Danger Lurks in Paradise

September 26, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Peter Lundell –

Danger lurks in paradise. Kim and I were sent to speak at a Pastors’ retreat in Honolulu. So of course I had to swim at Waikiki Beach. The water was warm and clear blue. But below were patches of exposed lava. I smashed my toes black-and-blue, cut-and-bleeding. At least I didn’t break them. Underneath the post-card-perfect-most-famous-beach-on-earth lie rocks that wait to injure swimmers.

When people on the mainland hear the word “Hawaii,” they think vacation heaven and say, “O-o-o-o-o-h.” Indeed it is for tourists. But for more than a million people who live there, it is much like anywhere else, or more so.

Housing, cars, food, merchandise, and almost everything else costs more there than anywhere else you’d like to live. The pastors I met frequently deal with greater financial, cultural, and social challenges than those on the mainland. And people in Hawaii have such an easygoing culture that pastors have a hard time motivating them.

Everyone still loves the place—it truly is wonderful. But when we see beyond the veneer of the tourist industry, we find that in daily life, Hawaii is a rough and tumble place like any other.

We humans tend to idealize. We want things to match our imaginations and fantasies, whether vacation spots, careers, or people we fall in love with and marry. But we always find that a more difficult reality awaits anyone who sticks around.

Think about how much that happens in your life.

People can be the same way about God and faith. But anyone serious about it will find that following Jesus includes more than just being loved and forgiven. He leads us into facing ourselves and changing, and also embracing the pain of others.

But even at that rough-and-tumble level we come to know a deeper beauty than we could have known on the surface.

“Lord, sometimes my eyes only see what they like. Teach me to see as you see. Deepen my heart and mind to embrace the hard things in life—and then to find and appreciate the blessings from them.”

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? . . . No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:7, 11 NIV).

Full Circle on the USS Midway

September 4, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Peter Lundell –

I wanted to become a Navy pilot. Yes, indeed. But my left eye was 20/25—not perfect, so I couldn’t. In the meantime God led my life another way. Yet I always wondered about the Navy pilot thing. What if…? And why did God lead my life in a different direction?

I found out “what if” when I had the privilege of visiting the aircraft carrier USS Midway.

I got to sit in the pilot’s seats of several jet aircraft. My mind sizzled. How will it feel? Here we go! And––Dials, levers, buttons, and lights all around me. Gag, choke, get me outa here. I love the feel of flying, but I couldn’t take the technical onslaught of what I’d have to go through to pilot a jet.

Then on deck I learned about landing these planes, sometimes in the dark, on a midget runway continually rising and falling as much as ten feet, with cables to grab and stop the plane. And every single landing is graded. Graded! And every grade affects a pilot’s career. The pilots argue with the graders and always lose.

I would have either jumped ship or died of stress.

Rarely does a person get to enter the world where he almost went—and then see for himself what it would have been like. I’m thankful I did.

All those years I wondered what might have been. No more. I learned that God knew me better than I knew myself. He knew beyond what I could see. He led me in the way I was born to walk. Even when I dragged my feet.

We all have “what ifs.” God doesn’t explain everything. He lets us wonder. When we find out, we know. When we don’t find out, we can only know by faith.

What are your “what-ifs”?

“Lord, You know me better than I know myself. Forgive me and correct me in the moments I disagree. Teach me patience to see what You see—and the humility to trust when I cannot see.”

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10 NIV).

Your GPS is a Lamp to My Feet

August 27, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Peter Lundell –

Driving at night from Interstate 5 through the coastal mountains to San Jose. GPS says go this way. Really? But we need to go to the 101. Double lanes narrow to single. Road curves and turns. Seems to head the wrong direction.

“Pete, this can’t be right.”

I grumble.

“Turn around.” Wife is not happy.

But the GPS seems happy.

I consider tossing it on the road and running it over.

No lights anywhere but for other cars. Shuttered fruit stands the only structures in the dark.
How did this happen? Can’t trust a GPS. Maybe a glitch and it thinks the address is in another town.

“I’ll pull over and check the map.” But there’s no place to pull over. I say a bad word and keep driving.

