Another Sunlight and Power

question-mark-g04e738b2c_640I don’t know what you are facing…a relationship challenge, a failure of some kind, a financial mistake, a natural disaster, a dashed hope, a serious diagnosis, a betrayal, a home improvement gone wrong, an age-related issue, a missed opportunity…there is an unending list of things that stress us out and cause discouragement, even anxiety in this world.

Each one seems more than enough to handle on its own. But those times when one seems to follow another, when there doesn’t seem enough time to recover from one when another takes hold, it can be crushing

When I begin to feel like that, I remember 2 things from the Bible.

pexels-michelle-andrews-118776031 – Proverbs has something to say about being crushed:

17:22 says A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

18:14 says The human spirit can endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?

2- And what Paul said in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians :

ceramic-g92395581a_6404:7-8 says But we have this treasure in jars of clay (we are the jars of clay) to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (but the power in us is from God!)  We are hard-pressed on every side, but not CRUSHED!

 I had begun to feel crushed when a serious health issue I had been dealing with became grave. Complications were mounting and it was feeling overwhelming, crushing.

question-mark-40876__340Have you ever felt you could handle the actual circumstances, but then something changes in how you feel about it, in your spirit – – And that makes all the difference in the world?

I was feeling Proverbially crushed. But remembering that word Paul wrote CRUSHED, I looked up that reference and was encouraged.

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I AM only a jar of clay, but I have a POWER in me that surpasses any challenge, every trial.

 

In verse 16 Paul says (my emphasis) Therefore WE DO NOT LOSE HEART! Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

HOW? Verse 17   By fixing our eyes NOT on what is seen, but on what is unseen

cloud-729064_640As I was entering the building to pre-op for a surgery to create a dialysis fistula since my kidneys are failing, God gave me this poem – same building He gave me poems of encouragement when I went for my Breast Cancer biopsy, mammogram, and surgery consultation. (see the other blogs titled Sunshine and Power)

It was only later that I saw the connection to these scriptures.

Sharing this poem with you to encourage you to look for ways God is speaking to you about your situation.

Ask Him to speak to you.

Let Him speak through these scriptures.

Or the Sunlight.

Or the Storms.

And listen.

 

Your Power

I know that You are with me
I have felt this way before
and time and time again You’ve fought
and helped me win the war

But I’m getting older now
And every battle that I face
takes a greater toll on me
It’s only by Your grace

That as my body weakens
You are strengthening me within
This is how I fight my fears
And this is how I win

Your power is made perfect
Through the weakness that’s in me
And though I’m feeling helpless
it is not what others see

They see how You have lifted
And enabled me to stand
And delivered me from hardship
By Your mighty, sovereign hand

And so I put Your armor on
And face each day anew
In gratitude and faith
I thank You for being You

Laura Fail Shaffer © 7-13-2022

Fully Alive! Guest blog by Eric Sprinkle

V got injured. bad. A friend who tore his leg up described what she did as “jacked up her leg”. Ouch.

physical-therapy-7321056__480The re-hab was long and painful. And much of it alone. Sure, friends were there, but in the end, 4hrs a day of slow, painful progress, it was all up to her.

And yet she persisted.

She did the work. She kept on schedule. She doubled her re-hab times and did two rounds each day. She chose self-control, choosing to say no to activities that would either slow her recovery, or possibly even re-injure her leg

injury-g2004589b7_640It was still slow. And yeah, it still hurt. It was frequently frustrating and full of painful memories of what she would normally be doing right then, except for this injury. But slowly and surely, it was all making a difference. Her leg was healing. The tendons were strengthening. The muscles restoring, slowly stretching back and filling in the places they’d filled before.

As a result of her long, hard work at getting past this injury, she was now ready to test it out. To go out in exciting, real-world conditions and see exactly what the payoff was going to be for all those months of effort. Standing there on that small sandy beach in Colorado, watching the chilly snowmelt water racing by, unsure of what was about to happen. Knowing it could be a mistake. It could cause harm. Nothing physically terrible, but devastating emotionally.

