Requisite to Encouragement

Encouragement, whether you’re extending it or receiving it, requires faith. Ability to encourage is contingent on believing that what will be is more than what is now.  It takes vision, hope in what is yet unseen.  For faith is the stuff of things hoped for, things not visible, things yet to be…

If I have doubts that things really can get any better, I will be a poor encourager.  If I want to ignite faith in you, I must have faith myself. This makes sense to me.

But it occurs to me this week that receiving encouragement also requires faith. If I don’t believe that what you say is true, how will it encourage me? if I doubt your motives or overthink your kindnesses, your attempts at encouragement may only serve to strengthen my cynicism. “You’re just saying that.”  “That’s sounds too good to be true.”  “No, really? I don’t think so…”  Whether I find encouragement where it is offered all depends on faith.  And faith is strengthened or shattered by the messages I choose to believe.

Twelve spies took a peek at the land the Lord had promised them. It was good, very good.  Too good to be true.  Their gaze was quickly averted from the good things God intended for them to the obstacles that lay in the way.  Fearsome giants. Fortified cities.  Their own weakness. “We are like grasshoppers before them.” Only two spies believed, disregarding the strength of the opposition in comparison to the Word and proven character of their God. “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Num.13:30  Their encouragement came not from what they had seen but from what they knew to be true. But the people chose to listen to the faithless voices:  “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” Num.13:30-31 They refused the encouragement that comes of faith and ended up in despair and rebellion, looking for a leader to take them back to Egypt! They missed out on the good land God had for them.

We’ve been spying out  the land ourselves this week. It has resulted in an invitation to work an hour away from our grandkids, something we’ve dreamed of for years now. (Our oldest grandchild will be 7 this summer!)We can start the job any time, as soon as we can get there.

But rent is high and places to rent are very scarce. Looking too closely at rental listings is demoralizing.  Are we crazy? Why are we moving there of all places?! And yet we are confident that God is making a way and we are intent on following by faith.  So yes, I’ll be packing up a contingent of things this week, enough to live on, and just after Easter we plan to be heading out, for new beginnings in a new place.

It is not clear just how this will work out.  But we want to be like Joshua and Caleb, not focused on the impossibility of doing this thing, but trusting that God will provide as He leads the way.

God knows my sometimes faint-hearted faith; it is not beyond His ability to encourage.  I noticed a sweet thing yesterday as I meditated on the story of the two Mary’s showing up at the empty tomb early ‘Easter’ morning (in Matthew 28) What did they expect to find? Jesus had told them he would rise from the dead yet they came with spices to anoint His body…Did they not understand?  Did they not believe? 

All the truth in the world will fail to encourage the broken-hearted if it is not believed. 

But there is help for the faint-hearted. God knows. When they arrived at the tomb they found the stone blocking its entrance had been rolled away. Why?

Did Jesus need it out of the way in order to escape the tomb?  Certainly not.  I have a hunch it was rolled away in order that His followers could see and believe.  God Himself was at work to encourage their faith in what Jesus had already told them.  The only thing holding them back from the joy of the resurrection was their unbelief.  Now they are given opportunity to see and believe. “Come, see the place where He lay”  the angel invited.  “He is not here, for he has risen.” Mt.28:6

They hurried away to spread the good news with fear and GREAT JOY! Mt.28:8They had seen and believed. Faith had made the difference.

I know my faith falters easily. At the same time I know it is faith that pleases God; without it there is only sin and its assorted miseries (Rom.14:23).  But I don’t always know what to do about my feeble faith.  But God does.  Here I  glimpse the heart of my God who not only desires faith, but also encourages us toward it.  Here He arranges for the stone to be rolled away so we can see.  He arranges for a welcoming committee of angels who point out the obvious truth: “He is risen” and more than that they give instructions for a rendezvous:  “…behold he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.  See, I have told you.”  And He graciously repeats Himself as often as needed:  Fear not, fear not, fear not…. 

But best of all He gives us His Word, with its abundance of outrageous promises that would all be too good to be true if they were spoken by anyone but Him. There are things here that should make us live out the rest of our days skipping like spring lambs! Things like:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Rom.8:1-2

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. Jn.15:9

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Mt.28:20

God has given us His Word and He has given us His Spirit to breathe life into those words, to ignite faith and so to fulfill in us His joy. May He soften our hearts always to believe that we might be perennially encouraged and able to encourage. 

