What Are Your Small Things?

Hawaiian gecko

A number of years ago, I was walking one evening with some friends, when the husband stopped suddenly and bent down to pick something up off the pavement.

He handed me a penny and said,

“Laura, God cares about the small things.”

Those words came at a time in my life when I struggled to believe that God even saw me in my distress, let alone cared about many of the little places that seemed like they would be insignificant to God even though they were huge and overwhelming to me.

But even the fact that my friend offered those words and that seemingly worthless penny, showed me in the moment that God did see and he did care.

I’ve never forgotten that evening nearly two decades ago.

When my husband and I married, I shared the story one day while we were out walking. I handed him a penny I saw on the sidewalk and since then we’ve been picking up pennies. We now have quite a collection.

The best part is not the pennies, but the places we find them.

It seems that at every significant juncture in our life, God shows one of us a penny. In the parking lot at a conference, on the street by a new house, during an anniversary trip, after a job loss–all the places that hold some meaning or distress yield a penny.

God’s little reminders that he’s in everything.

It’s good to remember that God thinks about us and cares about the small stuff. (That’s probably why we don’t have to sweat it.) He says the hairs on our head are numbered. I don’t know about you, but a strand of hair is pretty small, especially for some of us.

You see, as my friends shared, the Bible says,

“Who dares despise the day of small things…?”  Zechariah 4:10

So today, what are your small things?

What are the places that you think are insignificant to God, but weigh on your heart? What’s some little thing that you are thinking about? What might God show you or do for you to say,

“I see you. I love you. I care about the small things.”

If you keep your eyes open, you’ll see it.

Maybe it will be a penny when you least expect it, but need it most.

“Why Are You Angry”

DSC_0011God asked Cain.

Cain was the eldest son of Adam and Eve. You probably have heard of them even if you don’t read the Bible or believe in God. I think it’s common knowledge that he committed the first act of murder in history.

But the interesting thing is that God tried to help him before the situation ever got that far. We don’t have all the details of the story, but when God asked Cain why he was angry, Cain clearly had already been in a bad place mentally.

Because God asked BEFORE Cain killed his brother.

A little history: Cain and Abel both brought “sacrifices” to God. From what I can tell from scripture, this was not something God required, but something initiated by the boys. They both brought some of the fruit of their labor to God. Abel brought some of his flock to offer to God. The Bible says God looked on Abel with favor.

Cain also brought some of the grain he had grown, but God wasn’t pleased and Cain was upset. Okay, so what’s the deal? It may seem that God was showing favoritism, but that is contrary to God’s character (throughout the rest of the Bible) so we can deduce that it was something about the offer or the motive of the one offering.

It seems God was pleased with Abel’s attitude not just his action, but something was off with Cain.

Our reasoning is further substantiated by God’s comments to Cain:

“Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, but you must master it.”       Genesis 4:6-7

Seems pretty simple and forthright to me.

God saw something in Cain’s heart that wasn’t right, and he warned him to be careful because if he continued in his thoughts and/or actions, it would potentially lead him to do something worse.

So it seems that God was saying to Cain (and we can take a lesson here too) that if we come to him with sincerity of heart and do the right things, life will go well for us. But if we allow Satan, who is waiting to pounce on us, to grab us with wrong motives, thoughts or actions we will become slaves to him.

The good news God gives us is that we CAN master sin and not become trapped in it.

Reading further in the chapter, I discovered some things that can alert us when we’ve given in to sin and have not owned it…

