The Day I Stopped Waiting

2 Peter 3:9a The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.

Christmas has past. The waiting is over. I will no longer be circling parking lots waiting for a spot. There are no long lines at the register in which to wait to make a purchase. All the gifts that waited under the tree for weeks unopened have now been opened. Waiting has been replaced with precious memories of the laughter and love that marked the day of Jesus' birth. Christmas was certainly worth the wait.

This morning I am reading James 5. James concludes his letter by encouraging his readers to wait patiently for Jesus' return. "See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near."

That first Christmas morning was long in coming. For centuries, the Israelites longed for the long-awaited Messiah to come. Even once Jesus' pending birth was announced to Mary, she had to wait nine months for His birth and thirty-three years for His death. Salvation was worth the wait. No sooner though had Christ died and been resurrected when a few short years later His followers were already growing weary of waiting for His return.

We all have things we are waiting for. Reconciliation of relationships. Resolution of difficulties. Answers to prayers. This morning I ponder the farmer. How is it he is able to wait with such great patience? In an instant I know. He doesn't wait; he anticipates. The productive farmers sits in confident expectation for the rain to come, his crop to grow and his field to yield its' harvest. Today I need to stop waiting on God and instead begin anticipating the wonder of watching Him work the fields of my life and bring His harvest.

Jesus, anticipation brings hope; waiting brings worry. Today I will sit in confident expectation knowing You are at work. You are working my fields. You will bring the harvest. And Your harvest will definitely be worth the wait.

Dear Santa?

Philippians 2:3-5 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ.

Last night my husband and I had a fight. We felt misunderstood, unheard and possessed felt needs that are currently going unmet. He wants me to be more of the wife he desires and I want him to be more of the husband I desire. Therein lies the problem. We were too busy considering what we each want ourselves to consider the other person.

This Christmas Eve morning my reading is from James 4. I only have to read the first verse to know with certainty that Jesus is aware of what's happening in my life and ready at all times to walk with me right where I am. "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battles within you? You want something but don't get it." (Verses 1-2a) Yes Jesus it is true that selfish desires battle within me. I want certain things from my husband and when I don't get them I find myself disappointed and disillusioned. Thankfully you don't leave me at verse one. You always offer hope and healing.

"You do not have, because you do not ask God." (Verse 2b) Typically this verse is quoted within the context of the power of prayer. Indeed prayer is powerful and faith even the size of the tiny mustard seed leads to powerful and effective prayers. Today though God is speaking this verse into my heart not in the framework of my prayer life but instead into the fabric of my marriage.
  • I'm Asking the Wrong Person - My husband is not the meeter of my needs; God is. He is the supplier of good things that never runs short on inventory and whose delivery service is more reliable and speedy than overnight FedEx. Shannon, stop asking your husband to meet the most tender needs of your heart. That is a place God alone can serve.
  • I Fail to Ask - I want my husband to be a master swami who can use the Vulcan Mind Meld to anticipate my every wish and desire. Since I'm a woman my dear husband can scarcely understand my needs if I spell them out word for word. He has no chance if I do not communicate. I do not have, because I do not ask. Shannon, start asking for what you need. Just be certain to ask the right person.

Three of my four children were born via C-Section. I had the privilege of knowing in advance the day they would be born and preparing my heart and mind for the coming event. On that first Christmas Eve, Mary had no way of knowing the life that would change the world would come tomorrow. On this Christmas Eve I have the advantage of knowledge. I know that the presents so precious no person can give, Jesus has already wrapped up for me. He knows what I need. I just need to ask the right person.

Jesus, thank you for this special Christmas Eve present. You have wrapped a treacherous night of conflict in the beauty of forgiveness and healing. You have changed my heart because You have shown me how to stop thinking just of me and how to find You in the midst of my conflict. Today my attitude will be the same as Yours with all that is in me. I will set aside my selfish ambition and vain conceit and simply ask You with child-like faith to meet my needs.

What's That You Say?

James 3:9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness.

I am the youngest of four children. With this birth order position comes a special talent for bugging the stew out of your older siblings. I was exercising said capability one afternoon by marching around in a circle while playing the recorder as loudly as I could. This game was especially fun since my older brother was trying to watch television at that precise moment and was only feet away from me.

As I tromped around and tweeted my brother politely asked me to stop. After several requests his voice took on a greater degree of urgency and command until he finally hurled a pillow in my path in a desperate attempt to silence his pesky little sister. And silence me he did. One moment I was busy irritating my brother, the next I was stumbling over the pillow as the recorder lodged itself in the roof of my mouth.

