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.

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.” ...