You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2011.

To be encouraged is to receive encouragement.  Encouragement is ever available but it may not be able to get into one’s spirit because of one kind of blockage or another.  Grief, emotional turmoil, routine activities, special events, can prevent encouragement from getting inside of a spirit.  Furthermore, life’s circumstances not being as one would like them to be can be so negative as to build a wall around the heart such that encouragement is banned from the heart.  When encouragement is blocked, hope is blocked.
 
These weeks leading to Christmas are weeks to be mindful of Jesus, the One who came into the world ever mindful of you and of me.  He IS encouragement–personified.  To receive Jesus and the life-giving message His presence offers, is to allow Him entry into a heart by seeking His way and not our way.  Do you think this is hard to do in the throes of grief?  It can be.  However, Jesus is with you in the challenges of goodbyes and transitions that are painful and unwanted.  He still and forever wants to be beside you and walk with you through this time in your life.
 
Lord Jesus, You came into this world to be the beacon of hope to a lost and dying world.  When people experience personal loss, it may seem as if all has died.  You have not.  Your life brings life anew.  Help each one who grieves, Lord Jesus, to be encouraged by Your presence and to trust Your heart of faithfulness beyond their own.  In Thee, Lord Christ, Amen.

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Blessings are both seen and unseen.  Known and unknown.  Loss takes travelers on a journey through grief that is blessed with certain remembrances clear and others that are blurry at best.  When grief comes into a life, “blessing” takes on a different meaning entirely.  Jesus defines blessings.
 
If you or someone you know struggles to see the blessings in life due to a significant loss and transition, Jesus is the only One who can make a difference in that struggle and enable one to find meaning in it.  Leaving matters to Jesus is a choice.  He wants to help.  He is the help.  He is the One who brings meaning out of uncertainties and makes gratitude possible–still.
 
Lord Jesus, because of You even in losses that hurt and dismay, there is still reason to give thanks and to remember.  Help those who griieve to recognize what Your heart already sees.  Thank You, Lord, Jesus, for everything.  Amen.

Openings.  They come in different forms.  When loss enters a life, it may seem as though life has closed rather than opened.  Grief does that.  It limits one’s sense of new possibilities and opportunities–but only for a time.  Grief has a way of sensitizing one to emotions, actions, memories, and choices, that nothing else can.  This sensitivity does allow for new openings.  Experiencing them takes time.
 
The Lord is the giver of life.  When endings in life come, there is still something new ahead. Grief may blur that truth for a time.  However, the Lord walks with those who grieve, and the Lord’s presence accompanies a griever to new life, new openings.  When one is ready to walk into areas of new hope, Jesus will be there.  Readiness for new openings and beginnings differs but the presence of Jesus remains steady.  He will be there.
 
Lord Jesus, You want life.  You want continuance.  You understand fully how grief can weigh down a spirit.  Yet, You companion with those who grieve and offer quiet hope for the future.  Thank You, Lord, for Your steady presence.  In Thee, Lord Jesus, Amen.

Sometimes life brings experiences that we can either run from or grow from.  Grief is one of those experiences that we may want to avoid.  But if wisdom is given proper place, then grief becomes a catalyst for growth.  Losses in life stretch us–emotionally, physically, mentally.  Because of them we are given to see who we might become. That may or may not be a welcome sight—at first.
 
With Jesus, every loss can be turned into something of benefit for spiritual growth.  But letting Jesus in to be part of that growth process, and trusting Him to redeem loss, is an act of faith.  Grievers often do not think there is much faith to invest but it is not personal faith one offers.  In such times of loss it is Jesus’ faith in you, in me, that matters.  His faith is needed to trust Him with the future; a future as close as the next hour.
 
Love of Life, You promised that those who will trust You will never walk without you.  Thank you, Lord, for making THE difference in times of loss and transition.  Because of You hope is real and the potential for growth is as close as Your breath.  In Thee, Lord Jesus, Amen.

ARROWS

I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.  Amen.    Matthew 28:20

Recently when traveling through a mountainous terrain in the south, I came along a crew of workers constructing a new road in a mountain.  There were only a few cars going through this area but were directed to slow down.  For a short distance, the dust created from the vehicular equipment carving out the road, obstructed vision.  It was essential to slow down until the dust passed and the clear view of a perfect autumnal day was again in view.  Any physical arrow to navigate would have been useless for I would not have been able to see it.  I simply had to slow down and at one point stop because this was the safest and smartest thing to do. 

When trying to get from point A to point B, arrows are helpful indicators to direct us to destinations.  Arrows are posted on signs on the road, buildings, some maps, modern technological devices in vehicles, and on packaging.  Arrows are symbols that move from one place to another with a purpose—getting people where they need to go.  However, when grief is a companion on life’s journey, a purpose for getting from point A to point B may not be clear, and may not even be desired.  Motivation may be listless at best.  That is where Jesus comes in to be The Arrow to bring one’s focus to Him.  Slowing down and stopping to spend time with Jesus is a safe and smart thing to do.

Jesus will point you and me in the right direction if we let Him.  Jesus will never force anyone to look to Him and follow His lead.  But the Holy Spirit will persevere with His presence to lead one to a closer relationship with Jesus.  Grief seasons can allow one to be so needful of comfort that Jesus is given openness to a heart that He may not have been given before a significant loss occurred.  Furthermore, one who has been walking with Jesus for a long time and has trusted Him to be The Arrow of a life may find one seeing Him with fresh eyes since Jesus will stay in this uncharted path of grief.

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.  I travel for travel’s sake.  The great affair is to move, said Robert Louis Stevenson.  Aimless may seem the way when a season of loss must be lived through.  But unlike physical travel, spiritual travels transport us to places unknown and unseen.  Often grief is the bridge that carries people to discoveries not possible by any other means.  Even if those views are at first undesirable, with Jesus they have the potential of becoming personal vistas that are worthy and enterprising.

Travel is typically a desired action.  However, sometimes it is a required one to help to be present to others, to learn, to work.  When grief enters a life and one is forced to navigate this terrain, asking Jesus to be the companion is one’s best defense against unexpected turns in the road and detours.  He wants to accompany you.  Will you let Him?

Jesus, You came into the world out of love for people.  You know the pain that love sometimes produces, for relationships involve and require unforeseen experiences that include loss and transition.  You are The Arrow that lives to love, to guide, to assure.  Jesus, Thank You for Your steady presence and availability to keep pointing people in the right direction.  May Your promise to be with us always be the living hope that keeps hearts warmed and hopeful for tomorrows yet to come.  In Thee Lord Christ, Amen.