Oh No, Not Me

Have you ever heard someone talk about how God provided for them in a moment of deep need? Food filled the empty cupboards. Cash appeared just in time. Healing happened at the last moment. Strength came in the face of discouragement.

How amazing to hear those stories! We marvel at the faithfulness of God and praise Him alongside someone else who has experienced His goodness as a tangible part of their daily life. But when God gives us the opportunity to have our own stories of faith through job loss, health challenges, financial difficulties or a change in our circumstances that affects our ability to provide for ourselves, we shrink back a little and say, “Oh no not me, Lord. My faith doesn’t need strengthening, thank You very much. I’m fine just as I am. I already know You are good and trustworthy and true. I’ll just take Your Word for it.”

And yet, when we stand on the precipice of something entirely other than what we are comfortable with and have a plan for, we don’t need to be afraid. When circumstances take a turn and the very things we once put our hope in are no longer there, the Holy Spirit is inviting us into something deeper and infinitely more profound and life-changing than to remain as a bystander to someone else’s life of faith.

It’s never easy, because when you’re on a faith journey you know it deep down in your bones in a way you’ve never known it before. It is “next-level” walking with Jesus. You can feel yourself sliding out of your comfort zone; you live and breathe each moment with a heightened awareness that there is no way you can do this on your own.

The tidy answers are elusive and there literally is just enough light for the step you are on.

You’re throwing yourself at the mercy of the Lord, asking Him to make a way when there seems to be no way, praying for wisdom and watching Him work out the details before your very eyes!

I saw this quote from author and Pastor Timothy Keller that so perfectly expressed the difference between where you were and where you are now. He said “it is one thing to believe in God, but it is quite another thing to trust God”.

Yes!

If you’re having trouble trusting Him in your circumstances, cry out to Him!

Let God use this faith journey, this season of need, this moment of uncertainty, to do His work in your life. Let Him grow you in this time so that when you look back you can say with the Psalmist, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13 NIV)

dawn branch

A branch in the morning light

What We Really Long For

hockeyequipment

Me in my brother’s hockey equipment

I come from a hockey family.

Growing up, the boys played shinny at the Rec on weeknights while I “figure skated” with my friends. Saturday night at 6, it was Hockey Night in Canada with my dad and my endless questions: “Who were the Leafs playing tonight? What’s icing? Who’s LaPointe? Why is he on every team? How come there’s no goalie in the net?” He graciously answered each one, giving me my first hockey primer.

As a young girl I fell asleep watching the stars out the window of the backseat on the way home from countless practices and games. We spent evenings and weekends at rink after rink, burning our tongues on cheap hot chocolate and freezing our rear ends off cheering on my big brother and the team. He was a zippy little forward who made his little sister so proud! There are pockets of memories filled with shouts of “c’mon ref!” and that arena smell – cigarette smoke and Zamboni exhaust mixed with freshly-flooded ice and old hockey equipment. The winters of my childhood were spent running around the bowels of the home arena while the game went on, begging my parents for candy and red and blue Slush Puppies from the concession. I had uncles who made it to the juniors and cousins who are still hoping to.

When I heard the news from Humboldt, my heart broke. I went to Bible School in Saskatchewan and have connections to the people in that community, knowing they grew up with a deep love of the game.

At the vigil on Sunday night, I was overwhelmed by Pastor Sean Brandow’s clear presentation of Jesus. It was amazing to see him speak so candidly about the need we all have deep inside, and the question he asked at the end of his message stuck with me.

“What will you do with one breath? Each breath that you have left, what are you going to do with it? Will you seek the God who has walked and who has died to show His love and His concern and His care for you? Or will you get bitter and angry and frustrated? Come to the God of comfort.”

Comfort.

Isn’t that what we really long for, even in the day-to-day? Underneath all our efforts to make life just a bit easier, we hunger for true rest to be our lasting reality.

But where can we go to find it?

We search all over for a way to alleviate our suffering, and instead find a God who Himself suffered so that we could find comfort forever.

Easter Sunday has long passed, and yet, here we linger.

In Luke 24 the angel asks the women at the tomb – “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here – He is RISEN.”

This is the crux of our faith: if Jesus is not risen, our faith loses its power.

A dead man cannot forgive or save. A dead man cannot heal and bring new life.

The memory of a teacher can inspire us to do good to others, to be kind in every situation, to share what we have with those in need. But a dead man cannot bring the true transformation required to find an eternal hope and a future free from pain and grief. It’s a deeply rooted change of who we are that shifts our allegiance from ourselves to Someone far greater. Someone who is worthy of our worship and brings a rebirth into a living hope and inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade (1 Peter 1:3-4).

Without a living God there is no internal change and without that internal change, this hope to be a better person, the longing to be whole, and our desire for greater significance all become a frustrating and futile effort. We may be doing the right things but our hearts still struggle with bitterness, selfishness and pride that ultimately leads us down a path of ruin.

We need a way for the change to stay.

We need more than “Jesus the example”. We need the real Jesus – the One who walked through suffering, took our sin, conquered death and lives in victory.

We need the Risen Jesus.

The final verse Pastor Sean shared at the vigil was Romans 15:13 –

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Our hearts are broken for Humboldt. Time cannot heal this wound – only Jesus can. And because of His wounds, we can find healing for ours.

The Little Coffee Tree

Every so often, I try my hand at a little parable of sorts. This one was inspired by my very first glimpse of a real coffee bush.

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coffee bushes

I shot this at the Maui Tropical Plantation in 2009.

Once upon a time in a land far away, there was a coffee tree.  Day in and day out, it stood against the elements.  Each season, without fail, it faithfully grew its coffee cherries.  And as it stood firmly in its soil, doing what it was made to do, it never knew that thousands of miles away, people were gratefully drinking in its offerings.

It just kept on growing.

(Makes me wonder if we could ever possibly realize the impact we have by being faithful  to what we’re growing, right here and right now.)