Lonely, Longing and LOVED


Oft I’ve wondered why we go through so many dry times as Christians.  I’m not talking about the times when we have unconfessed sin in our lives, or are in a place distant from God because of our own wrongdoing or negligence.  I’m concerned with the times in our lives when we are doing everything right, obeying the Lord, studying His word and praying fervently.  The times when we are longing to hear from heaven but yet feel so lonely without His manifested presence everyday.   We know that God is omnipresent and would never leave us nor forsake us and that our salvation is eternal, but there’s a fellowship with Him in which we at times are just yearning for a cool breeze from heaven’s shore.  We can feel so alone, dry and thirsty during these times.  This scripture has been on my heart a lot lately, and I’ve been pondering on it for some time:

And he spake this parable unto them, saying,

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 15 (KJV)

Such a common scripture that we all have heard many times and one that we can draw many lessons from.  No doubt we see the forgiveness of God and His desire for us to be with Him.  All hundred sheep belonged to the shepherd, just as we that are saved by God’s grace belong to the Lord.  I have been the lost sheep many times in my life when I have gotten out of God’s will and ended up in a mess that only God could get me out of.  He has restored me each time, praise God!  My thought today is with the ninety-nine obedient sheep.  They are exactly where the shepherd wants them, doing no wrong, yet they have to go without the shepherd for a period of time while he searches for the lost one.  We can spiritually be right in the center of God’s will, studying, praying and living for Him, but not feel His presence with us daily.  He is still there, omnipresent, but we can’t see or hear Him.  These sheep were left alone for a time and they could not see or hear their shepherd either.  They were no doubt lonely and longed for their shepherd to feed them and comfort them.  They probably were bleating away at the surrounding wilderness just crying for a sound from their shepherd.  We should likewise be praying and desiring God to manifest Himself in our lives daily.

I’ve heard that sheep are not very smart (and we aren’t either), but I’m sure that they are familiar with other members of their flock.  Some of the sheep were probably wondering what happened to the sheep that always ate beside them or walked closest to them as they grazed.  In our churches, “flocks”, we should likewise be aware of those around us.  We should concern ourselves with the well-being of our brothers and sisters.  I’m not justifying gossip or meddling in other people’s business, we have scripture that proves that is wrong.  We do not need to know the details of our sister’s situation, we can pray just the same because God knows the details.  Pray for one another!  It may be that the Lord has us personally in a spiritual wilderness but that He is much at work in someone else’s life, trying to get their attention and restore them to Himself.  Do you care enough for your sister’s that you would notice if one of them was “missing” in a service?  I pray that we all would have that burden for one another.

It is also worth mentioning that no doubt the shepherd would have made provision for the sheep while he was away.  He loved these sheep and would not have left them in an overly vulnerable place of imminent danger.  He may have found a natural shelter of sorts in the wilderness where they would be safest while he was away.  The shepherd would have most definitely known exactly where he left his sheep so that he could return to them once the lost sheep was found.  Our Saviour is always looking out for us as His children.  The Bible says that He will never leave us nor forsake us so we can be assured that He is always aware of our situation.  We are also promised that He will always provide our needs (not wants) so we always have the comfort of knowing that He will always allow provision for us just as the shepherd does his sheep.  Praise God!

When asking my wonderful pastor about this issue, he informed me that sometimes shepherds would notice when one of the obedient sheep was longing for his attention and he would rest his staff on their back as they grazed.  He would leave it there long enough that it would thrill the sheep’s heart that the shepherd was giving it the attention it so longed for.  How amazing this is for us as well when our Shepherd gives us personal attention and love that we have been yearning for.  If we had not been without it for this period of time, we wouldn’t rejoice when we finally received it.  Praise the Lord that he always thrills our hearts with His presence when we need it most!

