Still Here

Sometimes there are things in life I wish I didn’t have to deal with. There are people in my life that I wish I didn’t have to know. There are things I’ve done that I wish I hadn’t. There are things yet to come that I wish I didn’t have to face. But the truth is, I’m still here. I’m still alive. I woke up this morning and my heart was beating and my lungs were drawing in air. That means I’m not done yet and I still have a purpose to serve and I still have a light to shine, and God will provide everything I need, including the strength to get over the mountains he gives me. I lift my eyes unto the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because he is with me. I know that I can get through anything in my path because he is the one who put it there and he promises not to give us anything we cannot bear. And I can bear all things through the One who gives me strength. So there is nothing I can’t face, no mountain I cannot climb, and no river I cannot cross. I will not fear, because “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18) and I will not despair because God promises me that he knows the plans he has for me. He chose me for those plans. He tells us, “‘For I know the plans I have for you…They are plans for good and not for destruction, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray I will listen. You will find me when you seek me with all your heart'” (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened unto you. Ask and it will be given. Do everything you do to the glory of God, and he will bless it.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” -Philippians 4:11
“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
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” -1 Timothy 6:6
“But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” -1 Timothy 6:8

December: the Season for Giving

It’s supposedly a “giving season.” We start around November and go through December 25th in a crazy rush over the many happenings that occur, and we call it “the Christmas shopping season.” We have an entire “season” dedicated to shopping; to buying more stuff. Now we call it a season of giving. But how often do we give without expectation of receiving anything in return? How often do we give because of that expectation? Would we even give at all if we knew that there was no personal gain involved? We talk about the “poor and needy” even as we pass them on the street, while our thoughts remain on our own needs. We then proceed to discuss “good will toward men” while we think about our in-laws that we hate and pay no attention to the homeless man shivering on the corner. We let myriad opportunities to serve each other fly by without a second thought. We think, “I’m too busy. I don’t have money. I don’t have time.” We are busy because we’re out spending money and time on things for me, myself, and I. All of it is for ourselves.

We’re bombarded with advertisements telling us how to give to others in a way that will cause us to receive something even better in return. We are told to give so that we can get. Its called a giving season, yet all we’re really focused on is getting.

We say Christmas time is about Jesus. How often do our thoughts turn to Him? We’re victims of the American Dream. We claim to follow Christ, and yet how often do we check ourselves against His teachings? How often do we truly give? How often do we truly love our neighbor? “And we remind ourselves that to love means to give until it hurts…” (Mother Teresa). Loving and giving are inextricably intertwined. One does not come without the other. If you can do without it, then it’s not truly giving. How often do we consider the needs of the widows and orphans? Very little. All I see in this time of year is a flurry of activity for more, more, more, based on the “I, Me” mentality. It’s so contrary to everything that we say we love about this season.

We sit in our warm homes and complain about the cold while there are those who don’t have a home to go to; we celebrate the holidays with food while twenty-five percent of school-age children in the United States are malnourished due to lack of food, and then we complain about how expensive the food was; we look at a child who has no jacket in the cold and we think, “Poor kid,” but we pass him by and do nothing. There are children in slavery. There are are people starving across the globe. There are those who are ill and have no way of treating their illness. There are women aborting their babies because nobody cared enough to give her the love and support she needed. There are men who are unable to provide for their families. And we think that we’re “giving” by handing over an unnecessary item to someone who already has everything they could ever ask for.

Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and justice kiss each other. (Ps. 85:10).

Doing justice for the fatherless and the oppressed, so that men of the earth may terrify them no more.  (Ps. 10:18)

“I will now rise up,” says the Lord.  “I will put in a safe place the one who longs for it.” (Ps. 12:5).

“Has this love I speak so loudly of quietly grown cold?” -Big Daddy Weave

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” -Mother TeresaImage