Whatever was going to happen, we were about to see. It was time to push off.

question-mark-40876__340So what about you and me? Are we living, or just existing? Fully alive, or just coasting by? Living and active in our communities, our jobs, our relationships? Or are we letting some things slip by. Opportunities to bless others that just weren’t convenient, or let’s face it, we already had other plans. Something interesting was on TV instead.

Are you saying yes to opportunities? Saying yes to grandkids? Saying Yes to whatever our Heavenly Father is offering? Volunteer opportunities you’d be perfect for. Offering a neighbor a hand. Running a quick errand to the store for someone. Are you making yourself available to the needs of others?

What about in your own life. Do the photos of you see someone smiling, loving life? Enjoying the garden? Having fun with the grandkids? Do you do the animals noises when you read them stories? It’s not convenient, maybe doesn’t make a huge difference at that age, and hey, it takes loads of energy too, but why not?!? It’s so fun for them!

Do you say yes to making pies for church socials? Coffee cake for bake sales and fundraisers? Are you saying yes to coffee with friends, even if it’s a bit earlier than you’d normally like.

It’s so easy to Observe life going on by — through our TV, our screens, our social feeds and emails. It’s so easy to get into the habit of mistaking a full Inbox or lots of fun Pinterest saves for a full life, but is it really?

question-mark-40876__340Does any of it matter to people outside of you and me? Does it leave a legacy behind after you’ve moved away? A legacy of changed people, healed people, encouraged and supported people. Are you living a life that invests in meeting the needs of others? Bringing rest to the weary. Peace to the frightened. And hope to those that have had a hard, lonely winter season in life.

Sometimes, bringing that hope is easier than we think. A quick smile. Offering a short prayer. Walking over and offering a handshake. Other times it can be a bit more involved. But sometime, just sometimes, all it requires me to do is step up and make a rafting trip happen. Oh yeah!

EricBlog1And so there we were, blasting through waves and narrowly avoiding boulders as we dropped through a 1,000 ft river gorge, laughing and woo-hooing the whole way.

Stepping out and extending a hand to others. For God’s glory. Sometimes it seems daunting, but other times it’s as easy as going out and having an absolute blast with a friend. And at the end of it all, there’s seeing someone’s life change. Seeing them move from observing to participating. From un-engaged to laughing and cheering.

Seeing how our Lord God allows us to be a part of His glorious plans, to extend the hand of Jesus to another, using our own meager lives. It might be subtle. Probably not as loud and obvious as whitewater rapids, but it’s there. We sometimes get to see a glimpse of God’s hand at work, brining healing and restoration to someone’s life.

Seeing them, if only for a moment, returned to living a life that’s truly, marvelously, and fully alive!

Eric is my Co-Author of the 40 Day Prayer Guides series, and also Co-Authored Adventure Devos.

See more of Eric Sprinkle and check out his latest adventure on his exciting website: Adventure Experience

4th of July!

airplane contrailPatriotism. What does that even mean today?

Pasrade (2)I grew up attending military parades, air shows, fireworks displays, community picnics and outdoor concerts.

Today it can be hard to even get neighbors to talk to each other, much less agree on important issues that are dividing our country.

Abuse of power, violence, disunity, disrespect. It’s disturbing. 

How long since you’ve said the Pledge of Allegiance?

I say it now to remind myself of what it means and what I’m committed to. Maybe saying it more often can help us focus more on our unity, what we have in common, than our differences. Can you say it with me?

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I pledge allegiance to the flag

Of the United States of America

And to the republic for which it stands

One nation under God, indivisible

With liberty and justice for all.

My Father’s car

Mustang into carrier1Have you heard that analogy of life and faith and driving a car?

The car is like our life. It’s ours and we’re driving it. And at some point we may pick up religion and invite God to be a passenger. We offer Him the back seat to ride along with us.

In our conversations with Him we decide He’s a worthy companion and invite him to ride at our side and move to the front seat. Becoming more familiar with Him we realize the benefit of taking His advice and believe that He is trustworthy enough that we can follow His directions and make Him our co-pilot.

At some point, either when things get really hairy or perhaps when we become weary, we might even step aside and ask Him to drive the car. And that is supposedly the picture of real faith… Jesus take the wheel. We are willing to ask Him to direct our life and go where He takes us when and how.

