When the External Does Not Reflect the Internal . . .

I had plans with my sisters to go out briefly and run an errand on Saturday morning. We got into the car as we always do, fastened our seatbelts, and were ready to leave but we didn’t end up going anywhere except back into the house. When I turned the key in the ignition, there was no sound, nothing. The car wouldn’t start. I was flummoxed. I had no previous warning signs of engine or battery failure or anything being wrong with the car and so I expected it to function as it always has. The car looks good to me; the exterior is fairly shiny and clean. The outside of the car gave me no cause or reason for concern. However, as we all know, outer appearances can be quite deceiving. While the outside looked good, little did I know that the car was struggling and having problems internally, to the point where it broke down and would not function as it was intended to.

While I know this truth, my car surprisingly not starting reminded me afresh of it; how the outer and inner states of something—the external and internal—can be completely different and unrelated, which as we know is not exclusive to cars but is inclusive of humans as well.

We never truly know the depth and extent of what someone may be experiencing and enduring privately. Most of us like to keep our cards close, we like to be discreet and keep up appearances of poise, strength, and confidence, but we all have our struggles, our difficulties, and our pain; no one is immune. But, it is so important to remember, we don’t have to go it alone. The Lord has placed people in our lives who we can turn to for help and support and wisdom, and He has also blessed us with the presence of the Holy Spirit to aid us in our walk. We are never alone, no matter how we may feel. And while transparency may be scary, it is also where healing happens; We are unable to receive healing to what we are unwilling to expose. I could have remained in the garage for hours ineffectually looking under the hood of my car, frustration mounting, but I knew that would not accomplish anything. Instead, I took action and turned to my dad and also to the gracious assistance of our neighbor, who were both able to offer wisdom and bring about a solution. I thank the Lord for the people He has blessed us with.

This experience also spoke to me of the importance of upkeep and regular maintenance, of the power of sustainability, to ensure the car, or we as humans, are healthy and continue to operate and function as we were intended and created to operate and function.

Psalm 34:18 . . . The LORD is close to those who are of a broken heart . . .

Psalm 4:23 . . . Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.

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There is Beauty in the Night . . .

Sometimes, when the natural light begins to fade and wane as the sun sets on the horizon, leaving behind darkness in its absence, my heart can grow a little heavy and I can feel a little discouraged and affected by the ending of another day. Perhaps it subconsciously signals to me that the promise and the opportunity of that day are drawing to a close. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t enjoy the darkness, I find it to be very oppressive and burdensome. There’s something about twilight, which gradually becomes night, which leaves me bereft. It’s hard to explain why, I just experience a bit more heaviness at that time of the day. I think it also causes me to become more reflective and inward focused. I ponder on deeper matters that I can easily brush aside and ignore during the busyness and brightness of the day. The day is loud, it is busy, and it offers many distractions and diversions, but those come to a halt in the quiet and still of the night.

However, at those times, when discouragement, fear, oppression, and loneliness can try to creep in and burrow its way into my heart, I need to remind myself that there is beauty in the stillness and quiet that the night offers. It is in those moments, when there are no distractions, when there is nothing else vying for our attention, that we can call out to the Lord and hear Him, and sense His presence in a very real and comforting way. I also need to remind myself that night gradually gives birth to morning, to a new day, a new opportunity. The darkness eventually gives way to the light and it is through the darkness that I am able to fully appreciate the light and refrain from taking it for granted.

The same can be said of our seasons. We all go through various seasons in life, and we all inevitably experience ‘night seasons’—times of uncertainty, testing, trials, waiting, and even pain. However, in those seasons, don’t lose heart. The night will not remain forever. It will eventually give birth to a new season, and the light will once again break forth. Night seasons also speak to me of things coming to an end, and while I don’t always like when things come to an end, I must remember that endings make way for new beginnings.

The night has its purpose, as all things do. And there is beauty to be found in the night as well as in the day. Regardless of the season I am in, or the time of day, I can experience peace and joy because the Lord is always with me and I am never alone.

Psalm 16:7-9 . . . ‘I will bless the Lord, Who has given me counsel; yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory [inner self] rejoices; my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety.’

Don’t Sacrifice Tomorrow for Today . . .

Isaiah 39:5-8, “Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold the days are coming when all that is in your house, and that which your predecessors have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons who are born to you shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime.”

My first reaction to Hezekiah’s response in this verse was, ‘how selfish!’ But then we can all be very selfish can’t we?…It’s part of our sinful human nature. How tempting it is to base our decisions solely on ourselves and how they will impact and effect us as individuals, and how easy it is surrender to the convenience and instant gratification of unwisely attempting to fulfill our desires in the moment rather than waiting and allowing the Lord to bring about His best in His timing. Who wants to wait? Especially in this culture where everything is at our fingertips and waiting is almost a dirty word and a thing of the past, a cute relic of yesteryear.

When faced with a decision, a choice, we should ask ourselves the following questions: Will this contribute and add to my life and others in a positive way? Or will this detract and take away from me and others in a negative way? Is this an investment or a withdrawal? Can I do this and feel peace about it? Will it help me and others? Or do I feel a niggling tinge of uncertainty, tainted with guilt that I’m trying my best to suppress and override?

Let us not be like Hezekiah who, in his selfishness, did not worry about the plight of the people of tomorrow, but rather focused solely on the personal pleasure of the present.

A Cry in the Dark . . .

My twin sisters and I recently traveled to Disney World and we enjoyed a wonderful and memorable time of being together on a new adventure. While we were there, we went to Mickey’s Philarmagic in the Magic Kingdom, and something struck me during that 3D short film that I am about to share with you now.

