Friday, October 8, 2021

Still I Wonder

As I settle into my sixties and a season of "early retirement," I find myself wondering how long this season will last or whether God will call me back into the work force one last time.  After resigning from my previous job earlier this year to take care of family matters and assist with a kitchen renovation project, I began spending many hours in prayer and studying scripture to try and ascertain what God's plans for my future might look like.  I still don't have a clue.  I only know that if I am called back into the work force I want it to be in a position that He has uniquely qualified me to fill.  For now, though, I am content to be on call for whatever might arise in the course of each day, whether that be transporting a friend to an appointment or taking care of more mundane tasks around the house.

The past few months have been delightful.  I am immensely grateful for a closer walk with God and the flexibility to travel, spend time with family, and just "be there" for my husband and kids.  Being a homemaker has always been my favorite job, and retirement is something I look forward to, when the stress of being ruled by clocks and calendars becomes a thing of the past.  

The prospect of returning to past jobs has no allure for me; I'm not the same person I was when I worked in those particular positions.  Still, I can't help but feel that I am supposed to be doing more.  I trust that in His perfect timing, God will issue His call in an unmistakable way.  Time is short.  More people need to hear the Good News of salvation and experience God's love.  It is my hope that somehow He will position me in a place where I can be of service to others and a vessel of His love and light to those struggling to find their way in this dark world.

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

Saturday, September 25, 2021

So Much to Ponder

People are pondering many things these days -- why COVID is still with us, why there is so much hatred, and why there is so much violence in our land and around the world.  Recently, the Kroger store in my hometown of Collierville, TN, was the scene of a horrific mass shooting that resulted in the death of a dearly-loved member of the community and serious injuries to more than a dozen others.  The shooter took his own life as he concluded his vicious assault.  No one knows why.  We are all still numb with shock, utter disbelief, and unbearable sorrow.  Even though I no longer live there my heart is broken.  I shopped in that store for fourteen years prior to moving out-of-state, and my son worked there during high school.

Many of us follow the news these days -- perhaps a little too closely -- and wonder what could possibly happen next?  Sadly, something will come along to eclipse recent events and shake us to our core again.  I find it all a little overwhelming, don't you?  Overwhelming, but not surprising.  After all, the Bible tells us there will be days like this.  In 2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV), we read:
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God --
The stories and images just this week have nearly overwhelmed my heart -- senseless gun violence, border agents herding immigrants and refugees like cattle, battles over a vaccine designed to help us recover from this pandemic, and devastating wildfires started by a suspected 30-year-old arsonist.  Where is the justice?  Where is the humanity and compassion that we need these days just to survive and be part of the solution rather than the problem?

Lately I have had to deliberately turn the channel and listen to something else besides the news because the news is mostly bad.  Mostly.  It has been said that if we didn't have bad news, we'd have no news at all.  We look for truth in media only to find none.  Therein lies the problem.  We are looking to the wrong source for the truth and good news we so desperately long to hear.  Perhaps it is time to turn off the TV, put down the newspaper, silence the podcasts, and reach for our Bible.  Most people own or have access to God's word, but how often do we actually read it?

In John 16:33 (ESV), Jesus gave his followers a warning and a promise which applied to those who followed him then and apply to us who follow him now:  
"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."

This is not the only passage that deals with the troubles common to man, or the problems we face; there are many others.  A quick look in the concordance at the back of your copy of the Bible will reference such things as money, sin, adultery, drunkenness, idolatry, injustice, slavery, murder, poverty, and depravity -- things we read or hear about virtually everyday through print and TV news, social media, and in conversation with those around us.  

The Bible is also filled with God's promises of hope, peace, justice, forgiveness, redemption, supply, healing, restoration, and joy.  But the most exciting promise for me is that Jesus will return to our wretched world to take his followers to live eternally with him in heaven, and heaven will far surpass anything we could dream of!  In Revelation 21:3-4 (ESV), we read:

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.

Those of us who have confessed our sins, professed belief in Jesus, and received his free gift of salvation -- his death on the Cross in our place for our sin -- have the blessed assurance that we are forgiven, that he has indeed overcome the world, and that he will return to take us home to heaven one day.  Do you know Jesus as Savior?  If not, I pray you will open your heart to him and receive his salvation.  He loves you and wants more than anything for you to know the joy and peace a personal relationship with him will bring.

