who holds my heart?

that’s a good question – one to which the answer might be as everchanging as the seasons and the tides. Jeremiah 17:9 says,

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

There’s only one person I can think of that could possibly understand me or my heart – that would be the One who created me, including my heart, in the first place.

“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; . . . He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.” (Psalm 33:13-15)

That’s who should hold my heart – the One who formed it in the first place. He’s the one who will take the best care of my heart. He alone is able to protect it, to change it, to clean it up and to guard it against the attacks of the enemy. It was King David who cried out to God,

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) While in Ezekiel God says,

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

In Philippians I am told that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) I am also told,

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

It is only my Heavenly Father’s hands that are big enough, strong enough and gentle enough to hold all the brokenness of my heart and miraculously put it back together again. That’s who I want holding my heart. It’s not safe with anyone else. Indeed,

“God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)

Because God is the maker and the holder of my heart, I can take heart even when my heart is hurting. When my heart belongs to my Heavenly Father, He is my first thought – not an after thought. Jesus is my first choice, not my last resort. He is who I run to, not hide from – like Adam and Eve did in the garden so long ago. It is my Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer and Savior who holds my heart.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)

the Healer and the Holder of my heart is faithful,

” . . . I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

I have trusted Him with my heart, you can too, dear readers – He is faithful!

sincerely, Grace Day

finding the constant

Not too long ago I couldn’t find anything, let alone the ever elusive constant we all search for in this ever changing world. This was surprising because I was in my usual store, buying (or attempting to buy) all the usual items I always purchase. But something was wrong, very wrong. Nothing was in its usual place. Where had the bread gone? Where were my favorite breakfast bars? Where was the peanut butter? I was confused but not alone in my confusion. I noticed other shoppers were also wandering, searching, seemingly as confused as I was by this unexpected rearrangement of the store we all knew so well.

To make matters worse, the store had not yet changed the signage which hung overhead, identifying each aisle and its contents. Shopping this day was like a scavenger hunt. I had to wander up and down the aisles in hopes of discovering where my favorite brands and the items I usually bought were now located. It was anybody’s best guess. I had been content with the way things were. I could shop very quickly, because I knew the layout of the store so well. Why must what isn’t broken be fixed?

I am slowly adjusting to this change, but there are still items I haven’t found yet, like my favorite crackers. With all the changes swirling around me in this world, changes in which I have no say, I would think at least my store could stay consistent, could be my constant. Would that be asking too much of a grocery store? – that it be my constant? I guess I put too much faith in my store. I learned long ago not to put too much faith in people – we are inconstant companions at best. We are human, we change. Of course, some change is for the better. We grow and we change as we grow.

Change can be good but still I long for something constant to hang onto, to orient me, to keep me going in the right direction on my life’s journey. Something or someone so constant that they are able to provide me direction in the dark, direction when things are turned upside down and inside out, direction when things are spinning out of control, direction when familiar landmarks fade and familiar faces are no where to be found, direction when wind whips the water into waves unpredictable and dangerous, direction when clouds hide both sun and north star, direction when culture redefines every word and defies every law upon which civilization once stood.

A constant, by definition is something or someone who does not change with the times, is not altered by circumstances or popular opinion – someone who retains in every aspect all that they are, no matter what. I guess we might say a constant “stands the test of time.” We all need a constant in our lives. I know I do. Otherwise I lose direction and am hopelessly tossed about on every wind and whim of change. I need a constant to anchor me in the storm.

Just as finding the constant in math will help me solve the math problem, finding the constant in life will enable me to face and solve life’s problems. Fortunately, I have found the constant in the person of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 13:8 tells me this,

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

He is the constant I have been craving. My Heavenly Father is described this way in James 1:17,

” . . . the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

no shifting, no shadows – just light, all light – all the time – another translation says, “in whom there is no shadow of turning.” Finally, someone constant. Someone I can trust. Numbers 23:19 says,

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?”

