Monthly Archives: April 2016

Another rock in my shoe – complaining

Complaining and grumbling. We probably all fall into this trap at some point or another. Sometimes complaining and grumbling about things we can’t change becomes an habitual pastime. Complainer becomes our name. We complain and fuss over things that have little real importance yet irritate us in some small way. Constant complaining about things is like purposefully putting rocks in your shoe before a long hike.   If complaining is a rock in your shoe I hope you’ll read the blog post below (reprinted from 7/29/2014) and take the 24 hour “no complaining” challenge.

I’m guessing that at some point in your life you have attended a whine party, maybe even threw one yourself. No, not ‘wine’ but ‘whine’. You know what it is like: someone complains about something and then someone else ups the ante with an even bigger complaint. And so the conversation slides quickly downhill, dragging everyone with it.

Complaining seems to be a national pastime. It’s easy to fall into the trap, isn’t it? When we get wrapped up in our own world of hurts and misfortunes all we see is ourselves.  I comment about my arm always hurting. My wife reminds me to be thankful because some people don’t have arms. Adding sarcasm to my whining, I think to myself, “Yeah, well they probably don’t hurt then, do they?”  See how easy it is? (sigh)

Paul warns us about grumbling and complaining in Philippians 2 where he encourages us to take our eyes off ourselves and seek the mindset of Jesus, the One:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death  –   even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:6-8

And so, Paul continues, we should:  “Do everything without grumbling or arguing…” (v 14). Why? So we can:

  • Be blameless and pure, behaving as children of God. 
  • Stand out from a warped and crooked generation.
  • Shine our light among others like the stars of the sky.
  • Hold firmly to the truth of the Word.
  • Live life with purpose and passion, not in vain, even if our life is one of continual sacrifice and faith, ‘poured out like a drink offering.’

How can we live pure lives by constant complaining? How can we behave like children of the king, privileged in so many ways and still be whiners? How can we live our life set apart from a crooked generation when we complain about things just as they do? Does grumbling make our light shine brighter? Does complaining help us to hold onto the truth?  No, it works against us! Complaining begets more complaining and a dissatisfaction with our plot in this temporary and short life. It destroys a thankful heart.

My wife is absolutely right: the cure to complaining is being thankful and learning the secret of being content. (Philippians 4:11-12) We stop complaining when we start being thankful and practice contentment. You’ve heard the saying, “I complained I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” Let’s declare a ban on personal complaining for at least 24 hours, and then renew the pledge the next day, and the next. See how your life changes and how your light shines brighter, when we refrain from grumbling and complaining when things don’t go our way.

YOU can make a difference across the world!

The headlines we read are almost numbing. So much hurt and suffering accompanied by such feelings of helplessness. We ask, “What could I do to make a difference?”  Go Light Our World is pleased to support a missionary friend in Greece we’ve personally known for 30 years. We have to protect her name because of persecution against evangelical Christians from the Orthodox Church there. We’ll call her Mary (not her real name).

What we love about Mary is that she gives her entire life to advancing the gospel of Jesus in such practical ways. She purposefully approaches people searching dumpsters for some food. Mary has often invited sick strangers into her home and pays for their medical bills. She is a good friend to a single mom who lost her children through poverty. And Mary is your direct contact, not only with muslims who have never read the words of Jesus, but also with Syrian, Afghan, and Iranian refugees who fled to Greece from the wars that beset their homeland.

Mary counters the Orthodox teaching (that salvation is through good works) by openly witnessing to people and giving them New Testaments in their native language, encouraging them to read out loud the good news for their lives. Because of the economic despair in Greece, many people are realizing more and more that they need help from above! Here is just one account from Mary’s outreach that impacts people in hard places:

“The flow of thousands of war refugees (mainly children, women and  teenagers) continue to arrive in Greece. Several countries of East Europe have closed their borders which means that most of them are stuck in Greece. Since all the refugee camps all over Greece are overflowing, thousands have no choice but to stay outdoors in the main squares. They have no place to go, nowhere to sleep, nothing to eat and nowhere to shower or do their laundry. I purchased 3 bags of chocolate and stuffed 10 sleeping bags with the Gospel of John in Farsi language and New Testaments in Arabic. As I arrived I saw the crowds and asked the Lord to show me from where to start and to whom should I talk first. I started by giving out chocolates to some children which opened up the door to speak to their families. A few teenagers knew a little bit of English and were happy to help by interpreting the adult conversation. I started talking to one family then to another and that went on for the next 5 hours! They were hungry, sick and exhausted since they have been travelling for months. Praise God, I was able to purchase all together 50 sandwiches from a nearby store and distributed to the kids first, teenagers and women! After listening to their tragic stories I hugged them and prayed with them. They told me how they run to escape from the Taliban, the Daesh and the Islamic State. They are running to save their lives and the lives of their children from the war zones.”

