My Spicy Eyes!

This week, my daughter called me with an urgent request.  “Take a look at this photo.  What are your thoughts?” The left eye of my grandson, Andros, had turned sharply and suddenly veered inward, it was wobbling, and he was seeing double.  She made an appointment to see the eye doctor and as he sat in front of the provider that same afternoon, he was told that he would need some eyedrops.  The optometrist explained that just like when you get something spicy on your tongue, his eye would feel that way for just a minute but it would be ok.  Now, Andros does NOT like spicy food.  If it has a drop of pepper on it, he can taste it.  And as the gentleman placed the drops into his tightly squeezed, terrified,  waiting eyes, that sweet boy started crying and yelling, “MY SPICY EYES!  MY SPICY EYES!”  It’s a story we’re laughing about now days later.

I began to think of Saul as he lost his sight on the road to Damascus and reached for his story in my bible.  He was a man who took great pleasure in persecuting Christians.  He didn’t do it because he was a sociopath.  He did it because he was a Jewish scholar who genuinely believed that what the Christians were saying was blasphemy to God.  He felt he was expelling a problem.  He was even present at the first martyr, Stephen’s, death.  Then we see in Acts 9 him on the road to Damascus because he had found out about people there who were teaching about Jesus as the Son of God.

“Now as he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told to you what you must do.”  The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.  Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.  And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.” –Acts 9:3-9

He was literally blinded by the light of Jesus!  What a way to get his attention, right?!  I wonder what he must have been feeling. There is nothing mentioned in the verses following about anyone witnessing to him.  I’m not sure if there was.  My personal belief is that he sat in his own darkness and fasted, recognizing the weight of what had just happened. 

An encounter with Jesus is nothing small.  Here was a man who felt confident his persecution of the Christians was acceptable.  And in one brief moment, everything he believed was turned on its head as Jesus revealed EXACTLY who he was. 

And lest we think that’s the only ‘WOW’ moment in that interaction, how about what Jesus told him to do!  He told him to go to the city and it would be told to him what to do.  Jesus didn’t give him the 3-year plan.  He didn’t tell him he was going to become one of the greatest missionaries of all time.  He wasn’t privy to knowledge that He would eventually be given direct revelation by God!  He was told to go and he would be told to what to do.

How many of us are willing to just take that first directive and then sit and wait?  I’m afraid disobedience would kick in for me.  I’d be calling my friends, asking my mom to come to me.  I’d be asking Emily to do some research.  I’d be thinking of every scenario of what “will be told to do” implies.  That, friends, is where we trip ourselves up. 

Sometimes, the wait is part of the answer.  There are times where God wants us to have a period of waiting until He’s ready to give us the next step in our walk, and we screw it up by thinking we know the next step.  How easy it seems to just sit and wait for God, and how hard we make it by trying to navigate it ourselves.

The rest of the story for Paul is beautiful.  He waits.  God sends Ananias to him and tells him what to do.  And literal scales fall from his eyes.  Paul not only regains his earthly sight, but he’s given his spiritual sight!  He goes on to lead thousands to the Lord and dare I say millions with how his words h shown people even today how to fully surrender to our Savior.

Iron Porch, I pray that as we encounter Jesus through Bible study, reading the scripture, and learning of God’s love, that each encounter is one that shows us who He is.  I also pray that we learn to wait on the Lord, that we be patient in the space between, and that we trust God to fill in the blank. 

~Erin

Waiting on the Huddle House

As a surprise reward for our son, my husband and I woke him up early on a Saturday morning to go to breakfast at his all-time favorite restaurant: Huddle House.

As we walked in, the cook told us that it might be a little while, as they were waiting on the arrival of a waitress.  We noticed that there were several tables with full coffee cups, but waiting to order.  We sat down, not knowing how long the wait would be, but our son was nearly giddy in anticipation of Oreo pancakes.

About 20 minutes later, we had ordered and fairly quickly were served our breakfast choices. Kambell said, “The wait made the pancakes taste even better.”

Isn’t that true of so many things in life?  

When we wait on God’s timing, wouldn’t so much of our lives be better?

For instance, instead of racing towards a new job, we wait on God’s timing on a promotion.  That tastes so much sweeter than being miserable in the job we thought we wanted.

Or what if we prayerfully considered God’s choice for our marriage partner.  Wouldn’t that be much more satisfactory than settling for a less than Godly marriage?

What if God’s timing on a major decision was markedly different from your own?  Would you appreciate that difference if you choose to wait on God’s timing?

In James 5:7-8 (NIV) scriptures says, “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

These verses are reminders to the oppressed and persecuted disciples of Christ that the Lord will soon be coming back. At that time, He will relieve us of the pain and suffering we have endured.  At the same time, punishment will come for those who reject His Word.  

Patience is the key to waiting.  If we are faithful to the waiting in God’s timing, then we reap rewards that we were not expecting. 

Essentially the Oreo pancakes become that more delicious.

I’ll be praying for the Iron Porch readers to have patience in the waiting this week.

