Friday, April 17, 2009

Fresh Paint and a Fresh Word

After living in our home for ten years, we finally granted our Family Room and Foyer a badly needed coat of fresh paint. I felt a little trepidation as the painters invaded our usually quiet home with a flurry of activity. Armed with a variety of ladders, neatly folded drop-cloths, spools of plastic , and paint buckets filled with our carefully selected colors, the diligent crew of workers began moving furniture and preparing our home for transformation.

Once they settled into their work, I poured a fresh cup of coffee, chased down our one-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, Mollie (who was curiously inspecting the painters supplies), and closed myself into the master bedroom to do a little research for a lesson that I was working on. I spent the majority of the day confined to the bedroom, but as the painters were nearly finished, I cautiously stepped out into the foyer.

The rich colors brought new life to our ten-year old walls that had previously sported a drab shade of beige. I was surprised how much a fresh coat of paint and a change of color could transform our surroundings. I enjoy spending time in our “new” Family Room.

Interestingly, I had a similar experience recently when I began utilizing different versions of the Bible for my prayer time. I often read a Proverb and pray passages as I feel convicted or inspired by the content. Although I typically memorize passages and teach from the New International Version, by changing translations during my quiet time, I find that my time in God’s Word is enhanced and my prayers have more depth.

I encourage you to try reading from different versions of the Bible during your prayer time. I’ve collected a number of different translations over the years and always get excited when I am able to add a new Bible to my collection.

Post a comment and tell me your favorite version of Scripture. If I don’t have it, I’ll be sure to place it to my list of Bibles to add to my collection!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Wrestling with Why

After a careless walk through a freshly mowed field, my daughter came running into the house, wildly brushing at her ankles. With a look of total frustration, she exclaimed, “Why did God Create ants?!” As I grabbed the calamine lotion from the bathroom medicine cabinet, I responded, “I have no idea. Let’s ask Him when we see Him!”

Have you ever asked God Why? “Why does He allow His servants to suffer?” “Why do cheaters often appear to win?” I must admit, the more answers I stumble upon in my journey of faith, the less I seem to fully understand. God uses the unqualified and exalts the meek. He cures some people from terminal illness and heals others by ushering them to Heaven.

In wrestling through the whys in my life, I’ve often thought I might do things differently if I were God. I’d probably choose the strongest and most influential folks to carry out my work. Certainly I’d only select leaders with unwavering faith and steadfast obedience. Criminals would always suffer and the righteous would always prosper.

But truth be known, if God operated according to my set of standards, the woman in my mirror would never qualify to work for the Kingdom of God. She is often weak. At times, she struggles desperately to walk faithfully with God. And sadly, she frequently fails to display the righteous behavior that God deserves from His “servants.”

Yes, I might have created a world without annoying ants, creepy cockroaches (there’s a why!), or the nuisance of bees, but in my diligence I would have produced a planet without amusing creatures like anteaters, the beauty of flowers, or the sweetness of honey.

In Isaiah 55:8-9 the Lord says,

For my thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (NIV).

I do not always understand the ways of God. But I marvel at the beauty He frequently generates from the ashes of tragedy. I am continually amazed that He so often chooses mercy when others might opt for wrath. And I am continually in awe of His ability to transform the rebellious and restore the broken.

I have asked my Lord “why” on more than one occasion. But the question with which I most often struggle? Why would He send His Son to die so that He could have a relationship with someone as flawed as me? Yes, I question...but I am eternally grateful that God’s ways are far higher than mine. (I guess I can put up with the ants.)

Mindy Ferguson

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