Life on earth is not going to get any better, at least not according to my Bible.  But through a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we can be assured that he will be with us in every trial we face (Isaiah 43:2), his provision will meet our every need (Philippians 4:19), and he will return some day to take us to the home he has prepared for us in heaven (John 14:1-4).  Oh, the wonder!  Just ponder it.

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

Friday, September 17, 2021

From Limbo Land to Promised Land

A few months ago, I made the prayerful decision to step out of the work force in order to take care of some personal matters, tend to family business, and focus on my relationship with God.  At the time, I was dealing with a lot of anxiety, or perhaps the restlessness that sometimes occurs when God calls us to another area of service.   The benefits far outweighed the apprehension of forfeiting a paycheck.  I have enjoyed the freedom and flexibility of having time to travel and spend time with out-of-state family; doing domestic duties and running errands during the week instead of on the weekends; and most especially, spending more time with God each morning, reading and writing scripture and praying about all that is going in the lives of family, friends, our community, nation, and world.  That in itself is a full time job, and at times a stressful one!

Still, I have often wondered, Is there something else I am supposed to be doing with my life? Before I officially pronounce myself "retired," is there some place where I am meant to use the skills and abilities God has honed in me these past forty years to love and serve others for his glory?  Quite honestly, the thought of returning to work is daunting and makes me anxious.  However, I feel a little guilty about not wanting to give up the benefits of "early retirement" which I have so enjoyed these past few months.  As Christ-followers, we are commanded to "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3-4, ESV).  Easier said than done, right?

Lately I have found myself in the familiar and uncomfortable "limbo land" of not knowing what God has in store for me.  His word tells me, "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" (Jeremiah 29:11).  But where, Lord?

God is clearly up to something.  I don't pretend to know what that something is, but I am beginning to feel that familiar holy tug on my heart that signals a change is coming.  I'm not sure I want it to.  I am fighting to hold onto the comforts of home, the flexibility and freedom of the past few months, and the long quiet times I have enjoyed with him daily.  

After pouring out my heart to God about my concerns, fears, hopes, and dreams, he answered me through my devotional reading from Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts:
Behold, My hand is upon you to bless you and to accomplish all My good purpose.  For this hour I have prepared your heart and in My kindness I will not let you fail.

Only relinquish all things into My hands; for I can work freely only as you release Me by complete committal...As was written of old:  "Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass" (Psalm 37:5).  I will be your sustaining strength; and My peace shall garrison your mind.  Only TRUST ME -- all I do is done in love.

My arms are around you, and never have I loved you more!  I will make you like a garden of fountains whose streams are fed by the mountain springs.

Bring me all that puzzles you.  Many questions need no answer, for when the heart is at one with the Father, there comes an illumination of Spirit that transcends thought.  Understanding becomes a state of heart rather than an achievement of the mind.

Lord, not my will but thine be done.  Lead me from my limbo land into your promised land.







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

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Why I Almost Pulled the Plug on Facebook

Like many, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  I saw a mean-spirited post this morning that offended me enough to make me want to pull the plug on Facebook, but I had a change of heart and simply blocked the post.  Why not just go with my first instinct and take a break from social media?  Because that is precisely what the devil would have me do.  (Yes, Satan does exist.  Last time I checked, I don't take my orders from him!)

Facebook is a tool many of use to keep up with family and friends, especially those in areas hard hit by natural disasters or who are in need of prayer because of illness, financial hardship, or personal loss.  If Satan can keep us from praying for and encouraging one another, he wins the battle -- and make no mistake, there is spiritual warfare on social media.  Facebook is also a place where many people go to find inspiration, encouragement, and fellowship with other Christ-followers.  It is often a platform where ministry and blessings happen.  What the enemy intends for evil, God uses for good.

In Ephesians 4:29 (TPT), the apostle Paul writes, "And never let ugly or hateful words come from your mouth, but instead let your words become beautiful gifts that encourage others; do this by speaking words of grace to help them."  As a writer and a human being that is what I hope my posts accomplish -- the building up of those who need encouragement and hope.  I won't say I excel in this, but I do try my best not to offend others by hateful, mean-spirited posts or comments.  Let me apologize for anything I may have posted that offended you in any way.

Life is too short to be mean-spirited.  If ever we needed huge doses of love, encouragement, and hope it is now.  I am thankful that most of my friends and family are kindhearted souls who look out for others.  I need and appreciate your kindness.  We all do.