May He give us all ‘a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him’ that we may know ‘what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places’…Eph.1:17-19

This is my prayer for me, and for you  ( :


Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for He has risen, as He said….See, I have told you. Mt.28:5

“…let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!  Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” Ps.105:3-4

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” …  Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! Ps.27:8,14

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. Jn.20:29

The Only Thing that Counts

How do you measure the worth of a day?
What’s your criterion for ‘a good day’?

Most of my life I’ve kept journals—recording happenings, feelings, revelations, and just plain history.  They’ve become repositories of words that track my life.  When I was young I wrote of actual things that were happening.  Things that seem mostly mundane now, or overrated, or downright silly: “Today is Friday.  I played at the shale pit and took Heather to see the fort and to feed the geese…I watched Brady Bunch and Partridge Family.  They were not re-runs.” [March 16, 1973]

These days journaling is mostly a record of my inner life and of God’s words intersecting my own thoughts in ways that beg to be recorded.  But at night before I turn out the light, there is a book for the little things, the happenings, just a few lines per day.  I’m not sure why I keep it, really. “What did I do today?” is a pretty mundane question at this stage in my life. [I need perhaps another question that would help me milk the beauty of the day for the record, if you have any suggestions?] Though this book comes in handy for verifying dates when ‘such and such’ happened I’m not sure why I feel compelled to keep jotting down things in it every night, as though the day doesn’t ‘count’ unless I’ve recorded something here.

My measure of a day’s worth is pretty warped.  I feel good about a day if I’ve checked off the things I’ve chosen as priorities.  If I’ve spent time in the Word, if I’ve done a bit of writing, if I’ve created something, and if I’ve spent some time reading a good book…these things frame the essentials of a ‘good’ day. My ‘to-do’ list is pretty basic.  You can no doubt see some glaring deficiencies with it.  So can I.  Some ‘givens’ are simply not listed…feeding my husband for instance! Getting exercise. Praying. And there are other priorities that don’t lend themselves to a check-off list, relationships, for instance.

But the question I’ve been asking this week is: How does God evaluate the worth of a day’s accomplishments? My checked off lists, mental or written, console me that the day wasn’t wasted.  Does He see it that way?  Or can lists become false comforts, distractions even, from the opportunities that matter most? If my list takes priority over the things that pose as interruptions but are really God-sent moments, what then?  Where do random conversations fit? or the phone call that catches me ‘in the middle of something’?  What of interruptions, sick days, and changes of plan outside my control?  Do these ‘count’ in the valuation of a day? Or are they just irritants that prevent me from ‘getting stuff done’?

Though their value is not quantifiable or visible the value of these unplanned moments may far surpass the value of reading # pages toward my monthly goal, or adding a daily doodle to my portfolio.  Hindsight shows that it’s the interruptions to my routines that have brought flavor and richness to my life.  (Thank God for a husband that drags me away from my desk to ride and to ski and to sit in the sun!)  In retrospect I am thankful for the non-routine elements that shape my days. I see in them God’s hand going about His work to rub off my sharp edges, to mellow my compulsions, to bring me delight and shower me with undeserved mercies.  They remind me that it is not my work but His that matters most.  The orderly things over which I claim control are the least likely to build my faith.  Of course, being faithful in the small things matters, but this is different than being compulsive about the small things! If I do them to bolster my self-worth or gain ‘brownie points’ for my diligence while neglecting weightier things (like relationships) they have become dead works, a waste of time and energy!

There remains a sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Heb.4:9,10

What matters most to God is not my compulsive need to be ‘doing something’ but my persistence in the hope of the Gospel, that teaches me that it’s what God did that matters most and my role is to believe and to rest in the reality that Christ has done all the right things in my place. He has finished the work that matters most. The real ‘to-do’ list is done.

He has canceled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.  This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Col.2:14

This changes the way I operate.  I will probably always be a list person. I work best with goals and schedules.  But these do not measure the worth of a day or a lifetime.  Complete or incomplete they do not establish my worth or a day’s value. Faith does. In inviting me to share His yoke Jesus calls me to walk by faith, to allow Him to direct and energize the good works He has prepared for me to walk in. He must be Lord of my ‘to-do-today’ lists, with the right to cancel them all and re-direct my focus completely.  They are not the measure of a ‘good day’.