The answer to that question is no. God can be trusted to keep His promises. Deuteronomy 7:9 reassures me,

“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 commands.”

Because He is my constant I have hope and this hope itself is a constant in my life, described so well in Hebrews 6:17-19,

“Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. I have this hope as an anchor for my soul, firm and secure.”

In these turbulent times, I need a constant Presence to anchor me so that I don’t get blown away or get blown off course. And my Heavenly Father has promised that His presence is constant.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

The constant presence of the constant One – what more could I ask? I have found my constant in this inconstant universe –

“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:4)

sincerely, Grace Day

miracle makeovers

The streets of this older, inner city neighborhood are quiet as I walk them this morning, allowing me to breathe in the peace of the moment, that I might breathe out God’s presence over these streets, knowing it is not always calm that claims these streets. The houses that I pass as I walk are older, close together and run down or more truthfully, falling down in some cases. Most have front porches, a vestige of times past, when front porches were gathering places for neighbors to pass the time together.

Among these homes that are slowly decaying and those that bear the scars of years of deterioration, are homes that are in the process of being restored, rebuilt and rehabilitated. These houses are in various stages of repair, but the results are readily apparent and quite remarkable when viewed in the context of the houses that sit to either side of the house undergoing renovation. It’s as if one house is coming to life while the one next to it is slowly dying. Quite the contrast.

It’s interesting that home makeover shows on TV have been very popular in recent years. From just one, “This Old House” years ago (ahead of its time, I guess) to now with many such shows to choose from such as Chip and Joanna Gaines’ hugely popular “Fixer Upper” TV show, the idea of restoring old houses is now experiencing a revival of its own.

Today as I walked block after block in this neighborhood, I prayed along with the friend beside me, for these homes and the people inhabiting them. We prayed God’s blessing, protection and peace for the people living where we were walking today. We prayed for them God’s rescue, renewal and restoration in each and every life. The visual of rows of homes, side by side, all in various states of disrepair or of being repaired seemed so significant to me today.

Just like these homes, I am a work in progress. We all are. I am either deteriorating from lack of care or I am being renewed and restored daily by my Creator. The choice is mine. God is in the business of redemption and restoration. He has redeemed me and He wants to restore me to wholeness in Him. It is sometimes a long, slow process – but He will accomplish His good purposes in me if I cooperate. In fact, I have this assurance from Him in Philippians 1:6,

“being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

I am receiving an ongoing, lifetime remodel. That’s what a work in progress is. Just like some of the houses I passed today, I am under construction. I am undergoing a transformation. I am the recipient of a miracle makeover. Romans 12:2 reminds me that this is so, telling me,

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of my mind.” This is an ongoing process,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)

I identify with those old houses undergoing renovation, restoration and rehabilitation. It looks painful. It is painful. It involves a lot of hard work. But it is worth the toil and the sacrifice in the end. The nearly finished house sitting right next to the one that is being torn apart so that it can be put back together, is a testament to this truth. The old house is torn down so that it can be resurrected as a new house. That’s what my Heavenly Father does for me everyday. He is continually renewing me.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

It occurs to me as I look at all these houses, each one, in the process of decay or of renewal, how important are those individuals who do the actual work. Who the builder is makes all the difference in the world. I need to know who it is that is at work in my life. Philippians 2:13 tells me,

“for it is God who works in you (me) to will and to act according to His good purpose.”

I can trust my contractor, renovator, restorer and redeemer. That’s a good thing because Psalm 127:1 reminds me that,

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.”

And so we prayed today for the people in each and every house, on each and every block, where we witnessed deterioration and restoration going on simultaneously, side by side. God is in the restoration business. He wants to restore us and reconcile us to Himself. God is the One who, as Romans 4:17 says,

“the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.”

