I didn’t see “that” coming!

I felt thoroughly prepared for battle – well, verbal battle that is. Which is to say I was mentally prepared for the conflict in the encounter that was to come. In my mind, I was preparing my arguments, assembling the words of my assault while also deciding on the words of my defense by attempting to anticipate what their words of rebuttal would be. They were not forewarned of my arrival. I showed up unannounced, without an appointment. (full disclosure – people don’t make appointments for this kind of thing)

I felt the facts were in my favor. I had been wronged and I wanted things set right. I wanted justice. You see I mailed my niece, who lives in another state, a birthday present. I went to the Post Office, waited in line, (a very long line which did not move) then decided to use the handy kiosk in the lobby to mail her gift, a calendar in a large bubble envelope. (I know, a calendar isn’t breakable – I just like the thicker, more protective envelope)

The kiosk cooperated, and I was successful in getting her gift mailed. I was happy to cross that important task off my “to-do” list. So you can imagine my surprise, my disbelief actually, when a few days later I received this same large envelope that I had so recently mailed, back in my own mailbox. I was puzzled until I read the note stating that this was a “package” not a large envelope. So of course a “package” would be more expensive to mail, requiring more postage than I had purchased. I was disappointed and discouraged. This would require another trip to the Post Office, more money and it would be a few days before I could get back there to take care of this unexpected setback.

I did not anticipate this problem. Or as they say – “I didn’t see that coming.” Since I couldn’t return to the Post Office for a few days, I used the time to put together my battle plan which would right this wrong I had suffered. I prepared persuasive arguments in my head. I determined my defensive strategies as well, so as to have a rebuttal for whatever reasons they would give me for these unconscionable actions the Post Office had taken against me, preventing my niece’s birthday gift from arriving in a timely manner. I’m thinking I could claim damages – both financial (having to repurchase more expensive postage in addition to what I had already purchased) and emotional (robbing my niece of the joy of receiving her gift)

And then today it was time – time for the anticipated battle to begin. I had trained (in my head) and I was ready to present my case and defend my cause. I walked in with aforementioned large envelope or “package” (depending on who you believe) in hand, expecting the customarily long wait. There was no one ahead of me and I was summoned to a window immediately. This threw me off guard and off my game, because I had planned to use the time in line to go over my battle plan one last time.

I was greeted with a kind smile and demeanor, which further threw me off my game plan. I handed over my large envelope, I mean “package”, explaining that it had been returned to me and waited to see what would happen next. After examining the note on the front, her first words were, “We can give you credit for the amount you have already paid.” Wow! I did not see “that” coming! Good news! My verbal battle plan did not include preparation for that unanticipated response, so I lacked a contingency plan. Fortunately, gratitude and simple good manners kicked in and I responded with the appropriate and heartfelt – “thank you.”

Next she attempted to remove the paper some unknown post office employee had affixed to the envelope (I mean package), one covering the address where the gift was to go and the other covering the shipping label I had purchased from the user friendly kiosk. She was having difficulty but another lovely lady came to assist her and with the skill of a surgeon, she successfully removed both heavily taped papers from the front of the envelope (aka package) without tearing or damaging it. It was then I realized I would have had to buy a new bubble envelope if they hadn’t been successful. More good news! Again an appropriate and heartfelt “thank you” from me to both of the lovely ladies who were doing more than their jobs would require, all to my benefit. They could have simply said, “come back when you have this repackaged, we can’t do anything with this envelope (package). But they didn’t. I didn’t see “that” coming.

Now I am ready to mail this birthday gift again. I don’t have to go get another envelope. As my envelope/package is on the scales, she asks me the obligatory question about what the envelope (package) contains and of course I respond, “calendar.” Hearing my reply, the lady with the surgical skills has a moment of inspiration and, taking the envelope off the scales, she slides the calendar inside to one side of the envelope, folds the excess of the envelope over and tapes it down. This reduces the size of the large envelope, making it simply that, a large envelope, but not a “package” any longer! Then they say to me, “you don’t need to pay anymore postage, the original amount you already paid should be sufficient to get it to its intended destination.” I did not see “that” coming!

