Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Hope's Focus, Faith's Promise

“I love You, O Lord, my strength.”
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies.  
Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O Lord,
And I will sing praises to Your name.  Psalm 18:1-3, 49 (NASB)

Boldly I am able to say the Lord is my strength. No matter the troubles I encounter, even if overwhelmed by sadness, I can walk in confidence daily because of my Savior Jesus Christ. With Him all things are possible (Mark 9:23).

However, there was a time I doubted my resilience from day to day, even minute to minute. When I experienced misery from the choices of a prodigal child, heartache and sorrow wracked my soul. At times I felt incapable of moving forward. I longed for bygone days of innocence and laughter with my daughter. But I could do nothing to alter the situation. The more I pleaded, the worst it got. The more I argued, the bigger the fight. The only thing I could do was let go, pray, and let God.

Prayer was my direct line to the One who totally understood my pain. Even though I rendered only cries of torment and screams of anger, He still loved me. He listened with compassion and encouraged me with His Word. Though I doubted His presence at times, He never left my side. He surrounded me with empathetic friends who supported me when I needed a human touch. He patiently waited with open arms for me to embrace His peaceful gift of comfort. 

It’s difficult to trust Someone we don’t see. That’s where faith comes in. Bound in hope, faith becomes a certainty. The assurance of expected evidence—conviction of expectation. Faith relies on God.

Now faith is the assurance (substance) of things hoped (expected) for, the conviction (evidence) of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1 (NASB)

Are you struggling to trust God in your circumstances? Are you overwhelmed with weariness? Discover His hopeful message in the Bible. Scripture is full of His promises and He is the promise keeper. 

Surrender your worry to Him. Praise Him in your storm. He rides on the clouds to rescue you from fear. Believe that the dust of His feet is in your cloudy situation (Nahum 1:3). Trust Him. And receive the offering of His peaceful strength. 

And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”  Mark 9:23 (NASB)

Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”  Mark 10:27 (NASB)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Within the Cloud

A cloud covering encircled the mountain, filled with God’s glory.
God called down to Moses, “Come up to Me and remain here for a while.”
Leaving everyone behind, Moses started up the mountain alone. 

“I’m coming, Lord,” Moses called out as he trekked the steep peak. 
Keeping his eyes forward and upward, he climbed, 
Through haze, fog, and cloudy moisture.
Cool, damp air hemmed him in. 

Eventually the dense mass distracted him. 
He wasn’t sure which way to go. 
What if he fell off a cliff?
What if he stumbled over rocks?
What if he confronted a wild animal?

Fear gripped him.
His mind filled with uncertainty. 
“Help me, Lord,” he cried.
You called me to come up, right? Where are you, God?” he yelled.

Silence, deafening silence,
Days of quiet, nights of doubt. 
“God, I need you,” he screamed. 

His mind conflicted with anxious memories of Pharaoh and the Egyptian army until….
Remembrances of rescue and the parted sea rushed in, delivering peace. 

Slowly Moses moved forward, clinging to thoughts of God’s faithfulness. 
“I put my trust in you, Lord,” he prayed.

Moses continued the journey.
Finally the Lord called out to him on the seventh day.
“I am here,” God said. “Come to Me.”

Immediately Moses perceived God’s presence.
He knew he wasn’t alone.
The glory of the Lord overfilled the cloudy mist.

Love and compassion, mercy and grace soaked Moses’ heart.
Peace exceeding understanding saturated his mind.
He knew, without a shadow of doubt, God existed and cared for His people, for him.
Nothing else mattered but experiencing God.

When the clouds gathered, God’s presence intensified. 
Within the cloudy haze, God reigned
And joy bubbled within the man of God.  (based on Exodus 24)

Do clouds hang over you, dripping with doubt and confusion, fear and pain? Are they obstructing your view of God? Do you feel abandoned and alone?

At times in my life, I have allowed dark clouds to muddle my mind with angst. Worry has filled in the empty spaces, causing my stomach to churn. I’ve lived in fear until turning my focus onto Jesus. Only then did His peace prevail in my heart and mind. 

Moses, like all of us, experienced cloudy days and defeatist emotions. Can you imagine all the negativity he dealt with, the personalities he struggled with, the responsibility he carried in the desert? He had plenty of time to doubt God as he and the Israelites wandered forty years. 

Trekking up Mount Sinai to God’s cloud of glory, he probably fought feelings of uncertainty about God with the assurance he knew about His Deliverer. With intentional trust, Moses positioned his eyes on the Lord. He experienced God's peaceful presence within the cloud of glory. 

Are you battling feelings of fear and doubt? Do you feel as though you are confined by storm clouds? Seek the Lord God with all your heart, mind, and soul. Allow His Son Jesus Christ to deliver you from worry and uncertainty. Enter into His presence and find joy. Receive His peace. 

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11 (NIV)

[Jesus Appears to the Disciples] While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Luke 24:36 (NIV)

And now receive God’s blessing, given for you as it was to the Israelites:

“Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 
‘“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”’

“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:23-27 (NIV)

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Pain and Pleasure

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  
1 Peter 1:6-7 (NASB)

Oh the pain of it all. Words uttered in exasperation over life situations. Sometimes I feel as though I could shout them on a daily basis. 

The Israelites possibly proclaimed similar words as slaves in Egypt. Yet in the midst of their painful experiences, God was working to free them from their resistant foe. The Lord had explained to Moses the last of ten plagues that would severely affect the Egyptians and change Pharaoh’s heart. His instructions for the Israelites were to prepare a lamb to eat, along with bread and bitter herbs. The lamb’s blood was to be smeared over their doorway as protection from the angel of death. They were to be dressed and ready to leave Egypt while eating their meal in haste (Exodus 12).

Because of the urgency to leave, the bread was made without yeast. There would be no time for the bread to rise. Made only of flour and water, this unleavened flat bread would provide quick sustenance. It was to become a significant part of the memorial meal called the Lord’s Passover.  

Matzah is the name given to this bread and it is rich in meaning. It represents suffering, freedom, and faith. When eating matzah during Passover, the suffering of slavery is remembered while the recollection of newfound freedom is celebrated. All made possible because of a God who is able to do anything. Praise our faithful God! 

Suffering and freedom, pain and pleasure—even though opposites, these experiences generally go hand in hand. A step of faith links them. Faith in a God who supplies our needs. Trust in a God who knows our situations. Belief in a God who walks with us, even if in a valley of the shadow of death. Clinging to the Lord God in faith makes a distressing situation bearable. 

Over the last fourteen years, I have come to completely trust my Faithful Friend. I’ve experienced the pain and suffering of aging parents. I’ve encountered the agony of their deaths as their souls walked into heavenly freedom. I’ve lived a daily heartache for years with a prodigal child and made a joyful noise when she returned. I’ve walked down two wedding aisles, happily supporting both my son and daughter as they married the spouses God provided them. And the piece de resistance—the births of our two wonderful grandchildren. I was able to enjoy life’s pleasures because the Lord strengthened me through the pain. Oh the pain and pleasure of it all. 

Bittersweet happenings—bitter pain combined with sweet pleasure. Two sides of the same coin joined by faith. Faith in a God who never leaves us. He is the God who came to earth to live with us. He is Jesus Christ who experienced the excruciating pain of death for the pleasure of offering salvation to the world. He is the Holy Spirit who lives in us when we believe in Him. 

Jesus understands our pain and pleasure because He experienced both. He came to earth to demonstrate how to live through it all as He did. Trust Him as He takes you from suffering into freedom. He is able cause He is faithful.

You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. 
Psalm 16:11 (NASB)