Scripture: "And those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever." (Daniel 12:3)
Scripture: "Who could ever separate us from the endless love of God's Anointed One? Absolutely no one! For nothing in the universe has the power to diminish His love toward us. Troubles, pressures, and problems are unable to come between us and heaven's love. What about persecutions, deprivations, dangers and death itself? No, for they are all impotent to hinder omnipotent love...Even in the midst of all these things we triumph over them all, for God has made us to be more than conquerors, and His demonstrated love is our glorious victory over everything. So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God's love. I am convinced that His love will triumph over death, life's troubles, fallen angels or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken His love. There is no power above us or beneath us that can distance us from God's passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One." (Romans 8:35-39)
May the same grace and peace that resounds in heaven be with us always. How we need the grace to hold onto peace in some seasons. Life is a fascinating thing. There are so many things we simply cannot understand. IN our minds it makes no sense. We pray and pray but some situations don't have a fairy tale ending, and if we are not continuing to nurture our relationship with Jesus, we will have the same experience the apostles did right after they saw Him do the miracle of the loaves and the fish. A HUGE miracle! Jesus sent the apostles on ahead in the boat. He stayed to pray, and then joined them by walking across the water. Again, they had just witnessed a huge miracle, but it was dark, and when he walked across the water toward them, they were terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. (Luke 24:37) It's easy to scratch our heads and marvel at these clueless guys, but aren't we just as guilty of this? When we let life distract us, (and who doesn't have a lot going on?!) we can fail to recognize Him when He's right in front of us.
Complacency makes our fire grow cold. Busy-ness can be a dangerous thing. Of course, there are seasons we just have to get through, but our ongoing task is to nurture our relationship with Jesus. Our relationship with Him is the single most important thing in our lives. If we don't have a relationship with Him, we may still do spiritual activities or read spiritual books. We may even talk a great spiritual game, but if we are not "practicing the Presence of God", growing in the discipline of prayer, seeking Him with our whole hearts, minds and souls, we'll find ourselves like the apostles. We'll forget how to recognize Him, and we will think we're seeing a ghost.
Certainly, in this particular season we have the opportunity to be shaken awake! It's easy to go from inspired podcast to inspired reading to wonderful moments where we see God's hand clearly, but life provides MANY experiences that call for either radical trust when we see NOTHING, or we will fall like a pack of dominoes. Jesus did EVERYTHING to show us how much He loves us...not as global humanity but as individuals, each one a treasure to Him. He didn't look down and shout out directives from heaven. He CAME down, walked among us, told us about the love of the Father, and modeled that love with His every word and deed. He healed and delivered, He cleansed, He touched, He brought orphans back into the family. He even raised people from the dead. He conquered the scariest things we humans could deal with, and He conquered with a certain fire, a fire called LOVE. His kind of love defeated every illness, every single thing that binds and blinds us, everything that terrifies us. His kind of LOVE is not always a feel-good kind of LOVE. It's the love that says, "I know that in this world you'll have trouble, sickness, confusion, losses that make you double over, because I know what life can hurl at you. BUT, don't be afraid. I'm here with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. I've come to overcome each of those things. And to prove My love for you, I'll let them do to Me what you are most afraid of. Watch Me. I've made a way for you. Take your little cross and follow in the path of mine. This life is a practice ground for learning to trust Me; learning to believe in My love. There is nothing that can keep you from My love. There is nothing that can keep you from My Presence. If you want Me, I will decimate every barrier between us. Pray for a hunger to know Me. Seek Me. Long for Me as I long for you. I'm alive! I'm right here. I'm as close as the air you breathe. I'm IN you and I am with you. "
It's been a week of all sorts of difficult news in the natural. Some weeks are like that. I am focused on two things. There is no illness, disease, war, cruelty, poverty, death and destruction in heaven. So, we pray without ceasing and stand of the promises of God that He is the healer, the deliverer, and the One who will make all things new. I'm also standing on Nehemiah 8:10, which says, "The joy of the Lord is my strength!" How do we learn to pull out the joy, to seek the peace and promises of the Kingdom, to believe for healing, when we have a house full of Covid, the diagnosis is terminal, the job fell through, etc etc etc. There's only one way that I know of. CHOOSE. CHOOSE to trust that God is in control and that He is GOOD. CHOOSE to surrender your ideas of what "should" happen and look for His fingerprints. CHOOSE to seize JOY, and not be conquered by the circumstance. CHOOSE to believe His Word, because every promise is true. Even if our idea of a perfect solution doesn't pan out, we must CHOOSE to turn it over to Him over and over and over. For instance, we NEVER stop praying for healing, but if healing isn't happening here on earth, then we offer every bit of it to the Lord to be used redemptively however God chooses.
Today I had the privilege to join with many to celebrate the life of one who is the epitome of all I've just talked about. This precious young mother leaves her wonderful husband and 5 children. She leaves a family and countless friends who love her. But not only that. She leaves one unbelievable legacy for us all. She had a pretty brutal cancer battle for 6 years. She blogged through it, danced through it, wore rainbow wigs and huge, wild earrings through it. She told God she could be sick from treatments from 4-5 am, because then she had to be up making lunches and couldn't look sick for her kids. She had to have energy to write them love notes for their lunch boxes. She had to be able to laugh and be present to them even if she was sick as a dog. She asked us all for prayer intentions so she could use her tough treatment times to pray for others. She was the consummate encourager. And she was real. She wanted to live. She wanted to raise her children and be with the love of her life. But when it became increasingly clear that nothing was working, she continued fighting but she surrendered EVERYTHING to Him. I was told that in this time of Covid and distancing and all the rest, they estimated over a thousand people streaming through the Church last night at Wake #1. The wake lasted 5 hrs. There was another wake this morning before the funeral that was concelebrated by probably 10 priests, with the primary celebrant being her precious brother. Why do I tell you this? Because the impact of one JOYFUL, SOLD OUT, SURRENDERED disciple changes the atmosphere and changes their world. Daniel 12:3 is speaking about this young woman. "And those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens; and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever." Her life, her unstoppable joy, changed her world incredibly.
God just asks us to stay in our lane and be faithful there. She rocked it. She lived intentionally. She loved intentionally. Life was tough. Cancer plus a houseful of little ones, a husband, family, hopes, dreams, NOT easy. She chose how she wanted to live. She danced until she couldn't. And then her eyes still danced. We can too. We must. The world needs to see Christians who look like Jesus in the middle of our regular lives, especially when it's tough. Let's CHOOSE to be people of joyful hope. Because He shows up with just the grace needed. Let's ask the Lord to grow our roots down deep in His love. Let's pray to be passionate believers in Jesus, no matter what. WE CAN. He will give every single thing needed to run our race. So often it's the toughest times that allow us to see Him in all His glory. I bet if we asked Elise right now, she'd stop her dance party in heaven long enough to sing us her favorite Bob Marley tune, "Every little thing's gonna be all right."
It is ALWAYS true that in Jesus, every little thing's going to be alright! So, let's give all of our worship, all of our praise to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And remember that a life saturated in Jesus's Presence leaves HIS touch on every person encountered. Let's choose to run our race with passion and determination
until we have our own dance party in heaven. And let's keep each other in prayer.