The statement took me by surprise. “Deep love is always accompanied by deep suffering,” our pastor said. My thoughts of love were of joy not suffering, but in that moment I could see how true these words were.
I have wept with friends over a serious illness of a loved one. I have sat with friends as they poured out the anguish in their hearts over situations with spouses, children or grandchildren.
Although I can empathize with my friends, I don’t know and love these people on the deep level they do, so will not experience the same pain.
Countless prayers are requested by those who are suffering. The majority of these revolve around someone deeply loved.
I think of my husband, my children (and their spouses, who are children of my heart) and my grandchildren. I love them deeply and would do anything in my power to keep them from harm. I suffer along with them when they are hurting. If one of them was in grave danger and the only way to save him or her was to sacrifice my life, I wouldn’t hesitate. That is how deep my love for my family is.
This helps me understand why Jesus would die for me. The sinless Son of God took on the sins of mankind because of his deep love for you and for me. Jesus suffered an agonizing death in order to save us.
I think back to the pastor’s words, “Deep love is accompanied by deep suffering.” If there is anyone who fully understands this, it is Jesus.
As we approach Easter and focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus I want to stop and think about the magnitude of this gift I didn’t deserve. He saved me before I even knew I was in danger. I praise his name for this amazing love.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3:16 NIV)
We spoke to our friend the day before he had cataract surgery. His concern about having his vision tampered with was understandable. What if something went wrong?
Several hours after the procedure we spoke with him again. Although wearing sunglasses to protect his eye while it healed, he was amazed at how much more vivid colours were.
The cataract had slowly obscured the view of his environment. The change had been so gradual it wasn’t noticed. The haziness of his surroundings had become normal.
Once the film on his lens was removed, vibrant hues long forgotten appeared all around him. Instead of looking through a fog, he could see clearly for the first time in years.
The miracle of clear vision was cause for celebration.
As I reflected on this, the memory of situations that had clouded my vision, played across my mind. Emotional struggles, betrayals, disappointments, illness, loss and a myriad of other less than pleasant events had gradually obscured my view of life. The haze surrounding me had become normal. Splashes of colour and promise became a distant memory. My joy slowly faded.
My life changed drastically the day I met Jesus. I had known of him for most of my life but that wasn’t enough. When I asked him to forgive me and take control of my life everything changed. The film of discouragement was replaced with the vision of a bright future. My faith in Jesus healed me.
I praise The Lord I can now clearly see the hope and promise he brings to everyone who calls on him.
“What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. (Luke 18:41-43)
“On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.” The words of this well-known praise song started going through my mind as we did our morning beach walk.
There was a good reason for this. Moments earlier, I’d been walking on firm sand. Then, my next step sunk deep into soft sand. I stumbled but didn’t fall.
Nothing about the appearance of the sand gave any indication it wasn’t as solid as where my previous step fell. I could not tell the difference between firm beneath my feet and sinking sand until it was too late. My runners and socks were now wet and uncomfortable.
This is a good picture of how easily I can step into undesirable situations in my life. I may think everything is under control and my steps are secure. The trouble is, looks can be deceiving, as I found out on my walk. Suddenly, the ground beneath my feet shifts and I find myself on sinking sand.
Sometimes my foot only slips a little. I recover quickly and carry on. I adjust to the less stable footing and soon it becomes normal for me.
This process is repeated until I stop one day and wonder how I got so far off track from where I’d begun.
Scripture tells us, “He lifted me from the miry clay and set my feet upon the solid rock.” The miry clay is where I tend to wind up when I rely on my own judgment and ignore the voice telling me this isn’t where I’m supposed to be. Still, I like to think I know what’s best for me. Past experience tells me that my judgment is not always accurate.
The solid rock I need to stand on is Jesus. He is the firm foundation I need. When I rely on him to guide me, he will direct my steps and keep me safe.
A bright flash of colour was seen when the bird flew overhead. It landed in a nearby tree and quite effectively disappeared from sight.
Although I knew the bird was there, it now blended into the drab brown of the leafless branches.
