“… and Peter.” (and me)

(Re)sharing one of my favorite blog posts.

A drowning person’s life flashes before his or her eyes.
Or so I have been told.
And if there is truth in this statement,
I wonder if Peter’s life with Jesus flashed before his eyes
as he drowned in an ocean of shame, horror, pain, and disbelief
after doing what he had sworn he never would,
that is, abandon Jesus, the One he had left all to follow.

I wonder if he saw the moment when Jesus called to him and his brother Andrew
as they were casting a net into the Sea of Galilee, and said,
“Come follow me and I will send you to fish for people”?
And when He touched the hand of Peter’s mother-in-law as she was lying in bed with a fever, and the fever left her?

I wonder if Peter remembered vividly the moment his feet touched the water after he asked, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water,” and Jesus responded, “Come”?
And when he responded to Jesus’ question, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” with the revelation given to him by the Father, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter.

I wonder if he saw the thousands being fed with a little boy’s lunch, and Lazarus coming out of the tomb after he had been dead four days, and Jesus’ transfiguration on the mount?

I do not know but the One Who knew Peter would deny Him, not once but thrice in a short space of time, and loved him still, He made sure that Peter knew that there was forgiveness, and redemption, and restoration for Peter.

First, He sent the message of His resurrection through the angel, “But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
“… tell his disciples and Peter.”
“ … and Peter.”

Later, He would pose a question to him three times, “Do you love Me?”
And by the end of the conversation had commissioned him and, as He had done in their first encounter by the Sea of Galilee, called him to follow Him.

Like Peter, I have been guilty of denying Him,
Sometimes with my words.
At other times with my silence, behavior and choices.
Like Peter, I have been guilty of denying Him.
Perhaps you are too.
Thanks be to God, we can all be certain that,
no matter what we have done,
the same forgiveness,
redemption,
and restoration that Peter was given,
is also available to us.

NB: This post was first published on this blog on 4/17/17 and reposted at least twice. It is one of my favorite posts and for that reason as well as the fact that the content still is true of me, I wanted to share it again.

for the days when you’re in over your head, in rough waters, and/or between a rock and a hard place

 

“Don’t be afraid.”

These were the words handwritten after my name, beneath the bright yellow smiley in a card I received recently. The card was from a fellow participant in Round 11 of Five Minute Friday Snail Mail. (Also know as #fmfpartysnailmail; see link at end of this post for a description).

I read it and had two simultaneous thoughts. (Okay. Not actually simultaneous but they occurred in such rapid succession that they seemed to occur at the same time).

One thought was, “I am not aware that I am afraid.”

The other was, “But there have been times when you did not know you were holding your breath until you exhaled.” Point taken.

And I have lived long enough to know that HE can send me resources and truth before the trial comes. And it is only after the fact that I realize something that came to me in a season of relative quiet, turned out to be the rope I needed to hold onto, the firm place I needed to stand on, the safe place I needed to hide when the storms hit, and my world is shaking.

The handwritten note contained most of The Message translation of Isaiah 43:1-3. I read the verses and was encouraged. So, just in case you can use some encouragement right now, I want to share the portion of this passage which was shared with me. Even if things are going well, perhaps you can hide it in your heart for the days when you’re in over your head, in rough waters, and/or between a rock and a hard place.

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God…”

(As promised, here is the link which explains the hashtag fmfpartysnailmail.)

NB: Dear Reader, this post was written and published with a different photo on May 8, 2017. I felt an inner prompting today to share it again.

Peace

We always need God’s peace,
but when life is like a day on the shores of a peaceful lake,
or the storms come but we are sheltered safely indoors with all we need,
we may be less aware of our need.

But that need becomes glaring
when floodwaters rise and threaten what we hold dear, even our very lives.
And it is comforting to know the truth of Psalm 29:10-11:
“The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood,
And the Lord sits as King forever.
The Lord will give strength to His people;
The Lord will bless His people with peace.”

