Category : Devotion of the Week
Category : Devotion of the Week
So I’m here at another doctors appointment for my loved one. I rushed this morning to meet up, and make the hour drive to the appointment. As of now, we have been here for four hours. Yes, it’s part of the “hurry up and wait” that we all have to do in life. However, I remember this is not new, we are not alone, and there is a purpose in the waiting.
“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary” Isaiah 40:31.
During this time, as our country works on how to “reopen,” it feels like we are told, again, to hurry up and wait. But, yes, there is a purpose and reason for the wait. Each person, business, town, county, state, country, and region of the world has to figure out what is the next move for them. Each one needs to find the strength and resources they will need. Some of us will be able to jump into “life as it was” yet others will have to take each step more slowly.
Only God knows what will happen tomorrow, next week or even next year. We do have many in the medical, science, and economy fields trying to explain how things will play out, but ONLY GOD knows for sure. So during this amazing time of HURRY UP AND WAIT, I ask you to have patience with others. Do not judge one another. But most of all, BE KIND TO EACH OTHER. WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER, differently, but together.
P.S. If you need a giggle, check out MercyMe’s new song, “Hurry Up and Wait.” Yes, it was the inspiration for this blog.
When is this going to end?
I know a lot of us are asking this question right now. While the state of Texas, where I live, is emerging from the “Stay-at-Home” order, it still doesn’t feel right. I feel like I’ve staggered out of a thick never-ending fog or a nuclear meltdown, and as I ventured out to survey the damage this week, nothing looked or felt the same. Many stores and restaurants are still closed. People are still masked.
This week, I tried to do some “normal” things. I helped one of our Pearls of Promise team members record a video “Pearl of Encouragement” at her home, then three of us from our Pearls Team went to one of the open restaurants and had lunch, but practiced social distancing. It was good to be together but we were at a large table with chairs in between us. Nothing was plated. The food was all in plastic containers. We had to request condiments. Silverware was packaged. Weird.
Last night, my husband and I went out to eat at a restaurant. It felt good to be there but all servers were masked and there were empty tables between us and other people.
Do you want to snap your fingers and make everything go back to the way it was?
I’ve had several conversations this week with friends who are getting restless, and are feeling cooped up. They long for a change of venue, but travel is still considered a risk right now.
As I struggle with my own feelings, what comes to mind is that we need God’s help to persevere. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the definition of “persevere” is “to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement.” But this is easier said than done. That’s why we need divine help.
We must pray to persevere in God’s strength, because most of us need a little extra help. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
As we persevere, we have to trust that God is working on something in us in the midst of the stillness or trial. “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” (Romans 5:3–4).
There are two types of perseverance. Perseverance with angst, or perseverance with peace and patience. We are rewarded when we patiently persevere. When speaking to the church at Philadelphia in Revelation 3:10, the Lord said, “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” Jesus went on to promise, “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”
I believe this ground-stop as a result of COVID-19 represents a hard shift into a new season, the beginning of the last days that we’ve waited for and longed for as Christians. If that’s the case, we are going to have to patiently persevere, because there will probably be more trials, and daily ask for the strength we need to endure until Jesus returns. We have to remember that it’s a privilege and honor to be alive at this time in history, and no matter what happens, God is with us. He infuses us with what we need to persevere. We are not alone.
I want to end with a prayer over you that the Apostle Paul said over the believers in Colossae:
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:11–12).
Today’s guest blogger is Kim Cusimano. Kim is a wife, mother, writer and teacher. Kim has taught in public and private schools, and spent a few years homeschooling her own children. Her love for teaching has been extended beyond a school setting, leading numerous women’s Bible studies and small groups at churches and in her home.
As a mother to two special needs, young adults, she has a passion for encouraging everyone around her to live life to his or her fullest and use the abilities God has given them.
Kim is married to her supportive husband, Joe, and they have four beautiful children. In the early years of marriage, they made a decision to build their family through international adoption. Years have passed since parenting toddlers and toting diaper bags so they are living in a new season of ushering their children into young adulthood.
Kim is the founder of Full Joy Ministries. Her vision was to create a space that brings joy and hope to other special needs families through words of encouragement. Visit her at Fulljoyministries.com
One evening a few years ago, I sat around a table with friends. One friend had always been an encourager to everyone around her. Countless times she had specifically spoken helpful words to me. But, on this evening, my usually strong, well put together friend let down her guard. She began to share from a deep place of vulnerability, about her mistakes, fears and things out of her control. Tears flowed down her face. The rest of us sat in silence, a little taken back. I had known her for years, but learned so much about her in those brief moments. I felt a sensation of being comforted, a feeling of not being so alone in similar struggles. As I left her home, it was apparent she had encouraged me in that expression of vulnerability on a much deeper level than any words she had ever spoken to me. It wasn’t that she cried, even though that was unusual for her, it was that she let us see she was much like each of us around the table. We had always respected her strength, and often feared she had more of it than us. On this night, we still recognized her strength, but it looked much more like what it looked like in each one of us.
To my special needs mom friends, I see even more how we can give such a gift to each other by being honest and authentic. Not that we don’t keep privacy boundaries to honor our families, but we shouldn’t hide behind an “I got this” mentality. Most of us “don’t got this.” Oh, we may have a fleeting under-control moment, but it is fleeting and other not-so-controlled moments will come. With our trusted circle of people, with other special needs moms and with ourselves, we should let our strength be reflected in authenticity and honesty.
