“Mother, May I?”

May I_ (2)

“Mother, May I?” is a game commonly viewed as a children’s action game that can be modified for teenagers and adults. The goal of the game is for a player to be the first person to reach the person who has the role of “Mother.” The goal is achieved by asking for and being granted permission to make movements toward “Mother,” and taking the permitted steps.  Let us review the process of achieving the goal: “The goal is achieved by asking for and being granted permission to make movements toward ‘Mother,’ and taking the permitted steps.” Permission means little without action on the part of the one granted permission.

“Mother” can be viewed as our best selves. Each day we take steps toward becoming who God created us to be or steps away from becoming that person. Staying stuck is moving backward. Sometimes our progress is hindered or halted because we confuse, “Could I?” with “May I?” “Could I?” is about ability and resources. “May I?” is about permission. In the times when we confuse the two and mistake “May I?” for “Could I?” self-doubt can cripple us. The issue in those seasons of confusion, however, is not a lack of ability or resources to take the steps that move us closer to becoming the person God created us to be. He is committed to transforming us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-30) and is working in us, giving us the desire and ability to do what pleases Him (Philippians 2:13). We have His permission and His enabling. Sometimes, the obstacle to our progress is that we have given someone or a group of “some ones” the authority to control our lives and dictate our steps. At other times, the missing item is our surrender to God. Our moment by moment, full surrender to God is the ultimate way of giving ourselves permission to become who He created us to be.

Advertisements

Five Minute Friday: Done

Done

A period (full stop in British English) and a semicolon are not the same and cannot be used interchangeably. A period is placed at the end of a sentence and shows that the sentence is finished. Completed. “Done,” so to speak. A semicolon separates major elements of a sentence.

Why the punctuation lesson? Let me explain. We must be careful not to prematurely end seasons, things in our lives … that is, put a period where God has placed a semicolon because He is still at work. (Have you given up on yourself and your divinely given dreams?) Similarly, we are not to prolong a season or a relationship when God has made it clear that either is over. Done. 

A period (full stop in British English) and a semicolon are not the same and cannot be used interchangeably.
FMF

I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “Done.”

 

 

Forest Fires, Relationships, and Firefighters

Forest Fires,Relationships, andFirefighters

Forest fires have to be started. Some are started by lightning. Others by human hands, deliberately or accidentally. Regardless of how they are started, forest fires have the potential to spread quickly and destroy hundreds, even thousands of acres of trees that took decades to grow. Reforestation is possible but it is a process that can take years. Similarly, forest fires can destroy homes and other structures with damages totaling billions of dollars.

What do forest fires have to do with relationships? An answer is found in James 3:3-6 (MSG):

3-5 A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!

5-6 It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

Our words can be fire starters in our lives and relationships. Spoken in anger from a place of hurt, in moments, they can severely damage or even destroy a relationship that took years to develop. More often than not, the relationship can be restored but only with effort and time, fueled by the belief that the relationship is valuable, and worth the effort and other resources needed for restoration.

Winds can make a huge difference in forest fires, causing a fire to spread quickly, taking it far beyond its starting point. Reacting to something we hear without considering there could be missing bits of information or an alternative explanation, can be to a relationship what wind is to a forest fire. So is not giving the person being accused the benefit of the doubt and encouraging the person talking to us to do the same.  Thankfully, water can also make a major difference in forest fires. One could say it is the friend of forest fighters and the enemy of forest fires.  Words that we speak can be like water, putting out the fire and soaking the ground so that the fire cannot be rekindled. It is critical that the Word of God is the source of the “water” we use.

Certain conditions are conducive to the start of forest fires.  Drought and uncleared underbrush are examples of such conditions. Grudges, unforgiven offenses, unhealed hurts and the like, are  “uncleared underbrush” in relationships.  Regularly clearing “underbrush” and actively nourishing our relationships will make it very difficult for fires to spread, as they too frequently do in relationships. 

