Humble Pie

September 13, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Heather Allen –

I was waiting in line at a restaurant, stomach growling and caffeine deprived. But the line was not moving. I turned hoping for a distraction at the window and three men slithered past, sliding nonchalantly in front of me. I opened my mouth and closed it. A miracle took place and I am not sure anyone noticed. I am keenly adept at looking out for myself. I like to call it concern for what is right, but sometimes it is just plain old pride.

On the way to church, my son told me a story. He and a friend had differing opinions on a historical figure. Kids voice the profound without realizing it. My son said while he and his friend disagreed, they were not trying to prove each other wrong. And to him that leads to a good discussion.

We get to church and the sermon is on unity. Similar thoughts to my son’s are being voiced. Pride looks for an argument where humility appeals. Humility is so dog-gone appealing. Humble people are great to be around, relaxed and comfortable in their own skin. It is easier to learn from the humble. It’s easier to be corrected by them too.

Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).

I lay a weary head on my pillow. Evening is when I think on the world’s problems, grieved most by the way I contribute. Jesus sees how sick and tired I am of my pride. He knows I long to be free of the cords. So during the sanctification process, He offers rest. He is gentle with sad and tired hearts. He offers a blessing for those who mourn for righteousness. He knows my deepest longing is to shed this flesh and live as a sacrifice. He leads with gentleness. Going to Him and resting, leads to humility. I see all I am not in the shadow of all that He is. Human pride falls apart in the presence of true glory.

Faithful

August 27, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Heather Allen –

Her words pour out pained and raw. Groping, she replays their history, heart aching. Her emotions gang up on her and the reflection darkens.

Before me stands a beautiful, kind, creative woman. Her personality could draw bees from honey.

She hurts with broken vows and teary-eyed kids. If this were a skinned knee, she would know how to doctor it. How do you mend your child’s heart when their daddy walks away? And how do you convince a friend that she lacks nothing? He left because he is a leaver.

How many women have cried themselves crazy? Stood in front of the mirror comparing their reflection to the image of perfection we are spoon fed, but forced to swallow. Real women are not photo-shopped. Yet we tear our bodies apart, forgetting that unfaithfulness is born in the
heart, not the eyes.

For days, I carry the heaviness like a chained necklace around my shoulders. And then God’s word invades my thoughts, easing my fears. And it’s as if I can hear Him saying, “Come here child.” And I eagerly drop the load at His feet and scamper onto His lap.

The presence of the Lord brings peace. He has been my sweet friend. He will be faithful to her. He will not abandon her or forsake her. He will be a father to her children. He provides, and He restores hope. And these promises will fill my prayers for her.

It is possible to walk through deep waters and emerge with extraordinary beauty. Often those I admire most have gone through intense suffering. Heartache changes a woman, either she becomes like a flower eaten through with bitterness or a radiant bloom. Those who entrust themselves to the Lord can survive the Lion’s Den. They can come out of the fiery furnace. They can rise from the ashes like Job and find that God has not changed. He is the same. Those who allow His indwelling life to re-shape their torn life, find He is sufficient.

We cannot choose which heartaches we will bear. We can choose our response. We do not choose faithfulness because our spouse does, we choose faithfulness because God has been faithful to us and He asks us to be faithful to Him.

“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid” Psalm 118:5-7a (NIV).

Safe Passage

June 11, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Heather Allen –

A bead of sweat courses down my spine, making it easier to dive into the chilled river. I emerge eye-level with caddis, baetis, pondering the small shucks left adrift as wings are loosed, and they discover flight. Fish careen around me. My fingers reach down to grip a mossed rock, an anchor to hold me mid-drift. The current swirls and my son grins, telling tales of moms and mermaids. My children’s laughter rings on the water, my body is cooled in the rhythm of the river, and the weight in my mind is interrupted with peaceful praise.

There is a continuous stream of need to see God’s hand in and on my life circumstances. I was born inquisitive. I think there is an added measure of grace for those of us who grapple with the “why’s.” God’s arm rests round my shoulders, He beckons me to see the love behind the courses He has put in motion. Look back daughter, don’t you see? He calls my uncertainty to remembrance.

A fresh generation of Israelites stand on the cusp of their new land, their inheritance. A mixture of excitement and fear tightens their bellies. The hello of a new adventure and a farewell to the wilderness. Roaming and wandering for forty years, the cloud and the pillar were in plain sight. What will life be like when God chooses a less direct way of providing shelter and food? It will be Him causing the rain to fall and the crops to grow. Will they remember this? When the giants stand to their full height and the city walls loom impenetrable, will they know the only battle is obedience?

Moses stood at the end of life marked with meekness: quiet confidence. This was not a man who needed to be seen. He gave palace life up in exchange for sheep herding. Hebrews 11 tells us that he would rather suffer and identify himself as one of the Lord’s than enjoy sin for a season. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king” (Hebrews 11:27a KJV).

