**Today begins our third and final week of corporate fasting and we will concentrate our prayers over the next seven days on our families.
As we lean into God’s voice for direction and wisdom moving forward in 2015, let us place the highest value and commitment on loving our families. John reminds us that by loving each other, we actually reveal God’s character to the world. Since God SO LOVED US, we ought to love one another.
Oh, I know… we all love our kids and our spouses. But, true love is laying our lives down for one another as Christ laid his down for us. Can we love a little more intentionally this week those God has placed in our families? Can we serve our spouses a little more with less strings attached? Can we bless our children with joy despite fatigue or irritation? Let’s put aside negative history with our extended families or parents and reach out.
We are only able to love others because Christ first loved us.
No matter what personal goals we have regarding our careers, health, or finances in this new year, can we commit to loving our spouses, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers? Let’s pray for those we care for most and call out their gifts and uniqueness through kind words and prophecy.
Dear Lord, I want to thank you for my family. For the ones I chose and the ones I didn’t! I commit to obeying your command to love the people in my life just as you love me. I will do my part to serve and bless my family so that you may be glorified. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
It’s been raining cats and dogs for the entire two weeks we have lived in our new house. Australians typically dry clothes outside on the line to conserve energy. However, I have already used my dryer multiple times due to this weather. The kids have been avoiding the soggy backyard at my prompting.
Needless to say, I was irritated when the forecast for this week was 80 percent chance of rain everyday AGAIN. I made all my Monday plans around it. For instance, I planned to walk and meet Brett at the busy intersection near his school so he wouldn’t have to cross alone while Greg had our car in Sydney. I hiked with the two toddlers in tow and our one umbrella hoping to avoid getting drenched. Contingency plans were in place to stand under the bus stop down the street if, at 3 o’clock, the rain was pelting us.
The imminent rain made me decide in advance to skip my workout with my running group. I did two loads of laundry Sunday night and dried them in my dryer in anticipation of it. I even predicted the school fundraiser would be cancelled since it’s an outdoor BBQ.
And, guess what? The SUN was out all day! Yes, even though my iPhone weather app said 80% chance of showers, the sky was blue at my house. Not one drop of rain fell. Nope, not one.
I planned my entire 24 hours around black clouds in the distance, which seems ridiculous now as my three energetic children played in the driveway all afternoon. The foreshadowing of the rain stole my good plans and then didn’t come to pass.
Even more ridiculous is that some of usplan our entire lives around projections made about us that aren’t actually true.
The teacher who predicted you would never finish school because your math skills were so bad kept you from University. Someone bullied you on the playground as a kid so your forecast showed no signs of strength; you have spent years letting people walk over you. A critical parent never encouraged you so you constantly try and please everyone around you to no avail.
The predictions you have lived with, if they are negative, are contrary to God’s plans for you. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you. They are plans to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.” God’s foreknowledge is infinite. He created you for greatness no matter what foresight your earthly influences have. How many plans have been ruined or stalled out due to the prognostications of others? How many dreams were put on hold because fear caused the prediction to look bleak?
All the while, God’s SON is shining down on us.
Our horizon is clear and beautiful from where he sits. There are no storm clouds brewing to hold us back. No negative influence can thwart the love and approval of God that is over our lives.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
I planned my entire day around a false premise. I wasted time online watching the hourly forecast. The truth was, I should have dried those clothes outside. Actually, our afternoon walk was pleasant and fun. My running group went without me and I missed out.
If I had just looked outside, I would have known the rain had stopped. If we will just look to the word of God, his voice and promises will lead us to a sunny future. Our chance of success is 100 percent when believe what he says about us.
On Mother’s Day Sunday, the highlight of my day was spending time with Greg’s grandparents, Milton and Betty White. They are 88 and 92 years old respectively and have been married for sixty-six years. As they are getting older, they are less and less mobile but they are blessed to be in a care facility where wonderful people tend to them them around the clock. Grandad suffers from Parkinson’s and mild dementia so he stays in a part of the facility where the residents receive more specific care. Neither of them are allowed to get up and move about without help.
Each morning, Nanna is wheeled down to Grandad’s area so they can spend time together. The nurse pushes them right up to each other and it takes every bit of effort their frail bodies can muster to lean forward towards each other. They stretch out and when they are a few inches from each other’s faces, they reach a little further. Just when you are worried they aren’t going to be able to this time, they lengthen one last bit so their mouths meet for a brief kiss. They can finally relax! It is one of the most precious things I have ever witnessed.
They sit and talk in a sunny lounge room, content in each other’s company. Even though Grandad Milton drifts in and out of the conversation and is sometimes difficult to understand, his company is the one Betty is after. What do you talk about when your predictable days are spent with the biggest question mark being what’s for lunch? Bingo is always on Mondays; the same television shows are shown each day. The one person you crave to spend time with is the one you know best.
In seventy years of being together, Nanna nor Grandad wakes up saying, “I don’t need to visit my best friend today. We know each other well enough.” Nope. Even with nothing new to say, the nursing home staff makes every effort to get them together for their kiss and visit.
God yearns for this same daily visit with you and me. Sometimes we assume God isn’t interested in hearing from us yet again. I’ve heard people excuse themselves from praying with, “God has bigger things to worry about like world peace and starving children. He doesn’t care about my back ache or fill-in-the-blank.” News flash: YOU AND I ARE ALL HE CARES ABOUT.
God knew us before we were even born and yet his love endures forever (Psalm 106:1). His love never quits- not after 20, 30 or even 70 years. He desires to spend time with us everyday. No matter our mishaps. He loves me longer than my lousy choices. Yes, his love endures forever. We are actually the only place our Lord’s interests lie. Having us show up for a chat; that’s what he looks forward to each day.
Betty and Milton’s love will not end. It’s new every morning. Their faithfulness and loyalty never run out; they are what each other has. How beautiful and similar to our relationship with our creator. I pray we can embrace him like the author of Lamentations describes in Chapter 3 of the Message version:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.