Will You Follow?
By Erica Windham
During the summer that I turned eleven-years-old, my family went on vacation to Atlanta, GA. It just so happened that the entire Osmond family was staying in the same hotel where we were staying. It also, just so happened, that my little nine-year-old sister, Kim, and I heard the hotel staff saying that Donnie Osmond was on the 11th floor of the hotel and they even said his room number. You may be asking yourself, “What are the chances that they would happen to overhear such a conversation?” Right? Me too! I knew it was fate. They were giving me the chance to meet my heart throb. So, Kim and I devised a plan to go stake-out his room.
Now, my parents had left us at the hotel, under the supervision of my sister, Shan, who was 15-years-old, while they went out to dinner. We told Shan that we were going to ride the elevator to "check out the pool" and come right back. You know how most kids love to push elevator buttons? Well, Kim and I were no different. We had played on the elevators for a couple of days going back and forth from our room to the swimming pool. This particular hotel had two sets of elevators. One set was located just down the hall from our room, and the second set was around a couple of hallways. The second set of elevators were the ones that took you straight to the front lobby of the hotel. We called these the "big elevators" because they were roomier and decorated nicely. During this stake-out adventure, we went around to the "big" set of elevators and hit the button to go to the 11th floor.
At this point of our vacation, I was confident that I could have been a professional bellhop, like the ones I saw in the movies. I could press the correct buttons in those elevators without even looking, or so I thought. Donnie's room happened to be located directly in front of the elevator. When we reached the 11th floor, the doors opened, and my eyes immediately locked on the door to his room. I can still remember to this day the excitement I felt as I stood in that elevator, assured in my heart that he would walk out of his room, look into my eyes, and fall in love with me like I was in love with him. The plan was to stay in the elevator until we saw him come out. (We were 9 and 11-years-old, remember?) As we were watching his door, and talking about what we would say to him when he came out of his room, I reached over to push the button to hold the doors open. Well, all of a sudden alarms started ringing all over the entire hotel. LOUD ALARMS! Immediately, I knew the mistake I had made. The elevator doors wouldn't close, and the bells wouldn't stop ringing. By mistake, I had pressed the fire alarm button. Out of sheer panic, I took off running for the other set of elevators, yelling for Kim to follow me. Poor thing, she had no idea what was happening, and as I was rounding the 2nd corner, I looked behind me and didn't see Kim. I just knew we were going to jail, or worse, my mom would find out. I ran back to get her and found her standing in front of the elevator doors dazed and confused. I grabbed her hand and took off running, again. We rode the other elevators to our floor and made it to our room. You could hear the alarms ringing, very loudly, on every level of the hotel. When we got to our room, Shan was worried and asked if we knew what was happening. We told her what we had done, and to protect us, and throw whoever may be investigating why the alarms were ringing off of our track, she called down to the lobby. When the operator answered Shan asked her why the bells were ringing and if we needed to exit the building. Of course, they assured her it was a false alarm and that everyone was safe.
I am, to this day, certain to look at the buttons on an elevator more than once, before I push them.
I have to confess that I have often made the same types of mistakes throughout my life. Thinking that I knew just what I was doing and had no need to “watch where I was going” all of a sudden, I would find myself running for my life trying to escape the outcome of my choices. Sometimes my choices only affected me, and sometimes there were people I left behind dazed and confused. I have, through the grace of God and His faithfulness, changed from being that person who too quickly pushes the button. I often compare myself to the disciple Peter. He, too, was quick on the draw with his decisions. Remember that he pulled the knife out and chopped the ear of the soldier off in the Garden of Gethsemane before Jesus could even say “stop!” Thankfully, Jesus saw the heart of Peter. He knew what mistakes Peter would make before He ever made them, yet, He chose him anyway. Father God knew the choices I would make as well, and, yet, He adopted me as His own. He has faithfully and lovingly forgiven my ignorance and my wanderings. He has restored me to Himself and many times He has been so gracious to me that He even allowed many of my mistakes to stay between me and Him.
I wrote this post to tell you that if there is hope for me... there is hope for you! God is in the redeeming business. He doesn't keep a record of wrongs. He is faithful and just to forgive us. He is patient and kind. He tells us in Psalm 46 that He is "very present" with us. He repeats this throughout the Psalm saying, "The Lord of hosts is with us." His word says, "Cease striving and know that I am God." I don't know about you, but that speaks straight to my soul.
Jesus has chosen me to be His disciple at this time in history. He has also chosen you! Will you follow or will you stay back dazed and confused?
A Holy Pursuit
Written by Alecia Simersky
I’ve sort of had a back and forth conversation with God since I gave my life to him 15 years ago. It goes something like this, “Lord, I want to live your way and do what is pleasing in your sight. Show me and search me, what in my life is not pleasing to you?”
He eventually shows me, and I go, “Really, you want me to do what? I think I’m hearing You wrong, bad connection!”
I remember one day several years ago I had prayed the prayer above and was sitting quietly just in case He responded when a popular television show flashed across my mind. It was a TV show that a lot of people watched. That I watched.
Did he really mean for me to give up my favorite crime show, what could be wrong with it?!
There was drama, there was comedy…and there was casual sex, lust, raunchy jokes.
I wanted to obey God and live a pure life, but I also didn’t want to cross into legalistic territory. I wanted to always make sure I was living in freedom.
