Enlighten my Darkness

Most women, myself included, enjoy burning candles in their home. But have you ever really needed the light from a candle? Today we can most often flip a switch and have all the light we need to dispel the darkness. There was a time in this past year that that was not the case for me.

A team from our church went to Spain on a mission trip last April. We went to the Basque region in the beautiful mountains where we were to help with the renovation work of an old farmhouse that is being used like a retreat center. In order to get to the house we travelled quite a way on narrow roads back through pasture land where sheep were grazing on the hillsides. Then the road became a one-lane gravel road that eventually led us to the gates of our host’s ministry site.

The farmhouse was powered by a generator that was turned on early in the morning and off at night. Before going to bed, we were given a fifteen minute warning that the lights would be going out. The first night that the generator was turned off and the lights went out I clearly understood why the warning had been given – you can’t see ANYTHING when the lights are turned off! Since we were so far out in the country there were no lights from other houses or businesses because there were no other houses or businesses for miles around! I literally could not see my hand held up in front of my face. I could just imagine my pupils the size of quarters straining for any trickle of light that might be dancing somewhere on the floor or wall. But alas, there was none.

My husband and I were staying in a little room that had been graciously given to us to share (all the other couples were in the ladies’ or men’s floors). It was so kind of our hosts to give us this room that they’re preparing as their prophet’s chamber. The ceiling of the room was angled over the bed, so that my six-foot, two inch husband had to be careful lest he clunk his head sitting up quickly. I trust you won’t label me as odd, but when the lights went out, that darkness fell over me like a thick black blanket and I felt like I was smothering in our “low-ceiling ed” little room.

Needless to say, it was a rather long night of restlessness, praying, singing in my heart and waiting for the Lord to bring the sun up! Hearing of my rough night, the sweet missionary wife brought me a candle jar that would be safe to burn during the next night. What a difference that light made in the room! It opened the room up, allowed me to breathe again, and sweet sleep came.

I was reminded of this candle event when I recently read Psalm 18:28 – “For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.” David isn’t referring to a situation like I faced in Spain, but he’s talking about a dark time he had experienced with Saul and those opposing his reign as king. The fact that David prays this prayer reminds me of several things:
  1. God is the only One that can bring light during our trials.
  2. Even people like David, that have a heart for God, experience “dark” times.
  3. The darkness won’t last forever.
  4. Jesus is The Light.
  5. Darkness drives me to my God.
  6. Candlelight also brings warmth; God warms me with the comfort of His presence during a trial.

Have you experienced a “dark” time when you needed to cry out and ask God to light your candle? Perhaps you’re in the midst of a time like that right now. The flicker of His love can warm and enlighten you like nothing else can. When my hosts heard of my need they were happy to help. When we tell God we need Him, He is there, waiting to light the candle in our heart that nothing or no one can blow out. If you’re in a time of darkness, He is there and ready to “enlighten your darkness.”

Training up a child in her way

I just returned from taking Allison to piano lessons, then we made a trip to Music Doctors, a music store in our area. As Allison was looking at violin music I turned and looked at her and saw the sheer delight on her face as she thumbed through the music books looking for violin music that would challenge her.
Watching her reminded me of a message we heard at church recently about “training up a child in the way he should go.” We learned that this means to train the child in his way. No, don’t give him his way, train him in his way. In other words, in the way that he/she was created. From a very young age when Allison started taking piano I could see that she learned very quickly. Then when she began violin it was reiterated in my heart that God had gifted her with musical abilities. She had an ear for music, an ability not just to play, but to understand the music, interpret it, and love it.
Don’t think that because of that she was always eager to go to lessons! I can’t tell you how many times I had to proverbially “put my foot down” and tell her “no” to the plea to quit taking lessons. It wasn’t that I just wanted another musician in the family. I felt so responsible to develop the talents God had given her. I prayed about people that God would lead us to as instructors that could teach her and develop her skills. I told her that until she went to college she would continue both piano and violin; after that it would be her decision.