 

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I Can Almost See the Lights…


On our way home from Jonesborough Saturday night, we came around the road that overlooks Erwin, a small little town.  It was all lit up of course and I must admit was really pretty from our view.  Brantyn, now 6, exclaimed, “Wow! Mom that’s beautiful!”.  It was, of course, but it’s such a small town and I’ve seen so many other larger, gorgeous places lit up at night. Chattanooga, TN is one that comes to mind although it isn’t as large as some.  What came to my mind though was the old song that starts,

“I can almost see the lights of that City.
I see them gathering all around the Great White Throne.
Through Faith in my Saviour, and His wonderful love,
I can almost see the lights of home.”

See, Brantyn had his eyes open to see the beauty of what I and others wouldn’t have given a second thought. Just as spiritually, we should be watching, waiting and longing to catch the first glimpse of the lights from our home, that heavenly city. To so many others in this life, there’s no city to be watching for.  There’s no excitement to see the lights from heaven or even to realize how near we are to that day.  Now more than ever, our eyes should be open wide to see the light.  The Bible says that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).  We should be walking in the light and looking to Him.
Just as the lights shine so beautifully and brightly in the darkness of night, we should be shining as a light to a lost, dying and dark world.  So next time your traveling after dark, pay attention to the beauty of the lights.  Then take it to heart and make an effort in your spiritual life to shine brighter than ever, always watching for the lights from home.

Snooze


“BEEEP! BEEEEP! BEEEEEEEP!”  It’s 6AM and I just want a few more minutes of sleep.  I know that if I don’t get up and start getting ready that I will be late but I convince myself that just a few more minutes of sleep won’t hurt.  I can do everything a little faster and still have time.  Then I snooze.   Since I’m still tired and the snooze is only set for five minutes anyway, I hit it one more time.  Then I force myself out of bed, and so begins the hectic morning rush.  I get my kids out of bed and tell them how they should hurry because we are going to be late.  We all fuss and pick at each other because of course we’re not morning people.  And ten minutes after we should be out the door, I’m finally packing lunches and putting on shoes.  I speed over to the babysitters and run my youngest in with no time for anything but a quick hug and “Bye, I love you.”.  Then we barely make it to the school on time and pull in just one minute before 8AM.

This narrative applies to every weekday of my life here lately.  It’s pretty pathetic, I know.  What I’ve come to realize is that it’s my fault.  No blame can be put on anyone else and if I want a change to be made, I will have to resist hitting the snooze button.  I have also realized that I’ve been snoozing away in several areas of my life, not just the “sleep department”.  Spiritually, I snooze everyday too.  To be honest, every morning this past week I have woke up on my own before my alarm sounded.  But every time, I chose to go back to sleep instead of just getting up ten minutes early, and then I still snoozed at least once.  God convicted my heart about this.  If I desired to be close to Him like I should be, then I wouldn’t mind to wake up and read my Bible or pray in the morning before starting my day.  Instead, I’m snoozing on God’s will for my life.  He desires me to be closer to Him but I am choosing to remain in bed and sleep.

In our spiritual lives, we must wake up and stop hitting the snooze button.  The world is nearing to the end, the last days are upon us and we cannot “hit snooze” anymore.  We are being given an opportunity to witness to our lost loved ones and live a spirit-filled life for the Lord every day that He allows us to wake up.  Let’s take advantage of the opportunity.  Give thanks to God for his daily blessings, and surrender our lives for His service.  If we do not get “out of bed” soon and start praying, studying and living for Him the way that He desires, it will soon be too late.  As I convince myself each morning that just one more snooze won’t hurt but then end up being late, in a bad mood, and overall letting my family down by instilling these bad habits in my children, I must also realize that these effects are also occurring in my spiritual life each time I snooze.  I am in danger of becoming an “ill Christian” who is always late or absent in my prayer closet because I put that last.  My children and those around me will also realize that I am not as joyful and praise to God will not be continually flowing from my heart and mouth as it should be.  So my challenge is this:  No more snoozing, physically or spiritually!  I challenge you as well to set aside an extra time in your day to make a serious effort to improve your relationship with the Saviour.  Just ten minutes extra per day in God’s word or in the prayer closet can make a difference in our lives and also those around us.  Let’s wake up!