“They crossed Iran, Syria and Turkey. The European countries are very upset that the Greek government rescues them from drowning. What are we supposed to do? They told me how in Turkey the smugglers took all their money to place them on plastic boats so they could cross the Aegean sea to the Greek islands where they were rescued by the Greek coast guard. They were very grateful for the sleeping bags and for the sandwiches. They kept thanking me and I kept pointing to heaven and telling them that this is from Jesus! The Lord opened a wide door for me to show His love and I prayed with several families and eventually gave more than 20 Gospel of John in Farsi language. God surrounded me with His favor and protection and made friendship with several refugees.”

Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s very admirable, but what does it have to do with me?” Unless you have the means and opportunity to fly to Greece and quickly learn the language, your best opportunity – and mine – is to support a native person who is willing to feed the hungry, care for the sick, and comfort the lonely. . . on our behalf, and in the name of Jesus.

“How can I help?”

  1. Commit to praying. Put it on your calendar. Pray once a day or once a week. Ask God (who knows her real name) to give “Mary” strength and courage and means to carry his good news to hurting people. Pray for people like Mohammad and his family who Mary invited into her home to wash their clothes. Pray for boys and girls who were traveling all alone since their parents gave all they had for them to come to Europe in order to save their lives. Mary saw 5 of these teenagers reading the Gospel of John while I was still there.
  2. Give a little.  $5-10 buys a New Testament in the native language or a bit of food for those who have so little. $25 or more can help toward the purchase of a tent for a needy family. $34 buys a sleeping bag for a child or mom sleeping in the chilly night air.

Thank you for partnering with GLOW in prayer and practical giving and doing your part to advance the Gospel through your love, giving and prayers! One time or recurring gifts of any amount make a difference!

100% of your tax-deductible gift goes directly to the mission field.


Living in community and opening our lives to others

The other night we were discussing with friends how the bible clearly indicates there will come a time when it will be hard to publicly worship God and learn from his true Word. Sometimes it’s hard for people to even step in the doors of a church in a free land. We call these “hard places.”  It seems likely to me that as religious persecution advances, worship services and bible studies won’t occur so freely in large public buildings, but in smaller “house churches” and “church plants” where a few families gather to worship and share life together.

GLOW supports a number of small churches and church plants that once started as little more than a house church. One of these is in Barlanark, Scotland. Their mission is to reach people in hard places:

  • by making Jesus known in the inner city and beyond
  • by proclaiming the Gospel
  • by making disciples
  • by living in community

Pete Stewart and Pete Bell and their families work together with others whose lives have been beaten and bruised by life’s hard ways including abuse, violence, drugs, and prison.  How they describe their ministry challenges and encourages me as I seek to live a meaningful life:

“As a group we have been challenged to live as a living community of Christians by opening our lives more to each other and others in the scheme (housing project). Over the past few months we have been rallying around our vision statement and this has brought a real focus to what we are trying to do. Key to this has been meeting every morning Monday to Friday to have a short bible devotion and then prayer time for 30 minutes. We have been working through our 7 ‘p’s’:  Praise, Purpose, Practical, Present, Partners, Personal, People and spending concentrated time each day praying for specific people in the scheme, that they may come to know Jesus.

“There have been 14 or 15 adults meeting as part of our launch team over the past 2 months. We have been looking at ‘What is the Church’ and ‘What is a Healthy Church’ which has been challenging and inspiring. 3 people have asked to be baptised. 17 adults and 9 children participated in a weekender in Niddrie at the end of February where we looked at Evangelism,
Discipleship, Discipline, Youth Work and Addiction in the schemes. This was a formative time for us as a growing church plant.”

I wonder, do you think of the church as a living community of Christians by opening our lives more to each other and others? It’s difficult to share the vulnerable parts of our lives with others. But that’s what Jesus intended and modeled by growing close to a dozen men and becoming closely involved in the celebrations and hurts of others. He taught his disciples to disciple others, saying, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

We aren’t followers of Jesus just because we go to church once a week or even read the bible daily. The evidence of our discipleship is that we love one another as he did… living in community with others and opening our lives to each other.

