Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Hold Your Nose and Jump!

As a young teenager, I remember hot summer days when we would load up my dad’s Pontiac Catalina with friends and my brother would drive us over to Youngsville (‘Biggest Little Town on the Map!’) to go swimming.  Now, in my family, swimming usually meant driving out to Chapman Dam State Park and swimming in the lake.  But Youngsville had recently acquired something Warren didn’t have yet — a municipal pool!  And this pool had diving boards — two of them.  A diving board beat trying to dive off of Dad’s shoulders at the lake, any day.

One of the diving boards was the standard size, but the other was a ‘high dive’ — well, we all called it that.  By Olympic standards I’m sure it wasn’t the big platform dive from which competitors perform twisting, two-and-a-half whatevers.  Thinking back now, I’m guessing it was 14 feet or so.  Regardless of the height, it was a thrill to pad out to the end of that board, stare down at the water below, and jump.  Hitting the water was enough force to, shall we say, re-arrange your swimwear.  It was just fun, in a scary sort of way.

I’ve had times in my life that have felt a lot like diving off that board in Youngsville on a hot summer day.  They’ve been times of transition, times when the Lord opens a door for a new direction.  It happened when my husband was called to ministry and we moved to the mid-west to attend seminary, without seeing where we would be living.  It happened when we accepted a call to another church, after serving eleven years in our first assignment.  After we said ‘yes’ to God, and before the moving van pulled up to the new house, in between there, it felt like jumping off a high dive.  It’s an experience of faith.

You see, as long as I’m standing on the board with my toes hanging over the edge, I’m safe… because, as embarrassing as it might be, I can always go back and make my way down the ladder.  It’s not until I hold my nose and spring off with my leg muscles and become airborne that I truly exercise my faith.  I  have to believe that there is enough water in the pool for me to land safely (will God provide — be there for me in this new challenge?) and, that I will  know how to swim once I get down there (can God use and empower me to do what He’s asking?).  Because of my previous experiences with pools and swimming (faith and following God),  I know deep down that the answer to both of those questions is YES!  But I can’t learn that, I don’t fully experience it, until I let go and jump.

Hebrews chapter 11 shares lots of ‘diving board’ stories.  They’re worth reading.  Here’s one:  “By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”  Hebrews 11:8 (NIV)

That’s quite a high-dive!  How about you? Are you ready to jump in?

Copyright Mary E. Egidio 2010 – Permission is granted to share this work, but with attribution, and not for commercial purposes.  (You can share it, but tell who wrote it, where you found it, and don’t try to sell it)

Advertisements

Mistaken Identity

Apparently, there are several other people in the world who look like me.  At least, that’s what I’ve been told a lot through the years.  I think maybe God just kept trying to get it right, so He made several versions.  Whatever the reason, I often hear, “Oh, you look just like my sister-in-law”, or, “I was sure I saw you downtown the other day .”  It makes me feel extremely sorry for these poor individuals.

A few years ago, one of these look-alikes moved into my same circle of acquaintances.  Sharon and her husband came to serve on the same district where my husband served as a pastor.  I recognized the resemblance the first time I saw her, and several others mentioned it as well.  By the next district meeting, she was approached by individuals who thought she was me.  She looked at them blankly and said, “I think you have the wrong person.”  When I talked to her about it, she began to understand the reason for the confusion.

By the time we got to district ‘family camp’ that summer, things really got interesting.  Several people mistook Sharon for me, including my best friend.  My own son ran across the campground and gave her a hug, then looked up and said, “Oops!! You’re not my Mom!”  She thanked him for the hug and directed him to my location.

Sharon and I got a lot of laughs out of it, and being new, it really helped her get known quickly in her new surroundings. We actually thought about getting t-shirts that said, “I’m the Other One” or “Are You Sure It’s Me?”  It was a fun experience, one which we both enjoyed for as long as it lasted.

So here’s a question:  what if we looked and acted so much like Jesus that people mistook us for Him?  What if they looked at us and said, “Oops!! I thought you were Jesus!” What if, as we embraced and encouraged them, they felt as if it was God Himself who was touching them? I believe if we completely surrender ourselves to God and the leading of His Spirit, it can truly happen.

Paul explains it to the Ephesians this way: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24) Later on he says, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us, and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV – emphasis mine).

Will you meet someone today who will be totally convinced that it’s not you they’re looking at, but Jesus?

Copyright 2010 Mary E. Egidio — Permission is granted to share this work, but with attribution, and not for commercial purposes (yes, you can share it, but please tell who wrote it, where you got it, and don’t sell it!)

One Thing Leads to Another…

The lightning flash preceded the crash by less than a second.  The crash sounded like cannon fire. The next morning we discovered the result… a fried phone system.

You know it’s going to be an interesting day when the phone system guy says to his partner, “Hey, come here and take a look at this!  Did you bring your camera?”

We got the phone system replaced, only to discover the main line could make calls, but not receive them (not necessarily a bad thing…).  The phone company guy came to repair the main line, but he did something that messed up the DSL line (definitely NOT a good thing).  And now the security system isn’t working quite right, either.  One thing leads to another.  Actions have consequences.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, understood this principle.  He explained it to them this way:  “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and [that leads to] eternal life.” (Romans 6:22 – amplification mine)

Once a month, I provide technical support for a ministry at our church called “Celebrate Recovery”.  It’s a twelve-step program for people with ‘hurts, habits, and hang-ups’.  I hear the stories of people, young and old, rich and poor, just like me, who, for a variety of reasons, started making choices that led them down the wrong path.  These choices eventually ruined their lives, destroyed their homes and bankrupted their character.  They didn’t intend to start out that way, but one thing led to another.  Their actions had consequences.

