Category Archives: Purpose

Beauty Out of Ashes

6:2:16 Beauty Out of AshesBeauty Out of Ashes

by Lydia Floren

There were thousands – literally thousands – covering the hillside, sitting beneath trees, listening, absorbing the truth Jesus was teaching. The truth of who He was. Just being in His presence was powerful – life-changing.

But the disciples had been there, done that.  They were getting hungry. And worried.  How in the world was this crowd of humanity going to get something to eat in the middle of the countryside?  Why can’t Jesus see the need to stop and let people tend to their families and themselves?

And then a little boy tugged at one man’s sleeve.  “My mom packed me a lunch.  Can I share it with the Teacher?”

The burly man turned around, and looked at the small sack of bread and fish.  He shook his head.

“Son, this is nowhere near enough to feed this huge crowd.  Just keep your lunch.  We’ll figure something out.”   

But then a deep familiar voice resonated from behind the pair:

“Young man, this is a generous offer.” Jesus kneeled down, and looked the boy in the eye.

“Thank you,” He continued, “I would be most grateful for this food, as will these hungry folks.”

He took the small bag, opened it, blessed the food, and then proceeded to feed the huge group until they were too full to eat any more.

Never think your talent is too small, your gift too weak, your life too broken to be given to God.  When we offer what we have, we are immediately blessed, just because we offer it. And our act of trust blesses our Heavenly Father, because what He wants is not the gift itself, but our heart that chooses to give.  And He wants it all, no matter how meager it seems to us. It thrills His heart when we not only give him our best, but we give Him everything, including our weaknesses, shortcomings, bad habits, worries.

God makes beauty out of ashes.  It is His specialty.

What do you need to give to God today?  This year?  Whatever it is, He will transform it, multiply it, use it to bless you and those around you.

And know this:  our greatest joy – and God’s – comes simply from our act of giving.

“…a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:3

What Should I Do Next?

2:19:16 What should I do Nextby Lydia Floren

Did you know that God is a planner? He said, “I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope.” In my opinion, part of following God is learning to ask for His wisdom, and make plans.

Plans remind me of what is most important.
Every January, I take some time to pray about the coming year, review priorities, goals and commitments. and make some plans. This time of prayerful planning helps me remind myself of what is most important, and then set goals that align accordingly.

Plans keep me from getting sidetracked.
Making plans also helps me because I am easily distracted. I have lots of interests, and it is easy for me to collect projects like some people collect stray cats. I have learned that when I pray and plan at the first of the year, and then periodically revisit those plans, I am more likely to not get sidetracked. Later in the year when I am juggling a half dozen incomplete projects, and I am driving myself crazy (ok, others, too), I can refer back to this plan and have some guidance about which time commitments to continue and which to set aside.

Plans help in answering what should I do next?
Do things go according to plan? Not always – sometimes not at all. But having the reference point of a prayfully made plan really helps when I get mired down in everyday life, and keeps me focused on what is really important. It helps me answer the questions,  “What should I do next?” and “What should I do now?”

What benefits do you get from making plans? Have you prayed about any plans for this year?

Making a Difference

1:22:15 Cup of waterby Lydia Floren

We all want to make a difference.

To have meaning and purpose in our lives.  Does this really happen?  Is it possible to have some grand purpose, to know on our deathbeds that our lives had meaning?

It depends.

You may be like me, sometimes thinking that “making a difference” means leading “feeding-the-five-thousand” type events:  God working grandly through me, for all the world to see.  Important people will see that I am important.  I am significant.  Sure, I will give God the glory, but I take secret delight in my obvious impact on the world.  Good Morning America (or Women of Faith) here I come!

But God rarely works this way.

Don’t get me wrong.  He does miracles every day.  Jesus said, “My Father is always at His work in this world, and I too am working.”  But much of what God does goes unseen, and unappreciated.

Jesus’ own life was the prime example of this.  Jesus didn’t have the respect of the Important People.  In fact, Important People were threatened by Jesus, because the Truth He shared often made them look bad.  He spent his days walking from place to place, talking to ordinary folks about extraordinary truth, and, on occasion – mostly in out of the way places – working miracles.

God hasn’t changed.  He still walks this earth and works through those willing to follow Him, touching people with His love and truth in very ordinary ways.  A warm meal.  A kind word.  A listening ear.  A cup of cold water.

And sometimes – mostly in out of the way places – He still works miracles.

God has prepared good works, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

When have you seen God work through your “ordinary day”?  Share with us!

Want to read more?  Read  The Extraordinary Ordinary