When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person. Job 22:29

At dinner with two of my children the other night, I was grousing about my work, which I dearly love.  But COVID has completely changed the character of our ministries and limited us in so many ways.  Many countries where we work are shut down; teams can’t travel; and the needs have shifted.

In prayer the next morning, it occurred to me that I’m the director, and if I’m not happy with operations, I need to look in the mirror.  With repentance, I began praying for fresh inspiration and direction in moving forward, and the ideas began to flow.

At the office I met with one of the leaders to share my thoughts, and he heaped more possibilities onto my clipboard.  When I saw the bishop, he added to my growing thoughts for ministry and gave me permission to do a presentation to the staff.

After we finished Scripture reading and prayers in staff meeting, I reported about the intense hunger our partners around the world are experiencing; about two of our missionaries who are currently suffering with Covid in a Middle Eastern country with limited medical facilities; and about extreme poverty and needs we can only imagine.  I asked staffers to join us in prayer for these dear ones and invited them to go with us when the countries reopened.

After a few announcements, Bishop closed the meeting, and I walked out the door.  Our housekeeper caught up with me, grabbed my hand, and put something in it.  She looked intently into my face and said, “This is for where it’s most needed.”  I automatically thanked her but didn’t look down until I got to the hallway where I saw a hundred dollar bill.  I walked by my assistant’s office, and she said, “You’re not going to believe this,” and showed me a check from our receptionist for one hundred dollars. And, yes, I have thanked these dear ladies who could not comprehend how their generous spirits and sacrifices meant so much more than the gifts themselves.  They were the crowning touch of God’s encouragement.  (And three staff members asked to join mission teams.)

Father, thank you that you’ve placed us in the Church with sisters and brothers whom you use for your purposes. You ARE good–ALL the time. AMEN.


…When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.  Mark 16:4

When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, I was terrified.  I’d never been around anyone with cancer, and it wasn’t part of our family history.  I had no idea what to expect, but I knew it was a time to trust.

The surgery went well, and the doctors told me afterward that they thought they had gotten it all, but, of course, I knew there would be some sort of follow-up.  When we met the oncologist for the first time, he recommended chemotherapy—six long months.  My husband met the news with his typical pragmatic attitude wanting to know when to begin.

I didn’t know about cancer, but I certainly had heard horror stories about chemo and knew the side effects could be ghastly.  We asked the same people who had prayed for the surgery to now pray for chemo treatments.  And I prayed that I would be able to support Peter in spite of my own anxiety.

The first day of treatment was scheduled, and I did a lot of extra praying, especially for strength.  We walked in the door looking about to find seats.  Instead, we found Anne.  Anne was the head nurse for the clinic (I had no idea!), and she was a dear friend from our church prayer group.  “We’ve been waiting for you and praying,” was Anne’s greeting.  And so began six months of seeing a friend who we knew had been part of that great cloud of witnesses that are always there to support us through dark times.

I suspect those ladies who went to the tomb on Easter Sunday had hearts full of dread, perhaps not unlike my experience, just much more intense.  They knew what they had seen, and they anticipated the horror and grief they would encounter.  But even before they could minister to Jesus’ body, they had an almost insurmountable task:  Who would roll away the stone?

And how much time do we spend worrying about something that we fear will happen?  We reflect on past experiences thinking that this is going to be just the same—or worse.  We don’t always trust that God will go before us to lift that load.  Notice the order of events:  When they looked up…  Had their eyes been on the ground in their overwhelming sorrow?  Were they thinking of the impossibility of the situation?  WHEN they looked up…they saw the stone had already been rolled back.

The answer was there before they asked. 

Father, help us to look up when we’re bowed down, knowing that you have already met the need.  And thank you, too, Father, for healing Peter.  AMEN.


He restoreth my soul.  Psalm 23:3

Meditating today on the 23rd Psalm, I stopped at the third verse and thought about the restorations I’ve experienced through a long and interesting life.  And then I was reminded of Joel’s promise in verse 2:25, “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten…” 

As I juxtaposed the two verses informing restoration, it occurred to me that, while I have often felt regret over the years the locusts have eaten, there are so many other things that I feel gratitude for their disappearance.  Those hungry locusts devoured wounds, mistakes, bad choices, painful memories, and so much more that was part of those “years.”

All this time, I’ve been thankful for the restoration my soul has experienced in lieu of events that caused grief without ever seeing that the injuries have not just been pushed aside.  They have actually been destroyed, removed, eaten up so that my soul could be restored to newness of life.  And with that, goodness and mercy have followed and will follow me all the rest of my life.


Father, thank you for the blessing of meditating in your Word and for your Spirit that brings light and life.  AMEN.