  1. We hide. Adam and Eve did. Cain did. We’re all prone to avoiding, denying or lying to “hide” in our sin.
  2. We become defensive. Cain asked God “Am I my brother’s keeper?” when God asked what happened to Abel. Cain knew the truth so he became defensive in his response.
  3. We complain about the consequences. Cain griped to God that his consequences weren’t fair. They were too hard. Really? He killed his brother! But he was far more concerned about how tough life would be now for him than the fact that he destroyed the life of a family member and hurt God.
  4. We wallow in self-pity. Cain basically said “poor me” to God when he told God “…the punishment is more than I can bear.”
  5. We yield ourselves to divination. Divination is a spirit that tries to tell us what our future will be and it’s usually bad. Cain started proclaiming lies about what would happen to him – he would be hidden from God (his choice when he killed his brother but a choice God would have forgiven if he’d repented), he’d have no purpose in life, and everyone would be out to get/kill him. God refuted Cain’s “prophecies” and marked him for protection.
  6. We open the door to other sin. Cain never had a change of heart. It says he left God’s presence. So basically he destroyed his relationship with God as a result of his choices. And later, his son was the first man to take two wives (at a time), thus beginning a new culture of sin when God intended marriage to be between one man and one woman.

At any point, Cain could have humbled himself, confessed and restored his relationship.

And it’s the same with us. At any point, if we humble ourselves and confess our sinful actions, God forgives us and restores life to us.

But even if we don’t, God is still faithful to us.

I love that God still blessed Cain’s family. Even in spite of Cain’s sin, God didn’t allow him to be killed off, and in his lineage were all who played stringed instruments and those who forged tools of bronze and iron.

But I imagine Cain had a hard life.

God was pretty clear that he didn’t take Abel’s murder lightly. He said that Abel’s blood cried out to him from the dirt so he made Cain live under a curse that caused him to work overly hard without much to show for it. That was the consequences of his attitude and actions.

I’m so glad that God alerts us to sin in our lives, that he offers us warnings to help turn us around, and that he is always loving and forgiving if we do confess and repent. The Bible says that even when we are not faithful, God is always faithful.

All of that is some good news, right?

The Mother Heart of God

pexels-photo-269583.jpegThat sounds strange, I know.

We think of God the Father, and Jesus was a man so the picture in our mind is a male figure when we think of God. And rightly so. But we seem to forget that God created man in his image “male and female” he created them. Gen. 1:27

Now stay with me here.

This isn’t a post about sexuality or alternative life choices. It’s about sometimes missing the fact that both men and women possess the characteristics of God in their individual roles. Not to stereotype, but the majority of men exhibit certain character traits and most often, women demonstrate others.

For example, men are typically designed as providers who fight for and lead their families. Does that mean a woman can’t provide for or protect her children? Of course not. Many couples share the role of provider,  and moms are pretty protective when it comes to their young!

Women tend to be the multitaskers who can handle a number of jobs at one time (anyone with kids knows the necessity of that). They are the nurturers and the ones who feed the physical (food & clothes) and emotional needs of their families. Just ask a man what’s for dinner. See?

So can a man be nurturing multitaskers? Absolutely! My sons who are fathers, as well as numerous other men I know, do a great job of caring for their kids in a compassionate, nurturing way. (Most of the time.)

So what’s my point?

God is a loving parent with characteristics of both a mother and a father:

You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.                                                                                            Deut. 32:18

Here are some of the verses that speak to his fatherhood role:

  • “There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son…” Deut. 1:31
  • “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
  • “Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us?” Malachi 2:10
  • “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”” James 1:17
  • “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

And a few that speak to the aspect of the mother’s role:

  • “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! Isaiah 49:15
  • “…hide me in the shadow of your wings…” Psalm 17:8 (like a mother bird)
  • “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry.” Psalm 34:15

As a father, He:

Trains me, arms me, shields me, rescues me, sustains me, delivers me, revives me, vindicates me, redeems me, blesses me, fights for me and destroys my enemies.

Displaying the role of a mother, He:

Comforts me, binds my wounds, anoints me with healing oil, clothes me with garments of joy, praise and righteousness, and gathers me to him like a hen gathers her chicks.

And as both a mother and father he guides me, teaches me, instructs me, rebukes me, disciplines me, confides in me, receives me, and helps me.

How does that relate to us moms?

Sometimes as moms we can feel as though our role isn’t important. We know all the tasks we have to accomplish and perform them without necessarily evaluating them. But in the mundane, every day of mothering we can lose sight of our value.