I did not see any of “this” coming today. I prepared for a battle that did not even take place. I anticipated resistance but received helpfulness. The results of my encounter provided a solution to my problem that exceeded my expectations. All that time I spent planning my battle strategy, preparing my arguments and counter arguments and various defenses, I could have used to do other things, so many other, probably more worthwhile, things. I was preparing for the wrong battle. I was preparing for an unimportant battle. I prepared for a battle that never even took place. What a waste of my time and energy!

But here’s the thing. There are battles raging all around me. Some are important, necessary, essential, worthwhile battles. Others are not. I need to be able to recognize the difference between temporal and eternal battles in deciding which battles are worth fighting. I guess there’s something to the saying – “pick your battles.” Some battles are not worth fighting and some battles are worth the sacrifice of my very life. With God’s help and God’s wisdom, I can learn to discern the difference. If I don’t, I will waste my life fighting battles that do not matter now nor in the end.

God’s word gives me the guidance that I need. In 1 Peter 3:15, I read this instruction –

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”

So I do need to be prepared to answer questions from others, important questions about the hope I have found in Christ Jesus. I can be always preparing for these opportunities because I don’t know when they will come, but when they do, I so want to be ready. I am even told how to give my answers, “with gentleness and respect.” These are the persuasive arguments and defenses I should be preparing, those found in God’s word, the ones that will lead others to God and to eternal life.

Ephesians, chapter six has clear instructions for me as to how I can prepare for the battle – well, not just any battle but the battle that matters most. I read these words –

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:11-18)

So my battle weapons are truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the word of God and prayer. Prayer is my battle strategy and my battle preparation activity. (I don’t think I prayed before I went into the Post Office today to do battle with those poor, unsuspecting postal workers – but they sure showed me – they killed me with their kindness and won me over!)

May I take a lesson from those lovely ladies. May I fight the battles God calls me to fight (instead of my own self-made battles about nothing) using the weapons He supplies, not my own. May I make known God’s truth, God’s gospel, God’s goodness, forgiveness, love and salvation to those who are perishing apart from this good news. Lord, may I remember that the most important battles I fight, I fight on my knees in prayer to You.

” And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18)

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

sincerely, Grace Day

I am Sarai, I am Eve – I want to be Rahab, I want to be Ruth

God made a promise to Sarai. Well, actually He made it to her husband, Abram, but Sarai was Abram’s wife, so by extension God’s promise included her, too. And it was a truly incredible, wonderful promise considering her age and her barrenness.

“And Abram said, (to God) ‘You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.’ Then the word of the Lord came to him (Abram): ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.’ He (God) took him (Abram) outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.’ Then He (God) said to him (Abram), ‘So shall your offspring be.’ ” (Genesis 15:3-5)

Now Abram and Sarai were both old, well past their time for child bearing. But – “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

So Abram and Sarai waited for God’s promise to them to be fulfilled. Ten years went by. Sarai grew impatient and began to doubt God’s promise. So she took matters into her own hands. Sarai said to Abram –

” ‘The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.’ Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.”

Sarai gave up on God and took matters into her own hands with disastrous results. Ishmael, Hagar’s son, was not the child of the promise God had made to Abram. God was merciful, though, and eventually Sarai did conceive and give birth to a son, Isaac, just as God had promised Abram it would happen.

Eve was living in a perfect, sin free environment. And still she doubted God. She doubted His goodness to her. Eve was persuaded that God was holding out on her, that there was something better than what she had already. Eve didn’t trust God. She didn’t trust that God had given her everything she needed. So she took matters into her own hands and ate the forbidden fruit, even giving some to her husband. We all know what disastrous results Eve’s doubt and subsequent disobedience had for all of us. We are still experiencing the fallout from Eve’s decision today.

How often do I get tired of waiting on God and take matters into my own hands, like Sarai? How often do I doubt that God knows best or has my best interests at heart and so I make decisions that are disobedient to God’s will and God’s word, like Eve? And then I blame God for the results. That is not who I want to be.

