The Secret Place of Communion

The Secret Place of Communion

Where do you go to commune with your God? 

Do you go to a chapel or a church?  to a favorite place near a stream, at a mountain retreat, or on a beach? Do you go to a "prayer closet," a special place in your own home?

But maybe you are frustrated because there never seems to be a "place" where you can go. Maybe you're a mom with young children or a special needs child. Perhaps you are a working mom or a worker who needs to moonlight at a second job to make ends meet. Maybe you or a loved one has a handicap or serious illness that takes you to services and medical places that seem to consume your life. Where is the place for you?

I have good news for all of us ... 

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Of Haircuts, Bananas, and Traffic Patterns: Is anything too Small for the Lord?

Of Haircuts, Bananas, and Traffic Patterns: Is anything too Small for the Lord?

Is there anything too small for the Lord?

OK, that's not how the verse goes: 

Is there anything too hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17; 32:27; Luke 18:27)

But maybe the first is a question we should also ask. Let me share why...

The other day I was taking my daily walk down our hill, through the nature path, alongside the horse farm, through a park area with the baseball fields and grove of trees...then back again. Many times this walk is when I commune with the Lord....listening to praise music, talking with  my Savior and Friend.

And other times, I commune with friends or family via my cell phone. Also lovely and meaningful.

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Kiss Me...I Might Be Irish

Kiss Me...I Might Be Irish

That was the saying on a balloon I saw at Kroger.  And it was also the sentiment in the elementary school we kids went to in New Jersey.  St Matthew’s was an Irish parish (maybe because the founding pastor was Irish, Fr Duffey), so our sports teams were the “Fighting Irish.”  Anyway, the sentiment was that everyone was Irish on St Patrick’s Day. I remember us Renner girls (mom’s maiden name = Galuszka; so you do the “ethnic” math ) spraying our hair green, putting on our already green uniforms, and heading next door to school.  (Yes, we lived next to the church and school!).  We FELT Irish…even if we were really German & Polish!

Everyone was indeed “Irish” at St Matthews on St Patrick’s Day, except for the few rebellious students and even teachers who wore orange instead of green.

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Every Place and No Place at All

Every Place and No Place at All

... the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.

Last week I injured my leg ... injured it to the extent that I have to stay off of it for two weeks. Two weeks! This has cramped my style! I had to cancel a looked-forward-to trip, stop my walking-for-exercise routine, depend on my serving husband and others, and on and on. And it keeps me from my new "prayer chair." ... But you know what? I'm not that sad about not being able to commune with my Heavenly Father in that new chair. Why?

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My Prayer Chair

My Prayer Chair

I have a new chair. I call it my prayer chair.

For years I had a comfortable chair in a little corner where I prayed and meditated and read the Word...deep down in the inner sanctum of the house where nobody goes. But I never thought of it as my prayer chair. It was a family heirloom chair, kinda placed there because it was the best spot for it. And of course, I did enjoy it.

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Morning Prayer & Meditation: I AM...ability beyond your ability!

Morning Prayer & Meditation: I AM...ability beyond your ability!

Lord,

You are my King. I am your beloved servant. I live to serve Your purpose in my generation for your honor and pleasure (Acts 13:36). Live through me. Love through me.  Serve through me...Today!

With love beyond my love. With skill beyond my skill. With forgiveness beyond my forgiveness. With endurance beyond my endurance...

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The Secret Place of Communion

The Secret Place of Communion

Where do you go to commune with your God? 

Do you go to a chapel or a church?  to a favorite place near a stream, at a mountain retreat, or on a beach? Do you go to a "prayer closet," a special place in your own home?

But maybe you are frustrated because there never seems to be a "place" where you can go. Maybe you're a mom with young children or a special needs child. Perhaps you are a working mom or a worker who needs to moonlight at a second job to make ends meet. Maybe you or a loved one has a handicap or serious illness that takes you to services and medical places that seem to consume your life. Where is the place for you?

I have good news for all of us ... 

Read More

Of Haircuts, Bananas, and Traffic Patterns: Is anything too Small for the Lord?

Of Haircuts, Bananas, and Traffic Patterns: Is anything too Small for the Lord?

Is there anything too small for the Lord?

OK, that's not how the verse goes: 

Is there anything too hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17; 32:27; Luke 18:27)

But maybe the first is a question we should also ask. Let me share why...