In her book Dance, Stand, Run Jess Connolly says this: “If we could see the fullness of our sin and the depth of His grace we’d dance. If we knew our true identity as holy daughters, of God made right with Him and called to stay set apart for His glory and abundance, we’d stand firm. And if we fully grasped both of these things, you wouldn’t be able to stop the women of God from running on mission.”
If you’re like me, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in what the world says is normal, and even other Christians, that I forget that God sets the standard. And if He is impressing upon my heart a certain show, movie, or even music isn’t for my good then I should sit up and pay attention.
There have been times I’ve refused to watch certain shows. And in my slow obedience (ok, fine, disobedience) I continued watching. I would rationalize that I really didn’t see anything wrong with what I was watching, and there were WAY worse things.
(Isn’t that just like sin? To rationalize it so your sin doesn’t seem so bad.)
I hate to admit that I didn’t give up that show, my human brain couldn’t understand why, so I ignored the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
The sad truth is I was more worried about what other people would say and my reasons for not watching the show than I was about what God said. I didn’t want to stand out as an overtly Christian (some might use the term, Bible Thumper) or that girl who didn’t watch certain shows ‘cause God told her not to.
Yep, for someone who was worried about not walking in freedom, I sure wasn’t walking in too much of it.
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”
As God’s holy daughters we are called to a different standard and it won’t always make sense and others will not understand, but stand firm anyways.
I don’t always walk the walk well, and there’s grace, but the longer I’ve been with Jesus the more I understand that He knows me better than I know myself and if He’s asking me to stay away from something it’s always for my good.
And if others don’t understand, they can take it up with God!
“On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.”
(The Solid Rock, Edward Mote)
Guest post by Amy Nabors.
She’s there almost every time I go to Walmart. An older lady, just sitting greeting each and every person.
Walmart isn’t my favorite place, but this one is convenient to the gym and the business I work for. I try to go early in the morning before it gets busy. She’s there every time I go on a weekday morning sitting on the bench near the shopping carts. Every time she greets you with a “Good morning. God bless you,” or “Have a great day. God bless you,” as you leave.
And every time I think to myself that she must have the spiritual gift of encouragement.
I always speak politely to her and say good morning or thank you, but that’s all. I’m so task oriented my brain is focused on the task at hand. Get what I need to get and leave. I’ve wondered for over a year what her story is. Why does she sit there so many mornings greeting people? Where does she live? Is she not able to work?
The last time I went I wished I had stopped long enough to ask her. Something told me I should ask.
As I stopped by Walmart just after 7am on this cold January morning to pick up a few groceries, I knew I was supposed to ask her if she was there.
She was there. Sitting on the bench in the drafty entry way next to the shopping carts. Just like always.
“You’re here all the time,” I say to her.
“Yes I am. It’s part of my ministry. From 6-10 every morning Monday through Friday. I pray for each person that walks through these doors.”
I told her each time I’ve seen her I thought she had the gift of encouragement. You could tell she didn’t want to talk about herself. She just wanted to keep greeting each person and praying for them.
Her name is Elizabeth. And she prays.
I wonder how many people she’s greeted and prayed for over the many weeks and months she’s been sitting there as they’ve walked through the doors of Walmart. I’m thankful I have been one of them.
From Alecia Simersky:
There’s an old Addison Road song called, What Do I Know Of Holy, it’s been a long time favorite of mine and every so often the song pops into my head and I begin the singing lyrics:
“What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life it's name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?”
The song reminds me that God’s ways of love, forgiveness, and grace, are beyond my understanding. That just when I think I may have Him all figured out, He surprises me and takes my breath away.
I’m recently coming out of a particularly hard season of life and one day while I was praying, crying, Lord is this really your will for my life? This is so hard and really hurts, when an image in my head appeared of Jesus sitting in front of an empty frame with pieces of colored broken glass lying next to Him on the floor. Piece by piece he reached down and picked up a shard and placed it just so onto the frame.
This frame was my life, this frame was a blank canvas and represented what He was doing to make whole of what I saw as broken.
Piece by broken piece He picked up the glass-my broken dreams and hurts. He looked back at me and smiled. Did I see what He was doing?
I watched Him with expectation…with hope I hadn’t had in a long time. Could he really make my mess into something beautiful? As if he was reading my mind, He picked up another piece and carefully placed it onto the frame. Yes.
He showed me that day that as I release my will, and all that I thought was lost and could never be used for good, it could be redeemed in His hands.
I can see it. The start of something new even though the whole picture isn’t clear. I can’t envision how it will look when it’s complete, when I’m complete, but I see Him working.
Since that day when I begin to feel overwhelmed, I close my eyes and see the shattered pieces of my life, the frame, and Jesus. I’m reminded, He’s here and He’s moving. I’m at peace, because even though what I see with my earthly eyes doesn’t look all that great, but through my spiritual eyes there is hope for what can be.
Romans 8:28 reminds us that God is working all things for our good.
And He is. Piece by broken piece into a masterpiece.
Oh, Lord may have the faith to trust you with our brokenness and pray not for our will be done, but Yours. In your Holy hands our lives will become a masterpiece. Each day may we choose to not give into our anger and bitterness but trust that You are always with us and working. We choose to see with our spiritual eyes what can’t be seen with our earthly ones. In Your precious name we pray, Amen