A little inspirational video
God’s Word can inspire, console and give us strength for anything life throws at us. I learned much from the example of this family.
If you like the music in this video, check out more by softpiano at istockphoto.com.
God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Once, an old Russian fairy tale tells us, there was a group of little animals who lived in a forest near a mountain. The squirrels, hedgehogs, rabbits, and birds all played happily together except when they heard the howls of a wild monster, stalking the mountainside. Then they huddled together, one trembling mass of shaking fur and feathers. When one of the little animals went close to the mountain by mistake, the others yelled to him, “Run away! The monster is going to eat you up!” They didn’t know that the monster was really a little rabbit dressed up in the skins of savage animals, roaring ferociously. The rabbit disguised himself so he would feel big and powerful instead small and vulnerable.
Veniamin read the story “The Terrible Rabbit” when he was about twelve. By that time, he was the rabbit: angry and rebellious on the outside, scared and craving acceptance on the inside.
From his early childhood, the taunts of non-Christian neighbors and classmates embarrassed him more than his older brothers and sister. Veniamin never understood how they could hear the sneers of the other kids and not be wounded to the core. Veniamin was determined that when he started school, everyone would like him and never tease him.
By the time he was in fourth grade he faced teasing from even his teacher, a woman determined to impress her communist bosses. She referred to Veniamin as “Baptist Veniamin” and made it clear that he would never earn her favor or good grades, no matter how hard he tried.
His hopes for success and popularity in school shriveling like old potatoes, Veniamin came up with a way out. If he was going to be reprimanded, it would be for something he had done, not because he came from a Baptist family. Any kid who teased him would feel physical pain to match the emotional pain they had inflicted.
I sympathize with Veniamin; I remember well the pain of being teased on the playground. My way of coping was to dream of someone who would rescue from my tormentors, who would be so impressive that everyone would want to like and respect me.
As I grew older, I learned there is a better way of coping with rejection or any other hurt in our lives. God promised to be my refuge, to give strength for any trial. Sometimes He changed my circumstances, sometimes He changed me. But either way, I found consolation in Him far better than any imaginary rescuer could offer.
Lord, help me to cling to you as my rescuer and any strength.
My grace is sufficient for you
2 Corinthians 12:9
All the way home, Yakov’s anger built up like steam in an engine. All his life he had wanted to be a doctor. And now a second university had turned him down because of his Christian faith.
When he got home, he vented his rage on his father, a Baptist pastor well known to the Soviet authorities. “Papa, all of your ministries and services are ruining my life! I feel like I am trapped in a cage, unable to breathe. What am I supposed to do now?”
Yakov’s father put his hand on his arm. “You’re my son,” he said, “and I love you. Even when things are difficult between us, I love you. You are my treasure here on this earth. If necessary, I’d lay my own life down for you without even hesitating.”
Holding Yakov’s hands now in both of his, his father looked right into his eyes. “However, if I had to send you, willingly, to a horrible, painful death because I knew that act would save others, oh, Yakov, it would be so terrible. Can you imagine? I would feel as if my heart were cut from my body. But that’s what God did for humankind. He loves us so much that He gave his only son so that we may be saved. You ask how I can draw breath. I do it every day with huge gratitude because I am loved so much by God, sinner that I am. His yoke is easy, and His burden light. Take up His yoke, and you will find the freedom you crave.”
That’s the same struggle I face every day. I find it very easy to get caught up in wanting a comfortable life and all that goes with it: nice house surrounded by beautiful garden, fashionable wardrobe, exotic vacations, great health and financial security.
While none of these are bad, Jesus wants something more for us. He’s looking make us more like Him. And when we are relaxed and enjoying a comfort-filled life, we have little incentive to turn to Him, to get to know Him, and to change to be more like Him.
By trading the pursuit of happiness for seeking Christ’s kingdom, I can catch a glimpse of the eternal comforts that lie ahead, consolation that cannot rust, and happiness that cannot be stolen or blown away by a tornado.
Lord, help me to give up seeking my own happiness and to trust in your grace.
If you are looking for a clean romance with an intriguing story line and lots of historical detail, An Unlikely Suitor is for you.
Nancy Moser’s story of Lucy, an Italian seamstress, who becomes friends with a wealthy society girl, explores the social divide between the two young women, their families, and the men who court them. Both girls struggle with the roles society demands they play as they seek to find romance and love. Lucy’s younger sister also wrestles with her own desires and rebelliousness. Moser gives a glimpse of the sister’s point of view, which adds depth and interest to her character. Another nice touch was section in the back that contained pictures of the clothes described in the book.
I read this book over a period of several days, a few minutes at a time. During my breaks from reading I found myself thinking about the characters in the novel and wondering what was going to happen next and how all the conflicts in the plot would be resolved. Nancy Moser’s novel took me to a different time and place and caught me up in her story. I would definitely recommend this entertaining and satisfying romance.
I was given a free copy of the book to review by Bethany House.
If you’ve never been bitten by a chigger, count your blessings. At first it seems like no big deal. Then the itching sensation intensifies until you just have to scratch. When it comes to causing misery, mosquitoes are mere amateurs in comparison.
And once you start scratching, it’s all over. All you’ve done is make the itch worse.
Which is exactly what I did. I wasn’t paying attention, thinking about something else, and started scratching. The more I scratched, the worse it got. I had no thought of bruising myself in the process. Thoughtlessly and unintentionally I hurt myself.
I’ve done the same in other contexts. Occasionally someone will tell me I hurt their feelings. Often it’s been because I thoughtlessly and unintentionally was thinking about something else and somehow offended them.
That’s not an excuse for my rudeness, but rather a reminder for me to give others grace when I think I’ve been snubbed. The other person probably was thinking about something other than me.
Unintended injuries can happen in a moment. The welts and bruises fade faster when we forgive.
A big lesson to learn, taught by a tiny insect.
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.
2 Chronicles 16:9
Every day Yakov returned to the job he hated. The Communists had denied him admission into a university because he was a Christian. So his dream of becoming a doctor was dead. Instead, he endured the reality of a mindless factory job.
On the surface, his days were uneventful; underneath, he wrestled with resentment and bitterness. Every day he prayed for a submissive heart, asking God for the grace to accept his life.
One day he saw a notice that an engineering university in Moscow was accepting applications. Still yearning for higher education, Yakov decided to apply.
He knew his grades were good enough, and that he could get references from his high school and his boss. Getting the required reference from the head of the factory’s labor union was a different story. That man despised believers and would never give one the chance to get a university degree.
Certain that labor union boss would turn him down, Yakov waited until the last possible moment. He begged God to intervene and prayed equally as hard for patience and humility if He did not.
God did intervene and soon after, Yakov was admitted to the university. God had waited until Yakov was no longer demanding his own will, but was ready to accept God’s.
So it is in my life. Sometimes I get depressed when I work hard at something and get disappointing results. Or I am angered by a situation that is unjust or just annoying, frustrated at a circumstance that I cannot change.
When I turn to God and stop demanding my own way and ask for help in accepting His will, He begins to work and I see the unfolding of His plan, which is always better than my own.
He arranges things in His time, so that I will learn to rely on Him, to walk closely with Him, and to stay in His will. By making me wait, He strengthens my faith and my resolve to follow Him, even when life doesn’t go my way. When I surrender to His will, He brings the victory.
Lord, thank you that you are always looking to strengthen me. Help me to be fully committed to You.