Born for This

Today, I’m sharing a moment with Nahum. He is not a popular read; however, what I know about Nahum is that he was born specifically for his time on Earth. Nahum is a shining part of the great cloud of witnesses, I feel sure of it. {Hebrews 12:1}

Nahum, a man considered a minor prophet, but only by men. Oh, did he live in a wicked time.

Have you ever read Nahum? He wrote about the fall of a wicked kingdom, of oppressors and bloodthirsty rulers. He wrote of the good news that God does not take lightly the shedding of innocent blood.

Nahum. He knew what it meant to trust God. To shelter under God’s goodness in times of trouble. He lived it. Nahum stood on God’s side.

His instruction pamphlet on how to live well in troubling and dangerous times was an important read in his day. It seems to me, Nahum has some sage advice for us in 2020 as well.

More about Nahum

In uncertain times, those of us who are called by the name of Jesus Christ, must herald good news. We must learn to calm and quiet ourselves because our trust and faith is in God Almighty rather than man or science or government.

We must be the light shining and the voice calling out the way to salvation. We must declare the good news of Jesus. We must be the ones who run into danger and care for those who are wounded and lost.

We who are the blood-bought children of God must be salty. We must be bold for sure, but our love must be even more bold than our speech. Our eyes must be turned toward Jesus with our gaze fixed on Him. Our hearts must be tuned to the sound of His voice.

We must be fitted with His armor. The armor He made specifically for you and me to wear as we head out into the world. {Ephesians 6}

Voices from all sides shout, “It’s dangerous out there! Stay in and stay safe!!” Nowhere in the New Testament of the Holy Bible do I read that Jesus commanded us to stay in and stay safe, except for the loving admonition to stay in Him.

In fact, Jesus told His followers the absolute truth. He warned us that we would have trouble in this world if we wear His name, serve Him, and carry His cross. He informed us that we have an enemy, that we would face many trials, and that we should be ready to walk with Him through the valley of the shadow of death for the sake of making His name famous. Jesus told His followers to count the cost. Finally, Jesus commanded us to go and to be His witnesses around the world.

So, why must we live counter-culture? We could never repay Christ for His redemption. Yet, we do have the honor and the privilege of representing Christ as His witnesses. The marching orders have been issued, and we are His soldiers deployed on the Earth to spread God’s Good News message of resurrection life for all who will receive.

In the historical records, my name won’t be great. No one will read of my adventurous exploits in the name of Jesus. My name won’t become a book nor a movie. None of that matters because I am known by God in Heaven. If one day I should meet even one person in Heaven who would say that I introduced him or her to Jesus my minor life will have counted for much.

I am His and He is mine. The Living Word of God tells me that I am His daughter sealed by His Holy Spirit. The opinion that we are living in extraordinarily wicked and volatile times seems to be shared by most in my circles. My Savior is worthy of calling me up, and I will obey His call.

For such a time as this, I was created in the image of God. Born for adventure, my Creator designed me. Extremely honored am I to get to live salty, exemplifying bold love in a dark and dangerous world. I won’t stay in and stay safe. Like Nahum, I was born for more!

Ponders:

1. Have you spent a concentrated time recently examining the idea that you were meant to live on planet Earth for such a time as this? Would you be willing to schedule a dedicated time this week to ponder your place in history?

2. What questions do you have for Jesus a) regarding our world? b) His call on your life? How about scheduling a lunch date with Jesus so you can enjoy a lengthy conversation with Him?

3. Have you ever counted the costs of following Jesus through the darkest valley? Are there aspects of your spiritual maturity that you would like to dedicate to God’s transformational power?

4. Will you take time daily over the next 21 days to write a short note to Jesus thanking Him for the places you witnessed His presence? Then will you take time to listen to His heart for you in those moments? Will you receive His care and love for you?

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

https://bibleproject.com/videos/nahum/

2. A boat divided will sink

2020, I believe will go down in history as one of the most difficult years of a lifetime. Hopefully, in the future, many people will also remember that 2020 was the year of their greatest growth. Much good can arise out of painful and unwelcome circumstances. I know because I’ve witnessed this truth in my personal life.

