Lent Reflection: The Ride of Your Life

spacemountain

Deuteronomy 8:1-10

What is a command? This word has been used in so many ways that I think we have maybe lost what it truly means to keep God’s commands. In military terms, a command is something you must obey with no questions asked. This is often because people’s lives are at stake. The safety of others and the peace of our nation often depend on you obeying one command.

Recently, a member of our church returned from Afghanistan where he had been serving with the Army. He tells a story of how a mission was successful because in part, he did his job well. He was assigned to clean the guns and weapons on a helicopter that was then used in a rescue mission. It was a success because he cleaned the guns properly and therefore they worked properly when the Army needed them.

In scripture, commands are often like this as well. When we follow them correctly, our mission succeeds. God gives us commands as a guideline. He loves us and knows we may not follow them directly. He also knows what positive consequences will follow if we choose to follow them correctly. We gain a reward. We gain a land flowing with milk and honey.

The Israelites had a hard time in the desert but God reminded them that if they obeyed, there was a promise. If they stayed on the track of the commandments, there would be something great waiting for them. It may have been hot, and hard, and long, but at the end, there was a land that was full of treasures for them. This is a picture of what God has for us now! As we obey His commands for our lives now, we will soon be guided to a great treasure.

It’s like Disneyworld. You go anticipating this great place and you know it is going to be glorious to just ride Space Mountain. There are however, some “commands” you have to follow first. You must first get to Disneyworld, then purchase an entrance ticket, then, once you are in, you still need to find the ride and wait in line. Once you get to the front of the line, there are still some requirements. You must be a certain height and in good health, not pregnant. You have met all of these and then you finally get in the ride. Now you have to put on your seat belt and wait for all the others to load. Once all of these requirements are met, you can then have the ride of your life!

This is so similar to our walk with the Lord. It can be the ride of your life if you let it be. God knows that there are costs to pay, roads to travel, and steps to take but isn’t it sooooo worth it?

The next time you think that a requirement or a part of your journey may seem ridiculous or even hard, remember that these are all steps leading you to the ride of your life!

Tricia (Vandevaarst) Short lives in Arizona where she serves in ministry with her husband, Paul (check out Unseen Ministries). A New Jersey native, she attended Delanco Camp as a teenager.

Advent Devotion: The meaning of trust


adventdevotionday13

Psalm 37:1-9

What does it mean to trust? In this society, it is a difficult thing to do. We have identity theft, terrorism threats, politicians failing us, a poor economy, and the never-changing failure of relationships. So, how do we trust? Who do we trust?

My personal life recently has been rocked by a book I have been reading called Grace For the Good Girl. It’s a book about how we so often wear masks and pretend everything is “fine.” We don’t let our guard down to anyone in case they might see the “real me” and reject me. I can’t let anyone know I am hurting, failing, or just not doing well. I have worn masks like this for far too long. I have been unable to trust because for too long, trust has been violated.

We have all been there. We have all been hurt. It is an unfortunate reality. So, what do we do? Who do we turn to?

I am so thankful that I have a heavenly Father who has NEVER failed me! He has been the constant. I have tried to wear my masks with Him but he has a way of lovingly removing them and allowing me to just be me. He has found a way to sneak into my heart and show me the love I am screaming for behind that mask. He has been the one I can trust.

When the world around me is shattering or crumbling, I know, I can put my trust in Him. Like it says in Psalm 37:7, “I can be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” When evildoers succeed around me, I “don’t have to fret” as it says in vs. 1. I know, that He will provide a place of safety for me and allow me to “enjoy safe pasture” (vs. 3) even if I have been violated. He is the only thing or person I can fully trust.

Others will always fail me, no matter how close they are to me. I know, however, that He will never fail me. I know He will be my constant rock and refuge. Even in the times when I have failed others, or worse, failed Him, He always responds with love and grace. He chooses to embrace me, even in my frailty and failures.

