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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

A Reason – A Season or Forever


I saw a movie a few months ago that had a line in it that set me into reflection mode for a while. In the movie, a grandmother was advising her granddaughter on whether she should pursue a relationship she was uncertain about. The grandmother, in her wisdom, encouraged the young woman by saying that some people come into our lives for a reason, some come into our lives for a season, and some are in it for the long haul. Every relationship we enter, has purpose. Although, we may have relationships that are bad or hurtful, they still serve a purpose in our life. They are opportunities for growth and teach us much about ourselves and how we choose to respond to those we have relationship with – or how not to respond.  The grandmother wanted her to know that no matter what happened in the relationship, it would have purpose and she would always have people in her life she could count on - those that were there for the long haul.

No friendship or acquaintance in life is wasted. Even if they end, there was purpose. We learn valuable lessons, we share laughs, we love and feel loved.

There may be individuals who are in our lives solely for a reason. Our paths cross for a short time with a goal in mind. I think of past teachers I had that taught me important lessons, but there was nothing more beyond that. I’ve had encounters with people in the grocery store that I know were placed in my life, for that moment, for a reason. This is why I know how to pick out a cantaloupe or make guacamole! There was a woman who went to my church for a very short time, when I was young. She taught a youth VBS class that impacted me forever. Can’t even remember her name now, but what she taught me stuck with me. There was a reason she was in my life. Who has been in your life for a reason?

Then there are those people that are in your life for a season. Those people in my life have been those I learned alongside in a classroom, never to see again once the final exams were over – but I adored my time working with them. They are those people I sat with on bleachers and cheered our children on together for a few months a year. Friends who lived in the community for a while that we knew well and attended church together until they moved away. We didn’t part on difficult or indifferent terms; they were just here for a season and we both moved on with good memories of time spent together. Can you think of those who have been in your life for a season?

Then there is the long-haul group. Those forever people that are your mainstay. The ones you’re stuck with, like your parents. Or maybe your spouse, sibling, or a childhood friend whose hand you’ve never let go of. Those you know you can turn to when you have a need or who will celebrate your victories with you. These are the ones that love us through the thick and thin of life. Those individuals with grit and grace who we can always come back to when we’ve lost our way. The first ones we call upon when we need prayer. The ones we can’t get rid of, even if we try, because their love is so deeply rooted in our hearts. Who’s in it for the long haul with you?

Where are you in the lives of other people? Do you have those whom you’ve met along the way where you served a specific purpose – there was a reason you were in their life. Who have you shared a valuable season of life with?

And who are you fully committed to? No matter what – you will always love them?

God created us all uniquely. He wanted us to be in relationship with each other. To help each other out along the way. When he saw that Adam was lonely, he created another human being. In Galatians 6:2 we are instructed to carry one another’s burdens. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says we are to encourage one another and build each other up.

All of this can happen in big and small ways. Opening a door and giving a smile to walking alongside someone facing a crisis – there is purpose in each encounter we make along the way.

Romans 13:8 tells us this:  Owe no one anything except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

And what law is that you might ask?

In Matthew 22:37-40, when asked what the greatest commandment of the law is, Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the law and the prophet’s hang on these two commandments.

And there it is…the answer is always love. Whether you are in someone’s life for a reason, a season or forever you owe them nothing but love. Easy to say and do if the reason, season or long haul is in good standing. More difficult if there is bitterness, hard feelings, differences of opinion (repeat that one) or you met under difficult circumstances. But, even then, there is room for love. It’s a lot like jello – there is always room for it! In time and through lots of prayer, we can have and show love in any relationship – but it must be sincere love according to Romans 12.

This passage says that we are to hate what is evil and cling to what is good. We are to be devoted to one another in love and to honor one another above ourselves. It gives a long list of what sincere love looks like. This list applies no matter how you fit into someone’s life – it’s a one size fits all kind of love!

Here is what sincere love looks like:

It is selfless, zealous, fervent and has the heart of a servant. It is joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. It is hospitable, compassionate and giving. It blesses and doesn’t’ curse. It rejoices with the joyful and mourns with the grieving. It is harmonious, not proud, humble and never conceited. Sincere love does not seek revenge but makes peace with everyone. It overcomes evil with good!

Can you check off this list in your relationships? Have you or are you exhibiting sincere love with all the people in your life? Jesus gives this command in John 15 – My command is this; love each other as I have loved you. Really think about that for a minute. His love was so big for you that he gave his life. That’s sincere love folks! Love - like Jesus does - whether it’s for a reason, a season or for the long haul.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Spacious places


It’s good to pick up the word of God and read! There is always wisdom or some little nugget of truth to cling to. When I’m fully engaged and not distracted by the grocery list rolling around in my mind or what’s on the agenda once I check daily bible reading off the top; the Father always catches my attention.

Recently, when reading Psalm 118, He directed me to this little nugget.

Vs. 5 – When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place.

Two phrases stuck out to me: hard pressed and spacious place. I resonate with both. I can’t even express how many times this past year I have felt hard pressed, in a tight space, backed up against a wall. Many times, my racing thoughts made me feel almost claustrophobic … trapped …confined. Whether I was able to see it in the moment or not, God always provided a spacious place. Sometimes he provided subtly, other times notably and many times abundantly.

When I think of something being spacious, I think of it being big, abundant and roomy. He always provides in abundance. His timing is never mine. His will won’t always line up with my way of thinking (thank goodness). But he always provides a spacious place to run to when I am hard pressed.

I began my day hard pressed. Another battle waged and rattled my cage first thing. But my spacious place came when I was, at last, able to plunge my hands into the deep rich soil of my garden and tuck in the plants that had been so patiently waiting.

Father God introduced me to Mother Earth, on this day, and led us into a spacious and sacred place. I will return to it over and over this summer, patiently watching for seed to sprout. Weeding, pruning and eagerly awaiting the harvest.

And I will also return to the spacious place of his word where patience grows, faith blooms and hope emerges into a harvest of abundant blessing that he has waiting for me.

Both places are holy ground, reminding me that great things come to those who patiently wait and do the necessary work it takes to grow according to his great plan. The waiting is hard but with each little sprout that emerges from the soil there is hope of what is to come. This is true in the garden and in life.

Where are you hard pressed? Cry out to God – he will bring you into a spacious place where you can stretch out, walk with head held high and hands raised to give him the glory for the harvest of blessing that is to come!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

What's your legacy?


I’m committed to reading my bible through this year. I marvel at the little details God is showing me in the stories that are already familiar. One thing I’ve been noticing are the “post-titles. The writers of this magnificent book often put titles after the name as a reference point of whom they are speaking.

Some of these titles are so that you can place their descendants or where they are from like Joseph of Arimathea. Clearly, we understand that Joe is from Arimathea. It’s similar to what we say up here in Dutch country – Henry Yoder’s Betty. This would mean she is the “Betty” who is married to Henry Yoder – for reference. You get the picture?

Post titles are important when reading the scriptures. When every other gal is named Mary – it’s good to know which one we’re talking about. Is it the one who was from Magdala or the mother of Jesus?

The thing that has impressed me, however, are the post-titles that are given according to your response to Jesus. Mary – the mother of Jesus. John – the one whom Jesus loved. Thomas – the doubter and Judas – the one who betrayed him.