Meditations of my Heart

Friday, January 30, 2015

I Will Trust You


Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

It is 4:30 in the morning.  I wake with the immediate realization I must get up and get moving.  Today is the day when my husband, Danny, is scheduled to have his defibrillator replaced as the batteries in his old one are in serious decline.  Although we don't need to be at the hospital until 7:30, Atlanta interstate traffic demands an early departure in case we run into accidents or other unforeseen tie-ups along the way.

The drive down I-75 is crowded, but moving.  It is dark and misting, causing brake lights and headlights to blur and dance erratically before my eyes.  This, along with the worry I feel regarding Danny's impending surgery, makes me queasy.  I find myself wishing we were not in this place and time, wishing we didn't have to face these moments of uncertainty.

Then, I hear it.  A snippet from one of the praise songs we have recently learned for contemporary service.  I will trust you . . .

A whisper, a heartbeat.  I will trust you . . .

A promise, a prayer.  I will trust you . . .

And for the life of me, I cannot recall from which song these lyrics come, these words which now resound in my soul.  Yet resound, they do.  And every time they swirl up into my conscious thought, I feel God's peace surrounding me.  Surrounding us.

I am calmed.

Danny seems to be, too.  Handling traffic like a pro.  Not a drop of water or coffee in his system, yet sailing smoothly into the unknown.

I will trust you . . .

Pastor Wallace arrives to pray with us before Danny's surgery, and then stays with me for the duration.  We never run out of topics to discuss, and I a blessed by his dedicated presence which calms me even further and assures me:  I will trust.  I can trust!

Not an hour has passed before the surgeon, Dr. S., enters the waiting area, a broad smile on his face, and motions us to accompany him to the recovery room.  "Everything went great," Dr. S. assures us.  "Danny is still a bit groggy, but you can talk to him.  It will help him come around quicker."

There are no words for the relief that washes over me the moment I see Danny!  Pastor Wallace and I tell him, honestly, how great he looks (even though we can tell it's a struggle for him to stay awake), and Wallace teases him, "Doc says he has two remote controls, one for me and one for Martha.  You'll be behaving yourself from now on!"

Danny manages a smile and a chuckle at this quip.  Before he departs, Pastor Wallace prays with us once again, thanking God for His mercies today and for Danny's continued healing.  Three hours later, Danny and I are home, so thankful to have this ordeal behind us.

Through the day, however, as much as I will trust you runs in a comforting loop in my thoughts, the song from whence it came has yet to surface.  In my heart, I know it doesn't matter as these were the only words I needed to hear today, yet my mind isn't willing to let it rest.  I sit on our deck, breathing the chilly air gratefully,  and I close my eyes.  I listen . . .

Lord, whatever comes my way, I will trust you . . .  More of the song!  Which song?

From beginning to the end, I will trust you . . .

I jump up and dash indoors.  "Danny!  I remembered some more!"  I share the lyrics I recall, and grab for my hefty church music book.  Frantically, I begin flipping through the alphabetically arranged pages.  Scanning them hastily.  I haven't gotten past the "D" section when Danny, after a successful Google search, announces, "Sovereign!  It's Sovereign."

Thrilled at his answer, I shove my hand into the place in the giant tome where I think the "S" songs should be.

And. I. Turn. Right. To. It.

Tears of joy spill over.  God met me today in my time of uncertainty.  And although I'm ecstatically grateful to finally read all the words in the song, I know in my heart God gave me the only ones that mattered in the moment.  That matter always.

I will trust you . . .

~

Are you trusting in the Lord, and leaning not upon your own understanding?

Prayer:  Father, may we learn to always lean on You and submit to Your will, knowing You will make straight our paths and provide us with Your comfort and grace.  Let us always give thanks and praise to You, no matter what circumstances we may be in, and listen for Your still, small voice which ever whispers the words we need to hear.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

You can listen to the song, Sovereign, here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!


Psalm 145:6 (MSG)
Your marvelous doings are headline news; I could write a book full of the details of your greatness.

I follow with regularity a vast amount of blogs.  Some are secular in nature, but most fall into the category of Christian reflections.  As a Christian writer myself, I find the latter to be a welcome source of inspiration and encouragement for my own faith walk.

