Unwanted Gifts

The air palpitated with his embarrassment. Why was he here?

Walking down the mall, I glanced into the nail salon expecting to see the usual variety of women, all shapes and ages, reclined with their feet in the pedicure bath.

But there, lodged between the chattering women, the rugged cowhand looked for rescue to the windows.

The poor man…. Peeking through the glass with his face hidden under the brim of his dusty felt hat. His expression conveyed quiet concentration as if he was slowly backing away from a snake coiled to strike.

Silver-trimmed bifocals slid down his nose, and white whisker stubble stuck out from acne-scarred cheeks. Although the cowboy’s flannel shirt and insulated black vest touched the chair back, something about his posture looked like he was ready to sprint.

With the blue jean legs bunched and rolled unevenly to mid-calf, his glistening white ankles descended into the bubbling water of the pedicure basin. Scuffed cowboy boots, each with a dingy white sock emerging, stood loyally by his chair with a lip of mud on the sole.

Like a feral animal, he watched and waited for his chance of escape.

I wondered…. who gave this man the gift of a pedicure that he felt he had to endure? Was it a loving wife that knew the thick callouses on his feet were causing him pain?

Or had a grown daughter given this treat because she knew the accumulated years of working cattle had caused back injuries where he could no longer reach or trim toenails?

Did the man give himself this tortuous gift because of a doctor’s warning that if that smashed toe became infected again, it would be “surgery and six weeks on crutches?”

Unwanted gifts that heal, even when given in deep love, are often painful.

Heavenly Father, as I remember the way that man looked at me, I wonder is that the expression I reflect to you? You know, when you give me a gift of training me to be more like your Son?

Needed gifts, although unwanted by me:

Like the gift of disappointment over the job I thought I deserved which gave me the desire to ask for your direction for my future.

Like the gift of a fearful diagnosis which caused me to realize how rich I was in friendships, joy, and your everlasting love that I had not fully appreciated.

Like the gift of clear sight to see the abandonment of those I thought were committed to me to seek the company of One who would never forsake me for another.

Unwanted gifts, but necessary experiences

to discern truth

to show compassion for others

to live for greater purpose than entertainment

to see evidence of God’s presence in my life

Dear Holy God, when I need a present that I may not want, help me to look for and see you in the midst of the discomfort. Although many people think hate is the opposite of love, I realize that indifference is actually the opposite emotion. You demonstrate your deep affection for me by not being “too busy” to notice my harmful mindsets.

Thank you for loving me enough to keep healing and training me when I only want to be a spoiled child. In the Bible it records that humans were made in your image. As your child, I want to grow up and act more like you. Thanks, Lord, for not giving up on me or on my ability to learn.

In the name of my Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'” Genesis 1:26

“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Psalm 25:4-5 New Living Translation

” I have seen their ways, but I will heal them…” Isaiah 57:18

Bible verses are taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted

Sinking Boat

Oh, I thought I had all the answers. After all, I was an adult, educated, experienced in several jobs, and an independent person. How hard could it be to cross from one shore to the other? The feat looked so easy assuming that the environment would stay exactly the same.

Paddling was simple at first. But as the horizon became bleak with troubling clouds, I lost sight of all that was familiar. Thunder bellowed over me with threats of violence in every direction. My small rowboat fought against the boiling water trickling over the edge. Within a short time, my world totally changed. No longer was I confident in safely navigating my way through. Overwhelmed, depressed and lost, I could see no path through the rising waves of disease and anger. So, I dropped the oars and sat still.

Holy One, will you step on the boat with me? Like you did with the disciples on the Sea of Galilee?

I’ve wondered, Jesus, why were you going to pass them by? Like a good shepherd, were you circling your flock insuring their safety? Or like a parent hearing whimpering down the hall on a stormy night, were you checking on your dependent ones? Whatever your reason was, your action shows committed love and concern for your friends. I am counting on your help, too.

“Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he (Jesus Christ) was alone on the land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They (the disciples) cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed.” Mark 6:47-50

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given you.” James 1:5

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

Holy One, will you step in the floundering little boat with me? I am scared of the sights and sounds in this darker world and need you. Enrich my mind with your wisdom and enhance my strength with your grit. Help me to reflect your personality by the way I react to harsh circumstances . Would you give me eyes to see how physically close you are? Because I know that with you beside me, I will feel your peace surround me in this turmoil.By your grace I ask this in the name of God’s Perfect Son and according to your perfect will. Amen

Bible verses are taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted

Father’s Gift

What do you give someone who has everything?