~Emily

Disney Lines

Do you know how long a Disney World line is?  That’s right—too long.  Do you know what the best part of any of the rides in Disney World is?  You’re right again—the air conditioning you get to when you get closer to the front of the line.  Followed by a second best part of the fans that blow on you while you’re having the start of heatstroke in a line in Florida in July.  (Seriously, I can’t understand why the most popular time to go there is in the summer when your face melts off, but whatever.)

During a recent last minute trip to the happiest place on earth, we weathered several days at the Parks in the blistering sun.  While the lines weren’t as long as some might expect, it feels like it goes on forever when it’s hot and humid.

In the morning it wasn’t such a big deal.  But by midday, I just wanted the line to go fast so that we could strategically stop at a fan or, even better, hit the purchased icy air blowing from a vent.  There’s nothing like losing patience and being annoyed at Disney!

How patient are we with the direction God takes us?  Do we find ourselves like I was in that line, wondering how I could speed it up, wanting to get to the prize of the ride at the end?  Maybe we don’t like to wait and think of ways to make it easier to get to the front.  Perhaps we’re frustrated that the people further up are already at the destination and we’re upset it isn’t us!

We forget sometimes that the WHOLE journey is part of the journey.  It’s part of building your faith in Jesus.  It’s learning to trust only Him for the next step.  It’s understanding that things shouldn’t be expected to happen in our time but rather God’s time.  I found a verse in the bible that reminded me of that today.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” –Psalm 27:14

We’re told to wait for Him.  In our waiting, stronger faith is created and the end result is far sweeter.  Because the end result, when letting Him lead, brings glory to our heavenly Father.

Do you have moments like me when you want to rush the race rather than run the race that’s set before us?  Share with us in the comments and know that you are not alone!

~Erin

Press On

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:14 (NLT)

I recently started Invisalign orthodontic treatment. I have to wear plastic trays on my teeth 22 hours a day. They are uncomfortable, create a lisp when I talk and every time I eat or drink anything other than water, I need to take them out and brush my teeth and the trays before I put them back in. What a pain! I need to remind myself how nice it will be to have straight teeth and a pretty smile at the end of my 2 years of treatment because right now, I am not seeing any immediate reward, other than the fact that I may have lost a few pounds because the aforementioned post-eating ritual makes me think twice about whether or not a snack is really worth it. 

It can be hard to wait for a reward that seems so far in the future. Life gives us tough seasons. Sometimes even our walk with Jesus can be challenging. It’s tempting to chase instant gratification, however, these things that can satisfy us immediately are temporary. The eternal life Jesus promises is forever. Living with an eternal focus often goes against the messages we are constantly bombarded with in the world today, but let’s look at what Jesus says:

Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:27-29

I love that when Peter asked the very human question of “What’s in it for me?”, Jesus did not admonish him but instead reminded him of the reward given to all who follow. 

What can we do to continue to press on toward our heavenly prize? 

1.    Read the Bible- Staying in the word reminds us of Jesus’ love and promises. 

2.    Prayer- God wants to be in authentic relationship with us. Crying out to God when we are sad and even angry allows him to comfort us and draw us closer.

3.    Community- It’s important to have a good support network of fellow believers who can help encourage and pray for us when we are struggling. 

When you feel discouraged or find yourself asking “Is this worth it?”, remember the promises our Lord has made and the reward waiting for you at the end. Press on toward the prize of eternity in heaven. It will be so worth it.

~Sherry

Sherry Bliss Haase lives in Northern California with her husband and two teenage children. In addition to her favorite role, being a mom, she works in the finance industry as a Retirement Plan Educator. She is also writing a women’s devotional. You can read her blog at www.sherryblisshaase.com.

Waiting for Something: The Case for a Puppy

My 8-year-old recently asked, “Why don’t we have a dog yet?”

Our family has been talking about getting a puppy for a couple years, but we’ve always had parameters associated with it.

As soon as we buy a house, we’ll get a dog.

As soon as I retire from the military, we’ll get a dog.

As soon as this or that is done, we’ll get a dog.

My son has had enough of the waiting and now just flat out asks why we are still stalling.

I tried to think of a way to explain to an 8-year-old using a Bible story.  Sarah waiting on a baby, offering her maid to her husband? Nope, not a good 3rd grader type of story.  Lazarus raised from the dead? Pretty complicated for the 3rd grader. Woman healed with the blood issue? Not sure I know enough about it to explain it….

It’s so hard to be patient waiting for something we desire! Often it’s difficult to be patient with God too.  What does it mean to “wait on the Lord”?

There are a couple of key components to waiting on God. The first is a complete dependence on God and the second is a willingness to allow Him to dictate the timeline.  Both sound easy. Neither are.

I find myself praying, “Lord, give me patience…like, now.  Yep, now is when I need the patience.”

Practicing patience with God often involves waiting. When we wait on the Lord, we are developing strengthened character in our Christian walk.  That patience showcases our ability to trust the Lord. It strengthens our prayer life. In some instances, it may strengthen our desire to be into the Word more frequently.

The timing of the Lord is always perfect.  We just have to wait patiently.

The timing of the Shade puppy will also be perfect. My son just has to wait patiently.

~Emily

The case for a puppy