And I believe I’ve earned the right to state matter-of-factly, MUCH GOOD can come from great pain.

For some the slow down has been a needed time out, which admittedly most of us would not have taken voluntarily. Truly, we are quite unaware of how fast we’re spinning because everyone around our orbit is spinning as fast or faster.

For others, wounds yet to be dealt with have surfaced and have become unmanageable. The stress and fear of uncertain times have caused the unhealthy coping mechanisms to spin completely out of control. The festering infection must be dealt with before it becomes fatal. That’s not drama. It’s just TRUE!

Hopefully, down the road, individuals, couples and yes, even whole families will be able to mark this time as one of healing, repentance and reconciliation.

What is becoming blatantly obvious, as many of us venture out into the public square, is that people are divided. The new normal doesn’t feel normal or good. On every side of every issue we’re wondering who is right and who is wrong. Who’s to blame and who will fix this mess. Everyone is feeling the raw hurt and loss of most everything normal and secure – even if it was false security.

When my dear man and I first stepped into our boat with Jesus, it felt much more like an exciting adventure ahead. Admittedly, we had some trepidation, and some honest questions. Yet, we were willing to step into another unknown, and in the end we would be glad. We knew that times on the boat {learning to sail} might prove challenging, but adventure with Jesus has always brought us growth, strength and deeper intimacy.

Because we had previously lived through some deeply trying times in career, church and family life we stepped into our training boat with confidence in our Teacher. He’s been our Teacher for a long, long time, and He’s never steered us wrong. Never! Still, it didn’t take long for us to realize that Jesus had determined we were now ready for the advanced training course.

May I state for the record, once again, our trust in Him as Teacher and our confidence in ourselves and each other has been severely tested.

The wounds in our very human hearts have again been laid bare as we began to spend many more hours in a day together. I had grown accustomed to my cherished quiet hours in the house alone before my dear man walked through the door from work. That was my time to putter, relax, listen to music, pray, read and process my day. Okay, let me just be honest, I simply liked being able to do whatever I wanted to do – alone. I cherished ‘me time’.

Suddenly, we were both home. Together. Alot. No more quiet alone time. I bristled at the loss of ‘me’ time and the invasion of ‘my’ space.

He didn’t want to be home either. My dear man had never planned to retire. Work was his passion and pastime. He was resentful of his lack of work, and was frustrated with the huge gap of time needing to be filled with productivity from morning to evening.

Realization set in as we tried to balance ourselves in the boat of our new normal. Neither of us were happy. None satisfied. I was working outside our home, which was all he longed for. And he was doing what my heart desired; staying home. Like seasick sailors we were topsy turvy and nothing seemed to settle the rocking. We struggled desperately to find the calm.

We were in the boat together. For better. For worse. For richer. For poorer. In health. In distress. With Parkinson’s. Without career. Missing the main income. We had stepped into the boat together and neither of us knew how to sail.

Our differences seemed exaggerated as time in the boat droned on day after training day without so much as a breeze to lift our sails. Too many times I allowed my insecurities to control my emotions. I pointed a finger in his direction and demanded to know when he was going to learn to sail so that we could get moving again.

I knew I was wrong. The hurt in my dear man’s eyes pierced my conscience, but the empathy in Jesus’ eyes over our broken humanity pierced my heart. I confessed my wrong. I was forgiven. Yet, I didn’t know how to resolve the helpless feelings of being adrift on the open ocean with a person who didn’t know how to sail.

Many times on certain days I completely lost sight of the fact that our Teacher was in the boat with us. He wasn’t going to let us sink. Or would He?

I cried out to God for help. We had already overcome some major marital hurdles and I didn’t want to fail this current test of oneness. Our boat was divided. And this lack of unity, we knew all too well, had the power to destroy even the most committed souls.

Jesus. Help!

He did. He reminded me to seek His face. He gave me a hunger for His word in which He reminded me to confess what is true, forgive what hurts, and love like He loves me.

We weren’t getting out of this boat any time soon it appeared quite obvious. So we needed to find ways to communicate, design rules of fair play and negotiate together the rhythm that would keep us afloat.