The only thing that counts is faith
expressing itself through love. Gal.4:16 NIV

By faith…I can still establish priorities and carry them out, but also by faith I can welcome interruptions, alternatives, and days when nothing ‘gets done’.  I can trust that God is working where my best efforts are stymied, and that He will enable me to do what He wills me to accomplish.  By faith every day can be a good day.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Phil.2:13NLT

The obvious question becomes how do I know whether I’m operating out of faith in the mundane of day-to-day?  Where’s the evidence that I’m actually depending on God as I go about my work?

I’d love to hear your feedback on this question.  So far what I’ve come up with are these two attributes that will be present in a day walked out by faith.  Can you suggest others?

  • Thankful prayerfulness—The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  (Phil.4:5-7)  Faith expresses itself in praying without ceasing, committing what I am doing to Him, and even welcoming what I didn’t intend to be doing, in His name.  Talking to Him about everything with a thankful disposition reflects faith.
  • Peace of mind—a deep seated contentment with the way things are at this moment, even with the things that need to change eventually, reflects faith.  There is a patience in faith that reflects the knowledge that God is in control and will accomplish all that concerns me in His perfect time.  He is the Head of the Body.  He orchestrates its growth as its members are yielded to each other and to Him.  And He gives the ones who trust Him peace. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil4:7)

And those are qualities I want to be the measure of my days!
I’d very much appreciate your prayers that they would be so.

“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest!” Heb.4:11


Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Ps.25:4,5

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:  May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.  But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. Jude 1,2,20,21

Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ. Col.3:23,24



Good and Plenty


My box ran empty at last. I’ve been parceling them out a few at a time ever since our Christmas trip to the states. Now they’re gone. I quite like these delectably disguised nibs of licorice with the pink and white candy coating; they remind me of my childhood somehow. But that’s beside the point. As I plunked the empty box on my desk the other day I realized what an apt descriptor it bore of the God we serve. He is good and He is plenty–all we need, ever, to handle anything and everything.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. II Cor.9:8

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
II Cor.12:9

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Ps.84:11

It’s a simple concept really, with endless Scriptural support, but it’s not so easy  to grab hold of in the day to day demands of our lives—God is Good and Plenty for all our needs.

I am easily intimidated by open-ended tasks, especially creative ones. What if I can’t come up with what is needed? What if it’s not good enough? What if it’s not ready in time? What if I-just-C-A-N’-T?! These questions are ultimately only answerable by faith. What God calls me to accomplish He will enable me to accomplish, maybe not in my timing, maybe not to my specifications, maybe it will be a different product than I envision, but He will enable me to do whatever He has called me to do for His glory. He is GOOD and He is always enough for my lack; He is the definition of ‘PLENTY’.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…right?

I read the parable of the workers in the vineyard this week with its picture of the Master we serve. The early birds agreed on the day’s wage before starting in at the crack of dawn. They slaved away through the heat of the day. As they worked others were added to the workforce, some at mid-morning, others at noon and mid-afternoon, and some didn’t get to work until an hour before quitting time. To each the master promised: “Whatever is right I will give you.” But when the foreman handed out the pay, not only did he start with the late-comers, but he paid them a full day’s wage, the same as everybody else, even the hard-working early birds who had born the brunt of the burden in the vineyard that day.

When they protested to the Master, despite His having paid them exactly what was agreed upon at the start of the day, his response was:

‘Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ Mt.20:15

We serve a good and plenty God. He is lavish in dispensing His grace. It is enough for the first and the last, for all who serve Him, no matter what strength or weakness they bring to the task.

Oh, there may appear to be inequities in this lifetime. Some are called to suffer the heat of the day while others seem to get a free ride. Most of us live in mansions while multitudes live in ramshackle huts. Life doesn’t appear to be fair. Some people seem to have all the talent while others get stuck with the grunt work…but in the big scheme of things, God’s wage is good and plenty. And His grace is sufficient for each and every calling. And besides, what present challenge can compare with what’s to come at the end of the Day? Those He calls He grants an inheritance. We are God’s heirs, and joint-heirs with Christ!

“This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance: and you shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession. Ez.44:28

But I digress. Because God is Good and because He has Plenty He is only too willing to share, He is well able to equip us for whatever He calls us to do.

