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Living in Faith

Waiting through the weeks of Advent

December has rolled around and we’ve entered Advent, the weeks of waiting and preparation before we celebrate Jesus’ birth at Christmas. I had every intention of writing a post for each week of Advent, but none of my ideas found their way from my head to my keyboard.

Fortunately, I have friends whose posts will give you some beautiful things to ponder as you begin this year’s Advent journey.

Here are three I hope you’ll enjoy. If you click over and like what you read, consider subscribing to their blog so you’ll get an email whenever they post something new.

How are you preparing to celebrate Jesus? Have some of your plans already gotten off track (like my intentions to blog)? We can always regroup and try again – that’s the beauty of going through life with Jesus.

Be blessed, my friends.

Living in Faith, Scripture verses, What I've Learned Lately

Thank you for your service

I noticed the man several times as I made my way up and down the grocery store aisles. Old jeans, faded red t-shirt, thinning white hair. He was shopping alone, and I overheard him asking other customers for help finding things a few times. As I walked past the shelves of sports drinks, I heard him ask a lady about the difference between some of the brands.

“I know it’s a stupid question,” he said. “My wife usually does the shopping, but she just had surgery and our granddaughter is coming to visit so I need to buy the groceries.”

What a sweet man, I thought, and kept adding things to my own cart. When I was ready to check out, I looked for the shortest line — and ended up behind him.

As he turned to pull groceries from his cart, I saw what filled the front of his t-shirt: a gold U.S. Marines emblem the size of a dinner plate.

I am proud to be an American and am so thankful to live here. For years, I’ve sent up silent prayers for servicemen and women I happen to cross paths with. I’ve often thought I should thank them for what they do but — for whatever reason — have always shied away.

Until that Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago in our local Kroger.

One time when the man turned back to get more groceries, he glanced back at me and our eyes met. “Sir, were you in the Marines?” I asked.

He straightened and gave me a small smile and nod. “Yes, I was.”

I smiled back. “Thank you for your service.”

He stared at me, then smiled wider and I saw tears in his eyes. “Thank you. Thank you for saying that.”

He kept putting his groceries on the conveyor belt and finished checking out. Just before leaving, he turned to me. “Thank you again. God bless you, ma’am.”

No, I thought as I watched him leave, God bless you.

Thank you for your service.

I never imagined how much those simple words might impact someone. I definitely didn’t imagine that saying them would bring tears to the other person’s eyes.

I don’t know when that man was in the Marines or where he was stationed or what kinds of things he saw or did. What I do know is that he was willing to risk his life to defend America, if needed. He was willing to make the biggest sacrifice possible, if needed — and that’s the biggest gift you can give.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13 NIV)

Veterans Day here in the U.S. is Nov. 11, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice between Germany and the Allied nations that ended World War I. It took place on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, which is why many ceremonies held on Nov. 11 are at 11 a.m. and include a moment of silence at 11:11 a.m.

I’m so thankful for all the men and women who have been willing to serve our country and do what they can to protect it.

Thank you for your service.

Such ordinary words, but they can mean so much when they’re heartfelt. I need to say them more often; will you join me?

 

“Thank you for your service.” Such ordinary words, but they can mean so much when they’re heartfelt. #VeteransDay Click To Tweet
Living in Faith, Scripture verses, What I've Learned Lately

Restarting after getting stuck

A wasp is caught between the window and screen above our kitchen sink. How did it get there? We can’t see the slit that it must have slipped through, but some sort of opening must be there. Now the wasp can’t seem to find its way back to the hidden opening either, so it crawls along the screen, looking in vain for an escape route.

I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve found myself in the same situation.

Restarting after you've gotten stuckWhether I’m going along oblivious to the things around me or consciously make a decision that sends me down the wrong path, the result is still the same: I’m stuck in a place I don’t want to be and don’t know how to get out.

Sometimes the thing I want — the place I want to be — is right in front of me. But like the wasp that can see the outdoors but not find its way to freedom, I can’t always easily find my way back to where I want to be, either.