She calls ahead. They have no idea. Not good. Let’s try anyway. What a dumb idea.

Wait. Huh? We’re on the 101. How did that happen?

Soon the GPS says, “Arriving at address . . .” And we’re in front of the house.

Returning the next day, the same dark windy road becomes a picturesque tour through hills and fruit fields. What a lovely drive.

And I think how often I’ve done this in life, and so have you. We encounter uncharted directions and field untested challenges. God’s GPS, a.k.a. the Bible, directs us but we don’t trust it. Our situation is different. God doesn’t understand. Or maybe He doesn’t care. So we’re on our own in the dark.

Until we find that we’re not. That we’re in His hands. And we arrive well. When we look back or revisit the situation, it seems fine. Because we know how it works out.

Blessed are we when we learn to trust even while it’s still dark and the road still twists.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. I have suffered much; preserve my life, LORD, according to your word” (Psalm 119:105–7 NIV).

“Lord, too often I have not trusted you. Forgive me. I choose here and now to trust You the next time my life’s path gets twisted or dark. Your Word is my map, and I travel in Your hands.”

Pursue All You Were Created To Be

August 2, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Peter Lundell –

To my daughter—and every child, however young or old.

When I first got you, I held you and sang. You filled a hole in my heart. When Mom and I took you to kindergarten, you and your classmates walked like little ducks behind your beloved teacher. And I often thought, Someday I’ll sit in a grandstand and watch you graduate from high school. On that day I will NOT wonder, “Where did the time go?” I determined that I would be part of your life and share it as much as I could.

And here I am.

Was I more successful or less? Through the years with you I’ve known joy and sadness. And that’s okay because one is incomplete without the other. If I could do things over again, I’d do them the same way. Perhaps that’s as good a definition of success as I can ask.

So pursue all you were created to be. You were not created to be a cog in a vast machine. No one is. Possessions and positions will claim they’re important. Entertainment will claim it’s worthwhile. Others will expect you to do things their way. I pray you see through that.

You have a life to fulfill. Someday it will end in eternity, and until then the two will intersect—every day if you’re looking. God has His hand on you. I have prayed it be so. As you practice your life’s call, never let go of purpose and hope. He has more for you than you now know.

Soon enough you will not have me to tell you what to do. The times it’s hard to stand on your own are when you’ll learn to do just that.

The best years of your life are ahead of you. Explore every open door. And may you find your way through every jungle of emotions and tangle of thoughts.

I will be there behind you.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9 NIV).

“Lord, my life is in your hands. Work in me to keep me from the maze of things I shouldn’t do. And keep me on the path of what I should.”

To my Friend

July 30, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Peter Lundell –

The one you loved has gone, slipped into another world that most of us anticipate yet oddly avoid until we have no choice. But you have taught us that either way we’re in God’s hands.

You and I live by the words we speak and write, yet her last squeeze of your hand went without them. In the face of eternity, it seems that all of life is irony.

Many days have now passed. Friends and family have held you well. God has held you. After the condolences and final good-byes, after we’ve gone home and hung up the phone, when the room is quiet, are you alone? Or does her scent linger in the closet, her shadow smile from a chair? Does the other half of the bed feel like a wilderness, or does her memory snuggle like a warm blanket?

Do you hear her voice echo in your inner ear? Do you embrace her in your heart? A memory can tenaciously defy a world that goes on without the one we have loved.

When the joy of a memory competes with the sadness of an event, which one wins? Surely memories themselves are real. How else could they reach past death to hold hands with hope and choose to look forward and smile?

Perhaps you feel God’s strength more than before––because you have to. Are the solitary footprints behind you your own or those of Jesus? Or are they somehow the same?

Someday you will go too. Another day will take me. And every last one of us. What matters is how we live until then. Tears in this life are brief, and we have all eternity to party. Until then we run our race and fulfill our purpose. We do not fear life. We do not fear death. Because we are in God’s hands.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30 NIV).

“Lord, teach me to always remember that my life is in Your Hands. In good times. In bad times. You are not only there; I am in Your hands, and no one can snatch me out of them.”

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