Tag Archives: hebrews 6:19

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.


Anchoring your mind


The subject of ‘mindfulness’ is frequently mentioned in the media, typically in the context of finding calmness in life balance. The idea is that we should take time each day to be mindful of our existence and our relationship with our world and others around us. The process is one of ‘anchoring’ oneself to inner values in a way that promotes emotional calmness.

Did you know that practicing mindfulness is at the very heart of focusing on and loving God? From the beginning, we are told to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and strength (Deut. 6:5). Repeatedly, God prompts us to remember that He is our God (Numbers 15:41). We are reminded to meditate on His Word day and night (Joshua 1:8). We are called into His presence (Ps. 95:2) and to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:16). Jesus said that we can’t do anything without him, that we need to remain in him (John 15), and Paul tells us that with him, we can do all things.

Being mindful of who God is and who we are in his sight, is the essence of walking with God. It is our hope in Him that anchors us in the only way that is firm and secure (Heb. 6:19). It is the anchor that keeps us from drifting away from Him.

So how do we practice this mindfulness of God? Consider the following practical steps:
1. Find and make space for God throughout your daily actions and thoughts. When you find yourself getting upset and tense, create a space between how you feel and how you respond. In that space, think of who you are called to be. Ponder what a godly response would look like. A harsh word may seem like it would satisfy, but consider the longer-lasting consequence of that approach. Choose to be a peacemaker instead.
2. Don’t give in to fear and anxiety. Instead, practice being calm even in the middle of turmoil. Be mindful of God’s promises, His love for you, and how he has equipped you for every situation.
3. Get comfortable with silence. It’s impossible to truly hear what someone else is saying if you are always talking. Talk with God regularly and throughout the day, not just upon rising and going to bed. But more than talking, practice listening to God at least 10-15 minutes each day. Listen without interrupting. Practicing this after reading His Word will stimulate your listening ability.
4. Sharpen your saw. Break away from busyness. If you want to be more productive in what you do and to experience greater life balance and peace, practice being mindful of the One who loves you most. Stop drifting and enjoy the peace and wisdom of your anchoring your mind in meditation.

Beyond optimism

One day the sun was shinning brightly and the optimist said, “Great day, eh?”
The pessimist said, “The stupid sun will burn the crops.”
The next day it rained. Again the optimist tried to engage his friend, but the pessimist’s only response was: “Stinking rain will wash out all the seed!”
So the optimist took his friend duck hunting, which he loved.
After the first duck was shot the optimist dispatched his dog to fetch the duck.
The dog ran on top of the water, picked up the duck and ran back.
The optimist exclaimed “Did you see that?”
The pessimist replied, “Dog can’t swim, eh?”

The difference between the optimist and the pessimist is plain to see. But what would you say if someone asked you the difference between someone who is merely optimistic and someone with real hope? Psychology tells us the optimist expects the best even though they may have no actual idea of how they will obtain better results. It seems a bit like throwing coins down an old wishing well, “cross your fingers”, and that sort of thing. The one with hope, on the other hand, pursues a path designed to reach a better end. That path may or may not be trustworthy but that doesn’t keep someone from placing their hope and trust in it.

Because hope is not unique to those of spiritual belief, that path might be faith or it might be the efforts of self or others or it might be traditions passed down to them. What all of these “paths” have in common is trust that they will succeed in leading us to our desired end.

What you hope for and what you trust are directly related to each other. The Hindu puts their hope and trust in the karmic perfection of self. A Buddhist hopes they have done enough good and trusts this hope will reward them. Some people who call themselves Christians believe this too whereas the biblical view clearly states that those who put their complete trust in God’s son Jesus will not be disappointed. Some people hope and trust that nature will sort everything out.