The other day I was taking my daily walk down our hill, through the nature path, alongside the horse farm, through a park area with the baseball fields and grove of trees...then back again. Many times this walk is when I commune with the Lord....listening to praise music, talking with  my Savior and Friend.

And other times, I commune with friends or family via my cell phone. Also lovely and meaningful.

Read More

God's Coloring Book: Praying & Reflecting in Colors

God's Coloring Book: Praying & Reflecting in Colors

In my last post, we reflected on living our life in full color rather than in muted and dulled shades. I also shared an amazing song discovered as a delightful "God-wink," God's Coloring Book.

So in keeping with the theme of color and our spiritual walk with the Lord, I would like to share some possible ways to use color to help nurture our souls.

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Fear Not: a Conversation for Every Day of the Year

It's never too late to enter into this conversation. Hear your Lord speak to your heart: My child...

Fear not...you are never alone for I am with you!prayer

Fear not...you are never left out for you are one with Me !

Fear not...you are never condemned, but always accepted! I not only love you...I like you!

Fear not...you are always adequate with My adequacy...no matter how helpless and inadequate you feel!

Fear not...you are alive with my everlasting, indestructible life, no matter how dead you feel inside! I am your Life!

I AM in your "right here, right now," whether it be suffering in a hospital room or struggling over a wardrobe choice in your closet...and everything in between...I am with you!

Lord, I believe, help my unbelief...

You are my Courage, when I am afraid!

You are my Adequacy, when I am helpless and afraid of failing!

You are my Comfort Zone, and nothing You send me is outside of YOU, my Comfort Zone Christ!

You are my words, the Word, when my words fail me!

I invite you, O my King, my indwelling Lord...

into my fears...one by one...moment by moment...day by day...

into my mind and harassing thoughts...

into my nervous system and blood pressure that tends to be like the wind and waves being tossed to and fro...

into each and every thing I face today and for as many days as we walk together on this earth...

I chose YOU afresh this year... this day, my God.  Amen.

The Lord is ever present with us. Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.

Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy... and the God of peace will walk with you. Philippians 4:5b-9 VOICE

Prayer when I can't sleep...Laying aside my hindrances at the feet of my Savior

night
night

Up in the middle of the night.  All is quiet...except my mind!  All the dark traps of the day, the hindrances to living my life, obstacles to "running my lap in the race of faith," prey upon me...uglinesses like:

She hates me! Her friends hate me too!

I'm overwhelmed.  I can't do it! I'm going to fail!

I'm so depressed.  I think I may go over the edge!

I might as well be invisible...no one understands!

Why is she jealous of me...I'm not trying to compete, just live my life!

Then the prayer, that I've known since childhood, rises up from within:

lit candle
lit candle

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.Where there is hatred, let me sow love;Where there is injury, pardon;Where there is doubt, faith;Where there is despair, hope;Where there is darkness, light;Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seekTo be consoled as to console,To be understood as to understand,To be loved as to love;For it is in giving that we receive;It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;It is in dying that we are born to eternal life. [prayer of St Francis of Assisi]

Yes, Lord!

I am renewed afresh to let You be You in and through me in this world!  Amen.

It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. (author unknown*)

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 ESV

[*Several people are associated with this proverbial saying, notably John F. Kennedy. It was first spoken in public by Peter Benenson, the English lawyer and founder of Amnesty International, at a Human Rights Day ceremony on 10th December 1961. The candle circled by barbed wire has since become the society's emblem.]

The Prayer of Relinquishment with a different outcome, part 2

Welcome to part 2 of an article by Catherine Marshall entitled, the Prayer of Relinquishment.  If you missed part 1, be sure to read the previous post before today's post.

...In time, I gained more understanding about the Prayer of Relinquishment through the experiences of others in contemporary life and through books. Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is a pattern for us, I learned. Christ could have avoided the cross. He did not have to go to Jerusalem that last time.

He could have compromised with the priests, bargained with Caiaphas. He could have capitalized on his following and appeased Judas by setting up the beginning of an earthly kingdom. Pilate wanted to release him, all but begged him to say the right words so that he might. In the Garden, Christ had plenty of time to flee, but he used his free will to leave the decision up to his Father.

J. B. Phillips, in his book The Gospels: Translated into Modern English, brings Jesus’ prayer into focus for us. Dear Father, all things are possible to you. Please let me not have to drink this cup. Yet it is not what I want, but what you want.

The prayer was not answered as the human Jesus wished. Yet power has been flowing from his cross ever since.

