Conquering Impossibilities

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The building of the Panama Canal became a symbol of attempting the impossible. In 1912 Barton Brailey captured that spirit in his poem, “At Your Service, The Panama Gang.” And the rugged canal workers made it their song:

“Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?

Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?

We make a specialty of the wholly impossible,

Doing things that no one can do.”

Years later, hospitalized with tuberculosis, Oscar Eliason saw Brailey’s words in an ad for a construction company. He was facing a medical “uncrossable river”, a “mountain neither he nor the doctors could tunnel through”. But then his heart leaped with a truth he later set to music, changing the last two lines to read:

“God specializes in things thought impossible,

and he can do what no other power can do.”

He called for others to pray, and God did the “impossible”. He was healed and went on to years of fruitful Christian ministry.

Our “impossibilities” are God’s opportunities.

Photos by Ken Jones. Copyright 2016

Quieting Life-storms

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As surely as winds can stir even the quietest of lake surfaces, ill winds of irritation are almost inevitable in caring for another. And, if not resolved, irritations can so easily turn into storms of anger. Then, as anger simmers, it tends to flare, scarring everyone it touches.

It takes a quiet, settled heart to deal with anger. An open heart that looks inward first. An examined heart that dares to face its own fault, before finding the blame in the other. A faith-filled heart that seeks the God-given power to change. And then, when the fault is in the other, a patient, grace-filled, healing heart to ease the process of change in the other. And finally, an expectant, trusting heart to believe that none of these anger-stilling qualities are of our own doing. They are our Father’s good and generous gifts.

Our Lord quieted the stormy waters of Galilee. But, perhaps the greater miracle is that he quieted the angry, frustrated storms in the hearts of his disciples.

Lord, speak your peace to the storms I face today.

Photos by Ken Jones. Copyright 2016

Expect Joy

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“Now, God…bring rains to our drought-stricken lives, so that those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest, so those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.” (Psalm 126:4-6 THE MESSAGE)

Dare to pray LARGE prayers today. Prayers of joyous expectation. Where you see only dark despair, dare to believe that our compassionate Lord is bringing you shouts of victory. In those places where your heart is heavy, dare to believe that our life-transforming Lord is bringing fulfillment and joy-filled laughter.

Let the joy of confident expectation lift your spirit today.

Ours is a faithful, promise-keeping Lord. There are lessons to be learned in our seasons of weeping, but darkness will surely give way to bright mornings of release.

Rest in the fact that our Lord who promises joy has proved himself faithful.

Photo courtesy of Alek Zaslawski (www.awzorchids.com), copyright 2016

Strength Beyond Measure

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Much of the day ahead will be manageable routine. Things you’ve done scores of times before. But there will also be surprises. Demands you weren’t expecting. Situations that may call for wisdom and strength beyond your own resources. An emotional or spiritual 911 call.

Rest assured! When you call, you have a sure and certain responder. One who is tested and proven. “God is…a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 45:1) He is ready to help when we need him. He is a source of strength beyond our own. He is wisdom beyond our learning. Compassion when ours is exhausted. Tenderness when we have reached our limit. Peace to calm our troubled spirit. Regardless of the circumstances, in spite of seemingly insurmountable pressures…

Lord, you are present! You are the inexhaustable source of my strength.

Photo courtesy of Alek Zaslawski (www.awzorchids.com), copyright 2016

Overcoming Mountains

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Mountains make majestic scenery. The higher the mountain, the more we look with awe. But climbing a mountain is a totally different matter. One needs to be fit…and have the right equipment. And, preferably…a partner who knows the mountain. A tested and trusted guide.

There are other kinds of mountains on our life-landscape. They seem to be insurmountable. Financial mountains. Emotional mountains. Situations that stand in our way. Challenges that keep us from moving forward to a brighter place.

There is a Tested Guide who knows the “mountains” you face.

The more rugged our emotional terrain, the more we must trust our Guide. Listen as he shows the next step…and then the next. Take comfort that his way is right for you. Know that his good plan is for you to conquer your mountains. Let him lead you to a valley of peace.

Lord, please make my mountains into growth experiences.

Photos by Ken Jones. Copyright 2016

Attentiveness

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“Attend to my cry”, the psalmist pleaded. “Give ear to my prayer.” (Psalm 17:1) Then he says it again; “incline your ear to me, hear my words” (vs. 6).

