Yearning

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“I hope they get here soon. I can hardly wait to see everyone!” There’s something about time together with friends and loved ones that satisfies us deep down. We wait in anticipation for visits or celebrations, yearning to see them. We’re thankful for opportunities to be with family and friends and for the support and encouragement of others.

Time alone is important too. I value and look forward to my alone times because those moments turn me and stretch me toward our Creator. Struggles and challenges in life make me aware of my own neediness. Quiet times allow me to listen from the depths of my being.

One of my favorite pieces of music is “The Yearning” by Craig Courtney. He expresses so well our struggles and our desire for a better future, for Emmanuel… God with us. “There is a yearning in hearts weighed down by ancient grief… hearts that in the darkness hide… a yearning for tomorrow.”  We find joy in a “Lord who visited His own.”

Job longed to see God. He said, “I will see God. I myself will see him with my own eyes, I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job had a lot to face and yet he still looked to God!

Don’t we all want things to go well and to make it through any difficulties? We want full and meaningful lives. We yearn for God with us. May our yearning be satisfied as we approach God, thanking Him for His sacrifice and provision, and may we live in anticipation and fullness of life, guarded by His presence.

*Job 19:26b-27

Welcome

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“Welcome,” I read on the door mat as I crossed it and entered my home. This small mat was more than a place to remove water or dirt from shoes before going in. When we welcome someone, we invite them to enter and we offer hospitality.

Many stores now have greeters who stand or sit near the entrance and welcome those who are coming in. What a difference a smile and a friendly hello and welcome can make on a busy day! My church also has greeters, someone who welcomes those who enter, offers assistance, and provides any needed information.

When we find ourselves in a new place or are unsure of where to go, a welcome is much appreciated! The book of Matthew in the Bible says, “… I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” There is something about feeling welcome which eases stress and encourages us.

How aware are we of welcoming others?

We can welcome others to join a discussion in process, catch up on news, share our day, tell about something that happened. This is just as important as the “hello” we may hear as we enter a business, if not more important. As we welcome others, we are saying you are important to me. You are of value. I recognize you. It is reflecting God, who cares about them.

Jesus welcomed all people to come to him, although some of the religious leaders grumbled about that and criticized him. What an example he is to me and a reminder not to be so critical of others. Sometimes we lose sight of the person on the inside, or we forget that there is always more than we can see, know, or understand. When have we been unwelcoming toward someone because they were different from us or did not live up to our standards?

I’m so glad that God welcomed imperfect me! Just as he welcomed the little children to come to him, he welcomes us all. My prayer for us is that as we are out-and-about each day, we will be more mindful of welcoming others as well.

*Matthew 25:35, Luke 15, Matthew 19:14

It’s Broken!

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“It’s broken!” the young child exclaimed when he saw the picture of the crescent moon in the boardbook we were looking at. “Yes, it does look broken doesn’t it?” I replied.

When I have looked at my own life and at the world around me, I too have exclaimed, “It’s broken!” Seeing only a part, I have focused on the sharpness and darkness of the crescent moon and not on its light. In the midst of struggles, it can be easy to forget that there is One greater than ourselves and our situations… that there’s more to the moon than we can see!

What can we do when overwhelmed with our own brokenness and the brokenness of others?

Jesus used several illustrations about brokenness… When the crowd of people who had come out to hear his teachings grew hungry, a few loaves of barley bread and some fish were offered. Jesus took those loaves and fish and broke them, not only providing for the needs of the people but also having basketfuls left over.

When eating with his disciples in an upper room, Jesus broke the bread and told them it was like his broken body, soon to be sacrificed for them. The two men from Emmaus were able to recognize Jesus only after the bread was broken. They understood that Jesus had been broken too and they were given the good news of life. Jesus sacrificed himself for all who come to him, seeking healing… seeking forgiveness.

By giving God our brokenness, we are strengthened and able to go on. Out of pain comes light. Like the people who followed Jesus, we too come together to support, share, and encourage.

Out of brokenness, hope and life is born! How amazing is that?!

*Matthew 15:34-37, Matthew 26:26, Luke 24:35

Eyes to See You

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“Peek-a-Boo! I see you!!” Oh, the delight of a young child to play this simple, timeless game. Eyes widen in surprise, laughter, and self-discovery. Peering around objects or through fingers, we look into each other’s eyes. Mirrors are just right for that discovery and for making silly faces. Is that me?! I recognize ME. I see YOU too.

