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Family

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” Genesis 21:6-7

As I write this we are about four weeks away from the Thanksgiving holiday celebrated in the United States.  And already I’ve heard from a few anxious friends concerned about gathering with family. To be fair, they are all worried about their spouse’s family!  But what makes holidays potentially stressful – dealing with the various personalities and their idiosyncrasies – is also what brings us such joy.  Our families.

When Sarah was gifted a child in her advanced age the Bible doesn’t talk about all her worries.  Although I could imagine there might have been a few.  Instead, what the focus is on is laughter and joy.  God’s creation of man included the eventual creation of family.  And there’s something about family that always feels so different than friendships.  We are bonded by some mysterious force from the heavens.  The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly in our families stays with us forever unlike a forgotten friend.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12

The command to honor our parents is the first command telling us to do something for another human being. It stands to reason that God puts family pretty high up on his list.  And while there are those whose parents have made honoring them difficult due terrible sin and lack of repentance, for so many of us we must remember God’s love for family and how He wants us to love them.

I love my whole family, those of blood and those my rolling stone has picked up along the way.  Some I must work harder to obey the command, while others it comes easily.  I thank God for all of them — because I have benefitted from them all while in this crazy, mysterious union. 

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Unswerving Faith

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we 
profess, for he who promised is faithful.  
Hebrews 10:23

We sing songs about God being our Rock.  We hear sermons about not living as though on shifting sand.  And yet so often I find myself having days where my faith feels more like something I’ve placed in a box to access at a later date and time.  I rush about “doing life,” not as a Christian but as a citizen of the world.  I let go of my Rock and hold on to my to do list.

But what do we, as Christians, really want to accomplish in our lives?  If it’s simply completing to-do lists every day, we miss out on some of the greatest human qualities God gifted us – the ability to dream and grow and have hope. 

When I was in high school, I wanted to be an astronaut.  I met with Air Force recruiters who were enthusiastic about me joining up.  But when I sat down with my parents, they immediately discouraged me.  They thought I couldn’t handle the rigor and discipline of training.  I had two choices – to ignore them and join anyway or give up my dream.  Had I a strong prayer life, I could’ve lifted up this quandary to God.  And then be guided by Him.  At each roadblock I could’ve held fast to the knowledge that He put me on that path.  But I’m sorry to say, I neither prayed nor kept my dream alive.

This verse today harkens back to Abraham and Sarah’s unswerving faith in God.  They went through terrible trials in which it would’ve been understandable had they given up on God’s promises.  We see throughout the Old Testament when the Israelites did give up hope.  They grumbled to Moses and set off in directions which brought death.  And who can forget Lot’s wife – looking backward rather than forward to God’ promise?

How often do we pray for help from Jesus, knowing that He answers prayers, and then after things get a bit tough or we feel the wait is too long we give up on our hopes and dreams?

Blessed is the one who perseveres under 
trial because, having stood the test, 
that person will receive the crown of 
life that the Lord has promised to those 
who love him. 
James 1:12

God never breaks a promise.  It’s always us.  It’s us that needs to take our faith out of the box and place it at the top of our list each day.  We need to hold fast to the knowledge that God is working for us and not against us.  Whenever we are tempted to give up or get discouraged about our dreams, we need seize the promises that God has shown us.

Here’s a prayer from Sparkling Gems from the Greek that might help you, through faith, “hold unswervingly” to your dreams!

Lord, I am well aware that events will occur in life that will tempt me to release the dream You put in my heart.  So right now, I ask You to fill me with the courage I need to refuse to let go of my dream.  Even though my mind and the circumstances around me may send signals that the dream will never come to pass, I know that You are faithful to what you have promised.  Help me wrap my arms of faith around your promises and never let go until I see them come into manifestation!  I pray this in Jesus’ name!