God, Cherries or Pumpkins?
I think it is human nature to assume we:
A. Understand the situation,
B. Know what God is trying to do, and
C. See where He is trying to grow us.
And most of us bristle if told, "You don't." (Even if we have been hitting our heads against the same wall over and over again.)
But no matter what we think -- we don't know. Not His plants. Not the fruit He is cultivating, how He will go about it, or when He wants it.
It often looks to us "everyone" is growing, producing cherries (or some sort of fruit) left and right -- everyone except you anyway.
But what if you are supposed to grow pumpkins? It's a frustrating, even disheartening, to see others grow strong leafy branches while yours stay spindly and close to the ground. But...only vines grow pumpkins.
With everyone around you sharing their tangy cherries, it's easy to sprout bitter tears: you have nothing to share. But pumpkins are only harvested late in the season -- because they are pumpkins. (Just be grateful -- pineapples only produce one fruit a season and then only after several years.)
But if God is going after pumpkins we can choose to either fight Him for cherries or help Him with the pumpkins. Cherries, pumpkins or pineapples -- it's hard, but we flourish when God gets to grow His fruit, His way.
No? Well, don't feel bad. She only shows up once in 1 Chronicles 7:20-24 when times were tough, the people were tougher, and the land was toughest.
The family of Ephriam made an ill-fated decision to rustle cattle from the Philistines at Gath. The men of Gath protected their livestock and Ephraim's men were slaughtered. The family's leaders were gone, something they couldn't afford with enemies on every side. Then Sheerah was born, a girl in a weak house.
Girls aren't generally recorded in family trees. If they are, they're somebody's daughter or sister or wife. They don't typically do anything...except Sheerah. She built Lower and Upper Beth-horon, and Uzzen-sheerah.
People build towns once they conquer them. People who name cities after themselves are leaders. Sheerah's circumstances were hard, some would say hopeless, but they provided her opportunities to build something lasting with her life.
Our situations and struggles do the same. May God open our eyes.
Everyone knows Mary; she saw Jesus' empty tomb. But Joanna was with her (Luke 24:10).
A group of women hiked out to the tombs on that Sunday morning expecting to prepare their Master's body properly for burial. They brought spices and myrrh, good company and great sorrow. When they arrived, the tomb was open, but they couldn't find Jesus anywhere.
And then Joanna saw angels and heard their famous question and answer, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!"
God blessed Joanna to experience that first Resurrection Morning, and invited her, the same way He does us, "Come and see where the Lord lay!"
Happy Easter! He is risen!
In case you don't (remember Rhoda that is), she was the servant girl who answered the door after Peter was rescued from prison by an angel (Acts 12). She literally was so excited -- she left him standing at the door to tell everyone else. And not surprisingly no one believed her, until Peter kept knocking at the door.
My guess is everyone looked at Rhoda, a nice (but somewhat ditzy) servant girl and said, "She'll never be important." Maybe she even thought, "God can't use me -- I am not (connected enough, smart enough, rich enough, the right sex, or the best occupation)."
But God said, "I am going to use her. People will hear about her for 1000s of years and know -- I can use them too."
Lessons from Little Ones
Ever given a small child (say under two and a half) something they really wanted? Maybe it is ice cream or a stuffed Mickey Mouse or a shoulder ride, but their expressions of joy are without compare -- and the feeling you get is pretty special too. Your reward of shrieks of laughter, huge smiles, and exuberant hugs make whatever sacrifices you made to give it to them worth it.
Our Father, too, delights to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). The Creator of the Universe dips down to share His blessings with us. A beautiful blossom or a stunning view. A comforting conversation or hug from a friend. A restful nap or a successful day's work. May we respond to His gifts like little children -- with joy-filled thankfulness to our God who has done great things for each of us (Deuteronomy 10:21 and 1 Samuel 12:24).
Come with me as we grow in fellowship with each other and our Savior to whom belongs the Amazing Escape from sin and death and the Amazing Journey into glorious life.