For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.
It’s All in the Attitude
“This is the way we wash our clothes, so early Monday morning.” I sang this nursery rhyme so much that it got stuck in my head, much like “It’s a Small World” or “The Song that Never Ends.” (Sorry!)
As strange as it sounds, my mom and I enjoyed washing clothes. Laundry steps for me were: wash, dry, and fold. But with Alzheimer’s, my mom’s steps were: put clothes (preferably only dirty ones) in basket, find dish soap (yep!), go to laundry room, put clothes in washer, return to Assisted Living room, write down location of laundry, sit in room, check note to see where laundry is, return to laundry room, put wet clothes in dryer, return to room, sit in room, check note to see where it is, return to laundry room, remove clothes from dryer, put in basket, return to room, and fold.
If Mom got interrupted during the process, she forgot she even had laundry! I offered to help, but she insisted on doing it herself. Mom desired clean clothes, but what she really wanted was independence. Alzheimer’s stole that from her, and I was called to serve as caregiver.
God created caregivers. Adam served God by caring for His creation. Eve served God as a helpmate for Adam. Abigail said, “I am ready to serve you” (1 Samuel 25:41NIV). King Jehoshaphat ordered, “You must serve faithfully and wholeheartedly” (2 Chronicles 19:9 NIV).
Jesus dwelled among us, not “to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45 NIV), and He taught that how we serve is more important than what service we do.
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were siblings, and they deeply loved Jesus. Their story taught me the importance of attitude (how) versus action (what).
Martha and Mary wanted to honor Jesus for saving Lazarus. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to His words. Martha prepared a huge feast, but said to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me” (Luke 10:40 NIV). Jesus acknowledged Martha’s concerns, but told her, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42 NIV).
According to John’s account, Mary took about a pint of nard, poured it on Jesus’ feet, and wiped His feet with her hair. “And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3 NIV). Mary’s actions were more than just sitting at Jesus’ feet! She anointed them with expensive perfume. It wasn’t only the fragrance of perfume that filled the air—it was the sweet fragrance of a grateful, servant’s heart. While Jesus appreciated Martha’s actions, what He really desired was Mary’s attitude.
Mary, Martha, and Jesus were servant caregivers. Caregiving and serving aren’t just about what is done—it’s how it’s done. Sometimes I washed Mom’s laundry or took her to appointments. But often I sat at her feet, held her hands, and allowed compassion to replace her anxiety. My attitude was far more important to Mom than my actions. She forgot what I did, but she remembered how she felt because of howI did them. Size of contribution doesn’t matter to someone with Alzheimer’s. What matters is the condition of the heart that gives it.
It was hard to see Mom struggle with simple tasks. But it allowed me to enter her world of Alzheimer’s and recognize, for a moment, how it felt to have the disease. Caregiving allowed me to be Martha and Mary to my mom, and to be the hands and feet of Jesus for the “least of these.” He said,
“I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40 NIV). And it reminded me that Jesus is always my servant caregiver because He always is, always was, and always will be with me.
The End of All Weeping
“‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ’everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” Mark 14:36 (NIV)
Do you ever feel like pain and sorrow are chasing you down? Like you just can’t outrun all of the hurt?
Oh, friend. I know how difficult those seasons can be. That’s why I want us to look at someone in Scripture who understands this kind of pain — King David.
Not only did David spend a significant amount of time before he became king running for his life from King Saul, but he also eventually ended up running from his very own son, Absalom.
But whereas Saul openly sought David’s life, we find Absalom sneaking around behind his father’s back in an effort to rip the kingdom from David’s hands. With slick promises and conspiratorial kisses, Absalom easily steals “the hearts of the people of Israel” (2 Samuel 15:6b, NIV). And it isn’t long before David receives word his kingdom is crumbling right in front of him. (2 Samuel 15:13)
In light of these events, David sees that his situation is desperately dangerous. He must escape. The route we find him taking to escape the city, weeping as he goes, is across the Kidron Valley, through the Garden of Gethsemane, over the Mount of Olives and into the Judean desert. This was the known escape route for those needing to quickly flee from danger in Jerusalem.
Within this story we are reminded of a larger story — the people of God are continually wayward in their love and affections toward their king. They allow their hearts to be captivated by others. They are prone to stray. This was true for King David, and it would be true of another King who would come from David’s bloodline generations later — King Jesus.
Years later, Jesus would sit in the Garden of Gethsemane, the very gateway of this known escape route, facing extreme danger. We read about Jesus in these difficult moments in Mark 14:34-36, where He laments: “‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’ Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’”
His people were turning against Him. Jesus wasn’t meeting their expectations as king. They wanted Him dead.
