Sunday, December 27, 2020

A Prayer for More of God

Lord, as we close the book on all the sorrow and sadness of 2020 and anticipate with hope a better year ahead, give us more in 2021.  Not more stuff.  Not more happiness.  Not more money or jobs or security.  Give us more of you.

Without you we are nothing but hopeless, miserable creatures struggling to get through the challenges and heartaches of living in a fallen world.

With you all things -- even impossible things -- are possible.  Because of you we have hope.  You are Immanuel, God with us, not just during Advent and Christmas but throughout the year, in good times and in bad.

You are our Provider, Protector, Peace, Healer, Savior, Redeemer, Strong Tower, Deliverer...the God who works all things together for good for those who love you and are called according to your purpose (Romans 8:28).

You forgive us when we sin, weep with us when we are sorrowful, and rejoice with us when we are happy.  You get us, because you created us.

The greatest thing we can pray for in the coming year is to know you more.  In knowing you more we will love you more, and in loving you more we will love others more.

Lord, open the eyes of our hearts to see others as you do and more importantly, to see ourselves as you do -- holy, pure, and beloved because the blood of Jesus has made us so.

Lord, give us more in 2021.  Not less heartache, not less stress, not less illness, but more faith in the One who will never leave us or forsake us, no matter what may come.  Lord, give us more of you.  

In Jesus' name and for your glory, amen.

Copyright © 2020-2021 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Reflections on Christmas 2020

To say that 2020 has been a difficult year is the understatement of a lifetime, certainly of mine.  We all have witnessed the unthinkable -- a pandemic that has changed our lives in ways we could never have imagined and taken the lives of those we know and love.  It is safe to say that most of the families I know have been touched by sickness, sorrow, and loss.  Ours certainly has, but one thing has not changed this Christmas -- the Savior whose birth we celebrate.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Steve and I are celebrating our first Christmas as empty nesters.  Our son moved out in July, 2020 and our daughter moved back home to Tennessee Thanksgiving weekend.  Because of the pandemic we made the decision not to travel out of town, or even across town, to visit family for Christmas, opting instead for a quiet holiday at home.

Rather than buying for each other, Steve and I decided to bless our kids and those less fortunate, as generously as God's provision would allow.  Even though Steve lost his job in October because of pandemic-related downsizing God provided another job so that we would have the resources to give even beyond what we thought was possible.  We learned this year that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive.

Many friends and family lost loved ones this year, even as recently as in the days leading up to Christmas.  My prayers that God would provide the comfort and healing they and their loved ones need are coupled with the awareness that I will eventually face the same kind of heartaches that so many have this year.  It is not something I fear -- I know the heartaches will come -- but I pray daily for the grace and faith to meet those challenges in such a way that others will know Jesus truly does save and care for his own.

The year we thought would never end will soon be behind us. Sadly the days ahead don't look to bring any meaningful relief.  More than ever we all need to press hard into God because he is the only hope we have.  

God's word is filled with promises of his presence, peace, grace, power, and provision.  If you don't spend much time reading the Bible or talking with God in prayer, then resolve in 2021 to make doing so a daily habit.  It won't cost you anything but a little time each day -- an investment that will pay you the rich dividends of a closer walk with God and the peace which passes understanding.

Copyright © 2020-2021 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Prayer for Empty Nesters

Once upon a time my babes were small, little ones who needed parents to love and protect them.
Earlier this year our firstborn left home to spread his wings and gain his independence.  We all knew it was time.  I couldn't be more proud of him for taking on the challenges of adulthood with such courage and determination.

Our daughter is soon to fly and leave our nest, eager to see the world beyond our home and to make her way in this world.  My heart is breaking... I'm not prepared...yet I am confident that she is ready.

How to make the most of the time we have left is an overwhelming thought.  With so many details to attend to over the next few weeks, I know time will slip away and the day will come that I have to let her go. 

Soon our nest will be empty...yet I know I will not be alone.  Nor will they, for our heavenly Father has promised to be with them wherever they go.

