Category Archives: God Is…

The Hope that Doesn’t Disappoint

Standard
Penny_Disappointment

Penny in her happy place after destroying her scratching post.

Penny’s Disappointment

Penny, my kitty, is disappointed.

The weather has been so beautiful lately, here in Sunny Florida. Like the rest of us, Penny wants to spend every moment she can outside (which, for her, is the screened porch). Unfortunately, a storm front has rolled in with incessant thunder and lightning. The porch is currently too scary for kitties.

So, Penny is stuck inside with me. She’s letting me know her displeasure by meowing very loudly every few minutes. I’ve tried all the tricks, including throwing paper balls at her (her favorite pastime), but nothing is as good as watching squirrels from the porch. Or so she says.

I’ve explained to Penny that the storm is still raging, but she won’t take my word for it. Nor does she believe what she sees out the window because, apparently, that could still be different than the actual weather outside. (That’s what we call “kitty logic.”)

A couple minutes ago, I opened the door for her—again—so she could see the conditions for herself. Lightning flashed. Thunder boomed. She stood there, deflated. I scooped her up and said in my best fur-mommy voice, “I know you’re disappointed, Penny. I know what it’s like to be disappointed.”

 

My Own Disappointments

As my ears heard what my mouth said, I realized how true a statement it was.

Looking back on my life, I see hundreds of moments of disappointment. As a child, I would get upset if an exciting trip or event was canceled, or it didn’t turn out to be as fun as I had hoped…or I wasn’t invited in the first place. Then, there were friendships that fizzled or broke. Loved ones who passed away. Opportunities that never materialized. Accomplishments or awards I never received. I’ve had my heart broken in lots of ways, some big and some small.

I am familiar with disappointment. And I bet you are, too.

Perhaps you’re thinking of a childhood memory, or maybe it’s something that happened just this week. Love may be the universal language, but disappointment is its ugly sidekick.

 

The God Who Never Disappoints

There are two synonyms for disappointment: letdown and dashing hopes. We feel disappointed when our hopes are dashed.

So, what are your hopes? I mean the big ones. Do you place your hope in education? In being a good person? In our political or judiciary system? In our military?

King David said his hope was in the Lord:

  • “I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more.” (Psalm 71:14 NAS)
  • “You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth.” (Psalm 71:5 NAS)
  • “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.” (Psalm 42:5 NAS)

David put all his hope in God because he knew something profound:

If God is our hope,
and nothing can break or diminish God,
then our hope is unbreakable.

We cannot be disappointed with God.

Get God’s Perspective

It’s true that bad things still happen in this world. But God is the one who sees us through them. He’s the one who carries us when it gets too hard for us to go on. He’s not the bad guy in our sad story. He’s the hero who gives us a new story.

Unlike comic book heroes, though, our God doesn’t just show up to fix our problems. He is always with us. We can—and we should—know Him before the bad stuff happens. In fact, if we focus our lives on Him, we can see our disappointments through His perspective.

We can appreciate that God had a better plan. We can trust that He was watching over us. We can be thankful for the rain instead of mad at the storm.

I encourage you to get to know the Lord now by reading the Bible daily and praying often. When something bad does happen, ask God for guidance and comfort. Let Him soothe your heart and set you on a right path.

If you know others who are going through disappointments, encourage them. Use this as an opportunity to share with them God’s love and mercy. Show them that God is alive and relevant, and that He never disappoints.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;  and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”  (Hebrews 10:23-25 NAS)

Advertisements

The Most Lavish Gift of All

Standard

mostlavishgift_bsk

 

The following blog was published on Lift Up Your Day. I have included it in its entirety below. I hope it blesses and encourages you!


The Extravagant Gift

I was in a store recently when a homeless man came in and began chatting up the sales clerk. Apparently, John (as the clerk called him), had been in the store earlier and had picked out a reproduction of a painting.

“I told you I’d be back,” John told the clerk. “My sister Susan is going to love this! She’s done so much for me over the past few years, and I just want to give her something to show my appreciation. You said you can ship it to her, right?”

I watched as John produced $45 in wrinkled bills and an old envelope with Susan’s name and address on the return label. (I was reminded that homeless people don’t carry credit cards or use smart phones to manage their contacts.)

Although the painting was one of the most expensive items in the store, John didn’t haggle over the price. In fact, he seemed overjoyed to spend the money. Still, I wondered if he had any left to buy dinner. Where would he stay the night? Would his sister be pleased with the gift or upset over the cost?

As I tried to figure out how I felt about the situation, I watched John float out of the store on a bubble of joy and excitement. I realized he wasn’t just sending his sister something—he was sending her a grand gesture, an extravagant gift, and the joy he felt in giving it was its own reward.

 

The Idol of Frugality

I thought back to when I was 16 years old. It took me weeks to save up $110 to buy a birthstone ring for my mother. It was a lot of money to spend on a single present, which was exactly the point. I wanted to show Mom how much I loved her by giving her a lavish gift.