Now as I look at the condition of our western society trying to crawl out of a pandemic and all but total economic shutdown, I remember our personal learning curve. The ways our country has fractured and split in this year of 2020 are too numerous now to even count. We’ve fallen off the cliff of simply being divided down the middle of red or blue. We’ve splintered as a society into innumerable beliefs, thoughts, values and judgments.

What will keep us from self destruction as a society? A boat divided will sink.

All I know to do for our country, our state, and our local community in the turbulence is to cry out…

Jesus. Help!

You might think me a simpleton. A Pollyanna. You might think me ridiculous and you might not come back to read my words. That’s okay.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.
Psalms 107:31‭-‬32 NIV

I know what I’ve experienced is true. Jesus has always been faithful when I’ve been eager to give up. He’s always had answers to my questions and He’s always had solutions to my problems.

I’m asking for Jesus to help us, as people He created, to be patient with one another, to forgive readily and to be kind. I’m asking Him to have mercy on us and to teach us to be merciful toward others. I’m asking Him to open our eyes to His goodness and generosity, which will surely cause us to reflect His goodness and generosity to others.

Jesus. Teacher in the boat. He’s been teaching us to sail together, my dear man and myself. He’s teaching us how to sail and not sink. Guess what? Five years into training, we’re really getting the hang of it.

Yes, five years. Training takes time, especially for us slow learners.

I know our Teacher will do it for you too. I believe Jesus will show Himself faithful to you and your household. I feel sure He will step into your boat. He’ll stay with you even when you’re not sure whether He will let you sink.

So, what will you do? How about crying out?

Jesus. Help!

~Lisa

1. Waiting for the Wind

Welcome to Our Boat

My husband & I have been in the mightiest struggle of our 30 + years of marriage. Our struggle is not with each other, although we’ve been at odds a time or two. This struggle is one of coming to terms with and accepting the extreme detour we never saw coming.

His Parkinson’s diagnosis combined with a sudden up-ending of his career have landed us on a path we never would have chosen. Yet, we have been taking baby steps forward to gain our footing on the slippery deck of our new normal. And as we have slowly re-gained some balance and confidence, we’re realizing there are a number of amazingly good experiences we would have missed had we not been forced in this direction.

Along this quite lengthy adjustment period, the Holy Spirit has kindly gifted us with a helpful prophetic picture of hope to steady us. The picture has become a sturdy anchor when life feels like a storm tossed sea.  What do we see in our picture, but a sailboat adrift on the sea. Perhaps Jesus will help me to use words to paint the scene.

Holy Spirit, I ask You now for help. I want to take every reader on a tour of our sailboat. Please open the imagination of each reader so that they will have the eyes of their hearts enlightened to see what You have shown us. You are so GOOD, Father. Thank You for the peace and comfort You provide each of Your children as we dream and imagine right alongside You. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayers. In Jesus’ most precious name I ask, Amen!

Aboard this boat you will find my dear man & myself. I’m seated in the back on a bench while my man with the sun-tanned feet is at the front. And next to my man stands another man looking very comfortable and in-charge. 

Who is that man?

At first glimpse, the sailboat delights me. Can you see it bright and shining as it bobs upon the glassy water? It makes me smile as feelings of peace and joy wash over me like the warmth of sunshine.

I mean who wouldn’t want to be enjoying a sailboat adventure? Wouldn’t you? I see no dark storm clouds or turbulent waves in my picture. Do you?Of course not, it’s a perfect season for a sailing upon the open sea!

As I look up to watch my dear man at the front, I wonder {out loud} why we aren’t going anywhere. Immediately, the confident boatman turns toward me and speaks simple words, “I’m teaching him how to sail.”

I recognize Him. This instructor is… Jesus! 

The picture has given us words to create our personal couple language, which helps us to process our individual thoughts and feelings. We need to sort, sift and work it all through because we’ve never lived here before. Our emotions have an outlet as we imagine what it feels like to learn to sail in real time as we also recognize the feelings of being all alone adrift on the open water. Our boat is a place of hope because we see Jesus is with us. We grasp this truth; we are not alone. We are an intimate crew of three. As we watch and wait together, we realize that we are going to do this together. Jesus is our teacher, and we can see His confidence.

