The Sands of Life

 

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Oregon Coast image – Tami Yeager

I fear we are living in a time where society as a whole suffers from a form of ADHD, (no disrespect intended, I’m only using this as a word picture). Attention spans are short, and distractions are easy, and forgetfulness is chronic.

We as people, gravitate to short snippets of the world around us. The technology of our times allows us to grab a snippet of our world news, politics, religion, and even the lives of our family and friends. That’s all we need. We’re then “up to date” and ready to run the race we fondly, call life.

We’ve received our ‘truths’ with little to no verification of solid and respectable sources. If the headlines, status, or tweets, lean the direction of our slant — we grab it. Resulting in half-baked judgement calls — at best.

We then embrace our freedom and share our “profound truths” across every form of social media available to us. By “sharing our wealth,” others are then able to do as we have, and grab or reject the snippets we’ve shared.

For example: Mother Nature is outraged, that’s why the world is being pelted by natural disasters at warp speeds. President Trump is to blame for the hurricanes and flooding and devastation.  If Obama was in office he would be to blame. God is mad at us, and His judgement is being poured out on our nation. This is the end of times. Global warming is the problem….. You can fill in the blanks, it goes on and on. What’s the truth?

My heart breaks as untold numbers of people — women, men, children, elderly, poor, rich, and all in-between, are suffering greatly. I’m left wondering what to do. The needs are great.

I believe God speaks in the storms of life. I’m listening for His whispers……. and wondering what He’s saying. I’m leaning into His chest and resting in His arms. Safety. Acceptance. Grace. Extravagant love. Pure salvation. Great purpose.

Amidst the torrential rains of suffering on this side of eternity, — there is a place of perfect peace. Our dark nights and the rainstorms of our souls will be met by blue skies and refuge.

God may choose to quiet our storms and open the skies for us in different ways. Some we’ve never dreamt of. In Randy Alcorn’s book, Safely Home, Li Quan’s storm was silenced…. by the opening of the heavens to him.

“As he was once born from a secret intimate warmth into a world of cold confusion and blaring noise and painful artificial lights, Li Quan was now born out of cramped shadowy quarters (a jail cell), into a wide-open realm of gentle warmth and natural light. His first instinct was to say to himself, “At last, the real world!”

“At last, the real World!”

Our world — one in which we are all connected — and equally created, in the image of a great BIG God, — is steeped in suffering.

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 ESV

Take heart. He not only carries you above the flood waters, and the fires and smoke, — He tenderly and graciously….. sends people to walk with you. Dare to look behind you, into your story, for as far back as you can see, it is there you will see many footprints in the sands of your life. I know I do. The sands of my life are littered with footprints where friends, family, strangers, and angels have walked. Places where only He and I have walked also.

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The Sands of Life image – Tami Yeager

In the torrential rains and the darkest of nights, — what is He saying to us?

Living in my corner of the world, I pray that I won’t be ignorant, or become numb to suffering. Like someone who has been exposed to radioactive material. I’ll work hard at de-contamination of my soul. I know the antidote, — God’s truths. Not opinions, even well intended as they may be. Not religious systems as suffocating as they may be. Not the sea of snippets I digest daily in every form of media I utilize. Simply God’s truth. I’ll find it, even if I have to dig painfully deep.

I’ll close my eyes, and live…… in wide- open spaces of Grace. A place to be — to rest — in His extravagant love. Inhaling deeply heavenly clarity, — resting in His peace.

I’ll stay grounded — right there. Being. Then feet first, I’ll ever so gracefully, ease myself deep into the world around me — and, within me. One filled with aching, broken, hurting, and lost people. My focus in the storm? His great commandment. Love. Sure I will miss it, and have to stand up, brush myself off, and re-focus. It’s okay. Love always believes the best and sees the best. You only loose the race, when you stop standing back up…. Or, God forbid, you deny your own vulnerability.

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 And Jesus replied to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others]. – Matthew 22:36-39

I’m going to power through and love, — other centered love. Sacrificial love. Broken and poured out kind of love. Jesus kind of love.

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Middle Eastern women and baby from poor village. image – Tami Yeager

 

My prayer is that we would be storm chasers. Looking to God for how He will change us and use us to in the hurricane forces of our lives and our world.

“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, 
when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, 
when we arrive safely because we sailed too close to the shore. 

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, 
we have lost our thirst for the waters of life, having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity, and in our efforts to build a new earth, 
we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim. 

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, where storms will show your mastery, where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizon of our hopes, 
and to push us into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love. This we ask in the name of our Captain, who is Jesus Christ. ”

― Francis Drake

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Go and Make Disciples

I wrote the following blog post in August of 2014. In wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels yesterday it seems fitting to share it again. While the names — known, and unknown have grown exponentially since then — the conclusion remains the same.

From August 2014 – My heart is heavy after being assaulted by the evil depicted across the internet last week of the American journalist being beheaded. The morning after I had the following thoughts:

As followers of Jesus Christ we must not be deterred by evil. Our mission remains the same as the day it was given to us—Go, and make disciples.

Now is not a time to halt; and count the costs. We counted the cost when we joined. We do not serve a God who revokes His call when the news is horribly grim. He is greater than the terror-filled words being screamed at the world by evil and demonic men. The Bible is filled with examples of God’s response to terrorists who taunt His people.

To many of us, the brutality we are seeing depicted on every media outlet may seem like a “new” kind of evil. While it is indeed brutal, it is not new. Christians have faced this enemy throughout the ages, and all over the world. I am struck by the fact that while I can turn off my TV, and avoid U Tube clips of the barbaric murder of our American journalist, many do not have that luxury. For many these acts are being played out in vivid color right now. If ever a time to pray, and take action, it is now. I believe today is a time for the church of Christ to step up its game. We are in, or we are out. We are hot, or we are cold. We are willing to give our life for our cause, or we are not.

Christians in refugee camp in Turkey receive a care package

photo credit – The Voice of The Martyrs USA

 

We must guard against walls of false protection being built up around our hearts, a deceptive fortress deceiving us into thinking we can hide behind it. When confronted by those whose culture and religion are unfamiliar to us, we need to reach across the self-imposed boundaries and love.

In light of the flames of persecution spreading across the globe I feel an urgency to stand up and do my part. Now is a time to run, and not walk—to be sober and alert. It’s a time to step up our efforts and give, pray, go, speak, and do whatever God calls each of us to do. We must live our faith out loud. We have no time to waste.

photo credit Milada Vigerova via UnSplash

Perhaps the façade we have cloaked ourselves with—the one that said to us “persecution only happens to ‘them’”—is being removed for our own good?

I pray we will redeem the times, and finish well.

Stand steady, and don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Bring others to Christ. Leave nothing undone that you ought to do. (2 Timothy 4:5)

Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world. (Matthew 28:19-20)

I am mindful of the One I follow — Jesus — this holy week. He was well aware of the danger, and pain, and suffering He would soon face. He never waivered from God’s plan, and call on His life. The carnage the world is being assaulted with today has not taken Jesus by surprise  — to the contrary — He told us this would happen. May we finish well.

21-23“When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived.  Matthew 10:21-23 The Message

For more information on how to help those suffering Christian persecution please see – http://www.persecution.com

Also posted at Eternal Perspective Ministries blogs – http://www.epm.org/blog/2014/Aug/22/face-evil-faith