When the Sun is Shining

Learning to praise God in the storms of life is one of the harder disciplines to learn as a Christian, but for many of us, there is one harder still:  it is learning to acknowledge Him when all is well.  Trials teach us dependancy on God.  It is during those times that we run to Him, needy of his support and comfort.  Yet how soon we can forget this need when all things are going our way! 

Pain has an effect on our character that forces us to turn to a strength outside ourselves.  However, when pain passes by, we can become immune to what once gave us an urgency for Christ.  We can grow cold and self-sufficient.  It is necessary for our dependancy on God to be not determined by our circumstances, but by our faith in His good will for our lives.

Winter last a long time here in Michigan, and when it is over there is a rejoicing equalled only by the saints on the day of Christ’s return!  In the warmth of summer the long, dreary days of winter are forgotten.  Summer doesn’t last long, though.  Michiganders never forget that winter is coming back around.  So during the summertime, we prepare for the winter to come.  How foolish would it be if we sold our snowblowers because it was July, and we didn’t need them?  We would not be ready for the trial ahead.

Likewise, we must never forget the storms of life when it seems we are floating down the Lazy River in an inner tube of happy circumstances.  This is the time to prepare and remember:  to get ready for what may be ahead, and to remember God’s faithfulness in the past.  He isn’t there to be used and forgotten.  He is there to be our center no matter what life brings to us.

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.  Make them known to your children and your children’s children… [that the Lord said] ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on earth, and that they may teach their children so.'”  (Deut. 4:9-10)

To Think About

  • What are your present circumstances?  Where have you fit God in those circumstances?
  • Have you forgotten God’s faithfulness in a time when the “wind is going your way”?
  • Make a list of things that may be taking priority over God in your life.  What can you change to re-order these things?

You Will Never Walk Alone

I taught the preschool class today, and because of that I missed hearing the sermon.  However, I was sitting before the service listening to the worship team practice, and a song began to play that I couldn’t help sing along with.  It was “Jesus Paid it All”, one of my favorites when I was on the vocal team.  Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;  Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow… 

I smiled to myself and began to prepare my lesson for the morning.  The children were going to learn about Jacob, who was fleeing Esau and journeying to his Uncle Laban’s home.  I looked at the picture:  a weary Jacob, under a full moon, with a rock for a pillow and a staff at his side.  It was very dark, in the middle of the night, because Jacob had just awoken from his dream…

“So Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran.  And he came to a certain place and stayed there one night, because the sun had set.  Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep.  And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven… And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac… Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go…”  (Gen. 28:10-13, 15)

When I sat at the round wooden table on my red plastic stack-a-chair, I read that last verse to the ten eager faces around me.  They trilled it in their innocent, happy little voices:  “I am with you andwill keep you wherever you go!”  Jillian peered out from under her blond bangs and lisped, “I went on a long trip once, and God didn’t stay here, he went with me ALLLLLL the way!”  A chorus of agreement resounded around the table at Jill’s exclamation.  As they chattered excitedly, Abigail leaned on my shoulder and looked up with wide green eyes. “I love God so much,” she sighed.  “I know He loves me too.”

In that moment I knew I didn’t need a sermon.  One little lesson for a group of four-year-olds was enough.  Their wide-eyed, reckless faith in God was a testimony to Jesus’ words:

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matt. 18:4-5)

The worship team began to play at the end of the service, and I heard the old hymn being sung by a hundred voices in the sanctuary:  Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;  Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow…  It reminded me that He is with me… He has paid it all.  Joshua tugged at my shirt and I looked down into his blue eyes.  “The muthic ith playing!  The muthic ith playing!”  I picked him up and whispered in his ear. “Yes, it is.”