But I believe at this point in my life I am seeing a more accurate picture representing truth.

The car isn’t even ours. It’s His. Our very existence came from God. And He created each one of us for the specific cars, or lives, that He has in mind.

Let that sink in. He is the creator of our life. The metaphorical car is the life we are living. and He created each of us to be able to handle the car, the life He’s put us in.

pexels-dominika-roseclay-1252500Along with this life, this car, He’s given us a road map: The Holy Bible. And He has provided us with a co-driver, a copilot: The Holy Spirit.

We are, I am, just responsible for getting the car from point A to point B. And I’m given, or allowed experiences, relationships, all kinds of situations to help me grow on my journey.

In this metaphor some of us are driving comfortable sedans. Some, luxury cars, sports cars, race cars, minivans, sport utility vehicles, station wagons or even Volkswagen buses.

At different stages of life some of us are driving rescue vehicles, or moving vans, food trucks, or cement mixers as we are called on or choose to help those in need. And other times we are the ones who need the help; in need of a tow, an engine overhaul, or significant bodywork.

The car belongs to God. It is He who allows us to drive. And sometimes we take our lives where He never intended us to go.

But thankfully, each of His cars, each life, is equipped with a GPS a Godly Positioning System! Which means God knows where we are at all times. And He is available to answer any call day or night 24/7.

If we get lost, run out of gas, drive into a ditch, or have a total wreck, He will answer our call. And always has exactly what we need.

twisty road1If we let Him, He can take us on joyful rides visiting exciting places. If we choose to follow His directions He can take us by quiet streams, beautiful vistas, gorgeous scenery that takes our breath away. He can take us on exciting twisty-turny roads. He can lead us through wide-open spaces or help us navigate cities with extensive interstate interchanges.

Some of us will use our cars to win races. Some of us will bring food to the hungry, or supplies to those stranded along the highway. Some of us will tow the sick or injured to receive medical help. And we all have the option to make use of the roadmap and the copilot were offered.

I feel as if I’ve just realized it’s my Father’s car I’ve been driving. And if I had realized that all along I would’ve taken better care of it. I’d have kept it cleaner, washed it more often… been more careful where I drove it.
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I love this car! And I feel like I haven’t been grateful enough for being given it to drive. I now see it was a mistake to think it was mine all along and that I was in control.

I can’t turn the odometer back. But at this point, I can get out my maps… check in with my copilot… and give thanks every day, to my Father – for this amazing car – this amazing life!

Will you join your Father?

When I go to my parent’s home for a visit, I love doing things with my father. It doesn’t matter what it is.  He is always busy at something.  If I get up and he’s in the yard planting gladiola bulbs, I go out and help plant gladiola bulbs.   I don’t do it because it’s my favorite thing to do, or because I am particularly skilled or ‘gifted’ at it, or even because he needs my help.  I do it to be close to him and spend time with him.

If he’s polishing the silver, I pick up a cloth and help him polish the silver.  If he’s trimming the trees, I pick up some clippers and manage the trash bin.  Again, not because it’s my favorite activity, or because I will get recognition, or even because of any sense of accomplishment.  But because it’s something we can do together.  And I love spending time together.

He is delighted when I help, but if I don’t join him in an activity, there is no condemnation or guilt.  He doesn’t get angry with me, or not allow me to join him in other activities.  It’s just that I missed an opportunity to spend time with him.

I think it’s like that with our Heavenly Father too.   He is at work all around us.  And when we see Him at work, we can choose to join Him.  It may be in an area we feel gifted in, or it may not.  It may be something we will be recognized for, or not.  It may become our life’s work, or it may not.  But our motivation is that we get to be with our Father.  And that is also our reward.

When I die, it is doubtful I will be remembered for some great ministry work, or some famous accomplishment.  But I hope it will be said of me, that I loved spending time with my Father.

In John 5:17, 19; Jesus told us His Father is always at work, and He did only what He saw the Father doing.

What do you see your Father doing?

Will you join Him?

Some of the fruit of our labor:

gladiolas