Daddy, Watch!

Summer days at the beach and the pool are busy times for parents. There is little rest, relaxation, or reading when you have to keep an eagle eye on the little ones. Sand castle building, running into the surf, jumping into the deep end, hunting for ghost crabs, etc. all require careful parental monitoring. And if you take your eyes off them for a second to grab something from the beach bag, you’ll likely hear, “Mommy and Daddy, WATCH!” as your child perfects a somersault, learns to swan dive, or masters flying a kite.

We feel better when Mommy and Daddy are watching, don’t we?

Psalm 17 begins with the same plea to our Heavenly Father. Daddy, watch! Daddy, listen!

Psalm 17 (Common English Bible)

Listen to what’s right, Lord;
    pay attention to my cry!
Listen closely to my prayer;
    it’s spoken by lips that don’t lie!
My justice comes from you;
    let your eyes see what is right!
You have examined my heart,
    testing me at night.
You’ve looked me over closely,
    but haven’t found anything wrong.
    My mouth doesn’t sin.
But these other people’s deeds?
    I have avoided such violent ways
    by the command from your lips.
My steps are set firmly on your paths;
    my feet haven’t slipped.

This Psalm, attributed to David, was probably written during his time of being hunted and persecuted by King Saul. Young David is without a defender. He feels vulnerable. He is being oppressed and feels alone. So he cries out to his Daddy.

I cry out to you because you answer me.
    So tilt your ears toward me now—
    listen to what I’m saying!
Manifest your faithful love in amazing ways
    because you are the one
    who saves those who take refuge in you,
    saving them from their attackers
    by your strong hand.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? I sure have. I have felt attacked, misrepresented, vulnerable, and alone. That does not feel good. Are you feeling this way today? What does it mean to you to realize that God is always tilting his ears toward you?

This beautiful writing is a reminder that in fact, we are never alone. God sees. God hears. God will be our refuge against our attackers, and save us by his strong hand. When our steps are firmly on the path he has set before us, and if our feet do not slip from his ways, we will prevail and find safety in his arms.

No matter what it is you are dealing with today, know that God’s ears are tilted toward you and his faithful love will save you. Thanks be to God!

Watchful Osprey Parents

Sleepless in Peniel

How are you sleeping? Are you getting enough rest? Or are your anxiety dreams so loud you can’t relax in your sleep?

This is a constant topic of conversation among my friends and family. Just a few days ago a friend described a dream where a dog was loose on her property and injured a neighbor, who then threatened to sue her. That same night my husband dreamt that a friend came over and when he went to leave, the lawn was filled with alligators. What the heck?

I don’t always remember my dreams, but several times a week I wake up exhausted from them. I hope and pray for all of us that when the pandemic is over, our sleep will be more restful.

Today we join Jacob at the brook of Jabbok. He is moving his family in accordance with God’s instruction to go back to the land of Canaan and rejoin his father Isaac. Things have deteriorated with his father-in-law Laban and it is time to skedaddle.

Genesis 32 (The Message)

22-23 But during the night he got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants, and his eleven children and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He got them safely across the brook along with all his possessions.

24-25 But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint.

Sleepless nights can feel like wrestling matches. Indeed, it is often in the dark of the night that God comes to us to help us process things. Stress, anxiety, guilt, indecision, anger…our subconscious continues to deal with our waking issues even when we are dead asleep.

26 The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.”

Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.”

27 The man said, “What’s your name?”

He answered, “Jacob.”

28 The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.”

Here is the good news. God always works things out for our good. All of the times when we are wrestling with which way to go will work out in the end if we remain true to God‘s direction…even when that place is far away from our comfort zone.

29 Jacob asked, “And what’s your name?”

The man said, “Why do you want to know my name?” And then, right then and there, he blessed him.

30 Jacob named the place Peniel (God’s Face) because, he said, “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!”

Are you wrestling with something right now? Are your nights fraught with tossing and turning? Are you running toward God in your dreams, or away from him?

Jacob was blessed by God because he was OBEDIENT. He trusted God enough to pack up his entire family and move far away. He followed God’s direction at the expense of everybody’s comfort. And when God visited him for one last test of resolve, Jacob held on until the morning. And he lived to tell the story.