But then they talk about the day, as Paul describes, that they were ‘set free from sin and became slaves to God.’  It was a day of total surrender, of complete abandonment, wrought by their utter desperation to escape from the living hell their actions had created.  Something, anything, had to be better than this mess they’d made.  They take their hands off and say, ‘Here God… here I am.  I give up.  I can’t do it anymore.’

And that day, that choice, that desperate plea, leads to a response from God.  It opens the flood of His love and His power into a life.  They testify to a sense of peace, a sense of cleansing,… ‘like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.’   The sin which once separated them from God is forgiven.  New choices are made, based on the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the counsel of the Word, and the support of fellow-slaves.

Soon, those who are truly sincere and committed to the path of surrender find the benefit Paul describes… holiness– a life of consecration to God’s will, a spirit set free from the bondage of sin, an intention of life-long obedience to the Master’s voice.

I’ve seen it happen.  I’ve witnessed the change.  I’ve experienced it myself.

One thing leads to another…

Copyright 2010 Mary E. Egidio — permission is granted to share this with attribution, but not for commercial purposes (you can share it, but please tell who wrote it and where you found it, but don’t sell it!)

God of the Stick Horse

…as told to me by my friend, Cheryl (formerly published in Standard)

My husband hung up the phone, disappointment written on his face.

“Well, that’s it,” he said. “The buyer just backed out.”

We were at my 89-year old mother’s house, helping her sign the papers to finalize the sale of my parent’s summer house in the mountains of Georgia. I saw the same disappointment reflected in her eyes, but she simply sighed, saying nothing.

My own heart felt crushed. Since my father’s death, I had dreamed of selling the old run-down house and property and building a ‘real’ vacation home in the mountains – a place our families and friends could go to escape. My sister and I and our husbands had found property in a better location with a spectacular view, and had pooled our funds to purchase it. The sale of the old house and property would give us the money to build the new one.

Somehow I felt I owed the house to my mother, for her years of sacrifice and hard work. Despite growing up in a large, poor family in the hills of Kentucky, Mother had always been an amazing, creative woman. She quilted and sewed until arthritis stole her hands. She loved to paint flowers and birds on anything she could find. Her mind was sharp and she still had a quick wit. The last few years of my father’s life had been difficult for her, as she watched Altzheimer’s Disease gradually paralyze his mind. Since he had died her life had settled down into a comfortable routine, but I knew her health was beginning to fade, and our time to share this gift was limited. I could picture her face as she rocked on the expansive porch in the cool of a summer evening, watching her great-grandchildren chase fireflies in the yard. Now that dream seemed just as elusive.

“God,” I cried out in my bed later that evening. “Everything to this point was going so smoothly. I thought you were blessing these plans – and now the buyer backs out. What’s happening?” The questions chased around in my brain until sleep came.

I began my devotions the next morning, and the Scripture reading for the day came from Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The devotional reading went on to say,”God’s answer to your problems today will be creative and it will be couched in His eternal purposes.” As I closed the booklet, I spoke honestly to God. “Father, this is your word – the ‘logos’. In my head I know all of this is true. But it hasn’t reached my heart yet. Help me to understand this truth in my heart.”

A few days later mother and I were running errands and stopped in a local department store. She was content to find the groceries she needed by herself, so I had time to look around. I remembered that my grandson had recently become fond of a friend’s ‘stick horse’ toy – a broom handle with a stuffed animal head attached. Matthew would use my broom or anything else he could find to pretend to ride around the house like a cowboy. So I headed to the toy aisle to look for a stick horse.

On my way, I met up with my friends from church, Larry and Terri. When I told them what I was looking for, Terri laughed. “My mom sent a stick horse to our grandkids. When you squeeze one ear it whinnies and when you squeeze the other one it makes a ‘clip-clop’ galloping noise.” I’d never heard of such a thing –it sounded like something Matthew would love. We said goodbye and I kept shopping, but I quickly learned this store didn’t carry stick horses of any kind. Oh well, I thought, Mattie will have to wait. Soon I found my mother and took her back home.

That night my husband called the real estate agent in Georgia, hoping the buyer had reconsidered, but the deal was off. Although I was reminded of the Scripture I had read early that week, I still had no sense of peace in my heart.

A few days later, Mom and I were returning from a doctor’s appointment and stopped by a local fruit stand. Beside it, a neighbor was holding a yard sale, and Mom suggested we stop and look. As we walked up the driveway, I spotted a blanket on the ground, strewn with toys. Among them was a black stick horse. I picked it up and furtively squeezed the left ear, giggling as I heard it whinny! Sure enough, a squeeze of the right ear produced a ‘clip-clop’ sound. The black plush head looked brand new – and the horse’s gentle eyes begged to be taken home. Matthew would love it. But how much was she asking for it? I knew I only had limited cash in my purse.

I took it to the woman in charge. “How much for this stick horse?” I asked.

“Oh, just two dollars for that. My kids never played with it.”

As Mom and I walked away with our small treasures in hand, I felt God’s voice gently tug at my heart.

“Now see,” He seemed to say. “If I care enough about you to provide for a simple thing like a stick horse for a child, can you not trust me about the big things?”

I sighed, and smiled at my mother as we got into my car. What I had known up to this point only in my head had finally reached my heart. “Yes, Lord,” I replied. “I can trust you — with a mountain home, with my mom’s future, and even with a stick horse.”

Copyright 2009 Mary E. Egidio  Permission is given to distribute this post, with attribution, but not for commercial purposes.  (you can share this with your friends, but tell them who wrote it, where you found it, and don’t try to sell it!)