Are there some form of “underbrush” that needs clearing in your relationships? Each of us can choose to be “fire fighters” and, with God’s help, develop the fire fighting skills we need. Our relationships are worth the effort.

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Vacation

Vacation

 

I am dreaming of a dream vacation.

I do not have a specific destination in mind,

such as the highlands of Scotland

or the Serengeti region of Tanzania and Kenya.

But I do dream of a large body of water – a lake, river, or an ocean.

And a house with a verandah, within walking distance of the same.

And early norming stillness.

And sunrises that steal my breath or make me laugh out loud with joy.

And elicit unforced expressions of gratitude.

And the laughter of my family as we share a meal at the kitchen table.

For although I am an introvert and need solitude and stillness,

my dream vacation always includes some of the people who have known me all my life,

who hold space for me,

wherever I am physically

or in the seasons of life.

 

FMF

I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “Vacation.”

Five Minute Friday: If

Blessing (2)

I was driving to work one morning, years ago, when I heard the words for the first time:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

The words captured my attention and my heart. I continued listening and heard the chorus, which was perspective altering:

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if the thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

What if? What If?

I did not know the name of the song but emailed the radio station and was informed that it was, “Blessings” by Laura Story. I continued to reflect on the questions posed in the chorus:

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if the thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

And continued in the last verse:

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

What if? What if?

Father, the lyrics remind me of the necessity to know You intimately, and view my life and its seasons through the lenses of Your character. You are good and work all things together for my good. You are committed, not to my happiness but to transforming me into the image of Your Son, Jesus.* You want me to ask for what I consider blessings but I must trust You to give them to me as You see fit. And You bless me to be a blessing. One example of this process is the blessed comfort You provide in challenging times. Because I receive Your comfort, I can comfort and encourage others with the comfort You give me.

Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts and encourages us in every trouble so that we will be able to comfort and encourage those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, AMP).

FMF

I am joining, on a Saturday, the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “If.” (*end of 5 minutes)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portal

Portal (1)

 

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, is my favorite of the three movies in The Chronicles of Narnia series, based on a series of novels by C. S. Lewis. (Actually, it is one of my favorites of all the movies I have seen to date).

In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lucy Pevensie, one of the main characters, while playing hide and seek with her siblings, finds a wardrobe which turns out to be a portal into the land of Narnia. There she learns that she and her siblings are central to the plan to save the inhabitants of Narnia from an evil ruler, the White Witch.

I am intrigued that what appeared to be an ordinary wardrobe was in fact a portal that ushered the Pevensie siblings into experiences beyond any they could have imagined. In the realm of the Spirit, problems and trials in our lives are portals that can usher us into experiences beyond what we can imagine. Romans 5:3-5 highlights this truth.

 “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:3-5, NLT).

Our natural inclination is to avoid problems and trials and I am not in any way, shape, or form suggesting that we go seeking trouble. It is more likely than not that you know from personal experience there is no need to go searching for problems and trials – they are part of the experience of being flawed human beings in a fallen world. (Perhaps it may even seem that trouble has taken up permanent residence in your home!) I am not at the point yet where joy is my first response to problems and trials; however, I am encouraged by the fact that God uses problems and trials, even those of my own making, to  produce in me “patient endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity),  hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]” (Romans 5:3-5, AMP). And He does the same for you.

Prayer: Father, thank You that You use the hardships of life, not to “take us out” but to grow us up and deepen the intimacy of our relationship with You.

Note: Today’s post is a revised version of the post, “Wardrobe,” published on this blog on October 3, 2016.

Five Minute Friday: Ocean

Ocean
When the pain is a trickle
or the loss the emotional and mental equivalent of
standing ankle deep in water,
we believe that we can handle it on our own.
But whether it is a trickle, ankle deep,
or an ocean in which we are drowning,
we can cope only with His help.
This is truth, in His words,
You can do nothing without Me.”
This our truth in response,
“Our need of You is a bottomless ocean.”

FMF
I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “Ocean.”