Often life is hard, but God is always good

Archive for August, 2013

Am I Truly Grateful?

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” I Timothy 6: 6-8 New International Version

When I was a new mom I had the privilege of babysitting my friend Molly’s five young kids.  They lived in a two-story with lots of space, comfy sofas and fun toys.  I left my controlled first-child environment every month to enter her world of mud pies, kids running over to neighbors, and boys up trees.  It freaked me out, but it was good training for my uptight first years of parenting.

One of my most memorable nanny visits included serving the kids their dinner and then putting them all the bed.  No complaints and no whining erupted during the consumption of the healthy stew of rice, meat and veggies.

Then John, the six-year-old, piped up: “Hey, I think we should have ice cream for dessert!”  I yielded to the chorus of eager voices and pulled the half-gallon container from the freezer and opened it.  My heart fell!  In the corner of the carton was a small leftover lump of ice cream.  “Oh no”, I thought, “they will be so disappointed.”

All heads were bent intently over the open container and four-year-old Ben looked up at me and exclaimed: “Yay! There’s enough for each of us to have a spoonful!”  A rush of hands sought the cutlery drawer and passed spoons out.  In a daze, I held the carton steady as they dove in and came up with beaming smiles, smacking their lips with gusto on their small morsel of sweetness.

Photo Credit: Cascadian Farms

Photo Credit: Cascadian Farms

Seventeen years later I am still telling this heartwarming story to others and to my own heart.  Contentment with what I am given by God is a great benefit.  “Great gain” says the Scripture in the Bible.

What do we gain by godliness and contentment mixed together?  Where do I begin? Enjoyment of what we have, calm hearts, peaceful relationships with others are just a sample of the realities.

What inspires you to live life with contentmenl?

Is it Worth the Risk? Part Two

Photo Credit: Jean Marc Linder

Photo Credit: Jean Marc Linder

When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from the land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it…When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified…

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

            “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

            “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.
Matthew 14: 23b-32a New International Version

I decided to take my own advice and take a risk.  I put together a resume and applied to be a Spanish language interpreter for a local language bank.  I was accepted, completed a brief orientation and then received a first assignment.  I passed my probation period and now face new and difficult jobs.

These first steps required initial courage, but now I am faced with new challenges and I am not calm.  Like Peter, I stepped out of the boat, walked on water a bit, and came toward Jesus as He called me. Then I looked down (and around) and felt my courage evaporate!

The Bible account of Peter’s water walking says that Jesus reached out his hand “immediately”.  He does not hesitate when we cry out for his help.  All over the Bible, God reminds us of this instantaneous assistance.  “I will help you.” “I will be with you!” are his signature words.

Have you ever noticed in this gospel story that the wind died down only after Peter and Jesus climbed into the boat? It was still stormy as they stood hand in hand out on the water.

When I put myself in Peter’s place, standing– not sinking – in the midst of buffeting waves, the wind whips our hair into our faces and we laugh in the face of the storm.  I grip Jesus’ his hand more tightly and feel an electric surge of joy.

This cycle of courage, fear, rescue, and joy plays itself out in a loop.  These are my ups and downs when I seek to trust Jesus as I walk on the stormy sea.   I am so thankful that Jesus does not despise us for our fears.

Recently, Hillsong UNITED released their song, “Oceans, with the beautiful bridge lyrics; “Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders.  Let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.” (Hillsong UNITED, Zion, Hillsong Music, 2013 CD)

Step out of the boat.

Keep taking those risky steps on the water.

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