This couldn’t have been better illustrated than in my morning’s reading in Exodus 31. The detailed plans for the tent of meeting have been given to Moses. God has designed it to be gloriously beautiful–with gold and silver and bronze and fine linen ornately embroidered in blue and purple and scarlet yarns… The details go on and on. Now the people must create it as per His instructions. But He doesn’t leave them to their best efforts. He gifts them two men and He fills these two men with His Spirit and “with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones fro setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” God gives the ability He requires to accomplish the task He commands.

“I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you.” Ex.31:6

His designs are grand and His Spirit will bring them to pass using mere men (and women). Wow!  So take heart if you have a calling that seems way over your head.  God is Good and Plenty to bring it to pass through you for His own glory.

He calls us to assess with sober judgment our calling according to the measure of faith that He has assigned and then… “having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them… “ Rom. 12:3-6

We serve a God who is GOOD and who is PLENTY for all we need.

Taste and see that the Lord is good! Ps.34:8

Good and Plenty


Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Zech.4:6

Truly God is good…to those who are pure in heart.  Ps.73:1

Anchoring Fickle to Faithful

I am fickle. The longer I live with myself the more I realize it. Adolescent mood swings gave way to mommy tantrums (I never thought I had anger issues and then came a husband and kids, even once a flying saucepan). Then once the kids were gone and you’d think peace might reign over the middle-aged empty nest, there have come menopausal moments and the uncertainty of who I am to be in this new stage of life. Life is forever dishing out change… And I am forever reacting. This is part of the biological definition of life I suppose–this capacity to grow, reproduce, and continually to react/adapt to change until this body dies.

Some days it is laughable, this fickle me. And I wonder aloud to Jim what it must be like for a Mr. Steady to be married to someone so subject to change without notice–looking like she’s headed to her doom on the drive out to the ski trails and bubbling over with endorphins and happy exhaustion at day’s end…

Other days it’s not so laughable. I am prone to carry things in my head, to ponder in my heart, and to carry the weight of me too long alone…weighing and wondering how best to balance all the shoulds and coulds and mights(?) that rattle around in my head.

I’ve been thinking lately, for instance, about what ‘taking up my cross’ and following Christ is meant to look like in this strange middle-age. At the same time I’m trying to figure out exactly who I am and what I do have to offer… What does it look like to lay down my life in the day-to-day? to die to self? to be crucified with Christ and yet to be fully alive, a living sacrifice fulfilling all the ‘good works’ He has prepared from before the foundation of the world for me to walk in?! I scrawled in my journal this morning on the way to the gym: “Lord, deliver me from myself. Free me to live wholly pleasing, wholly yours according to YOUR design. Let me be content with that.”

And while I carry all these thoughts around I’m prone to lapse into an introspection that is my undoing. In wanting to lose myself doing His bidding I end up fixating on myself. (Am I doing what I’m meant to be doing?…) Chris Rice’s lyrics resonate in the background:

Curse-reversing day of Jesus
When You finally seize my soul
Freedom from myself will be
The sweetest rest I’ve ever known…

Amen to that!!

Paul said it this way: “Who shall deliver me from this body of death?!”

He then continued: “But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord…the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom.7:24,25)

And that’s where I’m at, the law of the Spirit of life at work in me, despite me, working out the realities of Romans 8 in me…this life as God intends it to be seeps through my fluctuating feelings. This Spirit I have inherited as a child of God woos me to another mindset, one of life and peace, again and again! Here’s what it looked like this week.

It came in the suggestion of my good man this afternoon to just take a break and go out and sit in the sun for a few minutes. Too cold, too much trouble, I have things I should be doing, no place to sit, sun’s almost gone… all these objections murmured in my head but I knew he was right. I took my Bible and went, out to the sunny slope where the deer and elk sometimes loiter in fall and winter, the slope I first discovered last year at this time. The snow has finally melted away… I sat, and opened the Word and felt the sun on my face for the first time in too long and cried “Abba, Father”…

“I need you, Father”, is more and more the best expression of my heart. I murmur it often; “…I always need you….”  And when I don’t know what to ask, as is so often the case, I am reassured that the Spirit knows; He helps us in our weakness; He intercedes with groans that transcend words’ ability. And into this sweet quiet space, this rest on a sunny slope, came the Word. God’s perspective. Words He spoke through his prophet, Isaiah, many, many years ago. Words that never grow old, or dim, or meaningless. Eternal words directed at His people Israel in a dark age. I paraphrase:

Comfort, comfort my people…Tell her that her warfare is over; her sins have been forgiven. Make way for your God–He’s coming. Get ready. (John the Baptist would repeat this call to repentance; it is apropos still…)

And then this, who I am, who He is, what matters most:

“All flesh is grass…” it withers and fades when the Lord blows on it “BUT the Word of our God will stand forever.”