I want to be Rahab. I want to have her courage and her conviction. She risked her life when she aided and protected two Israelite spies because she believed their God was the one true God. In turn, they spared her life and the lives of her family members, when the Israelites conquered Jericho. Rahab risked it all in the service of God, whom her people didn’t even know or follow. But they had heard of God’s deeds on behalf of His people. Rahab said this to the spies –

“We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, . . . for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you.” (Joshua 2:10-12)

The spies agreed, so Rahab risked the wrath of the king, who was searching for the two spies. She lied to the king, saying the spies had already left, then sent them safely away later. Rahab’s faith and boldness remind me of another woman who didn’t know God and yet left everything to follow Him. Her name is Ruth. Ruth was a young, childless widow. She left her parents and her homeland to accompany her widowed mother in law, Naomi, back to her homeland. There was nothing in this decision that would be to Ruth’s benefit. Naomi had no money and no other sons that Ruth could marry. Naomi was returning to her homeland, but there Ruth, a Moabites, would be an alien, a stranger and an outcast.

Still, Ruth decided to go with Naomi, instead of remaining in her own country where she could marry again and have children and a future. Ruth left the only home she’d ever known to travel with Naomi to a land unknown to her. Ruth’s words to Naomi show her selfless sacrifice and her desire to know the true God.

“But Ruth replied, (to Naomi) ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.’ ” (Ruth 1:16-17)

Ruth boldly declares that Naomi’s God will be her God and even invites the Lord to deal with her if she breaks her vow to Naomi. Ruth had faith that led her to take action – the action of obedience. When she and Naomi reached their destination, Ruth followed Naomi’s instructions every day. She went to work in the fields at harvest where Naomi told her to go. Every evening Ruth brought Naomi grain from the harvest and whatever else she had earned. Eventually Ruth met and married Boaz. They had a son named Obed, who was the grandfather of King David.

Who could imagine such a hope filled ending would result from such a hopeless beginning? But Ruth acted in faith, courageously leaving her past behind her, to set out with Naomi for an unknown future. She trusted the God of Naomi and was not disappointed.

Ruth and Rahab, two women of faith and courage. That’s who I want to be – a woman of faith and courage. It takes courage to walk by faith (earlier post – “risky business) but that’s the only way to please God.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Rahab and Ruth both sought God and both were rewarded. When I become impatient, when I began to doubt God and His goodness, I will remember what happened with Sarai and Eve. Then I will remember Rahab and Ruth. I will take courage and continue this faith journey wherever it leads me, knowing that eventually it will lead me home.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)

sincerely, Grace Day

my bracket is so busted!

Good thing I am not now, nor have I ever been a gambler. In fact, in a recent post I reminisced about how I was brought up to always play it safe, to never take risks. Nevertheless, with this being the season of March Madness, and me being a big basketball fan, having grown up in a state where basketball rules, – I did the unthinkable – I filled out an NCAA basketball tournament form. You know the one. It’s the one with all the brackets. The one where you predict the winners and losers of each game, bracket by bracket (or match up by match up) until you arrive at the final four teams remaining and then the ultimate champion of this year’s NCAA tournament.

Full disclosure – no money was required for me to fill out this form and submit it. Someone at the school where I work organized this for fun. I don’t know what the prizes or rewards are for those who come closest in their predictions to what prove to be the actual outcomes. And now I realize I will never know because I will not be one of the eventual winners. My bracket is so busted already. Many of my brackets are broken beyond belief, even in this early stage of the tournament.

And here’s the reason why. The unforeseeable, the unlikely, the unimaginable, the unpredictable has become reality in my team of choice’s first game – which was a game between a sixteen seed and my team, a number one seed. Logic would dictate that the number one seeded team would be the better bet to fill the bracket and move on to the next game of the tournament, right? But maybe that’s why they call it “March Madness”, because there is no logic to it – no rhyme nor reason. Past performance doesn’t dictate current outcome. All bets are off as they say. (whoever “they” are?)

And yet we fill out our brackets and bet on basketball outcomes using our best powers of prediction. Having the additional info that the sixteen seeded team is the shortest team in the tourney, that this is their coach’s first year at this school and that their opponent, the number one seed, has one of the tallest players in the tourney – I felt secure in filling in my bracket with the name of the number one seeded team, which is also my alma mater. But, as it turns out, my confidence was misplaced. My hopes were dashed and my bracket was busted when my team, a number one seed, lost to the sixteen seeded team last night. I did not see that coming!

