A Reminder to Remember

I am beginning to identify with Jeremiah, the one called “the weeping prophet.” Not that I consider myself a prophet, but I am one who weeps.  
Each time my fingers tap out the words to send from my heart to yours, this thought runs through my brain, “Maybe I should write something that has a lighter feel.” And each time God whispers to my ear that there are so many people hurting, struggling, wounded, and uncertain about the future. I count myself one of the many.

We truly want to finish well the race that is set before us. But in the spirit of authenticity, sometimes I find my faith teetering on the fence of doubt. 

Perhaps the days of lightheartedness will come soon. I hope so. 

But for now, we are called to-

lock arms 
hold one another up 
offer grace when one stumbles
lift each other up
and take one more step in this heavenly race.


We are to remember that this world truly is not our permanent home (Hebrews 13:14). There is a glorious place waiting for us. But until we stand face to face with Christ in all of His glory, we must remember we are ambassadors of His kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). We are called to bring what’s up there down here in our day to day lives. We are reflectors of grace, set apart for a greater purpose.

We are called to know Him and the power of His resurrection as well as the fellowship of His suffering (Philippians 3:10). Confession time. We have all seen that crazed football fan. The one who paints his/her face with the team colors and roars with every advancement of the ball down the field then jumps up punching the air with his/her giant sponge hand when the team scores.  That’s me when I hear the first part of this verse, “the power of His resurrection.” YES!!! Go, God! That’s what I want to see, the resurrection power. 

As I reflect on this verse in light of so many who find themselves in life’s hard places, there is a clearer message coming into view. There can be no resurrection power without death first. Wow! I never saw that before. 

Maybe today you are experiencing a death of sorts–the death of a dream, a job, a relationship, health, or expectation. My friend, these are the places where His resurrection power breathes life into dry bones. 

Every victory won was first a battle fought.
Each body cured, was first a disease diagnosed.
All mountain top views were reached by trekking the valley.


This week’s “Hope for the Journey” is less organized in thought than I am comfortable with.  However, it seemed fitting to take a step back and remember some truths about who we are and who we are called to be. Suffering never negates the greater purposes of God or our identity in Him. 
 

Stand strong, dear one. Hold tight to His promises. Live with your eyes wide open to…

His divine peace
His miraculous ways
His overwhelming joy
His unexplainable presence
His extravagant love
His wondrous grace


This is our God!
Remember Him and live in awe.

Until next time, let’s find hope in the journey,
Evelyn

Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of Evelyn’s columns, see her blog Hope for the Journey.

When All You Have is a Silent Prayer

My drive into work finds the car filled with an unfamiliar silence. This space is typically flooded with prayers and contemplation woven together with an outburst of worship songs. But not today. Fatigue weighs on my shoulders like a wet blanket…pressing down, smothering. I am trying hard to pray, but nothing escapes my lips but a deep sigh. “Lord, there’s nothing I can say that I haven’t already said.  I am worn. So, if it is ok with you, I will exhale a silent prayer.” 

I wait in uncomfortable silence. Will He speak? If He does, will it be the answer to so many prayers I have wept? Will strength find its way to my weary bones? 

Then in the quiet, I hear that still small voice, “Look around.” Hands clutched tight around the steering wheel I glance to the left. The sun is peeking up over the eastern horizon spreading rays of vibrant orange, plum red, and canary yellow across the sky. I turn to the right and catch a glimpse of cornfields, swaying gently with the rhythm of the wind. My heart inhales deep gratitude for the farmers who thought their fields would lie in muddy waste this year.  My eyes are waking up as I spy geese skimming the diamond-studded ponds on either side of the road. The fog begins to lift off of the landscape and my heart as I take in the wonders of His handiwork.  

He speaks.

“My child, you have prayed all your wants, concerns, and needs. Though I long to hear your heart, there is something you are missing. You are consumed with expressing your weaknesses, while I am more concerned that you understand my strength. This life is less about you constantly remembering your inefficiencies and more about embracing my all-sufficiency. Remember me, who I am. I am God.

God

With that simple yet profound word whispered to my heart partnered with the visual reminder of His creative power, hope and strength begin to rise. 

There are books of the Bible that get referenced abundantly when we face trials. David paints a picture of the authentic heart throughout all of the Psalms. We get a front-row seat to his deepest struggles and his resolve as he concludes that God is God. Somehow, his version of man’s inner wrestling is easier to identify with than say that of Lamentations. Just the mention of Lamentations and I feel as though I have watched a movie where all the heroes die in the end. 

Yet today, that is precisely where God led me. Tucked away in this book of deep grief is a passage that solidifies what God has been speaking to me in the car. Written by someone whose prayers were steeped in more pain than the ones I have been praying. But someone who in the middle of the crushing remembered the very character of God…and that was enough. 

But this I call to mind,
and therefore, I have hope:
 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore, I will hope in Him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24

There is truth to be gleaned from the old hymn Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

It has been quite some time since I have shifted my gaze toward Him. I had allowed the weight of my circumstances to nag at me, reminding me of lack. But one glance in his direction was all I needed to remind me that He is enough. No matter what surrounds me, He is enough to face it head-on. 

What about you? Do the voices in your head pull your gaze away from the one who loves you more than you love yourself? Are your eyes locked tight on your failures rather than His faithfulness? Then maybe these verses from Lamentations will guide your vision back to His glory like they did mine.

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
to the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3:25-26

Oh, my friends, life gets so busy and burdens pile up. It is in our nature to grab hold of our failures rather than reach for His faithfulness. But if we are to be a people of hope in troubled times, then we must turn our gaze away from our inadequacies and behold the One who is more than enough. 