Perspective. I’m listening…

Good News is here! Get a herald to shout it: “BEHOLD YOUR GOD!”

And the verses that follow are all about HIM…

He tends His flock like a shepherd.. he holds the oceans in His hand and measures the skies and weighs the mountains! Who can fathom His Spirit? He consults no one.  [But think of it, this Spirit is alive in me, now— wooing, instructing, reminding, renewing my mind to line up with God’s Word, at this very moment!] The nations are no more than a drop in the bucket to Him. Who is like our God? What idol compares to Him? “Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning?…”

“It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers…”

As the Word speaks, my perspective is lifted away from myself to its rightful Object–

“Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?”

I look up to the trees towering all around and above me, the blue skies beyond them. How can I not see His greatness? It is all around me.

Then the Word becomes more personal, directed to Israel but applying to my own heart in principle–

Why do you say, O Jacob,…‘my way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God?’ (Is.40:27)

“Have you not known?

Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength…

they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength…”

I was glued to the page, my heart drawn to listen to God’s words echoing down all these ages to a woman on a hillside yearning to know and fulfill His purposes despite her incorrigible self-centeredness…

And here is meaning and purpose declared by my God and Creator, first to Israel, but by extension, as His redeemed one, to me also…

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine…created for my glory, whom I formed and made…

You are my witnesses, and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may KNOW and BELIEVE ME and UNDERSTAND that I am He….besides me there is no Saviour.

“I declared and saved and proclaimed, …and you are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and I am God…. I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King….I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake and I will not remember your sins…Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.’”

Here is purpose, plain and simple, and yet big enough for a lifetime: Know me, Believe Me, Understand that I am God (and you are not!) and that you , as part of a corporate Body are my witnesses. God’s priority for my life is first that I know Him and believe Him. His Word serves this purpose. It must be my first priority.  In it He reveals who He is; feeding here faith is born. (“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”). Meanwhile life happens… with all its opportunities to exercise faith.

Picture the children of Israel in the desert, coming to know the walk of faith, coming to recognize the ways God worked on their behalf… Actually, they failed in this endeavor. They refused to believe and failed to see His faithful hand. They died in unbelief. “They have not know my ways…they shall not enter my rest” Ps.95:10 But their children were brought into the promised land and God brought Himself great renown through their conquests. He led. He gave the victories. He used their lives to showcase His glory. They were His witnesses by default as they came to know and believe Him.

Our lives too will showcase His glory in unique ways as we come to know God and to believe all He has said. For this I am created and molded. For this purpose He directs my days even when I cannot see His Hand at work…If there’s something to be learned from the children of Israel in the wilderness, it’s that whether I co-operate or not, God will be glorified in his dealings with me.  He is faithful.  He is sovereign.  But if I harbor hardness of heart, I will be the one to die in the desert and miss out on the inheritance He has prepared… Hmm.  Don’t want to take allegory too far. You can take or leave that last thought…just pondering ( :

At this point in the Bible narrative, with the nation of Israel in view, it’s not so much a matter of their going out and intentionally BEING a witness (in the Great Commission sense). There is a sense in which our lives simply become testimonies to His greatness as we yield soft hearts to believe His Word and follow His leading. We are transformed and in the process, God gains renown as one who works wonders with clay!

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.

For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” II Cor.3:18

I formed you for myself to declare my praise (Is.43:21)

But what does this all have to do with me and my fickle heart that is so readily turned inward and disheartened? My afternoon time on that sunny slope soaking up Son-shine through the Word put my focus back on this One who works wonders with clay and spins galaxies from air. Here is a worthy focus that won’t come up short. He is a Rock like no other to steady my fickle heart.