God can revive, restore and renew the neighborhood, the houses and the people who live in those houses. He wants to give them new life in Him. He wants to do that for me and for you as well, dear readers. God wants to enter in and repair all the brokenness – much like what I saw today in the neighborhood, signs of brokenness being repaired. There is much work to do but God doesn’t give up on us. Thank You, Lord, that You are willing and able to give me and anyone who asks You, a miracle makeover.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) – even you and me!

sincerely, Grace Day

that’s the miracle

I am not worthy – but You bid me come anyway

that’s the miracle

I am a sinner – but You died for me anyway

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us (me) in this: While we were (I am) still sinners, Christ died for us (me).” (Romans 5:6-8)

Christ died for me, a sinner – that’s the miracle

I am not worthy – but You have adopted me

that’s the miracle

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

I am an orphan – but You say I can call You Father, even Daddy!

“but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:15-16)

that’s the miracle

I have nothing to wear but filthy rags – but You clothe me in clean garments

“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,” (Isaiah 61:10)

that’s the miracle

I have no worth – but You say that I matter to You

“For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in My sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.” (Isaiah 43:3-4)

that’s the miracle

I am not worthy – but You invite me in

“In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3)

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

that’s the miracle

I am in dire need – and You rescue me every time

“I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:1-3)

that’s the miracle

I was dead – but You brought me back to life

“When I was dead in my sins and in the uncircumcision of my sinful nature, God made me alive with Christ. He forgave me all my sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against me and that stood opposed to me; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-15)

“As for me, I was dead in my transgressions and sins, in which I used to live when I followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, . . . But because of Your great love for me, God, You who are rich in mercy, You made me alive with Christ even when I was dead in transgressions – it is by grace I have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:1-5)

that’s the miracle

it’s all a miracle – every bit of it – a miracle of God’s grace – a grace that turns sinners like me and like you into saints –

that’s the miracle

Jesus asked, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.” (Mark 8:12)

the signs, the miracles have already been given to me and to you, dear readers – just as they were in Jesus’s day when He said,

“The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Matthew 11:5)

all miracles, each and every one –

I am not worthy – but You, Lord, love me anyway –

that’s the miracle

oh that you and I, dear readers would

“have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you and I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)

sincerely, Grace Day

glimpses of glory

they are so fleeting, so full and so fantastic – I scarce can take them in when they come unannounced and unscheduled. Nor can I detain them, they will not be captured nor contained – these glimpses of glory – they depart as quickly as they arrive, leaving me desperate for another moment of revelation – longing for another look into things too wonderful for me to imagine. These glimpses of glory are indescribable – beyond words – bringing me to say along with Job,

“Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” (Job 42:3)

Such are glimpses of glory.

In C. S. Lewis’s analogy of the mud puddle and the sea, I’m thinking our beloved earth is the mud puddle and heaven is the sea. Earth is a mere shadow of the glory yet to come, it is not the real thing, nor the final thing, nor the eternal thing. Still, as mud puddles go, earth seems pretty fantastic to me and maybe to you, too, dear readers. In fact, probably to all of us mere mortals who inhabit this planet, earth appears to have it all. Our mud puddle contains much beauty even though it has been in a state of decay and decline ever since Adam and Eve were evicted from the garden.

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated form its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Romans 8:20-22)

Still, creation shows forth the Creator’s majesty, splendor, diversity in design, power, goodness and care in every aspect of life on this earth. Even to this day, God continues to give us glimpses of Himself through His creation. Romans 1:20 tells me,

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)

Our mud puddle seems to have it all. From the deepest ocean depths to the highest mountain heights, from the jungles to the forests, from the prairies to the deserts to the wetlands and marshes, earth is filled with the myriad creations of God. And yet this perfectly created planet is a mere mud puddle compared to what awaits us in the place that God is preparing for us, so that we can be with Him. Earth is only a shadow of things to come.

Living in this shadowland, as it were, I need glimpses of God, glimpses of His glory, to encourage me when life is lonely, filled with loss, when the way is painful, circumstances uncertain, and everything goes dark – that’s when a glimpse of His glory comes along and lights my way. They are fleeting, these glory glimpses, but they are abundant. They surround me just as God’s creation surrounds me from sunrise to sunset and all through the night as well.

