Friday, June 15, 2018

when have you felt lost in the wilderness of your life?

Years ago, when I drove a semi across the country, I remember when I came to the desert states of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Nevada. Desert: Plain, lifeless. Nothing to see for miles around.

The next few times I drove through there, I took another look. Mountains! Cactus! The most awesome pink sunrise in Albuquerque! It literally turned everything pink! It made me rethink the desert in a good way. Although I much prefer my home state of Minnesota with its many lakes, rivers, trees and wildlife, the desert gave me much to think about.

In the New Testament, there are also references to the desert. Jesus, it is written, would go to the "wilderness" to pray. In the region He lived in, it was semi-arid. Dry, desert like. Not a whole lot to inspire anyone, right? But think about it again: dry, desert-like. Actually it is the perfect place to find God! Because we all go through those desert-like times in our lives, times when we too, feel dried up, wasted, lifeless. It is then that we cry out for God, that cry in the wilderness of our lives, when we feel so alone and vulnerable. And like the "Footprints" poem, it is then that God carries us.

The desert is quiet. There are few, if any, distractions. Again, the perfect place to hear God's Voice if we but listen! Listen! Sometimes we tend to drown out the Voice of God by our constant fears. God may be speaking to US, but because we may have our own ideas of how our answer should be, we miss Him entirely. Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert. He took His followers there. He taught them the Lord's Prayer there. Many wonderful things happened in that desert, a place we tend to think of as lifeless.

When I feel the need to hear God, I tend to gravitate to the forest, the trees there shelter me, the coolness of the air stimulates me. The many animals that inhabit it inspire me. I am not a desert person, and yet here I live on the edge of the prairie! A prairie is vast, huge! There is a joke that says out here you can watch your dog run away for two weeks before you finally lose sight of it. Yet there have been times when I have watched clouds billow up into a thunderstorm, the might and majesty overwhelmingly awesome. I have seen tiny seeds grow into mighty fields of corn,life-giving food. I used to think, when I was young, that if I ran to the edge of a wheat field, I could catch the sun before it sank into a puddle at the end of it. Such child-like wonder, right? But then again, God calls us all to be like little children. Little children feel awe at something so grand. To them, anything is an adventure, yet they also need to feel secure when life overwhelms them. This brings us back to that desert experience. Deserts are beautiful. They are grand, they can seem endless. yet is there in that emptiness that we can reach out to God--and He will reach down the rest of the way.

Have no fear, God is with you always...even until the end of time.

Friday, June 8, 2018

when you feel like giving up--don't!

When I get sick and tired, and I mean really feeling that way, what do I do? I always turn to the Lord and ask Him to help me get my attitude right. Right? Wrong. Sometimes but not always. Sometimes I stew. I go over and over in my mind what I'm sick and tired about. Guess what, never fails to make me feel sicker and tired-er. (Is tired-er a word?). Then I read some scripture about rejoicing in the Lord always and in everything give thanks. And I think yeah but not right now. Or some happy Christian comes along and starts spilling joy all over me, and instead of rejoicing with them I stay on the complain train. Okay so I get it if you're feeling sick and tired, and maybe you've got good reason to be. But here's the deal. God wants to grace us moment by moment so we can overcome what gets us down. So, the thing to do, really, is to turn to Him, humble ourselves and ask for help. He always graces those who do. Bible says so. Healing for the sick and renewal for the tired. Amen. 

Suicide has claimed two known celebrities in the last three days: Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. From the outside, they 'had it all', thus the term, "celebrity." However, it would seem that despair took over what seemed to be an idyllic life, rendering it extinct long before it should have ended.

The news headlines today screamed how suicide has skyrocketed in the last twenty years. Why has the rate gone up? Could it be that in our world of having everything at our fingertips just isn't good enough? We have instant gratification through social media, through news on the spot whenever we want it, we have gadgets that create less work, thus giving us, in theory, more time at our bidding. Yet it seems it is those very things that have isolated us.
I pray one day soon mental illness will no longer have a stigma attached to it and that those struggling will get the help they so desperately need and deserve! You are loved. You are valued, you are important, you matter, there is always hope!!

We need to understand that the devil is the Deceiver. He wants others to feel so deep in despair that taking their lives is the only answer for them. He revels in the fact that he has taken yet one more soul from God. But we also have Jesus! We have Someone who has told us, "take my yoke upon you, for my burden is light." When you feel as if you are in the midst of darkness--and who of us hasn't at one time or other, this reverend included--call out to God. I mean, cry out to Him. You really are not alone.

A new CDC report shows an alarming rise in the number of suicides in the U.S. If you or someone you know is in distress, help is always available. You can text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 741741, or call 800-273-8255. Help is available 24 hours a day.