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Posts Tagged ‘El Roi’

If we can trust Him with eternity, let's trust Jesus with our today

What happens when God doesn’t meet our expectations? When we’ve slipped a toe into the edge of the Jordan and suddenly we’re neck-deep in the river–disillusioned and doubting the call of the One who promised us beauty…bounty…blessing on the other side? What happens when our hopes or dreams are dashed against the rocks–shattered and floating further from our reach?

Do we blame Him for letting us down…for leaving us–struggling to manage the rushing water as we’re dragged somewhere unknown and unanticipated?

Instead of trusting that our Rescuer has already journeyed into the depths for us, do we give in to the pull of the current. Drifting. Doubting. Denouncing Him in our inability to see clearly from this side of the river to the other.

Maybe you’re at the place in your journey where nothing rattles your beliefs or sends you reeling–wondering if the God of scripture sees you…hears you…loves you. No matter the size of the Jordan, you trust Him to carry you across.

I’m not that grown up in my faith.

At times, I’ve been overwhelmed by the dark waves. Smashed against the river bottom. Sputtering for air. Shouting my doubts into the mist. Because suffering? It hurts. And sometimes I’ve felt like I’m drowning even in my living.

Some of you have shared about the Jordan your crossing right now. Cancer. Anxiety. Death. Divorce.

Pain so big it’d be easy to lose sight of the largeness and power of God. My heart aches for that journey you’re taking right now–the one causing fear unequaled. Feelings of aloneness. Deep soul-sorrow.

Can I remind you? He is El Roi–the God who sees.  He is Yishmael–the God who hears. He is Adonai–the God who loves you. And He is the God who walks on the water–right next to you…reaching out for your hand…and reassuring, “It’s me, don’t be afraid.”

If we can trust Jesus with eternity, let’s trust Him with our today–even as we totter toward the beckoning hand over the next wave.

Scripture for Reflection

As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

 He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”

The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!” (Matthew 14:22-23, MSG)

 

Thought to consider:   In what area of your life is Jesus calling you to “come ahead”.

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The Shadow of Death surrounds her like a dark, oppressive fog obscuring the path. Swirling madly about the Woman’s feet, the Shadow twists itself round and round–eliminating vision. The Woman gropes her way in the dark. Is there a cliff? Shelter? Will Death overcome her?

Not understanding pain…failing to grasp the marriage between El Roi’s sovereignty and the blight of suffering…and hoping she has enough faith, Woman calls out in her desperate need for the Light to reveal himself.

And because of his matchless grace and mercy, the Light holds her gently. Wrapped in the warmth of His promise, the Woman notices the Shadow retracting. Where there is Light, darkness cannot exist.

Scarmelcripture for Reflection–“Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us..”. Luke 1:78-80

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She grew up in a small town on the wrong side of the tracks, got pregnant before she was married, faced the possibility of a divorce, and endured the disdain of all who knew her—and later, all who knew her son.  Yes-I’m referring to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

During Mary’s time and according to Jewish custom, little girls were betrothed to be married at about twelve or thirteen years of age.  This was the first “stage” of marriage.  At the end of the year, the young woman moved from her parent’s home to that of her fiancé and they fulfilled their wedding vows.

Roll back the clock for just a moment.  Imagine your middle-school-self in Mary’s sandals.  Life is a little confusing.  You’re wearing braces, have a lot of bad hair days, and the cute boy you have a crush on likes your best friend.  Besides, your parents are always in your business!  But, Mary had a much different perspective than I would have.  She wasn’t worried about fitting in or what everyone thought of her.   How do I know?  Just take a look at Luke 1 (NLT):

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you![d]

 29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel[e] forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

 34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.[f]

And what was this little girl’s reply?

38 And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”  (American Standard Version)

Now, the Biblical translation of the word “handmaid” is doulos—slave.  Mary was giving up her own will to that of her Master and declaring her allegiance to him unto death.   She might have died because at the time women were stoned for having sex outside of marriage.  Who would believe Mary’s crazy story?  This young lady was pregnant with the Christ?  Right—as if God would ever bless a pregnant teenager and a baby  conceived out-of-wedlock.

But guess what?  He did.  God grew something beautiful out of Mary’s submissiveness.  He gave her a son—and not just any son, but His son.

What, then, do we learn from Mary?   My friends, when God allows the unexpected in our lives; when we are parenting our children and can’t imagine how things will work out for the best; that is when we need to be like Mary and take the second step by submitting our hearts to Him for “nothing is impossible with God”.

So, our first two steps toward relying on God when parenting alone—and anytime– are to:

  1.  Call out to him in our distressWhen we face the wilderness…when we are wandering…when we are alone in the desert with our children… then we call out to him for he is El Roi the Father to our little ones.  (See previous post)
  2. Submit our hearts to HimGod will and does use the unexpected for His glory when we are willing to live our lives for Him.

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“Suppose your mother baked a pie and there were six of you — your mother, your father and four children. What percentage of the pie would you get?” a teacher asked her students.

“One-fifth,” said one boy.

The teacher responded, “I’m afraid you don’t know your fractions. Remember, there are six of you.”

“I know,” said the boy, “but you don’t know my mother. She would say she didn’t want any pie so we could have more.”  (Author Unknown)

As mother’s, aren’t we about giving, sharing, and encouraging?  There are times, though, when a mother has nothing left to give, little to share, and few words of encouragement for the children in her life–especially when she’s parenting alone and is both mother and father.

