Category Archives: Faith

What It Means to Sacrifice

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, my dad was seventeen years old. In early 1942, he decided to enlist. He and a group of his friends went to join the Marines. All my dad’s friends made it in the Marines, except my dad. They reached their quota and sent my dad to another branch to enlist in. He decided to serve in the Navy.

My dad lived on a destroyer from 1942-1945. His only time away from the ship was on shore leaves. His ship was small, and he slept cramped on a cot-like bed, ate food that was not appealing, had to follow orders and had little free time. He survived a typhoon, having bombs dropped around him, and dodging torpedoes. He also had to leave the enemy who was either shot down or their ships had sunk in the ocean because there was no room or supplies for them on his ship. He had men die beside him and has had to shoot at another human being. It was hard for my dad. He grew up during the Depression, a time when people helped one another, not destroyed each other.

He gave over three years of his life to serve his country. Today he is 93 and has never regretted it, nor did he ever complain about it. It was something he did because it was the right thing to do. It’s not something he talks about much either, but he has revealed glimpses of what it was like to his family just over the past few years.

How many parents during WWII sacrificed their sons to keep the freedoms we enjoy today? Let’s expand that to all wars and conflicts and the sacrifices made by all military personnel and their families. When I think of my dad’s WWII service and that of others, I’m reminded of Abraham and his near sacrifice of his son, Isaac.

God asked Abraham to take his son and sacrifice him. Isaac was Abraham’s only heir and the promised son provided by God. Abraham did not question or bargain with God. He immediately did as he was told. Abraham was willing to sacrifice the life of his only son.
According to the dictionary, sacrifice means to surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something else. That means that it requires tremendous devotion and faith to do something so selfless.

In Abraham’s case. He had strong faith in God built on a relationship of trust. He wanted to serve the God who provided for him and loved him. In my dad’s case, he had a belief in this country and its freedoms. Both men moved forward in faith knowing the risk of forfeiting a future here on Earth.

I think of how strong faith must be to make such a sacrifice. It is a force that swells and overtakes the mind and spirit. It makes a person driven by that faith or belief system to not be able to do anything but act on it. I measure my faith against Abraham’s and come up short. I realize faith is not something that happens overnight. It is a process that comes from time spent getting to know God and learning to trust Him.

He (Jesus) replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. Luke 17:6

God Is With You

I had a very good friend, Lori, who was a godly and caring woman. She became a Christ follower when she was in her thirties. I’ll never forget her zeal as she took hold of Jesus and never let go. Everyone who knew her, knew Jesus was a priority in her life.
She truly had a sweet spirit and was soft-spoken, kind and always thought of others. Her practice of forgiveness and selflessness was a testimony. She dealt with many difficult circumstances and people and made it her mission to do the right thing or always be the better person.

Even as she fought her two-year battle with melanoma, her faith remained strong. She often said that she believed the Lord was going to heal her and did not waiver in that belief, even when the news was bad. The Lord did indeed finally heal her by taking her home to be with Him on Thanksgiving Day in 2014. She was remembered at her funeral as a strong Christian woman who touched others and made a difference in people’s lives.
Just as people noticed Lori’s love for the Lord, people also noticed that Abraham was a godly man. As a matter of fact, Abimelech (the king) said to Abraham, “God is obviously with you in everything you do…” Abimelech and Abraham had previous dealings with one another and had known one another a long time.

Abraham openly and without any qualms worshipped the One and Only God. Because Abraham walked closely with God, God looked out for Abraham. Abimelech was aware of Abraham’s close relationship to God and wanted to have a covenant with him. Abimelech’s desire was to live in peace with Abraham and his people and to deal honestly with one another.

What a compliment it would be for someone to say to you, “God is obviously with you in everything you do.” It means that you are living your faith for all to see, and God means more to you than what people think of you. How can we live a life that shows God is in everything we do?

As you look at your life, you can ask yourself some questions. What is my relationship with the Lord like? Do I pray every day and consult Him about every decision? Am I reading the Bible daily so that I can know Him better? Do I give God the glory for the victories in my life and hold onto faith that He will lead me through the valleys? Do I worship the Lord more than anything else in my life? Am I reflecting the character of Christ in my daily living and dealings with others?

Living a godly life is not easy, and it is a daily challenge. There is always a spiritual battle going on in our minds over our souls. Satan will do whatever he can to put a wedge between us and the Lord. The key is to be aware of it and persevere and never take our eyes from the Lord. When we diligently seek Him and His will, we will find Him.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

He Will Rescue Us

When we lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, I went on a job interview in a huge mazelike office complex with multiple parking garages. It took me forever to find a vacant parking spot, but I finally did. I had to hurry to get to my interview on time.
Afterwards, I went back to the parking garage. I thought I had retraced my steps, but I could not find my car. After about half an hour, I was near to tears and wondered if my car had been stolen. I wore a pair of stiletto heels, and my feet were screaming for help. They hurt so bad I was limping.
I prayed to God to help me. Not too long after my prayer, a security guard came by on a golf cart. He could tell I was lost and stopped. I told him my dilemma. He said not to be upset that it happened all the time. Then he offered to drive me around on his golf cart until we found it. I happily accepted his help.
We finally found my car. There was a wire fence between the garage I was in and my car. The security guard said that he could not drive me over there because it was not part of their building. I’d have to walk. He told me how to get to the other side. Fifteen minutes later, I was in my car and on the way home.
I do not think I have ever felt so helpless or lost. I remembered thinking I was never going to get out of that parking garage alive. It was the one time I could identify with Hagar.
After Sarah demanded that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away, they wandered in the wilderness. She was out of water, tired and lost. Her son was literally dying of thirst. After she put her son in the shade, she walked away and left him to die. Her son was crying. Then she got about a hundred feet from Ishmael, sat down and cried, too. She did not want her son to die and didn’t know what to do.
God heard the boy’s cry and sent an angel to Hagar. He told her that she should go to her son and comfort him. God was not going to let him die, but would make a great nation from him. He also provided water for them. This was the second time that God heard Hagar’s distress and rescued her.
There are times in our lives when we feel like we are wandering aimlessly and/or feel cutoff by humanity due to a circumstance or emotions going on inside ourselves. We want rescued. Just as Hagar cried out for help, we can do the same. We can rest assured that God will hear our cries of distress. He heard my cry of distress and made the security guard with a golf cart available. What a blessing that was.
Sometimes His rescues are not always as miraculous as mine or Hagar’s, but He will let us know in some way that He hears us. Help will come in His time and His way and for our good. All it takes is walking by faith with God through the difficult circumstance.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalms 23:4