Now my bracket is busted! In fact, now many of my brackets are broken beyond repair, as I had my team going all the way to the final four. There’s no coming back from this. I put my hope in the wrong team and now everything is lost. Additionally, I put misplaced hope in a few other high ranking teams, Virginia for example, who were also defeated, leaving my other brackets busted as well. I put my hope in the wrong teams and now my brackets are busted beyond belief!

Good thing I don’t gamble for a living. My powers of prediction aren’t that great. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I don’t even know what challenges and opportunities today has in store for me. How can I live with such uncertainty day to day? If a number sixteen seed can upset a number one seed, then anything can happen. How can I live my life without anxiety and fear in a world filled with uncertain circumstances, a world in which anything can happen? My hope was in the wrong team. But in life, I know where or with whom to put my hope.

These words of the apostle Paul about putting his hope in Jesus Christ, are words I say along with him –

” . . . 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)

The missionary Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jesus gave similar advice saying –

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

And Peter said this –

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Wow! I have hope – a living hope! I have an inheritance in heaven kept secure for me, waiting for me. This is a sure thing, unlike the busted brackets of my March Madness hopes which proved so disastrous for me. Who I put my hope in makes all the difference. I need a sure thing, Someone I can count on. Someone who won’t let me down.

“Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in Me will not be disappointed.” (Isaiah 49:23)

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:22)

I will not be disappointed. My Heavenly Father will not let me fall. In fact in Jude I read,

“To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy -” (Jude 1:24)

My team let me down, but my Heavenly Father will not.

“O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption. He Himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” (Psalm 130:7-8)

unfailing love, full redemption from all my sins – sign me up! I will put my hope in God’s word and in His Son, Jesus Christ (who are one and the same – “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”)

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” (Psalm 130:5-6)

sincerely, Grace Day

saving time, making time, keeping time

I am very tired today, but then I have been unusually, exceptionally tired every day this week, even though my daily schedule hasn’t changed at all. As I fight this fatigue, I find myself wondering when it will end and what is causing it. Then I remember that it was just a few days ago that I had to adjust all my clocks to “spring forward” one hour. Where did that hour go? I think I need that hour back in order to restore my energy and overall wellbeing.

They call this move of the clocks DST, or daylight savings time. However, it doesn’t seem to be about “saving” time, if you ask me (and no one did) I think I’ve lost that hour, not saved it. And I want it back. I guess in theory I can get it back six months from now when we all “fall back” by setting our clocks back an hour. But I’m not convinced. I want to know where my hour went. I need my hour back now!

Still, if there are only twenty-four hours in a day, then I can’t really “make” more time, or “keep” time from moving forward or even “save” time up for a rainy day, (or a busy day) can I? This past week I have been “spending time” trying to figure out where my lost hour went. I haven’t found it yet. But this I do know. Last week I was driving to work in the light. This week I am driving to work in the dark once again. This does not seem like progress to me.

In fact, this manipulation of time seems to create problems, which is the opposite of progress. My state hasn’t always participated in this madness, in this futile attempt to change time by adding (or subtracting) an hour from our clocks. We used to let time alone, while all the states around us changed their clocks. But I guess peer pressure finally won out and now we do what all the other states do. (except Arizona and Hawaii)

Resetting clocks causes all kinds of chaos twice a year. There are clocks in every classroom of my high school and after we “spring forward” or “fall back” none of them are on the new current, correct time. Very confusing. Those that are unaware of the change in time, show up for work, events, meetings etc. an hour early or an hour late. More confusion. Add to that the fact that they change the time of year that they change the time! We used to “spring forward” the first week of April. This year we did so the second week of March. Our state legislature has spent much time debating time, daylight savings time, that is, for years. They have gone back and forth on this issue, which explains why for much of my life we did not participate in daylight savings time.

