Day 7: To what do I {hold} when my hands feel empty?

So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.  2 Thessalonians  2:15

{Hold} – my first thought – not very spiritual I know, but anyway…

A Seinfeld episode in which Jerry arrives at a rental car agency to pick up the car he previously reserved.  At the counter, Jerry is told the rental agency does not have the mid-size car he reserved.

Much annoyed over the continuous exchange, Jerry finally says to the rental employee, “You know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation.  And that’s really the most important part of the reservation – the holding.  Anyone can just take ’em”

Funnier when Jerry Seinfeld says it (or my husband imitates the scene) for sure, but the exchange makes a good point I think.  Especially as concerns spiritual matters.  It’s easy to take the word of God – to read it, to hear it, and to know it intellectually.  However, the most important aspect is {hold}ing to the Word of God.  poppies and wheat 31 days

At times when my circumstances seem impossible to bring about the good for which I hope, it’s most important for me to make a conscious choice to go back to what I know is true.

When hands seem empty and all is dark, dry and despair threatens, I must {hold} fast to the teachings of God.

A quick and easy way to reset my mind and my heart to the truth I know is to say my ABC’s.  Beginning with the letter A, I remind myself of the true attributes of God – my true Redeemer.  Perhaps you will enjoy it too.

  • A – Almighty
  • B – Beautiful & Bountiful
  • C – Cares for me
  • D – Deliverer & Delights in me
  • E – Emmanuel (God with us) & Eternal
  • F – Forever Friend, Faithful
  • G – God, Giver, Gracious
  • H – Holy, Helper
  • and all the way through Z

Gleaning again, as I read through the book of Ruth.  Naomi was familiar with the Mosaic Law and the provision God made to care for widows and to provide a redeemer of name and property through a near kinsman.

Reading the Scripture below in Ruth chapter 2, we catch a glimpse of Naomi {hold}ing to the truth she knew of God’s Word, His Law, and His character.  Not only did Naomi hold to the truth as a light of hope for herself, she held it out for her beloved daughter in law, Ruth.  Glean and {hold} the truth of God’s Word for yourself…

Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech.  One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.”  Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.”  So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.

 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket.  She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal.  

“Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!”  So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.”

“May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband.  That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”

Ruth 2:1-3, 17-20 nlt

Saturday Share coffeeToday is day 7 of the 31-day writing challenge for sure, but it is also Saturday.  Probably the aspect of Eyes on Jesus and Shine I am most fond of is Saturday Share.  It was God’s idea (so it’s the best idea) to offer a space for people I know to guest post their own testimony of truth God is teaching them right now in their current circumstances.

In this week’s edition of Saturday Share, my nephew, Brad Milford, has given me permission to share his recent blog post from Dear Elias.brad-and-elias.jpg

This (the picture) is the hope Brad has been {hold}ing to for months.  Even when his daddy-hands were empty and he had no human way of thinking he would get to {hold} his son like this, he prayed and begged God and he chose forgiveness and asked others to pray for him and asked Elias’ mom to relent.  He didn’t give up.

When all was dark and empty Brad was {hold}ing onto what he knew was true.  Love is right and God is good.  Period.

Thanks, Brad for teaching me to {hold} to God with the hope of His good for me as well!

Read Dear Elias: Dry Bones Come Alive by clicking here.

Disclaimer:  Brad wrote this post I think because I asked him to do it.  He wrote it quickly and posted it without revisions.  This is truly a 5-minute post (probably typed out on his phone).  I purposely have not asked to clean it up or edit or change it in any way because his daddy- heart scribbled out quickly with all the text-style spelling and grammatical imperfections is absolutely precious!

Ponders:

  1.  Is there something you’re hoping for, but the circumstances right now could tempt you to choose hopeless instead?
  2.  Will you speak your circumstances out loud to Jesus?  Regardless of your circumstances, will you ask a trusted loved one to pray with you for victory?
  3.  Circumstances can be very deceptive.  It can appear in our finite world of the 5 senses that nothing good is happening which will lead to a breakthrough.  What do you know to be true about God?  Will you write out His attributes/ His character in a journal?  (Maybe try the ABC’s)
  4. How about conducting a search for Scripture which teaches us about the character of God?  blueletterbible.org or biblegateway.com for starters
  5. Will you choose to HOLD to the truth you know until the breakthrough comes your way?