Can Do

In 2012, my husband was laid off from his job. It was a shock. We knew we had to put the house on the market immediately. The real estate market changed in 2009 for the worst and had not yet recovered. Our home was above the price point of people buying at the time. I have never felt so helpless or afraid in all my life. My husband soon got a job out-of-state that paid a lot less than he had been making. I had nightmares of foreclosure and poor credit.
During the time the house was on the market, we struggled financially. We had to lower our price more than we wanted. It took nine months to finally be rid of it. The selling price just covered the mortgage. The good thing was that we walked away from it with our credit still intact and a big raise in pay because we did not have to pay for the house any more.
During that time, my husband insisted that everything would work out and called me out about my lack of faith. I prayed daily for that house to sell and struggled with my faith as time went on without a buyer. When things are out of my control, I have a hard time trusting God. But God did answer and provided a buyer – just not at the time I wanted Him to, nor in the way I had hoped, but He did come through.
The same could be said for Abraham and Sarah. They had waited for a promised son and now they were beyond child bearing age. Three strangers who were angels and one may have been a pre-incarnation of Jesus came to visit them. Abraham provided food, rest and drink for them. At that time, Sarah was 90 and Abraham 100. One of the strangers told Abraham that Sarah would bear a son, and they were to call him Isaac. Sarah overheard the conversation and laughed. She knew she was not able to physically have a child in her advanced age.
Sarah had longed for a baby during her child bearing years. I’m sure she looked forward to being a grandmother and even having great-grandchildren. But it was not to be. She was the age of a great-grandmother when she was told she was going to have a baby. It seemed preposterous to her.
The stranger who was the Lord heard her laugh and confronted her. When she was confronted, she denied it because she was afraid to admit it. But the stranger repeated back to her what she had said. He also said the most compelling thing that still resonates with me today. He said, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
It is a given that we will have bad seasons and horrible situations that we don’t know how we’re going to get through. We may even have something we want badly like a spouse, children, or a better job. Sometimes, we aren’t sure God will do anything to help us, or we may think He does not care.
But He does care. Often, He doesn’t do what we expect, how we expect it, or the timing may not be ideal in our eyes. Only God can see with His eternal eyes what is best for us and our future. We are required to have faith and to believe that there’s nothing that’s too hard for Him to accomplish in our lives. There is comfort in knowing that He can do ANYTHING. Next time you are praying and feel like there is no hope, ask yourself, “Is there anything that’s too hard for the Lord?”

Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Genesis 18:13-14

Names

When I was a young girl, I really hated my name. Back then, I went by Debby, and there were at least 2 of us in every classroom. My heart rate always accelerated whenever the teacher would call out the name “Debby” – especially if being called on for a question I didn’t know the answer to. Not only that, I found out my name meant “bee”. I really hated bees!
I got so mad about my name that I asked my mother if she could change it. She said, ‘no’ and asked me why. I told her I was tired of having the same name as other people in my class, and I was not a bee. I also asked her what other names she had considered. I swore I was going to change my name when I got old enough to do it myself.
My mother said when she was pregnant with me, my father and she talked about names. They had no trouble deciding on a boy’s name. I would have been named after my dad, but they could not decide on a girl’s name. My dad wanted to name me Mary Ann after his mother, and my mother wanted to name me Hazel after her mother. The only name they could agree on was Deborah which they put on my birth certificate and shortened it to Debby as a nickname.
No offense to my grandmothers, but I was glad I didn’t get either of their names. There were a lot of girls named Mary in my class, so that would have been no better than Debby. And Hazel would have been an even worse choice. I would have been mercilessly teased. Back then, Hazel was the name of a maid on a television show. I was already teased enough as it was.
Today I have learned to like my name. I have done away with the Debby and now go by Deborah because I admire Deborah in the Bible. She was a strong, wise woman. In my generation, it’s not the most unique name, but it is the name my parents wanted me to have.
Just as my parents named me, God named Abram and Sari. When Abram was 100 and Sari was 90, God changed their name to Abraham which means “father of many nations” and “Sarah” which meant “princess”. He did this to reconfirm his covenant with them about giving them a son. Abram was doubtful that they could have any children at their age. But God tells them they will have a son, and they were to name him Isaac which mean “he laughs”.
For someone to know our name means we have a relationship with them in some area of our lives. It can be a significant one or a minor one. We choose how close of a relationship we want with that person.
The same can be said for God. No matter what name we have been given, God knows it. Just like Abraham and Sarah, He may also have a unique name for those of us who are close to Him. He has a relationship with every person on Earth because we are part of His Creation. We are loved by Him unconditionally no matter what we do.
We are the ones who decide how close our relationship with Him will be. We have a choice to call Him, Father, and to take His hand as we walk through life and learn more about Him so we can live more joyful lives despite our circumstances, or to keep Him at arm’s length and never have the blessing of His presence and strength in our lives. It’s our choice.

You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. Psalms 139:1