Wounds & Scars

It’s been raining here in southern Indiana since Thursday. Sometimes it is a light rain and sometimes it is pelting and intense, but it has been pretty regular for days. It always feels right to me when there is rain during this part of Holy Week. It symbolizes the tears and anguish during the actual week as the events unfolded.

It also represents my own tears:

  • For the things I have done.
  • For the things I have left undone.
  • For the times I intentionally caused pain to others because of my own pain.
  • For the loss.
  • For the shame.
  • For the grief.
  • For the profound sadness.

The wounds and scars of Jesus remind me of my own, at times. Of course, He endured His for me, for all of us. He had no sin but was sin for us. My wounds and scars are just as real, but some were caused by my own sin in addition to the injury caused by others. Jesus takes on sin that isn’t His.  He wipes those tears and takes my guilt and shame as His own. His wounds are Holy and allow me to stand in front of the Holiest.

And then the tears fall again:

  • For the forgiveness.
  • For the relief.
  • For the thankfulness.
  • For the love.
  • For the saving grace.

All the tears for all the reasons.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” [Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV]

May you fix your eyes on Jesus — Sunday is coming!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: Inside/Outside

Historical & Personal

It isn’t too often an event that happened 2000 years ago has such an impact on our lives today as the events of Holy Week does.

It’s life and death…..and then life again.

Each year we walk through these steps and remember. We see re-enactments and we attend church services and we review the course of events of this week. We see ourselves as the

  • betrayer,
  • sleepy disciples in the garden,
  • denier,
  • grieving mother,
  • curious observers,
  • chief priests and elders,
  • governer’s soldiers,
  • thieves on the cross.

What Jesus endured seems unfair and unimaginable. His suffering is almost incomprehensible. And God’s provision for our eternal life, through Jesus, is inconceivable.

But the course of events is the only way to

  • be forgiven for our many sins.
  • know the depth of God’s love for us.
  • be renewed in His mercy.
  • be saved by His grace.

Jesus’ suffering and death and resurrection is the only way for our guilt and shame to be taken away.

PrayerPrompt: WOUNDS & SCARS

The Week of the Holy

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?”

“Take and eat; this is my body.”

Truly I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

“Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

“I don’t know the man!” [Matthew, NIV]

We ponder, pray, confess, and contemplate during this Holy Week and we anticipate His resurrection.

Liz

PrayerPrompt: HISTORICAL and PERSONAL

Tools

There is nothing quite like having the right tool for the job. But, new things and new ways of doing things come out of not having the right stuff, too!

I feel like the word “tools” has taken on new meaning or application. I really tend to just think of tools in a very physical sense – hammer, radial arm saw, drill, wrench, etc. But I have heard talk about tools as creative ways we can use to tackle a situation – the skill set and/or resources available to us for problem solving. This might be a useful way to look at things.

There are many, many tools out there but sometimes we need to invest in a new one for a particular need. Learning new ways of dealing with relationships can be extremely beneficial. The skills needed to work with so many others with such varying needs are only becoming more and more complex.

If you find yourself running into the same problem over and over again, it might be time to solve it more thoroughly so it doesn’t keep popping up. For example, if one is always running out of money before the end of the month there are some ways to solve that problem: find a better paying job, add a part time job, create a more restrictive budget and stick to it, sell some items, or ask for a raise. These are just an example of brainstorming and looking at the tools/ideas that are available to possibly solve that particular problem.

Sometimes you have to dig around and pull out your courage, your ingenuity, or your determination. Other times it is important to have the feedback from a supportive friend, a counseling session, a walk to clear your mind, or to hone a particular skill that is needed for the challenge.

Some people start off facing any challenge with prayer. They seek God’s creative solutions. They consult His Word.

For others, seeking God is the last resort, after every human effort has failed.

I don’t know what tools you have, need, or want in your tool chest. Prayer needs to be my first response to a situation because it puts me in the right mind frame to work on the solution. It reminds me my place in the universe and Whose I am. And I need God to give me His insight and help me see the path.

Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
    for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
    save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; 
have mercy on me, Lord,
    for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
    for I put my trust in you.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
    abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
    listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
    because you answer me.

Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
    no deeds can compare with yours.
All the nations you have made
    will come and worship before you, Lord;
    they will bring glory to your name.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
    you alone are God.

