Sunday, January 30, 2011

From Stress to Serenity

"He said to them, 'Why are you so afraid?  Have you still no faith?' 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?' " Mark 4:40-41

It is so interesting to read about the disciples' reaction to this storm.  It must have been a real hum-dinger.  Most of the disciples were fishermen by trade, so I am sure they had witnessed some pretty powerful storms in their line of work.  And not only did they have experience on their side, they also had Jesus, who was sleeping peacefully on the boat with them.  Even in light of these factors, they were scared to death.  They actually thought that this was the end for them.
So they ran to wake their slumbering Savior who did not seem the least bit worried that they might perish in the tempest.  Scripture says that he awoke and "rebuked the wind" like he would an unruly child, and the sea obeyed its Creator.  These tough, courageous men probably stood there dumbfounded.  And Jesus says, "Why are you so afraid?  Have you still no faith?"  Even after witnessing all the miracles that had taken place at the hand of Jesus, did they still doubt who He was?  Apparently, they did.
 But don't I do the same thing?  I praise God and rejoice in His goodness while the sea of life is calm, but as soon as the waves and the wind of struggle begin to mount, I doubt Him.  I begin to wonder if He's forgotten me or if He is even in control.  Forgive me, Lord, for taking my eyes off of You and questioning Your ways.  I trust You to see me through any storm and I know You have the power to make me stronger in You as a result.  Help me to glorify You even when faced with difficulty.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Am Barabbas

"And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  And the earth shook, and the rocks were split." Matthew 27:51

As I read through the events that occur in chapter 27 of the book of Matthew, I sit in amazement.  I am overwhelmed with all that Christ endured to pay the incredible price for my redemption.  He suffered and bled, he was beaten and bruised, and He was stripped and spat upon.  The Son of God, the Lord of all things, the Word of Life was brutally killed to reconcile our relationship with God.

When I look at the circumstances that led to Christ's death, I am always struck by the scene where Pilate offers to release a prisoner to the people, as was the yearly custom.  He orders them to haul Barabbas out of his prison and gives t ! he crowd the option of either showing mercy to Barabbas, who had committed horrible crimes, or Jesus, who was innocent of any crime.  I cannot help but consider the idea that Barabbas represents me.  And awful, sin-sick murderer was placed next to the perfect, holy Lamb of God, and Barabbas was allowed to go free while Christ was taken to His execution.  It should have been me.  I am the one who deserves death.

But God, in His infinite grace and mercy, provided His sinless Son as a sacrifice on my behalf.  And as Christ completed this selfless act, the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom.  The barrier between us and the Holy of Holies was removed so that through Christ's work on the cross, we can have forgiveness, life more abundant, and eternity with Him.  I stand in awe of the love and power of the Living Lord that I serve.  Praise be to God for this indescribable gift!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mirror Image

The other day, my sister-in-law and I were discussing the family resemblance in our children.  We compared their face structure, body style, and hair color to everyone in our immediate family tree.  It is interesting (and sometimes a little humorous) to see how much our children are like their predecessors.  The wonders of the gene pool continue to astound me as my daughters grow and develop their own personalities.  There are times when I think, "Wow, she acts just like me."  And there are times when I know without a doubt that they are mimicking their father.  Then there are those moments when I cringe because I know that what is coming out of that child's mouth is almost identical to what I said in anger the day before.  Having little miniature human recorders wandering around your house all day makes living a life of holiness somewhat daunting.
While considering the similarities between me and my children, I have become more and more aware that I am not simply a proud member of the Adams-Fletcher clan.  When I committed my life to Christ, I became a part of the family of God, which outshines any earthly family He could have provided for me.  And because I am a child of God, I should look like my Heavenly Father.  When people look at me, they should say, "Hey, you know, you look just like your Dad!"  So do I strive to be more like Him every day?  Do I long to spend time with Him like my darling daughters long to spend time with me?  Do I make Him smile as I move through the day and interact with others?  I sure hope I do.  And even though I know I don't always get it right, I know He lovingly forgives me and holds His arms open wide for me to return to Him.        

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Humility is the Key

"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."  Matthew 23:12

The verses that follow this declaration record what Jesus had to say about the "righteousness" of the Pharisees.  Clearly, He was not impressed at all with their strict adherence to the rules and their fancy clothes.  Their outward appearances were powerless against the presence of Christ.  Why?  Because He could see straight to their self-indulgent hearts.  He knew their thoughts and their intentions.  And what was worse, they were convincing others to fall away as well.
When I read passages that talk about the Pharisees, I realize that I have the tendency to be just like them.  I can easily fall into the trap of making myself look good on the outside, while hoping and praying that no one can see what is happening on the inside.  But God's Word teaches me to humble myself in the sight of the Lord. (1 Peter 5:6)  Humility is key to the process.  I must remember that I am only dust and a fleeting shadow.  But Christ has clothed me in His righteousness and, by His grace and power, I am able to walk worthy of His calling on my life. 

The reason for the title...

Life is not a fairytale.  I know this because my firstborn daughter lives in a fairytale world.  She delights in trying on multiple dresses in one day, wearing sparkly high-heeled shoes, and bursting forth into song at any given moment.  Her ever-growing imagination transports her to far away places where the animals talk to you and the prince is always waiting to rescue the damsel in distress.  As her mother, I realize that maybe we have shown her one too many Disney movies.  But as a woman, I understand that even if we had shielded her from that magical world of animated characters, she would still long for something more grand than the simple world in which she lives.  As a follower of Christ, I know that she (and I) have this longing because God has placed eternity in our hearts.  No matter who we are or where the road has taken us, all of us have a desire for a never-failing, all-consuming love.  And that is where faith enters the picture.
The faith that I am referring to is not faith in yourself, your strength, or your passion.  It is not a faith that shifts and changes in the light of circumstances or surroundings.  This faith is actually not based around me or you at all.  It is a gift given to me from the Prince of Peace, the Lord of all creation, Jesus Christ.  I have faith that He exists, that He loves me (and you!) enough to sacrifice His life for me, and that He has a glorious plan to bring every tribe, tongue, and nation to Himself.
So if you are willing to read through this blog and walk with me on this journey, I pray that the Lord will use my humble musings to encourage you and strengthen your faith in Him.  And we will give Him all the glory He is due.