Archive for the ‘Love’ Category.

The Blessing of the Wilderness

By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.  Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.  Exodus 13:21-22

Fog.  Haze.  Poor visibility. Think how a pillar of cloud must have looked to the Israelites on their long journey.  But fog also cools, protects from the sun, moistens parched skin in a desert place, comforts and shields from enemies or critics.  Night travel is standard practice in the desert, but the pillar of cloud sent to the Israelites gave them the option of traveling either by day or night.  An unexpected blessing in a desert place.

Maybe you’re traveling that hazy path where the future looks uncertain, where visibility shows only your next baby step.  Your vision may be obscured but the Sovereign Lord goes before you, providing every need, leading you forward.  He has a plan—rest in it.  He won’t lead you astray.

Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.  Exodus 14:13-14 

 Dear God, thank you for the fog and fire.  Even though I cannot see what lies ahead, your promise has changed my life.  Teach me to be content to walk in this hazy fog, to thank you for the protection it brings in this desert place.  Teach me to be grateful for the blessing of the wilderness. Amen.





Climb into my Boat

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage!  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.  They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. 

Mark 6:50b-52 NIV

      The fury of the tempest falls upon me. Fierce winds surge waves higher than my vessel.  Sheets of rain fall from the sky midst lightning flashes and rumbling thunder. My little boat wobbles like a matchstick in the churning waves.  I row with all my strength but feel myself slipping backwards, pulled into the dark waters.  The storm, terrifying in its strength, overwhelms me.  My courage fades and I know I cannot survive.

Through the roar of the storm, I hear Your voice. “Take courage!” You say.  “Don’t be afraid.”

Can it be?  I wipe rain from my eyes and squint through the darkness.  In a burst of lightning, I see you coming toward me, walking upon the waves as if on dry ground.  Your face shines bright as the sunshine, Your presence emanates peace.

My eyes focus on You alone, and I forget the danger in the glory of Your presence.

“It is I,” You say.  “Don’t be afraid.”

Then You climb into my boat and take a seat at the helm. The wind ceases. The waves settle.  You ask me how I’m doing and tell a story to pass the time.  Then you pick up an oar to help me navigate toward the shore.  We admire the sunset glowing red and orange in the western horizon.

My hard heart searches for logical reasons to explain what has happened.  I was going under until You came walking upon the water. You climbed into my boat and the storm stopped.

Suddenly I understand in a flash as bright as the lightning had shown in the darkness.  Just like what happened with the loaves and fishes.  Not a coincidence, not explainable, but a miracle.

Your laughter fills the space left silent after the storm.

Dear Jesus, Come to me, walking upon the churning water.  Let me hear your voice over the roaring turmoil.  Climb into my boat.  Calm my storm.  Remove the hardness of my heart and let me understand your miracles. Amen 



By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.  Proverbs 24:3-4 NIV

As a writer, I work daily to hone my craft and develop my skills.  I’m learning, but find there’s always more to learn.  As I read the above verses I imagine the rooms of my writing life filling with the rare and beautiful treasures of well crafted words that are directly related to wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

But of course, this verse is about a lot more than writing.  The rare and beautiful treasures could be spiritual insights, blessed relationships, meaningful work, opportunities, good friends, open doors, stability, creativity, direction and a million other things.

Knowledge can be acquired by reading and studying.  But how can we tap into the wisdom described above that graces our lives with such treasures?

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  James 1:5 NIV

 This verse gives the answer to our human quest for wisdom.  How do we find it?  From God, who is the source of all desirable things.  The good news is that wisdom is available to those who ask.

Let’s fill the rooms of our lives with rare and beautiful treasures.

Lord, you’ve told us to ask for wisdom if we are lacking.  Please fill our hearts and minds with your wisdom.  Amen

Christmas Blues

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.  Psalm 137:1

This past week brought sad news from many directions.  A cousin’s husband died unexpectedly of a heart attack.  An old friend is hospitalized. Another learned she has a year to live even with chemo and radiation.  A friend confided that increased insurance co-pays will make it difficult for her to continue necessary treatment.  We know others facing joblessness, addiction and incarceration.

During this Christmas season, you may feel alone in your suffering. The world around you celebrates—and yet the sadness of your losses and the ache of yesterday make you wish the holidays were already over.

The enslaved Israelites felt the same.  Their Babylonian captors taunted them, and forced them to sing Israeli songs for their entertainment.  The Israelites wept as they sang, remembering their old home and the way things used to be. (see the above verse). They wanted only to go home. If this describes your feelings this holiday season, know you’re not alone. Your emotional pain is real. You will not find relief in tinsel, mistletoe or merriment, but you will find solace in the deeper meaning of Christmas.  Jesus was born to rescue humanity. Turn to Him.  Find a church service, read the Christmas story in the Book of Luke, pray for yourself and someone else who struggles. As you take these baby steps, you will feel His Presence.  He will bring good things into your life as you trust in Him.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6 NIV

 Lord, we pray for each one carrying a heavy burden this Christmas season.  Lift her spirits and grant peace.  Amen.


Who is Your John the Baptist this Advent Season?

Thanks to Sister Nancy Gunderson for these insightful comments. 

Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

     John the Baptist appeared preaching in the desert of Judea.  Amy appeared in my classroom, scrawny and petite.  Out of the desert of her life, she leaned against the wall, fighting sleep.

John’s voice cried out, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.  The one who is coming after me is mightier than I.  I am not worthy to carry his sandals.” Amy’s voice cried out through penetrating silence and sullen glances.

John wore clothing of camel’s hair.  Amy wore a loose-fitting hunting jacket, bright red lipstick and disheveled hair pulled mostly back from her face.

John called for the world to repent.  Amy and her family were homeless for eight months prior to moving to this college town.  She works the night shift at Wal-Mart, unloading trucks five nights a week, then comes directly to class.  Her efforts keep her family afloat as well as allow her to pursue an education. She writes in a paper that she appreciates what she has, because she has had to work for it.

In her own silent way, Amy is my John the Baptist.  She tells me to wake up, repent of my selfishness, to be more sensitive and to reach out.  Amy, the most unlikely student in my classroom, becomes my teacher, my herald.  She cries out to me, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”  And I know deep down those are the only paths that lead to the crib, where like the shepherds, only humble and open hearts can go.

Who is your John the Baptist this Advent?  Who must you go out to the desert to find?  Can you hear their cry?


Sister Nancy Gunderson