The Doctor Is In

7 Jan

One day, Emma felt terribly ill, so she was glad her doctor was in. The doctor checked her out, prescriptions_orangepills_dmwilson_lolwithgodsmiled, and then left the room.

A few minutes later, the doctor’s assistant returned with three bottles of pills. Emma looked surprised.

“You need to take the green pill with a big glass of water when you first wake up,” the medical assistant said. “Then take the yellow pill with water after lunch. And right before you head to bed, take the orange pill with another glass of water.”

Emma, suddenly overcome with fear, blurted out, “This is terrible! What’s wrong with me? Why do I have to take so much medicine?”

“Oh, it’s not about the meds,” the assistant said. “You’re just not drinking enough water!”

LOL!

Sometimes the simplest solutions are best, but we miss them. So we get a lot of “prescriptions” that are likely unnecessary.

[Don’t misunderstand me. I am all for medical prescriptions that are needed, often crucial. But some healing doesn’t require “meds” at all. Spiritually speaking, there might be something else we’re missing.]

God, our Great Physician, hears our hurts and HE is the best prescription for our “heart needs.”

We may clamor for other “prescriptions.” We may think we need something from God. But the truth is, we need God Himself.

Jesus said, “apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

But He also said, “You refuse to come to me” (John 5:40). (Foolish, right?)

That second scripture is true of lost humanity that rejects Christ. But in one sense, it’s also true for the believer.

We scurry around looking for other solutions in our times of need. Sometimes we even make good things—our church, our Bibles, our ministry—little gods in our lives, hoping they can solve our issues.

We only come running to the Lord when all else fails us. We’re so slow to learn.

John 15:5 is changing my life. I keep telling myself, over and over, “Remember: without Jesus, you can’t do anything!”

I know in my heart this is true for all of us.

Even our goodness, apart from Jesus, is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6a).

Our best efforts are futile because they won’t last; nothing is eternal that is not connected to Him (1 John 2:17; 2 Peter 3:10-12).

John Piper shared the example of a paralyzed man who could do nothing for himself but talk. But a strong and reliable friend came to live with the man and help him. The paralyzed man had nothing but praise for this caring friend.

That is how I must see my state.

I can do nothing apart from the grace of God. But who can tell what I might do IN His grace?

I can only bear fruit in my life and ministry when I come to God in prayer in my time of need (Hebrews 4:16) and rest in my position in Christ.* And when I do, this glorifies the Father (John 15:7-8). And my heart fills with praise to Him.

The Doctor is in, but we must come to Him.

Is there any area of your life where you’re still trying to go it alone? Do you need a “come to the Doctor” moment?

* Some of the scriptures that tell the believer what it’s like to be “in Christ” – Romans 8:1-2; Ephesians 1:3; 2:6; Colossians 1:13; 3:1, 3; Philippians 4:13.

Also: see my Heart Choices Today post about being “in Christ.”

~ Dawn

 

 

 

Climbing Stairs to Nowhere

30 Dec

One of the funniest things I pass on a regular basis is a set of stairs that leads nowhere. It’s near my husband’s office at the seminary where he works. There likely was a door there once, or plans for one, but the stairs just look odd there now. I smile every time I pass them.

thestairstonowhere_lolwithgodAs I approach a new year, I’m thinking back over my life and ministry and trying to figure out what has been the most productive things I’ve accomplished over the past year.

There were some great things, but in at least one case, I was “climbing,” but ending up nowhere. I wasn’t lazy, but there was no “fruit” for my labors in that area—nothing I can point to and say, “That was worth my time.” 

I don’t want that to happen next year.

I’m sitting down to consider where I want to end up so I can make wise strategies to get there.

Ephesians 2:10 says,

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

God not only created me, He gave me new life in Christ; and with that new life He also created work projects for me. It’s my responsibility to pray and listen so I can discover those good works He has prepared for me to accomplish.

Life is too short to miss what God has planned for me to do. 

The older I get, the more I am struck by the brevity of life. The Bible makes this so clear:

“… our days on earth are like a shadow…” (1 Chronicles 29:15).

“…my days are swifter than a runner; they flee away…” (Job 9:25).

I am like “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14).