Would you pray for Pete Stewart and Pete Bell as they minister to people in hard places? And as you do, take time to consider how you might open your life to others around you, sharing the good news of the one who changed your life – forever.

Where’s the evidence?

A question that’s been going around for many years still has power to pierce our souls:

If being a Christian were a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict me?

That is, in what ways is my life different because of the grace of Jesus? And how is he continuing to reveal himself through me? God accepts us where we are but loves us too much to leave us there in our old patterns of self-seeking, prideful, and even hurtful thinking. Just as you want the best for your child, so God longs for his children to live a full and meaningful life.

GLOW is pleased to sponsor Cru’s Athlete’s In Action (AIA).  Director Gary Schmalz describes how God changed these college students hearts:

A few weeks ago, Lauren and Hailie, both varsity athletes at Wisconsin-Madison came to the AIA weekly meeting for the first time. They heard about the Winter Retreat in Chicago and decided it would be worth their time.

At the retreat, they heard relevant messages about the Christian life. On Saturday morning, they were trained for an outreach to the inner city of Chicago. During that training, Holly, our new AIA staff at Madison, noticed that Lauren and Hailie were confused while discussing a Gospel sharing tool called Knowing God Personally. Holly answered their questions, and they both asked Jesus to be in their lives!

Two hours later, they shared the same booklet with a high schooler at the community center and he received Christ as well!

One of the strongest evidences for God is a changed life!

It is hard to dismiss a changed life. Lauren and Hailie would tell you that they are different now and have just attended church for the first time.

If you have ever wondered if college athletes are hungry for the Gospel, I could provide you multiple examples from the 22 college campuses across the Upper Midwest where AIA operates and witnesses “evidence for God,” when He shows up and changes a life.

If God can take a couple of college students and in a moment change their lives from confused to compassionate and confident, he can change your life to. He has the power to change your doubt to faith, worry  to prayer, anxiety to peace, apathy to compassion, a critical heart to a humble one, emptiness to a full life!

Thank you for praying for athletes to come to Christ. Why not ask him to transform your life too?

The rock in my shoe


Marcia and I love to take walks together. Only in recent months they have been short and slow. She is so patient to slow down for “me and my cane.” The other day, I picked up a rock in my shoe and as much as it irritated me, I knew it would take considerable effort for me to bend down and remove my shoe to get it out; I tire so very easily. So I kept walking with the rock in my shoe, pretending it wasn’t that big of a problem. But the longer I walked with the rock in my shoe, my pretending it didn’t matter became less and less convincing.

The minor ordeal caused me to think about other “rocks in my shoe” we sometimes tolerate. Like living with worry, regret, anxiety, fear, or doubt. Or criticizing or mocking others or a pessimistic attitude.  They’re all rocks in our shoes that limit the enjoyment of our spiritual walk. In fact, they can ruin a whole day grumbling and getting upset  over little things. But I wonder if we don’t mind the pain so much, because we don’t take the effort to remove them from our lives. It seems easier to react the way we always have reacted, forgetting – or denying – the power of God’s Spirit to transform our lives in such incredible ways!

Josias girlsOther rocks in our shoes may not seem to hurt us at all, but they cause pain to others. If a child complained of a rock in their shoe, you’d help them remove it, right? And yet our incessant focus on our own busy lives prevents us from noticing that others around us (and around the world) have rocks in their shoes they can’t remove – without our help. Rocks such as living on $2 per day, not having money to send children to school (cost of $1/day), not being able to provide a hot meal for a child ($1.25/day), or clean water (pennies per day). If you knew someone who endured these rocks in their shoes, you’d help them out.  I mean, which of us cannot afford $1/day or even 50 cents per day?

Feliz dia del ninosThis is how Go Light Our World works. We find children and adults in need, Quechua families in Bolivia. We know them by name and they know us. We’ve known one child for nearly 15 years, others for 5 years. GLOW helps them, often with no more than $1/day, to live a safe life, escape the cycle of poverty, and learn the hope of Jesus.

We invite you to help remove the rocks from the shoes of children at risk. Who knows, you might make a lifelong friend and find that your own walk is a little more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Go ahead – change someone’s world!

Learn more at:


Walls of worry, doubt, and fear

Walls are meant to protect. Ancient cities castles were fortified by protective walls. Inside the wall was safety; outside was risk.  Walls establish boundaries and they separate us from unwelcome intruders.  Sometimes we also set up “walls” to keep people from knowing too much about us. From privacy walls on our computers to emotional walls that keep people at a distance, walls protect us. And at the same time they also isolate us from others.

