor to my life I will taste and see that God is good and I am not defined by my work (physical) but by my relationship (spiritual) with God first and foremost. I will remember that the gift of the Spirit is the first gift given to God’s people. It is this spiritual relationship that I have finally learned needs to lead the way in this journey.
…we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? Hebrews 12:3-11 There are more than enough times and situations that we can’t do anything about. Every time of trial has its duration, some far longer than others. Why not use that time to discipline our praise for God who has been far more gracious and merciful than we have been faithful?
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and pay your vows to the Most High.
Call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. Psalm 50:14-15
Image courtesy: Shadowtext.net
…since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 11:32-12-2 In honor of Black History Month, this sentence of scripture has great meaning for me. I am reminded of my own personal cloud of witnesses first and foremost my mother. While my own struggles could not possibly compare with her experiences through the latter part of the civil rights movement, she faithfully forged her way through. It’s because of her and so many others in my own heritage and ancestry that I understand what it means to be a part of that cloud. My eyes have seen what my mother’s eyes did not get to see. Prayerfully, my children’s eyes will see what I may never see. For me I believe we live to share the stories, the hopes and the dreams of the Kingdom and with God’s help one day we will find ourselves walking with them among the clouds. Praise be to God! Whose in your cloud?