The season of thanksgiving, generosity, and a desire for the well-being of others is upon us. However, with the holidays can come the challenge of being in close proximity with loved ones that you may not always like. Here is a suggestion that may make a difference; try to find at least one thing you like about each of the people around you and use it to build a positive connection with them. You never know, your perspective of them may change and new happy memories will be in the making!
“‘And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins’ (New King James Version, 1 Peter 4:8).”
Do you recall the first time God made Himself known to you? I sure do.
By the time I was 5 years old, my father had passed away, my mother had remarried, and we had moved far from those I knew and loved. I was a stranger in a strange land. However, it was in the midst of this sadness and loneliness when the Lord intercepted my life.
The first time I heard God speak to me, I was running down the church aisle towards my parents. It was late evening and I had been playing in the nursery while my parents were in a meeting. In what seemed like a suspended moment, God explained to me how His son, Jesus, had died on a cross and that I needed to give my heart to Him. Suddenly, I was excited; I had seen a picture of a man hanging on a cross in a book my grandmother had given me and believed this was the man God was talking about. As soon as we got home, I ran to the bookshelf in my bedroom and flipped through the pages of that book until I found the picture. There He was; Jesus hanging on a cross. I stared at that picture for a long time, while tears dripped from my eyes. God told me that Jesus had died for me and my heart knew it was true.
The next time my family attended church, I ran up to the preacher and shouted that I needed to give my heart to Jesus. He looked at my parents with disbelief and asked, “Does she know what she is talking about?” They looked at each other in amazement and said it was okay with them. Much to my relief, the preacher knelt with me in the front of the church, while I gave my heart to Jesus.
Whenever I feel lonely and scared, I remember how God noticed a little girl, a stranger in a strange land, and brought her into His fold. It never fails to fill me with warmth like a gentle kiss on the cheek from a loved one – a kiss from Heaven.
“‘Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven’ (New Kings James Version, Matthew 19:14).”
Hope can be so difficult to describe. Is it an attitude? A belief? An action? I have found that hope can be all those things.
In 2004, I was employed by a Virginia Beach company being merged into a larger organization located in Ohio. Consequently, I had to choose between applying for a position at the Ohio location or finding another employer. I was paralyzed; I couldn’t see which decision was right for me and my family. My husband and I had purchased a home less than two years prior, and my daughter was dedicated to the marching band activities at her high school. Staying in Virginia seemed like the most logical decision. However, I did not know if that was the plan the Lord had for us.
After much prayer, I felt the Lord wanted me to pursue the job opportunity in Ohio. Even though I felt unsure, I put in my application and went through the interview process. When many days passed, and I still had not heard back, I asked God for reassurance; was I doing the right thing? Not only did he reassure me, He let me know that I would receive the job; the only thing He required of me in the waiting was to be patient and believe in His goodness.
It was just a few days later when I received notice that I got the job and would be moving to Ohio. This was great news and cause for celebration. However, it was what happened next that taught me about hope in God.
The following day, I received another call from Ohio informing me the funding for the job had been canceled. I was shocked and angry. Had God tricked me? Was I a fool for believing Him? During a prayer full of hot, angry tears I heard Him gently say, “Wait for Me.” The hardest choice I have ever made was to believe that God will do what He said He will do, that He is good, and that He will reward those who wait for Him, even though everything about the situation said it was foolish. It took all I had to quiet the condemning voices in my head, but I chose to stand in hope.
It was just a couple days later when I received another call from Ohio…the funding was once again available, and I was to start my new job as soon as possible. My hope in God had not been put to shame!
This painful but valuable lesson taught me that when things seem dark and dismal, I can pick up my hope in God and wait expectantly to experience His mercy, compassion, faithfulness, and goodness. I believe He is the same for you, too.
“’This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I hope in Him’ (New King James Version, Lamentations 3:21-25).”
Have you ever struggled with the question, what is my purpose? It has taken me well beyond my youth to realize that life on this side of heaven is the opportunity to mature the spirit born in us when we accepted Jesus as our savior – to grow from being a child of God to being a mature son or daughter reflecting His glory.
It is through the process of painful and hopeful change that we learn to walk and then run in the will of God. That change begins when we submit to the process of letting God lead us through life, while leveraging that process for developing our new character from glory to glory. The most important point is that we have to choose to engage in the process of change with God leading the way.
No matter who we are, each of us has the same hope of reflecting God’s glory that is available to all His children. Go ahead; grab your purpose with gusto and be amazed at the hope of glory that will grow before your eyes!
“‘Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us’ (New King James Version, Romans 5:1-5).”