I mean everything: all the gadgets, jewelry, tools (he even invents), books (too many to count), and clothes don’t seem to matter to him.

When a holiday comes, and you long to please the father who spoils you constantly, then you realize whatever you can think of that he might enjoy, he already has.

When you want to give him some token that shows what his love and protection has meant, you are left feeling more like a brat, more ungrateful, and more selfish because you have nothing to offer the loving father who adores you.

So, what is the one item you can give your father that he does not already have?

You.

You can offer the gift of your personal desires to be yielded to his hopes for you.

You can give your hands to do the work he needs done rather than the work you want to do.

You can offer your mouth to tell the important things he has completed instead of speaking about your own achievements.

You can schedule time to be with him learning what he values and talking about all the ways you appreciate him.

You can show him that you paid attention when he corrected you by changing your actions.

What can you give the Heavenly Father and God of the Universe that he would enjoy?

Only yourself.

All Powerful God, you have given me life, loved ones, work, possessions, and opportunities. All that I have and all that I am that is worthwhile has come from your resources.

As my gift to you, Holy Father, help me to evolve so that I reflect your generosity, love, and forgiveness. This “child” is tired of demonstrating irritability instead of reflecting your personality. In the name of your son, Jesus Christ and according to his will. amen

“Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours…” 1 Chronicles 29:11a

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:13

“Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Bible verses are taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted

Perfect Friend

Sometimes I wonder, Lord Jesus, what it would have been like to walk beside you on a dusty path in Galilee. You, looking like an ordinary man but being so much more: the Invisible God enveloped with human skin.

Although I know facts of your life illustrated in black letters and white spaces, I don’t know the whole you. Names of places, people and quotes of your words scatter across my brain. Reading the Bible has changed my life; even so, your portrait is flat.

My mind sees you sketched out in two dimensions formed by typed words and art. But I long to see you wholly. What would it be like to hear your mouth say the words I read in the Bible? I wonder… On that hill, would your speech be choreographed to the movement of your walk or emphasized by arms and hands?

There is so much more to know about Mary and God’s son, Jesus. To see you in action would be such a pleasure. What would it be like to watch you thank the Father for our meal as we stopped to eat?

Because many different actors have portrayed the Redeemer in films, I am curious to find the truth of your physical characteristics.

When I hear your voice with my own ears, what will it sound like: clear tenor, deep base, or the vibrating baritone of the movies?

When you look at me, and I look back at you, will your eyes be dark chocolate hue or golden brown with flecks of gold and green?

Like a pregnant woman desires to see the face and know every detail of the child she carries, I want to completely know you, My Savior. To recognize your laugh in a crowded room or to glimpse that glistening sparkle in your eye when you think of something funny…

One day I will not wonder about how the Hero of my life looks and sounds. I will finally know when you call my name to join you.

Until that day, help me Holy Son of God to listen to your Spirit within me. Guide me to be true to your values, and to show your love and forgiveness to others. And when I meet wanderers who only know your name, give me words to tell the remarkable difference committing my life to follow you has made.

“No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied. John 7:46

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:21

“And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness’, and he was called God’s friend.” James 2:23

Gracious Father, thank you for sharing your Son and death-less life with such a fickle creature as me.

Bible verses are taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

Alternate Reality

Please help me, Holy God. My whole world has changed overnight!

The future I had already pictured in my mind is dashed. People are horribly sick with many dying. The economy that I trusted and thought was unstoppable is bludgeoned. Good people walk around with haunted faces wondering what they will do without a job. Children peep out behind their parents warily looking about for the danger that is keeping them inside. Although I am still living in the same world, everything is different… I feel like I am sinking in quicksand.

But you, My Lord, are the same. You do not change. You are all powerful. You have the ability to be present anywhere while we are stuck to one place in one time period.

You, Perfect One, know all things. You are The Creator and Designer of humans and the world. You understand intricacies that our scientists have not discovered. There is no end to your knowledge or the reach of your hand.

Almighty God, as my feet struggle to support my weight on this shifting sand, I come to you asking for light on this depressing path.

What I do know is that you are Holy and Just. Your personal quality of holiness means you cannot have anything to do with people who do wrong, and I have done many things I know are wrong. But I confess those wrong things to you, so my condition will change from sinful to godly.

I come before you asking for help in the Messiah’s name claiming my status as your child because of Jesus Christ’s payment for my wrongs. Please help me, Father, to look up to you for the help and hope I need.

“The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23,24 NLT

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand. ” Psalm 40:2 NIV

Thank you Lord, that you are always faithful and never forget your promises!