This morning's reading is James 3. This chapter examines the power of the mouth to cause irreparable damage when careless words are hurled about. As Christmas rapidly approaches it is easy for me to recall Christmases past when beautiful words of love and affirmation have been penned to me by precious loved ones. Just as effortlessly, I remember words spoken by me or toward me that reflect a heart more reflective of the naughty list than the nice list.

Likewise, that long ago day when I aimed to bother my brother I used my mouth for the wrong without even uttering a word. What comes out of my mouth, starts in my heart (Luke 6:45). I never had to utter a word to clearly communicate my heart's intention. Similarly the silent treatment, my seating arrangement at Christmas dinner or even the ease with which I give love and affection to someone can speak volumes.

Soon we each with gather with friends, family or maybe even neighbors to celebrate the birth of Christ. The question is what will I say when I get there? Will my mouth bear glad tidings? Will my actions bring good will to men? Or will I carnage my relationships with careless words and actions like I bloodied my mouth so long ago with the antagonistic actions of my recorder toting mouth?

Jesus, Saturday is Your birthday. Help me truly honor You not only that day but every day with the words I utter and the actions I present. Feel free to lob a pillow my direction if my heart gets out of line so that when I speak my words form music beautiful to Your ear.

For All the World to See

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds ad praise your Father in heaven.

A few weeks ago Hannah was charged by her dance team coach with the task of coming up with a way to motivate her teammates and help ready them for an upcoming competition. Hannah has always been long on creativity so in no time she had forged a clever plan. She hid candy inside balloons of her school's colors. Then she blew up the balloons and attached a note urging her teammates to blow away the competition. Her note served as a clue signifying the treasure that awaited inside the balloon. What was on the inside was made known by what could be observed on the outside.

This morning's passage is James 2. This chapter's main theme is the relationship between faith and the outward expression of our faith through acts of kindness and love. Two Old Testament figures are used as examples of individuals that God considered righteous because their outward behavior evidenced their inward love for God. The first is Abraham, one of the most recognizable individuals of the Old Testament and the "father" of both Christianity and Judaism. The second is an absolutely ordinary if not somewhat scandalous figure.

Her name is Rahab. Known only as Rahab the prostitute, her story can be found in Joshua 2, 6:22-24. By the second chapter of Joshua, the nation of Israel has been rescued from Egypt and spent forty years wandering around in the desert. The time has finally come for the Israelites to occupy the land that God had promised to them. Their conquest will begin in a town named Jericho.

Two spies are sent to that city to scope it out prior to the attack by Israel and are aided greatly by Rahab. She provides shelter, a hiding place and a way of escape. In return she asks only that the lives of herself and her family be spared. A plan is devised and to signify her safety a scarlet thread is hung from her window. All Israel will know her home is to be spared when they see the scarlet thread.

Now that story is fascinating but as Paul Harvey would say, it is the rest of the story that makes Rahab's story truly stupendous. You see her scarlet thread dangled a bit farther down history's wall than just out an ancient window in Jericho. Twenty-one generations later that scarlet thread would wrap about tiny fingers lying in a manger. Jesus is her offspring. Rahab's life was spared by a scarlet thread. Jesus carried that scarlet strand all the way to the cross where He laid down his life to save every wretched prostitute that would ever live.

Jesus, thank you for holding out a scarlet cloth to me. I desperately needed Your rescue. My heart and life had been prostituted to other loves - the love of myself and the love of independence. Like Rahab, I want my heart for You to be so evident to others that my actions would write the story of the redemption of my heart. Today I will hang Your scarlet thread out of the window of my soul that others might see You in me.

Please Deposit 5 Cents

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

One of all-time favorite cartoons is Peanuts which features the character Lucy. Lucy is a know-it-all who for the mere price of five cents can give you the answer to any dilemma you happen to face. She never lacks for advice and is absolutely certain that the recommendation she makes is perfect every time. Sometimes I wish I could whisk myself into Charles Schultz' comic and ask her a thing or two myself.

This morning I started a new book of the Bible, James by reading the first chapter. There is enough themes in the first chapter alone to make you feel like you are jumping on a hopscotch board. Many topics from trials to temptation are covered in its' 27 verses. Today though I am having one of those wish I could call God on the telephone kind of days. I want some quick and easy answers and some snappy direction given to decisions I need to make.

