My husband Wayne and I are celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary today, June 7. Every year since we’ve been living in our home, a mama bird has made her nest on a lamp affixed to the brick side of our house just outside our back door. You could almost set your “spring forward” clock by it.
Last summer we decided to enclose that part of our house and were so excited by the outcome of the new sunroom. With the unpredictable pandemic year, we were able to find some peace and grounding in the new space with open windows to God’s creation as we soaked in the beauty of the passing seasons. That is, until the “spring forward” clock went off in 2021.
As anticipated, a bird arrived to make her nest in her “old faithful” spot, but the spot was no longer accessible to her. Every morning the bird would come and sit on the windowsill, then flit about, flapping her wings, clearly upset that she could not get access to her favorite nesting place. The bird could see the lamp through the new windows, but could not get to it, and so she would peck on the glass. This went on for weeks.
Wayne and I discussed taking the lamp down to encourage her to move to another location, but we both agreed that she would eventually learn that a nest could no longer be built in her favorite space.
She attempted to nest on a lamp at the front of our house, but sadly, the nest fell, because it did not have the support and protection of the old location. Undeterred, she tried again in yet another spot, this time on our patio, nestled in the corner of two strong beams with a ceiling, and close enough to the house to discourage any predators. Finally—success!
I am happy to report that she is settled and safe in her new nest after a long and challenging time of transition.
I tell this story because God often whispers to my spirit through His natural world. Like the mama bird, we may be tempted to reach back to rhythms that no longer work for our current circumstances, and we may frustrate ourselves trying to make things exactly as before when life has transitioned to a new season and way of being. This may include the shift from pandemic rhythms to post-pandemic life, or it could be a job change, a major move or life change, a marriage or divorce, a graduation, a birth, or even a death.
Where will we build our new “nest” and what will it be made of as we move forward into each new season before us? Will we ignore the counsel and protection of God’s word and have it fall on the pavement? Or will we build our nest on the never changing rock that is Christ Jesus and under the loving shadow of His wings?
All of these major shifts require that we turn our eyes to the One that has created all things and who never changes. He knows us completely. He knows our name our every thought.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16)
You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. (Psalm 139:1)
He knows us and loves us so much. He desires to be in relationship with us and guide us into the next season and all of the seasons to come. So, if you’ve never received Christ as your personal Savior, but long to begin a relationship with the one who knows and loves you most, just pray these words to receive Jesus into your heart:
Lord Jesus, for too long I’ve kept you out of my life. I know that I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. No longer will I close the door when I hear you knocking. By faith I gratefully receive your gift of salvation. I am ready to trust you as my Lord and Savior. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming to earth. I believe you are the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead on the third day. Thank you for bearing my sins and giving me the gift of eternal life. I believe your words are true. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and be my Savior. Amen.
If you’ve prayed that prayer and received Jesus into your heart, please allow us to help you navigate the next steps. It’s our hope to help connect you with Christ’s church and to discuss the next step of baptism which we hope to have later this summer. We would welcome the opportunity to celebrate with you in this most wonderful decision!
May God bless you!
Our church family celebrated a changed life through a baptism recently. Below is part of the story of the person who was baptized and also what a person who watched the baptism said about how it impacted him. These are reminders of why Journey is committed to connecting people to Jesus in life-transforming ways:
The person who was baptized wrote:
“Before I trusted Jesus, I felt like I was in a never-ending downward spiral. Darkness was overtaking my life. I wanted to die and felt that was the only way to find relief. I knew there had to be a better way. At my weakest, I turned to prayer and asked for help. A friend of mine led me to Journey Church, and I felt hope for the first time in years. Since deciding to trust in Jesus, I now know that I am not alone in my struggles. I know that Jesus suffered way more than I ever have or ever will. It has opened my spiritual eyes, and I see things as positive no matter what I am going through. I still struggle, but I know I have comfort in the love of Jesus and that my faith in Him is all I need.”
A person in our church who was present at the baptism said after the service:
“At the completion of the baptism, I experienced a warm sensation that started at the top of my head. The warmth traveled through me to my toes. Then I felt my body being embraced from my shoulders to my feet. I started to cry tears of joy. I know that this experience was the presence of Jesus Christ.”
An Associated Press story tells of how Debby Neal-Strickland married her sweetheart, Jim Merthe, at their Florida church. Two days later, she put on a hospital gown and donated a kidney to Mylaen Merthe—her new husband’s ex-wife!
Here’s how love and compassion can triumph over division.