So stay the course. Hold on to God through the night, and when the sun comes up, you will see his blessing unfold.

The Day Breaks by Wende Pritchard

Stop, Sun

Ever wish you could stop time? As in, literally snap your fingers or push a button and have time stand still? Watching your baby daughter grow up right before your eyes, attending a family reunion knowing you won’t see each other for another year and wondering who will be gone then, starting your last semester of college, waking up to the first day of vacation…there are a lot of examples of situations when we might wish we could stop time and just linger for awhile.

Our hurried lives often leave us wishing we had such power. If only I could stop time, I just might get all these things on my “to do” list accomplished. If only I could just slow down the day, I could cram in all the things that I have over-committed to. If only the sun would stay up a little longer, I could meet everyone’s demands for my time and attention.

Did you know that there was a time in the Old Testament when someone actually asked God to stop time…and he did?

Joshua 10 (The Message)

12-13 The day God gave the Amorites up to Israel, Joshua spoke to God, with all Israel listening:

“Stop, Sun, over Gibeon;
Halt, Moon, over Aijalon Valley.”

And Sun stopped,
Moon stood stock still
Until he defeated his enemies.

13-14 (You can find this written in the Book of Jashar.) The sun stopped in its tracks in mid sky; just sat there all day. There’s never been a day like that before or since—God took orders from a human voice! Truly, God fought for Israel

The battle for Gibeon was set to end at sundown. Joshua’s military forces did not have night vision goggles, high beams, or even flashlights. In order to defeat the five kings of the Amorites, he needed more time, so he prayed that God would give him that. God heard his prayer and prevented the sun from setting until Joshua had finished his battle.

What battle are you in today that is suffering from your hectic, over-rushed life? Where has your hurry turned into debilitating worry, preventing you from relaxing into a moment and being present in the present? Hurry-worry is soul crushing. Are there things in your over-committed life that can be shed so that you can live in real time without so much stress?

Sun, stand still. Moon, stay put. We call on God to give us the tools that enable us to slow our frantic pace and attend to the meaningful priorities that will bring us closer to him, closer to one another, and closer to peace. This means allowing God to set priorities according to his will, and being willing to LET GO of anything that doesn’t fall into his prioritizing. Are you ready for that?

What do you need to do today to make that happen? Don’t let the sun go down before you do it.

Still Moon by Becca Ziegler

20/20 Vision

According to the American Optometric Association, 20/20 vision is defined as:

20/20 vision is a term used to express normal visual acuity (the clarity or sharpness of vision) measured at a distance of 20 feet. If you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance. If you have 20/100 vision, it means that you must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 100 feet.

Today we begin a new year. A decade has closed, a year has been added, and a new beginning is offered. Looking back at the year just ended, what do you see? Joy, regret, growth, retreat, inertia, advancement…what did the last 12 months bring into your life?

Now looking at the next 12 months, what do you HOPE to see? And no matter what those hopes are, do you see God being active in your year? Does your vision for your life match HIS vision for your life?

One of my favorite scriptures on vision comes from Isaiah, Chapter 6:

Isaiah 6

6 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 

Here is the quick take-away: King Uzziah was a great and powerful king. Isaiah served as his temple priest. If you look closely at the first sentence, you’ll notice that Isaiah says, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I SAW the Lord.” Kinda’ makes you wonder if the charismatic and powerful earthly king was a distraction. It took his death for Isaiah to see the Lord, who obviously was there all the time. Could it be?

In a smaller sense, we are all guilty of putting things on the throne that distract us from seeing the Lord. Indulgences of every kind, gossip-spinning, hours of Netflix, too much screen time, grudge-holding, over-indulging our children, vanity, laziness…fill in your own blank.

2020 is an opportunity to capture God’s 20/20 vision for your life. We get a do-over.

What earthly “king” is keeping you from God’s vision for your life?

What have you put on the throne in place of God?

What are you worshipping that has become a replacement for God?

Why are you so distracted?

When we clear out all the junk, vision becomes clarified. When we sweep away the debris of our past, we can capture God’s vision for our future. Putting God back on the throne of our hearts will enable us to enter the new year with hope, peace, joy, and love.

May 2020 bring us 20/20.

A New Year Dawns by Michelle Robertson