"If any of you lacks wisdom he should ask God." (Verse 5) I definitely need some wisdom and I keep asking but so far God hasn't sent me a text or Facebook message giving me the answers I am seeking. As I read on in this chapter, however, I note some clear action steps I need to take while I wait on that telegram from God.
  1. Listen - "Everyone should be quick to listen." (Verse 19) Maybe one of the reasons I don't hear God's voice is because I'm too busy talking over Him while attempting to get my point across. Just this morning my husband reminded me of the verse Psalm 46:10 which says, "Be still and know that I am God." In the silent pauses of my life, there is finally room for God to speak. Lord, make me quick to listen.
  2. Do What I Already Know to Do - "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (Verse 22) Often the answer I looking for has already been revealed in God's word. Too often I am waiting for a word from the Lord that I know in fact He has already spoken. I just don't like His answer and keep hoping He'll change his mind. God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). There is no use shopping His answers because they are timeless and apply to every situation.

Jesus, thank you that You do speak when I take the time to listen. Today help me do that which You've already made clear to me to do. As for the rest, help me stay silent long enough to hear You. Your wisdom is both free and freely given and unlike Lucy, You actually are always right.

Unwelcome Visitors

1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Last week I sat down to lunch with my brother, Scott, at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. It is my personal philosophy that one can not pile too much salsa on any given chip so as soon as the basket of chips and bowls of salsa hit our table, I mounded up the salsa on my chip and enjoyed the flavor Mexican flavor fiesta began. Several chips into my feast, I bit down on something too hard to be a chip. Instinctively I spit the contents of my mouth back out into my hand.

Disbelief washed over me as I stared into my hand that now contained a 1 inch triangular shard of glass. How had such a large intruder smuggled its way into my mouth? Had I dismissed its presence among the tomatoes as a harmless onion? Was I too distracted with other things to notice its ominous occupation in my bowl?

This morning's passage is the final chapter of Hebrews - 13. As I read these final verses, one echoes more loudly in my heart than the rest. "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure." (Verse 4) I adore my husband and truly desire him to be my most important earthly priority. However, my marriage sometimes gets swallowed up by the busyness of life. When that happens potentially fatal objects can find themselves in the mix of my marriage. As I continue reading, I find several weapons Satan hides in my marriage and God's truth that can overcome each of these potentially fatal threats.
  1. Loneliness - Have you ever felt misunderstood, unimportant or neglected in your marriage? I know I have. When communication falters, loneliness results. The longer one goes without heartfelt conversation in a marriage, the larger this shard of glass grows. It pierces at your heart, allowing Satan's lie of isolation to trickle into the marriage. God's truth is that we are never alone. "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Verse 5) We can always draw on God's strength to be the first to recommit to the communion of conversation in marriage.
  2. Wounds - It seems as if our spouse is best suited to create or antagonize our emotional wounds. Hurts not covered by the healing balm of forgiveness fester into the sharpest of swords. I fail to forgive most often because I am afraid if I do I will suffer further harm. God's truth is that I should never fear doing the right thing. "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Verse 6)
  3. Discontentment - The grass always seems greener in someone else's yard. Her husband helps more with the kids. Or his wife does a better job of managing the home and the finances. In actuality the grass is greener where it has been fertilized. God's truth is that the greatest enemy of discontentment is gratitude. "Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise". (Verse 15) There is always something I can be thankful for about my spouse. When I choose to focus my energies on that instead, I begin to notice shoots of lush, green grass on my own side of the fence.

Jesus, thank you for Your protection. You protected me physically from the harm in my salsa but You also protect my marriage. When I choose Your truth, my marriage is surrounded by the strongest of fortresses through which no shards of glass will penetrate. Today I choose communication, forgiveness and gratitude not only in my marriage but in every aspect of this savory concoction called my life.

I Have Miles to go Before I Sleep

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

I remember that first afternoon as if it were yesterday. It was a temperate day for a North Florida summer. I had my running clothes on and was ready to impress my new friend. Though I had never run a days in my life I figured it couldn't be all that much harder than walking and I'd been doing that for over thirty years already.

It took me exactly one block to find out that running was far more laborious than walking. With my breath coming in desperate little puffs, I urged my body to continue. Then it happened. My running companion said, "If you need to slow down I'll just go on ahead and lap you later." I could not have been more motivated to run than if a Rottweiler were barrelling down on my behind.