As we train our children, we must ask God to show us the way we can train them in their individual way, according to their gifts and abilities. He will answer that prayer! For our family training Allison in “her way” was the music way. The result? She looks forward to both of her lessons each week and practices many hours in preparation. The greatest result is that she is desiring a music major when she begins college next year so she can serve the Lord with her music. To God be the glory (and the musical praise)!

Gracious Words

Without opening up the notebook you take with you when you go to church, can you remember what your pastor’s sermon was on last Sunday? How has the Truth from the Word of God impacted your life so far this week?

In Luke 4, we find that Jesus had come “home” to Nazareth where He’d been brought up and went to the synagogue to preach. The people listened and then were amazed as they listened to His words. Then verse 22 reads, “And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?” They were impressed with the “grace-filled” words which He spoke, yet many of them weren’t letting the Word change them into a follower of Christ. They didn’t heed the Word that was spoken. We read just seven verses later that they thrust him out of the city and cast him down the hill headlong! What happened to their initial response to His preaching? They heard words, but they didn’t allow it to change them!

If we were to translate this to last Sunday at your church, we would see your pastor standing at the church door greeting the congregation after his sermon. As the people passed by they would be saying, “That was a good sermon, Preacher!” “Good talk, Pastor!” Then, heading home to dinner and into the rest of their week, they would totally forget what they had just heard, and the changes they need to make.

I’m guilty of this! We admire the evangelist’s or pastor’s style of preaching, and we “enjoyed the sermon”, but we leave it behind when we walk off the church property. If the Truth is being preached it must effect change in our lives. It’s more than gracious words – it’s God’s Word! How has what was heard last Sunday changed you and me? Why not spend a little time reflecting on the Truth you heard and how it could be helping you today?

P.S. If you really want to encourage your pastor, wait until the middle of the week and give him a call to tell him how the Word he preached last Sunday has helped you.

Daily Maintenance


Maintenance – here’s a word that keeps us busy every day that we live! Maintenance means to repair, keep up, look after. Think of all the maintenance that your outside of your house requires:

 

    • Mowing the lawn

 

  • Raking the leaves

 

 

  • Washing the windows

 

 

  • Sweeping away spider webs from the doorways

 

 

  • Weeding the flowerbeds

 

 

  • Cleaning out the gutters

 

How about the inside of your house? Consider:

    • Painting the walls occasionally
    • Cleaning out the refrigerator

 

  • Scrubbing the floors
  • Changing the filters in the heat and AC
  • Clearing away piles
  • Doing something with all the mail
  • Keeping the dishwasher emptied
  • Cleaning the oven and stovetop

 

Then, of course, you and I require maintenance too.

  • Doctor and Dentist check-ups
  • Fingernails trimmed and perhaps painted
  • Hair cut, styled (and colored?)
  • Exercise (oh yeah, I had to bring that up, huh?)

Sometimes we forget about things that need our attention until there’s a malfunction. If we haven’t had our teeth cleaned and checked in a while we may wake up one morning with a toothache. Then we call the dentist. We ignore the oily mess in the bottom of the oven, then when we go to bake a cake the kitchen fills with smoke. Then get out the rubber gloves and start scrubbing! Think of what a sorry mess all of those things would be in if we fail to maintain them. It’s called neglect.

There is another area of our lives that requires Daily Maintenance that too often gets put off until there’s a malfunction. An illness touches our lives, someone we love dies, we’re in the midst of a financial crisis or need, and suddenly we need God. But when we call out to Him in prayer, or seek comfort in His Word we find that the heavens seem shut up, and God seems very far away. There’s a malfunction in our spiritual lives because there hasn’t been daily attention given to it. Oh, we may have attended church, perhaps even read our “devotions”, but there hasn’t been a seeking for Him.

