Devotional – The Night Watches

Psalm 63:6-8

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me. 

Good to know God is waiting for me right where I left Him. I’ve struggled with my quiet time lately. I’m allowing life to get in the way. I had myself in such a great rhythm, but have totally lost momentum. Although getting back into my devotionals has been on my mind frequently the last few weeks, I have been keenly aware the past 48 hours of how much I miss my time with the Lord.

My daughter is sick and I’ve been up dealing with vomit the last two nights. Not fun stuff. In the midst of all those night-time dashes between my room and hers, I’ve felt totally unprepared for this thing called parenting. Holding back my own nausea at the smells and sounds of a sick child, I’ve prayed for strength and wisdom frequently. Finally, after Madison’s bedroom was no fit place for anyone, I slept (or more accurately did not sleep) on the playroom floor, comforting my child. I used the time awake to pray for my baby girl, and think about how God cares for me. Stroking Maddie’s hair and listening to her breathing made me think how much it would hurt me if my little girl decided she didn’t want to spend any time with me. And yet I’m doing that same thing to a God who loves me infinitely more than I cherish my daughter.

Then, my first devotional back begins with this wonderful passage from Psalm 63 and a reminder that Jesus wants to help me through my day – that the challenges I face are only going to be handled well in Him. Thank the Lord that He is my help. I’m so in awe this morning at God’s ability to continually meet me right where I am. That in my night watches over my daughter, God has been drawing me back to Himself. That in my bleary-eyed, weary state, He is waiting to stroke my hair and help me through all that is before me in this day.

Devotional – Mission Possible

Luke 1:17 For with God, nothing will be impossible.

Do I really believe that? The Bible says it. Plain as day. It is all possible. Anything you can dream or imagine is within the realm of possibility with God. It might seem crazy. You may think there’s just no way it will happen, but NOTHING is out of the question.

This week, I received a huge lesson in trusting God for what seems impossible. A person I thought would never see Jesus for the loving Savior He is, came to know Him in a personal way. This man has been on the receiving end of desperate pleading prayers for 30 years. Right up to the day before I learned of his salvation, I would have told you there was no way. His heart seemed impenetrable. His mind totally closed off to the things of the Lord. And yet, God was able to reach him and touch him in an amazingly mighty way. I’m particularly thankful for God’s grace and mercy in this life because, it was my grandfather (Poppa). I visited him a couple times this week and am overwhelmed by that change God’s peace has brought to his demeanor. He is a new person. Incredibly soft and sweet in the midst of severe pain – with a graciousness I have never witnessed in him before.

It has made me reconsider the limitations I put on God. The box I keep Him in seems so small in light of such an obvious transformation in a life previously so lost. I think the problem is, we assume God is restrained by our own weaknesses. I am too tired, emotionally drained, physically weak to really accomplish the things I want to each day, and I place those same limitations on the Lord. How can He have the time and energy to deal with all the world’s issues, and still take an active role in my little life? Isn’t He exhausted? If, in all my mental prowess and debating skills, I am unable to make someone see the logic of following God’s plan instead of their own, how will God reach their mind and heart? Even in my prayers, I’m trying to ask or tell God how I think things should work out, rather than relying on Him to direct me in His perfect will and plan.

The incredible reality is, our Lord is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Even when we think we’ve figured out the “best-case-scenario”, God’s end-game is always far better. I need to start allowing myself to open up the box and let God be free to do His work in my life, and through me into other lives.

Devotional – Parking Lot Walking

Psalm 73:23-24

Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.

In my walk with God, I tend to leave Him in the dust as I jump ahead to my next big plan. The picture in this Psalm this morning reminded me of when I walk in a parking lot with my three-year old, Madison. I’m trying to get from the car to whatever building we’re heading for, she wants to jump over bumps on the ground, talk about the parking stripes and stop to look at a leaf. It’s very difficult to hold her hand (my other, occupied by her little brother) as she leaps off the ground suddenly over an invisible “bump”, quickens her pace to see something amazing just ahead or suddenly stops completely mid-stride to examine the ground. In the midst of all her little activities however, she never lets go of my hand. Even as the world around completely distracts her from the task we’re accomplishing, she understands the safety represented in keeping her little fingers entwined with mine. Continue reading

Devotional – Thanks For Nothing

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. (The Message)

I say “thank-you” all the time. When I drop my daughter off at child care, if someone lets me in front of them in line, picks up a toy Donovan has thrown from the cart, or hands me a sugar packet I couldn’t reach across the tea-table. The niceties in life are always met with a swift “thanks”. But how often do I thank God for the blessings in my life? Not often enough. Even less do I thank Him in the midst of trouble. My devotional book is written as if it’s Jesus talking, a line from today read – “When you thank Me for the many pleasures I provide, you affirm that I am God, from whom all blessings flow. When adversity strikes and you thank Me anyway, your trust in My sovereignty is a showpiece in invisible realms.”

I recognize God’s overt blessings in my life. I’m grateful for my (mostly) well-behaved children, caring husband, comfortable home, for the career Zack has been successful in and that God allows me the freedom to be home raising my family. I cherish my childhood, the advantage I have as a mother because I had godly, loving examples for parents. My grandmother is taking my husband and I (and siblings, parents, cousins etc.) on a week-long Mexican cruise – I’m REALLY grateful for that! I’m supremely thankful for my good health and ability to use all my limbs. Which brings me to the concept of thanking God in adversity. I don’t know that I’ve ever done that. I certainly have never overflowed with thanksgiving for the struggles in my marriage. When Madison is being an ornery three-year old I’m not praising God for her presence in my life. When my dad started having heart problems, I don’t remember emoting gratitude. When I was told just after Christmas that my legs still needed another month to heal, I didn’t walk out of the clinic worshiping the Lord for His goodness in my life.

Griping and complaining rather than being thankful is a demonstration of distrust. As hard as it is for me to grasp, no matter what happens, God know what He’s doing. The application of knowing that is gratitude. For the good and bad in life, cheerfulness. I need to take a deep breath and be disciplined in displaying joy.