When do these windows into heaven open? It is in those rare and surprising moments – an unexpected act of kindness, the turning of the other cheek, the laying down of one’s wishes in deference to another, the forgiving of the most painful offenses, the giving of oneself in the service of others, the helping hand, the healing touch – when the windows open and glory’s light shines in, pure and powerful, filling those moments of goodness with God’s presence.

Is that glimpse of glory in the lightning preceding the thunder or in the rainbow following the rain? I find it in the morning mist rising silently off the lake’s smooth surface and in the evening symphony of crickets joined in chorus by bullfrogs, owls and loons making music under a star studded sky. Shafts of sunlight filling a forest and fields of wildflowers dancing in the wind provide glimpses of glory as they let in heaven’s light.

Just as a good author uses foreshadowing to give the reader clues as to what is in store if they keep reading, God gives us glimpses of what He is preparing for us in the future. But the actual revelation will always exceed the shadow.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

For now, I dwell in this shadowland, this mud puddle, but there will come a day when glimpses will be gone because I will actually be there and I will see clearly.

“For now I see through a glass, darkly; but then I shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

for now glimpses of His glory will carry me through, each glimpse a gift His great grace gives to me and to you,

sincerely, Grace Day

where else would I go?

when You alone, O God, are Sovereign

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; You are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from You; You are the ruler of all things. In Your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)

You alone, O God, are good

” ‘Why do you call Me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone.’ ” (Luke 18:19)

You alone, O God, are compassionate

“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.” (Psalm 145:8-9)

“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.” (Psalm 116:5)

You alone, O God, truly hear me

“I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.” (Psalm 116:1-2)

You alone, O God, truly understand me

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

You alone, O God, truly know me

“O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. . . . Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord. . . . For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:1, 4 & 13)

You alone, O God, truly love me

“Surely He took up my infirmities and carried my sorrows, . . . He was pierced for my transgressions, He was crushed for my iniquities; the punishment that brought me peace was upon Him, and by His wounds I am healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)

You alone, O God, take pity on me

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; (on me) for He knows how we are (I am) formed, He remembers that we are (I am) dust.” (Psalm 103:13-14)

You alone, O God, have all wisdom

“To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are His.” (Job 12:13)

You alone, O God, have all power

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.” (Jeremiah 32:17)

You alone, O God, are able to heal me and to forgive me my sins

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; . . . who forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases,” (Psalm 103:1 & 3)

“This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:1 & 25)

You alone, O God, are able to change hearts, to change my heart

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

You alone, O God, are able to rescue me from my pit

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” (Psalm 40:2-3)

You alone, O God, are able to restore me

“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)

You alone, O God, preside over all things

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His. He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him.” (Daniel 2:20-22)

You alone, O God, are able to raise the dead, like You did Lazarus and Jesus – so why would I ever go anywhere else but to You? Peter came to the same conclusion which we read about in John 6:68,

“Simon Peter replied, ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words that give eternal life, and we believe them and know You are the holy Son of God.’ ”

where else would I go, Heavenly Father? You alone have the words of life –

You alone are able –

“You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to You. Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble I will call to You, for You will answer me.” (Psalm 86:5-7)

sincerely, Grace Day

my mud puddle or the sea?

sounds like a tough choice, doesn’t it? must be why I’m having so much trouble deciding between the two. Still, I wonder if it could be true – I haven’t been asking God for too much, I’ve been asking Him for too little. The apostle Paul said as much in his letter to the Ephesians when he stated that God –

“is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,” (Ephesians 3:20) Paul explains more about this power of God saying –

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:18-21)

Could it be? . . .