“Father, the landfill of my failures continues to pile up. But You, oh God, are the faithful one. Today, fix my eyes on you the one starter and finisher of my faith. Remind me of all the ways you have led me up to this point in my life. And as I remember, may hope rise out of the ashes. May I see with a fresh vision that you God, who created all things, is the very one that cradles my heart in your hands.”

Until next time, let’s find hope in the journey,
Evelyn Sherwood

Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of Evelyn’s columns, see her blog Hope for the Journey.

Who Are My Neighbors and How Do I Love Them?

He asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

This past Sunday, Steve preached a message about what it means to start each day by “putting on Jesus.” What does it mean to get up each day and lay down self to be clothed with Christ? In the sermon, he shared the story of the good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37. One I grew up hearing.

In short, a Jewish man gets beat up, robbed and left for dead. A priest walks by, sees the man and crosses over to the other side of the street. Then an assistant at the temple walks over, takes a look at the man lying in a crumpled heap, and turns away from the desperate scene. Finally, a Samaritan, despised by the Jews, sees the wounded man and has compassion. He cares for the man’s wounds then goes even further by ensuring that his medical needs were cared for. Jesus asked which of the three was a neighbor to the man. 

This morning as I climbed into the car for my morning commute, the question Jesus asked so many years ago, haunts my heart. I will most likely not come upon a physically wounded stranger.  But I may find myself surrounded by those whose wounds and scars are hidden to the natural eye. But I want to put on Jesus. I want to walk in compassion. How will I know if I don’t have His eyes to see? This line of thinking prompts a prayer on my lips, “Lord, who is my neighbor today?” 

That was the prayer, plain and simple, nothing more. But that simple prayer set my heart on a journey. It was an invitation to journey with eyes wide open to the wounded. An invitation to embrace my neighbor and wrap their wounds with grace. I arrived at work ready to meet my neighbor.

What a surprise God had in store for me. Instead of God sprinkling my path with neighbors to love He brought neighbors to love on me. I was the wounded one, lying in a heap and I didn’t even know it. But God let unassuming strangers see me. They saw past the facade of “I’m fine, really I am.”

It started with the lady at the flower shop who heard me as I shared why I needed pink flowers. “My friend is still in the hospital battling cancer. She loves pink.” With that, a few extra flowers and greenery were added to the mix at no additional cost. With an encouraging word and a bit of wisdom, “Don’t forget to take care of yourself,” she sent me on my way. 

It was in the smile of the barista who looked me in the deep in the eyes and asked, “So, how is your day going?” Her gaze at me reflected a heart that genuinely cared. 

It was the bubbly teller at the bank, the one who threw her arms up in excitement as I entered the building. She had mistaken me for a dear friend. Though I was a temporary embarrassment, the kindness, smile, and conversation that proceeded, brought a ray of sunshine to both of us. 

While I had hoped to be a neighbor to others, God taught me a lesson today.

When we love the Lord with our whole being and demonstrate that love by serving our neighbors with compassion, He, in turn, wraps our wounded places with His grace and mercy. 

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, 
all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ 
And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Luke 10:27

I can’t wait to see who my neighbors will be tomorrow!

Who are your neighbors?

Until next time, let’s find hope in the journey,
Evelyn

P.S. If you know someone who is weary, struggling to hold tight to hope, please invite them into the journey with us. Let’s encourage one another on to love and good deeds. 

Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of Evelyn’s columns, see her blog Hope for the Journey.

Embrace the Pleasure of Delight

Lately, I keep hearing the word “delight” whispered to my heart. It has been following me through the day like a puppy longing for attention. So tonight, I turn to face this word head on and ponder why God keeps dangling it in my view.

I retrace the steps of my day looking for clues. Woke up, prepped for the day, ate breakfast, grabbed the to-go coffee cup, and headed in to work. On my drive to the office, I spent time in prayer. Told God all my requests, my hopes, my dreams, my burdens, my sorrows. Arrived safely and jumped into the piles of paper on my desk. 

Then it hits me- I have been so caught up in me that I have been missing Him.

Did I notice the sunrise this morning? On my way home did I take note that the farmers were finally out in the fields prepping to plant due to a day filled with sun rather than rain? Even now as I type this out, I am catching hints of God’s daily presence; the songbirds outside my window, the hummingbird as it lands so delicately on the feeder, and the fresh blooms dotting the backyard with color. 

The pleasure of delighting in Him had slowly been replaced by the duty of doing for Him. It happens so swiftly and yet subtly.  This has been His whisper.  He has been calling me back to His heart, to the simple act of delighting in Who He is. To delight is to give keen enjoyment or to take great pleasure in. 

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. –Psalm 37:4

Several years ago, while experiencing a waiting time in my life, the Lord impressed upon my heart this little essay/song. It rocked my heart then, and today it calls me back to the joy of delight.

Hush. Be Still. Don’t rush away.

Don’t just settle for a touch from Me.

Stay. Linger. Come know Me.

As did Adam, come walk with Me

In the cool of the day.

Know Me. Know my heart.

Do you see it? 

Do you see the delight in my face as we walk together?

It’s because of you. 

I created you and I bought you. 

You are my precious treasure.

I do-I do delight in you.

Do you delight in Me?

Sarah Young once wrote in her devotional Jesus Calling, “I begin each day with a sunrise, announcing My radiant Presence. By the time you rise from your bed, I have already prepared the way before you. I eagerly await your conscious thought. I rejoice when you glance my way. 

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

When was the last time I truly delighted in, took great pleasure in the person of Jesus Christ? Today, may we take time to glance His way. To delight in His love, His grace, His communion with us, and to behold His beauty.

“The one thing I ask of the LORD— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.”Psalm 27:4

Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of Evelyn’s columns, see her blog Hope for the Journey.