And as I read from Isaiah Paul’s advice to the converts of Phillipi resounded in my heart: Rejoice in the Lord, let me repeat it, for it is a safeguard for you, REJOICE in the Lord. If I only rejoice when I’ve had a ‘good’ day–gotten stuff done, gotten a shot of endorphins, been encouraged by what I’ve seen or heard…whatever it is that entails a ‘good’ day–I will know only erratic rejoicing. I will be disheartened when my source is myself. I was never intended to be satisfied with my own glory; it falls short. But His never does. When I anchor my thoughts in Him, taking Him at His Word, there is always cause to rejoice. He is a Rock like no other. His Words anchor Fickle to Faithful.

For who is a rock, except our God? Ps.18:31

This post is already longer than I’d intended it to be. There is all manner of treasure in Isaiah 40-44. I’ve only touched on a smattering of it. I commend it to you if ever you need a focus shift to something greater than yourself…

So, have I found all the answers to my ponderings about laying down my life in this strange middle age?

No, but I’ve been reminded of my primary purpose:

To Know Him

To Believe Him

and as I go on my way rejoicing in Him to be a living witness to His Greatness.

That should be enough for a lifetime!


“We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Rom.8:23IMG_20160224_164907496

“…who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I Pet.1:5-7

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
I Pet.1:8,9

STUCK! In a Snowy Pit

Benaiah went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. As one of David’s mighty men he distinguished himself as a ‘doer of great deeds’ (II Sam.23:20). I am not so brave. I can’t fathom choosing to go down into a pit with a lion. I did however choose to go skiing once again yesterday, defying my latent fears that this could be the day that…the inevitable catastrophe happens. And I did end up consequently in a pit on a snowy day, but not on purpose! I rolled there inadvertently after doing a face plant in the snow at the finish of a rather frightening hill on a narrow track, a track that ran too close to a softening edge…

Snow was all I could see. Wet snow filling my glasses. I wasn’t hurt and I’ve had quite a bit of practice getting up from these sorts of spills. So, since cold can set in pretty quickly when you lie about in snow, without stopping to clear my vision I proceeded to roll to my side to get up. But Whaaa! NO!!!…the snow moved away under me and down I tumbled blind in very slow motion sideways and a bit headlong to land firmly shouldered in a semi-fetal position, skis firmly wedged in place, feet painfully fettered to them at an intense angle–STUCK nearly immobile in a snowy pit. My fears had come to roost. I had observed these trail-side holes on other days and had avoided letting my imagination play with what it would be like to fall in one. This one I had not seen. And here I was. What do you do when your fears come to roost?

I did the first thing that came to mind: I hollered “HELP! HELP!” knowing even as I did it that it was useless. Noone could hear me. I was alone in this neck of the woods. (And there is no cell-phone coverage in these parts either.) The only threesome of people I’d seen were back up at the hut I’d left, just settling in to wait for foil-wrapped sandwiches to warm on the stove. I was supposed to have been with Jim but had taken the wrong fork in the trail a while back and ended up at the wrong hut, miles from the hut where Jim presumably sat waiting for me to show up… Making the most of my poor choice I had grabbed a quick snack at the hut, warmed up a bit, and headed back down the mountain to home base solo, a little unnerved by the steep trails. But managing. Until this.

I was stuck! Pulling my hands free of their pole straps I wiped the snow crystals from my lenses to see where I was. It was a cozy pit of snow, just big enough for me to plunk into in a topsy-turvy muddle, but not big enough to move in. Water trickled over rocks at the bottom, water I hoped to keep myself out of! A season’s worth of snowfall formed its walls and precluded my view of the trail above. But at least there was no lion in my pit. No lion but my own fears.

“Lord, help me…” I pleaded struggling to free my boots from their bindings so I could move! It’s as simple in theory as pushing a button, but for the life of me I could not get the leverage needed to both push hard enough and pull at the requisite angle to detach my ski boots. There was too much pressure on the binding from my cramped feet. I had to give it up. But I had to get my feet out of that awful position! Loosing the velcro straps I pulled my feet right out of their boots, and stood sock-footed on the wet cold rocks in my snowy pit. (Yay for wool socks!!) What a relief to be able to stand up!