Who are these bloggers, you ask?  How I would love to list each and every one of the, but cringe at the thought I could have a senior moment and leave some dear soul out of the lineup.  So, let me simply share with you my general impressions for now; in future blogs, I will feature quotes from these awesome individuals when said quotes fit with the theme of my post.

These Christian writers are a diverse group to say the least.  Men and women of all ages and stages of spiritual growth.  Some are published authors; some are aspiring to reach that goal.  Some are pastors, others laity, like myself.  Married, single; parents, grandparents; retired/working - their life experiences run the gamut.

Each blogger has a unique style and voice in his or her writing.  In my year of "wonder," I sit back and reflect upon how God has made us each in His own image, you so different in how we express ourselves and relay the Christian message to others.  Each writer is refreshingly original, and I appreciate every one of them for their distinctive, one-of-a-kind panache.

But as different as all these bloggers are in style, they all share the same headline news:  Extra!  Extra!  Read all about it!  God is great!  All the time!

And there is no end to the way in which they can express the greatness, goodness, mercy, love, and forgiveness of the Lord.  Even if they were to write 1,000 posts a piece, no amount of words could ever manage to detail and contain all of God's greatness.

Yet write on, they must.  For there is another thread which binds them together:  Their love for God and their passion to share that love with a hurting world which need Jesus more than ever.

I am so grateful to know these devoted Christians who are using their gifts of writing to evangelize and inspire others.  It is a blessing and an honor to be a part of their personal faith journey.  I find comfort in their words, knowing I'm not alone in my daily walk with the Lord.

So, blogging brothers and sisters (you know who you are), hat's off to you!

Keep on keeping on!

Run the good race!

Share the Good News of God's Kingdom.

It's headline news!

~

Are you a blog follower?  If so, what type of blogs do you tend to favor?

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for all those who use the gifts You have given them to spread the Good News of Christ Jesus to the world.  Whether they are writers, artists, songwriters, singers, teachers, or preachers, bless and inspire them, Lord, that they may bless and inspire others.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, January 23, 2015

In Sweet Fellowship



Psalm 55:12-14
If an enemy were insulting me,
I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
I could hide.
But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
with who I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked about
among the worshipers.

It is not something we, as Christians, wish to discuss and are loathe to reveal lest we discourage others from attending church, but it is a reality.  A reality which recently descends upon my husband, Danny, and me in a most unexpected, unprecedented and hurtful way; one that completely blindsides us and leaves us reeling.  When those we held closest as we walked with them among the worshipers turn against us with fangs bared, we wonder, what has happened to sweet fellowship?

In the years I've been a member of Facebook, I've witnessed too many friends who have been discouraged and disheartened by the way they have been treated in their churches.  At the least, some have left their house of worship in search of a more embracing congregation.  At the worst, some have thrown Christianity aside altogether, seeking blindly now for a faith outside of The Way.  Lost and broken, they struggle and strive to find in the unfamiliar a hint of the love they once hoped to know through Christ.

When he asks people he meets why they don't attend church, this is what Pastor Wallace hears most often:  "They're all hypocrites!  Who, in their right mind, would want to be part of that?"

Wallace's answer?  "Yes, we are all hypocrites.  We are all sinners.  That's why they and you and I need to be there."

That's why they and you and I need to be there . . .

We are fragile.  We are fallen.  We are prone to forget the saving grace of Christ Jesus when we have been hurt or wronged.

We see through our eyes, not God's.  We long for our kingdom, not His.

We are all hypocrites, in desperate need of Christ's healing.  Christ's salvation.

It's all too easy to draw up "enemy lines" and endure the slings and arrows coming from our foes, but when those same slings and arrows are hurled at us by those we count as friends?  Trusted friends?  Those with the kiss of Judas on their lips?

What do we do?

Jesus has the answer.

Forgive.

Seventy times seventy times seven and more.

Forgive.

Then?  Forget!

And welcome everyone into His Kingdom by inviting them to join you in sweet fellowship at your house of worship.  Show the love of Christ to them.  When you do that, those who feel forsaken or hurt or lost will know they have found a safe haven in your church and in your heart.

~

Have you been hurt by a church experience?  How did you react?  How did you deal with your disappointment?