Thus, the sailboat becomes a shared imagery & common language by which we share honestly before the Lord and with each other. Our sailboat inspires us to hold onto hope like an anchor, which often keeps us from drifting too far into dangerous waters of doubt.

Before you begin to feel discouraged about your own detour, let me just add that we are slow learners. Our detour onto the sailboat was more than five years ago. Along the way, we’ve each had our roller coaster moments. I think my dear man would agree we’ve each experienced the full spectrum of emotions. Gratefully, one of us is usually on the upside when the other is sliding down. We’re definitely riding the crazy learning curve.

Interestingly, when we first found ourselves detoured from the life path we had chosen, we had no idea what lay ahead in 2020. However, as we take a look back we recognize God already knew. WE feel even more sure now that He was teaching us to sail while the waters were calm knowing that 2020 would bring storms.

We see the goodness of our Teacher to take us ahead for training so that we would be prepared for such a time as this. Jesus knew that many friends and family members would find themselves detoured, feeling unstable, fearful and insecure in the unfamiliar landscape. He knew that my dear man and I would be able to call out, “Hey, sailor, we’re here! You’re not alone. It’s going to be okay.”

Some of you experienced detours way before us. You were ahead of us on the learning curve and completely understand the difficulty of gaining balance and learning to wait well. We know we’re certainly not the first or last people to pass this way. Perhaps you know from experience or you have recently realized that both waiting and learning are required for a faith journey into intimacy with Jesus.

I wonder if you’ll join me for a season of pondering the detour, the boat, the training, and the waiting. Will you look with me at Jesus and some of His friends as we seek to learn from them as they trained and became useful for service in a new normal under Jesus’ confident tutelage.

Surely there’s much we can glean from their stories. Please feel free to ponder with me, ask your own questions, tell your own stories and offer your learned Godly wisdom. So, if you’re in ~ welcome aboard!

Someone Should Do Something…

Little Girl loved to take adventure walks. So, one day, beginning in her own neighborhood, she skipped through the familiar streets humming a familiar tune. So ingrained in her mind was the layout of her town, she believed she could walk it blindfolded.

Not out of duty, rather it was love which enabled her to memorize every straight place and all the turns and bends in the roads. More importantly she knew the names or at least the faces of the people who occupied each house. This was home, and it was filled with her cherished people.

All the sounds of her town filled the air in concert creating it’s own familiar song. She recognized and differentiated between the morning tune of the birds and squirrels from the evening rhapsody of the katydids accompanied by the occasional hoot of the owls calling across the woods.

On this particular afternoon, the sun shone so brightly across the housetops and onto the grassy landscapes that something large and luminous reflected back at her. Little Girl caught a glimpse of the shining object just for a moment, which caused her eager skip to slow to a stroll.

Perhaps she imagined it. Just maybe the gleaming visual was a mirage created by the heat of the day. But then just as she was sure it was her imagination, the brilliance of the far off object reflected in her eye once again. Little Girl stopped and stared long with a pondering thought.

“What could it be?”, she wondered out loud.

And, she wondered to herself, how did it get back there entangled behind all these homes and trees without her notice? This was HER neighborhood and she was very aware of all that belonged, and all that didn’t. Most assuredly this large and quite intrusive shining object was not a welcome addition to the landscape!

“What on earth could it be? How did it get here? And why hasn’t anyone sounded an alarm?!”

Most always in the mood for solving a mystery, Little Girl backtracked on her path to find the place where she first caught sight of the intruder. Feeling confident of her ability to find the truth with the sun shining its spotlight for assistance, she once again moved forward following the twisting and turning object which wrapped in and out and around the houses, through the landscapes and over bushes and behind trees.

At one point, the object had been laid bare toward the front of a very familiar house and lay exposed right along the sidewalk. As she pondered the immense black shining object, it vibrated with a ripple like an ocean wave. She jumped backward with a start as she realized this was a living thing rather than an inanimate object.

“What is it?! And how did it get into my neighborhood?”, she exclaimed right out loud to no one in particular.

