The Heat is ON

There comes a moment in everyone’s life when a stark reality…one that has been impending for days…suddenly rears its ugly head. You have to give in, you have to respond, and finally, you have to turn on the furnace. No longer can you pretend that late summer is lingering, or Indian summer is still hanging around, or even that we are enjoying a mild fall. Nope, when your feet hit the floor as you slide out from under the warm covers and your whole body yells “SNOWSUIT!!” it’s time to turn the furnace on.

I hate first-time-furnace day. The SMELL, ugh. All dormant furnaces smell the same the first time they are turned on. The long months of rest that they enjoy allow every manner of dust, musty particles, dirt, etc. to collect, and these things burn off within the first few hours of firing up your furnace.

Dormancy, accumulation of dust, and sudden burning. This sounds like what might happen in my brain if I sat down to take the math portion of the SAT right now. Some things really do come into a “use it or lose it” situation.

It can also happen to our faith.

What if we went for months without firing up our faith? Can you really take a break from your relationship with God, corporate worship, acts of service, fellowship with other believers, or scripture reading?

Romans 11 (The Message)

11b-13 Keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

17-19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

20-21 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Gosh, this is so good. Keep yourself aflame. Be alert. Be cheerfully expectant. Bless your enemies, feed them lunch, discover beauty in everyone…the list of ways to stay fueled up is long and incredibly helpful.

I suspect as you read that, the Holy Spirit highlighted something for you in a neon yellow color.

What in particular speaks to you today? Laugh with happy friends? Cry with sad ones? Don’t hit back? Stop being stuck-up? Don’t insist on getting even? Stop judging everyone?

Whatever has hit you this day, take it to heart. God uses scripture all the time to fire up our dormant furnaces. Focus on that one thing and make it your mission. Do it with all of your passion. It may smell funny for a moment, but soon you will be fired up again for God’s work and his people. It’s time to burn off your dormancy and light the fire of Christ in you. Bring on the heat!

Morning Heat by Michelle Robertson

A Future With Hope

April 25, 2019

This morning I am waking up in an off-season beach rental, with a cup of caramel flavored coffee in my hand. The early morning sun is streaming onto my propped up feet and I can see that even with a good rinsing, I still have beach sand and tiny pebbles on my feet. As for my coffee, when it comes to mugs, size matters! I like a big mug. It has to be big enough, but not too big. But I dislike the jumbo ones, because the coffee goes cold too quickly. I am a mug snob.

The sun arose and lit up the room with its wake up call. There is no sleeping in at the beach. Even black out curtains won’t prevent its strong alarm, and so I get up to find a favorite chair by the window to write.

God is working something out in me. My journey through the recent Lenten season, when I woke up every morning to post a Lent devotional on my church’s Face Book page, has left me wanting more. I want the discipline of sitting down to write every morning. I want the first thoughts of the day to be focused on scripture. I want to feel the Holy Spirit moving through words, images, fingertips on keyboard, and gazing out my window and looking at the water’s edge where I live in the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

Today I am literally on the water’s edge. The Atlantic Ocean is right outside my open sliding glass door. My daughter and I have “evacuated” to this beach house to escape the repairs to a broken sewer line that are being done on my home by the sound. I can hear the waves and the calls of the seagulls searching for their morning meal. There has always been something calming and inspirational for me whenever I stand on the beach and gaze out at the infinite edge of the ocean. I take deep breaths of salt air and immediately feel centered. God is so present to me by the sea, and has been ever since I was a little girl growing up on the beaches of New Jersey and Delaware.

Writing the daily Lent Devotionals was purely by accident and not by design. After preaching on Ash Wednesday, my music director paid me a high compliment by suggesting that I post the suggestions I had made in my sermon on the 7 Lenten Disciplines. So the next morning I got up, sat in my chair by the window overlooking the marina that leads out to the Albemarle Sound, and cut and pasted. Lo and behold, people asked for a daily reminder of Lenten practices, and thus a 40 day journey began. I was suddenly on task to write something every morning, and when Easter arrived, I realized that God was calling me to continue this discipline in another format.

And so here we are, at water’s edge, looking for hope. A lifetime of standing at water’s edge has led me to appreciate the moment of leaving everything behind and staring out onto a body of water full of possibility, meaning and purpose. I sorted out my relationships, my frustrations, my failures, and my calling while walking the East Coast beaches. Here is where contentment lies.

“At Water’s Edge” is a place you can come to find the peace you lack, the answers you need, and the comfort of searching the horizon and finding a friend. God meets us here to take our hand and lead us through our day. I hope this blesses you as much as it blesses me.

And while I had no plan that first day of writing to spend the next 40 days producing a daily devotional, it appears that it was God’s plan all along.

Our Old Testament friend Jeremiah stood at the edge of Jerusalem and watched it’s destruction at the hands of the Babylonians. The Israelites had fallen into idol worship and were far away from God. Jeremiah and his people were carried away into exile, leaving the place that they loved. Yet, even then, he wrote these words:

Jeremiah 29:11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+29&version=NRSV

God has a plan for you. Let’s find it together at water’s edge.

Photo credit: Michelle Robertson