As I write this, I realize perhaps I have been “wasting” time in my attempt to find this missing time which daylight savings time has stolen from me. Trying to regain lost time is proving to be a futile effort on my part. I should have known this would be true. After all, Jesus said to His disciples,

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27)

I’m really not in charge of my hours or my days. In fact, King David wrote –

“All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)

Time is a gift from God. He causes the sun to rise and to set each day. He causes the earth to spin as it revolves around the sun. God is the creator of time and the keeper of time. Just because we reset our clocks and call it “daylight savings time”, doesn’t mean we have actually saved any time, nor have we added any daylight hours to our lives. The sun will continue to rise and to set on her own God given schedule. We aren’t able to persuade her to linger longer in our sky, though we might wish to do so. God has already determined the hours that make up our days and the seasons that make up our lives.

“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)

“From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:26-28)

I guess I will stop searching for my “lost hour” since it has never been lost, just arbitrarily renamed by resetting human clocks. There are still twenty-four hours in my day. I can’t create time nor can I control time, but I can strive to make the most of the time that God gives to me. I will make the psalmist’s prayer my prayer –

“Teach me to number my days aright that I may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

I will “redeem the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16) Another translation says, “make the most of every opportunity.”

That’s what I will do – grateful for each new day I will let God be in charge of my time and my timetable. Like the old hymn says –

“Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise” –

sincerely, Grace Day

mercy and manna – everyday miracles

Doesn’t that seem like a contradiction of terms “everyday miracles?” Miracles are supposed to be rare – not common occurrences, aren’t they? Unless maybe every day is full of miracles amid the mundane and I just don’t realize it because I fail to recognize the multitude and the magnitude of miracles that make up my days, each and every day.

Manna was a miracle the Israelites received new every morning during the time they were wandering in the desert. Just because they received this bread from heaven day after day for forty years, doesn’t make the manna any less of a miracle. The manna was God’s supernatural provision for His people. They did nothing to produce it or to make it happen. They simply received it new every morning.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.’ . . . The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. . . . The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.” (Exodus 16:4, 31, 35)

God literally gave the people their daily bread, new every morning. For the Israelites in the desert, every day started with a miracle. Manna rained down from heaven, providing them food for another day. They had no control over this miraculous occurrence, it was a gift from God, freely given new each day. If I think no such miracles are occurring today, I would be wrong. Consider these words –

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Other translations say “His mercies” are new every morning. Either way, it’s good news for you and for me. Just like the manna in the desert, God’s mercy to me and to you, is given new every morning. This means every day we get a clean slate, a do-over, a second chance. Mercy, like manna, is a miracle God freely gives to each of us. Just because it’s free though, doesn’t make it any less of a miracle.

Every sunrise is a miracle. The sun appears in the sky without fail, giving warmth and life to everything and everyone that lives and grows here on the earth. Every baby born is a miracle – the miracle of new life manifest for all to see. A kind word, a courageous act, forgiveness instead of retribution, lending a helping hand to a stranger, a hawk in flight, a star filled sky, a meal shared with friends – everyday miracles fill our lives.

It is said that all of life is grace – God’s grace. God’s grace is a miracle. Therefore, since all of life is grace and grace is a miracle, all of life is a miracle. And this is true. It is by God’s grace that you and I are here. It is God’s grace that sustains us.

“For by Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17)

“who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:9-10)

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

“But He (the Lord) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ ” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

God’s grace is His gift to us. His grace is all sustaining and all sufficient for you and for me. We have His promise on that.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

I am a wanderer in this world, headed home, traversing deserts, mountains, valleys and more as I make my way day by day. And every day, God’s miracles surround me, inspire me and remind me of His everpresent Presence walking with me. His manna and His mercies are new to me every morning. They sustain me throughout the day. The miracle of His grace is reflected in each moment that makes up the hours of the days that become a life filled with manna, mercy and grace – all freely given by God. Such are the miracles of everyday life. We are all recipients of God’s miracles of grace. We can all say along with Paul –

“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 1:14)

thank You, Lord, for the everyday miracles of Your manna, Your mercy and Your life-giving grace –

sincerely, Grace Day

falling through the cracks

Ever feel like you are falling through the cracks in this life? Are you watching others fall through the cracks that cover this broken world? As I navigate this journey, I find my path is full of fissures – innocuous cracks that don’t seem all that dangerous until they suddenly turn into giant chasms too vast to cross. It is at the chasm that my journey is altered. But every chasm started as a crack – a crack so small that no one paid it any attention until it became the proverbial crack (turned chasm) that you and I and untold others are in danger of falling through.

