Written by Fr. Dale Minor - The Reclaim Ministry
Aging is a fact of life; it is what we do. When we are children, it is a vision of grown-up freedoms which can’t come fast enough. As young adults, it exists as some future calamity which perhaps can be avoided if we just live fast enough and smart enough. By middle age we have realized it is inevitable, yet we don’t know what to do with it; we mostly try to disguise it. As the years pass, we begin to take our aging more seriously, particularly as we deal with those who have died or are near death, and face our own mortality.
A perceived goal is to age gracefully. Some seem to age slowly, others do it more efficiently. For some, the process is an ordeal, for others it is an adventure. For those of faith, it’s a process with a glorious end. Yet it remains for us to live the life we are given, and we do it best if we have learned to age stubbornly.
Now, aging stubbornly does not mean being in denial. It is not about stubbornly denying our mortality. Instead, aging stubbornly speaks to the process in which we march steadily forward with a purpose. It means to acknowledge that God had a purpose for each of us when He created us. Our goal is to work out that purpose, and we do it to the degree we are able to hear Him clearly and follow Him faithfully. St. Paul called it running the race with the goal of seeking the prize of that upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Ref. Phil. 3:14) In short, aging stubbornly is to acknowledge that death to this life is a certainty, but one for which God has a remedy. Ours is to seek it steadfastly, -- that is, stubbornly.
The problem with aging seems to be that the inevitable changes which occur in our person and in those around us cause us to lose focus on our purpose. Rather than to focus on the prize, as St. Paul defined it, we become focused on our immediate situation. It has been said that a sure sign of getting old is when our primary conversations concern bodily functions; those which work and those which don’t. This goes along with the saying, “getting old isn’t for sissies.”
However, we can better handle and actually enjoy our aging when we are able to refocus on the task God has prepared for us. While we understand our greater call to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and souls and minds, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mt. 22:36); we must also deal with the specific task God has ordained for each day.
Trust in the Lord means we maintain a confident vision of the bigger picture while concentrating on the present. It acknowledges that which the Lord God has prepared for each of us from the beginning, and encourages us to live out the purpose for which we have been uniquely selected. We are assured that the Lord will not call us to do anything for which He has not first prepared us. Therefore, any limitations we think we have can be overcome by accepting the fact that we live to fulfill His purpose. And we discover His purpose only as we stay focused on Him, remain steadfast in our faith, and are willing to take just one more step.
We live because He wants us to live, and we do it best when we are determined to age stubbornly for Him.
The Long, Dark Tunnel
Written by Peggy Lundy - Heartland Church of Fort Wayne
Isn’t spring wonderful? Sunshine, warm days, bright daffodils, vibrant violets, and soft new grass are reminding us life gets renewed. Nature continues to sing as if the only trouble it’s known lately was winter, just like every year since forever. And yet, in spite of all that reawakening, we have been put on hold . . . indefinitely.
Waiting has never been a hardship for me, especially when alone, but I’ve never enjoyed waiting for an indefinite length of time. The ever-moving, shifting date for the end of “hunkering down” is distressing. It’s like being in an ever-extending railroad tunnel, that no matter how long or how fast your train flies down the track, the light at the end is always far, far away. Voices all around you are frightened, nervous, demanding, threatening, and accusatory. You try clinging to hope but feel it disintegrate with the light. It seems as though the darkness could smother you. You take a deep breath, fearing it will be your last. Then you hear a voice of calm in the chaos saying, “Soon. The light will return. The tunnel grows shorter.”
The conductor. Of course! If anyone knows when the tunnel ends, he does. He’s certainly ridden these rails before. Your pulse slows. Another deep breath relaxes your straining nerves. And the tunnel becomes just another part of the journey, another detail along the way.
As we chug along this track through the spring of 2020, remember to listen for the voice of The Conductor. Here are some of His Words I have been hearing. What has He been speaking to you? Write them down. Repeat them until they take root in your thoughts.
“But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28 NASB
“I will never leave you or forsake you.“ Hebrews 13:5b HCSB
“My plans are going to bless you, not bring you harm.” Jeremiah 29:11 (paraphrased)
“I make things work together for your good. Especially as you love me and pursue my purposes for your life.” Romans 8:28 (paraphrased)
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 2:11 NASB
“Keep rejoicing, keep praying, and keep giving thanks in everything.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (paraphrased)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Revelation 22:13 NASB
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that Your presence is always with us, comforting us and lighting our path. Please, attune our ears to more clearly hear Your voice. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
*credit to Rhonda Bailey (Heartland Church of Fort Wayne) for this devotional's visual content.