Lord, keep our children in your care
Protect and guard them everywhere
Be their Provider, their Peace, their Friend
From now until the very end
God, thank You for the precious gift
Of parenting these kids of ours
They're in your hands now, lead them well
And be our Comfort in the quiet, lonely hours

Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Becoming Invisible

"He must become greater; I must become less.”  (John 3:30, NIV)

This is a blog post I will never share to social media.  If anyone finds and reads it, it will be because the Holy Spirit directs them here.

Dear Jesus,

I am writing this to you to let you know that you are enough for me.  More than enough.  But I have thought more of myself and what others think of me than about what pleases you.  I'm sorry.

I have spent the past ten years writing books and sharing devotionals.  In vain I even attempted launching a speaking ministry. The novelty of all that wore off a long time ago because, if I am honest, I have grown weary of checking my Facebook and other social media posts to see if what I feel compelled to write and share really matters.  Why should it matter to me if anything I write makes a difference in someone else's life?

In a week I am going off the social media grid, embarking on a technology fast to heighten my sensitivity to your voice and the leading of your Holy Spirit. This will enable me to focus on learning the responsibilities of my new job and compile a book of devotionals as a gift to Mom.  Whether or not it gets published for anyone else's eyes to read will be up to you. 

When I consider my life and all the blessings it holds, I am humbled.  I don't deserve the home we live in, the car I drive, or the job that you just gave me.  I don't deserve your mercy or forgiveness, and I certainly don't deserve being used by you to accomplish your purposes, but I am SO grateful! 

Because of the pandemic and racial tensions of 2020, this year has been awful, but in the past few months of isolation you have been ever-present with me.  You have answered many prayers and brought me into a new season of service and ministry.  You know the frustrations I have experienced the past few years and you are handling them by orchestrating changes that will result in greater joy and purpose.  I receive every day, every challenge, and every blessing as gifts from your hands.

With one breath, one lightning strike, one tragic accident you could remove every source of joy and blessing in my life, but you cannot remove yourself.  Lord, you are everything to me and I am holding onto you with both hands!  As long as I have you, there really is nothing else I need. 

Lord, continue to teach me your word and your ways.  Continue to shape my desires to be in line with your will.  Give me the courage to become invisible so that you may shine brighter in my life. 

I am tired -- so very tired -- of trying to impress people.  Help me to live my life with my eyes set on you alone.  I cannot live unto myself, but until I can fully see you I will flounder in my ministry to others.  Let everything good in me be an overflow of your abundant goodness and grace.  And when I mess up and revert to my old ways, as it is in my human nature to do, gently and swiftly remind me of this prayer.

Lord, I love you more than anyone will ever know!

Dee Dee

Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 24, 2020

The Next Right Thing

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  --  Colossians 3:17, NIV

During the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 many people with time on their hands have ramped up their reading.  Recently I finished a book that impacted me, The Next Right Thing -- A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions by Emily P. Freeman.

Because of stay-at-home orders and the need to social distance many of us have worked remotely, lost jobs, or simply quit altogether.  We have struggled not only with downsizing our budgets and isolating ourselves from those we love but also with finding motivation to do mundane tasks we would typically delay because of busy schedules.  "Do the next right thing" has become a mantra for me and has helped take the sting out of job-hunting and waiting for an offer.

Doing the next right thing can be as simple as opening the door and walking outside to pluck a few weeds from your garden, or taking a break from TV to put on a load of laundry.  These may not be the things we want to do but when we actually begin to do them, suddenly we find ourselves doing the next right thing, and the next right thing....

It is easy to beat ourselves up over the things we don't accomplish, when in fact it is far better to list the things we have done in the course of a day.  Focusing on what we have done helps eliminate guilt over what we haven't done and gives us the motivation to stay the course.

Since COVID-19 is going to be with us awhile longer, cut yourself some slack.  As you navigate your "new normal," take baby steps and just do the next right thing!

Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Moving Day

Six years ago my family and I began a two-day journey to the place we now call home.  We left behind a church family, many friends, close relatives, and the city where I had lived a lifetime.  Apprehensions were few because we knew this was what God had ordained.  As we celebrate our new life here and the many blessings we been gifted since our move we cannot help but give thanks to the One who orchestrated it all.

