Previously, we covered the first part of the greatest commandment that Jesus gives in Mark 12:30, love the Lord with all they heart. The second part of the greatest commandment that Jesus gives in Mark 12:30 is to love the Lord with all thy soul. When we specifically pull this out of the equation, what does that mean? How does one specifically love God with all their soul? How is it different from loving God with all their heart, mind, and strength?
I awoke refreshed that morning. Even though I stayed up listening to inspiring stories from well seasoned women until my eyes couldn’t stay awake any longer the night before, I still felt charged that morning. We had all come to this beautiful retreat center to refresh our hearts and just take time to connect with each other and our Savior. It was a beautiful weekend away from the mundane life. We had been allowed to stay in the most beautiful of off-grid cabins. The main building was where our host lived. She had converted half of it into a coffee shop and bookstore for Christian gifts and inspiration. All this was to support the ministry–the real reason for the cabins–this was a hidden refuge for women escaping polygamy. Due to the hush-hush, not many knew about it. And when people don’t know about your cause, they can’t donate. The elderly couple who dreamed of helping the women were working on making it a reality, and were trying to do it without much funding. As former missionaries and then he a pastor, they had very little money at any given time. Whenever we could, the group of us used this place as a retreat […]
Last week I shared with you some inspiration from an article I read titled something like, What Do Other Soldiers Think About American Soldiers? There were good things and bad things in the article—which is to be expected. We talked about rescue missions, and the power of being rescued from a certain terrifying, gruesome death by men you don’t even know—men who aren’t even a part of your own military. (If you missed it, be sure to read it here first.) This week I’m sharing the second thing the article said that struck home and had me laughing out loud before I really meditated on it to pull encouragement from it.
We all have dreams as little children of what we will do one day when we’re all grown up. For most Christians as little children, our earliest thoughts about our futures don’t involve asking God what He would like for us to do. As we mature both in age and in our relationship with God, many of us develop dreams of making this world a better place. We may even dream of careers that would glorify God. Sometimes our dreams work out. Sometimes they don’t. When we pursue a future that we believe will glorify God and it doesn’t work out or advance His Kingdom, it can be difficult to understand why. We may become disheartened with ourselves, believe we aren’t working hard enough, believe we aren’t good enough, or worse–believe that we’ve let God down. Others of us believe that if our heart is set on a particular occupation, that God has put that desire in our hearts and it must be what we are meant to do. We may even be telling ourselves we are trusting God with our future–and perhaps we believe it too. But are we really?
There’s this place that none of us like to be. But if we’re honestly admitting what’s best for us, then we know at some point, we needed to be there. It’s that place so pivotal in our lives that when we come through it, we either tell everyone about it or hide it away and keep it to ourselves. Which one we decide to do depends on the decisions we made while we were there. That ugly place. That place where we identify more with the author of Ecclesiastes than anyone else. The world is dark, our lives are dark, and everything seems hopeless. All is vain. In fact, vanity is the only concept that makes sense. I won’t ask you when you were there, or even how you got there. What I will ask you is, where are you now?
We all have bad things happen to us. We all have bad days. But sometimes, these days and events turn into trials–trials that test our patience, our strength, and our faith. Eventually, they can wear us down and have a significant effect on us. We become tired. Perhaps we begin to wonder when anxiety or depression came in and found a home in our souls. There are days when we want everything–and perhaps everyone–to just go away. We want to be alone. But at the same time, somewhere on our path, we decided we want out. We want that joyful abundant life the Word speaks of. Is it gone? Did it pass us without our even realizing? Can we get it back? Is there a second chance? Is God still listening?
It’s human nature at it’s very core to look at people around us and see their worth. We look a bit longer at people around us who are attractive. We notice who is smart. We notice who has talent. We notice people who seem to have a lot of friends. Even when we don’t “like” another person or want to admit positive attributes connected with that person, we notice. We may subconsciously put them down—but we still must admit we see their worth. Unfortunately for some of us, when taking a look at ourselves, we just can’t find our worth. And when it’s really bad, we may even start to wonder why we are even here.
“Increase our faith!” the apostles begged Jesus in Luke 17:5. Loving the Lord, and seeing all that He was, they desired still to have more faith. And they downright begged for it. Are you in the same boat? I am. More Jesus. I want more of You! But how? If the disciples who walked and talked and ate and slept with Jesus weren’t filled to their satisfaction, how are we to accomplish this? Is asking Jesus for more faith the way to go, or is it futile? Is there another way? The good news is, there are indeed ways to increase your faith. The sometimes frustrating news is that they take time and effort.
Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost! Luke 15:6 I could tell he was thinking deeply. Intensely. Something was on his mind and had been for awhile. This loved one of mine—a fine, young, grown man—was putting together in his innermost being what the meaning of life was all about. “What are you thinking about?” I asked him as I continued to wash the dishes. He was quiet for quite some time. I had almost entirely forgotten the question I’d asked when he finally answered some hours later at the dinner table. “God says the angels rejoice when a sinner is saved.” I smiled at first, but then became concerned as he didn’t seem happy with the concept. […]
Wait. What a hard thing to do sometimes. Often when seeking guidance in their lives, Christians are told to pray about their situation, and then wait. Wait upon the Lord. And we are encouraged with the reminder that patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Some are well versed in patience, and waiting may not seem that hard to them. To another person, it’s a struggle–so much so that one could feel as though they lack patience altogether. This can become disheartening. But is there more to waiting than just patience? What else does God’s Word have to say about waiting?