In what do you put your ultimate hope and trust? Your ability to earn money? Your talents and physical strength? Your health? Your friends? All of these could be literally gone tomorrow. But there is one hope that does not fail. Examine your heart today. Test your anxious thoughts and see if your hope and trust is firmly and rightly placed.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the holy spirit. Romans 15:13

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19

Celebrating six months since transplant

As I approach celebrating six months (this Friday!) since my stem cell transplant, I find myself coming back to convictions that have steadily grown during my unexpected journey with Leukemia:

I find myself actually thankful for how God has spoken to Marcia and me through this unexpected journey in ways I don’t think we would have experienced on any other path. To be honest, sometimes more thankful than others, but He continues to bring us back to center when we are done with our self efforts and complaining for the day. :-). I have also been so thankful for opportunities to visit with people and share in their lives! Those have been rewarding times of renewal and of redeeming the time we have while we have it.

God has faithfully affirmed things we knew to be true and planted them more firmly in our hearts. And even when His plan didn’t include removing the pain, He never ever abandoned us. He reminded us that sometimes he calms the storm; sometimes He calms the sailor. Even when the tensions that come with a household invaded by cancer, His faithfulness prompts our commitment to draw closer – to Him and to each other. His joy, sometimes more one of inner contentment than gushing effervescent bubbly joy, becomes strength to those who trust Him.

Whatever long-term struggles you face, and even when life is going well, each day is a battle for the mind. Being aware of making daily choices that lift us, not enslave us, is crucial, isn’t it? Sometimes I don’t fight the battle as well as others. Sometimes I keep on fighting when it is time to simply stand in God’s armor and let HIM fight for me. It is true that faith makes all things possible, but not easy.

I have learned that most everyone faces tough battles that include physical illness, relational tensions, work stress, financial struggles, battles for the mind, and all sorts of grief and sorrow. I wish I could tell you a way to escape them, but we won’t in this world. However… we don’t have to remain slaves to their mental and spiritual bondage. We have a loving God who cares for us and is ready to help us become victors and experience a peace we couldn’t otherwise expect…even as the storm rages within and around us. The only hope for victory I know is to surrender our complete trust to Him….all of it, in all things. And for me, it is a hope for the soul, like an anchor that is firm and secure. I know today, I need to consciously shorten the anchor rope so I don’t drift farther than I should. (Hebrews 6:19)

Be blessed in growing your thankful heart and in trusting one who is completely trustworthy to bring you a peace you won’t find anywhere else.

“I Own You!”

My sister sent me an interesting article written by a person with Meniere’s Disease. The comment that grabbed my attention in the article was the author’s observation that her disability sometimes screams to her, “I own you!”

Have you ever felt that way? That something in your life, your health, your personal relationships, your job, your debt, perhaps a destructive self habit…something cries out to you, “I own you.” Marcia and I were tempted by this thought at the very beginning of our journey with Leukemia. Even now we are periodically attacked with this thought. The ongoing demands of the very real symptoms insist on being attended to. They will not be ignored and we cannot escape them. But do these challenging realities really OWN us? Just because thieves continue to survey your house, that is not the same as breaking in and stealing from you or taking you hostage. And certainly you don’t leave the house unprotected.

A servant cannot serve two masters. We cannot be owned simultaneously by peace and fear. In an earlier post we looked at 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 which tells us “You are not your own. You were bought at a price.” (This may be an affront to those who think they can give part of their life to God and have the right to call all their own shots.) If you are a devoted follower of Jesus, your body (and mind) belongs to Him and His care. It is a temporary dwelling for an eternal and divine purpose. That is why we are able to persevere in faith through difficult trials (and you can too). We know to whom we belong. “We have this faith as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19)

We are not owned by our troubles unless we willingly surrender to them. What is the antidote for this? Developing an attitude of gratitude, praising God, for who He is, for what He has done, what He will do, and what He is now doing on your behalf. I would be glad to be healed of Leukemia, and believe I will be one day. At the same time, I am thankful I do not carry a heavier cross. I am thankful I do not bear this alone. I am thankful for a loving God who never abandons me. Even for a sense of humor that sometimes gives me a break from becoming too serious.

When the devil tells you about your troubles, you tell him about your Great God! Your troubles, whatever they are, do not have to own you. Say it out loud. “You (name the affliction) do NOT own me.” Draw close to God and He WILL draw close to you. It’s a promise.