Thought: Communication that goes unanswered leads to weariness.

I have pondered this thought today. And I decided it isn’t just that communication is unanswered, it is the waiting. Waiting can be weary. My nephew and his wife just had their second child at a bit over forty weeks. They waited. Ready to see the baby, she was weary of pregnancy.

Waiting…whether it be for communication, promotion, children, school to start, school to end, engagement, wedding, honeymoon, vacation…whatever it is – it can be wearisome. What do we do while we wait?

Read: Isaiah 40:28-31

If you breezed right past the link above, stop and go back. Read the scripture. It holds the greatest prize for those who are willing to do what it says. That is the key to waiting…knowing that we have a God who will give us the strength to wait well, not just endure it.

As a person who struggles with depression, I am too familiar with what it means to be weary. But that is only one kind of weariness.

There is another kind of weariness common to all people, not just those, like me, who know depression. Before I go any further, I want to say that I am not a mental health care professional. I know what I have experienced and what I have done to combat it in my own life. And I read scripture and I find it to be very practical in addressing common symptoms of daily life. I speak from that place of knowing.

In the New Testament there are 6 occurrences of the Greek word “ekkakeo” which means to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted.

In Luke 18:1, Jesus tells his disciples to never give up praying. Interesting. By the very mention of it, Jesus indicates that we might grow weary in prayer. Perhaps we do not all pray, but doesn’t a one way conversation or relationship also become exhausting? Giving of ourselves and not seeing a return is wearisome.

Thought: communication that goes unanswered leads to weariness.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:1, 16 that we should not give up. The whole chapter is about ministry in the new covenant. We share the gospel not for ourselves, but to bring glory to Jesus. But we are not all in ministry and sharing the gospel is not everyone’s concern. It seems that daily responsibilities, working for something we believe in, or going to a job every day to make ends meet can also become wearisome.

Thought: responsibilities of life and a cause worth fighting for can cause weariness.

In Galatians 6:9 and 2 Thessalonians 3:13, Paul reminds believers to do the right thing even when others are not. It is a common experience to be committed to the right thing while others around us care very little about integrity, honesty, values, hardwork, generosity, compassion – all the attributes that make being human worthwhile. It can be wearying to do the right thing when others don’t seem to care.

Thought: Doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest thing.

In Ephesians 3:13, Paul tells the believers not to let his imprisonment and trials make them weary in their faith walk. Suffering comes in all shapes and sizes and we all experience it to some degree or another. Walking with someone who is suffering can drain the most compassionate of people.

Thought: suffering has the potential to produce weariness in the sufferer and the one walking alongside.

Strategies to combat weariness exist. It doesn’t matter so much what causes a person to be weary, the same tactics can be helpful in nearly every situation.

A few of these strategies can be found in 1 Kings 19:3-9. To get the full story, you need to read chapters 18 and 19, but take a moment to read the linked scripture above.

Elijah just finished defeating the prophets of Baal, one of the most important confrontations of his ministry. Afterwards, he went to the top of Mount Carmel and prayed for rain to come and end the three year drought the land experienced. He didn’t pray just once, he prayed seven times for rain to come.

When Jezebel heard what he had done in defeating the prophets of Baal, she was furious and threatened to kill him. He flees the area and goes to Beersheba where he leaves his servant.

Going alone into the wilderness, he sat under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. He tells the Lord that he has had enough. In other words, he is weary!

And then he does a super spiritual thing! He takes a nap. An angel wakes him and feeds him and then he naps again. And then the angel brings him more food.

The Lord strengthened Elijah by meeting his needs for rest and food. Elijah put himself in a place to be strengthened by going to a quiet spot alone and meeting with God. Combined, this provided what he needed for the next portion of his journey.

When I am weary, I find I neglect self-care. I run on empty in regard to sleep, food, water, alone time, time listening to God, time talking to God about what is bothering me…Elijah is a great example. He told God he was weary; he admitted he couldn’t go on like this. He went to the desert alone to meet with God and God renewed his strength in the most practical ways.

The account goes on in chapter 19, so keep reading. You will find that God showed himself to Elijah in tangible ways and then provided him a ministry partner who would be his successor.

What type of weariness do you experience? Are you trying to do it alone? Would good self-care put you in a place of strength again to continue the good fight? Does trusting God to renew you seem practical?

Until next time…

May the Lord bless you and protect you.

May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

Weariness: reluctance to see or experience anymore of something.

Read: 2 Thessalonians 3:13

Have you ever had that thought? “I’m just done with this. I don’t want to do it anymore.” I know I have.

In the scripture today, Paul wrote to the believers in Thessalonica. In his first letter to them, he spoke about Jesus’ return, emphasizing that it would be soon! Some of the believers took that very literally and quit working. Like, they climbed up a high hill, sat down, looked to the sky and waited. After awhile, they were hungry. Those who continued working were called upon to feed and care for them. It wasn’t a good strategy then; it isn’t a good strategy now.

