How long, O Lord? (Prayer Devotional for the week of September 6, 2015)

As I was getting close to finishing grad school, I remember the idea of writing my dissertation being very daunting. How do you just sit down and write 100+ pages? One of the best pieces of advice that I received during that time was: You don’t. You write a chapter, or a section of a chapter, or sometimes just a paragraph. You divvy up the project into bite-sized chunks to make it more manageable.

 

Sometimes, though, I would write and write and write, then look at my page count and realize it had barely budged. I would strum my fingers on the keyboard and ask myself, “How much longer will this take? How will I ever finish? I have so many people rooting for me; what if I fail?” Looking back in hindsight, of course, I’d like to tell that worrywart that she’s going to rock her dissertation; she’s going to graduate on schedule; and, she’ll even get a job offer of her dreams before it’s all said & done. 🙂

 

We’re only human, and it can be difficult to look beyond our current challenges and see the big picture in the future. If it makes us feel any better, we aren’t alone in our fretting. At least eight times in the book of Psalms (depending on the translation), the writer cried out, “How long?” to the Lord. King David would often beg God through poetry and song to spare his life when he was being pursued by his enemies, or forgive him when he felt God’s wrath hot on his neck for his sins. As I read the Psalms, I picture David cowering in a secret cave, scribbling his prayers by a campfire.

 

Do you realize that the same God who answered David’s prayers also listens to ours?

 

Is there something you are dealing with right now that you keep wondering how long until it is resolved? Don’t hesitate to take your concerns to the Lord, but don’t just dump them in prayer and then walk away. Spend time quietly listening for God to impress upon your heart what he might want you doing while you wait for the answer. Perhaps you are in a challenging situation at work, home, school, etc., and he wants to use you to be a witness to a specific person. Maybe your trial is a test of character, not a punishment. Whatever the situation, trust God to handle the details; you just be willing to listen and serve.

Why Memorize Scripture? (Prayer Devotional for the week of April 12, 2015)

My phone died recently, and although I’m grateful that it was covered under warranty, having to replace it without warning meant that I lost some apps and contacts that were apparently saved only on the device. One of those apps was a notepad that I use frequently in the car to voice-text memos to myself, like a list of devotional ideas that popped into my head while driving to work in the mornings, assorted thoughts that I wanted to write about one of these days. Gone. Ugh.

 

Losing those notes reminded me of how important it is to commit certain things to memory, like Scripture. Sometimes people say that memorizing Bible verses is too difficult or takes too much time and effort. If that’s your viewpoint, then I challenge you to think about all of the trivial facts that you have stored in your brain right now: My 6th grade crush, Danny Wingert’s birthday? Check. The entire script of The Princess Bride? Check. The combination to my high school locker? Check. My great-aunt’s buttermilk pie recipe? Check. Multiple passwords for email addresses, my bank, Facebook, Twitter, and dozens of other things? Check.

 

We are capable of memorizing Scripture. Perhaps we simply lack the motivation. If that’s the case, let’s allow the Bible to speak for itself about why we should make the effort to memorize verses. Psalm 119:9-11 reminds us that committing God’s word to memory helps to keep us from sinning. Joshua 1:8 indicates that when we meditate on Scripture, we are better able to do what God wants us to do. Jeremiah 15:16 talks about the joy of savoring God’s word like a scrumptious meal. Proverbs 6:21-23 describes God’s word as a light to lead us down the right path.

 

God speaks to us through his word. When you are having a bad day, you could pick up the phone and text or call a friend, but imagine how much more comforting it could be if you had a verse like Psalm 46:10 floating through your mind all the while, “Be still and know that I am God …” Better yet, how neat would it be if the tables were turned and you were the one to be able to offer comfort to a friend because of the Scripture that you had memorized?

 

Don’t think of it as a chore. Think of it as one more way to get to know God better. Memorizing the Bible can become a form of worship between you and the Lord, and it will enrich your prayer life. Try it!

White as Snow (Prayer Devotional for the week of January 4, 2015)

Growing up in the Houston area, snow was something I’d heard about and seen pictures of, but I seldom actually experienced it. Now that I live in the high desert region of southern Utah, I’m learning first-hand about the fluffy white stuff falling from the sky!

 

There is something absolutely breathtaking about opening the curtains in the morning and seeing the yard blanketed in snow. Everything looks so clean and crisp. The sun shines brighter, because it reflects off of the white ground. Sometimes the snow even sparkles! It’s truly remarkable.

 

I remembered a verse from the Bible about snow and sin, so I looked it up, and here’s what it says: “I, the Lord, invite you to come and talk it over. Your sins are scarlet red, but they will be whiter than snow or wool” Isaiah 1:18 (CEV). Let’s talk about that verse. First of all, I love the way the CEV translates the first part of the verse – God invites us to talk to him about our lives. We may be able to put up a front and hide certain things in our lives from everyone else around us, but God knows it all, and he invites us to simply come and talk to him openly.

 

Our sins aren’t hidden from the Lord. The Bible describes our sins as being bright red, like blood. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to wash out a blood stain, but a couple of my kids are prone to nosebleeds, and I can attest that it’s a pain to remove. Sometimes the clothing is permanently ruined. Sin lingers around like a stain that won’t come out.

 

And yet, God describes his amazing grace by painting the imagery of snow. Snow is not only white and clean as it falls from the sky, but it also covers everything it lands on. Fallen branches, the drainage ditch, toys strewn about the yard, and even the trashcan looks pretty covered in snow! God uses snow as a picture of how he can take our scarlet red sin and cover it completely with his grace.

 

You may not live where you see snow often, but just imagine your sin sitting out in the open in your front yard, and then a snowstorm blows through, covering it completely with a thick blanket of clean, white flakes. That’s what God can do, if only you’ll allow him to. That’s grace, my friend!