Moses obeyed. Moses chose well. Who better to declare confident praise at the crossroad? Remember who led you. Remember who fed you. Remember who fights for you. He will lead on. He will feed you. He will fight for you. Moses stood, his voice calling a new generation to their inheritance. Was the sky charged with angels awaiting God’s command? A promise made long before was on the verge of coming to pass. God is not slow, He does not forget.

Life is composed of a million moments. And in some, God will call you to remembrance. He will remind you where you have been, strengthening you for the journey ahead. Remember Him when you are ankle deep. Remember Him when you are mid-current. Remember Him when the river rushes at flood stage. Its course runs through His divine hand.

Longing for a Better Country – A Heavenly One

February 25, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Heather Allen –

A man, a stranger, sat himself at our table. I was drinking a cappuccino and playing speed scrabble with two good friends. He started talking, sharing life stories, then shifted into telling Bible stories. He wanted to be sure we knew Jesus. He left our table. I eyed him as he moved thru Barnes & Noble bookstore, wondering who he was. He came back and told us there was something more to say. “Jesus is coming soon,” he said intently. Before leaving, he instructed us to tell others, and to live as if this were our last day. Squinting at my letters, I tried to separate my thoughts from the stranger’s thoughts. There was something unsettling working at the back of my mind. I continued to mull over his words, demeanor, and intensity. I began to pray as I fiddled with my tiles, resigned to an inevitable loss.

For days, I replayed the conversation, examining the way I spent my time. Wondering if the things I pour myself into have value. We live in strange times, quietly assaulted with horrific stories of brutality, decadence, and greed. There are others who believed they would see Jesus return, maybe for the same reasons we believe. But the stranger’s thoughts stirred me. I cannot recall every word he spoke, but the words I woke to at night were these two: stay awake. So I called a few friends, read scripture, and tried to understand what it looks like to stay awake. And I began to implore the Lord during those quiet periods of lying wide-eyed. And He unfolded scripture. Timothy 5 says a widow living for pleasure is already dead. She is contrasted with one who puts her full hope in the Lord, and calls to Him day and night. Waking up means dropping the self-reliance. Everything holds together because God has decided to let the Earth continue for another day. He is the first, last, and only hope.

The Lord alone knows the timing on the eternal clock, but I can tell you that I am carrying my pack and setting my heart on pilgrimage. This is not my home. I am looking for a new country: eager to live in a better one, a heavenly one. I know God has prepared a city. I am at the back of the line. Abraham, Sarah, Noah, Enoch, Abel and thousands of others have already traversed these earthly roads searching for heavenly ones. They lived faith. There were promises they never saw filled, they held on anyway. And so God was not ashamed when they called him their God.

As I wait for my bridegroom, I do so acknowledging that I am poor, pitiful, blind and naked. So I ask for refined character, salve so I can see, and to be clothed in white. I want to be awake, watching the sky as my redemption draws near. Come soon Lord Jesus!

“Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you” (Revelation 3:2-3 NIV).

Learning to Wade

January 23, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Heather Allen –

My first fly-fishing adventure was in the cool, hauntingly still Blue Ridge Mountains. Small shantys scattered along the dirt road followed the bends and twists of the stream, and had their own slow Southern drawl. It would not have been a surprise to cast in time with an impromptu fiddler. Or find myself trailed by an old, mangy mutt.

Yet here, clotheslines flapping, corked moonshine resting on wooden porches, I found a new kind of appreciation for my Maker. My hubby led me straight into this wonderful world of trout and entomology. He had me crawling on hand and knee to the banks so we would not spook fish out of a run. He had me flipping rocks and taking pop quizzes on what insect life I was beholding. And then he would take out a fly he had tied with feathers and thread designed to replicate the insect we looked at, tie it on, and catch a brightly colored Brook Trout.

If I did wade in to release a fish, or to climb one of the enormous boulders that shaped the stream I would be not much deeper than my knees. The river had deeper pockets but they were easily avoided. It was the perfect environment to learn: peaceful wading and stunning scenery.

But the day came when we would leave the South and fish new, fast flowing rivers and my belly kept me off balance. Seeing where I was placing my wader boots became tricky. One hand carried a fly rod the other protectively swaddled my unborn baby. And it felt new and scary and I stepped off a ledge. I bobbed around trying to get my footing. My husband’s ashen face as he ran down the bank trying to rescue me is as sealed in my mind as my own panicky thoughts. Months and an infant later I felt brave enough to try again. The waters were deeper, unfamiliar and fast. I knew I wanted to know how to maneuver through them, but I understood how fast they could take me down.

Jesus invited His disciples into a boat and into a storm and went to sleep. The waves rushed over and they woke Him and asked if He cared that their lives were in jeopardy. I know how those thoughts come when life seems to take a misstep and you fall off the ledge and cannot seem to find your footing. I have laid on my face seeking. Jesus knew there would be a storm. He speaks; the storm ceases. He questions their fear and faith. Wide-eyed and afraid the disciples question, “Who is He?”

And it all comes back to that. How deep I’m willing to wade, the lengths I’m willing to run, the journey I’ll follow Him on will flow from who I believe He is.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” Hebrews 11:1 (KJV).

Next Page »