This morning I am reading the 12th chapter of Hebrews. This is an inspiring passage that motivates that reader to want to know God more intimately and walk with Him more closely. "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Verse 1) That first day I ran eight years ago I had more desire than perseverance. Today I can run miles without even losing my breath. I have learned to run with persistence. This passage gives three ways I can learn to run in my faith with stamina as well.
  • Fix Your Eyes (Verse 2) - There have been times when the thought of running even a mile was more than I could imagine. Rather than thinking about running a great distance, I fix my eyes on an upcoming house, tree or mailbox and will myself to just keep running until I reach that marker. Then I pick out another roadside attraction and make myself run until I reach it. If I do this enough times, eventually I've run much farther than I originally thought possible. The author tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus. If I want to go farther in my faith, I need to keep my eyes on Jesus and let Him lead me to the next roadside attraction He has in store for my life.
  • Do Not Grow Weary (Verse 3) - Some days I'm just tired and truly don't want to run at all or I want to stop midstream and just give up. On those days, I stop thinking about my present circumstances like my burning lungs or my aching feet and instead force myself to think about the better things that await me at home. I daydream about a dinner date Scott and I may be taking later in the week or a special activity I have planned with one of my children. In my faith walk I grow weary when I get all wrapped up in the here and now. Every moment of my life should be lived in light of eternity. When I refocus my mind on Christ my day takes on new purpose and the mundane an excitement that only God can give.
  • Do Not Lose Heart (Verse 3) - That first day I took off running, what I didn't know is that it was a lot more than just my legs that would require strengthening. My cardiovascular system was in for a major overhaul as well. At first I could only run a few blocks before I was out of breath with a heart racing out of my chest. Overtime, I began to gain control over my breathing and eventually I stopped "losing heart". Likewise, discouragement can have a major impact on my spiritual life. If my prayer life seems empty or my Bible study stale, I begin to feel like I'm wasting my time and want to quit. However, a healthy heart toward God is not developed doing sprints; long distance running is required. I have to spend time with God consistently over a long period of time to see real growth and change happen in my life.

Jesus, You are the ultimate personal trainer. You have taken this uncoordinated, unathletic girl and turned her into a long-distance runner. While it is true I run on the roads, it is the run of life You've taught me that is far more miraculous. On today's run, I will keep my eyes on You, not grow weary and not lose heart. Thank you for being my running partner.

Wrap Some Faith Up Under My Tree

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

I have a confession. I've been throwing a secret pity party for myself for several weeks now. You see it's the first year in my adult life that I have not been invited to a single Christmas party. Yes I've made merry with the cheer moms. It's true that I will soon celebrate with the pom moms. However, when it comes to grCheck Spellingoup gatherings one is somewhat included rather than invited.

Little did I know, God would interrupt my pity party for one with a surprise much sweeter than an invitation in my mailbox. Tonight some sweet soul prompted likely only by a motive of love, dropped a pear ornament on our front doorstep to mark the first day of Christmas. I can only assume that other surprises will follow. Perhaps even eleven of them. Now that far surpasses a fiesta. This is a festival!

Today I am reading Hebrews 11. This chapter is often referred to as the "Role Call of the Faithful". The faith of many saints is celebrated. "Big" names such as Noah, Abraham and Moses find a place here but so do lesser known individuals. Every person listed here has one thing in common. They believed God.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." True faith knows God pens every invitation that finds its way to my door. Real faith waits in expectation of what God will do.

Jesus, thank you for the sweet reminder You placed on my doorstep tonight. You are near. You are in control. You will meet my every need. That is why I can have sincere faith.

Makin' a List and Checkin' it Twice

1 Corinthians 13:5 Love keeps no record of wrongs.

One afternoon I happened upon one of my sweet darling little blessings who had just finished finger nail painting her room. Toys, shelves and walls were now accented with bright blue patches of finger nail polish. My initial thought was to lock said child in her room until her 18th birthday but after a few deep breaths I decided to talk with her about her new found art skills.

Our ensuing conversation went something like this:
Me: "Why did you paint your room, Honey?"
Child: "I'm mad at you."
Me: "Why are you mad?"
Child: "I can't remember but I know that I'm really mad."

Today's passage is Hebrews 10. This chapter continues to expound on the theme of Jesus' sacrifice for all mankind's sin. God's ultimate demonstration of love was dying a cruel death in our place. In fact, this chapter reminds us that God does not even recall our sin once He has forgiven it. Why is it then that I am so good at remembering? I can conjure up the most insignificant details of not only my own past sin but also those times I have been wronged by certain others.

