Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What Are We Waiting For?

by Marcy Leigh

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior.”
Micah 7:7
While we set aside lawn rakes for snow shovels, pumpkins for poinsettias we usher in the Advent season – the season of waiting and inward preparedness. But what exactly are we waiting for? And how do we prepare for it?

Are we awaiting a birthday celebration – the remembrance, the anniversary of the Christ child? Yes, in part. The incarnation of God’s love for mankind through Christ is certainly a divinely significant event to celebrate. Yet, if that’s all we celebrate – an anniversary- then we are left wanting after all the presents are unwrapped, the decorations torn down and put away. For what power does Christ’s birth have for us here and now without understanding the hidden cross inside his lowly manger on Christmas night as our hope of salvation and resurrection? (Watch for the Light, 2001 Orbis Books).

Join me at the {re}fresh blog won't you?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

S-A-C-R-I-F-I-C-E - It isn't easy

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

Going a little ahead, he fell to the ground and prayed for a way out: “Papa, Father, you can—can’t you?—get me out of this. Take this cup away from me. But please, not what I want—what do you want?” Mark 14:35-36 MSG 

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve my one word S-A-C-R-I-F-I-C-E activated like a Cinderella spell, barely a week since God dropped it into my heart.

I tried to shake it off like a wet dog after a bath, but it wouldn’t leave. Sacrifice didn’t conjure up those fuzzy, warm, feel-good emotions like grace or faith or prayer. No, after a year of tremendous loss, sacrifice was the hardest word to accept because I already felt given-out. What more? What more could I possibly give? I felt exhausted, wrung out, spent and ungrateful and the New Year was only seconds old. 

Days later, I hunkered down for a relaxing winter’s night before we froze under the polar vortex headed our way. Another crisis came and I went out again; called to sacrifice and serve.

During short breaks, I closed my eyes and rocked silently in my own grief while my heart froze like the pipes beneath my mother’s house. This sacrifice was hard and painful. My hands and feet served until my nerves shook me to the bone and my ingratitude ground me to a pulp. Worn down, I prayed God would melt those frozen pipes, let the waters flow and release me from that place. Hours passed, and just when I thought God fell deaf, release came. Flowing water never sounded so good—like cascading waterfalls—from every faucet.  

Homeward bound on those darkened country roads, words from a familiar childhood hymn drifted from the stereo, melting my ingratitude. “Are we weak and heavy laden cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.”  

Tears I’d bravely suppressed spilled everywhere—my own heart’s release—and I cried that sloppy, blubbering, snotty cry all the way home. And when the tears stopped flowing, I wondered if I’d failed the test. Did I sacrifice well? Did I really offer up my best to the Lord in all I did this week, or had my ingratitude nullified my offering?  

Before my heart could punctuate the question, God’s answer came. “Well done. You obeyed and did the hard and painful things. You would fail only if you had ignored my calling and stayed comfortable.” 

“But, Lord, I grumbled inside. I asked for relief. How is that serving well?”

“Even Jesus asked for the cup to pass, didn’t he? But when it didn’t pass, he drank. He went where I called him to go. He sacrificed—gave until it hurt—out of obedience to his Father. And so did you.”

Sacrifice—the offering of all we are and all we do—to the Lord is hard and often painful or it wouldn’t be called sacrifice. I can’t say I’m excited about this word, nor have I fully embraced it, but my heart is listening and drawing nearer and nearer to God's throne because it calls for strength beyond my own.
Ah, yes. Maybe that. Maybe it’s all that—the drawing nearer to God—whatever it takes, until Heaven’s waters flow. When we surrender everything to God, we gain even more—God’s favor, authority, glory, salvation, eternal life.

Do you find yourself in the midst of a hard sacrifice? Maybe it’s been a long year of hard sacrifices and God’s calling for more. If you feel you’ve given all you have to give, take heart, Jesus is there to strengthen you, to walk along side you and encourage you. Call on His name and He will draw near to you.

Prayer: Heavenly Papa, draw near to us, especially when the sacrifice is hard and we feel spent. Teach us to draw upon the strength of Jesus. And Papa? When we pray for the hard cup of sacrifice to pass us by, let our hearts’ desires to line up with yours. Not our will, but yours, Papa. Amen.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Romans 12:1 MSG

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Cindy Lou Who Wisdom

"Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?" Isaiah 55:2

Buried behind a tall stack of Christmas packages, Cindy Lou Who says, "Isn't this all a bit much?"

Feeling adventurous, my husband and I joined the midnight madness on Black Friday this year. Call us crazy, we arrived at the store with a fist full of store cash, two 25% off coupons, a short gift list and a plan: get what's on the list and dash.

Ha! Dash was more like crawl with the crowd winding around the store like a Python sneaking up on its prey. Without a cart and only a few things on the list, we snuck past the serious shoppers unscathed and two hours later, with our bargains stuffed under and over our arms, we joined the even longer checkout line coiled around the store's perimeter.

It was then, I felt like Cindy Lou Who and thought, "Isn't this all a bit too much?"

(Join me for the rest of the story at Christian Children's Authors blog...see you soon!)