Three months after we changed our address I stepped into a job that became a ministry and a great source of joy.  I found a new family and friends who have loved and supported our family in so many ways, and I am blessed beyond measure.  We all are.  But just as God saw fit to move our family away from everything that was familiar, He has been stirring something inside me and calling me to leave home once more in search of His next assignment.

Today I officially step down from a dream job to move on to whatever God has in store next.  The move has been prayed over for many months and the pandemic has brought clarity in the decision-making process as I have had much time to press in to God and really seek His heart.  I realize that there are many people who will not understand my decision to leave a job which was such a perfect fit, and I pray they will know that they are the reason the decision did not come easily.  I will always love the congregants I served and look forward to maintaining and nurturing the friendships that have been made these past six years.

Time does not stand still for any of us.  There is work to be done for the children of God, wherever we find ourselves.  The coronavirus pandemic and the protests raging across our nation this very day ensure our job security as prayer warriors on the front lines.

I don't know what the future holds in terms of my work, but I entrust my future and the care of my church family to the Lord who holds us all in His hands.

To my Bethany church family, know that I am stepping away in obedience to God's call -- not for lack of love for our church family or because of any of the challenges we have faced.  You are my family and I love you.  But God has said it's time for me to "leave home" and move on to the next assignment.  I covet your prayers for His provision and guidance in the days to come, and I will be praying daily for you.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Broken Sacrifice

Lately many of us have struggled with emotions.  The coronavirus  pandemic has created stress we did not anticipate, yet has provided a golden opportunity to look at present circumstances and determine if we are living our best life, or if there are some changes we need to make.

Much of what we have experienced is heartbreak, plain and simple.  There is a grieving process we go through -- or grow through -- when things change.  Whether it is the loss of a job due to unforeseen circumstances or a shift in our ideology brought on by outside forces, it is natural to mourn the loss and be anxious about whatever changes we may need to make.  For the introspective among us, deliberating and thinking about these things can bring on a brokenness and guilt that is oppressive.

As I was praying about my emotions, I felt led to write the words of Psalm 51 in my journal.  It is a familiar psalm to many of us.  Of particular comfort to me were the words in verse 17:  "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (ESV).

If God regards a broken spirit as a sacrifice, and does not despise a broken and contrite heart, then why should we feel guilty about the emotions and sorrow we may feel during this very stressful season of our lives?

God is merciful.  He understands.  Rather than fret over our lives and the hard challenges we may be facing, let us offer up our broken hearts as a sacrifice of praise.

Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The Challenge to Change

The coronavirus pandemic has given many of us the opportunity to reassess our lives and make changes, whether we want to or not.  Some of us have viewed this uncertain time as a curse while others have taken advantage of this season to sit back, take stock, and reassess our lives in hopes of finding a better way to live going forward.

For many families the pandemic has resulted in financial difficulties they never saw coming.  With little warning, jobs have been lost, businesses have closed, and income has stopped. Bills have continued to arrive and savings accounts have been quickly depleted.  Difficult decisions are being made.  Do I pay the utility bill or feed my family?  If I don't pay the car note and my car is repossessed how will I look for a job or get to work after all this is over?  If this ever happens again, how can I do things differently so that the consequences won't be so devastating? 

Our family went through a financial reversal during the last recession after my husband lost his job.  We were sitting on a mountain of debt with absolutely nothing in savings.  Yet God met all our needs.  Some of his provision came in the form of food stamps and unemployment benefits, but much of it came from caring friends and our church family.  I believe that our obedience in the area of tithing to our church while we were both employed resulted in God's generous provision in our time of need.  We learned a lot of hard lessons about financial management during that time and determined to do everything in our power to more prudently handle money once the crisis had passed.  We changed habits, slowed our spending, paid off our debt, shared the lessons we learned, and positioned ourselves to not only be able to face the next crisis with greater financial stability but to also be able to help those in crisis.  As we reassessed our lives during that time of financial hardship, we changed our reality with God's guidance and the help of others.