Like a child, we look into the eyes of God. “A-hah! I see you!” we say in those moments of recognition. But sometimes we struggle to recognize God and wonder if He sees us.

Shortly after Jesus’ resurrection, he walked with two men traveling on the road to Emmaus. They were prevented from recognizing Jesus as they spoke together of what had passed in Jerusalem. During the journey Jesus explained to them the true meaning of Messiah. Later, as Jesus shared a meal with them in their home, they saw him break bread and “then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” *

The men from Emmaus recognized Jesus when their eyes were opened, but the breaking of the bread came first. Jesus revealed himself to them through this small act. Like a child I peer around the “stuff” of life, looking for God’s eyes. “Peek! Where are You?” I really want to see Jesus more clearly. I walk in conversation and discovery, like those who traveled with Jesus to Emmaus, through the passing of days and years. It is in the journey and during the times that I sit with God that He is revealed.

I like the way Paul spoke of “the eyes of your heart” in his letter to the church in Ephesus. He said, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” * Although our physical eyes may be dim, our heart can reach beyond their limits. May you find joy in that discovery. God delights in His children. I see you! I recognize you. You are of special value and joy, He says.


* Luke 24:13-16a, 31; Ephesians 1:18a

I Wish

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Stuff of dreams
Of hopes thought prayer

I wish for
A world of promise

I wish for
All to know the
Light that shines

I wish for
Joy down deep

I wish for
Peace within

I wish for
People to
Respect each other

I wish for
Compassion for all

I wish for
Others to be encouraged

Desires of life
Do justice
Love kindness
Walk humbly with God

 

*Micah 6:8

 

Hide and Seek?!

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“…98-99-100. Ready or not, here I come!” The excited words of the children’s game of “Hide and Seek” are familiar to all of us. I remember well my childhood days of playing outside in the summer twilight with my brothers and neighborhood friends. As we hid among the bushes, behind a shed, or a corner of the house, the one who was “it” would try to find and catch us, as we ran laughing about the yard.

Life is marked by a series of “seeking.” We all have those times of anticipation, doubts, and questions. What will I do when I graduate from high school? … Where will I work? … What do I really believe and why? … How can I honor God as I search for the best path? … Who will I marry? … Where will I live? … What is that next step in life, as an individual or as part of a larger community?

Like in those childhood days of “hide and seek,” sometimes the growing shadows and cooling air of twilight bring comfort and rest. Friendships and laughter encourage us, and faith is strengthened… At other times, we find ourselves darting about, straining to see through the darkness or to hear any indication of the presence of someone who cares. “Ready or not, here I come!” We may question life and wonder if there is a God. The writer of 1 Chronicles said, “If you seek him, he will be found by you…”

That is such a comfort! But, sometimes I have just been too exhausted and overcome to seek Him. The psalmist turned this around when he asked God to “seek your servant!” Luke reminds us that God’s Son “came to seek and to save.” There God is, already with us and looking for us while we struggle with our own confusion or need. Not hiding, but patiently and lovingly waiting before us.

I am so grateful for God, who seeks us and who encourages us to seek Him! I pray that He will grant each of us faith to trust Him more, knowing that He is with us even when we are struggling or unable to sense His presence. Thank you, God… for being that companion along the way, for next steps and new directions.

 

*1 Chronicles 28:9, Psalm 119:176, Luke 19:10

Springtime Promise

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Brrr!! The calendar says springtime, but cold rain, sleet, and snow have been falling! Some people find the cold season invigorating. For me, those first buds and sprouts are a promise that warmer days are coming and with that promise comes anticipation. Even as the earth stirs as from sleep, I too stir… contemplating the year ahead and the winter past. It reminds me of some verses from a seldom read passage in the Song of Solomon, which my father loved: For lo, the winter is past. The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

I look forward to new opportunities and growth, windows open wide to greet fresh air, and summer gardens and lawns. Even the responsibilities of work, church, and family seem more enjoyable. It is easier to turn loose of the “stuff” that tends to pile up during cold, lonely, or difficult seasons. When faced with challenging times, my mom would often say, “this too shall pass” … and she was right! Even as winter passes into springtime, so life moves on. Mom’s reminder and optimism was much appreciated, not that all would always turn out as wished but that we can be assured that God would get us through.

How my impatient or hurting self sometimes struggled to see that though. It is in more recent years that I have come to better experience the peace God provides for each day. Snow melts and sunshine warms! That’s why I love the springtime. Flowers appear. Singing comes. Life is renewed.

*Song of Solomon 2:11-12 (also known as the Song of Songs)