As I mentioned, this was a 3D attraction, which engaged the sense of smell, sight, and touch. We really enjoyed the experience of the show, as did most people in the theater, which was evidenced by the laughter surrounding us. However, there was one individual who experienced the attraction very differently from the rest of us. Sitting in the row directly behind us was a young family…a husband, a wife, and a young child. As the lights dimmed and the screen turned on, and the volume from the speakers blared, the young child began to whimper, which eventually turned into wails. His response was in stark contrast to the crowd. He was effected very differently by the show. Throughout the entire length of the short film, this young boy’s cries rang out as he called for his mama, who gently shushed and reassured him. I could hear the panic and the fear in the child’s response which was thick with emotion.

The response of this child struck me because it reminded me afresh that we all have our individual weaknesses, fears, and struggles. This was not a thrill ride; it was a family show that I would not have thought twice about in terms of the ‘fear factor’ involved. However, I have a low tolerance for thrill rides—I hate drops, and so I am cautious about what I commit myself to in a theme park because once you are strapped in, there is no backing out and getting off a ride; you are stuck; you are committed, and so I understand completely the fear that comes from having to endure something you are uncomfortable with.

And so, the experience of this unconsolable child reminded me that we should never make light of the struggle someone else is experiencing because, while it may be a non-issue to us, it is very real to them. It is something they are experiencing, living with, and trying to work through. Rather than brush it off as inconsequential, we need to have a heart of compassion. We need to treat others as we would expect and hope to be treated, and extend grace as quickly as we would like to receive it.

Matthew 7:12 . . . So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Galatians 6:2 . . . Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

God is Our Power Source, and He Never Flickers or Fails . . .

Have you ever thought—really considered—how dependent we are upon electricity? It’s kind of scary to think about. We don’t usually notice our dependence and our strong reliance on it until we no longer have access to it. When the power fails, everything seems to stop. We are unable to turn on the lights, we cannot use a landline, or connect to the internet, or access our money from an ATM, we cannot even open our garage (ours is not manual). We feel very much at a loss, hindered and limited from our normal routine, especially when the sun has set and we no longer have the natural light to brighten our homes. We feel very vulnerable and exposed. We hate to admit our reliance on something else; we like to think we are self-sufficient but we are not. And in times like those, when the power fails, we are no longer able to deceive ourselves into believing that lie of self sufficiency.

God is our ultimate power source and, unlike our electricity, He will never flicker or fail. We will never be left without access to Him because He never leaves us nor forsakes us. We are dependent on our hydro, but we need to be dependent on our God. We cannot function without Him. Whenever we turn on a light, make a phone call, use the toaster, or whatever we do that requires power, let us remember how the Lord is our ultimate power source.

Acts 1:8 . . . But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you . . .

Acts 17:28 . . . For in Him we live and move and have our being.

John 15:5 . . . Apart from Me you can do nothing.

I Talk to Myself, and You Do Too 🙂 . . .

Some of the most important conversations you will ever have are the ones you have with yourself.

We talk to ourselves all the time through our thoughts.

The real issue here is not whether you talk to yourself, but what are you saying to yourself? What kind of conversations are you having? Are you building yourself up or tearing yourself down, slowly chipping away at the enamel of strength the Lord has graciously given you? In those moments when you may feel uncertain, or afraid, or hurt, what are you telling yourself? In that season of waiting, what are you speaking over your life? It is important to talk to yourself, but it is crucial to be telling yourself the right things. Choose your words wisely. Be very selective. Be very careful what you are speaking over your life. As a person thinks in their mind, so he/she is. Our thoughts and our words are so powerful…they help form the trajectory of our life.

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Pay close attention to your solo conservations because it will reveal the condition of your heart. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Guard your heart. Guard your mind. Be very careful what thoughts you allow your mind to entertain because the ones you dwell on will become rooted in your heart and determine your perspective and the words that come out of your mouth.

Keep talking to yourself, but tell yourself the right things—the things the Lord has spoken over you.

Proverbs 23:7a KJV . . . For as he/she thinketh in his/her heart, so is he/she . . .

1 Samuel 30:6b KJV . . . But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God

Who Are You Following? Choose Wisely . . .

We’ve all done it before. We are trying to find our destination, a place we have never before been, and the fear of getting lost wreaks havoc on our minds. What do we do? We look around to see if anyone else might be going in the same direction and we blindly follow them. In our minds, we rationalize that this other person looks knowledgeable. Surely they have the answer; they know the way. And so, rather than ask them where they are headed, for fear of perhaps looking ignorant, we simply follow them at a distance, trusting this other person to take us where we should go. Doesn’t really sound like a recipe for success does it? And yet we do it.

Blindly following after someone is not ideal, in fact I would argue that it can be rather dangerous . . .

The perils of blindly following after someone—you miss out on your own calling and fail to fulfill your own purpose. You miss out on your life. Admiring someone and being able to appreciate their giftings is one thing, but you have to be yourself and walk your own path. It is important we keep ourselves from idolizing someone else and seek to be their duplicate. God made you uniquely in His own image and bestowed unique giftings upon you specifically and strategically. Learn them. Cultivate them. Grow in them. Some people follow others blindly because they think they are the expert and they know the way, but in the end they end up wasting time, getting lost, and missing out. Think wisely. Pursue your path. Ask God to guide and direct your steps, to be a light to your path, and He will lead you! The only one you should follow after is God. He will never lead you astray.

Matthew 15:14 . . . If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.

Proverbs 1:5 . . . Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.

1 Corinthians 11:1 . . . Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.