I love the story of Job.  He was a righteous man who loved God wholeheartedly, yet suffered great loss in a very short period of time.  While God didn't cause Job's suffering, he allowed it.  He allowed Satan to have his way in Job's life -- to strip away everything of value, including Job's family, possessions, and health -- yet God forbade Satan from taking Job's life.  Job did not blame God (Job 1:22).  In fact, when his wife urged Job to curse God and die he said to her, "Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil" (2:10)?  Job experienced his own season of doubting, complaining, and questioning God.  After all, he was human.  His well-meaning friends fanned the flames of Job's disappointment and despair.  But in the course of time, as he continued to seek answers to the hard questions brought on by his calamity, God revealed himself to Job, perhaps in ways Job could never have experienced otherwise, and Job repented his sins of self-pity and doubt. Scripture tells us the LORD restored Job's fortunes and "blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning" (Job 42:12).  Don't you just love a happy ending?

As you take the time to reassess your life during this season of uncertainty, what are the lessons God would have you learn?  Are there changes you need to make in order to more fully live out the purposes God has for you? 

In chapter 23, verse 10, Job declares of God -- "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold."  May we all allow God to use the challenges we face to fit us for his purposes and change us to be more like him.

Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Sheltering in the Right Place

"Shelter in place" is a commonly-used term these days because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is also used when we are threatened by events such as mass shootings, natural disasters, and other emergencies.  Often we associate the word disaster with something we can see -- something which we are warned about ahead of time and can prepare for.  However, nothing could have prepared us for the disaster we are now experiencing -- this deadly virus that is as invisible as the air which has carried it all over the world.  Despite every effort to contain it, we have realized that we are no match for this silent enemy and that our best defense against it is hygiene, social distancing, and sheltering at home whenever possible.

As I was having my quiet time this morning I came across the following familiar verse: 
"Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed" (Psalm 57:1, NIV).
As many times as I have read that verse I have never really noticed the last phrase, "until the disaster has passed."  This morning it caught my attention as never before.

The Bible has much to say about shelter.  Psalm 91:4 (NLT) says, "He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection."  Did you hear that?  God's promises are our protection!  How can we know His promises?  By reading his Word to us, the Bible.

Ecclesiastes 7:12 (ESV) reads:  "For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it."  Seems like wisdom is pretty important, right?  So, where do we find this wisdom?  Where do we find the truth we need to make sense of and survive the difficult circumstances of life, such as this global health and economic crisis we are experiencing?  From the 10:00 news?  No.  From God's Word.  Psalm 12:6 (NIV) tells us that "the words of the LORD are flawless."  With God, there is no such thing as fake news!

As you ride out this pandemic, make sure you are standing on God's Word.  In it you will find the wisdom you need and God's promises of peace, protection, and provision in these troubling times.  Use this time of sheltering in place to draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  As you do, you will find that your loving heavenly Father is a solid rock on which to stand and a strong tower to shelter you until the disaster has passed. 

Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Winds and Whispers

I love wind, especially a cooling breeze when I'm doing yard work or taking a walk at the end of a warm day.  The way the wind sets water in motion, causing waves to splash along the shoreline or the pine trees to sway, is nothing short of wondrous to me.  But a strong breeze is not always welcome, especially if I am cleaning up leaves or walking up a steep hill.

The coronavirus is the storm we didn't see coming -- the BIG one that has blown us all off course and resulted in death, destruction, and a virtual shutdown of our lives, our economy, and our world.  It has forced many of us to change the way we work, worship, and interact with others.

There are several references to wind in the Bible but the one that sticks out to me in this season of upheaval is found in the story of Elijah's encounter with God in 1 Kings chapter 19.  In verses 1-8 we read that after learning from Ahab that Elijah had killed all the prophets, Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah threatening to kill him.  In fear he ran for his life, traveling into the wilderness, where he sat under a broom tree and asked the Lord that he might die.  After being roused from sleep and fed by the angel of the LORD, he arose and ate and drank, and journeyed forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.  Picking up in verse 9:
There he came to a cave and lodged in it.  And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"  He said, "I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts.  For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away."  And he (the LORD) said, "Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD."  And behold, the LORD passed by and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.  And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.  And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.  And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.  And behold, there came a voice to him..." (1 Kings 19:9-13, ESV).
The coronavirus pandemic has created a perfect storm which has forever changed our lives.  But I also believe it is providing fertile ground for God's Word to go forth and for many lives to be saved as we adopt to a new normal.  God has promised to be with us in times of trouble and his Holy Spirit still moves like a mighty rushing wind (Acts 2:2), filling us and empowering us to do his will, no matter how battered we may feel by the storm in which we find ourselves.

