Pastor Mark’s Devotions, May 16

“Life is Good. Life is Hard”

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 

Years ago, I was with my dad as he cleaned out his personal library. Every so often, he would pull a book off the shelf, and I could tell he was reminiscing. He would hold it, thumb through the pages, then turn to me and say, “That’s a good one!” One book he pulled out was entitled, “Life is Good. Life is Hard.” I remember him saying that the contents of the book, was not really that stirring.                                        But he said, “I love that title!”

Life is good. Life is hard. People around the globe are trying to find meaning between these pages. People are looking for more than a snappy title, they want substance that stirs the soul.

This morning, I read an article by Heather Lanier entitled, “Surrendering to Uncertainty”. She reveals her personal quest and challenge of gluing together the pages of “goodness” and “hardness”. Eight years ago, she was told that her nine- month old baby had Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. It is a rare condition caused by a genetic deletion in her fourth chromosome. The doctors told her that her baby might talk or might not. They told her that her baby might walk or might not. She and her husband were going to have to live with uncertainty. They would be pressed to their limits to discover if life could be found between good and hard.

Her daughter has made progress. But the victory has not been found in her ability to do a dance routine across the kitchen floor. The victory has been discovered as they have dug deeper into their own story. In her discovery, she declares, “I would never want to relive that first year with my daughter, yet I would never give it back.” One can only imagine the trauma, and the drama and the depth held between those two tensions as they pushed and pulled on each other.   

She said that she listened as a geneticist told her that her daughter could choke on her own saliva. She told of holding her baby’s thrashing body as the doctor snaked a black tube up her nose and down her throat. She said that she watched her daughter’s lips turn blue during a grand mal seizure.

But she also expressed that through all the heart ache, she discovered an aching tenderness within. This life of uncertain fragility exposed a tenderness deep within her heart. It was found existing beneath her ribs, and resting under her previously held beliefs. This experience pointed her toward discovering what was most important in life.

Pressed between precious and pain, a word seemed to be spoken. A tender word. A direct word. Out of the darkness it came, “Don’t squander this.” The Word continued, “You want, with all your might to wish this away. But there is something vital here, in all this unknown.”

There is something vital here for all of us. This pandemic is unleashing uncertainty into all our lives as never before. Our initial desire is to wish this all away. Yet, there is a voice that remains and speaks softly, slowly and directly. We can choose to ignore this still, small voice. But there is a Word to be discovered by each of us between the pages of prayer and pain. A message to be found between life being good and life being hard. We are encouraged, “Don’t squander this!”

What might be hiding under our ribs and resting beneath our beliefs? What tender, mighty truth might be revealed to transform our entire interpretation of our story?

Life is good. Life is hard. It is interesting that as my father’s health weakened; and as each day became harder; his soft voice could be heard speaking the words, Life Is Good! Life is a Gift!

The book title that my dad loved, might not have had content that stirred him. But my Father’s life story has stirred me in many and various ways. His life has led me to dig deeper knowing that in this good, hard life, there are things that I do not want to squander.

Good, hard days are ahead of us. Let the voice of God speak. There is something vital to be found within each one of us.

God Bless You All!

Pastor Mark

 



Pastor Mark’s Devotions, March 30

It’s Monday, Let Us Pray”

“Our Father, Hallowed Be Thy Name…”

During last week’s taping of my sermon, a phone call interrupted my prayer. I forgot to silence my phone ahead of time. I also forgot to go back and re-tape the prayer. The last few weeks, I’ve written out a prayer so that it might be a little more intentional and comprehensive. I thought we might begin Monday with this prayer – and then conclude with Psalm 71 – two ways to turn our hearts to God and acknowledge Him as we begin a new week. God Bless You All! God goes before us!

Let us pray,

Heavenly Father, these are concerning times, these are uncertain times – fear and anxiety can sneak up on us. Let us remember that you are a God of Promise. You have made promises and agreements that we can hold on to in times like these:

-You have promised to ALWAYS BE WITH US!

-You have promised that YOU HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD!

-You have promised to HAVE PREPARED A PLACE FOR US!

-You have promised that IF WE SEEK YOU, WE WILL FIND YOU!

-You have promised that, IF WE ABIDE IN YOU, WHAT WE ASK, WE WILL RECEIVE!

-You have promised that, EVEN WHEN WE ARE UNFAITHFUL, YOU REMAIN FAITHFUL!

Thank you, Father, for your promises. Your Word is trustworthy and true.

We also pray that you make us one, Father even as you and Jesus are One. Even though we are separated by distance, unite us in deep union with you. Unite our country and communities. Guard and guide the people serving our communities and those who are sick. Have mercy upon us.

We pray for healing over those who are infected with this virus. We pray for those who have lost loved ones from this virus. We pray for continual protection over the care givers and health providers. We pray for containment and the quick development of an effective vaccine We pray that all people will practice “safe distancing” and take it seriously. We pray that medical equipment will be distributed in an effective manner to all the states and areas where these resources are needed. Direct our President, our Federal and state governments, governors and local leaders – that decisions will be well thought out and implanted to help our people in need.

We pray for parents, families, couples and individuals. Let us make the most of this pause – that we see opportunities more than obstacles.

And Father, we thank you for all the ways that love, kindness, and compassion is being demonstrated. Neighbor loving neighbor. Strangers helping strangers. Let it continue. Let it abound. In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN. LET IT BE SO!

 

 

Receive the words from Psalm 71:19-24 New Living Translation (NLT)

19 Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.
    You have done such wonderful things.
    Who can compare with you, O God?
20 You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
    but you will restore me to life again

    and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
21 You will restore me to even greater honor
    and comfort me once again.

22 Then I will praise you with music on the harp,
    because you are faithful to your promises, O my God.
I will sing praises to you with a lyre,
    O Holy One of Israel.
23 I will shout for joy and sing your praises,
    for you have ransomed me.
24 I will tell about your righteous deeds
    all day long,

 

Yes, it is Monday. This is the day the Lord has made, let us claim joy and be glad in it!

P.S. – Share the joy – Sahara Pizza serves us half price pizza for Monday Take Out!!

Always trying to look out for you!

Love and Peace, Pastor Mark



 

“Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God? You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again. Then I will praise you