Even when Christ was bowing to the possibility of death by crucifixion, he never forgot either the presence or the power of God. The Prayer of Relinquishment must not be interpreted negatively. It does not let us lie down in the dust of a godless universe and steel ourselves just for the worst.

Rather it says, “This is my situation at the moment. I’ll face the reality of it. But I’ll also accept willingly whatever a loving Father sends.” Acceptance, therefore, never slams the door on hope.

Yet even with hope our relinquishment must be the real thing, because this giving up of self-will is the hardest thing we human beings are ever called on to do. I remember the agony of Sara, an attractive young girl who shared with me her doubts about her engagement.

“I love Jeb,” she said, “but he drinks. Not that he’s an alcoholic. Yet the drinking is a sort of symbol of a lot of ideas he has. This has bothered me so much that I wonder if God is trying to tell me to give Jeb up.” As we talked, Sara came to the conclusion that she would lose something precious if she didn’t follow the highest and the best that she knew.

Tears glistened in her eyes as she said, “I’m going to break the engagement. If God wants me to marry Jeb, he will see that things change—about the drinking and all.” Right then, simply and poignantly, she told God of her decision. She was putting her broken dreams and her future into God’s hands.

Jeb’s ideas and ideals didn’t change, so Sara did not marry him. But a year later she wrote me an ecstatic letter. “It nearly killed me to give up Jeb. Yet God knew that he wasn’t the one for me. Now I’ve met The Man and we’re to be married. Now I really have something to say about trusting God!”

It’s good to remember that not even the Master Shepherd can lead if the sheep have not this trust in him. That’s the why of Christ’s insistence on practical obedience: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Our pliability must be complete, from our wills right on through to our actions.

When we come right down to it, how can we make obedience real, except as we give over our self-will in reference to each of life’s episodes as it unfolds? That’s why it shouldn’t surprise us that at the heart of the secret of answered prayer lies the Law of Relinquishment.

So Mrs. Nathaniel Hawthorne, wife of the famous American author, found as she wrestled in prayer in the city of Rome one day in 1860. Una, the Hawthornes’ eldest daughter, had a virulent form of malaria. The attending physician had that afternoon warned that unless the young girl’s fever abated before morning, she would die.

As Mrs. Hawthorne sat by Una’s bed, her thoughts went to what her husband had said earlier that day. “I cannot endure the alternations of hope and fear; therefore I have settled with myself not to hope at all.” But the mother could not share Nathaniel’s hopelessness. Una could not, must not die. This daughter had the finest mind, the most complex character of all the Hawthorne children. Why should some capricious Providence demand that they give her up?

As the night deepened, the girl lay so still that she seemed to be in the anteroom of death. The mother looked out the window onto the piazza. A dark and silent sky was heavy with clouds.

I cannot bear this loss—cannot—cannot....Then suddenly, unaccountably, another thought took over. Why should I doubt the goodness of God? Let him take Una, if he sees best. I can give her to him. No, I won’t fight against him anymore. Having made the great sacrifice, Mrs. Hawthorne expected to feel sadder. Instead she felt lighter, happier than at any time since Una’s long illness had begun.

Some minutes later she walked back to the girl’s bedside, felt her daughter’s forehead. It was moist and cool. Una was sleeping naturally. And the mother rushed into the next room to tell her husband that a miracle had happened.

Now, the intriguing question is, What is the spiritual law implicit in this Prayer of Relinquishment? Fear is like a screen erected between us and God, so that his power cannot get through to us. So, how does one get rid of fear?

This is not easy when what we want most is involved. At such times, every emotion, every passion, is tied up in the dread that what we fear is about to come upon us. Obviously, only drastic measures can deal with such a gigantic fear and the demanding spirit that usually goes along with it. Trying to deal with it by repeating faith affirmations is not drastic enough.

So then we are squarely up against the Law of Relinquishment. Was Jesus showing us how to use this law when he said, “Resist not evil” (Matthew 5:39)? In God’s eyes, fear is evil because it’s an acting out of lack of trust in him.

Jesus is saying, admit the possibility of what you fear most. Force yourself to walk up to the fear, look it full in the face—never forgetting that God and his power are still the supreme reality—and the fear evaporates. Drastic? Yes. But it is one sure way of releasing prayer power into human affairs.