Tears Can Talk
Most encouraging words go unheard,
We let the enemy continue to steal,
kill and accuse.
We let well intended words fade away.
But, that day, you had something we could use.
Tears opened your heart in a fresh way.
What flowed out wasn’t a funny or empty muse.
Your painful honesty had much to say.
A deep need in your eyes spilled down your face.
You’re like me I could hear and see.
Now a different, more honest you,
could make for a different, more honest me.
The story on your red, wet face,
spoke to me about God’s grace.
A grace I couldn’t argue was only for you,
but one I forget is for me and others too.
God in love reminding me He took my place.
Feeling our pain, baggage and insecurities,
we can trade for seeking His face.
Your tears so raw, looking for relief,
authentic encouragement I found in your grief.
Like a reflection of my needs and own false beliefs, but-
What is true for you is true for me.
We have to choose His eyes to see!
Life has been hard. Not just for me, but for us all. Before all this virus anxiety came along, our family had been struggling with two parents battling cancer. We were doing all we could to help with our parents emotionally, physically, and even financially. For my parents, we have been helping with everyday chores, as well as creating some lasting memories.
This past January, we worked hard to create a place at my parent’s home where the family could come together and relax, enjoy food and laughter, and make memories. That’s right, we built a fire pit! We had the whole gang at the farm cleaning, painting, and then out of the blue I suggested we could also dig and build a fire pit. In Dad’s big blue truck, we were off to Home Depot to get the bricks we would need. Dad just kept a smiling as we picked the brick. Madison did the calculations we needed to insure we purchased enough material.
I was in charge of how big the fire pit would be. I was thinking BIG! Madison had me explain “big” and we settled on four feet wide. Dad said he wanted the pit to be dug deep to avoid setting the farm on fire. I turned to him and said in my best fake, shocked voice, “Me? I would never.” Smiling like a child who was getting her favorite toy, I conceded it would be best to keep our heavily treed farm safe. We decided to dig three feet deep down in the unforgiving rocky soil. Madison and I began digging as my Dad grind and looked on. One foot down and two feet wide, my back started negotiating for a small fire pit. Then Dad left and came back with the tractor and the pit was dug in less than thirty minutes! We used the tractor to move the bricks from the truck to the fire pit site, with the help of my nephew who came to join in the building. Slowly the foundation was done, then the next levels were easily built. Then, nearly hopping up and down like a kid at Christmas I was gathering wood.
Well, I had to test it out! Fire, ooh ahh ahh! Unfortunately, we were so tired that we ended up snuffing the fire out long before my favorite part came—the hours of watching glowing embers.
Then the virus hit and because my parents were vulnerable we stayed away from the farm. We started counting the days, somewhat jokingly, until the news kept pouring in about the virus. Day after day, we dug deep and tried not to be worried about our parents. We were concerned about food, medicine, doctor’s appointments for cancer treatments, and yes, even toilet paper. We did all we could to ship food and supplies.
Then my father-in-law passed. We had to dig deep inside to stay home for two weeks before heading home to Colorado! Into quarantine again, with my mother-in-law, we went as we grieved and helped with all the paperwork.
Then with resolve we hunkered down again and waited another two weeks before finally visiting my parents. Again we gathered as a family helping with chores, grocery shopping, farm and house maintenance. I went to our sad fire pit, now half covered with spider webs and began collecting firewood. I wasn’t going to get too tired this time! Marshmallows were calling my name! From the porch my parents looked on as the rest of us sat around the fire and laughed, ate, and roasted marshmallows, yes, some even made s’mores…not my favorite. Then my favorite part, the embers, oh those beautiful, restful, soothing embers.
Sometimes we have to dig deep to save the things we love the most, our families and friends. This time apart has allowed me time to reflect, dream, and dig deeper into myself.
What has the Lord allowed you to dig deeper into?
How has your marriage weathered this storm?
How are your children growing during this chaos?
How much deeper has your relationship with your parents become?
Have your priorities come into focus?
Digging deeper into your life can have so many blessings. See what the Lord has for you.
Most of us are longing for the days when life will return to normal. We’re seeing a flicker of light now, as restaurants and stores are opening at 25% capacity. The beaches and parks are back in play, and as long as we “social distance” we can gather with a very small group of friends and family again. But we can’t go to church, get our nails done or attend large meetings. It’s still not totally “normal.”
Yesterday morning on my walk, I reflected on what was the day-to-day “normal” for Jesus—and it was eye opening.
Entrapment was normal for Jesus. “Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words” (Matthew 22:15).
Loneliness was normal for the Son of Man. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray” (Luke 5:16).
Homelessness was a daily normal. “Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head’” (Luke 9:58).
Betrayal was also the norm for God’s Son. “When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders” (Matthew 27:3–4). “Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away” (Mark 14:50).
Ridicule happened often. “’Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked” (John 1:46). “They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” (Luke 23:37).
As I looked at what was normal for our Savior, I was convicted. I thought, If what I’m dealing with now because of COVID-19 can make me a little more like Jesus, then bring it on. These inconveniences are truly normal compared to what He had to endure during His three years of ministry on Earth.
So I’m wondering, would we trade our normal, even now, for Jesus’ normal?
I am grateful we don’t have to make that decision because Jesus already did it for us. He humbled Himself on this Earth, then gave up His life on the cross so that when things go askew and normalcy is turned upside down, we can cling to Him. He is the rock we hold onto, He provides supernatural peace in the storm, He’s with us amidst the worst of trials, normal byproducts of trusting in the Savior of the world.
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12–13).