This idiom of “falling or slipping through the cracks” refers to being unintentionally neglected, unnoticed, ignored or overlooked and therefore undealt with, unaddressed, and unengaged. This can leave one feeling unseen, unheard, unloved and totally invisible. There are so many cracks to fall through that it would seem to be just a matter of time before you or I fall through one of them. After all, who would even notice?

But there is Someone who would notice, who does notice everything. Someone who sees us, hears us, loves us and notices when we come close to life’s cracks and began to slip and slide our way through them. The world might consider us lost at that point but not our Creator. We are never lost to Him. How do I know this? Well consider these words of Jesus –

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)

Other translations say – “not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care” or “But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.”

God sees the sparrows, keeps track of the sparrows and knows every time one of them falls to the ground. How much more will He keep watch over each one of us? After all, we are created in His own image. You and I are never lost to God. He sees us when we are falling through the cracks, even though no one else may notice what is happening to us. Job believed this about God even when his world fell apart, causing Job to fall deeper and deeper through the cracks with nothing to break his fall but God’s silence. It was when Job was at his lowest point, searching for God but not able to find Him, that Job said this –

“If only I knew where to find Him; if only I could go to His dwelling! . . . But if I go to the east, He is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find Him. When He is at work in the north, I do not see Him; when He turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of Him.”

So Job can’t find God. Even so, Job makes this surprising statement.

“But He (God) knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23: 3, 8-10)

Job feels he has lost track of God, but at the same time, Job acknowledges that God has not lost track of him. Ever feel like Job? Even though my troubles don’t compare to Job’s, I still have those moments, those days, (those months?) hopefully not those years when I feel alone, abandoned, unseen, unheard. God seems silent and unreachable as I fall endlessly through life’s cracks, waiting to hit rock bottom.

But if God knows when a sparrow falls to the ground, He most certainly knows when you or I or anyone falls through one of life’s many cracks. God “knows the way that I take” and God “knows the way that you take” too, dear readers. He is able to rescue those of us caught in the cracks, even though others would think us irretrievably lost – permanently held captive in those cracks that turn into chasms and endless caverns, forcing us to fall deeper and deeper. BUT 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)


“Therefore He (Jesus) is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

Yes it is God who –

” . . . turned to me and heard my cry.” It is God who – “lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;” it is God who – “set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” (Psalm 40:1-2)

It is my Heavenly Father who knows where I am at all times. Even when I am lost and falling through the cracks, my Creator sees me, hears my cries and comes to rescue me. When I am falling through life’s cracks, He finds me every time. When I hit rock bottom, He is the Rock, the sure foundation upon which I can stand steadfast, safe from the cracks surrounding me on every side. My Heavenly Father will always know where I am because He is always with me. He never leaves nor forsakes me.

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalm 139:7-12)

My Heavenly Father sees me when I am falling through the cracks. He does not let me fall forever. He rescues and restores me. Because I belong to Him, I will not fall through the cracks of eternity.

“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)

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:22)

“To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25)

sincerely, Grace Day

risky business

No this is not a post about high stakes gambling, bungee jumping, bull fighting, tightrope walking, Indy car racing or a thousand other high-risk human pursuits. Although we do seem to be prone to risk taking as a species. Consider the growing popularity of “extreme sports.” We can’t be satisfied with just regular, ordinary sports? Maybe it’s because everyday life doesn’t have enough risk and by extension excitement, built into it. We no longer have to hunt for our food and there are no unexplored lands. (just think how risky those first trans-Atlantic sea voyages were)

Reflecting on my own life, the message I received growing up was, “play it safe, taking risks is too, well, risky – aka – dangerous.” Those might not have been the exact words, but the meaning was clear – don’t take risks. Today, I’m not a gambler or a cliff diver or a stunt double or a rock climber – I have attempted to risk proof my life. But is that a good thing? Should that be the goal?

