Dear God, Help!

Dear God HelpThis past Sunday, in our sermon series on the power and practice of prayer, we ask the question “How Do We Pray for Guidance?” This blog post is a reflection on that question.

WWJD 2

What Would Jesus Do?  The bracelets became popular in the 1990’s.  Like any other phrase that gets overused, it tends to lose its intrinsic meaning.  Instead, it becomes another slogan.  We see WWJD –and rather than asking ourselves the question, we would move past it.  Oh, that again.

The purpose of the bracelets was to remind us that God knows the answer to our dilemma, to seek out God’s help with a solution, to believe God really will help, and then do something that lines up with God’s teachings.

When I was a little girl, my dad would tell me if I had to make a decision, the harder thing to do was the right thing to do.  I have relied on that small piece of advice throughout my life and it hRailroad Tracksas never failed me.  It has worn me out, enriched my life, taken me on twisted paths with dark corners and cobwebs, and always shined a light on something I needed to know.

My dad was not a religious man.  He didn’t attend church except for baptisms and weddings.  Despite that, he taught me how to seek solutions to my dilemmas, in a manner consistent with the teachings of Jesus.  I’ll never know if that was his intent or why he never came to church with us, although he drove us faithfully every Sunday.  He died when I was 10, too young to ask about that reasons behind his words.  I believed his words as I believed what I heard in Sunday School.  I took it all to heart without question.

Jesus on the cross

Jesus never took the easy way.  From associating with outcasts to dying on the cross, his choices, although the right ones, were always the harder choices. When we look to God for answers and direction, it takes me back to what would Jesus do?  While its WWJD bracelets may have lost their shine, the question remains boldly telling.

humilityWhen we take our challenges to God in prayer, we must first relinquish our power and accept that God has the answer for us.  We can’t go seeking a rubber stamp for our own opinions.  We must go with an open heart, a willingness to listen and the humility of knowing that we know very little.  If we go to God seeking a second to our motion, full of pride and knowing, our hearts and ears will hear nothing.  God’s voice needs a humble listener with a certain acknowledgement that God knows the answer.Ask God 2

Next, we must ask for help from God, admit our confusion and lay it all out there.  Never mind that God already knows what we want, we have to make the ask.  We have to first humble ourselves in acknowledging our limited knowing and then humble ourselves further by saying we don’t know what to do.  The extra step of asking cements our humility and clarifies for ourselves what we are truly seeking.  Being forced to ask the question, candidly and with careful thoughtfulness, often helps to identify the real quandary and opens us to receive the answer.

When we have removed the arrogance of our own ideas and knelt our ears in humility, God’s voice will bellow into our hearts.

Keep Faith 2

When we ask God for help, we have to keep faith that God really will come through for us.  Proverbs 4:18 says, “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” The more we seek, the more we will see God’s direction.  The more frequently we ask, the keener the insight we will have about what it is we are asking.  With every prayer, God’s voice will become more distinct and our path will get brighter and brighter “like the full light of day”.

Finally, when we have asked God for help, humbly, truly and repeatedly asked, we have to be prepared to take action.  Hard StepsSeeking guidance is powerful but nothing happens without taking the path God has lit for us.  This is what my dad spoke so well.  We have to do something.  Make the harder choice of doing rather than continuing to contemplate or complain.  Take the steps to resolve our problem in a manner that lines up with God’s teachings.

So how do we pray for guidance?  What would Jesus do?

  • Bathe in Humility.
  • Make the Ask.
  • Keep the Faith.
  • Take the Hard Steps.

That’s what Jesus would do.  The Bible tells us so.

Autumn is a writer, educator and a non-profit consultant. More importantly, she is a wife, mom, grandma, cousin, friend, neighbor and owned by a dog and two cats. Check out her blog at https://enterwithagentleheart.wordpress.com/.  You can also reach her at amlubin@gmail.com or find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/yellowwoodpathways

Humility, Headstones, and Headless Corpses

Parenthood is crazy hard sometimes. In part because children hold your heart hostage in the most beautiful and frightening ways. Being asked the really difficult questions by people who call you Mommy, that’s when things feel especially slippery. I do my best, but honestly sometimes I wonder who is teaching whom.

In Matthew 18 the disciples came to Jesus and asked “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”. In verse 4, with a child upon His lap, Jesus answered by saying, “So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Humility. Humility and the greatest in the Kingdom. How do I lead them?

Ever notice the beautiful way a child can simply accept circumstance in spite of adversity?

From my book, Embracing Charlie (circa 2010, Charlie’s question of his “crossed-up” tubes is in reference to his congenital heart defect-Transposition of the Great Arteries)

file0001330232053 Riding in Cars ~ We were out for a drive through the city, my babies and me. The day was sunny and fresh. With the windows down, cool air blew through the Jeep’s cab. A voice from the back interrupted our cruising music: “Sophie, why did my tubes get crossed up? I mean, how did that happen to me?” My finger promptly hit the off button on the radio. Charlie was five, and he preferred to ask the big questions of his big sister first. I suspect he figured he was more likely to get it straight from her. I was on edge. I hoped she would answer him well. He believed her every word. If Sophie said it, then it must be true, because she was eight and she knew lots of stuff.

“Well, buddy, I guess it just happened like that. They must have got crossed up when you were in Mom’s belly,” she said, giving it little thought.

“But why? Why did they get crossed up?” he questioned again.

“I guess that’s just how you were made, Char-Char,” she answered. Moments of silence passed in the back seat, while I held my breath in the front.

