Posted in fear, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Annie

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

It seemed like it would never get better.  I have to admit, there were times last year and even early this year when I wondered would this mess ever get better.  I mean, what if this really was the new normal? What if all the restrictions and changes were things we were going to have to get used to?  What if when someone said, “Just get over it” that was the reality.  Well, at this juncture it seems that is not the case.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel and the good news?  The good news is that it is not a freight train about to run over us.

I’ve been reading a lot (well, at least a lot for me) about rethinking the way we think.  Both scripture and science proves that our brain, (not to mention our lives) respond to our thought process.  It is true. Our lives just move in the direction of our strongest thoughts.  Or, as another person said, “where you stare you steer.”  It is possible and probably probable that we can and should take some advice from Annie.  Remember her?

Annie.  Her life was pretty hard…pretty dark.  A perky young redhead with an optimistic attitude in a pessimistic world.  Others mocked her and those charged to care for her emotionally abused her.  So, what was Annie’s response?  Well, it goes something like this.

“The sun will come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun! Just thinking about tomorrow clears away the cobwebs, and the sorrow, till there’s none!

When I’m stuck in a day that’s gray, and lonely, I just stick out my chin and grin, and say, “Oh the sun will come out tomorrow. So ya gotta hang on till tomorrow…come what may. Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya tomorrow! You’re always a day away.”

Guess what?  The sun does come out.  She is rescued by Daddy Warbucks and her life is changed forever.  Are there still problems?  Yup.  Are there still bad guys lurking to hurt her–steal her away? Yup.  Does the story have a great ending?  Yup and three big lessons emerge.  One, the sun will come out.  Two.  Don’t mess with Daddy Warbucks. Three, don’t underestimate a nine-year-old redhead.

Sometimes it seems we are stuck in a day that’s gray, and lonely.  Doesn’t it seem this whole corona virus thing is one perpetual, cloudy day? Doesn’t it seem like this is the new forever normal?  Well, it is not.  The sun is going to come out.

I try and walk every morning–usually on the treadmill.  I climb on and at 4 mph work hard to go nowhere.  Well, sometimes, the temps are warm and the sun is out and I walk outside and it is like a cool drink of water in a hot dry desert.  I mean I just explode in gratitude for a God who loved me enough to let the sun come out.

I read on the internet that the phrase, “And it came to pass…” appears 396 times in the Bible.  Each time it is saying that the current situation didn’t come to stay…it came to pass. No matter what, this isn’t the new normal…it is a temporary circumstance. When it is all said and done, it may not look like 2019, but that may not be such a bad thing.

In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Paul writes, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Right on Paul.  Right on.

So, remember this.  One, the sun will come out–guaranteed.  It may be here, or it may be there but the future for a child of God is filled with “Son-shine.”  Second, remember who our Father is.  He isn’t just rich like Daddy Warbucks–He owns it all and is in total control.  And no one…and I mean no one…messes with our Father.  Last, you may not be a perky young redhead like Annie but don’t underestimate yourself.  You dear friend, if you have trusted Christ, are a prince or princess of the King.  Your home is heaven, and your Father calls you His.

Can someone say, “Son-shine?” The forecast says clouds but I’m feeling pretty “Son-ny.”  After all, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Christmas, Family, gratitude, Holidays, life, loving others, priorities, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Post-Christmas Blues

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

There is a blue Christmas and then there are the post-Christmas blues.  Elvis made the first one famous with his smooth, crooning voice.  It spoke of someone who had lost their sweetie and all the lights, music, and decorations in the world couldn’t overcome their blue world.  In reality, there are lots of things that can make Christmas a little blue. But just a glance at the calendar can bring on the post-Christmas blues.  This is a real deal.  It is that feeling that you have when you wake up the day after Christmas and realize the thing you had looked forward to for weeks is fading fast in the rearview mirror.

I was sitting on the couch with one of my grandsons and he made a comment about the fact that he was going to be a sad tomorrow (the day after Christmas).  So, of course, I had to ask him why.  He told me it was because it was going to be such a long time till Christmas came back again.  Well, with all my Papa wisdom, I tried to explain how time seemed to go by faster when you get older, so it seemed that Christmas came all the time.  I’m pretty sure he gave me one of those, “you’ve got to be kidding me” looks. At any rate, I know one thing.  The post-Christmas blues aren’t as severe the older you get.

I can well remember when I was younger and our kids were younger and the hype for Christmas was somewhere off the scale and the day after Christmas was almost tragic.  Well, actually it probably didn’t kick in for a day or two later because you had the excitement of returning all the things that “didn’t work.”  That usually included clothes from loved ones who obviously didn’t know how much you weigh.  But sooner or later, the blues would come.

One of the newest rages in outdoor Christmas decorating says it best.  You have probably seen the giant blowup characters that people put in their yards these days.  There is every kind of blowup you can imagine.  Giant Santas, reindeer, elves, candy canes, snow globes, and everything in between will fill the yards in the neighborhood. But have you ever noticed those same decorations in the daylight?  To save energy and extend the life of the decorations, most of them are on a timer.  During the day what is brightly lit and full of life (ok, air) at night are deflated and lying on the ground. Deflated and flat.

Well, that is sometimes how the post-Christmas blues feel.  But there is an answer. So what if we concentrate on what Christmas is all about anyway?  What if instead of focusing on what is going to the attic, we focus on what doesn’t?  Things like family.  The same family you loved on December 24th or 25th will still need your love in the days that follow.  The same things that made you smile before Christmas may give you a reason to smile later.  The beautiful lights may be gone but what about that beautiful sunset last night? Sounds like a fair trade to me!  In fact, God says in His Book, “But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Sounds good to me.

And, if you just happen to be a Jesus follower, well, the same Jesus that you celebrated Christmas Day is still going to be there.  The same church service that made you feel so warm on Christmas Eve will happen in one form or another in the weeks to come.  You see, if you think about it, the parts we love best about Christmas don’t need to go to the attic.  They can live on in our lives today and every day.  It all has to do with perspective. As we journey in the days to come, make it a point to look and to see, for so many of the things all around us seem to say, “Joy to the world, the Lord has some.” Oh, to be sure, there are plenty of things around that can deflate you faster than pulling the plug on one of those yard decorations.  But we get to choose what we focus on.

At our Christmas Eve service I said that we get to choose which bells we are going to listen to—the tolling bells of despair or the pealing bells of joy.  While we don’t get to choose our circumstances, we do get to choose how we respond to them. Someone said that 2020 might be just a dress rehearsal for 2021.  Well, maybe, but I don’t believe it.  But if it is…well, we are going to be better prepared and we are going to do better at hearing the right bells and seeing the sights and sounds of a God that is bigger than our circumstances. As we leave this Christmas in the rearview mirror, let’s get ready for the hope of what’s ahead.  After all, He’s got this.