Prayer:  Father, we, as Your children, are supposed to be loving and forgiving, even when it hurts and our hearts are breaking.  Help us to remember that Your precious Son, Jesus, gave the ultimate sacrifice that we might learn to forgive and forget in Christian love, sweet fellowship, no matter what the circumstances.  May our churches be places of warmth, welcome and acceptance for the lost and the seeking.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Angels Are Not Just Heard on High



Proverbs 4:18
The path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto a perfect day.

It is the day after Christmas.  My husband, Danny, and I are scheduled to drive the long stretch to my mother's house to spend the day with her.  Danny has had problems with an implant which, after a remarkably healthy run of five years, becomes infected.  Dr. T., his oral surgeon, gives it everything he has to save it previously in the month, but this ornery tooth decides to come loose at the most inconvenient of times.

"Martha, call your mom," Danny calls to me from the hallway as I'm sipping coffee and checking my e-mail.  "We can't make it today."

"What's wrong, honey?"  I ask in alarm.

"It's the tooth.  I can feel it wobbling.  It hurts to swallow.  I've got to see about this today."

"But, Danny, it's the day after Christmas!  Won't the office be closed?"

"They should have an emergency answering service.  I'm calling as soon as I'm out of the shower."

Danny places the call and waits.  After two hours, there's still no response.  What was supposed to be a shining and perfect day is fast deteriorating into one of doom and gloom.  In desperation, Danny scrolls through his most recent calls on his I-phone, praying that he hasn't deleted his surgeon's cell phone number from the list.

Miracles of miracles!  Danny finds it!  Promptly he calls and leaves a message explaining the situation.  Within ten minutes, Dr. T. returns the call and sets Danny up with an appointment at 2:30 that afternoon even though his office is officially closed for the holidays.  He has no dental technicians available, but his wife, who is a pediatric dentist, agrees to assist in the procedure.

We arrive at the office early; Dr. T. and his wife arrive on the dot.  We have no idea what holiday plans they have scrapped to be the angels we need in this moment, but they greet us with sincere smiles and Merry Christmas wishes.  The procedure takes less than thirty minutes.  Danny is relieved from his nagging discomfort, and we are free, all of us, to enjoy the remainder of this blessed holiday in uneventful bliss.

And we realize:  Angels are not just heard on high.  They live and dwell right here among us.  We know Dr. T. and his wife are devout Christians, but on this day, we also know that they walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Danny sends them a heartfelt thank you note the next day.  We are both so grateful for their sacrifice of time, for showing extraordinary love and care for a patient, for going above and beyond the call of duty.

They are the just, shining their light full force.

They turned our not-so-good-horrible-miserable day into one of perfection.

Isn't that what God promises He will do for us when we ask?

~

Have you experienced a time when someone's sacrifice in love and caring for you made all the difference?

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for those angels in our lives; those who rise above the moment to tend to the needs of others without any expectation of reward in return.  They show, by being just and merciful, the light You wish us to shine unto a perfect day, the day in which Your light is perfected in each and every one of us.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Make Us Fruitful!


John 15:2
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

Our home is surrounded by trees.  It's wonderful in the summertime when the southern sun beats down brutally, yet we stay cool and comfortable beneath a lush canopy of leaves.

There are drawbacks, however.

Dead branches.  Arching over our roof.



Hanging precariously over our deck.



A potential disaster just waiting to happen . . .

My husband, Danny, finally decides it's high time to have the branches removed right before our family is to gather here for Thanksgiving.  As always, he does his research before hiring a company.  Danny finds one that is not only reputable, but also offers what we both agree is a more than fair price to take down these "limbs of doom."

Fascinated by the whole process, and amazed at the young man who seamlessly scales the tree trunk, I decide to capture some moments with my camera.
















What a relief it is to have the branches not bearing fruit removed from the otherwise healthy and thriving trees!  Maybe, in their own mysterious way, the trees appreciate it, too.  Freed from excess and unnecessary baggage, they can continue to grow, stretching their fruitful branches heavenward like arms raised in grateful prayer and praise to God.

~

Are you in need of some spiritual pruning?  Pray to the Master Gardener, the One who can trim those dead limbs of yours and make you a new creation in Him.

Prayer:  Father, please make us fruitful for the sake of Your Kingdom.  Cut away from our hearts and souls those dead places which keep us from connecting fully with You.  Prune us for Your honor and glory.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

These Words of my Mouth


Psalm 19:14
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

For years, I keep a journal.  Seven volumes line the inner shelf of my wardrobe; my memories gathering dust.  Waiting for me to one day return and read about the joys and sorrows of my past, and perhaps, discover some connection between the person I was then and the one I am today.