Whether you are sheltering in place at home or working the front lines of the battle, step into the stillness of God's presence and listen for the whisper of his voice.  "Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"  (Psalm 46:10, ESV)

Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

New Normal -- Same God

I'm not one to cry easily, except at happy endings or when I am angry about something. However, I have had a couple of moments recently when tears just came out of nowhere -- no particular stress trigger or depression, just intense momentary sadness. As I prayed this morning for God to reveal why, I realized that like so many of you, I am GRIEVING. As blessed as I am -- as we all are -- we are each grieving, on some level, the loss of our lives and the reality that our "normal" is forever changed.

Some of us have lost jobs, loved ones, and the sense of identity that comes from being employed or in the company of those whose presence we can no longer enjoy due to social distancing and stay-at-home orders. ALL of us have lost the freedom to come and go and do as we please without fear of becoming infected or infecting others.

We have seen the best and worst of humanity during this crisis and learned hard, hard lessons. Many of us have risen to serve, some making the ultimate sacrifice to care for those who have been sickened by the virus. Some of us have sunk into despair because of loss and loneliness. All of us have been changed in some way.

Despite all the changes we have seen and the reality that life will never again look like it did on January 1, 2020, we can still enjoy LIFE and walk in FREEDOM because of what happened on Easter -- not this Easter, but on that first Easter when Christ, who IS our FREEDOM and our LIFE, forever conquered death through His Resurrection.

For those who know Christ:
He is our Life. -- John 1:4
He gives us Freedom. -- Galatians 5:1
He himself is our peace. -- Ephesians 2:14
He is our hope. -- Colossians 1:27

If you don't know Christ -- if you have not asked Him to save you from your sins and entered into a personal relationship with Him -- I pray this will be the day you ask Him to be your Savior and Lord and begin walking in the freedom, hope, and peace that can be yours as a child of God. The Bible tells us:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:16-17, ESV).

Life will never be the same again, but "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

This world -- this broken, sickened, saddened, decaying world -- is not our home. Jesus himself says, "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also" (John 14:1-3, ESV).

"Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear away from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new" (Revelation 21:3-5, ESV).

Praying for you,
Dee Dee

Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Finding the Good in Life When the News Isn't

As I wrap up my fourth week of working remotely, knowing that there are possibly several more weeks of isolation ahead of us all, I pause today to give thanks for the unexpected blessings of the pandemic that has affected so many of us.  Not only has COVID-19 adversely affected most of the world, but it has also caused many of us to reassess the things we value and to focus on the simple joys that we overlooked before this plague descended upon us.

Among the simple joys for which I'm thankful:
  • The technology and ability to work remotely and continue my ministry to the church.
  • The joy of riding out this season of social distancing in our new home, where we have a little more room to distance ourselves from each other and a lovely, usable yard to work in and enjoy when the walls begin to close in.
  • The view outside my sliding glass door, which affords me the opportunity to enjoy bird watching and seeing the beauty of spring while in lockdown.
  • Additional time with family and my cat, who loves to bird watch too. 
  • The new ways I am learning to connect with others in our church and community....ZOOM!

Even bigger reasons to give thanks:
  • My salvation through Jesus Christ, and my relationship with God the Father through Him.
  • The guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
  • The promises of God's Word to encourage and strengthen us when our faith is weak.
  • God's provision of our daily needs, especially when the economy is in such turmoil.
  • The knowledge that God is still in control, ever-present, all-knowing, with grace sufficient for every circumstance.

But what if COVID-19 resulted in the illness or death of a family member, or the loss of my job, or the loss of things I count as blessings?  Would I still be thankful?  Would I still believe in the goodness of God?  Or would I succumb to despair and lose all hope?  

As Christ followers we are not exempt from trouble, heartache, sickness, and death. In John 16:33 (ESV), Jesus said, "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."  