The end of it, or was it the beginning, was buried behind an enormous rock. Perplexed by the irony of it all, Little Girl pondered with greater curiosity, how this intruder had been passed by without creating alarm. Excitedly, yet at the same time nervously she wondered why all manner of emergency personnel had not been summonsed to her neighborhood.

Now with increasing passion, the girl exclaimed, “Hello, is anyone home? Doesn’t anyone see what’s happened here? Intruder alert! Emergency…Someone call 911”

However, with this last outburst shouted into the air, the object slithered once again and an immense head raised up from behind the rock. It was not just a snake. The mystery had been solved most assuredly. The invader had unveiled itself as an enormous, shiny blue-black serpent.

As the serpent’s head, as large as the girl’s entire being, moved toward her with its forked tongue reaching for her with intimidating force and proximity. The girl backed away. Was this a nightmare? Perhaps she had been adventuring in the sun for too long without water. Once again she wondered to herself whether this was a mirage.

Again, the serpent lunged its ugly forceful head toward her. Little Girl was instantly slapped into reality with the realization that figments of our imagination don’t strike and lunge. Yet, if this was truly her reality, the question remained unanwered…

How could it be that she was the only one in the entire neighborhood who was aware of this menace?

Frustrated and angry, she through her arms in the air, and muttered, “Someone should do something. This isn’t right. A serpent doesn’t belong here.”

The serpent continued to glare at Little Girl, and she sensed this serpent was gradually squeezing the houses and the landscape tighter with its contracting muscles. Little Girl understood within the wordless exchange; it had no intention of leaving. It was in her neighborhood to take over – to kill, to steal and to destroy all she loved and held dear.

Little Girl’s fear melted into indignation. Her heart burned at the audacity of this massive serpent invading HER neighborhood. As the reality of imminent danger took hold of the girl, her arms flailed about at the injustice of this revelation. All at once she turned on her heels exclaiming, “SOMEONE SHOULD DO SOMETHING!”

Three steps on her way, she recognized the still small voice inside of her, and she halted. Her ranting stopped and her arms dropped to her sides. Yes, someone should do something. And she knew that she was the one who had uncovered the mysterious invader. Her eyes had been opened. It was her responsibility to do something.

With more than a bit of trepidation, she turned back to face the serpent. Simply out of obedience to the still small voice, she drew the sword from her side and raised it high over her head. Knowing that a slice of the sword would create an awful gush of mess, Little Girl clinched her lips and squeezed her eyes shut tight. She counted down in her mind – 3, 2 – preparing to drop the sword on the serpent’s head right as she reached the number 1.

Suddenly, through her veiled eyes she recognized darkness was enveloping her. Perhaps the sun, also wanting to avoid the mess, had ducked behind a cloud. However, before she could sneak a peek, she heard the definitive slice of a mighty sword and felt the earth shake beneath her as she heard a resounding thud on the pavement before her.

In an instant, light once again covered and warmed the girl. She opened her eyes and in amazement witnessed the serpent’s head had been skillfully removed from its body. The intruder was no longer a threat to her or to her neighborhood.

Someone had done something! As the reality of the moment gripped Little Girl’s mind and heart she pondered the state of her sword still raised and clean. Looking down upon her own clothing, even to her shoes, she realized not one spot of blood had touched her. Immediately sensing she was not alone in her battle she turned to see the outline of an otherworldly wing and the piercing glimmer of an enormous sword covered in blood.

Little Girl knew even then that she would be pondering this experience for many days to come, and possibly even years into eternity. What she recognized in the moment though was profound and would shape her decision making for the rest of her life. (Oh how she hoped this experiential lesson would mark her for the rest of her life.)

Once she recognized a danger no one else seemed to see, and accepted the truth that she was the one who was to “do something”, she turned to face the opposition, sword raised and ready to battle. In the moment of her choosing obedience, the angel of the Lord covered her with His mighty wing. He fought the battle for her. Little Girl’s only responsibility had been to obey – to accept her role – to let love push her to action.

The little adventurous girl would be eternally grateful. Though most of her neighbors never noticed danger lurking within, and would not recognize her selfless gift of service, her love for her neighborhood and the people who dwell within only grew ever stronger and more protective. More than that, Little Girl’s love for and trust in her Father consistently shined brighter in her heart and mind and strength with every passing day.