Does your heart ever feel like saying, “Listen, Lord!” Or, when we can see no answer, do we question, “Are you listening to me, Lord? Are you paying attention? Do you understand this things-never-change, day-after-dayness of caring? Really?”

No prayer, spoken or unspoken, is ever unheard or un-attended to.

“I call on you”, the psalmist said, “because I’m sure of an answer.” And the truest, deepest prayer is one our hurting, longing heart can barely dare to say. Or even need to say. For the Lord knows our thoughts. He does “attend to our cry”.

At this very moment, and throughout your day, he is our listening, understanding, answering Lord.

Photos by Ken Jones. Copyright 2016

Deep Listening

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Sometimes anger says “I’m afraid”. “I’m frustrated”. Or “I’m discouraged”. And there are times when it simply says “I’m angry, and I want to be heard”. Anger directed at you seems to say. “Change things!” Change the way you’re doing something.” “Fix things!” And often it’s saying,“Fix whatever is happening to me!” “Fix what I can’t understand”.

Anger hurts, but it helps to remember that most often it’s a cry for help.

…a call for quiet. For a patient response. For deep listening to your own heart first .Is there something I need to correct? Some attitude or action I can change? Or something so deep that I need our compassionate, patient Lord to bring about change in me.

Looking inward first, clears the path for us to look outward and see more clearly. With an open, patient heart we may be able to discover ways to deal with and quiet the anger.

Lord, please teach me to be a peacemaker in life’s storms.

Photos by Ken Jones. Copyright 2016

Touching the Heart

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A simple touch can be gentle or firm. It can quiet and reassure. It can say “I love you”, or “I’m with you”, or even “I’m trying to understand”. Sometime today it may be the richest, deepest gift you can give to the one you care for.

Jesus touched people. It was his way of saying “I’m here. And I’m for you.”  He took strangers by the hand and walked with them. He touched blinded eyes and leprous skin. His disciples turned children away because he was too busy. But, as if he had all the time in the world, Jesus welcomed squirming children into his loving embrace. And to this day we cherish the warmth of that scene.

Today…let your touch, whether it be strong or tender, be the loving, compassionate, healing touch of Jesus.

Jesus touches those you serve through you.

Photo courtesy of Alek Zaslawski (www.awzorchids.com), copyright 2016

When the Lord Provides Lunch

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The crowd had been listening to Jesus teaching. ..for hours. They were attentive. His words were like food. Good, solid, nourishing food. Their souls were full.

But their stomachs? That was a different story. They were hungry. The twelve disciples had a solution. “Send the crowd away so that they find lodging and food.” But Jesus wasn’t in the “send the crowd away” business. He never is!

Instead, then…and now…his response to need is to say to his disciples, both then…and now…“You give them something to eat.” And their answer was that the  little they had couldn’t possibly feed five thousand men, plus women and children.

You know the story. Jesus blessed a little boy’s lunch – five small buns and two little fish – and fed the whole crowd until everyone had “as much as they wanted”. And even then there were leftovers – “twelve basketsful”.

Today…just as our Lord used a little boy’s lunch, let him use your quiet service to meet the needs you see today. He always honors sacrifice.

Photos by Ken Jones. Copyright 2016

Honest Prayers

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There’s an honesty about the prayers of the biblical psalmist. Dark situations are faced in all their darkness. Doubts and fears are very real. Nothing is covered up by using what we would think of as the “right” words, so called “religious” words. The psalms free us to be honest in our prayers. The Lord is not offended when we voice our frustrations. Or when we have no words at all, and our prayer is nothing more than a deeply-felt sigh.

The “weary and heavy laden” are always genuinely welcome in our Lord’s calming presence.

Throughout this day – its highs and its lows – our Lord is “abounding in steadfast love to all who call on him”. (Psalm 86:5) “Abounding” and “steadfast”  are old words, but when the psalmist used them to describe our Father’s love, they are the right words. For “abounding” means “to be in large supply”. And “steadfast” means “to be firmly fixed in place” and “not subject to change”.

Whatever your prayer, remind yourself that God’s understanding and love is “in large supply” and “not subject to change”.

Photo courtesy of Alek Zaslawski (www.awzorchids.com), copyright 2016