Years ago, I volunteered as a chaplain at a hospital. Comforting people I didn’t know and sharing the Gospel with them created a lot of anxiety in me and I became very discouraged at my lack of “results.” One weekend I stayed overnight at the Oregon Coast (my “escape of choice”). Hoping to hear an encouraging word, I attended a Lutheran service the next morning. The pastor spoke about “taking up your cross.” I could feel my mood slipping down another couple of notches. About twenty minutes into his message, the pastor stopped...then he said...
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Have you ever felt that you missed an opportunity?  If only I had said… If only I had done that… If only I hadn’t missed that call… If only...

This past week I read a devotion that spoke to this very human experience:

Taking the Initiative Against Despair*

Rise, let us be going —Matthew 26:46

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples went to sleep when they should have stayed awake, and once they realized what they had done, it produced despair. The sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair. We say, "Well, it’s all over and ruined now; what’s the point in trying anymore." If we think this kind of despair is an exception, we are mistaken. It is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize we have not taken advantage of a magnificent opportunity, we are apt to sink into despair...

The disciples, in this instance, had done a downright unthinkable thing— they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus. But our Lord came to them taking the spiritual initiative against their despair and said, in effect, "Get up, and do the next thing." If we are inspired by God, what is the next thing? It is to trust Him absolutely and to pray on the basis of His redemption.

Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step. 

Lord, thank you, that when we “mess up,” you don’t leave us behind but say, “Let us be going…” Give us the courage to take that next step so that we may bring glory and honor to your name! Amen. 

*Oswald Chambers, Utmost for His Highest, February 18, 2008.


My daughter was admitted to an intensive care hospital unit last week. Despite my best intentions, I found myself getting caught up in a storm of emotions and unanswered questions and I worried about a host of related circumstances. At one point, a prayer involuntarily escaped from my lips, “Calm the storms, Lord. Calm the inner and outer storms!” I often hear people say that we can have peace in the midst of the storms of life. Well, I wasn’t feeling it. At the same time, I realized I had disconnected from the source of that peace, the One who calms the storms...
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Someone has calculated that we make as many as 5,000 decisions in a day! Decisions have become a focal point for me the last few months because I want to stay healthy and lose some weight. I want this body to stay strong so that I can serve the Lord throughout the days He has allotted to me. Also, I feel better when I eat healthier foods. Unfortunately, most of my life I have let my feelings rule my eating habits. I often start out the day with good intentions but rarely finish well. “Will power” just flies out the window about 8 o’clock in the evening. Have you ever had this problem? Recently, there has been a shift in my thinking...
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In a movie called, “The American Quilt,” one of the characters was furious at her husband and threw china tea cups at a kitchen wall, shattering the cups into pieces, leaving a huge mess on the kitchen floor. In a later scene, she picks up the pieces and glues them to the wall, making a collage. Although it didn’t speak well of her willingness to forgive, I had to appreciate her creativity. Yesterday I received an email from someone who is also taking a creative approach to her “messes.”
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Nicky Gumbel describes life as a set of challenges, problems and hassles.* He says, “We sometimes imagine that if we could just deal with the immediate challenge that we are facing, all our problems would be over. But life is not like that. If we resolve one problem, another (or even several) is just around the corner. “The temptation is to see these challenges as preventing us from carrying out the ministry God has given us. In actual fact, dealing with the problems is the ministry.” The image that comes to mind is a jack-in-the-box...
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