Jesus came to offer me the ocean – I’ve been asking Him to make me happy in my mud puddle –

He came to offer me the eternal – I ask only for the temporal

Jesus came to forgive my sins and heal my soul – I ask only for physical healing

Jesus wants to give me heavenly treasures – I ask only for more possessions and worldly success

He came to give me new life – I ask only for improvements to the old one I already have, the life I know, the life I am comfortable with –

I ask too little – not too much. The paralytic did the same thing. His friends carried him on his mat to a house where Jesus was teaching a crowd of people. Then they lowered him, still on his mat, down through the roof until he was right in front of Jesus. They did all this in the hope that Jesus would restore their friend’s ability to walk. But Jesus’s first words to the paralytic were, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Not exactly what he and his friends had in mind when they went to all the trouble of bringing their friend into the presence of Jesus.

However, Jesus continued saying, “Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . He said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.” (Luke 5:23-25)

The paralytic asked too little of Jesus. He desired a temporal, physical healing. But Jesus wanted to give him so much more than he asked or imagined was possible. Jesus wanted to grant him forgiveness of his sins, thereby reconciling him to God forever. A gift with eternal consequences.

The Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well certainly asked Jesus for too little. Well, actually, she didn’t think to ask Him for anything at all. Jesus asked her for some water from the well but He had come to offer her living water, to offer her Himself.

“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.’ ” (John 4:10) Then Jesus further explained to her saying,

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

Jesus met her at that well to give to her more than she could think to ask or imagine. Like the paralytic, the woman at the well asked too little of Jesus, not too much. I do that too. I am content to ask for upgrades to my mud puddle because I cannot imagine a holiday at the sea is possible. To experience that, I would have to leave the comfort of my mud puddle behind and risk venturing into the unknown. That would require trust and faith and courage and perseverance. I hear a journey to the sea is not easy but actually can be downright dangerous.

I settle for so little when my Heavenly Father wants to give me so much. He wants to give me Himself, His presence. He tells me as much in John 14:23 when He says,

“Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.’ ”

That’s more than I could hope for or imagine and yet it is a promise from my Heavenly Father – His permanent presence. He wants to hang out with me! (actually, to make His home with me) And in His presence are all good gifts in an abundance that I don’t think to ask for because I cannot imagine such things. In my Heavenly Father’s presence I experience joy, peace, comfort, hope, healing, rest, forgiveness, fulfillment, acceptance, purpose, love, the ultimate in being known personally. I experience glimpses of the glory yet to come. Do I dare to believe that He wants to give me more than mere glimpses?

Do you, dear readers? (believe, that is) Do you ask God for too little when He wants to give you so much? I think it’s time I put what God says in Jeremiah 33:3 into practice –

“Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” after all,

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

sincerely, Grace Day

spoiler alert

don’t you hate when that happens? Before you get a chance to see the movie or while you are in the middle of a really suspenseful mystery novel, someone tells you how the story ends. They tell you how it all turns out, taking all the fun out of seeing the movie or reading the book. On the other hand, when the element of the unknown is removed, I find that something else has been taken away along with it. That would be my anxiety, fear and worry about what is ultimately going to happen, whether to the people in the movie or the book, or to me in real life. With uncertainty removed, I am free to relax and enjoy the movie or book, knowing the ending is already decided and therefore secure. (of course if it’s a sad ending, I may not want to see the movie or read the book) Likewise, if a spoiler alert would remove the uncertainty from my life, maybe that would free me to relax and enjoy my life.

I wonder – if I could know what the future holds in general and what the future holds for me specifically, would that eliminate all my worries, fears and anxieties because I would know how things are going to turn out? Would peace replace the turmoil that uncertainty brings into my life? If I knew the end from the beginning (like God does) would I be more relaxed? would I be more at peace and less on edge? would I live more courageously? take more risks? enjoy things more? Worrying about the future certainly does take a lot of time and energy away from actually living in the present. Especially when things seem really hopeless, it would be nice to know how things are going to turn out, nice to know I’m going to pull through a particular circumstance or hardship – like losing a job and wondering when, how, and where I will find another one. If I knew the when, the how and the where, I wouldn’t worry about being without a job because I would know a new job was in my future.