Paul wrote this letter to tell them to get to work. “If you want to eat, you have to work,” he said. He sensed weariness setting in with the believers who provided for those who refused to work.

Some days, doing good is difficult. Making good choices is difficult. Life feels long. Don’t get me wrong, I love living. But some days, it feels long. This is when I remind myself – DON’T GROW WEARY! Continue to do good, make good choices, keep your eyes on the prize.

Is there something in your life that causes you to feel weary? Are you growing tired? Reluctant to carry on? Take courage, my friend! Reward is just ahead. Father renews your spirit day by day, giving you the strength to take the next step. It feels like a long journey, with no end in sight. But just take the next step, do the next right thing. Trust him for the strength to rise up again.

Read: Philippians 4:2-3

I admit, this is an odd passage to choose for a daily devotional. As I read it again, it struck me in a new way.

Conflict is a part of life. It happens in families, neighborhoods, churches, jobs, committees and teams. It isn’t the conflict that is the problem. It is that we don’t settle our disagreements.

Today as you get ready to be in a community of believers, settle your disagreements. Matthew 5:23-24 give helpful advice about the timing of settling disputes. So today, if you realize someone has something against you, go and work it out and then come to offer your sacrifice of praise.

Daily Reads 08.10.2019

It’s good to be home on my porch soaking up the morning rays. There is no place quite like home, is there? No matter where I wander or where I roam, home is where I want to be at the end of the day.

Read: Philippians 4:10-13

Paul expresses well in this scripture the attitude I want to live with on a daily basis. Whenever I wander, contentment is the companion I want along. It isn’t always easy, but it’s what I aim for every day.

Is contentment your companion today? Does always wanting more or different plague your thoughts? Gratitude is the gateway to contentment. What if you tried that today?

In the 2009 movie, Avatar, the producers depicted a strong connection between the Na’vi beings and the natural environment surrounding them. Although I don’t subscribe to that exact representation, I will say it was interesting to me to see the connection between beings and nature portrayed in such a vividm, concrete way.

Genesis 1-3 give us a different picture of the connection between the natural world and humanity. A place that was meant to provide perfectly for humans is spoiled when Adam and Eve sin. The perfect relationship is broken and awaits restoration at the end of time.

Read: Romans 8:20-22

Since the fall of humanity, all of creation groans for the day when it will be released from the curse and perfection will be restored.

It is evident from other Old Testament scriptures that nature speaks out to worship God, especially when his created beings do not.

Read: Psalm 98:7-9; Isaiah 55:12

There is so much to learn from what God created. Romans 1 says that everything we need to know God is evident in creation. (Romans 1:19-20)

If you haven’t done so this week, take a few minutes and appreciate God’s creation. I have a friend who walks every morning at sunrise. She takes the most beautiful pictures of the first few minutes of the new day dawning. Perhaps your best time is at sunset; or maybe it is somewhere in between. Allow God’s creation to move you to worship as you explore how he speaks to us through nature.

Flying is a wonderful way to travel. Besides the fact that it shortens travel time considerably, it gives a wonderful bird’s eye perspective of the land below.

Some days when the sky is gloomy and overcast, I remember flying. You see, once you get past the permacloud, the sky is blue and the sun is shining…ALWAYS! I have never gone above the clouds and found that the sun is gone or that the sky isn’t really blue.

Read: Psalm 19:1-6

Today I will fly back to Indiana and I know that when I get above the smoke from forest fires and past the clouds that linger, the sun will be shining. Just as I know the sun will be shining, I know that the Son shines on me. He shines for you, too. And that is something you can be confident of no matter what the sky looks like today.

It was fall and I was at a five day silent retreat at a monastery in Kentucky. The first day, I took a walk on the thousands of acres owned by the monks.

Leaves covered the ground and the crunch beneath my feet reminded me that cooler weather was just around the corner. During my five days there, I really wanted to slow down and listen to what God might say to me through my natural surroundings. I found a log in a quiet spot and closed my eyes. And I listened.

I heard birds overhead calling to one another and squirrels scampering across the forest floor.

I listened more carefully. Nuts fell from the trees, thumping gently on the ground. And then the gentle floating of falling leaves filled my ears.

As I listened to the sounds of the forest, I saw in my mind’s eye God’s provision for the squirrel. He provided for their food every day. Not only did he provide for their daily needs, he also provided enough for them to store away for winter. Not only did he provide enough for their daily needs and for wintertime, there was extra. Abundance of nuts fell from the trees, lost among the leaves.

Read: Matthew 6:25-33

Father reminded me that day that he takes care of me in the same way. He doesn’t just provide what I need every day, but also enough to take care of me during lean times with enough to spare. An abundance in every season of my life. I need not worry that I will be without the necessities of life.

What is your mindset today? Is it fear of scarcity? Of not having enough? Or are you rejoicing in the abundance, the completeness of God’s provision in every season of life?

Remember, he always provides exactly what you need for every season!

