Thursday, June 30, 2011

Speak From the Heart

Sometimes when God wants to get my attention on a matter, He will keep bringing up a certain word or concept. I don’t always catch on right away, but when I do I’ll ask Him “Why”? Why, Lord, are you giving me that word or thought?

He might answer me immediately (and I love it when He does), but other times it takes a while. Take this column, for example. I usually have a draft finished by Saturday morning. But as of Sunday morning, I still didn’t have the theme. I began four different columns; each one fizzled out. Thankfully this doesn’t happen very often. I know the Lord will come through, He always does. Sometimes though, I get a little nervous as the hours tick by.

So while prayerfully waiting for the message, that word popped up again, silently in my mind; "misunderstandings". It has surfaced several times the past few weeks and in many different situations, ranging from basic conversations with my spouse (we take each other the wrong way – a lot); to watching the evening news and seeing more murders committed by those who believe they are doing the right thing when they annihilate those who don’t agree with them. Then more recently, I heard "misunderstandings" at a gathering of loved ones, when one person was openly snubbed by another.

And that’s when I had my light bulb moment… misunderstandings was the concept He wanted me to write about. (Free writing lesson here, to answer those who ask where I get my ideas from; they’re not mine.) Misunderstandings stem from a variety of things, but when we really think about it, the root usually involves the heart. After all, if we are careful to put the needs of others before ourselves and to think the best of each other, then there is no room for jealousy, greed, or insecurity, which is the breeding ground for misunderstandings. And that’s what many of our deep hurts in life start out as; simple misunderstandings. Sometimes we are able to let them go, or nip them in the bud, but other times they escalate into huge divisions.

Jesus knew we would struggle in this area, that’s why His teachings focused around love and matters of the heart. Lest we forget, we live in a fallen world – people, including ourselves, make mistakes. When we choose to act from our fleshly nature, disregarding the promptings of the Spirit to do good, we can expect problems. But God didn’t leave us hanging. He instructed us to fight these battles by putting on our spiritual armor first thing in the morning when we seek Him (Psalm 5:3). That might mean rising at 5 a.m. to do this, but it will be worth losing a little sleep over.

Jesus also warned us that, “They hated me, they will hate you” (John 15:18). We can expect people to misunderstand us and not like us, just because we are Christians. We need to love them and pray for them.

As long as we stay in tune with the Spirit and obey God’s nudges, we will have fewer misunderstandings. These nudges might include apologizing to others. Here, too, we are to be sincere and speak from the heart. The resultant fallout will then be between that person and God. While we still need to pray for them, we can walk in peace knowing we obeyed.

Have you been bound in any misunderstandings lately? Speak from the heart, cover it in love, and then watch it untangle.

Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).

From My Heart,

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Perfect Father

When I was a child, I was amazed at how my dad seemed willing and able to fix anything. I could give him my broken bike or a necklace with a knot in it, and he could repair it. I had complete trust in my father’s abilities. It was only when I got older that I realized it was out of necessity that dad had to repair things; we couldn’t afford replacements.

A few years ago those childhood memories resurfaced while having car problems. I was driving on the highway when I heard a formidable vibrating sound from the front dash of the car. It kept getting louder the faster I drove. I began to panic, expecting the car to break down at any moment. There wasn’t time to stop at a repair shop; I was already running late for an appointment due to storm damage from the night before. Tree branches had littered our long country driveway forcing me to keep stopping to remove them. Thankfully the car had not been damaged, since we didn’t have a garage.

The drive home was equally as terrifying. As the noise continued I kept gripping the steering wheel. Then, a wonderful scripture verse popped in my mind: Some trust in chariots, some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7).

I realized God had just sent me that timely verse to comfort me and to remind me that I needed to call on Him. I obediently prayed and thanked Him for the reminder. I also asked for safety and inexpensive car repairs.

Immediately after praying, I remembered my dad didn’t live far from the highway. He was retired and not only enjoyed visits, but like most parents he enjoyed being needed by his kids. When I told him about the noise, he lifted the hood and quickly discovered a 5” twig embedded in the back of the engine, close to the dash.

“That’s most likely the problem,” Dad said smugly, tossing the twig aside. “It must’ve blown in during the storm.”

We shook our heads and laughed, relieved that it was such a simple problem. Again, my father had repaired something for me; my father had come through in my moment of need. Dad has passed on now, yet my precious memories of how he could “fix it” still make me smile. My dad wasn’t perfect (and he’d be the first to admit it), but he did try to help out.

Our earthly father gives us but a glimpse of our heavenly Father. As wonderful as our earthly dads may be, they won’t always be there for us. Our heavenly Father, however, will. Our earthly dad will sometimes let us down, or disappoint us; but our heavenly Father won’t. And our dad might even leave us or forsake us, but God the Father never will (Hebrews 13:5).

This Father’s Day, as you remember and honor your earthly father, be sure to give your heavenly Father first place. You can trust Him completely, for God’s love is all-encompassing, unconditional, and never ending.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments (Deut. 7:9).

In Him,
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