Peace for the Day

Devotions for our daily angst.


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Simply Faith

 

Mother & Child Smiling at Each Other by Mary Cassatt

Mother and Child Smiling

by Mary Cassatt

“I am the Lord’s servant, Mary answered. May your word to me be fulfilled.” Luke 1:38 NIV

I have seasonal angst. Sharing it makes me feel naked and exposed. As I write these words, I wonder what my family and friends will think. Will I be less of a Christian in their eyes when I admit I wrestle with the Bible, the very book I’ve stood on and prayed from for years?

It’s the virgin birth. I struggle with this concept and wonder how it can be. When I examine the event from a purely intellectual point of view, I find it difficult to accept.

Let’s place the event in the here and now. Picture a sweet 14 -year-old girl, a ninth grader, sitting her parents and boyfriend down to tell them she’s going to have a baby. And oh by the way, the father is not the boyfriend. It’s God, and she’s still a virgin.

A revelation like that would burn through social media like a forest fire in an area of prolonged draught. Twitter would buzz with tweets. The family hounded by reporters. There’d definitely be a book deal. CNN and FOX News would hold panel discussions about the veracity of her story. Congress would demand a hearing. And the presidential press secretary would be forced to respond to questions about the President’s position on it.

Instead of risking a media blitz, God chose to unfold his rescue of mankind quietly two thousand years ago in a small, obscure town called Nazareth. That’s where the angel Gabriel appeared to young Mary to tell her the good news. If you were directing the play, how would you stage this scene? With trumpets blaring and drums booming and a host of angels singing? I’m a minimalist when it comes to theatre. I’d have an almost bare stage with a façade that represented a home from the times, and one young girl standing downstage. That’s it.

In the quiet of the moment after Gabriel told her what was about to happen, there would be a pause for Mary to absorb what she heard, a poignant life-changing silence with the spotlight fixed on her. Then Mary would look up at the angel and ask my question, “How can this be, seeing I’ve known no man?” She’d speak softly as she struggled to grasp the angel’s words. She wouldn’t express herself cynically or with disbelief, but in wonder.

“How can this be?”

Gabriel answers. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be called Holy, the Son of God.”

Mary’s response holds the answer. It is a statement for all time, one that I can take to heart. “I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” With humility, she bows in faith to accept the will of God.

The author of Hebrews states it this way: “Without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6 RSV)  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear.” (Hebrews 11:1-4 RSV)

By faith. Like Mary. Be it done unto me according to your word.

How will I respond? I bow my head and my heart, asking God to reveal the truth of this wonderful time of year to me.

How will you respond? I pray that you’ll have the courage to ask one simple question this Christmas season: “God, is this your son?”

May God’s Christmas Gift fill your hearts with joy this season. Merry Christmas!

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Gossip Girl

 “This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue – it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!” James 3:7-10 Msg
gossip girl

Right before a flood, hurricane, or tornado warning flash across the television screen, stations get viewer’s attention by playing an irritating “beep-beep-beep”. The sound makes us sit up and take notice. Something important is coming. I heard those same cautionary noises in my spirit during Joel Osteen’s sermon on Sunday. Beep. Beep. Beep. Listen up, Katherine, you need to hear this.

The topic was honoring people with our mouths.

Ick.

I may as well stop here to admit I love gossip. God knows it. I know it. Anyone who has worked with me knows it. Specifically, work gossip. It’s the best. Not personal stuff like work romances or who is sleeping with whom or who has troubled families. It’s the political intrigue of who’s rising to the top or who is falling from grace along with all the reasons and speculations that surround the discovery that fascinate me. The corporate rumor mill. I listened. I heard. I spread.

As I listened to Pastor Osteen, I realized that I also reaped. It’s an unfortunate truth and a difficult lesson to learn that if I sow disparaging remarks, I’ll reap critical judgments. Galatians 6:7 in The Message states, “What a person plants, he will harvest”. Last year this time, I reaped an overabundant crop of denigrating criticism.

I thought about all the words I’ve spoken in the last few years of my work life. I thought about how greedy I was to hear the rumors and to send a co-worker a quick instant message stating the latest. The comments usually started with an “I shouldn’t say this but…” or “You’re not going to believe this, but…”

Even as I write this devotional, knowing I’ve already repented, I am ashamed and convicted. I like to think God’s purpose for my life is based on Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.(ESV)” I pray each morning that I would have a word in season to him who is weary. (Isaiah 50:4) My words, spoken or written, are to be a blessing to the hearer. I’ve been self-deceived in thinking that corporate gossip isn’t really gossip. I lost sight of my purpose. And for that, I am truly sorry.

May God, the living God, set a guard over my mouth and keep watch over the door of my lips that my words indeed would uplift those who are weary and bring comfort to those in need. In Jesus’ name I pray.