Why do I stop writing a journal?  Why do I lose interest in an activity which brings me much solace and comfort?  Allows me to share my deepest, most precious thoughts, even if they are meant only for my eyes and God's?

Danny and I marry in 2005.  That's when the need and urge to keep a journal melts away.  Here is my soul-mate, my beloved, with whom I can share my every thought, my every feeling.  And he can share the same with me.  A real live and lively love; much more satisfying than the ramblings of drying ink on inanimate pages.

So, I simply lose the drive, the compulsion, to maintain a journal.

Fast-forward to the spring of 2011 and the beginning of this blog you are reading today.  I find with writing daily devotionals (yes, I really did start out posting a reflection per day), there is even less of a desire to return to a hand-written journal.  As I include many personal experiences and family photos in my posts, Meditations of My Heart serves, in some ways, as a memoir for me while, I hope, it provides inspiration for you.

Christmas 2014:  I unwrap a package from my son, Daniel.  I'm amazed to discover that it is, of all things, a journal!  But it's not any ordinary journal.  Oh, no!  At the bottom of each blank page is a quote from scripture, the idea being, of course, that the words which will grace the page will reflect the meaning of the passage from the Bible.

"When I saw this, Mom," Daniel tells me, "I thought about the devotions you write on your blog.  I thought this would help you with your ideas."

I feel the tears stinging my eyes.  I am so moved by my son's thoughtful and heart-felt gift.  I give him a warm and grateful hug.  "Yes, Daniel, this will help," I assure him.  "I know it will!"

And, guess what?  It already has!

~

Do you keep a journal?  If so, do you prefer to hand-write your entries, or do you type them on your computer?

Prayer:  Father, may the words of our mouths and those we write down come from our hearts.  May they ever be pleasing in Your sight, and reflect the glory that is Yours alone.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, January 9, 2015

While We Were Still Sinners



Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

My daughter, Sarah, and her husband, John, along with their daughters, Virginia Rose and Savannah Jane, regularly visit our house for Sunday dinner.  Those of you who have been following this blog already know that my husband, Danny, loves to cook and plan meals.  For this Sunday's repast, he decides to include Virginia in the preparation.

"Let's do pizza this Sunday," Danny announces.  "I'll get fresh dough from Publix and let Virginia help me roll it out."

"Oh, she'll love that!"  I assure him.

Does she ever!

Danny perches Virginia beside him on our library stool.  As he flours the counter, preparing to roll out the crust, Virginia can't help putting her hands in it.



Before we know it, she is making mini-mountains.



When her Papa is through using the rolling pin, he hands it to Virginia so she can flatten flour into a pretend pizza.  She sees this as an opportunity to practice her drawing.


But, oh, what a mess Virginia creates!





Most times, such chaos in our kitchen would be met with frustration and aggravation on my on my part.  Not today!  Just seeing the joy on Virginia's face as she plays with the flour makes cleaning up a labor of love.







It makes me think about how much God loves us.  Loves you and me, as my grandmother was fond of saying, "Up to the moon and back."  The fallen, sinful, sullied, incomparable messes that we are; covered from head to toe with the flour of iniquity.

While we were still sinners . . . The Lord didn't wait until we cleaned up our act to act on our behalf.  No!  Jesus offered up His perfection to perfect us in every way.  His sacrifice means our salvation.  His suffering sets us free.  Free to be, through Him, in relationship with the Father.

A loving, intimate relationship, full of grace and forgiveness.

A debt we can never repay.

God has turned the flour of sin into a shining white cloak of righteousness which He wraps around us like comforting arms.

Because of Jesus, I know that no matter how many messes I make in this life, He will be there for me when I turn to Him with a contrite and humble heart.

He is my love.

He is my life.

He is my Lord . . .

~

Do you trust Jesus enough to let Him clean up the messy, unkempt parts of you?

Prayer:  Father, how can we thank You enough for the love You have for us?  The love which allowed You to send Your Beloved Son into this world to save us while we were still sinners?  May we always turn to You and trust You to clean up the messes in our lives and forgive us when we fail and fall.  In Jesus' precious name, we pray.