My mind shifted again, this time to our current Christmas preparations. My husband Robby and I live on a budget, so we agreed to keep the presents to a minimum, focusing on those around us with immediate needs. Still standing in the store, I mentally patted myself on the back for planning a frugal Christmas. That’s when the Lord convicted me: “You already know that money can be an idol. So can frugality.”

It felt like I had been kicked in the gut! I thought I was being smart, but in those two sentences, the Lord showed me that I was beginning to live in fear—fear that the money would dry up, that the needs would exceed the funds, that God would leave us high and dry. It wasn’t conscious—I know God will take care of us—but I’ve been holding a firm grasp on the purse strings, afraid of giving God full reign.

 

The Most Lavish Gift of All

As these thoughts were pouring through my mind, the Lord told me something very important about Himself: “I am not a frugal God. I give lavishly out of my abundance.”

How profound! Our God is the most lavish spender of all time—and He spent everything on us! God gave His Son Jesus to mankind on Christmas, and then Jesus gave His life for us on Easter. God didn’t hold back with us. He didn’t budget or skimp. God gave us 100% of His net worth in the person of Jesus Christ—and we didn’t even deserve it.

 

Let Us Freely Give

Now, I don’t propose that we max out the credit card bills in a misguided attempt to “bless” everyone around us. However, we should be more like John—focused not on what we lack but on our access to God’s abundance.

This Christmas, let’s allow God to guide all of our decisions—including how we spend our money—resting in the surety that He will not lead us astray. And let us freely dispense the priceless gifts of compassion, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and love, this season and throughout the new year.

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 NAS)

Mama Tiger

Standard

The following is an excerpt from Girls with Gusto, a book I am writing for young women. I always think of the image of the mother tiger with the baby piglets around Mother’s Day. I hope you appreciate it, too. Happy Mother’s Day!

MamaTiger

Tiger with her baby piglet. (Photo obtained online, courtesy of the zoo in Thailand.)

Fear

I’ve always struggled with the idea of fear as it’s shown in the Bible. Over and over, Scriptures tell us not to fear, whether it’s the future; an individual; groups of people; or strange, miraculous events. But then the Bible commands us to fear God (see Joshua 24:14 and Proverbs 3:7). In fact, there are warnings throughout the Bible for those who don’t fear God (see Exodus 9:30, Jeremiah 5:22, and Malachi 3:5).

If God is love (see 1 John 4:16), why should we fear Him?

 

Mama Tiger

Strangely enough, I found my answer in a story about a tiger…and a litter of piglets.

I once read of a zoo in Thailand that would coax tigers to suckle piglets. (Don’t ask me why.) I’ve seen the pictures of one of the tigers, all teeth and claws, loving on her adopted babies, oblivious to the fact that they had curly tails and flat snouts and made grunting noises instead of mews. The piglets were also oblivious to the difference, and climbed all over the tiger without a care in the world. To be sure, that tigress was a dangerous creature…but not to the ones she called her own. To them, she was a protector, provider, and source of love and comfort. She was Mama.

 

God

That’s how I envision our relationship with God. When we first come face to face with Him, our sin makes us feel exposed and vulnerable—like a defenseless piglet in the tiger’s den. We’re afraid of God because He is righteous and can execute judgment against us. We have the urge to run the other way, with our curly tails between our legs. Thankfully, the Spirit speaks to us in loving tones, encouraging us to trust in God. If we do, He forgives us and accepts us as His own.

Once we belong to God, we no longer have to be afraid of His judgment. We can rest securely between His teeth and claws and know that He will use them to protect us and provide for us, and nothing can separate us from Him (see Romans 8:38-39). There is no greater safety or calmer peace than in God’s presence.

 

Believe and Obey

But, like any good parent, God has given us rules for our own good. When we fail to be obedient, there are consequences. He still loves us, but we have to learn from Him so we can mature in our faith and take the next step in our journey.

Moses said it this way: “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.” (Deuteronomy 13:4) When we fear God, we cling to Him with loving obedience. This is the opposite of being afraid of something and running away from it (like I run from spiders).

The statement, “Fear the Lord your God,” means two things:

  • Believe in God—that He exists and His Word is true (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17); and
  • Obey God—that we should accept Him into our hearts and follow His commands daily (see Deuteronomy 13:4).

This is why the Bible says that we are to fear only God (see Deuteronomy 6:13 and 1 Samuel 12:24). He is the only one worthy of such honor.

If we will believe in God and obey Him, we will have the same peace and security as those little piglets snuggled up warm and safe in the arms of the tiger.

 

Encouragement

Doesn’t God care for you, nurture you, and love on you? Isn’t He every bit as attentive and protective as a new mother? As you celebrate Mother’s Day, I encourage you to think about the “mothering” role God has in your spiritual life.