The bright plumage was hidden. Only when wings were spread in flight could colour be seen.
I thought of the times I have also caused myself to disappear in plain sight. When I deny the unique attributes that make me who I am; my drab exterior blends in with my surroundings. No distinguishing characteristics are visible to set me apart.
God has gifted each of us with our own combination of talents and abilities. These are not to be hidden, but to be gratefully acknowledged and used for His glory.
I know this but it still seems risky to leave my safe perch and attempt to fly. I am more like a frightened baby bird than an exotic tropical one. Who am I to think I could possibly soar? It’s probably better to blend in than to draw attention to myself.
I remember hearing there are two things that can happen if I step out in faith to test my wings. One is that God will catch me if I fall. The other is that He will teach me to fly.
Either way, trusting God and following His leading will not be a mistake. Where I can only see my uninspiring, drab plumage, God sees the beauty He has instilled in me.
When, in faith, I embrace the opportunity to spread my wings and fly, the bright colours of His love will be visible to others and point them upwards to the glory of God.
“The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display His marvelous craftsmanship.” (Psalm 19:1 NLT)
Isn’t that interesting?” I said to my husband. We were on a beach walk when I saw the primitive looking shelter.
It was set back a good distance from the water to protect it from being washed away with the tides. The construction materials were those found readily at hand. Poles supporting the structure appeared to be long, thin pieces of wood such as we’ve often seen on the beach. A few more of these were crosswise on the top, forming a base for the roof. Dried palm fronds on the top ensured a shaded area inside the structure.
The shelter was simple but would provide refuge from the heat of the intense Mexican sun. Other properties had more elaborate structures but this simple one was all that was really needed.
I pondered this thought as our walk continued. Before long I realized snippets of an old song were providing background music my mind. The lyrics told of a mansion that is waiting for us in heaven.
Now, I understood the draw the shelter held for me. It represents my life. My needs may be taken care of but that doesn’t stop the desire for more. No matter how much I have my longing will never be satisfied this side of heaven.
God is my shelter today. He watches over me, guides and protects and has made my life rich with more than material things.
I have the assurance that one day Jesus will take me to a home He has prepared for me and I will spend eternity with Him. Nothing in this life can compare to what is in store for me then.
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 13:2-3 NIV)
The English speaking church we attend in Mexico had an interesting beginning. We have met the Canadian couple who were instrumental in the formation of the church. I enjoyed hearing the story both from their perspective and that of the pastor.
After wintering in the area for several years, this couple could see the need for a church service in English. They learned of a pastor in the area who was bilingual and approached him with their idea.
He could see the merit in this but didn’t feel his language skill were good enough. After more conversation he thought it might be possible. “We can start next year” he said.
The immediate response of, “How about next week?” took him by surprise. Sensing this was God’s will, he agreed. The next Sunday fourteen people were in attendance for the first service in English. That was over ten years ago.
We appreciate the ministry of our Mexican church home. I have been privileged to be in attendance for both multicultural and outreach events with the English and Spanish congregations working side by side.
I am grateful for the pastor who didn’t feel equipped but accepted the challenge. He did not give in to the natural tendency to say, “No” or put off what seems too much to handle. Instead, he stepped out in faith and trusted God to lead the way.
This story has inspired me. I know that God has big plans for each of us. He doesn’t always call those of us who feel equipped. Instead, He calls those who are willing and equips them. When I step out in faith and trust the Lord, there is no limit to what He may enable me to do.
The piece of yellow nylon rope was partially buried in the sand. A section about thirty centimeters in length was visible.
Each time the water reached the rope the exposed portion twisted and floated with the tide. I watched as it was tossed around while still firmly anchored. The rope was not going to be washed out to sea any time soon.
The image in my mind was that of a lifeline, the type of rope or line thrown to rescue someone having difficulties in the water. I pondered this thought as I continued my walk.
Another meaning for lifeline is a way of help that you depend on to lead your life in a satisfactory way. It is also a line used to keep in contact with a person in a dangerous or potentially dangerous situation.