As we approach Christmas and all the hustle and bustle that brings with it, I encourage you to take a moment and sit quietly before Him. Scootch into Him and allow Him to love on you. As a Loving Daddy toward His children, allow Him to take pleasure in who He created you to be. He so longs for you to open your heart to His embrace and His pleasure. Allow Him to be your peace this season and beyond.

Tricia (Vandevaarst) Short lives in Arizona where she serves in ministry with her husband, Paul (check out Unseen Ministries). A New Jersey native, she attended Delanco Camp as a teenager.

Lent Reflection: Lift Up Your Eyes

nightsky

Living in Arizona, we are blessed with a law that doesn’t allow for neighborhoods to have street lights. There are merely lights on each house to see where they are. This was a stark difference for me having grown up in New Jersey where street lights were what told you when it was time to go inside in the summer time. The advantage of not having street lights is the AMAZING star show we enjoy every night. In our neighborhood (which is further from town), when it is a full moon, we can sit in our backyard with no lights on and see clearly as coyote and other desert animals begin their evening routine.

This is a beautiful picture of how God guides us. When we are in a dark time and don’t know the direction, we simply have to lift our eyes to Him, and He delights in guiding us! In the Psalm readings for today, there are several references to lifting our eyes for help. Psalm 121:1 says “I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?”

Psalm 123:1 also says, “I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven.” As I gave into the desert night sky, as I often do here, I am constantly amazed that the God who created all those stars, knows every hair on my head (Matthew 10:30). It reminds me that if He was able to create and name every one of those stars and galaxies and cause them to orbit one another with exact precision as to not destroy each other or us, then He certainly can handle my situation. And, He certainly can handle yours!

Matthew 5:3 says “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” The reference here to being poor in spirit is compared to a beggar hunched down, looking up, asking for money or help. I have been blessed to never have to beg like this but the illustration is one of great humility. It is a last resort of many to become beggars and have to hunch down looking up to others for help. When I was in my early 20s, I went through a physical challenge in my life where I had difficulty walking and doing physical tasks. I had to constantly ask others for help. As a person with an independent personality, this was really hard and humbling for me. So often, we are like that with God. We are at our lowest point and being broken and all we have left is to lift our eyes and ask for His help.

Our Father, is such a loving Daddy (Abba) that He takes delight in us asking for help. He greatly enjoys His children looking to Him as their deliverer. I have three kids and two of them are only 2 1/2 years old. Their communication is just developing. I know when they want drinks or food but I DELIGHT when they come and ask me. My son, the youngest, will come close and illustrate that he needs help with his shoes. To me, it is so simple but to him, it requires total dependence on me, his mother. The same is true of our Heavenly Father. He so desires an intimate relationship with us that he takes joy in helping us through those dark times. He didn’t have to make the moon reflect the sun yet He chose to. I often think to remind us that He is our light no matter what the circumstance we go through.

Psalm 124:8 says, “Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” The one who made both the Heaven and the Earth is our help. It is so encouraging to me to know that when I feel there is no way out or I am totally overwhelmed, I can lift my eyes to the maker of heaven and earth and suddenly, I am redirected to WHO is my help. I don’t have to do it alone. In the darkness, there is a light guiding me through.

Today, my prayer for you is that you too know where your help comes from. That you are able to muster the strength to lift your eyes to the maker of heaven and earth. I also pray that your relationship with Him is one of such close intimacy that you can lift not only your eyes, but your hands to Him crying “Daddy, Daddy (Abba, Abba)” so that HE may lift you up. Your hope truly is in the Lord!

Psalm 125:1 “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mt.Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”

Lord, I lift my eyes to you today. Be my rescue, my strength. I ask that you make me unshakable like Mt. Zion. I surrender my will and my way to yours. Help me. Walk as my light through this dark time and graciously allow others to see that light as well.

Tricia Short, an original Jersey Girl, and her husband, Paul, live in Vail, Arizona where they are both pastors at a Vineyard church and oversee Unseen Ministries – A touring youth and young adult conference (unseenministries.com).She attended Delanco Camp as a teenager where the many encounters with the Lord there helped shaped the love relationship she has with the Him today. Image credit: By Andy from Pittsburgh, via Wikimedia Commons