The cool spring morning was a welcome change after weeks of blustery winter. Soon, the soft white petals of the Bradford Pear that shaded our front yard would spurt leaves, and summers would become unbearably hot. Determined to enjoy the season while it lasted, I grabbed a light sweater and beckoned the children to follow me.
I plopped a lawn chair on the driveway and emptied a bucket of sidewalk chalk on the adjoining grass. Slurping popsicles with one hand and doodling with the other, they giggled and scribbled excitedly. Soon the concrete canvas would become a masterpiece, a collage, a hodge-podge of imagination and creativity.
Momentarily lost in a book, I lifted my gaze to survey the assortment. A hopscotch outline, stick figures of family members, a sunflower, a tulip, a car that resembled Lightning McQueen, an orange sun, a winding road, a towering mountain, and this: In large letters shaded pink with a pattern of bright white stars were the words: ANGIE IS AMAZING. “Isn’t it beautiful, Mommy?” she beamed.
I nodded, “Yes!” grinning. I thought so too.
The day ended but the declaration was visible from three houses down. It made my heart happy every time I glanced at it, walked up to the mailbox, or drove up from work. It washed away in a few weeks until the faint resemblance of it was no longer visible. But it stayed in my heart forever.
I wondered if I would be caught writing something like that. Would I scribble it on a driveway for everyone to see, or hire a blimp to float it across the sky? Would I flaunt it, proclaim it, announce it fearlessly? Even if I did, it would be one thing to say it, and another thing to believe it. My seven-year-old didn’t just write it. She believed it. She was convinced. And no one could tell her otherwise.
Do you remember your seven-year-old self? You too believed you were amazing. And you weren’t ashamed to say it. But somewhere at the intersection of growing up and getting real, you stopped believing. But the truth is, you still are. You may not doodle it on your driveway, or blast it on your desktop, but God has written it in your heart. The Psalmist proudly wrote this song about himself not knowing it would echo in the hearts of everyone for millennia to come:
For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well. When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth, Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in your book they all were written. The days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16 NKJV).
Not only has God created you beautifully, but He has chosen your unique personality, talents, and gifts that make you exclusive. You are irreplaceable. Jesus encouraged His disciples to approach the Kingdom of God like a little child. (Matthew 18:3). There is something about childlike faith that is simple yet powerful. Will you return to that childlike faith today? What you believe about yourself can change your life, especially when it parallels what God believes about you.
by Ryan Duncan, crosswalk.org
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
Once upon a time, there lived a wise and righteous king who cared deeply for his people. In order to ensure that his kingdom prospered, the king summoned one of his servants and gave him this decree,
“Go and stand at the door of the palace. If someone comes and asks to see me, open the door and allow them in so I may speak with them.”
So the servant went and did as the king commanded. People came from far and wide to see the king. Some were rich men, some were great scholars, others were from noble families, and when they asked to see the king the doorman gave them entry. Then one day a poor beggar came to the palace door and asked to see the king. The doorman looked him over and frowned.
The beggar’s clothes were dirty and torn, he wore no shoes and was unpleasant to look at.
“Surely my king would not wish to meet with such a man as this,” the doorman said to himself, and turned the beggar away. Soon the doorman began turning others away; people he deemed too poor, or too sick, or too strange. When the king discovered what was being done he summoned the doorman to him.
“Why have you been turning people away from the palace?” the king demanded angrily. The doorman was surprised and replied meekly, “My king, I was only performing the duty you gave me.”
“Your duty was to open the door for those who would see me,” said the king, “not decide if they were worthy to do so.”
It’s unfortunate when we behave like the doorman in this story. We style ourselves the “Watchmen on the Wall,” and if we see someone who doesn’t quite fit our definition of worthy, we slam the door in his or her face. But God’s grace is not ours to give away, and true forgiveness belongs to Christ alone. Our job is to open the door that leads to Christ, through prayer, through friendship, and through service. Remember, we all stand on equal footing at the door of Christ’s mercy.
“Let your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us in proportion to our waiting and hoping for You.” – Psalm 33:22 AMPC
How hard it can be to wait on God! As we wait, it can seem that nothing is happening and that He never will answer us. But the Bible speaks about a “proportion” of our hope. This proportion relates to the time we have spent getting to know and trust Him.
When we trust Him and know Him intimately, we are not worried about delays or temporary problems. We know that He is with us, loves us, and watches over us. And we have the patience to wait on Him. Waiting demonstrates that we trust Him.
Those who do not have an intimate relationship with God can tend to be preoccupied and worried, filled with turmoil, anxiety, uncertainty, and doubt.
But the Bible says that if we wait on the Lord, we will find our strength is renewed. “They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
God wants to have an intimate relationship with us. He wants us to have complete confidence in Him. We are not to panic but are to trust in Him. We are to remember that He loves and cares for us.
Spend time with God. Read His Word. Listen to His voice, and wait on Him. Praise and worship Him. Trust Him to renew your strength and give you His peace. Let Him deliver you from fear and worry.
Streams in the Desert – September 2
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
Unto you it is given… to suffer (Philippians 1:29).
God keeps a costly school. Many of its lessons are spelled out through tears. Richard Baxter said, “O God, I thank Thee for a bodily discipline of eight and fifty years”; and he is not the only man who has turned a trouble into triumph.
This school of our Heavenly Father will soon close for us; the term time is shortening every day. Let us not shrink from a hard lesson or wince under any rod of chastisement. The richer will be the crown, and the sweeter will be Heaven, if we endure cheerfully to the end and graduate in glory.
–Theodore L. Cuyler
The finest china in the world is burned at least three times, some of it more than three times. Dresden china is always burned three times. Why does it go through that intense fire? Once ought to be enough; twice ought to be enough. No, three times are necessary to burn that china so that the gold and the crimson are brought out more beautiful and then fastened there to stay.
We are fashioned after the same principle in human life. Our trials are burned into us once, twice, thrice; and by God’s grace these beautiful colors are there and they are there to stay forever.
Earth’s fairest flowers grow not on sunny plain,
But where some vast upheaval rent in twain
The smiling land.
After the whirlwinds devastating blast,
After the molten fire and ashen pall,
God’s still small voice breathes healing over all.
From riven rocks and fern-clad chasms deep,
Flow living waters as from hearts that weep,
There in the afterglow soft dews distill
And angels tend God’s plants when night falls still,
And the Beloved passing by that way
Will gather lilies at the break of day.