Dr. Howard Hendricks said, “There’s no such thing as faith apart from risk-taking.” So if I have been living a life of faith, I have been living a “risky” life all along. I am told to walk by faith and not by sight. But faith walking seems to me to be the riskier of the two alternatives. I risk walking into walls, stepping off of a cliff or falling into an unseen pit. Desiring to avoid such risks, I often choose to walk by sight, relying only on myself and what I can see with my own eyes, rather than to walk by faith, which requires trusting and following an unseen God. The latter seems like risky behavior to me! I guess that’s why we have the expression – “a leap of faith.”

Now that I think about it, the Bible is full of the stories of risk takers. Abraham took a risk. Abraham uprooted his family, packed up everything he owned and set out for an unknown destination, all in answer to the call of an unseen God. That’s a huge risk. That’s faith. Faith takes risks. Faith compelled Abraham to take the risk of obeying and following God.

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’ . . . So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; . . . Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.’ He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.’ Then He said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ . . . Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 12:1, 4, & 15:4-6)

Queen Esther was also a risk taker. She had faith in God. So much so that she risked it all. Esther risked her very life for her people as she obeyed God by faith. Esther knew the king could order her death if she came into his presence without an invitation or a summons from him. She went to the king anyway in order to plead for the life of her fellow Jews.

“Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.’ ” (Esther 4:15-16)

Noah was another person whose faith propelled him to take a risk. Because Noah trusted God, Noah built a huge boat on dry land when there was no rain, no water and no apparent need for such a large ark to be constructed. Noah risked ridicule (which he received in full measure I’m sure) as he devoted all his time, energy and resources to building this ark to the exact specifications that God had given him. It’s fortunate for Noah and his family that he took that risk in faith, obeyed God and built the boat as God instructed him to do. That boat (ark) ended up saving the lives of Noah and his family.

“And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him. Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. . . . The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. . . . Every living thing that moved on the earth perished – . . . Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.” (Genesis 7:5-6, 18-23)

Faith takes risks. Rahab took a risk when she hid the Israelite spies and later helped them to escape Jericho without being killed. Rahab knew the king would take her life if he found out what she had done. Later, when the Israelites conquered Jericho, killing everyone, Joshua spared the lives of Rahab and her family because she had saved the lives of the men he had sent as spies.

Faith takes risks. Ruth took a risk, a leap of faith. She left her homeland and her people in order to go with her mother in law, Naomi, to a land in which she would be a foreigner and an outcast. Naomi was a poor widow who had nothing to offer Ruth. Naomi had no sons for Ruth to marry. She had no way to provide for herself or for Ruth. And yet, Ruth took a risk and decided to embark with Naomi on a dangerous journey to a place where she would be an alien, an outcast.

“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me’ ” (Ruth 1:16-17)

Ruth ended up marrying a man named Boaz. Together they had a son named Obed, who was the grandfather of the future king of Israel, David. Ruth took a risk and ended up becoming the great grandmother of King David. She trusted God, walking by faith instead of sight.

Faith is definitely risky business. The three wise men set out to find the Christ child with only a star to guide them and no real plan in place. No maps, no guarantees, just faith that God would guide them to their intended destination. Simon and Andrew took a risk when they left everything to follow Jesus, as did James and John.

“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow Me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed Him. When He had gone a little farther, He saw James . . . and his brother John in a boat, . . . He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him.” (Mark 1:16-20)

That’s a risky thing to do for sure, isn’t it? Leave what you know for something and for someone that you don’t know. But that’s exactly what those four fishermen did in that moment when Jesus called to them. Faith is a risky business for sure. I guess Dr. Hendricks was right when he said, “There’s no such thing as faith apart from risk-taking.”

Am I willing to risk it all? Jesus has issued the invitation saying –

“Then He said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?’ ” (Luke 9:23-25)

Do I have the courage to walk by faith? – especially knowing that faith takes risks. Faith is risky business. David took a risk when he faced Goliath on the battlefield. Daniel risked death in a lion’s den rather than cease praying to God. The Bible is full of the stories of people of character, courage and faith. I don’t want to play it safe if that means forfeiting my faith.