The Prayer of Relinquishment with a different outcome

Years ago, I was captivated by A Man Called Peter, the story of Peter Marshall, the former chaplain to the Senate, as told by his wife, Catherine Marshall.  But it was Catherine herself that really drew my attention.  She had experiences with God that made me long for more than what my "camp" of Christianity had systematized.  So I began to read everything I could find about that fascinating woman.  And I searched for her writings, which at that time were few and far between...or so I thought. Though I couldn't seem to find much (that was before internet), I started to piece writings together and grew to love how she responded to the Spirit of God.

But recently I discovered an article in Guideposts magazine.  Apparently, Catherine had been one of that magazine's regular writers.  So for the next several days, I would like to re-post her classic article, entitled "The Prayer of Relinquishment."

Catherine's treatment of this subject gives another outcome from the previous post...but it is still at heart the same -- total submission of our self-will to the good and sovereign God who is also our loving Father.  He is worthy of no less!

Catherine in her own words:

Like most people, when I first began active experimentation with prayer, I was full of questions, such as: Why are some agonizingly sincere prayers granted, while others are not? I still have questions. Mysteries about prayer are always ahead of present knowledge—luring, beckoning on to further experimentation.

But one thing I do know; I learned it through hard experience. It’s a way of prayer that has resulted consistently in a glorious answer, glorious because each time, power beyond human reckoning has been released. This is the Prayer of Relinquishment.

I got my first glimpse of it in the fall of 1943. I had been ill for six months with a lung infection, and a bevy of specialists seemed unable to help. Persistent prayer, using all the faith I could muster, had resulted in—nothing. I was still in bed full-time.

One afternoon I read the story of a missionary who had been an invalid for eight years. Constantly she had prayed that God would make her well, so that she might do his work. Finally, worn out with futile petition, she prayed, All right. I give up. If you want me to be an invalid, that’s your business. Anyway, I want you even more than I want health. You decide. In two weeks the woman was out of bed, completely well.

This made no sense, yet the story would not leave me. On the morning of September 14—how can I ever forget the date?—I came to the same point of abject acceptance. I’m tired of asking, was the burden of my prayer. I’m beaten. God, you decide what you want for me. Tears flowed. I had no faith as I understood faith, expected nothing. The gift of my sick self was made with no trace of graciousness.

And the result? It was as if I had touched a button that opened windows in heaven; as if some dynamo of heavenly power began flowing. Within a few hours I had experienced the presence of the Living Christ in a way that wiped away doubt and revolutionized my life. From that moment my recovery began.

Through this incident, God was trying to teach me something important about prayer. Gradually, I saw that a demanding spirit, with self-will as its rudder, blocks prayer. I understood that the reason for this is that God absolutely refuses to violate our free will; that, therefore, unless self-will is voluntarily given up, even God cannot move to answer prayer...

Come back tomorrow for the remainder of this article.  Until then, the question:

What am I demanding of God, thinking wrongfully that it may be "faith"?  What am I holding back?

Lenten Meditation: A Prayer of Relinquishment

We humans have a problem with wanting to be in control, don't we?  To yield our will to another human is risky...will they follow through? Do they really have our best at heart? Or are they all about their own self-interest?

Harder still to surrender to a God who allows hard...even impossibly horrible things...to enter our lives.  He doesn't seem to play by our rules, does He?

But I am struck by Jesus' prayer from the cross.  It reveals a lifetime of surrender to His Father,

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

I reflect on His prayer just a few days earlier,

Not my will, but thine be done.

Many have followed a young mom who prayed that same prayer as she walked out her death for the past several years...leaving a devoted husband and four young children behind just the other day. A hard "why?" enters our minds.

But the wonderful thing was that Kara Tippetts "lived while she was alive."

Read her story here on her blog Mundane Faithfulness.

As I think of Christ's final prayer, I ask myself,

What am I hesitating to relinquish? How about my "All"?  Nothing held back!

What might you be hesitating to relinquish? Your all, holding nothing back?

Let's think about that and we'll talk again.

Straining at my Oars...

I've been preparing a devotional for a local home school support group. This message, which I have given many times before, always seems to hit home, no matter the age group. And it's not because I'm such a dynamic speaker (I go with fear and trembling).  It's because of the Lord's simple truth that we often miss, at least I did for many years...and apparently many others have also. The devotional is based on a story we find in the gospels when Jesus walks out on the stormy sea to His terrified and struggling disciples.  (If you would like to read more, pause right here and follow these two links: Inviting Jesus into my Boat  & Urging and Opening).

The basic message is that...

