Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sometimes life’s a rodeo: Expect the unexpected

Have you ever felt like you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, about to be pummeled through no fault of your own? Have you ever asked, What did I do to deserve this?

An Old Testament king named Hezekiah looked through his window one day and saw the Assyrian army camped outside. The biblical account says, “After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah” (II Chronicles 32:1 NIV).

Seems unfair, doesn’t it? Hezekiah had been so faithful. How could God let the enemy get so close? What had Hezekiah done wrong, that such a large, seemingly unbeatable force could close in around him?

Hezekiah fell on his face before God and said, “If you don’t save us, it’s all over.”

I’ve seen the same thing at a rodeo.

When my husband was a barrel man, he often went head to head with a big lanky bull called The Grizz. This long-legged monster could step right over Mike’s red and white striped clown barrel and camp on the bullfighter behind it. Or isolate him in the middle of the arena.

One particular day everything stopped, even The Grizz. The bullfighter, down on one knee, looked Grizz in the eye and the crowd knew what to expect.

The big bovine swished his tail to one side, snorted, blinked … and walked off toward the out gate.

The bullfighter leaped to his feet and dashed for the fence, and with one collective breath, the astounded audience cheered.

Maybe ol’ Grizz saw an angel behind the kneeling clown.

That's what happened with Hezekiah: the Lord sent an angel to annihilate the Assyrian soldiers and their king withdrew.

Adverse circumstances can make us doubt that God is paying attention. However, he still intervenes today in the lives of his people - and more important than that is his presence in the lives of his people on an even deeper level than Hezekiah experienced.

The Lord is with us in everything we face and has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV).

The next time we ask, Where are the blessings and benefits? Where are the good times and abundance? How can God let bad things happen? let’s remember that the Lord himself walks with us.

Even though our challenges may be bigger than we can handle, they are never bigger than our God.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

“The Lord answered Job out of the storm.”

Wouldn’t you rather hear from God in church, where it’s safe and dry and predictable? Or from your sofa while you’re relaxing after a long day.

How about when everything is going you way? Wouldn’t that be a great time to hear the voice of God?

I’ll admit there have been times like these when I heard the Lord speak to my heart. Those moments of the still small voice have filled me with comfort and hope.

But when God speaks to me out of the storm, there is no doubt about who’s doing the talking.

No other voice can reach me above the roar of the crashing waves. No one else can find me in the debris, or lift me from the fallen facades of my life.

No one else can calm the fear and bring peace.

He is bigger than the storm.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Who's at the end of your rope?

Praise is the rope by which
the Lord lifts me from the
dark pit.

His hands grip one end,
strong to pull me up
as I cling to the other.
His face grows closer
as I rise
and I see his smile.

Clean me off, Lord.
Set me on a sure and solid place.
Show me which way to go.

And Lord,
may I sing for you
this new song in my heart?

Psalm 40:1-3

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tomorrow: By the time you get there it's today

After driving our pickup home on icy roads with snow blowing sideways and a semi bearing down on me, I had a much deeper appreciation for the phrase “white-knuckling it.” I was just grateful to make it to our driveway without sliding off the highway or adorning the hood of the semi.

My husband calls snow the Great Equalizer. It slows everyone, covers everyone. All of us are the same: travelers struggling to make it safely to our destinations, whether in semis or pickups.

As much as I love the beauty of the falling flakes, I’ll admit I groused about dashing through them from the parking lot to the grocery store that day. “My hair will frizz as soon as it dries,” I whined.

My world is so immediate. I took the pickup that morning without much thought of a snowy day. Didn’t take a muffler. No umbrella. No extra coat in the back seat.

This is Colorado; I knew better.

Remember when your mother said, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today”? People credit Thomas Jefferson with those words, but I don’t believe it. It had to be someone from Colorado where the weather can drop 30 degrees in 10 minutes and you can use sun tan oil and snow boots on the same day. It had to be someone like me who put off taking her broken glasses into town on Saturday because she was going on Sunday so she’d do it then and save a trip.

Ha! Not here. Not when a winter blizzard can blow in hours before it’s predicted, clog your driveway with snow and coat the highways in sheet ice.

Guess who spent three days trying to read and work at the computer in a white-out?

Procrastination cost me a lot, but it also gave me something in return: blurred vision and a killer headache.

Some people put off going to the doctor. Others put off saving money, exercising, eating right or talking to God.

Snow isn’t the only equalizer, so it time. We don’t get tomorrow. We think we do, but by the time we get there, it’s today.

Whatever it is you need to do, from saving money to talking to God, do it today. It’s really the only time you have.