For Such a Time as This
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - The Reclaim Ministry
“Mordecai told them to answer Esther: ‘Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’"
This passage from the Book of Esther speaks of a time when the King, Queen Esther’s husband, was being persuaded to destroy all the Jews of the province. The rules of the palace were so strict that even the Queen could not approach the King without invitation, under the penalty of death. Esther, a Jewess, had been asked by Mordecai, her cousin and a man who had earlier proven his loyalty to the king, to intercede with the King to save his people.To do this was quite risky for, yet Mordecai encouraged her to trust God and do what was right for her people; reminding her that she had been called “for just a time as this.”
We are now in a time when the people of our nation and of the world face an uncertain future. No, we are not greatly concerned that one political party or one ethnic group will annihilate another, (although rhetoric from some quarters approaches such thought.) but we are facing an enemy more feared in that it cannot be seen and no good weapon has been found to combat it. So we are on the defensive and have been instructed to separate ourselves from one another by staying home and avoid unnecessary traveling. And we are finding it difficult. So we are called to make sacrifices, we will have to suffer a little, some more than others; but we can do this, if we trust in the Lord. We can do this because He has prepared us for just a time as this.
St. Paul reminds us that Jesus came to earth in God’s perfect timing. Galatians 4:4-5; “But, when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive adoption as sons.” -- “In the fullness of time” means in God’s good timing. It means, “for just a time as this.”
Everything that Jesus has done and continues to do is in God’s timing. And if it is in God’s timing, it is for our benefit.
Jesus called his disciples, including us, to follow Him, for just a time as this.
He healed the sick, the blind, the deaf and the lame for just a time as this.
He cast demons out of the possessed for just a time as this. He called us to follow his examples of love and mercy and kindness for just a time as this.
Jesus taught us how to pray and to be disciplined in fasting and meditation on God’s word for just a time as this.
He showed us how He had the power to forgive sins and taught us to forgive others for just a time as this.
He chose to suffer and die for our sins, and promised to send the Holy Spirit to us for just a time as this.
Jesus lived and died and walked among us to grant us eternal life, as well as to enable us to be prepared and strong for such a time as this.
Celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord this Sunday from wherever you are, in full knowledge and strength that the work Jesus did on the cross was for you and for such a time as this.
In a Time of Reset
Written by Laura Strack - Heartland Church of Fort Wayne
How quickly times can change! I have had periods in my life, as we all have, when personal circumstances have changed, and I found myself at a loss ... fearful, sometimes angry, confused, stumbling around, and unsure of what to do. God has used those times to shape and mold me, teaching me to fear less and trust Him more, to not rely on my own strength but to turn to Him a little quicker, to take time to press into His word rather than leaning on my own understanding. And I have experienced times of corporate change at work, where changes in policies and schedules have affected my life. Change is inevitable, but I can honestly say I have never encountered anything such as the COVID-19 virus and the changes it has brought to all of our lives.
As I have been processing this trial and the ever-changing grid of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past couple of weeks, I keep hearing the word "reset" over and over again. I believe God has us in a time of reset and even though we may not like the restraints, inconveniences, uncertainty, panic, and all the seeming insanity of it all, it is not without purpose.
Resets are necessary at times. Maybe the power went out and you need to get back on the right time. Maybe your memory is too full on a device, and it needs to be reset so some of the clutter is removed and it can operate efficiently again. Maybe you fell and broke a bone, and it needs to be reset so it can heal properly and be restored. Maybe you have to reset a piece of machinery so it can make improvements or even a completely new part. Are you seeing these images as I think about things being reset? Timing, clutter being removed for a more efficient use, healing and restoration, something new?
Isaiah 55:6-8 (MSG) says, “Seek God while he’s here to be found, pray to him while he’s close at hand. Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking. Let them come back to God, who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness. I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
I don't know about you, but I am finding I need God to reset my thinking daily and often hour by hour. Am I going to give in to fear, depression, or anger? No, I am choosing to let Him reset my thoughts, emotions, and will. Sometimes it takes a little longer to get there, but I am determined to be reset as I come back to God and be transparent with Him and others and repent of my own wicked ways.
There was one more definition of reset from the Collins Dictionary that I found to be the most interesting of all. In Scottish, the word reset means the receiving of stolen goods. What?! Oh, I don't know about you, but I am ready to receive some things back that the enemy of my soul has stolen from me! Things like peace, health, relationships, family members back in right standing with God, and loved ones delivered from the enemy's hands.
Father, Your ways are not our ways and Your thoughts are not our thoughts. Forgive us when we forget and allow our flesh to rule us and we complain or murmur about what You are doing. You are a merciful God, who will lavish Your forgiveness and mercy upon us when we come back to you and turn from our wicked ways. Help us be willing and mindful of the reset You want to do in our lives, both individually and worldwide, as we look to You. Amen.
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