Uphold my steps in Your paths, that my footsteps may not slip.
My husband and I were nearing the end of a long journey. It was two o’clock in the morning, and the rain was pouring steadily. We came to what we thought was an intersection where we could go either straight or turn right or left. My husband,in his tired condition, decided to go straight. We quickly found out that we had chosen an alternative that wasn’t there. We were on a high bank with our car dangerously close to tipping over. We carefully got out of the car, walked through the rain to a nearby motel, and called a wrecker. We spent the night in the motel, then continued our trip the next day.
Many of us take the wrong roads in life and we end up on a cliff, in great danger of tipping over. The rain, the dark, and our fatigue kept my husband and me from seeing reality that scary rainy night. Often, I feel my clients are blinded by misperceptions they have carried with them through life. And it is difficult to choose the right road in life when you can’t see it.
Let’s make it our goal in life to find the truth. Our faith in God and His Word will guide us there. When truth is hidden we will continually make errors in judgment. But when we see the truth, we will begin to make wise decisions.
Thought: Truth leads to the right road, so I will look for it by meditating today on God’s Word.
“Can anyone hide himself in several places, so I shall not see him?” says the Lord.
Stick your head in the sand and you don’t have to know what’s going on around you. People who play this game think that if they deny their problems or put off facing them, the problems will go away. But the problem with the head in the sand trick is you eventually have to come up for air.
Sometimes we as counselors feel like lifeguards going around the beach and saving people from suffocating by pulling their heads out of the sand and then some of them want to stick their heads back in! I once had a patient I had rescued say to me,” If I had known sane people were so crazy, I would have stayed crazy.”
Very few problems disappear when we avoid them; we must eventually face what we’re hoping will go away. Denial is like believing in magic. We somehow think that pretending a problem isn’t there will cause it to be solved by someone else or simply fade away. That rarely happens.
Avoiding pain by procrastination and denial is usually the route to prolonging problems and making them worse. Let’s pull our head out of the sand and face the challenges of life today.
Thought: Denying my conflicts causes significantly more personal pain than facing them and devising plans to overcome them. I will ask God’s help in facing my problems today.
My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.
Proverbs 1:8 is directed at children, but it is also aimed at parents. Children are to follow their father’s instruction and their mothers’ laws. But how can a father instruct if he doesn’t understand the lessons he is to teach? Fathers have the obligation to Scripture to make sure their instruction is correct. Mothers may not make their own laws, but rather must daily seek to learn God’s laws and convey them to their children.
God gave parents a sacred responsibility-to be the leaders of their families. They are their children’s most significant teachers. Children inevitably learn from their parents. It is up to the parents to choose whether their lives teach good or evil.
Parents can only do so much, of course. Children also make personal choices daily, and environmental influences can be beyond a parent’s control. Nevertheless, a parent’s job is crucial. Let’s determine today to do the best job we can, using the Word of God as a searchlight in our souls to make sure our leadership is what God wants it to be.
Thought: I cannot control my children’s or grandchildren’s current or future choices, but I can determine, by word and example, what I teach them today.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.
The story is told of a poor woman who traveled a great distance to talk with a famous general. She begged the general to pardon her son, who was a member of his army but had been charged under military law for a serious offense. The general said sternly that justice required her son to be put to death. The mother replied, “I’m not asking for justice; I’m begging for mercy.” The general replied that her son did not deserve mercy. The mother quickly replied, “You couldn’t give my son mercy if he had earned it, and it is mercy I am asking for.” The general granted the mother’s wish, and the son’s life was saved.
Think of the mercy of God. God had a plan for us from the beginning. Mercy was in His mind when He laid the foundation of the world. From the time that humanity first turned from Him, He offered us ways to return to Him. Finally, God sacrificed His own Son as a way of offering eternal salvation to everyone who depends on Christ’s death and resurrection to pay for our sins.
The mercy of God is incomprehensible to the human mind. The Psalms continually speak of the everlasting mercy of God. We don’t deserve it, but it wouldn’t be mercy if we did.
Thought: I will thank God today for the richness of His mercy.
