On Wings Like Eagles

We were blessed to have a houseful of family and friends join us for Easter. It was a delightful time of celebrating and visiting.

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And by the end of the day, I was ready to put my feet up for a few minutes after being sure the food was properly stored.

 

On Easter Monday, with a quiet home, and a lovely, sunny day, I began to strip bedding, gather towels and clean the floors. What surprised me most was the negative feelings for all the “work” that was left behind.

 

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WHAT!?!

 

It surprised me to realize that resentment was welling up within my inner being.  I had enjoyed the company. There was plenty of help. I had simplified the menu, largely because of what I have learned through observing Sabbath.

 

As I continued to do the clean-up, I asked God to change my heart. In answer to that, He whispered in my ear, “Pray for those who slept on the sheets, who dried themselves with these towels, who took time and effort to come to your home and shared their time with you.”

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What a difference it made! Soon my heart was singing with thankfulness for having family and friends to celebrate Easter Sunday.

 

Practicing Sabbath gives me space each week to tune into the quiet, gentlemanly voice of God. As I listen each week, I am more sensitive to the gentle whisper and more quickly repent—turn 180 degrees—and return to walking closely with God.

 

Had anyone been watching me that day, they may not have seen any change. But my heart went from weighed down to rising on wings like eagles!

There IS Rest

“Sometimes life feels like you’re running on a treadmill while someone keeps pushing the button to increase the speed faster and faster.” from “The Lies of Busyness: Devotions from Time of Grace”
 
As I read that, I remember that feeling. Even after the girls were grown up and creating homes of their own, it seemed there was never enough time in a day or a week.
Swinging
 
But as I read this quote this morning, a quiet voice nudged my thoughts.
 
“You don’t experience this feeling too often anymore, do you?”
 
It is true.
Quietly, imperceptibly, I am learning that the treadmill continues to go around, but I can choose to step off.
 
Two things have changed that.
 
#1 – Observing Sabbath rest.
First, I chose to do only tasks that weren’t on my list, tasks that felt creative on that day. For instance, baking cut-out cookies and decorating them with my granddaughters was NOT on my “to-do” list, but on a “Make memories with grandma” kind of list.
When that got easier, I began to give myself permission to read for a couple hours. Something fun,something frivolous, something that wasn’t on any list except my own “Books I want to read someday” list, or a recent recommendation from a fellow reader.
Then I was introduced to an on-line friend friend at a retreat in the middle of Nebraska. Shelly Miller’s Sabbath Society is a weekly letter about learning to observe Sabbath through the ups and downs of life in our day.
So I am journeying toward observing Sabbath. Not always perfectly, not always quietly, but recognizing it as a day to invest in people, relationships, and my inner self. It is not a day to catch up on what didn’t get marked off my to-do list or, even more damaging, getting a head start on the list for the coming week.
Rather than dread Sabbath, as it seemed so terribly dull to me as a child, and wasteful as a busy, employed mom, it has become a defining rhythm of my week, and as I discovered this morning, of my life.
It is a gift of God, reaching down, helping me to step off the treadmill.
#2 – Hosting Christmas 2013, knowing that it was very likely the last Christmas we would have to spend with Kenne’s mom. Though I had begun planning early for the 24 hours her immediate family would spend together in our home, I found myself adding things to the list to make it a memorable time for all twenty-two of us.
While the last minute purchases of prizes for a couple games were fun, and the photo booth that my girls helped me put up at nearly the last minute made a back drop for some fun photos, it did not define our time together like laughter, singing, our traditional program, and spending time reflecting on favorite family memories.
But it did help me realize that while lists can help me to focus on what needs to be done, my tendency is to keep extending the list.
Sabbath reminds me that the list needs to have a stopping point. That Christmas’s never-ending list is a marker for realizing my propensity for continually adding to a list.
But what a gift this morning that I am learning, slowly as it may be, that time is not my master. God’s gift of Sabbath, once I embraced it, has helped me be more subject to Him, my Lord and my Master.
So yes, I am learning that God wants me to step off the treadmill, to slow it down, to rest in Him.

Learning to Love God

Over the past four days, we’ve had the pleasure of caring for our nearly 8 year old and 3 year old granddaughters. It has been a joyful time, filled with lots of fun farm activities.

Water puddlesrock wall and kittytrampolinewashing RangerPetting one week old pigletsBest buddies

It has reminded me that it takes many prompts, by example and with words, over many years to develop good habits, like washing hands and brushing teeth.

So it should not surprise us that Moses reminds the children of Israel again and again and again that God loves them and desires their undivided love and devotion.

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” Deut. 6:5

Even after the dramatic showing of God’s power through the ten plagues in Egypt that led to Pharaoh relenting that all the men, women, and children could leave, the Children of Israel forgot.