In Philippians 4:11-13, the apostle Paul writes:  "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me."  Is there anyone out there who doesn't feel brought low by the coronavirus pandemic?  In our struggles, are we allowing God to teach us the secret of being content in any and every circumstance?

Despite all that is happening around us, those of us who follow Christ have hope because we know whose we are, that God sees us where we are, and that Christ through His death and resurrection has already won the victory!  

Friend, if everything you are facing right now seems too much to bear I encourage you to pray, seek God's face, turn to His Word for the answers to your questions, and trust in Jesus for salvation if you have never done so.  Rest in these assurances from 1 Peter 5:6-11 (ESV):
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  To him be the dominion forever and ever.  Amen.

Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Coronavirus: A Divine Do-Over

A friend recently asked me a question that millions of Americans are wondering -- "What do you feel is the real reason God has allowed our circumstances?" I had actually been asking God that same question earlier in the day and the words "divine do-over" came to mind. Since there is no simple answer to that question this won't be a short post, but since you are stuck at home anyway, hopefully you will take the time to read this and seek God's answer to your questions about all this.

There is no denying that life as we know it has been shaken to the core in recent days. It is bad enough that we have to deal with death, illness, financial lack, unemployment, violence, natural disasters, and social injustice in the normal course of living in a fallen world. But throw in a global health crisis that no one can get a handle on and suddenly we find ourselves in a bad situation that gets worse by the minute, and we are HELPLESS. What IS God's purpose in all of this--in letting us suffer an ordeal and battle an enemy we are powerless to defeat on our own? I believe that God is giving each of us a divine do-over, a chance to assess our lives in ways we never imagined and to realign them with His good and perfect will and purpose for our lives.

What does that do-over look like for you? For me, my home confinement is giving me a chance to:

  • Reflect on the recession of 2007-2008. At that time our family was up to our eyeballs in debt. My husband lost two jobs in banking in an 18-month period and we suffered a financial setback that resulted in filing for unemployment compensation, depending on food stamps, and seeking state-funded medical insurance for our kids just to survive. We had to ask our church for money to pay utilities and my in-laws for mortgage assistance to avoid foreclosure. With two school-age children, it was an especially challenging and stressful time for our family. While reflecting on the last recession might not sound like something one would do by choice, it has actually allowed me to recall God's goodness and provision in a very hard season of my life and to reinforce my faith in His ability to do it again.
  • Assess how well (or poorly) we manage our resources of time and money. We recovered from the last recession and hope to survive this one, but we are assessing where we need to tighten up our budget so that we can weather the storm and help others along the way. I am also taking a hard look at the way I use my time and am trying to be more fruitful with my hours at home, while enjoying simple pleasures like bird watching, working in the yard, and walking more often.
  • Reconnect with family and friends. My family and friends are located all over the country. Some are on social media and others are not. Having the additional time at home has allowed me to connect not only with them on social media, through handwritten correspondence, and by phone, but also to spend more time with my immediate family members who are at home with me.

  • Like many, I am looking to God's Word for answers. So many scriptures have come to mind during this crisis but one in particular stands out to me. In 2 Chronicles chapter 7, the LORD says these words to Solomon after he had completed the Temple: "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place" (vs. 13-15).

    Verse 14 is one which Christians in America have held onto in every conflict and crisis we have known. But never has this verse spoken to me more clearly than in the midst of our current crisis.