Years ago I went tubing down the river. It was an Indiana river and to this native Montanan, the brownish water was a bit of a challenge. There is just no comparison between water in Indiana and water in Montana. The first time I visited a lake outside of my home state, I asked if people really swim in this stuff.

Anyway, we went tubing. One of our group was deathly afraid of water, but she didn’t allow fear to keep her from participating. I was so proud of her.

The float went wonderfully until we got to the point of disembarkation. It’s a little tricky to get the tube to the shore at just the right spot and then get out without dumping. My friend dumped. Being deathly afraid of water, she flailed and floundered about, sure death was imminent. I rushed to her side and grabbed her arm, realizing as I did so that the water was quite shallow. She just needed to stand up.

Lesson #1 – Just Stand Up

Sunday as we prepared to put our crafts into the water, my brother-in-law reminded us that if we fall out of the kayaks, just stand up. You see, most of the time, you will be just fine. It is the panic of being in the water that causes you to lose perspective and flounder in water that is really not over your head.

Life can be like that too. Situations come along that tip the canoe, and floundering ensues. It might be an unexpected bill, relationship difficulties, problems with children, health issues – anything that hits out of nowhere. For an instant, perspective is gone and it feels like we are drowning. Maybe we should just stand up. We might actually see the water isn’t as deep as we thought and the shore is right there.

Lesson #2 – the calm always comes after the rapids

On our excursioin down the river, we encountered a few sections with small rapids. I found them to be rather fun as we greeted them with squeals of delight. I will hasten to say these were very small. Just large enough to add a little variety to the float. My partner and I did everything we could to hit them safely and straight on, avoiding any obvious large rocks. Only once or twice we turned sideways and were greeted with a bit of spray in the kayak. Otherwise, they were just fun. And it never failed, there was always a calm section of river to greet us on the other side of the rapids.

Rapids are created by obstacles, usually large rocks, close to the water’s surface that create a disturbance in the water. The depth of the water only makes a difference in how large of an obstacle is needed to create the surface disturbance. But when the water changed depth or the rocks under the water were absent, the surface was calm.

Life is full of obstacles. Sometimes large, sometimes small. And the surface of our life can be disturbed. It’s good to remember that there is calm ahead. The obstacles don’t last forever and the water of life ebbs and flows to varying depths. Hang on! There is calm water ahead.

Lesson #3 – the deeper the water, the calmer the ride

At one point in our float, the river went through a small canyon. It was at this point, the water was the deepest. Looking over the edge of the kayak, huge boulders were visible far beneath the surface of the water. Canyon walls rose above the water making it nearly impossible to consider getting off the river. The water was the most beautiful clear, blue green color. It was absolutely breathtaking.

It seems we avoid deep water because we don’t like to be in over our heads. There is something about knowing that I can’t touch bottom that changes how I feel about being in the water. And yet, this part of the river was so appealing. I felt the peace and presence of God like in no other place on the float. The size of the boulders, the depth of the water, the canyon walls all combined in a breathtaking display of the greatness of God.

It is when we are in the deep water that we see the glory of God in profound ways. His presence is the richest, his peace the strongest.

As I floated and meditated on God’s creation, my mind went to Isaiah 43:1-4. Perhaps my life jacket is symbolic of the presence of God in my life. It doesn’t keep me in the boat, but it provides protection if I land in the water. It helps to keep my head up until I can get my feet under me to stand up. It holds me close through the rapids and gives me confidence as I navigate to the next calm stretch. And it gives me the courage to swim in the deep even when I can’t touch.

What is Father saying to you through your interaction with his creation? How does he want to show you his love and care in what is all around you on a regular basis? Listen for his voice. Let him speak his love to you right where you are.

Water is a natural feature of northwestern Montana. Rivers and lakes abound with all the aquatic activities your heart could desire. Boating, canoeing, rafting, fishing and swimming are just out the back door in the clearest, coldest water you can imagine.

Water is not only a great source of activity, it is absolutely necessary for life. We can live without a lot of comforts, but no one can live without water.

Read: John 7:37-39

The festival in Jerusalem at this time of year was the Festival of Shelters. It occurs in the fall, at the end of the dry season, before the fall rains begin. Rain had not fallen in Jerusalem for many months, the ground was dry and dusty, cisterns were empty, water was scarce. Of course people were thirsty. Jesus chose the very thing – water – these people needed more than anything.

And they came running like the thirsty people they were. They needed water more than anything. Jesus had their attention. And he promised living water.

In the natural realm, living water came from a spring. It bubbled out of the ground continually, always fresh, cool and clear. It was the best kind of water.

Jesus spoke their language. He promised water, the best kind of water, to satisfy their thirst. But the thirst he referred to wasn’t physical nor was he speaking to them about physical water. He wanted to satisfy their spiritual thirst with the best kind of spiritual water – the Holy Spirit.

Are you thirsty? Are you dry and dusty? Does it feel like it’s been a long time without any refreshing rains of the Spirit? Jesus still calls out to us, “If anyone is thirsty, come to me!” And he offers rivers of living water to soothe your thirsty soul.