Last week we watched two surfing movies, and a few nights later I said to Dennis, "I want to learn how to surf!"
You should have seen his response!
As a 33-year surfer himself, he was ready to hop out of bed and drive me to the beach right then so we could become surfing buddies.
I laughed, but secretly thought, "It would be pretty cool to be a middle-aged surfing couple! An oddity to be sure!"
He asked me a few questions and started making plans for my surfing tutorial. As I listened to him, however, I began to feel differently about my dream of winning The Seniors Surf Cup.
You see, I envisioned myself gliding through a long, beautiful, glassy wave on an old-school wooden surfboard - totally relaxed and carefree.
I want to experience the holy grail of surfing - the tube.
There is just one problem. Several problems, actually.
A) I cannot swim
B) I have to plug my nose when I go under a wave
C) I have weak upper body strength
D) My right wrist is weak and in constant pain because of carpal tunnel, and often numb
E) I do not have the best balance
F) I panic when I am caught under water and cannot find my way out
And last time I checked, swimming, the ability to breathe under water, upper body strength, balance, and the ability to endure wave-pummeling are required elements of surfing.
An odd silence greeted me after I listed all of these inhibitors for Dennis until he finally replied in a flat voice, "Well, I suppose you can sit ON a surfboard and I can push you through the water. How about that?"
How about that? How about THAT?!?
I am sure in that moment he was very glad he avoided the shame of watching his wife towed in by another surfer while plugging her nose to get through the waves.
Like many things in life - my dream collided with reality.
My dream is lovely - caught in the barrel of a wave, enjoying an experience of which very few will ever boast.
My reality is not so lovely. Swim lessons, money, leaving my children to get in the water, physical pain, constant thrashings in the waves, waiting for waves, falling - a lot, and hundreds of hours of practice. Sigh.
Why can't I just grab a board, hop in the water, stand up, and SURF? Why can't it be that easy?
And that is when it hit me.
Don't we think the same way about the Christian life?
We listen to powerful sermons, testimonies of amazing men and women who changed the world for Christ, martyrs who died for the sake of the Gospel, and countless stories of those who walked in faithful obedience, accomplishing great things for the Lord, adored by generations of believers - and we want to be just like them!
We want godliness and steadfastness, we want to be the Daniel's who will never bow to the idols, and the Christian who will praise God in the face of death.
And then we remember what it took for these men and women to become Hall of Fame Saints.
And our dream collides with reality.
Sickness, death, persecution, abuse, neglect, rejection, slander, betrayal, pain ... these saints SUFFERED - and it was through their suffering that they became great. Not because they did anything to merit glory and praise, but because their suffering forced them to depend on a holy God who requires 100% full obedience and surrender from His children. A life fully yielded is a life fully used.
And don't we all want to be used to do mighty things for God? Of course!
But what if the mighty things require us doing 1,000 little things first?
Will we do them? We will do them without complaining or grumbling? Will be be faithful in the daily tasks the Lord sets before us, no matter how mundane? No matter how seemingly insignificant?
I want to surf. I want to fly over a wave with full abandon and feel the pleasure of God's creation wrapping itself around me and spraying in my face.
But am I willing to learn how to swim? Hold my breath? Dive? Workout to increase my strength?
If the answer is yes - and I am fully committed - I will become a surfer!
Isn't the same true in the Christian life?
If I am willing to die to self, love others more than I love myself, live at peace with everyone, exhibit self-control, patience, and gentleness, forgive those who hurt me, meditate on the Word day and night, pray without ceasing, seek the Lord daily, and trust Him in all things, walking in obedience and faith as I keep my eyes fixed on Him while running the race that leads to eternity - and I am fully committed to doing so - won't I know God better, have an increased and unwavering faith, and look more like Jesus?
Yes! The answer is YES!
I will not wake up tomorrow morning more mature in Christ any more than I will wake up a professional surfer if I do nothing to move towards spiritual maturity TODAY.
We want excellence in so many areas of life.
God commands us to be holy as He is holy, and to be perfect as He is perfect.
Excellence is a worthy and Biblical goal. But it does not just "happen."
We are saved by grace, and there is nothing we can do to earn salvation, but holiness and sanctification are a continual, life-long pursuit as we seek to shake off the sin that entangles us and replace it with righteousness and truth.
