Proud To Have a Son Like You
A 17-year old boy in New York City decided to end his life by jumping off a hotel roof. He had been beaten by his father and felt it made no difference to anyone what became of him. A police officer came up on the roof, and after talking for a while said, “I’d be proud to have a son like you.” The policeman convinced him to come down. The bachelor cop became the young man’s guardian, and the boy went to live with him. A short time later the boy’s mother showed up. She had learned of his whereabouts from the publicity. Fifteen years earlier she had lost custody of him, but she still loved him. Today, he lives with his mother and stepfather in Texas. Those simple words: “I’d be proud to have a son like you,” offered him enough hope to keep on living.
No Accidents or Coincidences
We begin to see God working in our lives when we stop believing in two things: accidents and coincidences. Because neither exist! Nothing just kinda, sorta happens! In Genesis 43, the Patriarch Joseph had not seen ten of his brothers in over 20 years. He was now the #2 leader in Egypt. So, they were completely amazed, when he seated them in the order of their ages, from oldest to youngest. This arrangement of the brothers was so amazing to them because they sensed it couldn’t have happened by chance. Statistically, the odds of placing ten brothers in their precise order of birth would be something like 1 in 40 million. Open your eyes to the improbabilities in your life and you’ll begin to see the miraculous hand of God.
Would you like to have a blessed, peaceful, and fulfilling life? No one wants that for you more than God. But you’re going to have to trust Him more than what you see and feel in order to experience this. If you trust God, the sky is never falling! Actually, the opposite is always true! Blessings are about to rain down from Heaven! Stop reacting to your circumstances and trust God. Trust God more than your “perspective”. Trust God to resolve your “past”. Trust God more than your “feelings”. Let’s draw a line in the sand today! Trust God in your famines… trust God with your pain…trust God more than your fears. For He alone knows your future and your destiny. This is a great opportunity to trust God from this day forward.
Abandonment and Rejection
I think abandonment and rejection are two of the most hurtful feelings you can ever experience. The clearest demonstration of abandonment and rejection in my own life was in an oppressive boarding school, from 11years old thru high school. I felt completely alone and discarded. I would tie a towel at the end of my bed at night, indicating I wanted to get up for an early morning religious service. Not because I liked going. I thought it was boring. It was always dark and cold getting up at 5:30. But I would still get up because the person who woke me up would gently shake me; and that simple, two-second gesture was the only loving touch I had all day. Who in your life needs a loving touch, a hug that makes them know they are loved and cared for?
The Value of Tears
Do you see the value of your tears? In Genesis 42:23, the patriarch Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his brothers, now faced them, but they didn’t recognize him. As they talked openly in a language they thought he didn’t understand, Joseph was so overcome with emotion that he suddenly left the room and found a place to weep. I understand finding a place to weep. I do it in worship. I put my face in my hands when my heart is overwhelmed with emotion. I weep when I hear of a person’s broken heart or a child being abused. I also do it when I’m in desperate need of God either softening my heart or rescuing me as He often does. Jesus wept! (John 11:35) Don’t be afraid to weep. I’ve found it’s a shortcut to God’s heart.
Revenge or Restore
The world’s headline is often: “REVENGE”! But God’s headline is always: “RESTORE”! There are too many angry Christians in the world. First-century Christ-followers didn’t see their enemies converted because they out-talked or out-intellectualized them. They didn’t bully or browbeat them either. They won them over because they out-loved them. They loved those who were persecuting and killing them, and it set in motion a chain reaction of incomprehensible responses that eroded their prejudice and broke open their hard hearts. In this politically charged season, don’t believe the lie that you can lose your peace with a bad attitude and still demonstrate the life of Jesus for others to see. People don’t want the God we talk about, until they see Jesus shining through us. Mercy will always triumph over judgment.
Burned Out Float
A high school class worked on an elaborate float for a parade. It took months of preparation, and three days of continuous work. At last, it was finished and ready to be judged. The night before being presented to the judges, vandals set it on fire, and burned it down to the trailer. Some of the Christian students went to the church, to ask their pastor what they could do. They were angry and wanted to get even. Instead of getting mad he encouraged them to pick greenery and put it on the charred remains of the float. This would say to their classmates, that even in the face of evil and destruction, they weren’t going to be discouraged. They took his advice and when the awards were announced, the burned-out float won 2nd place.
Wait Five Minutes
We rarely, if ever, understand the season we’re in. Consequently, we shouldn’t name what God is doing until it’s over. We’re changing more than we know. Our skin is new every month, our liver every six weeks, even our brains change every year. And we are not the only moving targets. All God’s creation is morphing, from “glory to glory”, from “strength to strength”, from “old to new”. The patterns of God are the same and yet different! Nothing is new under the sun, and yet every day varies from the last. God has given all living things the capacity to renew themselves. Therefore, seeming disorder is the birth pang for God’s new order. Unfamiliar becomes familiar, and random births the new. If you don’t like what’s happening in your life, wait five minutes.
My wife is one of the best listeners in the history of the world. I’m not very good. Not surprisingly, better to be a good listener than a great speaker. Solomon received the blessing of the Lord when he asked for a “hearing heart”. This so pleased God, he said to Solomon, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies…I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.” (1 Kings 3:11-12, ESV) The Bible says, “Be quick to hear, and slow to speak,” (James 1:19) for it is only by listening can we hear the God who knows the past, present and future. It is only by listening people can sense that we really care.
Forgetfulness and Forgiveness
There’s no question that the Old Testament patriarch Joseph had a hard life. So when he named his first-born son Manasseh, “…he said, ‘God has made me forget all my troubles…’” (Genesis 41:51) Manasseh’s name means “forgetfulness”! And instead of forgetting who he was or where he came from, Joseph chose to forget about his troubles and forgive those who hurt him! In his book The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis describes “Hell” as a place where no one forgets anything, and remembers every cruel exchange of words, every wrong ever done to them – and everybody is completely unforgiving. If you are willing to revisit your painful past with God’s perspective, you can redefine it for your good. God wants to heal your past if you will just let Him.
What does the headline in your life read? Hope Lost, or Destiny Fulfilled? The Old Testament Patriarch Jacob saw the famine his family faced as another demonstration that everything was going wrong. But the truth was that God would use the famine to save his family from starvation; reunite Jacob with his lost son, Joseph; and set his other sons free from the guilt and shame of trying to kill their brother. God will use the famines in each of our lives for our good, if we will let Him. One famine in my own life lasted for years, but eventually it established winter as my favorite season. I have seen first-hand “famine” produce in me what “abundance” never could. What season are you in? If it’s famine, and you respond with courage and trust, you will see it as Destiny Fulfilled and not Hope Lost.
Have you ever cheated, or taken something that didn’t belong to you? Most of us have. A 21-year old American man was recently sentenced to 15 years hard labor in North Korea for stealing a propaganda banner. Our own government even has a Federal Conscience Fund, which collects money that people send in because they’ve cheated the government in some way. People have sent in money because they took army blankets for souvenirs, cheated on postage, or even on their income tax. Though it may sound trivial, those who know God know He cares about the little things in life as much as the big things. The Bible says, “Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love…” (Song of Solomon 2:15, NLT) I’ve found if I lose sight of the little things, eventually I’ll lose sight of the big things.