I am joining (on a Monday) the Five Minute Friday community hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. The prompt is “Peace.” Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday, read posts from other members, and/or share your post on the theme.

Present

You know the gift giving protocol…
You present your best gift to the one being celebrated,
as demonstrated by the wise men who brought Jesus
gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

But this Christmas, you may be asking,  
“What if my best gift is a shattered heart?”
Jesus will take it.

What if it is a mind that cannot stop racing?”
Jesus will take it.

What if it is a crushed spirit?”
Jesus will take it.

For He,
the One whose birth we are celebrating,
welcomes such gifts,
takes them,
and reminds us of the reasons He came:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
(Luke 4:18-19, NKJV).

Come and present all you are
and are not.
Jesus will take you.

/ – /

The Christmas season can be very difficult for many, and especially after the grief, uncertainty, pain, and varied losses of the past 24 months. But Jesus calls us to come as we are and find all we need in Him. Will you accept His invitation?

The original version of this post was published in. 2020.

Desperate

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. The writing prompt is, “Desperate.” The content after the last //, including the lyrics for the hymn, “Come Ye Disconsolate,” were added after the allotted 5 minutes had expired. The definition of desperate used in the post is from www.merriam-webster.com.

-//-

Definition of desperate

1a : having lost hope
//a desperate spirit crying for relief
b : giving no ground for hope
//the outlook was desperate

2 a : moved by despair or utter loss of hope
//victims made desperate by abuse
b: involving or employing extreme measures in an attempt to escape defeat or frustration
//made a desperate leap for the rope

3 : suffering extreme need or anxiety
//desperate for money
//desperate to escape
//celebrities desperate for attention

4 : involving extreme danger or possible disaster
//a desperate situation

5 : of extreme intensity
//… a desperate languor descended heavily upon her, and she slept …— Elinor Wylie

6 : SHOCKING, OUTRAGEOUS

How desperate do things have to become, how desperate do you have to feel before you ask for help? Acknowledge that you are in over your head? Hanging on by a thread? That you are at the end of your rope and your grip is loosening? How desperate do things have to become, how desperate do you have to feel before you ask for help?

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble,” wrote the sons of Korah, as stated in Psalm 46:1. “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way  and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46: 2-3, NLT).

We do not have to wait until things get desperate or we feel desperate. We have help right at the beginning, we have help in the middle, we have help at the end and every moment in between. What was true for David is true for us. “Behold, God is my helper and ally; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul [my upholder].” (Psalm 53:4, AMP).// Hear the invitation in the lyrics of the hymn, “Come Ye Disconsolate.”*

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot cure.”

Here see the bread of life, see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heav’n can remove.

*Thomas Moore (pub.1816). Copyright Status: Public Domain.

quieting the soul

Of one thing I am certain: my soul has become calm, quiet, and contented in You. Like a weaned child resting upon his mother, I am quiet. My soul is like this weaned child.” (Psalm 131:2, VOICE).

Be still, my soul.

“Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.  And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.” (Philippians 4:6-7, VOICE).

Be still, my soul.

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].” (Isaiah 26:3, AMP).

Be still, my soul.

“Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on Him completely; never depend upon your own ideas and inventions. Give Him the credit for everything you accomplish, and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, VOICE).

Be still, my soul.

“David, too, was in anguish. Some of his men talked about stoning him because they were so bitter about their families being taken. But David took comfort in the Eternal One, his True God.” (1 Samuel 30:6, VOICE).

Be still, my soul. Know that He is God.

infused ordinary

Ordinary… A day with only the typical activities scheduled.
But is it possible that hidden in the ordinary are secrets of the extraordinary that are revealed with keys such as gratitude, obedience, praise, attention?

Ordinary … A person who is seen as average. Having no talents that the rich and famous, those with status, seem to possess. But that ordinary person can make a life changing difference in the life of another human. By an act of kindness, by the recognition of Imago Dei in another, with love, an ordinary person could change the world in which God placed them – a job, a neighborhood, a family. 

