The Key

blog-images-page-003

I have a confession: I’m nearly fifty-five, and my favorite movie is a cartoon (a Pixar “animated feature,” to be exact). Inside Out was the first movie I ever watched that made me want to find out all I could about the author and director (Pete Docter). It was the first movie that made me want to have my picture taken at Disney World with its main characters, Joy and Sadness.

epcot_insideoutchar_20160720_7749387291

An eleven-year-old girl’s emotions are the stars in this incredibly insightful story, which challenges Joy’s assumption that the child “just needs to be happy.” Joy eventually comes to realize that there is more to a meaningful life than simply fun and games.

Many people are like Joy. They seek fulfillment in anything that makes them happy, only to find that it’s all an illusion. My heart breaks for those people.

God is real, and He wants to be known. A personal, intimate relationship with God brings joy and peace, no matter the circumstances. We don’t have to understand what is going on around us, because the peace of God passes understanding (Phil. 4:7).

Corrie ten Boom experienced the horrors of a concentration camp during World War Two. She suffered under some of the worst conditions imaginable. Later, she described life at Ravensbruck as existing on two separate levels: the physical life grew more horrible every day, but the spiritual life, the life they lived in God, grew better every day, “truth upon truth, glory upon glory” (The Hiding Place).

The problem is that most people don’t develop (or even desire) a relationship with God. They pray for things because they want things. They see God as a provider, but not as a companion. They seek satisfaction in other things, but nothing else satisfies.

God tells us to “grow up” in Christ (Eph. 4:15). When a child is born, his relationship to his parents is the same as when he is grown, but as he grows, he gets to know them better (ideally). The same is true in our relationship with God. If we never grow up in Christ, if we always view Him as merely the supplier of our needs, we will miss the intimacy that He wants us to have with Him: “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8).

Those who think a “good God” would make sure that life is smooth sailing make the same mistake that Joy made in Inside Out. God wants so much more for us than an easy ride. He wants to give us Himself.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13).

Our Daily Bread

 

our-daily-bread

Eight years ago, when my husband retired from the United States Air Force and went into trucking, I didn’t think of it as trading one “heroic” occupation for another.

Today I do.

He delivers to warehouses in South Carolina bread baked here in North Carolina. The warehouses, in turn, deliver the bread to individual stores.

My husband is an unsung hero.

I didn’t know it until last week when Hurricane Matthew came through and disrupted all our lives.

Suddenly, everyone was in need. Some people needed to be airlifted from rooftops. Others just needed water, which seems ironic, considering our problem stems from too much water—just none to drink!

Whatever the need, one thing became clear: we need each other.

We need workers to keep the power going…

To keep the water flowing…

(And to make it drinkable!)

This week we need delivery trucks to find ways around hundreds of washed-out roads and highways.

hurricane

We need our daily bread.

What we sometimes forget is that those whose job it is to meet our needs have needs themselves.

As the crisis wears on, tempers flare. That hurts everyone.

I’m reminded of Dr. Anna Pou, the Louisiana cancer surgeon who lived through a nightmare in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. After flood waters knocked out the generators in that eight-story hospital in New Orleans, many fled. Dr. Pou, however, remained, doing what she could in excruciating conditions, which included sweltering heat and total darkness, to save and evacuate as many patients as possible. She was among the last to leave. I cannot imagine how she must have felt when, nearly two years later, she was arrested and taken to jail in handcuffs, charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of four patients who died during that crisis.

I can’t imagine what the following year must have been like for her as a grand jury considered her case.

When the grand jury refused to indict, everyone who knew Dr. Pou cheered, including her patients.

Dr. Pou later helped get legislation passed to protect doctors and nurses working in crisis situations.

So what am I trying to say? What does that story have to do with delivery trucks?

Appreciate everything.

Take nothing for granted.

Most of all, heed the words of Jesus: “Love thy neighbor.”

Answered Prayer

Last week God answered a prayer that had been on my heart for years.

Years.

It seems the longer we wait for an answer, the more precious it is when it comes! The timing of this one was “extra special” to me for another reason. There are several things that are heavy on my heart right now which I have been praying about for years. One day I finally broke down and confessed to the Lord that I needed some encouragement. I begged Him to answer at least one of those prayers immediately! Simply put, He granted my request. The purpose of this post is to publicly thank Him and to share with the world (or at least the four people who will read this!) how much He means to me.

I realize that posts are supposed to be short, so I created a page on this blog specifically for answers to prayer. I am always encouraged by others’ stories of answered prayer, so I want to be an encouragement to those who may need it.

I can’t end this post without sharing at least one story. This one isn’t even mine, but it made a huge impact on my life…

In August of 1987 a group from my church went on a “missionary journey” to Mexico. The trip was life changing. It was full of dramatic demonstrations of God’s power. But it was something little—a “mere coincidence,” some would say—that still makes me smile nearly thirty years later.

no-coincidence

We were traveling in a caravan of about five vehicles when our van started to overheat. Pastor Herbster (our driver) announced on the CB radio that we would need to stop to check it out. Dutifully, all the vehicles pulled into a nearby parking lot. As it turned out, the problem was not at all serious. In fact, the van started to cool almost immediately. Pastor decided to let it sit for a while to be certain there wasn’t a problem. No one complained. It gave us a chance to stretch our legs!

One thing, however, puzzled me. There was a Mexican woman named Nellie traveling with our group. I saw her take off on foot and wondered why. As it turned out, earlier in the day she had asked Valente (the missionary traveling with us) if she could stop and see her mother since we would be passing right by her house. Valente had told her no. He knew we wanted to get to LaPalma as quickly as possible, so he didn’t even mention it to Pastor. Nellie started praying. When Pastor announced over the CB that the van was overheating and would have to stop, Nellie just smiled. At that point, we were in the exact spot where her mother lived. Coincidence? I don’t think so. We resumed after a half hour or so, and never had another problem with overheating. It is fun to watch the Lord do little favors for His children!

I know that story may seem trivial in light of the heavy burdens that all of us bear, but I love it because it reminds me that God loves His children so much, He gets involved in even the little things. He uses those things to help us trust Him with the big things!

Whatever you’re dealing with, don’t give up! Don’t lose heart. Keep praying. God is real.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16b).