Mylaen had long struggled with kidney disease. She was ghostly pale with dark circles under her eyes, dragging herself through the workday. By the time she was admitted to the hospital, her kidneys were only functioning at 8%.
Her brother offered to donate a kidney, but wasn’t a match, so Debby volunteered.
Jim and Mylaen had been divorced nearly two decades, but they got along well as they raised their two children. Debby and Mylaen were friendly at family gatherings, though not especially close.
Debby knew that Mylaen was about to become a grandmother for the first time. She imagined Mylaen’s daughter giving birth and thought: “Her mom not being there. I just couldn’t not try to change that.” Debby said: “God told me: ‘You’re a match and you need to do this.’”
After months of testing and COVID delays, the transplant was set for two days after Jim’s and Debby’s wedding. Debby was tempted to postpone the wedding, but friends discouraged her.
Debby said of her wedding day: “It was the most amazing day of my life, until two days later. That was also the most amazing day of my life.”
As soon as Debby regained consciousness, the new bride asked about Mylaen. A few floors below, Mylaen pleaded with the nurses: “I need to see her.” That was the first thing out of her mouth.
When Jim was eventually allowed to wheel his new wife into his ex-wife’s room, Debby could already see the difference. The circles under Mylaen’s eyes were gone. Debby said: “She looked so alive and revitalized.”
The women call themselves kidney sisters and pray for each other.
Mylaen said: “She saved my life.”
In Acts 20:35, it says: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Giving is what Debby and Jim do. How about you?
Joshua Pease points out an often-overlooked element to the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Both Mary and Martha have asked Jesus, in their own way, why He let this happen. And Jesus never answers. The question just . . . hangs there.
In the same way, our questions hang there, too: “Why would a loving God have let ____ happen? Why did God let me get fired, or that person die? Why did my spouse/fiancé/boyfriend/girlfriend cheat on me? God, why?”
One of the earliest books written in the Bible is about a good man named Job who loses everything—his children, his business, his possessions—to the sort of tragedies insurance companies call “acts of God.” The entire book is a giant philosophical debate over why bad things happen to good people.
Most of Job’s friends are convinced Job did something wrong he won’t admit to. When Job continually protests his innocence, they accuse him of insulting the character of God who, because He is powerful and good, would only let bad things happen to bad people.
We want to know why things happen the way they do, but what we’re really asking is: “God, explain to me how you simultaneously see all of human history at once, are guiding it to a redemptive conclusion, while at the same time loving each person individually, yet allowing them legitimate control over their day-to-day decisions.” Let’s say God told us how all that works—could we possibly understand it?
In dealing with God, we are like ants who demand Albert Einstein explain to us the theory of relativity, then when we can’t understand the answer, we choose to believe Einstein doesn’t exist.
We live in a world rightly fascinated by the mysteries of the universe and of science, and what we learn over and over again is how small and fragile we really are. Yet there is something deep inside us that rejects God being so much bigger that not only does He not owe us an answer, but we couldn’t understand it if He told us!
For some this simply isn’t enough. Until God shows up and explains away the pain, we refuse to believe in Him or trust Him. He has to give a quantifiable accounting for tragedy. But we’ve set up the rules so He never possibly could, because what answer would make the pain OK?
If one person died so five other people could live, would that make that death not a tragedy? If someone treated you unfairly, but then God smote them with leprosy or really bad halitosis, would that take away your pain? If you grew up with abusive parents, would your fear and insecurity disappear by learning it was all part of some master plan?
No, because pain isn’t some algebraic equation to be balanced. There’s no corresponding equal for a loved one’s death or a broken heart or a shattered dream. There’s no monetary value that can make it better. This is why the phrase “everything happens for a reason” is horrible. It implies that pain can be quantified and reimbursed, and that’s not how pain works.
Maybe God doesn’t go out of His way to explain “why evil happens” because He takes our pain too seriously to minimize it with some logical moral algorithm. Maybe what we’re asking Him for would cheapen the reality of how awful evil truly is and how painful our battle with it has been.
We know that there can’t be an explanation that makes us go: “Oh, that’s why!” and then it’ll all be OK. But still, we hold on to the question, accusing Him of dodging it. This way we never lose the argument, and we avoid our true problem—we don’t truly believe God is good, and we’re afraid He’s going to hurt us. If this is the case, then the answer God gives is really the only one that makes sense.
We want a philosophical treatise. God offers a relationship. We demand intellectual answers. God gives us Jesus.