Do you ever find yourself staring at a to-do list on a Monday morning and wondering where to start? Yesterday morning I was like a deer staring into the headlights of a Mac truck. I had two books to edit, a house that needed cleaning, a pile of laundry that looked like a bed for a horse and a son, still on vacation who wanted to go swimming. If I’m not careful, I can get so overwhelmed that it sends me into a semi-comatose state where I think to myself, “I know what to do, I’ll take a nap.” Now, I have nothing against naps, I am a big fan of naps, but I only got up two hours earlier. So, I took a deep breath, a cup of coffee and I slipped out of the house onto the back patio and sat in my Father’s presence. Psalm 46:10 reads, “Be still and know that I am God.” The Hebrew root of, ‘Be still’ means-Let go! I used to think that verse was encouraging me be still in perfect silence until I attained some mystical knowledge of God. I found that very hard. Now I consciously bring everything I have to do and everyone I love to God and I let go. I let go of the stress of getting it all right or even done on time. I let go of my desire to be perfect and I stay there in the love of God until that joy is greater than anything that needs to get done. I pray that for you today. I don’t know what your to-do list looks like but I pray that it pails in comparison to the awareness of how much you are loved by your heavenly Father.
Some fads seem to spring up in our culture and for a moment they are everywhere, and just as quickly, they are gone. I wondered at first whether Twitter, Facebook and other social media networking outlets that have spread like wildfire would share the same fate. It would seem however that they have found a place within our hearts, homes and daily lives that many of us would be reluctant to give up. At first, I just liked knowing where my friends were and what they were doing, but then something happened that changed everything for me.
I read a ‘tweet’ from a friend asking for prayer for a little girl, Kate McRae, who is five years old and has been recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. There was a link to a Caringbridge site that told more of Kate’s story and I began to pray for this little one and for the rest of her family. I asked those who follow me on Twitter or who are Facebook friends to join me in asking God to have mercy on this child. Many others did too. I now know that thousands and thousands of people are daily lifting up this whole family in prayer. A friend of mine who is the Director of an International Relief Agency said to me, “I think this is the greatest use I have witnessed of a social media site.” Within moments now we can alert people all around the world to a particular crisis or injustice and raise our voices together. I still love to know where my friends are and what they are up to, but I am very grateful to be part of a connected community that believes in the power of prayer and support.
There are many people who count it a true joy to share the things that make you smile and the things that weigh you down. You are not alone.
“Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself.” Galatians 6:2-3 (NLT)
It was early on a Sunday morning when I boarded my flight home to Dallas. I smiled at the woman who was already seated in my row but she didn’t return the smile. She was a very striking woman that I imagined to be in her sixties. I thought, “She either just wants to be left alone or she is afraid to fly.” As I watched her clutch the armrest for dear life I decided it was the latter. “Are you doing okay?” I asked. “I hate to fly,” she said. “We’ll be fine,” I tried to assure her, “God will not take his eyes off us for one moment.” She turned to look me full in the face. “Do you believe that?” she asked. “With every fiber of my being,” I said. “Now I don’t mean that bad things don’t ever happen to those who love him, but I will not go one moment before my time. I have a race to run.”
Tears began to form in her beautiful brown eyes and spill down her cheeks. “I’ve never thought of that before,” she said. “I struggle with suffering. I don’t understand why children die or plane crashes happen.” “I don’t either,” I admitted, “some people finish their race in eighty years, others in eighty days, only God knows why.”
We talked some more and as our flight was about to land I asked her what the purpose of her trip to California had been? “To meet you,” she said. “I have no doubt now, it was to meet you.”
What I saw again that day is how hungry people are to know that God loves them and is watching over them. If you know this outrageous love, don’t miss a moment to shine. Perhaps you are one of the hungry ones. May I just say this; God loves you, as you are right now-don’t waste another moment questioning that!
I have always been a stargazer. One of my favorite things to do as a child was to lie on a blanket on the grass and wait for the stars and the moon to appear. From a child-like perspective the sun seemed to beat down on me but the moon smiled on me and so I smiled back. Some nights the moon seemed so very close even though I knew from science class that it was a quarter of a million miles away. I was fascinated by the lives of astronauts and had determined that if school children were ever to be included in space travel I would be the first on board. I never imagined for a moment that not only would we be able to circle the moon but that I would get to watch as a U.S. astronaut stepped out of the lunar module and put his foot on the surface of the moon.
On the morning of July 1969, forty years ago today astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins took their places aboard Apollo 11 at the Kennedy Space Center and at 9:32AM they had lift off. My sister Frances and I watched it on our television in Ayr Scotland. Fascinated as I was by the launch, it was the landing and subsequent walk on the moon I wanted to see. The trouble was that the moonwalk was to take place at almost 11PM Eastern U.S. time, which was 4AM Scottish time. My mom said that as we had school the next day we couldn’t possibly watch it, but it would be re-aired on television many times over. I was a very compliant child who didn’t give my mom much trouble at all, but this was simply unacceptable to me. “Mom, this moment will never come again in all human history and you want me to sleep through it!!!” So we made a deal. If I would go to bed very early that night she would wake me up for a ‘walking-on-the-moon’ picnic. I will never forget the wonder and exhilaration I felt as I listened to those now infamous words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
When I went back to bed that night I left my bedroom curtain open and stared at the moon out of my window. I prayed for the men, that God would keep them safe, and return them to their families. “They are so far away Father. That’s how you seem sometimes, too – so far away.” As I closed my eyes that night I know that God was watching them as he was watching me as he was watching you. That is the great mystery of God; though at times he seems so far away he is as close as your next breath, only a prayer away.