Saturday, January 26, 2013

 

A Word of Encouragement in Hard Times

Several years ago I was struggling with some hard circumstances that had arisen in my life. Things were not going as I had planned, and I felt that God had all but abandoned me. In the midst of a particularly difficult emotional struggle, I had a dream one night. In this dream, a person that I thought was Jesus came to me and offered words of comfort. When I awoke, I wrote down the words as I remembered them. I hope these words may provide some encouragement for someone else who is struggling.  This is what I remember he said:

My child, if you will die, I will produce the harvest. Do not think that I have forsaken you, nor believe that I am incapable.

I am God.

How can you worship that which is limited and unnecessary? How can you submit yourself to that which is not divine? What need have you for a ministry? What need have you for fame or fortune? When will you learn to be content with me?

How long must I wait to see my dreams fulfilled in you?

I long to hold you in my arms of love, to heal the scars of bitterness, anger, and rejectionn that have trekked across your heart. I have carried your sorrow, my child.

I died and live for you.

I love you.

My child, do not surrender the grace of God for the dream of so-called better things in the future. There is no better thing for you than to be in my presence, in my love, in my grace.

How do you think you arrived where you are today?

I brought you to this place. I provided what you need. I love you.

Stand and watch the things I will do for you.

You have often desired the future things now, as though you desired to run before you knew how to walk. Remember, the vision will come and I am not slow regarding my promises. Wait for the fulfillment of the promise, it will not delay.

Will my word return empty? Will it not accomplish what I sent it to do? Is my arm short that I cannot save?

You desire so many things, but only one thing counts, only one thing really matters--your relationship with me.

Your present problems will create growth, not destruction. Your present fire will prove your faith, not harm it. Your situation may seem futile and foolish now, but when the time will come, you will see what I have promised.

Stand firm in the promise I have given. Follow the course I lay out for you.

I have not and will not forsake you. Hold fast to my promise, to my word.

I love you. Grab onto that and let your faith grow.

These words were a blanket of encouragement to me in my time of great pain. I don't think of them as "inspired" like Scripture, but they certainly provided me a sense of comfort. They may have originated in my overactive imagination, but I hope they will help someone else.

Maybe some of you are going through a crisis or a problem that seems to have no solution. Let me say that God is indeed faithful. He does fulfill what he says he will do. God finishes what he starts.  He is true to his word. He has proven it to me in more ways than I can say.

He is good. He loves you. He is with you in your fire.

Hang in there! You are going to make it!

Thanks for reading!

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

 

Just Another Day in Paradise: Lessons from a Blind Beggar

Hey y'all:

I was reading some old posts the other day, and this one really struck me. It is something I wrote on the blind beggar who called out for Jesus' attention by crying "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!"  I remember thinking as I wrote it, "How odd the various reactions to the presence of Jesus and the outcry of the beggar?"  At any rate, here it is:
“Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me.”

The Jesus Prayer, a short, enigmatic statement of faith and repentance. Contained in this short phrase are some of the most powerful truths needed to heal the human condition.

One version of it is found in Luke 18:35-43, the story about the healing of a blind beggar. The blind beggar sat by the road. There was nothing new here. He had done this many times in his interminable suffering. He sat there. He begged. Another day in paradise.

Imagine his situation. Close your eyes for a moment and think of how he experienced life. Devoid of sight, he lived in a constant sense of darkness. Of course, his other senses were sharp, he could hear and smell and taste. But he could not see.

Because he could not see, he could not hold his child’s face and admire the nose or the eyes that obviously are a family trait. He could not admire his wife’s beauty or the glory of her in splendid dress. He could not get around like the rest of us. He had to rely on the kindness of others to avoid stumbling.  He could enjoy the warmth of the sun but not its indescribable glory.  He could experience the cool of the evening but not bask in the glow of the full moon in all its wonder.  He could smell the wonderful food cooking around him, but he was hindered from feasting on the hues and colors of the food in splendid array.  He could hear the words of a text, but he could not see them or enjoy the calligraphy that produced them.  His blindness cut him off from the simple pleasures many take for granted. 

Perhaps he chose this stretch of the road because the people in that area were especially generous. He could get a lot of money or other goods begging there. Maybe he knew from experience that this was a busy thoroughfare. Whatever the reason, he hauled himself as best he could to the spot he had occupied so often. He sat. He begged. Another day in paradise.

Yet somehow today promised to be different. He couldn't quite explain it. There was something in the air, something that did not smell or taste or sound the same as all the other days. The humidity was the same, so it wasn’t a change in weather. He was the same blind person he had always been, so it was not a physical change in his situation. Something was different, however, but just what it was remained a mystery.

Then, he heard a sound of a crowd. Was there a parade today about which he was unaware? This crowd did not sound like a typical parade. Folks were talking about a great teacher, a person who told the most amazing stories, stories of an encounter with a rich man and of an encounter with the Pharisees. This person the crowd discussed was evidently no ordinary man. He was different. He was the difference in the blind beggar’s day.

The blind man inquired, “What’s going on? Who is coming?” One of the people told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is headed this way.”

He thought about it. “Jesus of Nazareth,” he mumbled. “I wonder if that is the same fellow who reportedly healed ten lepers the other day. If so, surely he can lift my blindness! Surely he can set me free.”

His excitement grew. Nervously he formulated a plan. He stood up and cried out loud, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” Some of the folks in the crowd shushed him and angrily asked him to be quiet. In response, the blind man simply got louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

The noise got Jesus’ attention. Stopping, Jesus asked the man what he wanted. The request from the man was simple, “Please give me my sight.” Jesus granted the request and told the man, “Your faith has saved you and made you well.” 

The crowd (the same ones who rebuked the blind man earlier) now rejoiced at the notable (or should that be “visible”?) miracle that happened here. They gave glory to God for the man’s healing.  Another day in paradise.
Isn’t that just like us? When someone cries the loudest for God’s mercy, don’t we sometimes wish that they would just be quiet? It is embarrassing to hear all that crying and begging. Can’t you just do that in private? 

Or maybe like the blind man you’ve become so desperate that you simply don’t care anymore. “Jesus, have mercy on me!” is your rallying cry, and you’re going to shout it until you get a response.

There is good news here. Jesus stopped. He listened. He healed and saved. The crowd rejoiced.

Just another day in paradise.
Thanks for reading!

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