This Sunday @ Church of the Open Door, we will study Peter’s words in 1 Peter 5:5-7. Obeying the command of those verses will change any Christian’s life in amazing ways. But few obey it. Will you? Come to Church of the Open Door this Sunday, 17 October for our discussion.
After I finished my book, When God Breaks Your Heart, detailing my journey of faith living with a deadly disease, I thought I had said it all.
I’m discovering that there are days I just have to tell you one more thing. Today is one of those days.
It was April in 2000 when I wrote this desperate prayer and accompanying plea from Scripture in my journal:
Father, please give me ministry in my grandchildren’s lives. “Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children” (Psalm 90:16).
If you knew me back then or you’ve read the book, you know how bold that request was. I had nearly died in March and had not improved much since. The doctors were suspecting lymphoma, and following test after test, what they called my “numbers” refused to turn around.
I remember the day I wrote those sentences in my blood-stained journal vividly. Tears flowed as I begged God to let me have some influence in my grandchildren’s lives. Back then I was only thinking of two–Jackson and Megan.
I’m writing these words from my son’s home in Atlanta, where we just greeted Amelia Joy,who joins Jackson, Megan, Camryn, Mary, and Wyatt. Grandchild number 7–Zachary James–is now 10 months old.
I’m thinking of Saturday, the 10th of January 2009, when I spent the day with Amelia’s older sister and brother, Mary and Wyatt. I watched Mary’s skating lessons and Wyatt’s hockey practice. I was vaguely aware of some other children on the ice, but my heart glued my attention to one little twirling princess and one little bruiser in pads.
On the way home, Wyatt put his little arms around my neck and shouted, “We’re best pals!”
The Spirit reminded me one more time of the power of prayer and the comfort of being loved by a God who is perfectly reliable and strong.
I don’t know what’s breaking your heart today, but I suspect something is.
God knows, and He loves it when you ask Him for big things. You never know, He might just say yes.
Just like He did for me.
Thank you, Father, for hearing my desperate prayer. And for that almost-nine-years-later reminder from a blue-eyed little hockey star that You, not my doctors, number my days.
Since our son-in-law David went down with a terrible and debilitating disease a month ago, a lot of Judy and mine’s life has been dedicated to “Zach duty.”
Zachary is our grandson—David and Celia’s fat-cheeked bundle of smiles whose energy stretches my almost 60-year-old body to its limits. He’s a robust, squirmy adventurer who chafes at every limitation.
But the one attribute that’s on my mind during this season we Christians commemorate the birth of Jesus is Zach’s dependence.
Without someone to love him and care for him, he’s totally helpless. He can’t feed himself, clean himself or protect himself. He doesn’t even know how to go to sleep on his own.
Watching Zach during this season helps me appreciate the humility of our Lord Jesus.
It was love for me—love for you—that moved the Creator of heaven and earth to be born on this little marble of a planet. It was mercy that moved Him to show up in a baby’s soft skin, totally helpless, totally dependent.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory o the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
I’ve been teaching Psalm 138:8 for over three decades and telling the story of how that wonderful sentence, “The Lord will accomplish what concerns me,” became our life verse. It was a dramatic moment in 1978 when a young Lieutenant Ed Underwood thought he was saying goodbye to his bride and his little family.
We thought I was marching to war from Ansbach, Germany and leaving them behind to take care of themselves as the fury of the Soviet Empire rained down on them.
We didn’t go to war, but that was the night Psalm 138:8 became our life verse.
Every time I preach that sermon, people ask me to help them find their life verse. My answer is always the same, “You don’t find your life verse; your life verse finds you.”
I’m fascinated by God’s timing; always have been. A friend of mine use to say that it’s His signature on events. He sure signed off on the last two days of my life to teach me an important lesson.
Last Sunday our study of Mark brought us to chapter 9:30-37, a fascinating conversation between Jesus and His disciples concerning greatness. As they passed through Galilee, Jesus taught them again concerning His impending death and resurrection. This time He added the discouraging news that all of this will happen because someone will betray Him. They didn’t understand; it was just too much for them, and they were afraid to ask Him to explain further.
What they did understand were the prophecies that someday Messiah would rule and reign over His Kingdom on earth. Still clinging to their insistence that Jesus should be that Messiah—the ruling and reigning one, rather than the Messiah He was telling them He was—the One who would first suffer, die, and then rise from the dead, they did what everyone does when they are around someone they think has power and status: They postured for position in His Kingdom. They were about to learn Jesus’ definition of greatness—His radical, counterculture, counter-flesh, measure of greatness in His Kingdom: If you follow Jesus, He will ask you to serve everyone—especially the weak.
It’s an upside-down measure of greatness for most people. It’s not the number of people who serve you that matters to Jesus; it’s the number of people you serve.