Grace and peace,
Dee Dee

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

Monday, August 30, 2021

Another Day

Another day finds me wondering what God has in store
And longing to find a little something more 
More grace, more patience, more love for mankind
More knowledge, more wisdom, a little more time
To do what is needed and things I want, too
To offer up prayers for my loved ones and you
To see more of God in the world that surrounds me
To sit in God's presence until his peace astounds me
To relish this day as his love gift to me
Since another day is not guaranteed
Help me know what to do, Lord
Make the most of this day
So that others might know you're
The Life, Truth, & the Way

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

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Would We Even Notice?

So I say to my soul,
    “Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be disturbed.
    For I know my God will break through for me.”
    Then I’ll have plenty of reasons to praise him all over again.
    Yes, he is my saving grace! -- Psalm 42:11, The Passion Translation

With everything that is going on in our world today -- the COVID pandemic, natural disasters, mayhem in Afghanistan, poverty and hunger, human trafficking, escalating crime, political corruption, and social unrest -- many of us are spending much time in prayer and doing what we can financially to help those in need.  Yet our prayers seem ineffective and our money insufficient to provide any meaningful relief. We might even wonder if God hears our prayers.  

Many of us are in constant prayer for God to remove COVID from our midst, to ease the tensions and bring peace to Afghanistan, to restore and rebuild lives and livelihoods that fires and hurricanes have destroyed, and to do away with all the evils in our world.  To what end?  If God were to miraculously and instantaneously remove the scourge of COVID -- something he is totally able to do -- would we even notice?  Would we acknowledge his hand in such a miracle and fall to our knees in worship of the one true God, or would we simply breathe a sigh of relief and go on our way, unchanged and unworthy of his great mercy?   

Lately, I have wondered how God would have us pray in response to all that is happening in our world.  Concerns for family, friends, and our fellow humans across the globe may be overwhelming to us, but they are not to God.  Perhaps prayer alone will never bring about the changes and solutions we so desperately long to see.  But what might God do if we pause our repetitious prayers and simply begin to worship and place our faith in him?  Would he even notice?  Somehow, I think he would.  In fact, I am convinced that worship is the key to touching his heart.  

God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power at work in us (Ephesians 3:20).  He is worthy of our praise, even if we feel unworthy to offer it.  

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Validated -- Struggling with Approval Addiction

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?  Or am I trying to please people?  If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.   Galatians 1:10 NIV

Approval.  Validation.  Gratitude.  These are things many of us seek, things I struggle with daily.  Even though as believers we long to follow God and live to bring him honor and glory, few of us would agree that man's approval means absolutely nothing to us. 

For years I have struggled with approval addiction.  As a devotional writer I want to know that the meditations I share are helping and making a difference in the lives of others.  How else can I measure that except by the number of Facebook likes or Twitter retweets I receive?  

How different would our lives be if we lived each day with God's approval as our goal and stopped believing the lie that man's approval is a valid measuring stick?  What if we spent less time seeking validation on social media and more time in prayer with the only One whose approval really matters?  God loves us lavishly (1 John 3:1) and wants us to come to him with our prayers, our complaints, and our joys.  

Lord, approval addiction is exhausting!  At the end of the day, when my work is done and I finally lay my head on the pillow, the only thing that truly matters is whether I pleased You with my thoughts, words, and deeds.  Help me be satisfied to seek approval from You alone and to trust that You are working in ways I cannot see.


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

Sunday, January 3, 2021

If Your Ship Is Sinking You Might Be on the Wrong Boat!

At times we all feel like we are on a sinking ship, don't we?  We can't pay our bills, don't understand why we lost our job or our health, and the problems we face are bigger than the iceberg that sank the Titanic.  Like the disciples, we may feel like Jesus is asleep in the boat without a care in the world, while we are headed down, down, down.  

At some point in life most of us have heard the familiar story in the gospel of Mark, where Jesus calms a storm.  Sometimes a Bible passage can become so familiar to us that we miss the little nuggets God hides inside.  
Mark 4:35–41 (ESV): 35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Wait a minute!  Other boats?  What other boats?  How did I miss that part of the story?  We know that Jesus calmed the winds and the waves and saved the lives of the men on the boat with him, but what about the men on the other boats?  Intrigued, I did a little research to see what I could find out.  

In Matthew Henry's Commentary, Henry writes:

6. There were with him other little ships, which, no doubt, shared in the distress and danger. Probably, these little ships carried those who were desirous to go along with Christ, for the benefit of his preaching and miracles on the other side. The multitude went away when he put to sea, but some there were, that would venture upon the water with him. Those follow the Lamb aright, that follow him wherever he goes. And those that hope for a happiness in Christ, must be willing to take their lot with him, and run the same risks that he runs. One may boldly and cheerfully put to sea in Christ’s company, yea though we foresee a storm.  

