Stand Tall

Stand Tall

Last weekend we celebrated a late Christmas with the Cameron family. It was the first time we could all get together. I had every intention of taking down the Christmas decorations before then, but the closer it got to our getting together, I just decided to leave it all up.

Now . . . the tree had been dead long before Christmas, so it was really dead at this point. As soon as everyone left, we hauled the boxes from the attic and took down the tree and decorations. Then, my 17-year-old son headed to the tree recycling pile in the city.

Once back home, he told me how that dried-up tree took flight and soared out the back of the truck, landing in the middle of the road and stopping traffic several cars deep. In case he had missed the spectacle, someone stood in the road waving his hands to let him know.

He said the worst part was he knew about four people who yelled out their windows, teasing him. He picked up the tree and re-loaded it into the truck. 

I’m sure it was quite a sight . . . and was probably on social the next day.

We laughed until we were in tears. 

Stand tall through the winds of change

Sometimes our lives can be like that dried-up Christmas tree. When that tree, once carrying the pleasant scent of pine and Christmas, gets cut off from its source of life, it becomes dry and empty.

Like that tree, we can become dried up and no longer of any use, at risk of being tossed by the challenges of the day.

But with Jesus, our lives can be full and bear much fruit, able to stand tall through the winds of change.

Let’s stand tall, my friend, and stay connected to our source of life — Jesus Christ — and point others to Him and the salvation He offers.

Now this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3


A Bold  Move

A Bold Move

J. R. R. Tolkien once said, “courage is found in unlikely places.”

That’s what we find in the story of Esther. Hers was not a “commander of an army” type courage. Nor one accompanied by physical strength and stamina.

Her courage was a quiet, “I’ll risk my life for my people” type of courage.

Esther had been queen for about three years before she had the test of a lifetime. Haman, second in command of Susa, had devised an evil plan to destroy all Jews throughout the kingdom and convinced King Xerxes to sign it into law.

Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, challenged her to step in and use her position to change this course of action. A task not easily done.

There was no knocking on his door to ask a question. She had to be invited. And thirty days had passed since Esther had been summoned by the king. Approaching him without an invitation was against the law. However, she risked her life for her people. Her response to Mordecai must have been a chilling one.

When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish. Esther 4:16.

How do we prepare for courage?

I believe several things contributed to her courage, and ultimate victory, to make such a bold move.

Even before this time, God had prepared Esther for that critical moment.

  • She was adopted by Mordecai who treated her like his own daughter. He taught her that God was always in control.
  • She was one of the virgins chosen as a potential queen, winning the favor of Hegai, the king’s eunuch and overseer of the king’s harem. He even moved Esther and her maids to the best place in the harem.
  • Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her.
  • She won the king’s favor and approval more than any of the other virgins.
  • She had an accountability partner. Mordecai challenged her to do the right thing.
  • Esther reported an assassination plot to take out the king.
  • Before she acted, she called on people to fast and pray, putting her faith in God first.

After being seized from her cousin to become the possession of a cruel king, Esther could have become bitter. Instead, she demonstrated courage, patience and wisdom. She did this not only in her gracious appeal to the king, but through offering a solution that gave the Jews the chance to survive.

And that is the way with us, too. Sometimes our trials springboard us to a place of courage and boldness. God also prepares us for our “moment” through a consistent, everyday walk with Him. Obedience in the “little things” could be just what gets us through that next obstacle.

What do we do with the sting of pain?

Life is hard. Difficult times happen. Pain will come. When it does, do we turn TO God or FROM Him?

You may be thinking, “I do not have the courage of Esther.” But consider this. Esther took one step at a time, allowing her trials to shape her into a courageous young woman.

She didn’t settle for less than God’s plan for her. She strove for the best, whether she suffered for it or not.

And we can too. We CAN find the courage when courage seems in short supply. We CAN pray boldly and act boldly. We CAN live in victory.

Do you have a decision to make? A plan to implement. How has God prepared you to be bold? Draw upon those experiences that have made you into who you are today and take courage in your moment of decision.

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

Walking in victory

Walking in victory

I ran my last marathon three weeks after my husband Matthew passed away. I almost canceled but knew he would have been disappointed if I had. So, I ran.

Not long into the race, race officials diverted the crowd of runners to two sides of the course. As I got closer, I saw the problem. A runner had collapsed. I couldn’t believe it. How could I see someone in almost the same situation as my husband, who never recovered? I prayed for him, then thought, “this is my undoing.” As tears stung my eyes, I wanted to put my fists in the air and shout “this is not fair!”

John 5 tells the story of a man, an invalid for 38 years, waiting for a dip in the pool at Bethesda. The problem? Every time he tried to get in, someone else beat him to it.  (Sick people gathered at this pool in hopes of being cured of their illnesses. They believed that the first person to step into the water after it was stirred by an angel was healed.)

Life’s not fair

Life wasn’t fair for this man. He had an opportunity to be healed, but he couldn’t physically get to the pool in time.

Then Jesus approached and asked if he wanted to be well. He answered, “I have no one to help me in the pool when the water is stirred.”

Jesus looked past his complaint and told him to get up, pick up his mat and walk. In an instant, the man was cured. He picked up his mat and walked.

No longer a victim, He just did what Jesus said to do and he left there victorious. Thirty-eight years he endured sitting, waiting, hoping. Can you imagine the joy on his face when he left that day?

How often do we want to cry “it’s unfair?”  

I have a friend whose entire family has been attacked physically – for years. In my opinion, she has every right to complain. But she keeps taking one step at a time, fighting constantly for the health of her family and celebrating the small victories when they come.

A. W. Tozer says “In language, the word unfair seems altogether innocent but it indicates an inner attitude, that has no place among Christians. The man who cries “unfair!” is not a victorious person.

Victorious living

What does it take to live in victory? Certainly, the situation may be too difficult, the pain too great. Or maybe we lack the skill or ability we need to accomplish the task.

All of us will suffer at times. We can complain or we can receive those times without complaint. We can be the victim – or we can be victorious. 

Jesus showed us how. He is our constant. When we’re tempted to say, “life is unfair,” we need to remember Jesus. He never cried in complaint. Never shouted it’s unfair. He just did what he was called to do.

Life will absolutely knock us down at times. Satan still strikes, attempting to destroy us.

But let’s choose to walk in victory today. We can experience this victory because Jesus cares and when the time is right, he will tell us to pick up our mat and walk.

Oh, the result of my marathon? God gave me the strength and courage to move past the pain, cross the finish line and complete the race with my best time.