Five Minute Friday: Weak

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I am joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community for our weekly writing adventure. To learn more about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is, “Weak.”

GO

Loss and lack. These two states are common sources of weakness. Think of some one with a weak immune system. Some of the factors which can weaken our immune system include, chronic stress, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and lack of proper hygiene habits.

Anemia can also be a source of weakness and can be caused by a loss of blood. It is interesting to me that the loss of blood can be visible, as in when someone has an open wound. But the loss can also be internal. And that type of loss may take longer to uncover.

In addition to loss and lack, sorrow can also make us weak. Hear David’s words, his prayer to God, “Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.” (Psalm 31:9, NIV). Yes, sorrow can make us weak. Drain the strength and joy, and sometimes even the will to live, right out of us. Thankfully, whatever the source of our weakness, there is one Source through Whom we can experience healing and restoration. Whether it is physical, spiritual, or emotional. He is our Healer and the Restorer.

STOP

He may use diverse means to bring about healing and restore our health and strength but He is the Source of it all.

 

 

A stick that makes iron float

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And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us. Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell.”

So he answered, “Go.”

Then one said, “Please consent to go with your servants.”

And he answered, “I will go.” So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.”

So the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. Therefore he said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out his hand and took it. (2 Kings 6:1-7, NKJV)

Loss can occur while you are doing something good. And what you lose can both be what you need to continue on and, due to the circumstances under which the loss occurred, can seem irrecoverable. This was the situation faced by one of the sons of the prophets, as told in 2 Kings 6:1-7 (NKJV).

It is also a situation that each of us can face. In the process of building, working, living, we can lose an “ax head.”  The “ax head” can be our strength, peace of mind, joy, purpose, trust, etc. And the water which swallowed it can be any human experience which overwhelms, devastates, destroys, or produces an outcome that is unbearable.

Thankfully, in these moments, when we cry out to God, our Father, He is able to restore what was lost.  He has “a stick that makes iron float.” The “stick” is His Word, His grace, His mercy, His healing, His power, etc.  Out of His endless supply He is able to restore what we lost and enable us take hold of whatever the “iron” or “ax head” is that is necessary to continue doing what He has commissioned us to do.

 

Five Minute Friday: Safe

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Joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community, for our weekly writing adventure. To learn more about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is, “Safe.”

GO

“Music was my refuge,” wrote the peerless, Dr. Maya Angelou. “I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” Powerful words.

But music has never, to my memory, been my refuge. What music has been was the instrument, the vehicle which reminded me, Who my true Refuge is, and ushered me into His presence when I was hurting. And lost. And confused.  And needing His comfort desperately.

Hymns such as “Hiding in Thee” written by William O Cushing in 1876.

“O safe to the Rock that is higher than I,
My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly.
So sinful, so weary, Thine, Thine would I be;
Thou blest Rock of Ages, I’m, hiding in Thee.

Chorus
Hiding in Thee, Hiding in Thee,

Thou blest rock of Ages, I’m, hiding in Thee.  

And, “You are my hiding place.”

You are my hiding place
You always fill my heart
With songs of deliverance
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You”

STOP

No. Music is not my refuge. It often is the means by which I am ushered into the presence of my true, Safe Place … my Heavenly Father. The Omnipotent One.

The complete lyrics for, “Hiding in Thee,” can be found here.

 

Equipped

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Perhaps you are looking forward to this week. Perhaps you are a bit apprehensive for reasons such as a major project with a deadline this week, or a hard conversation that cannot be put off any longer. Perhaps you look ahead and see nothing but more of the same ordinary that is your norm. Wherever you find yourself, I hope you will be encouraged by the following verses.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 ‘See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you…’” (Exodus 31:1-7, NIV)

 

 For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.
(Proverbs 2:6-8, NIV)

Whatever this week holds, our Father has available to us all that we need to be properly   equipped …to do, to be, to grow.

Five Minute Friday: Breathe

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Joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community for our weekly writing adventure. To learn about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is, “Breathe.”

GO

Children hold their breaths. I wrote the words and have the inner knowing that this is a reminder, even a rebuke to me, and that it speaks of maturity and the need to resist acting like a brat. I am not sure that I will be able to flesh this thought out fully in this post but I have a sense that I will at some point.

Children hold their breath. Sometimes, one article notes, it is done involuntarily such as in those moments when it is the result of intense crying. Sometimes, however, breath holding is voluntary and associated with tantrums.

I have not thrown a tantrum as an adult. And I do not deserve a medal or applause for that which is not unusual in childhood. But let me clarify. I have not thrown a tantrum in the physical realm but I know I have done so in the realm of the spirit.

Breathing involves, at its simplest level, the acts of breathing in and breathing out. And there are times I refuse to expel what is harmful to me, wrong ways of thinking, for example … spiritual carbon dioxide, so to speak. And when I do so it is hard to breathe in the life He offers. And I hear Him gently but firmly insist, “Just breathe, Esther. Just breathe.” And He helps me do just that.

STOP

“Discovering” truth in a familiar story

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Joseph. He was the beloved and (blatantly) favored son, who was hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, and ultimately became the second most powerful man in ancient Egypt. An additional detail of Joseph’s story is his God given ability to interpret dreams. This ability was the vehicle God used, in line with His purpose and timing, to position Joseph so that he could save life and preserve the family of Israel .

I have known this story known since childhood and recently read again the part of the story in which Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s two dreams. You can read the full account of the dreams in the 41st chapter of Genesis but I will share the interpretation here.

