Monday, February 27, 2012

Our Wingmen

I heard a strange noise and wondered where it was coming from. As my dad and I walked in our neighborhood, I heard something like a coo or a gobble that didn’t match any sound I had heard before. I scanned the bushes across the street for any lurking creature. The sound came again—from the sky. A “v” of at least a dozen geese were flying north. They flew in perfect unison. Then one by one, they stopped flapping their wings to glide for a bit. The leader knew when to begin again, and all the others followed suit and resumed flapping when it was their turn.

Their combined efforts made the journey easier to bear. Perhaps you know, flying in a “v” formation allows the geese to share the air current made by the birds in front.* They don’t have to use as much energy, enabling them to fly farther than if they were on their own. Perhaps you don’t know, it’s possible for a flock to fly 1,500 miles (2,414 kilometers) in a 24-hour period.** That’s about the mileage distance between Dallas, TX and New York City, almost half of the country. It would take us the same amount of time to drive it. Can you imagine something as small as a goose flying that far in twenty-four hours? It seems like an impossible task, but they do it together.

We’re stronger together than apart. Like the geese who depend on each other to fly better and farther, we need each other for support and encouragement. God gives us “wingmen” to share life’s journey. When we grow in Godliness together and serve God alongside each other, we can “fly” farther and faster than on our own. When we grow tired and need a rest, someone else can pick up the slack and help us. We can be there for them, too. It may be challenging at times to find such people, but God can direct us to them. I’m grateful for the friends and family I get to “fly” with, and I hope to be a trustworthy wingman to them. Treasure those whom God has given you to share life’s journey. Treasure your wingmen!

“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ … that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27 NKJV).

* Fact 3 of 16.
**Ibid. Fact 11 of 16.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Peace, Be Still

“Lord, don’t You care?” The disciples woke Jesus up. A storm had engulfed them on the Sea of Galilee. Waves beat hard on them, filling the boat. They were going to sink. “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38 NKJV). In the midst of the raging storm, the disciples were afraid they were going to die, and there Jesus was, sleeping. He got up and commanded the wind, “’Peace, be still!’” (Mark 4:39 NKJV). The wind ceased. Jesus turned to the disciples, and asked them, “’Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’” (Mark 4:40 NKJV). Faith in Jesus would have given them security in the storm.

Jesus is always with us in our storms, and He cares about what we’re going through. The issue for us is trust. The disciples had reason to trust Him. They had seen Jesus cast out demons, heal sicknesses, and preach life-changing truth to multitudes of people. He had just finished preaching about faith and having a heart that is good ground for the “seed” of the word to take root in (Mark 4:20). In the storm, the disciples had a chance to exercise faith in Jesus—in His presence with them and in His power. But they were afraid. They had enough sense to wake Jesus up, but the storm held them captive in fear.

Unlike Jesus, it can be hard for us today to sleep through a storm. Even when the wind and the trees outside our homes are still and calm, in our hearts we can feel like we’re caught in a raging storm with no relief. But there’s Someone with us, Someone whose power not only controls the storms of nature but the storms of anxiety, fear, and circumstances. When we turn to the Lord and exercise faith in Him, our hearts can rest in His peace. He’ll help us to know what to do, what direction to take, or how to make things better. He’ll calm the storm in our hearts, whether or not He calms the storm in our circumstances. Whatever reason He allows the storms to come, we can trust His heart that He knows how much we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13) and He has great good planned for us (Romans 8:28).

If you need a little peace, remember Who’s in the boat with you. Take rest in His word, seeking His face and believing His promises. He never leaves us (Hebrews 13:5). He is more powerful than any storm we face, and He gives us the power to handle all challenges and trials (Psalm 147:5; Psalm 68:35; Isaiah 40:29; Philippians 4:13). May His strength and His words calm your heart in the storms. In your darkest nights, may you hear Him say: “Peace, be still!”

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Cloud By Day and My Fire By Night

God begins and ends each day with beauty. I can’t decide which I love better—sunrises or sunsets. Both capture me—the golden glow of a sunrise as it peeks above the trees, and the purple and pink radiance of a sunset just before it disappears for the night. For the longest time, I favored sunsets, partially because I stayed up too late to actually see morning’s first light. But my partiality changed about three months ago.

Last November, I saw a sunrise that made me run to find my camera. The sky was filled with charcoal-colored clouds that seemed to be set “on fire” by the rising sun. The clouds glowed with a brilliant light, and I thought, God is in the clouds. I know that we can’t see God in physical form, but the clouds glowed so much from within that it made me think of the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire mentioned in Exodus (Exod 13:21). God’s very presence went before the Israelites in a cloud by day and a fire by night. These were a constant reminder that He was always with them, leading them, protecting them, and providing for them.

God is always near us. As His children, we don’t have to look for a cloud or a fire for comfort and guidance. God has made His home within us (John 14:23). The fire of His love warms our hearts, and by the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us, God guides us through all of life. He also speaks to us through His word and draws us close to His heart as we study it and talk to Him in prayer. He stays with us throughout the day, and when we fall asleep, He stands guard, always watching over us. His love, joy, and peace plant a permanent glow in our hearts that reminds us He is real, He cares about us, and He will never leave us.

The next time you see a beautiful sunrise or sunset, take a minute to think about the One who created it. His glory and majesty are matchless, and His love is constant. “From the rising of the sun to its going down,” may the LORD’s name be praised (Psalm 113:3 NKJV).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Finish the Song

I love playing the guitar with my dad. He jams on his electric, and I jam on my acoustic. Just about the time I think I’m learning to play better, I end up skipping a whole line of measures. When the chord I play doesn’t match his, I know I’ve done something wrong. It usually happens when I get distracted.

It’s in my moments of distraction that I lose my focus and I can’t play the song right. When God gives us an assignment to do, it can be easy to lose our focus. All kinds of things tug at our attention. Seemingly good things—phone calls, emails, and our schedules. Or not so good things—hurts from the past, fears, and selfishness. God helps us to overcome the “not so good” things and to keep the good things in their proper places. So what should come first in our lives? Our relationship with God. The people He’s given us to know and love—family and friends. Our work and ministry. Each believer is gifted by God to do a special work in the body of Christ (Romans 12:6-8). Whether it’s in the church or in our jobs, we can use the abilities and spiritual gifts God has given us to bless others. We have a song to sing, a melody to play. The lyrics are our contributions to one another. The melody is God’s love.

Whatever song God has given you to sing, and wherever He wants you to play it, don’t let distractions keep you from finishing your song. Each person’s song—each person’s contribution to those around them—can be beautiful. Nobody can “sing” it like you can. Nobody can do your assignment like God enables you to do it. So keep your focus, and finish your song!

“Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day” (1 Chronicles 16:23 NKJV).