April 29

            The plant wasn’t looking good at all. It had gotten too much sun and was wilted. Its flowers were turning a dull brown instead of the bright pink that they were. Everything seemed hopeless. But somebody noticed the plight of this plant and started tending it. Gradually, with the right amount of sunlight and enough water to keep it healthy, the plant started to perk up. It returned to its beautiful self. The flowers were pink again and pointing towards the sky. It looked the way it was meant to look.
            We might not think of ourselves as plants, but we, too, can get bent over and feel wilted with all of the worries and cares the world piles upon us each day. We might end up with too much of one thing but not enough of another thing. We need a caretaker who will sustain us and bring us back to how we were meant to be.

            Jesus is that caretaker. It is surely no coincidence that in one of his first public acts of ministry (recorded in John 4), he speaks to the woman at the well of “living water.” Or that he speaks of being the good shepherd. As a good shepherd tends his sheep and takes care of them, Jesus will do that for us. And, as sheep will go astray sometimes, the shepherd will hunt for them and bring them back to the flock. The Good Shepherd might not be something we, his sheep, may want, but the Good Shepherd is something that we need so that we may survive and thrive in His loving arms.


April 21

Giving thanks is a very important part of our daily life. It is a challenge for me
at times to give thanks in all circumstances. I was having a difficult time dealing with
someone who was very angry and refused to talk to me. Giving thanks for this
troublesome situation was almost impossible. Then after some reflection, I realized
this struggle had brought me closer to God. I had spent many hours praying to God for
wisdom and courage in dealing with this person. I am thankful for God's presence during
this difficult time. Trusting God will help us develop this attitude of thankfulness at all times.

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
                                                                                                     1 Thessalonians 5:18


April 17

Have you ever wandered in a spiritual desert or wilderness?  Our deserts can be literal or metaphorical. Desert images can be a reflection of our relationship with God, the literal representation that a barren desert can show us what happens when we try to live our lives without God. But the barren desert may also invite us to a deeper spirituality and help us to discover what is truly important in our lives. There are countless literal examples of people wandering in the desert throughout the Bible. When we read those passages, God always takes care of his children and they find their way out of the desert. 

So then why is it so difficult for me when I am wandering in my own personal desert? I have been there many times before. I usually try to fight it, but I have not found that successful.  I want to know “why” I am there and how to get out, like yesterday. Sometimes, we just don’t know why we are there, but sometimes we do. We can learn lessons from our wanderings. I have come to realize that in my own life, it is just part of the many seasons in my life. God brings me out of it, every single time. I know that, but I still struggle when I am there. I tend to isolate myself, even stay away from church and church friends while I am in the desert. That doesn't make any sense to me, but I think maybe with me, it is because I just can’t smile and say everything is fine, and I am afraid to tell folks how I really am. I have a few close friends who I know I can be myself around and I confide in those friends at those times. 

I have come to learn to let myself wander around and try to appreciate the view in the desert. Deserts can be beautiful as well as barren. Sometimes I try to just change my view - put my face to the sun, listen to music, or look around at God’s creation to help me see the beauty while I am feeling spiritually lost.

The deserts of our lives can be troubling places, filled with loneliness, isolation,
doubt and temptation, but they can also be a place of deep spiritual renewal filled with hidden beauty.

Lord, help us to reach out to You when we are wandering in the desert. Help us to trust in You and Your unfailing promises  and know that You will be with us always and forever. Amen.