Ordinary does not mean insignificant, or worthless, or unimportant.

Yahweh has a way of infusing ordinary moments, days, people, with His presence, His matchless power, making each His own, and transforming them all.

*A version of this post was originally published on 10/11/2013.

Sunrise. Masterpiece.

As I began my morning walk that day, years ago, I paid attention to the sky, as is my wont.  “Muted,” I thought, referring to the colors of the sunrise.

The colors began to change (or were more colors added?) as I continued the outward leg of my journey and, on my return trip, I noticed further change.

As I moved closer to the corner of my street, I felt an inner prompting to turn around. I obeyed and laughed out loud in wonder and joy. The colors of the sunrise were no longer muted.

And then the lesson was gently spoken:

If you watch a painting in the early stages of the creation process, you may be unimpressed. Do not be hasty in your evaluation. Wait. Give the painter time to finish the painting. The end product will blow you away.

So it is with a human life. We are all a work in progress. God is creating a masterpiece in you. And He continues His work over the length and breath of our days.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).

“I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].” (Philippians 1:6, AMP).

(A version of this post was published as “Lesson from a sunrise” on April 16, 2016)

What lies ahead?

“What lies ahead?”
When it comes to human experiences, no one knows for sure.
Engagements can be broken and weddings cancelled.
Marriages that began with hope, love, and passion
can end before the first wedding anniversary or after the 30th.


Jobs that seemed to have so much possibility
could end in unexpected termination.
A patient could come through a complicated surgery successfully
and die during recovery because of an unrelated infection.
A day that began with a brilliant sunrise could end in a fierce storm.


A few words spoke thoughtlessly could inflict a deep wound
that takes months or even years to heal.
A conversation with a stranger
could lead to a life-long friendship.
One idea could become a multi-million business.
One blog post could provide encouragement to a discouraged soul.

What lies ahead?
When it comes to human experiences,
no human knows for sure.
But the omnipotent, omnipresent,
omniscient God and Father knows.
And has promised sufficient grace,
and added strength,
and comfort,
and above all,
His abiding presence,
and an eternal home.

This post was originally published on November 8, 2020, as “Ahead.” Rereading it was helpful to me and I am reposting it with the hope that it could be helpful to you … whether you are reading it again or for the first time. Blessings.

Forward

“The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to move forward [toward the sea].” (Exodus 14:15, AMP).

There are any number of factors that can elicit apprehension, if not dread, when we face the prospect of moving forward. Even when what we are moving into is familiar. Even more so when what we face is novel.

A common thread shared by the familiar and the novel situation is the incomplete, imperfect, fragmentary nature of human knowledge. This quality of human knowledge means that no matter the level of research in which we have engaged, no matter the level of expertise we possess about any situation, there will always be aspects that are unknown to us.

And among the many lessons that the COVID-19 global pandemic have taught and continue to teach, are that we control less than we believe and there is much we do not know – about ourselves and those around us.

As of today, in the USA, 400,000, persons – mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, employers, employees, neighbors, etc. – have died of complications of the COVID-19 virus. Tomorrow, January 20th, the 46th President of the USA, Joseph Biden, and the first female vice-president, Kamala Harris, will be inaugurated. There is so much that is unknown about the future.

Thankfully, there is One who is omniscient – ELOHIM. Thankfully, He is with us and for us as we face what is unknown to us. As we face the unknown, we can find comfort in the words of Corrie Ten Boom, “Never be afraid to trust your unknown future to a known God.” Let us make increasing our knowledge of the omniscient God, a priority, for wholehearted trust of God is tied to a deepening, intimate knowledge of Him.

“Those who know you, Lord, will trust you;  you do not abandon anyone who comes to you.” (Psalm 9:10, GNT).

N.B. A version of this post was first published on May 23, 2020.