Maybe you’ve built up a wall of mistrust with someone who once offended you or took advantage of you. Or maybe they built the wall so high you can’t peer over it or get close enough to attempt a reconciliation.

Walls, once built, are difficult to take down. They’re built easily with pride but require humility and effort to tear them down. A prideful heart says, “I’m right. I don’t need him/her.” A humble heart says, “We need each other. We’re part of the same community. We each have pieces of the other’s puzzle. We each have value.”

Just as there are physical walls and relationship walls that separate us from others, there are walls of worry, anxiety, fear, and pride that separate us from God, from his hope, trust, and assurance, and from peace and satisfaction we long to experience. Can I worry and pray confidently at the same time? Can I experience real peace while clinging to anxious thoughts? Can I truly trust God’s will as best if I insist on having my own way?

No, it would be like thinking only of the color black and the color white at the same time. It would be like trying to go east while traveling west. When we insist on dwelling on fear, worry, anxiety, and prideful ways, it builds walls that tower up between us and God’s good promises for us. They can grow to such height that we lose sight of God entirely and see only the darkness of our problems and our self-centered goals without the benefit of God’s light of truth and grace.

I’ve built up walls of worry and walls of fear, walls of doubt and walls of prideful ambitions. Haven’t you? There’s a time for building up walls of protection, boundaries that keep us safe within God’s will (Micah 7:11). And there’s a time for tearing down (Ecclesiastes 3:3) walls that separate us from others, walls of worry and anxiety and prideful needs that separate us from God himself.

If you search your heart and find you’ve been building walls of worry that separate you from God’s peace or walls of doubt that separate you from his faithful promises, it’s never too late to start tearing them down.

“But how?” you ask. “I’ve tried before to surrender worry and doubt and fear and pride. I give them up to the Lord only to take them back on my shoulders again. How can I possibly tear down these walls of worry and fear?” May I suggest that the Word of God is living and true and effective for all aspects of your daily life and mine. Jesus used only the Word of God to refute the devil’s temptations. It is good enough for us too. Reading, repeating, and memorizing scripture puts it right in front of you. Put it on a sticky note before you, and when a wall of worry starts to build up, the Word of God tears it down. The same is true for the counsel of mature (not perfect) believers. Transparent and accountable fellowship with other believers sheds light on walls that are built in the darkness of private thoughts. Two or three workers, working together, can more easily tear down a wall of fear, of doubt, or anxiety. Just as walls are built by the outer strength of prideful self, they are torn down by the inner strength of a humble heart.

As President Reagan challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down that (political) wall,” so it is time for each of us to ask God for wisdom, strength, and courage to search our hearts and tear down the walls of prejudice, judgmentalism, worry, anxiety, and fear in our own lives.

Go ahead, “Tear down that wall!” Repeat daily as necessary.

Opportunities in disguise

There sits atop our kitchen hutch a small wooden plaque that reads:

Every problem is an opportunity in disguise.

My mother gave it to me years ago because she said it reminded her of my look on life. We all have a problem with problems.   We analyze them, strategize about them, fuss over them and complain about them. And yet they continue to cast a dark cloud over our day, our week, sometimes our life.

Problems are like a plague. They present themselves at seemingly inopportune times. They are like stumbling stones. They get in the way, irritate us, and cause us to lose footing. They place limits on our abilities and dreams. They hurt when we run into them. Problems interrupt our plans and our confound our lives. The most pervasive of problems humble us and bring us quite to the end of ourselves.

And yet, it’s as true just as it is cliché; just as stumbling blocks can be used as stepping-stones our problems fuel our imagination to see life from a different angle. Seeing problems as opportunities changes our perspective and allows us to focus on solutions that bring us to a higher level of living.

We know it’s true of simple mental and physical challenges that sharpen our acuity.  We know that problems test our patience and develop our character. But what about real problems like a threat to your financial security, cancer, chronic pain, and sorrow? What opportunity is there to be found in these life crushing problems?

When focus on problems we only see frustration and pain and sorrow. When we shift our focus from our problems we are able to see new opportunities, even renewed purpose for living. I’m accustomed to thinking there is one way I typically do things. Not only that, but it seems like the right and natural way. It serves a good purpose. They’ve worked for me this far in life, why change? My ways are comfortable to me but they blind me to new opportunities.