After that it was pretty straightforward: Extract skis and toss them up to the surface. Pull poles out of the snow walls and see about using them to hoist me out of that pit. No go. Snow just moves away, especially soft melting snow. What a pickle. Wet, chest-high snow is not so simple to scale. But I lunged at it a few times and on about the third jump managed to crawl out onto the trail beside my skiis and boots and ski poles. Whew! There I was, stocking-footed, wet-seated, in a spectacular snowy wilderness! I was cognizant of the absurdity of it even as I scrambled to put myself back together. I was relieved and grateful to be standing there but also shaken and not far from tears. Jim’s frequent admonition echoed in my head: “Work quickly. It’s cold out here.” Highly motivated by fingers now getting cold and feet eager for boots, I was back in gear in no time, pausing only long enough to snap a picture of a now rather innocuous-looking hole in the snow. And to regret that alas, my water bottle lay at the bottom of that pit where it must have fallen from my pocket in the tumble down. Sigh. I was thirsty already. But in just a few more miles I would be ‘home’…

Never did the warming hut at the trailhead look so welcoming. As I removed my skiis and trudged up toward the parked van to retrieve some warm dry clothes I just wanted to have a good cry, but instead found myself reciting all the ways God had in fact protected me from the worst. “Yes, Lord…” I was neither cold nor injured. (Later I would feel the black and blue toenail, and the stiff neck and shoulder.) My glasses were intact, as were my skiis and poles. I had been perfectly able, though shaky, to ski back safely with just a couple falls along the way. All was in fact well.

I had lived through a scary situation. Shaken but not debilitated. Frightened but not paralyzed. On my own, but not alone. God had carried me through fears I had wished only to skirt. He does this at times. As I’ve pondered just why I’ve been compelled to drag you through this dramatized account, which has taken far longer to write about than to live through, I have realized something. Threats to my physical well-being are not my greatest liability. I’m learning that with God at hand I can rise to the occasion and scramble out of these as necessity requires. It’s the invisible fears that paralyze our souls and immobilize us from living out God’s design for us that pose our greatest threat.


Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come…

My greatest dangers will not be faced on a ski trail or the back of a tandem bike rocketing down a highway. These are only practice for facing my more debilitating fears and keeping going–a blank page in Live Writer, for instance, or another Friday’s blog post, another chance to share my story of hope in the Living God who rescues His children continuously from themselves–when they get all balled up in a pit with their fears of inadequacy and can’t seem to move…. He gently lifts them out, sets them on their stocking feet, and frees them to tell of all He has done. It’s not about getting the words perfect or gaining an impressive audience. It’s not about competing with all the talented writers out there. It’s about sharing my story of what God is doing in this life He’s given me for His own fame. It’s about sharing the manna He feeds me daily from His word.


‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home…

And just maybe this means you’ll begin to see posts appear here once again. If so, each will be, by default,  a testimony to His grace overcoming my insecurities. I have not been called to descend into a pit to fight a lion, but I am called to resist that lion’s paralyzing roar. And to climb from the pit of my own fears of inadequacy and do the next thing. God’s strength is sufficient for His calling. It shows up best in the place of weakness.

Behold, God is my salvation. I will trust and will not be afraid for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation. (Is.12:2)

Are you stuck? May I share a checklist based on my own experience?

  • Call for help–God hears when noone else can.
  • Clear your vision: Where am I? Where do I want to be?
  • Resist fear and panic–keep breathing and moving…
  • Do the next thing–whatever it is you can do, one bit at a time.
  • Make it a priority to GET UP! (‘Arise’ is how Scripture repeatedly puts it!) This may require getting your feet wet. That’s ok.
  • And remember, God is at hand providing everything you need to get unstuck. He died to set you free!

Oh, and when the snowy pit is behind you, don’t forget to tell your story, for from it God’s glory will shine!

God calls us to overcome our fears, but never alone. He is always there, to instruct, to calm, to help us to do the next thing, and to bring us safely home. He who died to redeem our lives from eternal destruction, can surely assist us out of unforeseen pits on snowy days…


“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy…” Ps.103:2-4

“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” Ps13:5,6

“I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” Ps.16:8

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed! Jn.8:36

Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged. Deut.1:21

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. Is.60:1

For God has not given us the spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. II Tim.1:7

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith…But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
I Pet.5:8-10