 One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”  John 6:8, 9  (Msg)

I’ve never heard anyone commend the little boy who brought the lunch that fed thousands.  In fact, even his name isn’t mentioned.  We know about Andrew who quietly works in the background, and we know about Andrew’s brash brother Peter who usually dominates the conversation.  But of the little boy who is instrumental in one of Jesus’ major miracles, we read one sentence.  However, that single sentence tells us several things about this child through whom God works:  1) He’s young; 2) He’s present; 3) He’s probably poor (barley loaves were eaten by the poor); and 4) He was planning to share.

1)  He’s young.  Quite likely, this was a small child, a “little boy,” “a boy,” “a lad,” as described by most versions.  We don’t know if he came alone or if he was with his family or hanging out with friends.  2) For whatever reason, he came to hear Jesus, and, as a result, took part in one of Jesus’ most famous miracles simply because he was there.  3) Although there may have been wealthier, more prominent people in the crowd, this small boy had exactly what Jesus needed to feed the thousands.  4) What small boy would carry such a big lunch unless he was thinking of splitting it with someone?  Did this little guy come up to Andrew and volunteer his lunch when he saw the problem?  Or did Andrew notice that the child had brought more than he needed?

There are so many things we don’t know about these details, but we do know that Jesus used a small, obscure, poor, unnamed, and generous young one to accomplish a great miracle that people still talk about today.  In the middle of the impossible, Jesus had an unimagined resolution.

Father, when I’m proposing strategies for your interventions, please remind me of the Little Guy who came out of nowhere and who was on no one’s radar.  AMEN.


For each will have to bear his own load.  Galatians 6:5

As they were discussing unanswered prayer, one of the group members added that he and many of his friends had spent years praying for another one of their friends.  They had watched helplessly as their friend vacillated in his spiritual life, up and down, hot and cold.  In the end, he broke fellowship with them all and left to pursue his own aspirations.

Watching our friend quietly speak of his disappointment, the weight he carried was obvious.  He went on to say that he often wondered what more they could have done and why God hadn’t intervened when so many were trusting him for an answer.

This wasn’t a time for a pat memory verse.  “All things work together for good” wouldn’t suffice for such a deep wound.  Several things began to emerge from the group.  Someone said, “You aren’t responsible for the decisions someone else makes.”  Another group member said, “God doesn’t force his will on us, and he allows us to do as we please.”  Then someone submitted, “We can’t expect ourselves to have known in earlier years what we know now.”  Finally, “God is the God of the past as well as the present and can walk with you through that time to bring healing and understanding.”

It appeared that perhaps God was also in the dock.  Where had he been when he was most needed?  Additional thoughts began to pour forth.  Moses went to Pharaoh several times asking that he let God’s people go.  Initially, Pharaoh agreed but later changed his mind and hardened his heart.  The Scripture then states that, after repeated rejections, “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27, 10).  Pharaoh had an opportunity to listen to God and suffer little damage to his throne and country, but his recurring disregard finally resulted in his inability to choose rightly.  He lost everything.

How can we presume to know what God is working in any man’s heart?  And because we see no outward evidence of God’s presence, may we arrogantly charge him with negligence?  Are we aware of the people God is sending?  The angels unawares?  The dreams and visions?  The written and spoken messages that are being transmitted through varied sources?  How can we charge God with failure when “his ways are higher than ours” (Isaiah 55:8), and “he speaks in different ways” (Job 33:14).

Our friend dropped his burden of many years, repented, and once again allowed God to be God.

Father in heaven, thank you for your mercy.  How awesome that you do not defend yourself against false charges but stand ready to receive the one whose eyes have been opened.  Thank you.


For we live by faith, not by sight.  II Corinthians 5:7

We were headed for Hawaii to meet my brother who was flying in from Viet Nam for R&R.  My parents had been told by the Army that Jack was due for a break from the unrelenting fighting in the jungles where he and his men had spent the last six months.  On this weak assurance, my dad bought airline tickets for us all in expectation of reunion.

I’ll never forget the oppressive mixture of fear and anticipation as we awaited Jack’s arrival at the international airport in Honolulu.  There had been no guarantee Jack would even be on the plane, but we had come in hope.*  The first bus unloaded its cargo of expectant soldiers as their eyes scanned the crowds, looking for familiar faces, but our soldier was not in the crowd.  Then the second bus came, and still no Jack.  As two more buses emptied their precious load, Mom was on the verge of despair.  At the end of the line a final bus slowed at the curb, and the jostling men made their way through the folding doors.  Still that beloved face wasn’t to be seen until from the very back of the bus my brother emerged to his family who had come in anticipation, just hoping he might come.

I’ve often thought of that experience through the years as I’ve trusted God through difficult times, just praying he’d be present.  To intervene in situations where no one else could make a difference.  I’ve trusted his Word that he would be faithful to make a way where there seemed to be no way.  And sometimes, like my mom, I’ve despaired that maybe, just maybe, I had acted in presumption.  Maybe the promises were not to be claimed for this situation.

