The Loneliest Moment

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”  ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

But there is something else that the believer can do…

  1. Realize that this earthly world is supposed to fall apart – nothing, including frail relationships can last.
  2. Put faith in your Heavenly Father who has promised to take you through these kinds of disasters, giving you more courage, hope and love in the process.
  3. Open your eyes to the disasters all around you – be present in the lonely moments of even strangers who are watching their own worlds fall apart. Provide an end to loneliness. Be a part of the rescue effort of others.

So when the troubles begin, don’t be afraid. Look up—raise your head high, because the truth is that your liberation is fast approaching. – Luke 21:28 (The Voice)

This kind of liberation is the eternal kind. What we get so distraught about are all the little things that weigh us down and eat us alive again and again. Raise your gaze above all of these kinds of problems and look for what’s surely come – your certain hope.

Remember what hope really means for the Christian, it’s not wishful thinking. It means a confident assurance about what has been promised. Hope in our future draws us through the deep valleys and dark forests of our lives. We know that we never travel alone and what awaits us – a certain deliverance from every tribulation and trial.

Paul prays for the Christians in Rome like this, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

What’s it like when you overflow? According to this prayer request, it’s a supernatural effect, not something we can generate with the right amount of positive thinking, mindfulness and extra yoga… The presence of God in your life gives you hope, confident hope. So much that it flows out of you and touches the lives of everyone else in your life. What’s the evidence? Joy and peace are the fruits of hope. It doesn’t matter how close the fire comes, there’s a song of joy and an unexplainable peace of heart and mind.

Do you feel alone sometimes? Look up. Even if it’s only to notice that bird singing on the fence.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.     
– Emily Dickinson
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Walking to Emmaus Part 7

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They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.”  – Luke 24:32-34

Can you imagine the questions they asked themselves as they raced back to Jerusalem? The distance was probably 7 miles. Do you think they got competitive about who recognized him first?

Never forget how this wonderful story ends:

  • They shared the same physical experience of feeling the truth in their hearts, hearing it and being in his presence.
  • They were overcome with the need to do something about this experience, to share it with everyone else. It was late in the evening, yet they jumped up and hurried back to their friends (hours away).
  • Once gathered with their friends the experience they had just had was confirmed by others who had also seen the risen Lord.

When I think about the Road to Emmaus story it reminds me to always think about which direction I’m heading today. There are choices to make. Too frequently I’m heading back home to what’s familiar and comfortable, my tail between my legs. I fall into ruts and routines and am not as intentional with people like I want to be.

Today, I want to be with those two disciples whose hearts were filled with happiness and hope, eager to get back to the scene of all the action. I want to live a life that reports the truth and not dwell on fear and failure.

Our life is different than it was for those two disciples heading home that day. As believers we have the Spirit residing within us. We have not been left alone.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.  – John 14: 16-18

So why do we still have such trouble recognizing the presence of God when he resides so close to us (within us)? How much nearer does he need to get? Maybe the noise of world is too much with us. It’s not looking for God…Are you?

Be certain today that you’re running back to the action not back home to safety. Listen for that voice in your spirit who’s there to guide your steps into the will of God. What looks like defeat may indeed be the greatest triumph.

Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.  – I John 2:6

Walking to Emmaus Part 2

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As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.  But God kept them from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces.  – Luke 24:15-17

Sadness was written across their faces. They were in retreat from a great hope. They had misunderstood God’s great plan. All their fears, disappointment and sorrows were right there for anyone to see as they walked slowly home.

What’s written all over your face every day? Have you thought about that? I have to stand up in front of classrooms full of college students every day. Most days you’d think they had each just received the news that their pet had been run over by a train. Very doom and gloom, no matter how much circus I try and drag in…I need to get a better book of jokes.

I frequently remind people that our attitudes shape our actions. That’s not hard to believe. What’s more difficult to figure out is how our actions shape our attitudes. People in the fitness world know this. If you can get people to be more physically active, they tend to feel happier. There’s a famous experiment in which people holding a warm cup reported more positive feelings in their rating of an unrelated product than those who were holding a cold drink. The temperature they felt in their hands helped to shape their attitude while forming an opinion about that product.

I’m not suggesting that this couple on the way home to Emmaus should have stopped off at Starbucks first. Actually I want to remind you of some things that you already know:

  1. You and I walk around all day with our attitude written all over our face – what are people reading about us?
  2. We’re not walking away from hope like these two were. Each one of us is walking in hope – does your face show it?
  3. Sure, all of us have ups and downs and even long periods of time when the going gets dark, but if we determine to smile, laugh, move, and look at people, these actions will help to shape our attitude into one that’s more in line with the truth about us.

If you see me walking around with a scowl, just ask me if I’m on my way to Emmaus. That ought to remind me that my face looks like it’s heading in the wrong direction!

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.  – Romans 15:13