I feel this way when a friend recounts to me something dangerous or difficult that happened to them. I can listen to them calmly because they are right there in front of me, so obviously whatever happened to them (car wreck, illness etc.) turned out all right because I can see for myself that they survived whatever it was. I can hear their story without fear of what might have happened because I know the outcome already. Sometimes a spoiler alert can be a good thing. But I never get them when they could save me sleepless nights, much anxiety and time spent needlessly worrying over all kinds of things – test results, waiting to hear back from a job interview, wondering if a loved one will recover from an illness, wondering what challenges tomorrow will bring – the list of possible things to worry about is endless. Only a spoiler alert can set me free from the anxiety that uncertainty brings. The uncertainty of our current days, days filled with COVID, social unrest, and political divisiveness, has made anxiety a constant companion for all of us.

I could use a spoiler alert right about now – preferably one that tells me that everything will be all right, preferably one that gives me hope and reassures me that better days are coming. That’s the kind of spoiler alert I need now to get me through these days when suffering seems to be everywhere because of illness, pain, loss, natural disasters and the man made catastrophes that surround us. I need a spoiler alert that tells me there is a happy ending coming at the end of this story. And that’s exactly what the Gospel is – a spoiler alert bringing me Good News! 1 Peter 5:10 tells me something about what is going to happen,

“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

That promise gives me hope. I am going to be restored. I don’t know about you, but I could certainly benefit from some renovation work! There’s more. Jesus told us something else about our future in John 14:2-3 when He said,

“In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”

Now that’s good news. A place is being prepared for me. Even if I experience homelessness now, I will not be homeless in the end. A place is being prepared just for me in eternity with Jesus. Another indication that this story ends well. Philippians 3:20-21 is another good spoiler alert, saying –

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”

another glimpse of the happy ending yet to come – and there’s another spoiler alert in Revelation 21:3-7 which tells me what the end of the story looks like, saying –

” ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new! . . . To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be My son.’ ”

Today I am in the middle of the story. Based on the things I see taking place all around me, I would not dare to imagine or to hope for a happy ending. And yet, the spoiler alert of God’s Gospel message tells me that there is a happy ending waiting for me and for you, waiting for “whosoever will” accept Jesus’s invitation to come, to believe and to follow Him.

“Yet to all who received Him (Jesus) to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)

Jesus gives us all the ultimate spoiler alert in John 16:33 when He gives away how all this ends saying,

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

So I know who wins in the end. No matter how impossibly bad things look to my eyes, no matter how defeated I feel, I have to remember Jesus’s words in Matthew 19:26 –

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

the invitation has been issued, the spoiler alert given – I now know my current mud puddle is not the end of this story – I have been offered a holiday at the sea – unimaginable, impossible and yet true – my happy ending when I accept Jesus’s unbelievable, miraculous invitation to come to Him – it can be your happy ending, too, dear readers –

sincerely, Grace Day

it must be so hard . . .

I am wondering how hard, how painful, how difficult it must be for so many right now, in these difficult days. Imagine training, preparing, sacrificing to attain your dream of becoming a – you fill in the blank – and then one day, finally reaching your goal, finishing your education and completing your training – you are now ready and able to go out into the world and make the positive difference you have dreamed about making for so long. You have sacrificed much to prepare yourself for your avenue of service and now you stand ready to help those who need your help. I’m thinking today especially about police officers, soldiers in all branches of our military, doctors and educators. Their training is so rigorous that it must discourage all but the most dedicated from continuing on toward their goal. Then imagine, if you can, being fully prepared, ready, willing and able to do the job that you’ve trained to do and then not being allowed to do the job you’ve committed your life to doing. I cannot imagine anything more disheartening, frustrating or demoralizing than this. I think of police officers here in my city who were told to watch while vandalism, arson, looting, theft and assaults took place, threatening and destroying lives and property. They are trained to prevent crime and to protect lives and property. That’s what they signed up to do. How hard it must be to be told not to do your job but instead to stand by and watch what is in your power to prevent take place. It must be hard to watch criminals go free while their victims are left to deal with the damage, death and devastation the lawbreakers have caused.