It’s taken years to learn that we DO live by faith, not by sight.  God presses us to move out of that familiar comfort zone into a more dangerous place of trusting him in circumstances that only he can resolve.  And in moving, living by faith, we often must move ahead of feelings that threaten to wash over us in waves of panic telling us we were expecting too much of God.  We were trying to live too far beyond ourselves and our predictable existences.  Sometimes when we indulge fear, we fall back where it feels more comfortable and breathing is easier.

But then the time comes that we finally push beyond fear, and we get ahead of emotion, saying, “My God can…”  We trust him to do what he said he will do.  And we wait.  And wait.  And trust.  And the waiting and the trusting are excruciating, but now we can do nothing else.   And then, in his time, he appears. 

And our feelings have to catch up.

Father, I’ve lived too long being pulled and jerked around by my feelings.  I’m ready to live by faith.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.

*We learned after the fact that Jack wasn’t supposed to be on the plane after all because he had been wounded in Cambodia, and the military typically didn’t allow soldiers to go on R&R with wounds.  When he returned to Viet Nam, he was checked into the hospital and recovered.



And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.  (I Kings 19:8) 

I can hardly wait.  In just a little over a week, Lent will be here, the Christian penitential preparation for Easter, the day we celebrate Christ’s resurrection.  And why am I looking forward to Lent?  It’s that season when we can choose to devote ourselves to intense focus on Jesus’ sacrifice for us and how we can respond. 

During the forty days of Lent, some people will give up certain foods or will spend more time in prayer.  Some will fast of all or some meals daily, and some will eliminate entertainments.  In these forty days as we intentionally wait on God, we seek to know him better, and we wait until we sense our spirit has connected with our heavenly Father. 

And that’s the point of listening.  What will God say to us?  What new direction will he send us?  How will he shift our priorities?  We sit in quietness, being still and knowing he is God.  When he speaks, there is no question in our minds as to what we should do.  The question is Will we obey the still small voice? 

Elijah had defied wicked Queen Jezebel and her pagan prophets.  He had stood alone on Mt. Carmel proclaiming the reign of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel and defeated all the prophets of Baal.  And yet, when Jezebel sought to kill him, he ran and hid himself beside a little bush, ready to die.   

God sent an angel who gave him food and water and told him to rest.  And then a second time, Elijah was encouraged to eat and rest.  The refreshing that came from above was sufficient to carry Elijah, depleted as he was, for forty days and forty nights. 

Lent for us becomes that time of waiting quietly before God and allowing him to nourish us, to give us rest, to refresh and bless us.  Waiting, resting, refreshing.  Followed by strength. 

Father, cause us to return to the quietness and renewal that we find in your presence.  Feed us so that we know our empowerment is from you alone.  Rest and refresh us.  In Jesus’ holy name.  AMEN. 


…he will be the stability of your times…  Isaiah 33:6  ( ESV)

When we were children, Papa decided it was time to find a larger house for his growing family.  We settled in a beautiful new home, and Papa’s diligent gardening made our lawn the envy of the neighborhood.  It wasn’t long, however, when hairline cracks began to appear in the walls of our dream house, and Papa announced that we’d be moving again.

This time Papa didn’t trust a ready-built house for his family.  Not at all.  He and Momo found a one-acre lot in a suburban neighborhood, and Papa and a friend built our forever home from the ground up.  When it came time to put in the landscaping, it was clear why Papa had chosen this particular neighborhood:  under the few inches of topsoil, there was solid rock.  The house is still standing, and when last I was inside, there still wasn’t a crack.

2020 was a year none of us will forget.  Perhaps, with me, you celebrated New Year’s Day with anticipation of a better year—a new vaccine for the dreaded Covid and the opportunity for our country to return to work and to life as we know it.  Perhaps we might even look forward to planning a family trip or a reunion with loved ones we haven’t seen since shut down.

Just barely into January we saw that relief would not be coming soon.  From any quarter around us.  UNLESS we look to the Rock.  Isaiah (51:1-3) from of old exhorts us to:

 ” Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the LORD:  Look to the rock from which you were cut, and to the quarry from which you were hewn…  For the LORD will comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; He will make her wilderness like Eden and her desert like the garden of the LORD.  Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and melodious song.”

The foundation of our lives, the Rock on which we are built is the only stability that will see us through these stormy times.   And he is sufficient.  He IS the stability of our times; he will not be shaken; he will not be broken; he will not disappear.  Anchored to him, we can weather the tempests, and when they are over, we will still be standing.

              My hope is built on nothing less
              Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
              I dare not trust the sweetest frame
              But wholly lean on Jesus’ name

              On Christ the solid rock I stand
              All other ground is sinking sand
              All other ground is sinking sand.  (Robert Critchley)

Father, save us from ourselves and the false notion of self-reliance.  We stand in you.  In Jesus, our Lord.  AMEN.


Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10

Two men, so recently filled with joyous expectation for a brilliant future, commiserated over their shredded dreams.  A stranger joined them as they walked and enquired about their sorrow.  How could he have been so ignorant of the grief they shared?  As the stranger reflected on their shared history and what had been predicted from ancient times, hope was rekindled, and spirits seemed to rise above raw emotion.  When the stranger gave thanks over the bread broken for lunch, they knew he was Jesus.

This past year, 2020, has been a great international leveler.  Not one country has escaped the Corona virus; all have suffered.  In our country, we were experiencing unprecedented economic prosperity and growth; joblessness was at a record low; opportunities seemed to be limitless.  We were barely into the new year when the virus struck a blow that upended the whole world.  And it changed our lives.

Those men who walked along Emmaus Road bowed down with grief probably shared thoughts of what had been their dreams for the future:  emancipation from Roman rule; a house and farm for everyone; a renewal of David’s Kingdom.  Their world crashed when their Messiah was crucified.  Were they walking away from their sorrow?  Was their journey an attempt at discernment?  God saw and sent Jesus.

Why THOSE two men?  There were so many others suffering.  But they were chosen to hear the words of hope, to have their eyes opened.  Somehow, the God “to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid” saw two lonely men walking out their despair and came to speak Truth to them.  God had won victory over death and was announcing the Kingdom that would bring about a revolution greater than anything they had ever thought or imagined.  And, as they listened, their hearts burned within them.

We’re walking into a new year.  Perhaps the old one symbolized the death of many things, but now the Kingdom has come.  This is a year of possibility and we can live into the reign of our Lord as we rekindle our faith in his faithfulness.  As we open our eyes.  As we welcome his rule in 2021.

 Father, we welcome you as Lord and trust you to renew us and fill us again with your Spirit and presence.  Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done.  AMEN.


The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.  Deuteronomy 33:27

Imagine having an angel appear with a message that will dramatically alter your life and possibly even end it.  That was young Mary’s experience when Gabriel appeared announcing her choice as the mother of Messiah.  Mary’s trusting response: “… Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).  Mary didn’t question; she said, “Yes.”

Do you think that Mary had second thoughts after the aura of the angel had faded away?  Did she, perhaps, wonder if her mind had been playing tricks?  Had she been daydreaming or had her imagination been playing games?  The Bible doesn’t speak to that.

And then there’s noble Joseph who learns that his fiancé is pregnant with someone else’s child.  He could have publicly denounced her, even led to her stoning if the old rules were still to be observed.  But Joseph, God’s earthly father for his Son, was also attuned to God’s voice who assured him that the baby was God’s only Son (Matt. 1:20-21) and that he could continue his plan to marry her.

This is all part of the story that we know and recite, but have you considered the magnitude of Mary and Joseph’s faith in participating in God’s plan?  Of all the questions and struggles they might have endured?  Of all the struggles we sometimes experience as we step out in faith to do the unthinkable?

There’s more.  God didn’t engage Mary and Joseph in a wild-haired scheme and then expect them to work it out on their own.  Not in the least!  Instead, God was with them each step of their marvelous journey. 

Look at the confirmations (plural).  Mary went to visit Cousin Elisabeth (the priest’s wife) who, upon seeing her, spoke a blessing and declared that she was carrying “her Lord” in her womb (Luke 1:42-43).  And then near Bethlehem the shepherds saw the angels and went to see the baby (and his parents) whom the angels had announced (Luke 2:8-20).  Just a few days after Jesus’ birth he was taken to the Temple for circumcision where he met Simeon and Anna who both confirmed Jesus as Messiah (Luke 2:21-38).  Finally, the wise men, strangers from a far country, arrived at Mary and Joseph’s dwelling to find Jesus, fell down, worshipped him, and presented their gifts (Matt. 2:11).

God had chosen Mary and Joseph for a unique life as earthly parents to his Son.  They were challenged to trust their heavenly Father in bringing Jesus into the world, but God didn’t leave them without his Presence and his guidance in doing his will.  We don’t know what was happening in the hearts and minds of this young couple, but we do know that God continued—in his own miraculous way—to encourage them and to confirm his word spoken by the angels.  What Mary and Joseph acted out in their lives, God validated by one and then another of his servants.

And so it is in our lives.  Whatever the faith walk to which God calls us, we never need to fear—even if it seems totally preposterous.  God is able to lead us to his fulfillment; to provide the resources to achieve the goal; and the encouragement to keep us moving in the most trying of times.  He knows exactly what we need to carry on.

When there was nothing visible to see, Mary and Joseph trusted and obeyed.  And God confirmed their faith.

Father, give me the courage of Mary and Joseph to follow in the hardest times, knowing that you are with me until I reach your destination.  AMEN.