  • "If my people, who are called by my name..." refers to God's children, those who know Him and have been called by Him. Sometimes we take "if my people" to mean all people living in our country, but that's not what this verse says. Yes, we are all created in God's image, but we have not all embraced the personal relationship with God that was made possible through Christ's death and resurrection. Not all of us walk with God or consider Him our Father, or ourselves His children. Many don't live in the protection of that divine relationship.
  • "will humble themselves"...Clearly we in America, whether Christian or not, have done a poor job of humbling ourselves before a holy God. Do you think God might be using all we are experiencing to humble us? Think of all the sports franchises, businesses, and events that have shut down or been canceled. Schools have closed and parents are suddenly thrust into the role of teaching their children, realizing that they are not as qualified as they need to be. We have learned that we are powerless to combat and defeat this virus -- an invisible enemy -- and desperately need the help and resources of others in order to just survive. I can't think of anyone who has not been humbled or suffered some sort of loss as a result of this calamity. Do you think God might be allowing us to finally see just how much we NEED Him? I hope so!
  • "and pray, and seek my face..." As I write this I am listening to CNN. Like many, I feel compelled to turn to the news for my information. But what if we turned to God and His Word instead? What if we spent more time worshipping Him than worrying about this pandemic? We seek a cure for our physical bodies and our dwindling economy, but are we seeking what our spirits need -- that personal, intimate relationship with God and the truths of His Word?
  • "and turn from their wicked ways..." We are all sinners. We are all guilty of judging others. We are quick to find fault in politicians and blame greed and politics for the push to send Americans back to work before we give social distancing a chance to slow down the spread of the virus. We are guilty of hoarding what others need because we fear there may be none left for us. Until we repent of our sins -- whatever they may be -- God will not hear our prayers.
  • "then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin, and heal their land..." God will hear our prayers when we turn from our wicked ways (repent from our sins). We can pray and seek His face, but if we don't also turn from our wicked ways He will not forgive us and heal our land.
Only God can heal our world of this coronavirus. This is a plague of biblical proportions, in my opinion, and it is going to take more than modern medicine, political posturing, and manipulation of money to bring us out of this.

God is giving us all a divine do-over -- the chance to fully understand that we are nothing without Him and that nothing in this life is as important as a relationship with Him. This is our chance to reorder our priorities, to consider others better than ourselves, and to serve as His hands and feet in a world that is hurting and lost. It's not about us. It never has been.

Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Lesson on Coronavirus from the Birds Outside My Window

If anyone had told me we would ever experience the disruption to daily life or the stress of being without certain commodities we have come to take for granted in America, I would never have believed it.  Yet here we are.  COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, has been declared a world pandemic by the WHO.  What started as an outbreak in China has quickly spread around the world and invaded our shores -- an unwelcome enemy threatening not only our physical and mental health, but our economy as well.  Schools, churches, and businesses have shut down as people have been urged to self-quarantine to protect themselves and help slow down the spread of this potentially deadly virus.

The entire country of Italy is on lock down, with Europe currently the epicenter of the virus.  In the U.S., major sports leagues and franchises have canceled sporting events, including the NCAA tournament.  Colleges have extended their spring breaks and advised their students that courses will now be completed online.  Disney, Universal, and other studio theme parks have closed.  Broadway has turned off its lights and canceled performances. Store shelves are bare and small businesses everywhere are feeling the trickle down effect of lost revenue as a result.  The news gets worse by the hour as the number of deaths and confirmed cases of infection continues to grow.

The seriousness of all this caught up with me when I received word that our church would be shutting down for two weeks and that all worship services and activities would be canceled, an unprecedented but prudent and precautionary move designed at keeping our congregation healthy and doing our part to slow down the spread of the virus in our community.   As I prepared the press releases and social media posts I felt nearly overwhelmed by the stress that has become familiar to so many.

Turning off a news cast, I looked outside at the birds eating happily at my feeder and it occurred to me that they know something which many of us have forgotten -- God is in control and we have no need to fear.  Jesus said,  "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Matthew 10: 29-31, NIV).

For the birds outside my window nothing has changed.  God is still God.  The sun still rises.  No matter the storms they must weather, they still sing the praises of the One who cherishes and cares for them.

If you feel stressed and anxious because of this pandemic, just remember that you, my beloved, are worth more than many sparrows!

Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Words of Hope for Hurting Hearts

One of the hardest things to do is to pray and wait on God to act.  When faced with a difficult decision, a challenging circumstance, a despairing heart -- it seems God is never in a hurry to make everything better for us.  That's because we look at things through the faulty lens of our human eyes, forgetting that God is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to his power at work within us (Ephesians 3:20).

Today I found myself despairing over things I cannot control and wondering if there is anything God would have me do differently than I am already doing.  As I sit here thinking about it all, I wonder why I spend so much time fretting about these things when I know that God is quite capable of handling it all.  No matter the scenarios that I play in my mind, only one thing ultimately matters to me -- being in God's will, even if at the moment it is a difficult place to be. 