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
I Peter 5:10
That isn’t fair is an oft repeated phrase among children and adults. The truth is that often life is not fair, from a personal level to an international level. Doris had loving parents who stood by her, but no one could give her childhood back. When she graduated from high school she had to go to a junior college so she could take care of her two year-old boy. Matthew, her baby, was precious, but he was also a constant reminder that life isn’t fair. Doris learned through counseling that she could either dwell on the past and be filled with resentment or she could be thankful for her healthy baby and face the future with faith and hope. She chose the latter.
Thought: The test of my character is how I react when life isn’t fair.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Our whole family had traveled up the mountain on an aerial gondola in Vail, Colorado. The trip up went smoothly, but some strong winds rose as we started down. The gondola started rocking, then stopped its forward movement. There we were, just hanging there a hundred feet above the ground, with the wind whipping us back and forth. We prayed and held hands and hugged each other. Finally, after what seemed like a long time to us, the gondola started again and we made our descent with sighs of relief.
Fear comes in many forms. Fear of failure. Fear of heights. Fear of death. Fear of moving away. Fear of staying where we are. Fear of being abandoned. Fear can threaten our sense of well-being.
When moments of fear come, how do we respond? One helpful response is to join the psalmist in affirming, “I will fear no evil: For You are with me.” I know that God was in command of the winds that blew our gondola that day, and He is in control of every area of fear in our lives today.
Thought: Today, I will give my current fears to God, knowing He is in ultimate control.
Show me Your ways, O Lord.
The Associated Press recently carried a story about a “Cutest Kid in the World” pageant that turned into a free-for-all. The contest was running four hours behind schedule on the first day. Frustration built among the children’s and their “stage mothers.” Finally, one mother climbed up on the stage, grabbed the emcee’s microphone, and yelled for all the parents to get their money refunded. Parents responded and rushed the stage. A computer, a cash box with all the ticket receipts, and the six-foot “Cutest Kid” trophy were all last seen being carried out by parents.
Like those parents, we sometimes get frustrated and tired of waiting. We want problems to work out on time the way we want. When they don’t, we take things into our own hands, and the results can be chaotic.
Problems will come in life-that’s a promise. Facing each problem is our problem. Let’s remember that God is close, He cares, and He will be in control if we let Him, even though He won’t always control our crisis the way we, with our limited insight, think He should.
Prayer: Lord, I absolutely cannot ask you to eliminate all problems from my life or even to resolve them my way. But I can count on you to comfort and guide me through them your way.
Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part you will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
June had a dream one evening that literally changed her life. In the dream she was a little girl in a beautiful rose garden. She was wearing the most beautiful white eyelet dress imaginable. But as she turned around, June could see the dress was badly soiled. Suddenly June’s father was in the garden, shouting to her that Jesus was coming to the garden and would be there momentarily. June looked at her dress in dismay. It was a mess. What was she going to do?
Jesus entered the garden. Paralyzed with fear, June stood like a statue. But Jesus came over to her, and He never once looked at the soil on her dress. Instead, He put His arms around her and gave her a hug. Then He picked her up and put her on the swing. They talked, played, and laughed for a long time. Then Jesus gave little June one more hug, and said good-bye. The child was left with the warm memory of His acceptance and delight in her. When she wandered back to the swing to bask in the memory of her visit with Jesus she found a white package tied in a beautiful white bow. In it was a brand new white dress.
Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, that I am dressed in your righteousness today.
Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief.
The Martins lived in a small home in the suburbs. From the outside, nothing about the house looked strange or out of the ordinary-but inside was a different story. The Martins had an eight-ton elephant residing in their living room.
No one said anything about the presence of the pachyderm. In fact, the whole family sat on the couch and watched television through the elephant’s legs. Mrs Martin cleaned massive messes and even dusted around the animal. His trunk often reached to the dining room table to get food, ruining more than a few meals. The family ignored the elephant and did their best to go on as if nothing was wrong.
Finally, however, the elephant could no longer be ignored. The carpet was ruined. The couch sagged. Fleas were all over the premises, and the neighbors were beginning to complain of the stench.
Of course, this is not a true story. It is an illustration of what happens to problems in a family that doesn’t look at the truth; problems are just overlooked or denied. No matter what the problem-alcoholism, depression, physical abuse-they begin to smell when they are not dealt with.
Prayer: Lord, help me face problems in my family and do something about them before they reach “elephantissimal” proportions.