A moment to Yield

In my experience, when things are the most exceptionally challenging, God has the most exceptional response.  Let’s imagine for a moment, you are driving along a road approaching a 4-way intersection.  You know something big is happening because coming toward the intersection on your right is a police car, coming in on the left is an ambulance and coming in straight ahead is a fire truck.  You are likely to get to the intersection first. Do you speed up and get through before the convergence of emergency vehicles or do you yield to allow the response team to get where they need to be.   Of course, we would never want to be in the way of help getting where it is needed, so our job in this picture is to yield.  Now imaging the crisis is in your life, and coming toward the intersection is God, your creator, Jesus, your healer, and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.  Will you yield?  What does it mean to yield in this context?
 I think it means letting go of our own ideas of what things should look like and trusting each character in our story to give us a glimpse into something bigger.  God promises us if we yield to him in difficulties, he will respond exceptionally.  To yield means to give way.  To yield to God means to give up on our own thoughts of what should and shouldn’t be and allow God to unfold His Glory before our eyes.  
    In the Exodus story, we enter into a tumultuous time where a new king has come into power over Egypt. He is afraid of the Israelites increasing in numbers and imagining them joining forces with Egypt’s enemies and coming up against them.  Pharaoh commands all male babies be put to death.  And, we find ourselves in the story of Moses’ birth. His parents are not named here, but we know from Numbers chapter 26, Moses’ father’s name is Amram, and his mother is Jochebed.  We also know names in the Bible have meaning. The name Jochebed means “Yahweh is Glory.”  I imagine with a name like that your life and all that you do would reflect its meaning. So Amram and Jochebed have a son, and Jochebed sees that he is ‘a fine’ baby. With the pride of a mother, she looks at her young son and sees something more glorious yet to come.  She sees a vision of a future that she must protect.  She is a faithful and intelligent woman, and recognizing that she cannot protect him on her own must entrust him to God.  In this most difficult time, she must trust God’s exceptional response. She gives Moses up, not once but twice.  She gives him up when she places him in the river, and then later, after raising him in his early years, she gives him back to Pharoah’s daughter.  This is a yielding I cannot even imagine, but what a sacrifice to behold.   Often letting go, yielding is how we make way for God’s great response to our difficulties.   Jochebed had a glimpse of something great in this precious child and dared to let go.  
We often think if we hold on tighter to that which we cherish that we can protect it. This idea brings us to the Gospel story, and Peter, who has been with Jesus for quite some time now. Peter has had glimpse after glimpse of God moments, and yet when things get tough, he leaps into the intersection.  Peter in this moment didn’t have a vision of the greatness in God’s response.  Even with all the teaching of his Lord that came before this, he simply didn’t understand. Jesus’ response sounds harsh. “Get back, Satan” This makes me think we must be careful.  If we are not yielding to God, we are yielding to something else.  Maybe we don’t want to think it is satan.  But what are we yielding to?  Fear? Control? Our ideals? Our plans? Our need for security?  We must let loose our expectations, our comforts and yield to God so that God can intervene in ways greater than we have ever seen before, and seeing God’s response, we are liberated to become more than we have ever been before.  
  Moses was a living sacrifice, he bought the Israelites out of the oppression of Egypt.  Jesus was a living sacrifice,  he brought us out of the oppression of sin.  In the yielding to God, greater glory was revealed.
 In Romans 12, we are called to be a living sacrifice to offer ourselves up, yielding our will to God’s.  And we are warned not to think too highly of ourselves.  Not to try to play a more significant role than is ours to play.  I have learned the hard way that when I try to do too much, I miss things and make mistakes.  These mistakes often hurt others.  As a living sacrifice, we are called to do our part and make way for others to do their part, together, we create a bigger picture that, as in the life of Jochebed, can be a reflection of God’s Glory.For Moses to become “the Moses,” who parted the Red Sea.  God needed not only Jochebed; he needed Miriam, Moses’ sister, to do her part.  He needed Pharaoh’s daughter to do hers.  For the Gospel to spread, God needed Peter not to stop the crucifixion but to be the rock on which Christ could build his church.  What is our part in this tumultuous time? What are we called to do, and how are we called to yield.  We will not likely be able to see in our present-day difficulties God’s significant response. Still, we can trust in the glimpses of God and know that if we do our part and give God the right of way, he will respond most exceptionally, and His Glory will be revealed.

Exodus 2 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son.  When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket [a] for him and coated it with tar and pitch.  Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.  Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it.She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.  Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”  “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses,[b] saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

Romans 12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your [a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Matthew 16  13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

a moment to take a knee

Photo by Sharefaith

“that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-27 (NRSV)

The first time I saw my son, take a knee on the soccer field for an injured teammate, I was moved. My little boy was becoming a gentleman. In soccer, players take a knee to show respect and concern for another who is injured. At that moment, noise and movement on the field will stop, and the attention will turn to the player and those attending to them. It is a moment of support.