...the Lord wants us to invite Him into our "boat," our stuff, our mess, our upheaval--whether emotional, spiritual, or physical.

This is so simple, but so true: no matter how old we are humanly or spiritually...

The Lord wants to be wanted by each of us!

But in this post, I want to share a realization that the Lord awakened me with this morning...from a verse in that story that I had rehearsed for myself and many others.  This verse hit me right where I live in my today:

And when it was evening, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and He was alone on the land. And seeing them straining at the oars,... He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them.

With that verse creeping into my waking consciousness, I sensed the Holy Spirit's merciful, gentle, but insistent, nudge:

Jan, you are straining at your oars again!

Wow, You are right, O Lord!  I'm straining at

my "book oars,"

my "90 year old precious mom who is fragile and failing" oars,

my "needing to get on a plane and fly to help after just being home from a trip for not even two weeks" oars.

I'm struggling with

the oars of "blood pressure issues and allergies to the meds,"

the oars of "teaching a new group of students in my English class,"

the oars of "speaking in front of an unknown audience anxiety,"

and any other "oars" the enemy and my insecure humanness may drum up in my mind.

And so Lord, come into my boat, which holds each of these situations...don't walk past and let me strain at my own oars, O God!

I don't have the strength...You do!

I don't have the resources...You do!

I don't have the courage...You do!

I don't have the wisdom and discernment..You do!

In fact, You are all of those things and much more. 

I release to You!  I invite You in! I live from Your abiding Self...today...right now...for anything and everything! Amen and amen!

New Year Prayer and Encouragement

Frances Havergal
Frances Havergal

I love praise and worship music...and many of our contemporary songs express the heart of what we often go through in our lives. But time and again, what a treat to sink down deep into an old hymn book and enter the depths of communion expressed by saints of old.  One such saint of old is Frances Havergal and here are two of her little known hymns written to be sung at the beginning of a new year.

The first I discovered on facebook a few days ago...and then it just "happened" to be one we sang at church* today.  What a delight!  The second, also sung at church today, thrilled my heart.  In it the recurring theme of fear not discovers me again.  And the reality of God's presence with us pervades both.

Please enjoy, dear brothers and sisters, even if you don't sing.  Enjoy them as a poetic way to pray and worship your way into the year ahead.

Another Year is Dawning

Another year dawning
Another year dawning

Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be In working or in waiting, another year with Thee. Another year of progress, another year of praise, Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.

Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace, Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face; Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast; Another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of service, of witness for Thy love, Another year of training for holier work above. Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be On earth, or else in heaven, another year for Thee.

Standing at the Portal

Standing at the portalOf the opening year,Words of comfort meet us,Hushing every fear;Spoken thru the silenceBy our Savior’s voice,Tender, strong and faithful,Making us rejoice.

Refrain

Onward, then, and fear not,Children of the day;For His Word shall never,Never pass away.

Abba
Abba

“I, the Lord, am with thee,Be thou not afraid;I will help and strengthenBe thou not dismayed.Yea, I will uphold theeWith My own right hand;Thou art called and chosenIn My sight to stand.”

Refrain

For the year before us,O what rich supplies!For the poor and needyLiving streams shall rise;For the sad and sinfulShall His grace abound;For the faint and feeblePerfect strength be found.

Refrain

He will never fail us,He will not forsake;For His eternal covenantHe will never break.Resting on the promise,What have we to fear?God is all sufficientFor the coming year.

Refrain [youtuber youtube='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Av5BKbgwbvc']

*Believers Assembly, Bellbrook, OH

Fear Not: a Conversation (a.k.a. prayer) for the New Year

My child...

Fear not...you are never alone for I am with you!

Fear not...you are never left out for you are one with Me !

Fear not...you are never condemned, but always accepted! I not only love you...I like you!

Fear not...you are always adequate with My adequacy...no matter how helpless and inadequate you feel!

Fear not...you are alive with my everlasting, indestructible life, no matter how dead you feel inside! I am your Life!

I AM in your "right here, right now," whether it be suffering in a hospital room or struggling over a wardrobe choice in your closet...and everything in between...I am with you!

Lord, I believe, help my unbelief...

You are my Courage, when I am afraid!

You are my Adequacy, when I am helpless and afraid of failing!

You are my Comfort Zone, and nothing You send me is outside of YOU, my Comfort Zone Christ!

You are my words, the Word, when my words fail me!