Despite the miraculous rescue when the war chariots of Egypt were pursuing them from behind and before were the waters of the Red Sea, they forgot and complained that God had forgotten them.

A few weeks later, when Moses was on the mountain receiving the Laws of the covenant, in less than forty days, the people forgot about the Holy God and begged for Aaron to make a ‘god’ for them to worship.

If they needed reminders after seeing the mighty hand of God, we are more likely to forget.

Just as we tire of reminding our young family members to wash their hand, brush their hair, put on their gloves and boots, eat their vegetables, etc., we become weary of reminding them about loving God and obeying his commands.

Our task is passing down the legacy of our faith has eternal consequences. In our heads and our hearts, we know that it is the most important work we do.

Yet we are human.

We need reminders.

God knows that.

 

Make His Word a part of each day.

Cultivate friendships for holding yourselves accountable.

Do not tire of speaking of your faith.

Pray over each other.

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24,25

Give your spouse, your kids and grandkids a hug and a reminder that God loves them today.

Prayer – Important even when not urgent

Most of us can pray the Lord’s prayer from memory. This model from Jesus focuses on God, but includes our needs. Praying for each other and our struggles is a vital part of fellowship.

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For several years, I’ve been using Scripture prayers to guide my thoughts and intentions.  One of my favorite passages is Ephesians 1:16-19.

This morning my Bible reading app centered on Colossians 1:9-13, Paul’s prayer for the believers in Colossi. Some of the things Paul prayed included

1) complete knowledge of His will

2) spiritual wisdom and understanding

3) lives will honor and please the Lord

4) produce good fruit

5) grow to know the Lord better

6) strengthened in his power

7) filled with joy.

Somehow, God connected Paul’s prayer with an idea from Steven Covey about how we often deal only with the urgent items- surgeries, illness, and loss- while neglecting the important things, like spiritual growth and wisdom. This leads to burn out and dissatisfaction, for the weekly prayer list is consistently long.

In Covey’s First Things First book, some of the important, but not urgent items include preparation, prevention, planning, relationship building, empowerment.

When was the last time you made a list of important but not urgent matters to pray over your loved ones and the people in your church family?

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Try praying a few verses of Scripture for people in your life. Here is one based on the verses in  to get you started.

Father, as I think of _________ today, give them complete knowledge of your will today, along with spiritual wisdom and understanding. Let the choices they make today bring honor to You and please You. Work in their life to produce good fruit, like you describe in Galatians 5:22, 23 – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. As these fruit become evident in their life, may they continue to know the Lord better every day. And today, strengthen them in Your power and fill them with joy that overflows to those around them.

You might discover that God opens up “showers of blessing” (Ezekiel 34:26) as you pray His Word and His blessing into the lives of those around you.

2 candles Dec 8 2013

Praying for the Future

Last night, we enjoyed the annual 4-H barbecue supper on the beautiful lawns of the 4-H grounds. Not only is it a chance to encourage the youth that work so hard on their projects and exhibits, but it is also an opportunity to see friends and neighbors.

4-H days

Our conversation across the table was a delight, especially after we shared one of our unused napkins, since they had run out and the couple across from us did not have one.

Though I’m not sure how we got there, the talked went back in time to my grandmother and the other couple’s mom/mother-in-law. These two ladies were best friends back in my little home town community, so even though our lives haven’t intersected too often until the past ten years, we share a lot of common stories.

Then came the light-bulb moment.

“We are still coasting on the prayers of those women. They prayed for their children, their children’s children, and the children of those children.”

Psalm 103:17New Living Translation (NLT)

 But the love of the Lord remains forever
His salvation extends to the children’s children.

Wow! As a grandmother, I have prayed for my grandchildren, even before they were conceived. Prayers for health, for a heart that is soft to the Lord , sound minds, and lots of other details as they come along.

But I had not thought before that I could begin praying for their children and even THEIR children–my great-great-grandchildren.

What a legacy to leave my family! For prayers enter the realm beyond time, the place of the Eternal. So long after my life on earth is over, the prayers that I pray now will continue to impact the hearts of those for whom I pray.

Earlier this summer my second cousin visited on a history-seeking journey. We located gravestones of his great uncle, our grandfather’s sister and her husband, his grandmother on his dad’s side, and his dad’s cousins (my mom and aunt).

But when we looked through old wedding photos of our great-grandparents, he commented, “That looks like my dad when he was that age.”

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Which prompts me to think that since the genetic pool continues, and the family resemblance crosses multiple generations, I can visualize those future babies and children and young adults that I am praying forward.

So I challenge you to focus some of your prayers into the future for those you love, and those you would love if you were still walking on this side of eternity.

If you don’t know quite what to pray, try praying this from the pen of the Apostle Paul.

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit  so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together  with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings. Ephesians 3:16-19

So PRAY it forward!