Love keeps no record of wrong. Love does not make a list. Love doesn't check it twice. Love believes God. He is able to forgive me. He is able to help me forgive others. He will deal most sufficiently with those who've wronged me. (Verses 30-31)

Jesus, this Christmas I'm tearing up my lists. All the lists of past regrets, failures and hurts. I'm going to sling them past my stocking to the fire that shines underneath. There even lists written in blue fingernail polish don't stand a chance of survival.

Stocking Stuffers

Hebrews 9:26 ...But now he (Jesus) has appeared once for do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Last year Santa ran into a bit of a dilemma. After running all over town and traipsing through a good portion of the world wide web, he was too tired to place but a few items in my stocking. Our Christmas morning tradition is to open stockings in reverse age order, youngest to oldest. When my turn I arrived, I "oohed and aahed" over each of the items in my stocking though their number was far less than those previously opened. Noting the lack of goods Santa dropped my way, Clara inquired, "Mommy, weren't you good last year?"

This morning the passage is Hebrews 9. This chapter further expands on the theme of Christ's perfect sacrifice. I laugh when I remember that Clara thought my lack of stocking stuffers equated to a lack of goodness. My true stocking isn't hung by a chimney. Nor is it filled by a mythical figure on the basis of my placement on the "nice" list. Each morning I open my heart to the Savior. He fills it with treasure even Bill Gate's bank account could never purchase. I open it each day because an annual filling would prove far too infrequent.

In this chapter, the author lists many of the things Jesus stuffs in my stocking that hangs on the mantle of my heart.
  • Redemption (Verse 12)
  • A Clean Conscience (Verse 14)
  • Freedom (Verse 15)
  • Salvation (Verse 28)

Jesus, you died not because I was good but because You are perfect. No other sacrifice would have been enough to cover my mountain of sin. Thank you for filling me each morning. The treasure in Your pack is priceless.

All I Want for Christmas is You

Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her first-born, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

One of my absolutely favorite aspects of the Christmas season is the eagerness with which I have seen my children embrace gift giving. Their faces are full of joy as they wrap up items such as family portraits drawn by hand. Personally I like their renderings because I'm always drawn size 0 in stick form. They are equally delighted to race to the red bucket and place a dollar inside to the merry melody of bells ringing or to fill a shoe box with items they've never once asked to keep for themselves.

These little reminders keep my heart focused on the real gift of the season. He was wrapped not in a package festively tied with ribbon but in swaddling clothes. His parents couldn't afford luxury travel for the holiday; they took a donkey. No one filled his stocking but later wise men would find Him and give Him their treasure. Jesus will forever be the greatest Christmas present.

Today I am reading the 8th chapter of Hebrews. This passage describes in the detail how man's relationship with God was permanently altered when Jesus died for our sins. The author quotes a passage from Jeremiah 31 that outlines four gifts given not when Jesus came as a baby but when He died as a man.
  1. A Heart and a Mind to Know God (Verse 10) - "I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts." God's love is etched onto the heart of every person who chooses Jesus. The Holy Spirit's whispers are heard in our ears, directing our steps toward God.
  2. Relationship (Verse 10) - "I will be their God, and they will be my people." Too often we are satisfied with mere acquaintance with the Savior when God offers close relationship. Adam and Eve walked and talked with God when mankind was first created. We were made for intimacy.
  3. Access (Verse 11) - "No longer will a man teach his neighbor...they will know me." We have each been given an all-access backstage pass to the ultimate rock star. We don't even have to bribe His manager or win a radio contest to get it. We just have to accept God's plan of salvation and surrender to our need for it. Better than acceptance in Harvard or an audience with the Pope, we can meet with God one on one and learn from Him for ourselves.
  4. Forgiveness (Verse 12) - "I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Over the course of my life I have spent a great many hours searching for something I have lost. I at times take it for granted that I could search for the remainder of my days and could not find any trace of my sin. God remembers it no more. It is not in the lost and found. It has not been misplaced. It is vanquished.

Jesus, You are the most precious Christmas gift of all. May the gift I unwrap this season be time spent with You celebrating the forgiveness You died to give me. Today I choose to make my heart ready. Come Lord Jesus.

What's in Your Will?

Psalm 103:17-18 But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him; and his righteousness with their children's children

Last night Scott and I were having a rather painful conversation with one of our children about the reasons behind some of the boundaries we've chosen to place in our home around relationships with the opposite sex. I'll admit some of our standards go against the grain of today's societal trends and are likely ridiculed not only by our children's peers but also our own. We were not surprised that she was struggling to accept our rules but rather how confused she was as to why we had put those standards in place. Boundaries placed in love were seen as choices made out of fear.