I found myself praying today:

Lord, teach me to consider my days so I can grow in wisdom. Remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered and fleeting. Help me make the best use of the time You have given me. (Psalm 90:12; 39:4; Ephesians 5:16)

I don’t want to end up on a stairway to nowhere.

Do you?

What are you doing to evaluate your life before you head into a new year?

~ Dawn

When Christmas Peace Falls to Pieces

17 Dec

A stressed young mom tried to wrap Christmas presents for her toddler while juggling her new infant. It was dogindiaper_akc-aboutdogdiapersafter midnight and she was so tired and not thinking correctly.

Imagine her husband’s surprise when he walked in to see the dog, Murphy, wrapped in one of the baby’s diapers.

“I didn’t have time to take him for a walk,” she said.

Now that’s stressed!

Some people get so stressed in December, they use their stress ball to throw at people who stress them out!

For many years, when I flipped my calendar to December, I flipped out!

My heart and mind started racing. Everything had to be “just so,” perfect for the holidays. I justified my heightened expectations with nice, spiritual-sounding statements: “I want everyone to enjoy the spirit of Christmas” and “God would want us to do all things with excellence in honor of Jesus’ birthday.”

But the reality was, I was a Christmas Control Freak.

I have a pretty ceramic plaque in my home that reads, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” But if you asked some of my family members back then, they might not have agreed with that. Whenever I got into Christmas Control Freak mode, I created chaos in our home.

Christmas Control Freak mode is the quickest way to destroy Christmas peace.

Christians or not, there are times we all struggle with finding peace. We may try to generate it within ourselves with positive thinking. We may seek it in others, longing for the kinds of encouragement that will keep us calm.

Some people travel to far off lands in search of some kind of peace. Others go into seclusion, hiding from the stresses of life.

But the truth is, no one can give us true, lasting peace except the Lord, because He created a restlessness within us that can only be satisfied in Him! The apostle Paul says when we are “justified by faith”—when we have trusted Christ alone to rescue us from our sin—we have peace with God (Romans 5:1).

The Psalmist said “the Lord will bless his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11). This means there is no condemnation when we stand before the Lord someday (Romans 8:1); Jesus paid sin’s penalty, which we could never pay (Romans 5:6-8).

The world the peace gives can be good for a while, but it doesn’t last. Because we live in a fallen world, peace is temporary.

But Jesus says,

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. . . . I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 14:27; 16:33 ESV).

So the peace of God is ours, but we must receive it. We must learn to stop our striving and rest in Christ’s peace (Matthew 11:28).

We have to seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:14). We gain peace when we love the Word of God and fix our minds on Him (Psalm 119:165; Isaiah 26:3).

And we must not only receive it, we must let it rule our hearts (Colossians 3:15). When the Holy Spirit is in control, one of the results of being “spiritually-minded” is peace (Galatians 5:22-23; Romans 8:6).

Too many of us will not let peace reign. We insist on sitting at the control boards of our lives, manipulating and fixing things ourselves, when God calls us to surrender to His control—to trust and obey—so He can usher peace into our hearts.

I think Mary, the mother of Jesus, understood the importance of peace reigning in the heart. She responded to the angel’s announcement with words reflecting her heart surrender: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38)

Peace in the midst of tough circumstances is especially hard. “Peace on earth” can become a struggle with strained finances, death of a loved one, loneliness and isolation, and other not-so-peaceful situations.

These days, when Christmas peace begins to fall to pieces, I am learning to pause and pray. I ask the Lord, “Where am I running ahead of you or focusing on things that aren’t important? and “What do you want me to do next?”

His answers to my heart sometimes surprise me.

  • “Come apart a while—be still and listen for My instructions”
  • Rest in me and find fresh strength.”
  • Be more relationship-oriented and less task-oriented.”
  • “Be less self-absorbed and more others-conscious.
  • “Help that person see Me.”

I’m reminded by scripture, those that have peace must learn to sow peace (James 3:18). We sow God’s peace (and love) as we seek to resolve conflicts, share our resources, spend time with others who are hurting, comfort the grieving, and act with compassion toward those who need it most.

Christmas peace is ours if we will receive it and let it reign in our hearts. Three of the quickest ways I know to realign with God’s peace is to be grateful, practice contentment and stay surrendered.

All three are choices we can make to pursue peace.

~ Dawn

Dog in diaper graphic on American Kennel Club site, regarding dog diapers.

 

 

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