“Mommy?” he called out, throwing his little voice to the Jeep’s front. It was a “listen to me” plea, as if I hadn’t been waiting on his every breath. “How come my tubes got crossed up, how come?” he asked.

“I’m not sure, buddy. I don’t really know how that happened. Things like that just happen to babies sometimes,” I said.

“Well, did something like that happen to Sophie when she was a baby? Were her tubes crossed up?” he questioned.

“No, sweet boy,” I softly replied. We drove along in silence, letting our thoughts drop where they may. It wasn’t the first time he’d asked.

“What are all those things?” Charlie said, breaking our silence once more. He was pointing out his open window at the hundreds of stately headstones tightly packed next to one another beyond the white, cast-iron fence of a grand old cemetery.

“That’s where all the dead people are,” Sophie said. See, she did know lots of stuff.

“What? Where are they?” he questioned.

“They’re buried under the ground, and those big crosses and stuff have their names on them,” Sophie said in her “I know stuff” matter-of-fact way. I looked back at him in the rear view mirror. His face was covered in question, eyebrows raised like Come on, there’s no way all those things have dead people under them?! But Sophie had said so. . . . More silence, more processing.

“Mommy, your friend Kelli died because she didn’t wear her seat belt, right?” Charlie said, moving on.

“Well, yes, buddy, that’s right, she died in a car accident,” I answered.
Then, using the Arabic word for “Grandma,” Charlie asked, “Mommy, why did Teta Jacqueline die?” His wheels were really turning now.

“She was old, honey, and sick. Remember, she had a disease that made it hard for her to breathe?”

“So are Kelli and Teta Jacqueline buried over there under the ground?” he asked.

“No, hun, they’re not buried in this cemetery. There are lots of cemeteries all over in different places. People are usually buried near the city they lived in.”

When Charlie learns something of interest, he’ll share it in a rather theatrical way. With the white iron fence disappearing in the distance behind us, he extended his hand toward the cemetery and announced, “You see all those dead people, Sophie? You see them? All of those dead people have their heads chopped off!” I shook my head reflexively, as if to rattle his sentence loose and knock it out. I was certain I must not have heard him correctly.

“What? No, they don’t!” Sophie replied.

“Oh, yes, they do, they totally do! You see, Sophie, when you die, your soul goes to heaven to be with Jesus. But only”—great dramatic pause on only—“your body stays here. So, your head gets, well . . . chopped off.” He said it dramatically, making a cutting motion with his hand across his neck.

Conversations rushed back to me, and now they made perfect sense. Charlie had repeatedly asked me what happens to you after you die, and each time I’d tell him, he’d look at me with the most bewildered expressions. Repeatedly I’d said to him, “Just your body stays here, but the you that makes you you, that place in your heart called your soul, it goes to heaven to be with Jesus.”

And so, we spent the remainder of our sunny drive discussing how you actually don’t get your head chopped off after you die. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t steer the conversation away from headless corpses. I was forced to admit that there was the possibility that somebody buried in that cemetery died because their head was chopped off, and they, in fact, would be buried without their head attached.

Crossed-up tubes, headstones, and headless bodies—you can’t prepare for this; I was just along for the ride.

Jesus, we call on You ~ As we face the crazy hard challenges of this life, may the beautiful humility that each of us carried as a child uncover itself again and bring us peace. Amen.


Mindy Lynn Hilo and her family have been members at Easter for ten years. She is a conformation mentor and a regular contributor to Easter Prays. Mindy’s book Embracing Charlie was honored with a Finalist Title in the Christian Inspirational Category of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards.

Walking the Heart of Jesus

Above the clouds, sitting in a tight airplane seat, I sense God close. Is it because his angels fly on the wings guiding us safely back to solid ground? Is it because my child’s heart still thinks heaven lives in the skies? Is it being untethered to the earth? Could it be the stillness and quiet I enfold myself in when ensconced inside a steel bird? Is it the praise music that fills my headphones singly directly to my heart only? Whatever it is that hugs him to me, I welcome the embrace.

Tonight, I say a prayer of gratitude for the work I do that brings me into the orbit of people who care, with genuine mission and strength. They let their hearts serve those who need their talent and compassion. There is no glory in their work. There is no great financial reward. They are not heaped on with gratitude and recognition. They are called by something greater than themselves. Their caring souls make my heartbeats smile. They reflect the face of God.

I have spent a week in their presence, soaking up their effervescent spirits. While I am dog tired, I am rekindled with a sustainable energy that makes my weariness feather light and assures me it is transitory. I say a quietly loud thank you for people like them who walk the heart of Jesus in our messy world.

Above the cloudsAs I watch the sun set on top of the clouds, melting into a softness, it transforms the clouds into a brilliant thank you for yet another day. Day leaning into Gods tender love. This journey has wrapped its heart around my own and I know I am blessed beyond any words I can speak. I think of the love of a man and puppy that waits for me on the other side of today and this week. A silent but loud thanks to God who knows my heart better than I do for this extraordinary life he has gifted me. So, so blessed.

Here is the question this has stirred in me.  How do you walk the heart of Jesus?  I am going to try and let this question lead my days that I hope to end with a soft melting into God and a brilliant thank you to match the sunset. 

Dear God, Help us to take a moment to say a little prayer every day to thank all those who walk the heart of Jesus. Pray that their hearts remain open even when their hard work is not acknowledged or given gratitude. We ask that you continue to give them the strength to do the hard work of caring much. Last, thank you for this day and all I have seen and known today as well as all the blessings in my life. With a grateful heart, Amen.