Let’s be confident and assured that the role God gives us is part of his character and so very important!

God says we are “worth more than rubies,” “a gift to our husbands,” “respected, blessed and praised,” and that we should be given the reward we’ve earned. (Prov.31)

May blessings be upon you today, mothers.

You exhibit the mother heart of God.

Have We Been Warned?

pexels-photo-753619.jpegHave you ever been warned?

There’s plenty of warnings in our world. On cigarette packages, at the gas pump or by an exit door. Lawn signs tell us a house is protected, and TSA tries to protect us by telling us what we can’t take on airplanes.

But what about the small voice in your spirit that tells you what to do or not do multiple times a day? Maybe it comes as a whisper, a word from a friend or a verse you’ve read in the Bible. Do you heed it? I’m trying to listen to that voice better each day.

I believe it’s God helping me navigate life well.

Recently, I read about Paul in chapter 27 of Acts. He was a prisoner on a ship  headed for Rome when he sensed danger ahead. A storm was headed their way. After a radical change in his life, Paul was now pretty in tune with listening to God (another story) so it wasn’t unusual for him to sense instruction from God.

He shared his concerns, but no one listened.

Ever been there? Yeah. Not a fun place. But even more important is what we can learn from the situation, both from the ones who didn’t listen, and Paul who voiced his concerns. Here are some insights I gleaned from the story.

  • The captain of the ship believed he knew the situation better based on his expertise on a ship so he didn’t listen to Paul. No matter how much we think we know (or do know!) God knows more. It never pays to lean on our own understanding.
  • Initially, after they made their choice, it appeared that they got what they wanted. God cannot be mocked. Eventually his ways, truth or insight will come about.
  • Their choices took them into a hurricane force wind they couldn’t fight against. They were forced to give into it and were driven along in a way they never wanted to go. We may think we’ve made the right choice, but if we don’t heed God’s warning, we’ll be caught up in something more powerful than we can handle.
  • They ended up having to throw cargo and belongings overboard. We have to realize that if we don’t choose to heed God’s ways, we are by default choosing Satan’s, and he is out to destroy us. We WILL lose peace, possessions, life, relationships, etc. along the way.
  • They were hungry, tired and finally gave up hope of surviving. Denying God’s warnings will lead us to a weak, hopeless place.
  • God offered a promise to Paul that he would spare their lives, but they would lose everything else. God is gracious in wanting to save us even when we don’t listen to him. He will still allow us to suffer consequences, but ultimately, he’ll rescue us if we do what he says.
  • In order to save themselves, they looked for another way out, pretending to do something else. God used Paul to sternly rebuke them and tell them that the only way to live was to stay in the boat. We can “pretend” to accept God’s way while still looking out for ourselves, but our lives are actually in God’s hands. We have no power to save ourselves outside of doing things his way.

In the end, the boat was lost, but all on the ship were safe and well-cared for by the people on the island where they ended up. Paul suffered no harm because he continued to trust God in the storm.

Maybe you’re the receiver who didn’t listen. Or maybe you’re the speaker who wasn’t heard. Either way, God has good for you. I love that about God. Even when we bring dire circumstances upon ourselves and others by ignoring or discounting what he says, he will still make a way to be gracious to us.

And when we are at the mercy of others’ choices?

God sticks by us and still uses us to speak to the situation. He doesn’t give up and neither should we. It’s natural to feel afraid in a crisis. But God’s already there, knowing what will be and how to save us.

For those of us who have experienced trauma, it can be difficult to trust God when something traumatic arises again, especially if we are not choosing the situation. I know it’s been a challenge for me at times. But we do have the choice to put ourselves into God’s care and do what he tells us.

Maybe that means leaving a situation if that option exists, or as in Paul’s circumstances, sitting still and waiting where he was at. Either way, we can believe that God is in control.

And if we haven’t heeded God’s warnings to us, it is never too late to go back and change our course. God promises that when we turn around, he’ll set us in the right direction without condemning us.

Is God warning you about something today?