Enter the problem that forces us to reevaluate the way we live, to examine even our dreams, and our purpose for living. Perhaps the more unsolvable a problem is, the more opportunity it presents to refine our lives. Consider the impossible problem extreme heat presents to precious metal. There is no resisting the force of the fire; the metal has no choice but to melt in the fire. But watch what happens. As the fire intensifies, the impurities in the metal rise to the surface. When the impurities are skimmed off, all that remains is the pure and precious metal. “How do you know when the metal is pure?” asked a novice of the refiner. “When I can see my reflection in it,” replied the master refiner.

And so it is with us. The larger problems that beset us act as a fiery furnace that melts us. There is no fighting or strategizing, or controlling what confronts us. We feel trapped precisely because there is no escape. But when we find ourselves completely melted and humbled at the hands of the master refiner, we see the impurities that dull our lives. No longer, “I need this,” or “I must have that to be happy.” No longer, “It’s either all or nothing,” in our demands for quality of life.

In the heat of the fire we see the reflection of who we were really created to be, the very image of the one who created us. It changes us and transforms us. Life is made more valuable when we surrender the impurities of our demands and the insistence of “my way.”

Every problem is an opportunity to trust God, to draw closer to him, to let him melt away the impurities of our insistent demands, and to see the opportunities he gives to live a truly transformed life in the presence of the problems we face.

We don’t any of us pray for problems, but when they come, let’s use them as an opportunity to transform our lives and become who we were meant to be.


The God I love

Think of a good friend of yours, one you trust and love. One whose character speaks goodness and comfort to you. What is it about this good friend that speaks to you, inspires you, and motivates you to want to spend time with them? What is it about their character that even influences who you are and how you see yourself?

When I focus on who is the God I love, he also influences my life in specific and powerful ways. When we ponder his very character we come to experience who he really is. We are drawn to him by how he reveals himself to us. It’s how we see ourselves in his eyes.

What do you see when you envision the God you love and trust? Is he the God of all power and might, of all knowledge and wisdom? Is he primarily the holy and just God, jealous and full of vengeance? Does knowing God is everywhere at once and knows your innermost thoughts and desires give you pause to consider how you should act toward others? Does it motivate your life goals and ambitions? Does his love lead you to love and care for others – even those who are strangers to you? Even those you don’t particularly like? Do his faithful promises bring you hope? How do you respond to his forgiveness and mercy, the amazing grace that he pours over you when you come humbly to him?

If you could experience only one of God’s mighty attributes, what would it be?

I know I would shrink under his power. I would be crushed under his holy judgment and fall so very short of his glory. Even as I grow in understanding, I find his wisdom is too great for me. But… when his grace, so underserved, washes over me, I am at once humbled and lifted up. It fills me with hope that transcends the unworthiness I might otherwise feel in his presence. Because there is no possible way I can get my act together and then come to him, I fall humbly and thankfully before him and receive the most amazing gift of grace and mercy I could ever request. He accepts me as I am, and yet loves me too much to leave me there. This God of unending love and amazing grace restores me to who I am meant to be. It leads me to goodness and peace and contented joy.  His mercy is the reflection of his goodness. How could I not love such a God as this?! How could my life not be devoted to the one who loves me and guides me and who fills me with promised hope that does not disappoint? Yes, God is full of power, wisdom, holiness, and judgment. His ways are so much higher than my own. I could think of a hundred reasons to love and fear him. But it’s his mercy that continually draws me to him and teaches me to love others.

Who is the God you love?


Beginning at the end

I suppose I’ve always been this way:

  • Shaking the presents to guess what’s inside.
  • Reading the last line of a comic strip to see if it’s funny enough to read the whole thing.
  • Reading the last chapter of a book first or the final concluding paragraph of an article.
  • Actually walking down the entire buffet line before I choose “buffet.”

Some of you understand. Maybe you belong to a family where you only tell the punchline and everyone laughs because they’ve heard the story so many times. Some of you are shaking your heads in disdain, saying it’s the process that counts as much as the end result. And you are right. Sometimes the ending is spoiled when we know it too soon. If you knew all along “the butler did it”, where is the mystery?

Whether it’s waiting for Christmas morning, waiting for kids to grow up, or waiting for an answer to prayer, we have this desire to skip to the end.  I’ve heard some say that whether it’s good news or bad, they just want to know so they can move on to the point they can actually do something.

Though it often escapes us, there is purpose in waiting. Waiting provides for us, protects us, and prepares us.

Waiting provides valuable lessons that can’t be learned in the instant gratification lane. Besides teaching me patience, a virtue few of us enjoy learning, waiting provides me with a renewed sense of perspective. It causes me to realize I’m not in control of everything, not even my own life. There are situations where the only control I have is how I respond to the situation. We aren’t always the captain of our own destiny. Waiting teaches us that God is God; I’m not. It provides greater blessing when I would have chosen less.