Likewise, it must be excruciatingly painful for our military not to be allowed to do the things they have trained to do and are capable of doing – actions that would preserve peace and protect people from terrorists’ takeovers by such groups as the Taliban. To have the ability and the will to protect people’s lives and keep them safe, and to not be allowed to do what you are trained to do, must be so hard. But our soldiers are trained to follow orders – even if that means people die when our military has the power to protect them but are not allowed to use that power.

I wonder if that’s how doctors have felt since COVID appeared, having to watch their patients die while there are medicines available that they are not allowed to use to treat their patients. To have the knowledge, the ability and the available medicines to help your patients and yet be told to withhold from your patients the medicine that could help them get well, must be so hard. Excruciatingly painful, I would think. Not to mention something that might keep one up at night. But then fear is a powerful motivator. No one wants to lose their job or their medical license which they worked so hard and long to earn at great personal sacrifice. It is hard to watch people die, but probably better to remain silent.

Likewise, it must be hard for educators today to be asked to teach young children about things they believe are adult issues and indeed until now, these things have been exclusively adult issues. It must be hard for educators to teach sexuality to kindergartners instead of colors, numbers, letters, animals, stories, songs and make-believe, the things of childhood, which passes all too quickly anyway. It must be hard for educators to teach skin color over character after so many years of trying to instill King’s vision of one’s character being what matters, not one’s skin color. It must be hard to witness the damage to students’ self perceptions and to their relationships take place right before these teacher’s eyes, as they daily remind their students they are victims or they are oppressors. It must be so hard for teachers to witness the harm they are doing to their students – but fear is a powerful motivator. No one wants to lose their job. Better to remain silent and comply.

Yes, fear is a powerful force which will control me if I don’t control it. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I don’t want to live the life God has given me full of fear. I would rather my decisions be the result of love and courage than the result of my fears. Still we are living in uncertain times and danger seems to surround us everywhere we turn. We are told to fear the virus, to fear each other, to fear our neighbors and our enemies, to fear anyone who looks different or thinks differently. And fear leads to hate. Nothing good comes from hate. The world is witness to that fact right now. What am I to do with all my fear? Psalm 118:6-9 reassures me with these words,

“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; He is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” Psalm 56:3-4 reminds me I don’t need to fear when I trust God,

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”

Fearing man and not God will keep me in a constant state of anxiety and fear. Conversely, if I fear God, I have no reason to fear man. Instead I will experience God’s peace, which is not the same as the world’s peace, but something much better. Jesus spoke of it in John 14:27 when He said to His disciples,

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

There it is again. I don’t have to be afraid. I don’t have to let fear dictate how I live my life. Fear of other people’s opinions, fear of losing a job, fear of censure, fear even of losing one’s life, (which can happen to those who speak out against being asked to do what is wrong or dishonest) these are very real fears which can hold me or anyone captive, paralyzed and silent, watching evil have its way in the world. But Deuteronomy 31:6 tells me,

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

That’s all the reassurance that I need – God’s promise that He is with me and will never leave me. My Heavenly Father’s constant presence enables me to overcome my fears, to live with courage and conviction, pursuing truth and doing what is right in God’s eyes not in man’s eyes. I will keep the words of Colossians 3:23-25 before me,

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”

it must be so hard to be told to do wrong when you became a police officer or a soldier or a doctor or a teacher or a medical records keeper or a judge or anything else, with the idea that you would do some good in this world. It must be so hard to stand down and watch things burn and people die, when you were trained to go in and to save –

it must be so hard to stay silent when you know the truth is being silenced along with you –

it must be so hard – to watch and to wait –

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” (Isaiah 60:1-3)

oh that truthtellers would rise up and be silent no longer! it must be so hard –

sincerely, Grace Day