As I sat in the Garden of Gethsemane during a recent visit to the Holy Land, my heart was overcome with the reality of what Jesus was facing while in that very place. He knew He could escape. He knew He could flee like David had done. He knew the way to take to save Himself.
But Jesus stayed so He could save us.
Though my heart strays from Him, Jesus’ heart is compelled to stay for me.
Jesus ends His prayer to God with nine earthshaking, demon-quaking, hell-shattering words, “Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36b). In other words, He completely submitted to God’s plan because He knew in the end, it was best.
Jesus was the only King who perfectly fulfilled God’s will.
As we read the story of King David, we must always remember that he simply points to the better David — Jesus, who is the King of kings. The contrast between David’s experience and Jesus’ is important:
- Both David and Jesus weep on the Mount of Olives. David weeps over the betrayal and potential loss that he faces — all things that affect him personally. Jesus weeps over the city and people of Jerusalem.
- As David escapes over the Mount of Olives, he faces the potential loss of his kingdom. As Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mount of Olives, He begins His journey to the cross where He will conquer sin and death and establish the Kingdom of heaven.
- David’s kingdom will eventually be war torn and broken. The Kingdom of heaven will reign forever.
What does this mean for us today?
I would imagine we can all relate to David’s weeping. Our lives are riddled with evidence we live in a broken world — loss, hurt, death, betrayal, heartbreak and relationship breakdowns. But might we also remember Jesus’ weeping as well. He hurts when we hurt. And that’s the exact reason He made a way for us to one day enter His eternal Kingdom where there will be no more sorrow and no more weeping. Praise God!
This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. — 1 John 4:9
God uses every single trial, every detour, every obstacle in our journey for our benefit, for our good. That’s because what the Enemy means for evil, God uses for our good (Genesis 50:20). Sometimes the good is a change in circumstances. Sometimes the good is a stronger faith. But nothing is ever wasted.
Satan used Judas to betray the Lord, but God intended for Jesus to stand trial and be condemned to death. Satan used the scheming of Jesus’ enemies to have Him crucified, but Jesus’ crucifixion was key to God’s plan for securing eternal life for all who believe in Jesus. Satan loses! God wins! Regardless of what it looks like in the process.
As you persevere despite opposition, trust God. Trust that in the midst of everything, He is building you up, strengthening you, and teaching you to trust Him more.
I praise You, God, for using for good what the Enemy intends for evil. Show me how to persevere toward ultimate victory.
Intended for Good
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. — Genesis 50:20
I love this verse. I often say it’s my life verse because, just as it did for Joseph, it accurately depicts what God has done with my life. He’s used it — every detail of it — for the saving of many lives. That’s because God is in the business of turning anything bad into everything good — including the details of your life.
In the Old Testament, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely imprisoned by his enemies, and forgotten by two men he befriended there. Looking back, though, Joseph could see God’s hand in the events of his life and how He used those events to preserve the nation of Israel.
What Joseph recognized as true then is no less true today: anything the world intends for evil, God can use for good.
God is able to take the mess of our past and turn it into a message for saving others. He is able to take our trials and turn them into a testimony to encourage others.
So trust God with everything that’s happened in your life. Rejoice even now that He’s going to use all of it for the saving of many lives.
I rejoice in the hope that what the Enemy meant for evil, to harm me, You will use for good, for the saving of many lives. I celebrate Your work in my life!
Streams in the Desert – March 7
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
For even when we came into Macedonia, our body had no rest at all, but we were troubled in every way – struggles from the outside, fears from within (2 Cor 7:5).
Why should God have to lead us thus, and allow the pressure to be so hard and constant? Well, in the first place, it shows His all-sufficient strength and grace much better than if we were exempt from pressure and trial. “The treasure is in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
It makes us more conscious of our dependence upon Him. God is constantly trying to teach us our dependence, and to hold us absolutely in His hand and hanging upon His care.
This was the place where Jesus Himself stood and where He wants us to stand, not with self-constituted strength, but with a hand ever leaning upon His, and a trust that dare not take one step alone. It teaches us trust.
There is no way of learning faith except by trial. It is God’s school of faith, and it is far better for us to learn to trust God than to enjoy life.
The lesson of faith once learned, is an everlasting acquisition and an eternal fortune made; and without trust even riches will leave us poor.
—Days of Heaven upon Earth
“Why must I weep when others sing?
’To test the deeps of suffering.’
Why must I work while others rest?
’To spend my strength at God’s request.’
Why must I lose while others gain?
’To understand defeat’s sharp pain.’
Why must this lot of life be mine
When that which fairer seems is thine?
’Because God knows what plans for me
Shall blossom in eternity.’”