All of these definitions describe my relationship with Jesus. He is the lifeline that keeps me secure. My life is easily thrown off balance and I am grateful to have Him to hold onto. Each day I come before Him in prayer, asking for strength and guidance for my life.
There are times I am rushed or preoccupied and don’t take the necessary time to seek His wisdom. Those are the days I am likely to be swept off course. Unknowingly I place myself, and sometimes those close to me, in potentially dangerous situations.
When I call out for help, I see Jesus has never left my side. I, in my haste, have let go of Him. I reach out and take hold of Him and am safe and secure once again. My Lord and Saviour is the only lifeline I need.
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28 NIV)
We have taken winter vacations in the same area for several years. During this time we have met a few people but due to our quiet lifestyle, are not well known.
This year we are spending longer in the area and have been able to get involved in a few activities. This means we have made more contacts.
A week ago we were on a walk along the beach when someone called my name. I was surprised to find someone who knew me and enjoyed stopping to talk. We carried on with our walk and five minutes later someone in a nearby house called out my husband’s name. Again, we stopped to talk.
On our walk home we commented that we’d encountered people who knew our names. It felt good to be known.
There is one who has always known me. He knows much more than my name. He knows everything about me. The Bible says God knows the number of hairs on my head. It doesn’t say He knows how many there are but each one is numbered. That means He knows exactly which one falls. I don’t even know that about myself!
This intimate knowledge started before I was born.
God saw me as I was formed in my mother’s womb. Isn’t that incredible?
I no longer wonder if my presence is seen. The scriptures confirm God knows me in a way no other can.
“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.” (Psalm 139:1 NLT)
“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!”( Psalm 139:17-18 NLT)
There was something different about the property we approached. Then I saw it. A once tall palm tree near the edge of the lot was now lying on its side. It had been upright when we had passed by this way the previous week. There had been a little wind but nothing I thought was powerful enough to topple a tree.
Drawing nearer I could see the entire root ball still attached to the tree. Then I understood the reason for its fall.
The tangle of roots was multiple but they were also thin and short. To have strength to endure they would need to be thick and strong. Without a deep anchor the necessary stability was not present.
Strong, deep roots are also important in my life. They give me the stability to endure the storms of life.
My roots have become much stronger since my life took on the nourishment that Jesus provides. The more I spend time with him, the deeper my roots become.
Over the years I have encountered some strong storms in my life that threatened to topple me. Before I committed my life to Jesus I would have fallen. Now I am rooted in Him. The winds of adversity may cause me to bend but my deep faith tells me Jesus will help me remain upright and strong.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. (Jeremiah 17:8 NIV)
More than ten years ago both of our children moved almost one thousand kilometers away.
We loved our family and missed the closeness we’d once enjoyed. My husband and I wanted to be able to spend more time with them and be active in their lives.
After much prayer, we decided to uproot the life we knew and start again, closer to our loved ones. The Lord provided a job for my husband in our chosen city. We resigned from our jobs and sold our home.
I was excited to know we ‘d soon live only twenty minutes from our family.
I hadn’t considered the difficulty of leaving friends and our church family. The goodbyes were tearful. Knowing we were doing the right thing didn’t make it any easier. I grieved what I would be leaving behind.
The transition had some challenges. The result, however, was more than worth it. We have been restored to a close, loving relationship with our family and are blessed to play an active role in their lives. The sacrifice we made out of love has rewarded us more than we could have imagined.
Our small move was insignificant when I think of the move Jesus made for you and for me. The love I have for my family is nothing compared to the love He has for us.
He knew we were becoming distant and longed for a closer relationship. The Lord knew there was only one course of action to be taken to remedy this situation.
He left his home in heaven and came to live on earth. He sacrificed not only comfort, but his very life in order to restore us to a relationship with God.
What does Jesus require for this love I don’t deserve? He wants us to spend time together. The more I do this, the deeper our relationship becomes. It is amazing to think the Son of God not only offers me forgiveness, comfort and guidance but wants to us have a close personal relationship. Now that is love worth celebrating.