The only thing that can keep us from attaining holiness is US.
We are filled with the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth, and equips us for every good work.
We are not perfect when Christ calls us to Himself, and many rough edges must be made smooth, but in the end? Long, beautiful, glassy streets of gold will roll under our feet as we enjoy the glories of heaven after we hear those coveted words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master."
Do not give up, Christian!
Spend more time looking at what you CAN DO than looking at what seems impossible,
and then - go live life abundantly ... just as Jesus intended.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. I Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith ... Hebrews 12:1
God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6:10-12
God has given to man a short time here upon earth - and yet upon this short time, eternity depends!
~ Jeremy Taylor
I just spoke with a sweet friend about this very topic this afternoon ... the brevity of life.
We assume we have days and years stretched out ahead of us, to do what we like and accomplish the plans we have made, yet we do not know the number of days the Lord has allotted to each of us.
We WILL die.
The question is - are we LIVING now?
Are we running after the Lord with every ounce of energy we possess?
Are we passionate about eternal things?
Do we encourage others in the faith?
Do we speak truth, caring about holiness more than happiness and popularity?
Jesus Christ came to give us ABUNDANT life.
We cannot enjoy abundant LIFE when we live in fear of death.
Death is the end of every man - and the living take it to heart. (Ecclesiastes)
We must think about our last day on earth - because it will come.
When we think about our own death, we are forced to think about LIFE. We cannot have one without the other.
And we cannot control either.
God creates life.
God ordains the precise moment of death.
Our responsibility is to LIVE in between the two - with passion, purpose, and a never-ending thirst for the God who created us, loves us, and sent His Son to die ... so we could live ... for eternity ... in the presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
I pray you know Him.
I pray you claim Him as your Savior.
There is no other!
Jesus Christ IS the way, the truth, and the life, and no one can get to the Father apart from believing in His Son.
Death is the end of every man - on earth. But for those who accept the free gift of salvation ... life begins the moment we draw our final breath here - and exhale within the gates of heaven.
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
What a wonder heaven will be!
But for now - we are on earth. We need to beg the Lord to teach us how to LIVE. Fully surrendered. Fully engaged. Passionately pursuing Him - every single moment of the day.
Our humanness wants to serve Self more than the Savior, but doing so will not provide the abundant life Jesus came to give, because - a life without Jesus is no life at all.
We are not promised 'tomorrow.'
We only have right now.
Our sole purpose on earth is to glorify God, yet our arrogance fools us into believing that we have time to serve Him, love Him, pursue Him, and obey Him ... "later."
Oh, brothers and sisters, may we never forget the truth that our life is but a vapor. God must have our everything - NOW - for there may not be a 'tomorrow.'
If you know Him, run harder to stay in step with Him.
If you do not know Him, SEEK HIM while He still may be found.
TODAY is the day of salvation!
"What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short!" 1 Corinthians 7:29
"For we are only of yesterday and know nothing, because our days on earth are as a shadow!" Job 8:9
"What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes!" James 4:14
"Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life!" Psalm 39:4
"Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace!" 1 Chronicles 29:15
"We blossom like a flower and then wither. Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear!" Job 14:2
"My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows. I am withering away like grass!" Psalm 102:11
"So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom!" Psalm 90:12
"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise - making the most of your time." Ephesians 5:15-16
I have always held a secret affection for hammocks.
No matter where they are - sandy beach, forest, backyard - they beckon each passerby to "lie down and rest awhile."
Just looking at a hammock evokes feelings of rest and relaxation.
We have never invested in one personally because our boys continually mistook them for slingshots. The older I get, however, the more I dream of having a hammock of my own to swing in while reading an excellent book or enjoying a delightful breeze.
After looking at dozens of choices during my research, I began to think about the biblical model of 'rest.'
Jesus' life was patterned by a rhythm of work --> rest --> work --> rest.
He needed rest - He made time to get it - and it refreshed Him.
We should do as He did!
I looked up verses with the word 'rest' and found an interesting passage in Mark 6.
Jesus sends his apostles out to proclaim the Gospel.
They preached, cast out demons, healed the sick ... they worked.
While they were gone, John the Baptist was be-headed.
The apostles return to tell Jesus all they had done, and He said, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” The passage continues, "For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves."