Waiting protects us. I recall a number of times when my delay was actually the hand of God protecting me from a poor choice, a bad relationship, or an unforeseen accident down the road. Sometimes we have to wait for certain doors to open because we aren’t ready for what’s on the other side. Sometimes, if we push too hard, we open a door not meant for us, revealing real dangers we hadn’t anticipated in our eagerness to pass through. Imagining the consequence of our choice helps us to wait patiently.

Waiting prepares us. Imagine trying to pass a test without studying and learning the material. Consider the consequences of being promoted too quickly to a job only to find you lacked experience to be successful. Reflect on the plight of being thrust into marriage too soon. Waiting prepares us for a future we’re unready for now. It affords the opportunity to build not only our knowledge and skills, but our character.  Just as we wait for a fruit tree to produce good fruit, so waiting produces good results in our lives.

So which is better, waiting or skipping to the end? As with most of life, the best answer may not be “either/or” but “both/and.”  As difficult as it is to wait, especially in the darkest times, it’s helpful to skip to the end of the bible and read the conclusion of the story. “God wins!” Our God who sees you and me right where we are, who knows our pain and every temptation that faces us – this same Mighty God will work good for all those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. He will lead you through the valley of the shadow of death.  He will show you the way to go because you have not been there before. The end of this chapter of my life is not evident just now. But the end of my story – and all who trust God – is clearly revealed. The power of God’s Spirit gives us peace in the middle of the storm and secures our hope, “as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19)

While you are waiting in difficult times, go ahead and skip to the end of the story and see that it is well with your soul.


What a Wonderful World

I was listening to a recording of Louis Armstrong  singing, “What a Wonderful World.” The gentle lilting melody and soothing lyrics comfort an anxious soul. Really, the lyrics are a testimony of a grateful life.

It wasn’t always that way. Being born to a poor family in New Orleans, living in a rough neighborhood known as “the battlefield,” abandoned by his father, and going through troubled marriages, Louie Armstrong knew the bitter side of life but in the end chose to embrace life’s better side.

Instead of dwelling on the hard times of his life, he used it to inspire his music that brought happiness to so many. It was for him, “Something to live for.”  His last hit song, What a Wonderful World, portrays a world of simple beauty and peace:  leafed trees and flowers, passing clouds and colorful rainbows, the friendly smiles and gestures of people going about their daily life, encouraging and loving one another, and the miracle of watching babies grow and learn. What a wonderful world when you’re surrounded by friends and family!

Sure it’s idyllic, maybe a bit of soft shoe schmaltz. But isn’t it also the perspective we need when we’re pressed down by the pressures of life? It’s precisely during difficult moments and trying seasons of life that we need to embrace the power of a grateful heart. It reminds us,

The solution to looking down at our problems is always – always – looking up.

  • Looking up to find beauty and calm and simple joy in the miracle of life that surrounds our pain.
  • Looking up to peer deeply into someone’s eyes and building a bond of understanding.
  • Looking up from the hopeless headlines and committing to one small way to make a big difference in someone else’s life.
  • Looking up to find a loving God who sees you where you are and invites you to rest from your burdens.

But if your world has suddenly and unimaginably fallen apart, or become worn down by the constant pressure of enduring sorrow; if it seems that the whole world is decaying around you, and your enemies, like cancer,  press against you with increasing pressure, is there any beauty and comfort yet to be found?

In his despair and grief and in the face of surrounding evil, the psalmist found hope in finding goodness in the land of the living.  He found beauty and safety and peace in abiding in God’s presence. Though everything around him was in turmoil and threatening his very life, he found a wonderful world in seeking quiet time with his Lord. Eyes off his troubles and gazing into the eyes of his master, he found respite from his fears and pain and sorrows. He could have asked for many things: to be rescued from his enemies, to be vindicated in their presence, to have the pleasures of good health, prosperity, and fame. But instead, he asked this:

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” Psalm 23:4

And with this refreshed perspective, he concludes with this resolution and challenge for us:

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 23:13-14

We have very many things we’d like to ask of the Lord, including the rescue from our deepest woes. But the one thing we could ask that makes more difference than anything else, is to dwell in the comfort and strength of his presence and catch a glimpse of the wonder of God’s unending love and amazing grace, offered freely to you and me.

Go ahead. Ask. It’s a free gift.