I’ve been there several times.  With a husband in the Navy, I’ve survived three long deployments.  One with a newborn and toddler, the next with two preschoolers, and another with a 6-year-old, 7-year-old, and two teenaged boys (need I say more?).

I would guess some of you have been there, too…military wives, single moms, women with husbands who travel frequently, or those with guys who–for whatever reason–disengage from family life.

The great news is that regardless of the situation, every mother can rely on God by taking four simple steps–like my friend Jen.

The first time Jen and I met, I was struck by her honesty and haunted eyes.  She had only just arrived in Colorado after having travelled across the country in a beat-up van with several children.  At night, when her eyes could no longer focus, Jen would pull to the side of the road where she and the family slept for a few hours.  But, as miles of unfamiliar scenery unfolded in front of her, hope began growing in Jen’s chest—hope for her children and herself.  Why?  Because Jen had escaped from a life of abuse to a life of promise– much like Hagar, the woman whose name meant “stranger”.

Hagar.  We don’t know much about her, but some Rabbinical texts suggest she may have been pharaoh’s daughter—a gift to Sarai during her time in the king’s harem.   Or, like so many others, perhaps Hagar was a poor girl whose family wanted to assure she would be given food and shelter.  Princess or pauper, Hagar was a young Egyptian woman who had been a servant for 10 years in a foreign land.

She was alone, destitute, and given to an old man out of her mistresses desperation.  The goal?  Surrogate motherhood.

Fast forward a few months—an 85 year-old man and a beautiful slave-girl in her mid-20’s have conceived a child together.  For the first time in years, Hagar felt pride.  A child!  Someone she could love and who would love her in return.

But, Hagar’s pride got in the way.  She flaunted her growing belly and offended Sarai.  Hard work and maltreatment followed.  Finally, after enduring another beating, Hagar ran away.  She wept—tears of shame, tears of loneliness, tears of hopelessness.  Hagar was a stranger once again—except to God.

Look over the following account from Genesis 16.

The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. 8 The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

“I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied.

9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” 10 Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.”

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”[a]

Hagar had been wandering aimlessly; now she worshipped El Roi (El Raw-ee)—the God who sees.

Notice that God didn’t remove her from her current situation.  Instead, he responded to her cries of distress, sought her out, and comforted her with his presence and his promises.  Hagar’s story doesn’t end there.  In Genesis 21, we find Hagar in another situation—that of single parent.

…and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

 11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring[b] will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

 14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

 15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she[c] began to sob.

 17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

And, ladies, listen to this!! 20 God was with the boy as he grew up.

Did you notice the word “wandered”?  Hagar “wandered in the dessert”.   The Hebrew word used to describe her “wandering” means to go astray.  Here she is…in the desert a second time…without a GPS and in need of direction.  Don’t you think she would call out to God, El Roi, the One who Sees?  But Hagar forgot to look for Him.  Instead, the Lord responded to the cries of the boy.  His words?  “What is the matter, Hagar?  Do not be afraid?”

Isn’t this a beautiful picture of God’s love for us?  When we find ourselves in the midst of the desert, unsure of which way to turn, and fearing the worst our first step is to call out in  our distress, our weakness, and our wandering to The God Who Sees.

Today’s Prayer

Lord, thank you for sharing the gift of motherhood with me.  My desire is to glorify you in my parenting and to bless these children as I seek to point them toward you.  Father, show me how to rely on you in all I do today.  Amen

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She was lost, thirsty, and desperate for a rescuer.  Then, God showed up–to save a woman who didn’t even know Him.  Have you heard the story of Hagar?  It’s one of my favorites and one I’ve latched onto this year.

I love that El Roi–the God who sees–met Hagar in a lonely, frightened place.

I love that He comforted her in a desperate time.

I love that the God of the world bent down from Heaven’s throne to gather Hagar’s tears and offered tender promises for her son’s future.

Did you know that the God of all compassion and mercy is offering Himself to you today?  He wants to be your Rescuer, Comforter, and Promise Keeper.

I just wanted you to know.

Scripture for reflection Genesis 21

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At times, I’m struck by my status of being just-an-ordinary-someone.  I like it that way.   I’m even comforted by my everyday-run-of-the-mill-wife-and-mother-role.  Why?  Because there is nothing about me that could have won God over or swayed Him to consider whether or not I might be a possible heavenly recruit.  He chose me as His own because of His amazing, incomprehensible love.

Imagine El Roi, the God who sees, reviewing resumes before extending the Good News invitation.

“Hmmm…this one…Tammy Kennington?  Not too promising.  Her credentials are listed here.  Parents?  Divorced.  Temperament?  Avoids conflict and tends to beat around the bush.  Children?  Gentle, but perceived as weak by some.  Faith?  Doesn’t rely on Me like she should.

What a frightening scenario!

Thankfully, the Lord of all mercy and grace offers access to His throne and to His kingdom in spite of my messed up, trying-hard-to- get- it-right, ordinary self.  Ordinary is alright when I have an extraordinary God.

Scripture for Reflection

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.  (Romans 8:29 MSG)

Recommended Reading

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Come as You Are by Sheila Walsh

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"He will never leave you nor forsake you."

A link to a recent speaking engagement.

http://www.first-pres.org/index.cfm/PageID/1604

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