Will you share about your experience currently (or from your past) of how you’ve experienced God’s faithfulness in your life by the simplest action of {hold}ing on to the truth of God’s Word and His character?

Eyes on Jesus… you will Shine!   ~Lisa

Day 6: How do I know my {story} has significance?

So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.  I Thessalonians 5:11 msg

The book of Ruth is full of individual people simply living their lives while under God’s direction, and in His Sovereignty, their life circumstances became stories of experience.  And it was through the sharing of their stories a woman was introduced to the love and redemption of God, another was redeemed from hopelessness and a family name and lineage was preserved and ultimately became the lineage of Christ.

Just in the first two chapters of the book of the Ruth, it is evident sharing stories brought hope and encouragement.  Naomi heard.  Ruth heard.  The people of Judah heard.  Boaz heard.  As they heard, they were each moved to action.  Naomi heard the famine was over and went home.  Ruth heard and chose Naomi’s God for herself.  The people of Judah heard and welcomed Naomi home and embraced her foreign daughter in law as one of their own.  Boaz heard and offered safety and provision.{story}.png

Truly amazed once again, as I glean again in the harvest fields of God’s word in Ruth this morning, at the power of our story.  And freshly encouraged by what I already know is true, I am inspired (I hope you are too) to persevere in sharing my story as it is pertinent and the door of opportunity is opened before me.

I’m embarrassed to confess this, but sometimes I am tempted to believe my work doesn’t really matter for the Kingdom of God.  I’m just a receptionist, you know.  It seems surely I could make a bigger impact if I was a real writer of books or a speaker to groups gathered to hear Truth.  (I know, believe me, I am so embarrassed to confess this in public)

And then I hear myself at work sharing my life story with person after person standing in front of me seeking an answer to a question.  I have begun to realize God has given me a place to share my story – a hundred different snippets of mothering, marriage, aging parents, time management and priorities in faith, work, family, and so on and so on.

I realize just this school year, I’ve encouraged countless mothers with pictures and stories of my own two sons, who attended this same school years ago, with the truth – “Yes, they do grow up.”  I’ve laughed and pointed to the trendy gray streaks in my hair as evidence it hasn’t been easy, but “You’ll get there, mom, I promise!”

Recently, I rejoiced with someone whose family member came out of a coma and offered condolences to those who are grieving and encouraged someone to enjoy their aging mother more than worry about getting work done.share your story

God set this stage for me.  I realize even as I type this, He has given me what I’ve longed for all along – a place to interact with people, their stories and mine shared together to create community.  It doesn’t look like the stage I would have designed for myself, but I receive it as a true gift from God.  May I be faithful in stewardship over the position and privilege He has given me.

Our life stories intricately woven together by God become the beautiful, colorful pattern of His-story.  As we glean from Ruth, our story in His story has an eternal impact.

May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”  Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own.  The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David. Ruth 4:15 – 17 nlt

Ponders:

  • Do you know your life is a significant story?
    • What does Jesus want you to know about your story?  Will you ask Him for His view of how your life impacts your corner of the world for His Kingdom purposes?
  • What aspect of your life story are you most likely to share?
    • In what format or setting do you most enjoy sharing your story with others?  Do you find that others open up and share too when you begin to share your story?
  • Do you avoid sharing your life story because of a difficult chapter or two?
    • Are you able to identify the reasons why you feel your story can’t be shared?
    • Are there feelings of guilt, shame or unworthiness tied to your story?
    • Since the word of God tells us we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony –
      • what might Jesus want to reveal to you about
        • the power of His blood to redeem any story – even yours
        • the importance of your story
        • the power of your story redeemed as a result of His sacrifice
    • Would you be willing to ask God to open the door of opportunity for you to share your story?
      • What’s the worst thing that could happen by sharing your story?
      • Is it worth the risk?