Once again, we see Jesus modeling REST.
The apostles were tired. Physically, emotionally,and spiritually.
Evangelism is hard work. Rejection is constant. Ridicule not uncommon.
As they healed the sick and cast out demons, the crowds grew and the demands on their time became greater with each passing day.
A brother was brutally murdered. The very brother who had prepared the way for their Lord!
They were exhausted. Scripture says they did not even have opportunity to eat in peace, so they climbed into a boat and rowed to a "desolate place" to be ALONE.
This story proves that Jesus means what He says when He calls to us, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest."
When His disciples were weary, He provided quiet for them.
When we are weary, He does the same.
Jesus said, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”
I think it is time for me to offer the same refreshment to my family.
Time to think, pray, read, sleep ... whatever they need.
A daily retreat to find relaxation and refreshment.
We all need it.
Yet we often don't know where to find it.
So - it is time for me to provide it!
Thank You, Lord, for showing me this today. May I faithfully follow through so my husband and children may be blessed with the gift of Your rest.
After spending literally seven minutes on social media, reading headlines and news reports, I walked away from my computer with a heavy weight of anxiety and fear wrapped around my heart.
I started talking to myself, arguing my position on issues, responding to those who are taking away my rights as a parent, and imagining 123 scenarios of doom and gloom for my children, and this nation.
In my younger years this fear would have consumed me.
A few years ago it would have controlled my mind for an entire day.
Now, after years of having the Lord grab my neck when fear overpowers me, forcing my head back in the right direction - towards HIM - I actually get angry when I am afraid.
My monologue lasted about 20 minutes until I finally stopped and said, "Lord, NO! I am NOT going to let him win! Satan is not going to drive my mind and heart into the pit of fear where he can spit his lies into my ears, telling me that I am a victim and there is nothing I can do to change it. I am NOT a victim - I am a child of the living God! So I need to act like one! Drive this fear away, Lord, and remind me of Your truth."
Fear is the absence of trust.
We know that our God is not a God of fear, so when fear begins to squeeze its icy fingers around our throats, we must trust the God we say we love.
In order to build trust with someone we must thoroughly know the one in whom we are placing that trust.
There is only one resource available that can teach us to know and understand God --> SCRIPTURE.
When we are fearful, we must search God's Word for TRUTH - and fill our minds with it.
After the Lord used His perfect love to cast away my fear, I immediately sat down to look up every verse that would remind me of His sovereignty.
Presidents, supreme courts, kings, queens, governments ... they are nothing compared to the God of the universe. No law, ruling, or agenda can thwart the perfect plans and purposes of a holy God, no matter how frustrating or frightening they may be.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
I was not surprised to find dozens of verses that speak of God's power and authority on heaven and earth, and I was not surprised to feel a peace that passes all understanding wash over me as His words penetrated my soul.
How good it is to belong to a God who fulfills His promises, loves His people, and offers His children a perfect peace when they place their trust where it belongs. In Him.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3
I pray these Scriptures will be like a soothing balm to anyone who is battling fear, wondering if our God really is big enough to overcome a world that thinks it can do better.
There is only One God - there is no other - and He is Lord of ALL!
The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all. Psalm 103:19
He is the image of the
invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were
created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or
dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for
For My thoughts are not
Your thoughts, neither are Your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as
the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and
My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from
heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and
sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be
that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall
accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I
sent it. Isaiah
Yours, O Lord, is
the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for
all that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord,
and You are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from You, and
You rule over all. In Your hand are power and might, and in Your hand it is to
make great and to give strength to all. 1 Chronicles
“I know that you can do
all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2
Remember the former things
of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,
declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet
done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all My purpose,’ Isaiah
Many are the plans in
the mind of a man, but it isthe purpose of the Lord that will stand.
Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases. Psalm 115:3
Who has spoken and it
came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Lamentations
For I know that the Lord is
great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in
the seas and all deeps. Psalm 135:5,6
For His dominion is an
everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to
generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and He does
according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the
earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have you done?”
But He is unchangeable,
and who can turn Him back? What He desires, that He does. Job 23:13
O Lord, God of our
fathers, are You not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of
the nations. In Your hand are power and might, so that none is able to
withstand You. II Chronicles 20:6