I wonder, might the issue not be that our ship is sinking, but that we have failed to invite Jesus to accompany us on our journey?  Nowhere in scripture does Jesus promise us smooth sailing but he does promise never to leave us or forsake us.

Friend, if you feel like your ship is sinking and Jesus is not in your boat with you, then I encourage you to invite him in.  He is the only one who can save you!  He is the only one who can calm the winds and waves that batter your ship and see you safely through to the other side.

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

Friday, January 1, 2021

Life Doesn't Have to Be This Way -- Hope for the New Year

Happy New Year!  I really mean that.  There is not a reason under the sun why we must experience another year of misery as we did in 2020.  Sure, many of us had the dickens kicked out of us by adversities and loss, sickness and suffering.  We couldn't see coming everything that life dished out.  But, the past is past and if we change our focus a little, I truly believe we can live above our circumstances and experience joy in 2021.

Here are a few of the things that 2020 taught me:

1.    God is in control.  Now it may not seem that way to you, but nothing takes him by surprise.  Neither is God to blame for all the bad things that happen to us.  God doesn't cause natural disasters, racial riots, political misconduct, or anything else that man brings on himself or his neighbor because of his own sinful nature and willful misconduct, but he does allow us to suffer the consequences of those choices.  
        The Bible is filled with scriptures that attest to the sovereignty of God (Proverbs 19:21), his presence with us (Joshua 1:9), his promises for protection (Isaiah 41:10), and the assurance that he works all things together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).  We know, and have seen, that God can take what man has intended for evil and use it for good (Genesis 50:20), increasing the faith of those who believe, saving those who are lost, and fostering generosity toward others.  Think of 9/11 or recent natural disasters and the many ways communities came together to help one another rebuild lives and homes.  Even in the midst of this pandemic, communities are working together to provide food for the hungry and meet the financial needs of those who have lost jobs.   

2.    God is faithful.  If God is faithful, then why did my husband lose his job?  Why did my loved one get sick and die?  Why did ________ (you fill in the blank)?  There isn't a single one of us that hasn't asked the "why?" question in recent months.  I'll even go so far as to say that we don't deserve what happened to us in 2020.  But does the adversity we experienced mean God is not faithful?  All through history good people have had bad things happen to them.  Look at Job.  He was a man of great faith yet God allowed Satan (yes, the devil himself) to strip Job of everything -- his family, his great wealth and possessions, and even his health.  God allowed all of it.  Let that sink in.  Jesus certainly didn't deserve to die a criminal's death on the cross because of our sin.  In Matthew 26:53-54 (ESV), Jesus said:
 53Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
Jesus was faithful to the promises of scripture that a Messiah, a Savior, would die on a cross and be raised from the dead to forgive our sins and assure us of an eternal home with him in heaven.  I'm so glad that Jesus was faithful even when it cost him everything!  

3.    The difficulties we face should not define us; our faith should.  The world is watching us to see how we handle the hard circumstances of life.  People need to know that this ugly, broken, sick world is not all there is.  We need to believe that too.  Christians are not immune from life's troubles. 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."  Why, then, should we be surprised by anything that happens or by circumstances we cannot control?  Jesus said, "you will have tribulation."  
        As people struggling to reclaim our faith in these difficult times, may we be reminded that Jesus has overcome the world and that one day, those of us who know him will join him in the holy city, the new Jerusalem, where "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).  Let us be defined by our faith in Christ, not in the circumstances and heartbreaks we will experience in our time here on earth.

There are some reading this who may not know Jesus, or who may have wandered from the faith.  If that is you, please know that you can never wander too far from the loving embrace and forgiveness of our great God.  Jesus didn't just die for my sins.  He died for yours, too, in order that you might have a personal relationship with him in the here and now.  Eternal life with Jesus doesn't begin when we die, but rather when we ask for his forgiveness and invite him into our hearts to be our Lord and Savior.   

My prayer for you in 2021 is that you will experience the joy of a personal relationship with Christ by receiving his free gift of salvation (you don't have to earn it, just ask for it) and by choosing to surrender your life to his leading.  I learned a long time ago that life is so much better when lived God's way instead of my own.  God's word will tell you everything you need to know to live joyfully and victoriously if you will make reading the Bible a part of each day.  Living God's way and discovering his purpose and plan for your life is the greatest adventure you will have!


Copyright © 2020-2021 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.” ...