In the military, taking a knee is also a show of respect. A soldier in this posture at the gravesite of a fallen friend honors the lost. It is a moment of sorrow.

In prayer, being on your knees is a show of humility. It is an acknowledgment that there is a Divine being who cares for all creation. It is a moment of supplication.

At this time, our broken country reflected in our broken hearts needs a moment of solidarity. As the publicity grows on this subject, the shifting of our focus has also turned. What we turn toward is significant. As a native Louisiana girl, though not a sports enthusiast, I cannot help but be a Saints fan. Watching Drew Brees these last few days first turn toward the flag, showing his love for his country and then after criticism, with humility, turn toward his teammates and show his love for them I am touched. His character, though challenged, is unwavering. “I live by two very simple Christian fundamentals, and that is love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself, The first one is very self-explanatory. The second one, love your neighbor as yourself, what does that mean to me? It means love all, respect all, and accept all.”  

I appreciate Drew Brees; in his faith and posture of humility, his pride in his country, and his love for humanity. I admire how his character demonstrates them woven together with love.

We have lost many lives these past months with Covid-19. We have lost many lives over many years to violence as a result of racial prejudice. We have lost faith in each other. Our country is gravely injured. Our flag represents us all. When one member suffers, all suffer together. Let us with sincerity come together as “One Nation, under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all.”

 Take a knee. 

a moment of turning

Several years ago, I attended a Gottman Institute workshop, where I heard the expression “turn toward” for the first time. The practice of turning toward has since enriched my most cherished relationships. Throughout the scriptures, there are great stories of God’s people turning toward and away from Him. Often, those who turn away find suffering, while those who turn toward find compassion and healing. When we turn toward, we are recognizing and connecting with the focus of our attention. When we turn toward God, we are recognizing and connecting with love.

Now is a time of biblical intensity. We have suffered and lost much during COVID-19. However, through it all, I believe God has never turned away from us. I have confidence that he is with us and waiting for us to turn to him with every challenge we encounter. I believe he is longing for a glance from us so that he can meet our gaze. Today I ask myself, “Am I turning toward Him?”. Have I allowed the media to divert my attention? Have I allowed worry and fear to distract me from his loving gaze? The truth is, sometimes, yes. So I remind myself today, turn-toward.

Turn toward truth.  

Sometimes, that truth will be painful. When we are willing to let God show us the truth about who we are, we will see we have acted in ways that caused injury to God and others. We can receive forgiveness. 

Luke 22:61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Turn toward Love.

At times meeting God’s glance will be empowering and healing. We will see God’s Love and compassion for us in our suffering. We can receive his grace and mercy.

Matthew 9:22  Jesus turned, and seeing her, he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.”

Turn toward connection.

In a world of insufficient answers and little peace, we need each other. Turn toward those who bid for your time and attention. Turn toward those who offer you comfort. We can be encouraged.

Romans 15:6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let today be a moment for turning-toward, recognizing God’s love for you and the love of Christ in others.

He bids your glance. He is calling your name.

At that moment, turn-toward.

John 20:14-16  she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).

A moment for our graduates

Now it is a time of grand celebration! Our graduates are on the cusp between a work coming to completion and a new work begun. Though there is much to be thankful for, our 2020 graduates have been deeply affected by COVID-19. During this unprecedented time, they need our support and encouragement like never before. We should take a moment to honor our graduates and uphold all the emotions they might be feeling at this time! 

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

Upon entering freshman year, the dream of graduation looked nothing like this! It is okay to be disappointed at this moment.  

With the economic uncertainty, colleges reinventing their learning strategies, and not knowing what the future looks like, it is okay to be afraid at this moment.

With the unusual way the school year ended, and the vast open space of the future, it is okay to feel lost at this moment.

Friendships that have been made distant by the stay-home orders may be even more distant as you move into new experiences. It’s okay to feel sad at this moment. 

Many have lost loved ones, and their absence at this time will deeply felt. It is okay to mourn at this moment.

Mistakes will have been made, and due to the circumstances, they may be unable to be corrected. It is okay to have regrets at this moment.

What’s done; is done. It is okay to forgive at this moment.

…we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts… Romans 5:3-5

You had a dream and lived it; you had a goal and accomplished it, so also, at this moment, it is more than okay to celebrate!  

 Because God is God, and God is good! God has your past, your present, and your future. He cares about your hopes and dreams.  

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.  Jeremiah 29:11