So... I had an interesting experience yesterday...
The Monday Morning Bible Study met yesterday and after much teeheeing and catching up on everyone's news (when some people walk in, they make everyone laugh!), I asked the question I always ask, "Does anyone have a prayer request?"
On this particular Monday, I could tell by the vacant looks on faces that nothing really pressing came to anyone's mind, except for one friend who I'll call Ann (not her real name.) Ann finally looked up and quietly said, "I can't find my glasses (eyeglasses)... I've looked everywhere. I've looked and looked and re-looked... They are lost and cannot be found... I don't know what to do!"
We've all been there, flailing about looking for glasses that are right on our heads or worse yet, on our faces! There is nothing more frustrating than wasting time looking for something that should be a cinch to find. Ann had her old glasses perched on her nose so we knew she could see as she searched - that was not the problem.
Right away, a couple of us said simultaneously, "We'll go to your house and help you look!!!!" (We are a full-service Bible Study group.) This met with another round of teeheeing and a sigh of relief from Ann. This conversation concluded with a confident prayer for help in finding the lost...
After class, Jan and I (that IS her real name - the same Jan that is taking accordion lessons with me) jumped up and charged over to Ann's house, confident we would find the missing specs. Ann knew she had last seen them in her closet, so armed with flashlights, we set our sights there. We looked under the bed... behind the toilet... in the trash... in the armpits of sweaters... I've never looked through someone else's sweater armpits before...
Ann has an organized closet with everything in it's place... all her sweaters and pants and shoes were a delight to look through and really not much of a challenge... no glasses anywhere.
Finally, as a last resort, I pulled a plastic storage box off the top shelf and lo and behold, you guessed it, the glasses were stuck to the bottom. What a weird spot to find glasses! The lost was found!
I couldn't help but think of the verse in the Bible that talks about lost sheep. Jesus is speaking to a crowd and says,
"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." (Luke 15:4-7)
I can't relate to losing a sheep, but I CAN relate to losing something as essential as glasses. I saw how much Ann wanted to find her glasses and then how much she rejoiced over finding them. We had a party right there in her closet! We all whooped and hugged and did little happy dances.
Jesus is not really talking about sheep in His example. He's talking about people. He really wants each and every person to be 'found' and safe with Him. He does not want anyone going off and losing their connection to Him. He does not want anyone to follow something or someone else. He wants to take care of people. All people. He wants to shower people with blessings and love and forgiveness and peace and contentment and abundant life. He wants everyone in His fold. That's how He is.
He loves and delights in us... He rejoices over you... and me....
And think of it... Jesus throws a party in heaven whenever someone who was 'lost' turns around and heads back to Him. He forgives. He loves. He blesses... again and again.
Can you imagine the scene in heaven: Jesus whooping... and hugging ... and giving high fives to all the angels...and doing a happy dance!!! He delights in you! Yes, YOU! He rejoices over you... and me.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Thursday, October 4, 2012
So... I'm sure I'm not the only one marveling about... and reveling in... all the color here in central Iowa. It just was not expected! There has been so little rain and so much heat all summer that it seemed appropriate that the leaf show would be dull and uneventful.
It's all sooooo gorgeous!
Around every corner and across every vista is a shot of color that refuses to be ignored. I marvel at what a creative mighty God we serve! Who else would have thought up such an ingenious plan: "Let's see... I think I'll hit My creation with a burst of color before the white of winter..."
And to think that all that color sits in those leaves until fall comes... and then tah-daaaah!
Red, yellow, purple, magenta, orange all come busting out.... All that color pops out of those tired green leaves, but not until all the conditions are set in place and the timing is right.
Last week, during our weekly Monday Morning Bible Study (I betcha can't tell when we meet...) we were discussing the early church according to the book of Acts. The MMBS has been meeting for almost 20 years and I'm telling you, we have had some very fine discussions and prayer times. These folks are family to me; and frankly, I probably know these people better than most of my family members. They are so dedicated to their faith in God and the fellowship of the group that they actually keep coming; it always amazes me! Nearly 20 years ago, the class started as a 6 week gig and has kept going on and on and on...
Anyway... last Monday the discussion centered around the courage and boldness needed for the early church to keep on keeping on. The city rulers of that day were really into idol and emperor worship and other really weird practices, including child sacrifice (really!) The early Christians stuck to their new faith in Christ and were beaten and tortured and fed to animals because of it. But even though horrible things happened to them, they kept on witnessing about Jesus and doing miracles in His Name. New converts were added to their group, sometimes thousands at a time.
Finally one of the members of our group said what all of us were thinking, "I don't think I could withstand all that persecution. I think I would give up. I don't have that kind of courage and boldness to do miracles and witness, especially if it would get me into trouble..." Eyebrows raised in agreement all around the room.
But my comment was, "It's in there (patting my heart)... "
It's just like the trees. The leaves are green but have the potential for reds and yellows all the time; but it's not visible until the conditions are right. Boldness and courage and power, even miraculous power through Jesus, have been given to each of us and are visible at just the right time. It's called faith.
We all know this... we just have trouble believing it... or we forget.
Believers, courage and boldness and Holy Spirit power are in you... and love... and self-discipline.... and a whole lot more...
2 Tim. 1:7 says, "God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."
Be bold! Be courageous! Timidity (what a great word!) is out, power is in!
P.O.W.E.R. It's in there... and becomes visible at just the right time!