Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Climbing Our Mountains of Difficulties on God’s Strength Rather Than Our Own Steam

“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength”
 (II Timothy 4:17).

You may remember the children’s story, The Little Engine That Could.  It’s the story of a small train that helped a larger train get up and over a difficult mountain.  The story emphasizes self-confidence, hard work, and a willing spirit, which are important character qualities.  But faced with the many problems of earthly life, we need something other than our own “steam”.  We need God’s strength.

Lately I have been trying to run on my own steam.  My husband is retiring and we are moving out of state.  It was overwhelming preparing our house to sell, particularly since my back and fibro issues kept me from being much help.  When our house sells, we will have to find a new home, pack up ourselves as well as my mother, and get moved in a short period of time. 

It has been challenging trying to downsize, gather medical records, fit in appointments, and see friends.  Packing and unpacking will be difficult.  When I become stressed and anxious, I am trying to chug up these mountains on my own strength rather than God’s. 

Chronic pain and illness are like continual mountain ranges to climb.  When we reach the top of one, we are faced with another.  We need steam to keep going, and our own is not enough.  Thankfully when we run on the fuel of faith, Scripture, prayer, and praise, God will provide the strength we need. 

Remember what the little engine said?  “I think I can, I think I can”.  Well I know I can’t, but God can.  So whatever mountains I’m facing today, I know God can and will give me the strength to keep climbing as I honor and trust Him.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times when I try to handle my problems in my own strength, rather than trusting You.  Thank you for being at my side continually, strengthening me for every challenge I face.  Amen.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Because of Easter We Are Overcomers

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know . . . his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:18-20).

What are you overcome by?  Pain, anxiety, despair, loss?  What about happiness, excitement, thankfulness, or relief?  Life is usually a mixture of both, but pain and problems can leave us feeling overwhelmingly overcome with negative thoughts and emotions rather than positive ones. 

More and more, I am realizing the great significance of these verses in Ephesians and how they should be impacting my life.  As I think about the power that God exerted to raise Christ from the dead, my human mind can’t fully comprehend what that entailed.  But I do know that no other power is so great, and as a Christian, that power now lives in me.

There are countless times when we may wonder how we can endure another moment of pain, depression, grief, or loss.  Jesus understands our pain and distress.  He was overcome with sorrow in the garden of Gethsemane to the point of sweating blood.  He was overcome by grief because of friends that failed Him.  He was overcome by the agony of knowing He would be separated from God the Father as He bore our sins on the cross. 
But hours later He victoriously overcame sin and death, and now His power and Spirit live in us.  Regardless of how hopeless things may appear at times, we CAN endure and overcome whatever God allows in our lives because of His resurrection power.

Yes, life will still be painful, and we will not always feel or act victoriously.  But the Holy Spirit reminds us of that first Easter morning and what it means to us, now and eternally.  In faith we believe and declare that we are overcomers, and we will keep overcoming until our own resurrection day.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I praise and thank You for Easter and Your victory over sin and death.  Help me overcome each day with victorious thoughts and attitudes rather than defeated ones, knowing that Your resurrection power is alive in me.  Amen.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Making Music for God in Our Brokenness

“My heart is steadfast, O God:  I will sing and make music with all my soul”
(Psalm 108:1).

I have wanted to take violin lessons for years.  Now my health issues would make it too difficult for me to learn.  

I read an interesting story in Catherine Weber’s book, Flourish.  During a concert in the 1800’s, the violinist Niccolo Paganini broke a string but continued to play perfectly on only three strings and became a star.  He later wrote an entire musical piece for only one string.

Dr. Weber writes, “At some time in our journey, we all feel as if we are playing with fewer strings.  Parts of our lives get broken.  However, each of us can become more determined to play well with the strings we have left, in ways that bring cheers and glory to God rather than dismay from onlookers.  Whatever your instrument or the melody of your song, join the orchestra of the kingdom of God, crying or laughing, sharing the melody of your life music.”

Many times my health problems leave me feeling as though I am playing with very few strings, and even those seem stretched to the breaking point.  But God wants me to play with what I have left.  So I write, email, pray, socialize, play the piano, and live life as I can through the pain.

I may not be able to play an entire musical piece, and it may not be concert materiel.  But if I am willing to do whatever God has given me to do with my limited abilities, it will be a concert of praise to Him and hopefully an encouragement to others.  I look forward to the day in heaven when I will play a real violin with all the strings, but my music then may not be any more beautiful to the Lord than what I play now in my brokenness.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, show me what music I can make for You by serving and glorifying You, despite the weakness and brokenness of my earthly body, and then give me the strength to play it.  Amen.