“Listen very carefully: seven years of great abundance will come throughout all the land of Egypt; but afterward seven years of famine and hunger will come, and [there will be such desperate need that] all the great abundance [of the previous years] will be forgotten in the land of Egypt [as if it never happened], and famine and destitution will ravage and destroy the land. 31 So the great abundance will become forgotten in the land because of that subsequent famine, for it will be very severe.(Genesis 41:29-31, AMP)

As previously stated, I have known this story since childhood but it was in the recent reading of Joseph’s story that I “discovered” something new. Or should I say, my eyes were opened to a truth that was always there?  This is what I “discovered” – Sometimes the ugly and hard experiences of life can eradicate the evidence and memory of the beautiful and good in our lives. But God has a plan for all seasons of our lives and, as articulated in the well known and oft quoted verse, Jeremiah 29:11, His plan is for our well-being and not for calamity, to give us a future and a hope. Our ability to trust His plan, however, rests on our knowledge of the unchanging nature of His character.

In the seasons of abundance, “the good seasons,” He gives the provision which prepares us to survive in the difficult times when loss and scarcity abound. We need His wisdom and guidance so that we do not squander during times of abundance that which is designed to sustain us in difficult times. In addition, we can be sure that He is also with us in difficult times and, like He did for Joseph when he was a slave in Potiphar’s house and again when he was in prison, God enables us to thrive in difficult seasons and also help 0thers. Seasons change but God remains the same.

Five Minute Friday: Control

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Joining Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday Community for our weekly writing adventure. To learn more about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is “Control.”

Control. There is a peace which comes from accepting there are limits to what I can control. To accepting that, more often than not, and especially when other people are involved in the equation, I have less control than I may think.

Control. There is a peace that comes with accepting that I have less of it than maybe I would like. But this acceptance does not give me a waiver to be irresponsible, to say whatever and do whatever I choose. Rather, it frees me to focus my attention and efforts on developing self-control.

Self-control. My Father clearly communicates this is a trait He expects me to have. This is evident in both the Old and New Testaments. From verses such as Proverbs 16:32 which states, “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city,” to 2 Peter 1:4-7, which instruct me to “make every effort” to add self-control to knowledge.

Thankfully, self-control is also a component of the fruit of the Spirit, so I do not have to give in to despair when I fall short of the mark. Instead, I can yield to Him with the confidence that He is effectually working in me, giving me both the desire and ability to do what pleases Him.

A Perfect Fit

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Sometimes a day is long.
Sometimes a day is a season,
or part of a long season.

But regardless of the length or
nature of the day,
His grace never falls short of the mark.

Unlike the sleeves of a sweater
or the legs of a pair of pants
which a child has outgrown,
His grace never provides inadequate coverage.

No, God’s grace is always a perfect fit.
Sufficient for each day.
Each moment.
Each season.
Each life.

His grace is sufficient for each of your moments.
Sufficient for each of your seasons.
Sufficient for all of your life.

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness”
(2 Corinthians 12:9a, MSG)

Five Minute Friday: Refine

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Joining Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday Community (on a Saturday) after an absence of many weeks, for our weekly writing adventure.  To learn about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is “Refine.”

GO

I want to be a refined lady, “elegant and cultured in appearance, manner, or taste.” “Cultivated, well mannered, polished, gracious,” with impeccable taste. I want to be a refined lady.

My Abba also wants me to be refined. But His focus is not on my outward appearance. No, His focus is on my true self, my inner being. His focus is on what cannot be seen with the natural eye but which can be revealed through my words, behaviors, and priorities. He is focused on changing me into the image of His Son.

His process of refining me, and all His children, as C. H. Spurgeon, noted in his message, “Refined, But Not With Silver,” is done with discrimination with regard to the means He uses to refine us. He knows us intimately, created us uniquely, and tailors His refining process based on His knowledge of us. He is committed to refining each of us and does so with compassion, love, and patience and will complete the process.

STOP

I will be a refined lady but not in outward appearance. From the inside out.

 

Best

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In honor of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (Jan 15, 1929 – Apr 04, 1968), I am reflecting on this excerpt from a speech he made at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia, on October 26, 1967.

“Be a bush if you can’t be  a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.”

Dr. King encourages us to be the best of whatever we are. Doing so is a challenge when we do not value who we are, when we are plagued by discontent and dissatisfaction with our lives and who we are. And comparing ourselves negatively with others can often be a contributing factor to our devaluing of ourselves and our discontent with our lives. Various social media platforms provide numerous opportunities daily to view the highlights of the lives of others, and if we are not careful, foster the habit of negative comparison.

What is an antidote to negative comparison? What can help us value ourselves, motivate us to be the best of who we are, and strive for excellence in our work? I believe a helpful resource is the truth stated in Psalm 139:13-14:

For You formed my innermost parts;
You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks
and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.”

(Psalm 139:13-14, AMP)

God designed each of us for His specific purpose and was not careless in knitting us together. He did not make any mistakes. Not in our physical makeup. Not in our abilities. When we envy others, we are saying to God, “You shortchanged me. What You give me is inferior to what You give others.” Let us not be guilty of this false accusation. Instead, let us focus on discovering our gifts and abilities, and honor the One Who give them to us by developing our gifts and abilities, and using them for His glory. As I heard a minister say once, “God can only bless who we are, not who we pretend to be.” Let us be our best selves. Let us be the best of whatever we are.