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)

Gentleness?

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“Ouch! That hurt!” …Whether a scrapped knee or elbow or a stumped toe, childhood memories for this tomboy keeping up with three brothers included the inevitable mishaps. My mother’s gentle, but no nonsense, ministrations with band-aide or ice packs taught me of compassion and strength. Care and concern was mixed with encouragement that all would be well.

Jesus modeled this gentleness and strength throughout his ministry. He reached out to heal and to provide for those who came to him. He also called them to show by their good life that their works were done with “gentleness born of wisdom.” *

Wow! That’s not so easy! We have all had our rather “unwise” moments when we’ve blurted out things without considering their consequences. “Bite your tongue,” people used to say when less than thoughtful words came out, or “I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying what I was thinking!” In listening to people, especially in news reports on television, it seems many are talking at once with little respect for others. Self-control and kindness are often disregarded… Our words and actions do not always reflect wisdom or a gentle spirit!

It can be tough to say or do things in a gentle (and more positive) manner, rather than just from a “self” focus. It seems significant that when Paul told the Galatians about the “fruit of the Spirit,” the last two fruits he listed were gentleness and self-control… We have to work at it, but the results are worth it.

One thing that helps me, is to take time to rest and de-stress as regularly as possible. It’s so much harder to respond in positive ways when I’m overly tired! Sometimes I need to remove myself from a situation or conversation, if only briefly, so I can calm down or take time to think first. We all learn what works best for us.

Gentleness? God grant me a gentle heart, so I can serve You better!

*James 3:13

Cling

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“Ahhhh!” Tearing plastic wrap off to place over a plate of food takes a knack! Have you ever wrestled with it, only to end up with a wadded mess or pulling out half the roll in attempts to get off a small piece?! After carefully pulling the mess apart or taking the whole roll out of the box and rolling some of it back up, the job is finally done.

I am reminded of a young child fearfully clinging to a parent when faced with a new situation or new people. It may take time to calm those fears as hands pat, kisses convey love, or words explain. That clinging speaks of a trust and a need which is basic for us all.

The psalmist spoke of clinging to God. “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” Like the child clinging to that source of security, when we hold determinedly to our source of help and strength we are comforted.

Likewise, when I climbed the ladder to the roof of our house to clean out the gutters (Yes, I did that!) …I clung to the ladder and to the snow guards, secure as the work was done.

We have that same security in God as we cling to Him and to His words. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, said to “cling to what is good.” Sometimes things may seem to be a wadded-up mess, but when we stick with God, He helps us work through our difficulties. Our lives reflect His presence… Because He is our help, we can sing, confident that His hand holds us up.