I invite you, O my King, my indwelling Lord...

into my fears...one by one...moment by moment...day by day...

into my mind and harassing thoughts...

into my nervous system and blood pressure that tends to be like the wind and waves being tossed to and fro...

into each and every thing I face today and for as many days as we walk together on this earth...

I chose YOU afresh this year, my God.  Amen.

The Lord is ever present with us. Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.

Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy... and the God of peace will walk with you. Philippians 4:5b-9 VOICE

Inviting Jesus into your stuff...no matter what!

Since our last post, have you been inviting Jesus into YOUR boat...whatever that may be right now? Immediately after realizing that Jesus wanted to be invited into MY boat (my everything), two other familiar Scripture passages came to mind.

I was thankful for this, because I had had the fleeting fear that I might have been too metaphorical with the "boat story."  But the Holy Spirit confirmed His rhema with these passages:

The first was the story of the two grieving disciples on the road to Emmaus on Resurrection Day.  They were discussing the events of the previous days, when a Stranger began walking with them.  This Stranger began explaining from the Scriptures why the Christ had to "suffer these things and enter into His glory."  Let's pick up the story right there...

… And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”  Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

 And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther.  But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them.  When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:25- 30

There it was again!  He acted as if He were going on UNTIL they urged Him to stay.  Does that amaze you as it does me?

Then this second passage came to mind:  the letter to the lukewarm church at Laodicea.  This church was so self-sufficient!  They thought they were "all it" and had everything they needed.  But Jesus told them basically, "You don't know how needy and bankrupt you really are!"

Let's read:

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:  ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.  So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.  ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. Rev 3:14-22

There it is again..."I'm standing here knocking on your life...and I won't come in UNLESS (if) you open the door (a.k.a. boat).  If you open to me, invite me in, I will come in.  Then we can have intimate fellowship together!"

I know...we usually use this as a salvation verse.  But it isn't primarily that, because it's to the CHURCH at Laodicea...that means believers too!

So then this simple truth dawned upon me:

No matter how old you are in the Lord, Jesus wants to be wanted by YOU!

Now that really blows my mind!  Does it yours?  The Sovereign God, our Lord Christ, wants to be wanted!

Next time, I'll tell you what happened when I began sharing this story.  But in the meantime,...

Invite Him into YOUR boat, dear brothers and sisters! Urge Him to stay! Open the door!

Why? Because the Lord wants us to experience His presence in our life situations: our emotional upheavals, our wounds, disappointments, the lies we’ve believed, our joy & sorrows…everything!  Then we can know that He is truly adequate for everything we may face in this life.

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For Bible students:

Here are some questions to explore:

Look at each of the three passages: the Boat story (Matthew 14:22-33); the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-30); and the letter to the church at Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22). [Try to answer the questions right from the texts of Scripture]

1.  Who was responsible for the circumstances in each Scripture passage?

2.  What/Who blinded the believers to the Lord’s presence &/or identity in each passage?

3.  What is the purpose or reason (Why?) for the Lord’s desire to enter into each situation with His people? [You might want to use the composite text from part 1 or Mark 6:51 for the boat story]

Bonus thought question:  Are there some things the Lord will NOT do unless asked?

Take a look at these scriptures: James 4:2 Matthew 7:7-11 Deut 29:29 Is 55:8

What other Scriptures come to mind as you meditate on this question?

 

Another Back-story: Inviting Jesus into my "Boat"

In my last blog post, I told about how God had prepared me for the suffering that would be coming into the life of my family. This post is the second of two experiences with the Lord that not only shaped how I was able to walk through the health crises of my children, but also future situations of every kind.  I have blogged about this over the past 3+ years, but I would like to share it afresh...with the hopes that you, dear brother or sister, might know the peace of His presence no matter what you may be facing today...and every today!

I call this my Boat Story, or better yet, my Airplane Story...and you'll see why.

 

 

 

 

 

It was late summer 1997.  I was preparing for a new school year with my new bunch of preschoolers at Xenia Christian.

I was was going to meetings and doing home visits as a home school coordinator with the Dayton Christian Home School Program (my other part-time job).  As any teacher knows, mid-August can get pretty hairy.

At the same time, my then 70+ year old mom was visiting from NJ. 

Before she was ready to return home, we received a call from my sister Nancy.  She informed us that her husband Ed, who had been battling cancer, suddenly and surprisingly took a turn for the worse.  He was now on life support, but there was little if any hope.