I don’t think I’m alone. In fact, I know I’m not because the Bible tells multiple stories of people who found themselves in a place they didn’t expect.

You might think of others, but two that come immediately to mind for me are:

  • Eve, who ate the forbidden fruit and then shared it with Adam (Genesis 3)
  • Jonah, who hopped on a ship going in the opposite direction from what God instructed and then ended up thrown overboard and in the belly of a great fish (Jonah 1-2)

These are important stories and have lessons for us to learn, but one of the biggest self-imposed “stuck and turned around” stories for me is Moses.

Yes, Moses was a great leader who God used to get the Israelites free from Egyptian slavery and through the desert toward their Promised Land.

Yes, Moses had such a close relationship with God that they had true back-and-forth conversations.

Yes, Moses was the person God entrusted with the 10 Commandments.

But before all that, Moses was a murderer.

He was raised in Pharaoh’s household and many scholars believe he was being groomed to take over Pharaoh’s throne. But beneath the fine Egyptian clothes, education, and abundance of food and drink was a Hebrew man. As much as it may have seemed he was ingrained in Pharaoh’s family, Moses knew his true heritage.

One day when he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave, Moses snapped. Rage overtook him and he killed the Egyptian. (Exodus 2:11-12)

What happened next? Moses panicked, just like the rest of us would.

He buried the Egyptian in the sand and thought no one saw what he’d done — but he was wrong.

The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?” The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.” (Exodus 2:13-14 NIV)

When word reached Pharaoh, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses escaped and fled about 700 miles east to Midian.

Talk about being stuck in a place he didn’t expect or want to be!

One day Moses was living the spoiled life of Pharaoh’s heir apparent. The next, he was a murderer. And then he was a fugitive trying to escape Pharaoh’s wrath.

The years Moses spent in Midian weren’t wasted. He met his wife Zipporah and they started a family. He worked as a shepherd for his father-in-law Jethro.

Do you know what shepherds have a lot of? Time. Hours and hours of time away from other people. Time to think. Time to dream. Time to reconsider. Time to repent.

We know that David used his time as a shepherd to connect with God and I believe Moses did, too.

When God was ready — and when He knew Moses was ready — He called Moses from his “stuck” place in a big way. Moses wouldn’t live the rest of his life in Midian as a shepherd. Instead, he would return to Egypt to demand that Pharaoh release the Hebrew slaves.

Moses wouldn’t hide from prying eyes and try to walk through life unnoticed. Instead, he would be front and center as the leader of God’s people.

It was all because God had a bigger plan for Moses and Moses was willing to follow.

It can be the same for us when we’re stuck somewhere we didn’t expect. We might be surprised, but God isn’t. We might not know which direction to turn, but God does.

We might feel trapped like the wasp behind my screen, surprised to be in that place and unable to find our way out (which it did, after a couple of days). But we can get out of our stuck spot. We can cry out to God for help and be certain that He hears us.

  • The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. (Psalm 34:15 ESV)
  • When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. (Psalm 34:17 ESV)

And when the time is right, God will help us get out of that spot and on to the next thing He has for us, just like He did for Moses. We just have to be willing to follow.

How have you been reminded lately that God will help us get unstuck, even when we brought it on ourselves? Is there something you can do to help someone else see this for themselves?

Share a comment so we can encourage each other.

When the time is right, God will help us get out of our “stuck spot” and on to the next thing He has for us. Click To Tweet
Living in Faith, Scripture Saturday

Scripture Saturday: Psalm 103:2

 

Psalm 103 2

I love this translation of Psalm 103:2.

Many translations use the wording “forget not all His benefits.” I didn’t have a good grasp of what that meant when I was younger, but “never forget the good things He does for me” is about as plain as you can get. It’s something that’s easy for anyone to understand.

God is good to us in big ways, small ways, and all in between.

It might be something huge, like curing us of a medical condition. It might be something insignificant in the big scheme of things, like having all the traffic lights on a busy street be green in your direction.

Even when we don’t realize it, He’s doing good things for us. He always has our best interests in mind, always knows exactly what we need (or don’t need).

How has He been good to you lately?