Proverbs 8:34 says, Blessed is the man (or woman)that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. When we wait for Him each day we will find Him. The maintenance that needs to be done on our hearts will be tended to. It will accomplish more than fulfilling an obligation, it will fill our hearts and draw us to our God. It will reveal sin that needs to be confessed and forsaken. It will point to the areas of our lives that are drawing us away from our Savior.

Maintenance is necessary in our practical lives, but it should be longed for in our spiritual lives. Without it, we are a spiritual malfunction waiting to happen! Spend time with Him today in His Word and in pouring your heart out to Him. We all need a spiritual “Fall cleaning”!

Twenty-four years ago today I became a mother for the first time. God blessed me with a daughter (the prayer of my heart)! As I sit and reflect today on her birth and growing up years, I am filled with awe at God’s enabling grace and help in this tremendous joy and also huge responsibility called motherhood.

I remember feeling a bit overwhelemed during her infant months, but then as experience gave way to a little more confidence I was able to enjoy watching her change and develop. I’ll never forget the first time she laughed outloud, and the delight it brought her dad and me. We were a family and were now experiencing Family Fun Night!

It was our desire as her parents to spend time teaching her and training her in God’s ways. How many books did we read, even before she was able to hold a book? How many songs were sung to tell her of her Savior’s love? How many kisses and cuddles were shared to tell her of her parents’ love? Many, but not enough. How many times did we do things the wrong way? Too many, but praise God for His help and wisdom that he shared through His Word, as well as godly instrctors in many places.

Some of my favorite memories of motherhood are:

* Giving “clothes basket rides” through the house

*Making homemade play dough

*Playing library

*Tea parties

*Bike rides

*Teaching her to read

*Leading her to Christ

*Taking her to piano lessons

*Baking cookies

*Letting her roll out jam pies for Daddy

*Library Story time

*Celebrating her birthday, which included breakfast in bed

Today I celebrate her 24th birthday, even though she’s in South Carolina and I am in Tennessee. I thank the Lord for the special gift of a sweet daughter that has made me so thankful to be a mother and proud of the fine Christian young woman she has become.

Happy Birthday, Whitney! I’m eating chocolate cake in your honor!

Side By Side

Today was a 17-mile bike ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail. We had beautiful weather for the trip and we saw some spectacular sights. We rode our bikes on many overpasses of a stream. The sun sparkled on the water like so many diamonds in a jewelers window. The trees made a tunnel of greenery under which we could ride. It was one of those outings that you don’t soon forget.
The trip was a blessing, but the best part about it was my travelling companion; my husband. When we first started out, he lit out and led our group. Then realizing the slower pace of his wife, he hung back and waited on me so we could travel side by side. As we pedaled along we stopped many times to ooo and ahhh over a waterfall or mountainous view. We were in no hurry. As we rode together it was quiet for the most part, save the occasional biker wanting to pass. It gave us the opportunity to talk. It was sweet conversation between us as we travelled along.
That’s how the Lord intended marriage to be – travelling side by side. Not one way ahead of the other, each trapped in their own little world. It’s so easy to get caught up among the other cyclists that there’s no time to talk; you have to yell to be heard. There’s no opportunity to “lollygag” – you know, do nothing, and enjoy doing it!
I pray that you and your spouse are riding side by side in the journey of marriage and enjoying the ride!

Faithful Friend

I don’t know what it’s like to have a brother, but I do know what it’s like to have a sister, as well as a twin sister. Sisters share their burdens (and their clothes), understand each other’s hearts, even if their words are just tears, are willing to give the other the benefit of the doubt, and are willing to go out of their way for the other.
When I come to Proverbs 18:24 and read “…there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” I think about my sisters and the great love we have for one another. Then I realize that Christ would do even more for me. He loves me greater, and understands me better than either one of my sisters. His love is eternal. His presence is constant. His understanding is infinite.
When, in this earthly life, a person is lonely, they only need remember the greatest Friend – better than a brother (or a sister!).