Little Girl knew, without a doubt, her Father would never leave her. To God be the Glory. Amen!

Self, what does {try} look like through your filter of life experience? (continued)

Recently I posted a short Five Minute Friday free write using the word prompt {try}.  You can read it by clicking here.

I was writing about Peter and the disciples in a boat, and Jesus walking to them on the water (found in Matthew 14:22-33).  Let’s continue with my last thoughts from the previous post:

Suddenly, they see someone walking across the waves.  The disciples first thought ghost. He had to be shining, right?  It was dark.  Or maybe the moon was His spotlight.Matthew 14

Anyway, Jesus called out to them, “Take courage.  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.”  I imagine Peter boldly standing up on the edge of the boat and screaming out into the wind, “Lord, if it’s You call me to walk out to You on top of the water….just like You are doing!”  I wonder, when Jesus said, “Come”, did Peter hear, “Give it a try.  Jump on out here!”

Peter takes a whole lot of ribbing for being impulsive, and maybe un-redeemed it’s called impulsive.  Maybe in the process of his sanctification, Peter was quick to trust.  Honestly, I read about Peter’s life as a follower of Jesus and think he might possibly be the poster child for the word {try}.

Perhaps I run to Peter’s defense because of the soft spot in my heart for him.  Possibly it’s because at 54 (not at 4 or 14 or even 24, but 54 yes!) I see myself a bit resembling Peter in action.  Truly, I’m quick to run into the thick of things before asking many questions.

 

Lisa crossing the S of G
Boating across the Sea of Galilee

Continually looking around to see what God is doing around me, I catch a glimpse and suddenly, enthusiastically throw my hand in the air like a third grader.  “Ooohhhh, oooh, Teacher, Teacher….pick me!  PICK ME!!!”

 

Sometimes Jesus does pick me.  There’s no doubt in my mind; I simply know He’s called me into the deep.  Other times I have done like Peter in this section of Scripture, and I’ve volunteered myself for an adventure.  I think the unintentionally proud thought might be, “Jesus, if You’re doing it then I can do it too, right?”

Either way, I tend to be quick to jump out of the boat – just like Peter – right into the water two feet first.  My eyes are on Jesus, wanting to succeed in this new adventure, and make Him proud of me – a step and then another.  But the waves and the wind and the dark, scariness of the whole thing overwhelms my initial excitement and…

I look at the obstacles and take my eyes off Him, and I wonder out loud, “What was I thinking?  Jesus, are You there.  I didn’t know what I was asking for really.  I’m sinking… can I get back in the boat?”

But when he (Peter) saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”  Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him…  Matthew 14:30-31

sea of galilee shore (2)
On the shore of the Sea of Galilee

You know, Jesus is always right there for me…just like He was for Peter.  I imagine He gets a big kick out of watching me get excited and want to try something bigger than myself. (You too)  However, He does need to remind me that I can’t do it alone. (You too) Holy Spirit residing within me is constantly refining my impulsivity and is instead creating a heart of trust and a will to follow into the great unknown.  I need Him…for everything, every day, and all the time.

And yet I can’t stop myself.  I want to make every day count for as long as I have days to count.  I still want to {try}.  I don’t ever want to wonder why I just didn’t {try}!

Ponders:

  1. Do you relate to Peter?  Do you think of yourself as impulsive?  Eager for adventure?  A risk taker?
  2. If yes to any of those characteristics, in what areas of your character do you recognize Holy Spirit’s refinement?  Instead of impulsive Holy Spirit is creating _________________ in you.
  3. If no, you really don’t relate to Peter in his willingness to jump out of the boat to walk on the water, what do you think you would be doing and or saying to him at the moment?
  4. Will you ask Holy Spirit for wisdom to understand your personality?  Your desire for adventure?  Your level of risk taking?  Your willingness to try?  Truly you are fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image and uniquely gifted for the edification of the saints.
  5. What one thing do you wish to {try}?  What’s stopping you?  What are you waiting for?  Will you talk to your Good Father about it?  I wonder if He might just call you to come on out and give it a try!