In the palm of His hand

In the palm of His hand

I recently met a woman whose exhaustion and loneliness was written on her face. She exuded defeat, though for the sake of her two children she tried to hold it together. A single mom of teenagers chain smoked vigorously throughout the day and smiled without really smiling. Something about her stopped me in my tracks.

Not being a naturally outgoing person, I might have walked past her on an ordinary evening. But in this moment I felt utterly compelled to walk up to her and… I don’t know what. I had never met her before, and I had no idea of what I would say. I just knew somehow that I was supposed to go over to her.

Luckily, I had an excellent ice breaker in my arms – my little daughter. She tends to attract attention wherever she goes. All manners of strangers reach out to touch her, from grisly biker dudes at the gas station, to the grandma standing in the grocery check-out line. For some reason a baby is a safe buffer; no one can feel intimidated or threatened when an adorable little one is around.

It was night time and getting dark. Many families and friends sat in groups talking near the campfire, but this woman sat on her own aloof and glassy-eyed. I could feel her sadness as we spoke. She told me that she wished she could hold the baby but, on account of being drunk, she would not. I thanked her for that and promised she could hold her in the morning. “Thank you for coming to talk to me,” she said.

Even the darkness couldn’t hide that slight quiver in her voice. What she didn’t know is that the infant whom she so desired to hold and cuddle, was currently wearing a onesie with the prophetic words of Isaiah scripted across the front: “God has you in the palm of His hand.” That she prohibited herself from reaching out due to her current state of inebriation was not lost on me.

This word of Isaiah’s is part of a passage where God comforts his people, reminding them of His promise to save them and give them an inheritance that will never spoil.

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,

   the Lord has forgotten me.”

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast

   and have no compassion on the child she has borne?

Though she may forget,

   I will not forget you!

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

   your walls are ever before me…

“Though you were ruined and made desolate

   and your land laid waste,

now you will be too small for your people,

   and those who devoured you will be far away.

Isaiah 49:14-16, 19 NIV

Now days later she rests heavy on my heart because this is only one example of a person who feels her desperate need for redemption but either cannot or will not reach out and receive it because she believes she must first redeem herself to be accepted. Friends, this is not so!

Jesus promises an abundant life (John 10:10). And that promise of abundance is not delayed. Jesus is not just assuring us of some vague, future eternal life in Heaven with God. He’s talking about a present-tense, immediate abundance of life, today! Something we can take hold of that right here and now, just as we are: ruins and all.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8 NLT

Jesus didn’t wait until all the people repented and acknowledged him. Even his own disciples ran away and denied him in his hour of need. No, he stayed on that cross to finish the work, of taking our deserved punishment so that anyone could reach out and grab that bundle of joy.

This is the Good News: That through declaring Jesus as Lord and believing in Him, we may be welcomed into the family of God, to love and be loved without fear.

“But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am…”

1 Corinthians 15:10 MSG

For prayer, journaling, or meditation:

  • Prayerfully re-read Isaiah 49:14-16, 19
  • How would you respond to a friend who believes he/she has to earn their way into God’s good favor?
  • Can you think of a time when you have purposely held back from approaching God? How did you end up going back to Him? (If you haven’t yet, what is causing you to stay away?)

Redeeming a tabloid past

Redeeming a tabloid past

I’ve heard of the “Octomom” before but never really knew what her story was. I was never interested in finding out about another “freak show” gracing the front page of the National Enquirer. Any story worth telling in the Enquirer surely isn’t worth our time, right?

This morning over my coffee and Facebook feed I clicked on an intriguing article. It was about Natalie “Octomom” Suleman, who has decided to kill off the persona of the past and embrace a fresh start and a new life.

The short story is this: In 2009 she already was a family counselor and therapist with 6 kids and she longed for a 7th to make her family “complete”. She went through IVF and they implanted 12 embryos assuming most of them would not make it. However, most of them took and instead of 7 children she ended up with 14.

Sometimes we make plans for ourselves and God laughs, right?

The article contains an interview with her, and I highly recommend taking a few minutes to read, despite all the clickbait surrounding it.

Killing off the “Octomom” persona

She hates what she has done and is working hard to create a new name for herself and her family. She doesn’t think her children are mistakes but meant to be here. She is raising the children up in the Lord and setting a positive example for them. They are healthy and thriving.

Thank God for the broken examples in this world, because he uses them to show his power to make all things new.

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Parched for living water

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Sometimes I feel I have become stuck and stagnant. My “religion” has turned from a true desire to follow God, to going through the motions of reading my bible and going to church. I read the same passage over and over again, and realize that I am hardened against the action that God wants to take in my heart. I do my reading for the day as out of duty but my mind and heart do not engage.

Have you ever had this experience?

For me it’s usually a sign that I have forgotten the presence of God in His Word. I start to treat scripture like any old book I might need to read for school, flipping pages disinterestedly. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). God’s word is precious and worthy of careful meditation and study; it is a gift of refreshing water to us.

Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side. 

When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever therivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes…

Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine. (Ezekiel 47:1-2, 7-9, 12)

In this reading, the Lord shows Ezekiel a vision of water flowing from the sanctuary of the temple into the salt water sea. Where the two bodies of water meet, the sanctuary water makes the stagnant water fresh. Lord, I pray that your Holy water continues to flow and refresh the dead parts of my life that desperately need You.