Unanswered Prayers at Christmas Time?

Years later when another Christmas was fast approaching, my children and I were coming home from a medical appointment in the city. It was somewhere around 5:00 p.m. and the sky was already dark as I drove in a southerly direction  back into town. My children could hear me praying out loud as I drove. A very dear neighbour was terminally ill with cancer, and I was begging God for a miracle of healing. The next day I planned to stop in to see her at the hospital, if she wanted visitors.

She had been battling stoically, but privately, and even that summer when I happened to bump into her on the sidewalk with her rainbow toe socks, and Birkenstock sandals, she didn’t want to talk about it.

I dropped the girls off at the house. Our son was away. I then turned around and went back to the office to finish up where I left off. When I got to the shop my husband’s face said it all. She was gone.

With my head buried in my hands, I quietly sobbed behind my desk. With only an hour left until closing, my husband insisted I go home. For some reason I picked up the phone, and called our eldest daughter to give her the devastating news, and to announce I was coming home early. God then prompted my daughter to be an instrument of hope in the moments that followed.

We lived only a few blocks west of the store, but the blocks stretched into miles. I pushed my foot down on the gas pedal, but the van belligerently crawled along. Streetlights lined the road, but not one of them seemed capable of beating back the darkness. The bleak winter night grew blacker than ever before and threatened to swallow me whole. My lungs lamented beneath my ribs. Why had God not answered my prayers?

“Why did you allow her to die?” my spirit screamed into the darkness.

“Her children needed her, her husband needed her, and I needed her!”

My emotions were all over the map. I felt betrayed, and deeply wounded. For one very dark moment I believed God had abandon us all. I cranked the wheel to maneuver up our driveway. There on the peak of an enormous white snowdrift, which had conquered our front step, was one small candle propped in a mason jar, shining defiantly.

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God could have healed my friend, he could have made the moon stand still, but instead he chose to reveal himself to me through a tiny yellow flame, and the love of my children. The vast expanse of snow was indeed a vicious cruel reflection of the unfair world we live in, but the candle’s flame profoundly commanded the view, and spoke volumes.

“I hear you, and you are not alone” I heard Christ speak as I stared at the incredible view.

Christ’s presence lit up the sky and surrounded me. I went into the house and embraced my children. Together we walked to the window and silently watched the flame of the candle burn brightly.

Cindy Palin

One of the Chosen

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I often imagine myself as one of the first disciples Christ called…drifting into shore in a fishing boat, and finding a stranger waiting there. Hearing him speak my name as if He’s known me my whole life, calling me to follow him and leave everything behind.

How is that different than Christ calling someone to faith today? We don’t get to see him in the flesh, but we can hear him, and we know He is alive and well.

And here’s something even more mind blowing to consider, was Christ not calling us at the same time He called his first disciples? It just took a few more years for our ears to hear him. “Simon/Peter, Andrew, James, John………Cindy” (Matthew 4:18-22). Was He not calling us before the earth was formed (Ephesians 1:4)

Many times when I face challenges and expect Christianity to be easier, I think of Stephen (another of Christ’s disciples), full of the Spirit, speaking to the crowd with such passion and love. He died that day, stoned to death, but saw Christ, standing at the right hand of God – waiting for Him in the sky (Acts 7).

How is my responsibility any different than Stephen’s? I too want to be ready to speak when the Spirit leads. Should I expect a safer outcome?

What does it mean to be called? What does the Bible say about the chosen children of God? John 1:12, Romans 8:19, Galatians 3:26

These word pictures and questions inspired me to write a song for our Church’s One Hundred and Twenty Fifth Anniversary, June 24th, 2017 at First Baptist in Olds, Alberta.

I could have written something about God’s faithfulness and our church’s longevity, however I thought it prudent to celebrate the privilege of being chosen, the cost of being a follower, and the joy of being an active part of the body of Christ.

“One of the Chosen” first draft

Verse: 1

I find myself dreamin’ from time to time,

how destiny called this heart of mine.

I hear the soft shuffle of sandals in sand

and reach out to take his hand.

His voice is familiar but I don’t know why,

He asks me to leave all I’ve known behind

I follow his footprints, and the Sea disappears

I awake to find I am here.

Chorus:

Here standing on tomorrow’s shore

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To take up my cross, to give up my life

I am One of the chosen the body of Christ

Verse Two:

I think of Stephen summoned to speak

The surge of the Spirit and the crowd at his feet

The smell of the dirt mixed with his dried blood

the stones where he once stood

And that voice so familiar saying ‘well done’

Christ in the clouds at the right hand of God

Stephen closes his eyes, and the world disappears

I know why I am here

Chorus:

Here standing on the alter floor

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To rescue the lost, relinquish my life

I am One of the chosen, the body of Christ

Bridge:

We are the chosen the body of Christ

Few are called indeed

May we follow our Lord with all His might

and reveal this mystery

Congregational Choruses

Here standing on tomorrow’s shore

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To carry our cross, to give Him our lives

We are the chosen, the body of Christ

Here standing on the alter floor

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To rescue the lost, relinquish our lives

We are the chosen the body of Christ

©Cindy Palin/June 9, 2017

The Best Posture & Presence for any Situation

Reading in John 8 this morning something very beautiful struck me. It is the passage where Jesus arrives very early in the morning at the temple to teach. There, a religious group of people bring to him a woman who has been caught in adultery, hoping to trap Jesus somehow, and with the intent to stone her.

Many of you may be familiar with this story, and Christ’s famous words, he who is without sin cast the first stone (John 8:7b). So profound. Of course no one threw a single stone. One by one her accusers walked away.

However as I was reading I was struck by Christ’s posture. The sinner is brought into his presence, and he doesn’t tower over her in judgement, as you might think the Holy God of the universe should, instead he bends down to the ground and begins writing in the sand.

If you were caught in a guilty predicament and brought before Jesus, would you expect him to lower himself before you? I don’t believe he was condoning what she had done, but he was creating an atmosphere of forgiveness and love, taking on a posture of humility.

If you have hesitated to check out a local church because you feel you do not qualify, please remember this story. If you have been mistreated before by people who claim to be Christians. Remember no one is without sin (Romans 3:10)

I have learned three very important truths to apply to my life today.

  1. I will remember your posture my Lord. [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]When foreigners or truth seekers appear at my door, I will not tower over them with an ere of condemnation[/clickandtweet], but I will take the position of a humble servant, that which you have exemplified to me.
  2. When confronted by a controversial issue I will quiet myself as you did, Jesus. Wow wouldn’t my parents have wanted to hear this in my teen-hood? Wouldn’t my children have benefited from this wisdom when they were little, and I was so young. I will take time to wait for your wisdom to speak to my spirit before I utter a word out loud.
  3. And, last but not least, I will speak your truth in love, knowing that true freedom is not found in our own way – but yours.

There will be times in my human fragility that I will make mistakes, but with your help may I reflect your posture and presence to all I meet.

Jesus told the woman to go and sin no more. He loved her, he offered her forgiveness, but he also made the truth very plain. In our attempt to exemplify Christ’s love it is vital we share His loving boundaries with others. Often we confuse love with tolerance. The best way I can think of concluding this thought is by sharing these verses,

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones”. (Proverbs 3:7,8 NIV)

Find out for yourself, what God’s word says to you today!