So Nancy and Ed's best friend had to make a terrible decision...if & when to terminate life support.  They chose to stop support at the end of the week.  So I knew that meant a trip to NJ for a funeral.

Now I was totally stressed!  In the midst of everything else that was going on!  Now a flight back east!  I'm ashamed to admit this...but the thing that was stressing me the most by then was the thought of a plane flight!

I know, shame on me...my poor sister!  And here I am freaking out about getting on a plane!

But you see, my previous experiences on planes weren't exactly pleasant...in fact, they were horrifying!  Plus, as a mom, I had developed fears I never had as a single, young adult (can you moms relate?)

I begged and pleaded with my husband to drive me to NJ...but he insisted (and stood his ground), "There's no Time!  You've got to fly!"

So on my way to a home school coordinators meeting that day, I agonized!  But eventually I resigned myself to the fact that when I got home, I'd have to find an economical flight a few days hence (yeah, right)!

All of a sudden, in the midst of my churning thoughts, the still small Voice broke through:  Jesus walks with us on the chaos of our lives!

I recognized this as a quote from Oswald Chambers devotional that I had been reading for years.  Somehow I knew this was significant, a rhema from the Lord.  So I decided to find that familiar story when I got home from the meeting.  I knew that there would be a message from the Lord tucked away in that Scripture.

When I got home, I pulled out my Harmony of the Gospels.*  And as usual, I was not disappointed!  Something I read there absolutely shocked me!  I had never noticed it before...as familiar as this story was and as much of a "Bible scholar" as I deemed myself to be!

I began to read the familiar story of Jesus walking on the water toward His terrified, struggling disciples.

And when it was evening, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and He was alone on the land.  And seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night, He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them.

Wait a minute!  What does that mean...He intended to pass by them? I had never noticed that before...why would He do that?  God doesn't play games!  Why would He walk past?  And would He REALLY...seeing His terrified , struggling disciples?  Wasn't that why He was walking out to them in the first place? Or was it?

I decided to read on...the answer must be there somewhere:

But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were frightened.  But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid...”** They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat

There it was...the Lord Jesus, always the Perfect Gentleman, was waiting to be invited.  (Later I did a word study on this word willing.  It means a "volitional choice"...not just "Well, whatever...")

So I imagined that His struggling disciples, recognizing WHO Jesus was and WHAT He could DO, were more than willing...even desperate...to invite Him into their boat!

And of course, I knew what happened next:

And He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were greatly astonished. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”**

...and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. [Composite Text: Mk 6: 47 - 51;  John 6 : 21; Mt 14 : 32 - 33]

Jesus can do that kind of thing because certainly He is God's Son -- the Sovereign, Almighty God in the flesh!

So you may have guessed what happened.  That's right, I began to invite Him into MY boat...every aspect of this situation -- into the purchase of the plane ticket, into the plane:  cockpit, cabin, under the wings, in the engine (Hey! I was desperate!!!).

Then when we were "in flight," it's as if I could SEE the Lord walking up and down the aisle...ministering to the other passengers too!  The Perfect Pilot as well as the Perfect Flight Attendant!

So I arrived at Newark airport without an ounce of anxiety, thanks to my Amazing Traveling Companion.  When I shared the story and my experience with my sister, she invited the Lord into HER boat as a young widow with legal and financial needs.  Immediately, the Lord sent her a lawyer friend to begin to answer some of those very concrete issues for her...gratis!  We were in awe!

When I arrived home, I was "basking in the glow of it all!"  I asked the Lord, "What just happened?  What does it all mean?"  Then the simple truth dawned upon me...

Jesus wants me to invite Him into “my boat” -- my specific life situation, whatever that may be.

Next time we'll look at two other Scripture passages that came to mind.  But right now, I'd like to ask you, dear friend. 

What is the boat you are in right now?   Is it an unhealthy body, emotional upheaval, financial needs, unemployment, the dailiness of raising children, spiritual struggles, anxiety attacks, shame, wayward children, confusion, facing a scarey situation like a plane ride or speaking in public, _______________(you fill in the blank)?

Whatever it may be, invite the Lord into YOUR boat, and watch what HE can do....because He is certainly God's Son!

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*The Harmony is a wonderful book where you can see at a glance all 4 gospels in chronological order.  It's a great way to get all the details of a story, because each of the gospels is side-by-side with the others in columns.

**This is where Peter steps out of the boat.  I left it out for the sake of clarity and brevity.

Read the rest of this PRAYER series