Friends, when will we ever learn that God is good, his ways are higher than our ways, and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9)?  When will we learn that today has enough trouble of its own so we best not be anxious about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34)?  Will we ever trust that God's plan for us is a good plan, one to prosper and not harm us, to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11)?

No matter how difficult things may seem, or how long the wait, may we learn to trust in the LORD with all our hearts rather than lean on our own understanding.  And may we trust him to keep his promise that if we acknowledge him in all our ways he will make straight our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I don't know what you may be dealing with right now but I do know that God cares deeply about you and the pain you bear in your body, heart, and soul.  He cares about your grief, as surely as he cares about mine.  This life is not all there is, and if you are his child, you already know that there is coming a day when "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4, ESV). 

When you lay your head on your pillow tonight, thank God for his blessings.  God knows the way that you take and when he has tested you, you will come forth as gold (Job 23:10).

May we sleep in heavenly peace because God himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).

Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Whatever Time I Have Left

"Whatever time I have left"...a heavy thought indeed.  Not because I am dying -- though we are all dying -- but because there is still so much to be done, so much life to be lived and love to be shared.  Time is passing much too quickly -- the month of January is nearly half gone and before you know it, we'll be sitting at the end of 2020 and wondering how it passed so quickly when we were determined to make the most of each day and do everything in our power to slow its progression.

Time is short.  I'm getting older.  So are you.  Opportunities to do good are ours every day, but do we make the most of them?  When I get to the end of my life, this year, this day -- will I regret the things I didn't do, the love I didn't express, and the time I didn't take just to stop and smell the roses?  Or will I lay my head on the pillow satisfied that I did the best I could and lived with a sense of purpose and balance?

There are too many distractions competing for our time -- too many disturbances which burden our hearts, souls, and minds.  Burdens which we are too feeble to carry.  Disease, war, natural disasters, violence, animal and human suffering, moral depravity, political corruption...the list is endless.  Is it any wonder that some days we want to throw in the towel, sink deep into our sofas, and mindlessly binge watch TV?

Wisdom has taught me that I can't fix what's wrong with this world.  Only God can.

Wisdom has also taught me that attitude is everything and that each of us has the power to choose joy -- genuine joy -- in spite of what we see.

Yes, we have the responsibility to do what we can to effect positive change -- to vote, recycle and conserve resources, donate to organizations that fight injustice, contribute to the needs of others, and take care of our physical bodies the best we know how.  But we also have the right to choose joy, the privilege to talk to the God of the universe about our concerns, and the promise of His grace, power, mercy, presence, and peace in the midst of everything we face.

Whatever time I have left, I want to live as one who has hope and to encourage those who are hopeless.  I want to be a blessing and a vessel of God's love to others.

Life is too short to spend whatever time I have left worrying about things God is quite capable of handling.  I know how the story ends, and it's a good ending!
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” -- Revelation 21:3-4, ESV

Copyright © 2019- 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Discouraged? But God...

Today is January 4, 2020, and already I am discouraged.  During a lengthy period of insomnia last night I briefly scrolled through my Facebook feed to see what the Lord might have me pray for, since I was up already.  There was no lack of discouraging, disheartening news.  Honestly, it is hard to read a social media feed or turn on the news and NOT feel disheartened by all of it.  2019 was a hard year for so many, and from what I can see with my earthly eyes, 2020 is not shaping up to be an improvement.  But God...
"He knows the way that  I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold" (Job 23:10, ESV).
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek and find me, when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:11-13, ESV).
"By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life" (Psalms 42:8, ESV).
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28, ESV).
"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, ESV). 
As we step into 2020, we need to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and immerse ourselves in His Word, praying each other through whatever may come our way.  Our very lives -- physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially -- depend on it.

We all have a choice -- to either be defeated and discouraged by the evil and tragedy in this world or to be transformed from glory to glory as we walk in total dependence on the great, loving God whose "divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire" (2 Peter 1:3,4, ESV).

Copyright © 2019- 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

What Next?

“Even when I am old and  gray , do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” ...