11 Teach me your way, Lord,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
    I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
    you have delivered me from the depths,
    from the realm of the dead. [Psalm 86:1-13, NIV]

May you consider prayer an essential tool for daily life!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: THE WEEK OF THE HOLY

Team

When my brother was younger he was very industrious and energetic and it was a challenge to keep up with him. He also always had a “catchphrase” that he would use for at least a year. One of them was RESPONSIBILITY. He would say it loudly and then go on to explain to anyone around him, often my kids, what it meant to be responsible. He was a hard worker and he still is.  And he always has little nuggets of wisdom for his nieces and nephews and his own children.

One of my favorite memories is when his “catchphrase” was TEAM. He would always say Together Ernie Achieves More!” If we would just all work together, we could help him get to his goal. What a funny guy!

Teamwork is always about working together but rarely about us doing the exact same job. We each have our own specialties and roles needed to accomplish the goal – and we need to recognize and value each of the roles. The best team is where there is trust and adequate skills for the task and good communication.

But being on a team isn’t always easy. People have different styles of work as well as different paces. Working out the differences in opinion and approach are important. Valuing the different perspectives is also important. As the process moves along it is important not to trample on people just to get to the end goal. Good relationships are important when working on a team.

But, be careful with whom you partner! Sometimes an assignment is made and we don’t have a say in the matter. But other times, we definitely have a choice. Naturally, we can’t know everything about a person before we team up with them but for those lifetime partnerships, it is important to take time to observe them in a variety of situations, spend time in conversation, and connect with them over time. Also, introducing them to family and friends can help get a larger picture of how they interact with the other important people in our lives.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up. [Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NIV]

May God bless your work and play partnerships!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: TOOLS

Interruptions

When I was a mom of younger children, it seemed my hours were full of not being able to get something done because one of my precious kiddos had a question or needed something. There were a lot of days that were filled with all kinds of changes in plans. We tried to make be available for interesting learning opportunities and be flexible because we could be. I think I got quite used to being interrupted because I do it to myself all the time now. I switch gears sometimes too fast for myself and then I have this trail of uncompleted things behind me. It is always more fun to finish the fun stuff and start new things!

There have been a few times in my life where I definitely feel like the “pause” button has been pressed.

Stop here and stay a while.

Enjoy the view. Take in the moment. Savor the sunset.

An interruption may take our focus off of a task but that doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. Maybe it is a pause for refreshment. Maybe it is for a change in direction. Maybe there is something we needed to notice.

Regardless of our plans for a day or a week or a lifetime, I think it is important to look to our Creator who designed us. He knows each season we are in. And, sometimes His uses “interruptions” to alter the course of our lives.

Better a little with righteousness
    than much gain with injustice.

9 In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps. [Proverbs 16:8-9, NIV]

Blessings on your day today, including all those interruptions!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: TEAM

Effort

Effort doesn’t always equal accomplishment. Have you tried something with all your might and been unsuccessful?

Sometimes the point of the task is whether we even tried — making the effort is actually the goal.

Other times, the point is to complete the task. To be finished. To move through the steps and then, presto! You are done.

Other times the goal is to finish the task so it is the best it can be, whether or not you have limitations.

Once my husband had a boss who tried to set the office goals 10% higher than the previous year. There were no additional resources in the way of people or budgets, just a higher goal — expecting more effort (and results) from everyone.

Sure, we can probably all work a little harder and make a stronger effort.

Unfortunately, this boss was unsatisfied with the progress that was made (indeed, progress was made) and the very next year asked for another 10% increase in effort and accomplishment from everyone. Of course, they did not offer a budget increase or additional personnel, just more effort and, technically, less resources than the previous year. Also, no increase in salaries.

People can kick it into high gear for deadlines and special projects but to be at high delivery all the time is unreasonable. And it means there is less of you in other important places, like home and family. Isn’t there more to life than work? Isn’t an employee better in the field if they have a work/life balance?

You can ask for more and more effort but it doesn’t mean the positive results will be seen.

Effort is like energy — we only have so much to give and then there is a need to refuel by gaining new skills and training or by letting the mind and body rest. You need energy to give your best effort. And while rewards along the way can help with motivation, there is still only so many hours in the day.

And there are still no guarantees of success.

 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. [Colossians 3:23-24, NIV]

While I agree with this verse, take caution that you aren’t involved in an unhealthy system that routinely asks more and more of its people. Unfortunately, the church can be one of the greater offenders in this arena. If your personal time is dwindling because of the routine requests of your employer, it might be time to make an exit plan!

God’s blessings on your week!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: INTERRUPTIONS