Faith takes risks. Therefore, I am a risk taker by definition if I am walking by faith and not by sight. I must be willing to risk ridicule, being ostracized, persecuted, imprisoned – even killed. Currently, there are places around the globe where people are imprisoned and killed because of their faith in God. God sees their sacrifice and honors their risks with His reward.

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29)

Faith requires risk. Therefore, I will be a risk taker because – “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Faith – a risky business.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

sincerely, Grace Day

from freedom to captivity and back again

On Monday nights the room is noisy, filled with women talking, laughing, crying, sharing stories. Everybody has one – a story that is. These stories are full of pain, heartbreak, adversity, perseverance, despair, hope, courage, defeat, victory – yet a common thread weaves all of our stories together. That common thread is our experience as captives. We are all captives – hostages fighting for our freedom. Some are newly released from incarceration, some from addiction, some from homelessness, joblessness, fear, depression, anxiety – these are some of the many captors which we battle on a daily basis.

There are all kinds of captivity. Physical incarceration is the most obvious but mental, emotional and spiritual captivity are just as confining and perhaps even more crushing. God created humankind to be free. And we were free in the garden, until we chose our way over our Creator’s way, and became slaves to our own sin. However, God sent us a Redeemer, a liberator. He sent us His Son to set us free.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’ ” (John 8:34-36)

From birth to death, life seems to be a constant battle between captivity and freedom. There are so many things that can hold me hostage. I realize I have to be constantly vigilant lest I find that I have been taken captive by something or someone. Interesting that we often say something has “captured” our heart or “captivated” us in some way. Good thing Jesus came to set captives like me free.

“the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – the Lord, who remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.” (Psalm 146:6-8)

Jesus read these words from Isaiah prophesying about Himself – “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Freedom for the prisoners – that’s what I want but I am so easily taken captive. There is no shortage of things that can capture me and hold me hostage indefinitely. Too often, I am in a prison of my own making. Addictions to alcohol or drugs hold us physically hostage while fear can hold us just as tightly in its grip, paralyzing us into inaction and withdrawal, leaving us isolated and alone. Love of money can be a cruel captor, a constant taskmaster, enslaving us completely as we pursue money to the exclusion of everything else. Pursuit of pleasure can take over a life before we even realize it is controlling our lives.

There are less obvious prisons. When we harbor unforgiveness it controls us so completely in every aspect that we become slaves to this emotion, losing all our freedom to its destructive power. Anger, envy, hatred, pride – all are cruel taskmasters that take control of our lives if we invite them in – rendering us prisoners of these emotions. Often we escape one prison only to end up in another one, one that is equally or more confining than the first one. Mental, emotional and spiritual prisons are much harder to escape than any physical prison built by man. Colossians 2:8 has this sober warning for us all –

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

So there is another thing that can enslave me, “hollow and deceptive philosophy” – the wisdom of the world which keeps people captive, rather than the wisdom of God that sets people free. But God has made His wisdom available to me and to you. In James I read,

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

Jesus told us this – “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

Jesus really did come to set all of us captives free – literally, physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Those intangible prisons that hold us captive prove to be the strongholds in our lives that we cannot escape in our own strength. You and I need a Savior, a Redeemer, a Divine Rescuer – someone who can do this –

“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” (Isaiah 45:2-3)

I don’t have to remain in any of my self-made prisons. My Heavenly Father breaks down gates of doubt, deceit, depression, despair, fear and anxiety. He cuts through bars of unforgiveness, envy, rebellion, disobedience, pride, selfishness – all things that can keep me captive. Nothing is too hard for Him who created the universe. God created me to be free. He alone can set me free.

“through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. . . . For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, 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 8:2 & 15-16)

As God’s children we have freedom in Christ, we have been set free from our captivity. And we can look forward to a time when –

” . . . the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21)

We know that our Deliverer has come and is coming again. At that time, He will set all the captives free and all things will be made new.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

sincerely, Grace Day