As we explained our reasoning, our daughter's heart softened but mine was left throbbing. I had been hurled back to the early years when I had interacted with boys. I was awkward. I felt ill-equipped physically or socially to attract a "top" candidate. As a result, I made poor choices in a futile attempt to attract and retain boyfriends. All I could think to myself was how much I don't want my girls to grow up to be like least in that department.

This morning I am reading Hebrews 7. This chapter references a fairly obscure Old Testament figure named Melchizedek. I'll just refer to him as Moe. You can read in detail about Moe in Genesis 14 but the short is this. Abraham's nephew, Lot, is taken as a prisoner when several kings band together and successfully raid a neighboring land. Abraham, clearly aided by God, successfully wages battle against these kings and brings home Lot, his family and everything previously belonging to Lot. As the victory party passes through the area that will later become Jerusalem they happen upon Moe.

Moe is described as a priest of God Most High (Verse 1). We are never told in Scripture who Moe's parents are. This is significant because every other person given the title "priest" in the Bible is a descendant of one of Abraham's great-grandsons named Levi. Here Jesus is referred to as a priest in the order of Melchizedek. (Verse 17) When Jesus died for each of us, He became our priest permanently. Generation upon generation, every other priest who served in the Jewish temple offered sacrifices for sin on behalf of God's people but also for himself. Jesus sacrificed Himself on our behalf alone.

Jesus' perfect sacrifice was intended to abolish the "old ways" but we try to carry our old ways into this new covenant. One of the most damaging is generational sin. These are the things about ourselves that we ascribe to our parents or where we come from or how we were raised and thereby assume will never change. It could be habitual such as growing up in around alcoholics. It could be sexual like growing up viewing pornography. It could even be something "harmless" such as treating our spouse in the same disrespectful way we saw our own parent treated, having a problem with unbridled anger or an uncontrolled tongue.

Jesus, You desire so much more for my life than children that turn out like me. You want my kids to turn out like You. I want to leave a legacy of faith, not sinful behavior. With You I know it is possible. Your love can visit my children's children. Now that's something worth writing in the will.

Do I Really Have to Go in There?

Proverbs 9:6 Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.

In my experience, the most profound conversations with your children take place in the car. A few weeks back, as I was winging my way around the greater Memphis area shuttling kids, running errands and generally saving the planet, a little voice piped up from the backseat. "Mommy, what will it be like when I go to Kindergarten next year?" This is a conversation I've had two prior times. No sooner had the words dropped from her lips than my heart began to ache. Experience taught me what she was really asking.

After a brief explanation of what Kindergarten is like, I gently probed as to why she was asking about school. "Because, Mommy, I'm scared to go there." My ache erupted into an all-out throb as I anticipated that soon-coming fall day when another love of my life would pass through the doors marked, "Elementary" but are no such thing for the brave little child who walks through them.

This morning's passage is Hebrews 6. As this chapter opens, I read these words, "Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity." Leaving a familiar place is always difficult. Whether moving physically to a different city, changing jobs or professions, ending a toxic friendship or progressing spiritually, "leaving" can evoke a wide range of feelings and emotions.

As I pondered times I've been reticent to "leave" where I was in my faith, I realized my hesitation is no different than the reasons Clara has a level of anxiety about entering Kindergarten.
  • I Won't Know Anyone - Leaving requires change. The most significant change is often relational. This is also true as I progress spiritually. There is a certain apprehension that accompanies moving on spiritually. Spiritual maturity can be a lonely place where it can feel like "no one else is doing it." To this fear, Jesus whispers in my ear, "I am here, loved one. I will walk with you as you take steps of faith. You will not be alone." Who better to have as my traveling companion.
  • I Don't Know What to Expect/I Don't Want to Change - It is easier to stay the same than to change. In fact, I have heard it said that no person will change until the discomfort associated with staying the same outweighs the anxiety about the change. Many business books have been penned on this very topic, teaching managers how to manage through changes in organizational structure or strategy. My own misgivings might be the hardest to oversee however. What is really behind those doors marked, "Elementary" or "Next Step of Faith"? As my imagination runs willy nilly, Jesus whispers in my ear, "I am completely trustworthy. Believe that I want the best for you and am leading you somewhere you truly want to go. Let me be your change manager" Who better to manage my change?

Jesus, I don't have to muster up my own courage to leave the elementary teachings and go on to maturity. You are with me. You will lead me. You are trustworthy. Today I choose to go with You because the pain of staying the way I am far exceeds my apprehension about becoming the woman You want me to be.