Thursday, December 24, 2015

Provider of Hope

Merry Christmas! I hope you and your family are enjoying the holidays together. At this season, we think of the hope that Jesus brought when He came as a little baby. 

This is a devotion that I (Scott) wrote for our church's Advent book. 

The woman looked at her situation; it was hopeless. Her husband was dead. The creditors were calling. She could not pay. They were going to take her two sons. She went to the prophet and told him about her hopeless situation. Elisha asked what she had in the house. “A jar of oil,” she said. I’m sure the voice was not confident, probably hopeless.

Elisha told her what to do. Gather as many empty containers as she could and begin pouring the oil. The woman obeyed. The oil continued to flow until every container was full. Then it stopped. “Go and sell it,” Elisha said. “Pay your debt. Live on the rest.” (2 Kings 4:1-7, HCSB) God provided what the woman needed in her hopeless situation.

All of us are like the woman; we are born in a hopeless situation. We have a great debt—our sin—that we cannot pay. The “creditor” is coming to take the only things we have, our lives. God provided what all mankind needs for this hopeless situation. He sent His Son to be born. Jesus lived a sinless life. He died on the cross, paying the debt we could never pay. He rose, conquering death once and for all. He fills the empty hearts that call on Him. He turns our hopelessness into eternal hope.

We can rest in this eternal hope. But what happens when we find ourselves struggling with hope day to day? Recently my wife and I have found ourselves in circumstances similar to the woman’s. Neither of us have full-time, regular jobs. But we still have expenses. God has provided. He has taken what we have and continues to help fill our containers. Our oil continues to flow and we continue to have more than we need to meet our obligations. God provides what we need.

God is the provider of our hope—hope in the deliverance from sin and eternal death and hope in our day-to-day needs. This Christmas we can celebrate the God of hope and His Son, the Savior, Jesus.

I pray the hope of God is yours now and throughout the next year.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Some Days

This current point in my life journey has been an interesting one. I (Scott) write and edit every day. I volunteer in classrooms and a reading clinic throughout the week. I teach my church kindergarten class each week. It's certainly been different from years past.

Some days I really miss being with kids all day. Those couple of years in the classroom were challenging at times, but I did enjoy being with the kids. I miss the frustrating joy that is teaching elementary kids.

Some days I miss being in an office with like-minded people. I worked with a wonderful group of leaders who loved kids and loved creating resources to teach them. (Many of those people are still doing that wonderful work.) I miss the crazy stress of the publishing world.

Some days I stare at the blank screen and wonder. I wonder about writing here in this space or on the assignments whose deadlines are looming. I wonder if the words will come, words that will be worthwhile and that I will want to send on for someone to read. I wonder about the challenge of writing alone at my desk.

Some days I'm reminded that it doesn't take much to make an impact. A quick hug or shy smile from a child in the class where I volunteer. A group of waving kindergarten hands as I leave after playing a game with them. The confidences whispered to me by my reading buddy. Today he told me things that were bothering him. Things that others did that he cannot control. Maybe small things but things he wanted to tell.

I'm reminded that reading clinic can be about more than decoding words and practicing fluency. It's a relationship between me and my student. We share stories (both from books and each other). He asks questions. I listen to concerns. He shows me the library books he's chosen this week. We laugh as we recall Mudge's look in the first book we read together.

On those days I don't wonder. I know that each moment is a gift. Each moment is important in and of itself. That moment may not become something grand to be recalled years from now. It may just be a moment. But it may become a memory. Either way, it's important now.

And that's enough for each of the "some days" I have now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Difference

Have I (Scott) made a difference? I guess that question comes up when you're at that middle stage of life, as I am. It has come up more frequently for me since I'm between jobs, working as a freelancer. Some days I look back and wonder if I've made much of an impact--on anything or anyone.

I worked in a publishing company for 15 years. But I recognize fewer and fewer people when I visit there. And little of my work is still around. I volunteer and teach a kindergarten class at my church. But not much tangible results are seen in that. I love it each week. But those five-year-olds grow and move beyond my class, and I wonder if I've made much impact.

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking down the hall at my church thinking some of these thoughts. I walked down the stairs. At the bottom, a young man was holding the door. As I walked out I thanked him. He looked at me. Suddenly a smile bloomed across his face.

"Hey," he said. "You were my teacher. My kindergarten teacher."

"Yes, I was," I said. He smiled broadly at me again.

My thoughts shifted as I walked to my car. Each week my kids and I have fun and we learn. We explore and investigate and play. We paint and stack blocks and read. We create memories.

I may not win an award or have a famous name. But I get to spend time with boys and girls. Maybe something we did will bring a smile to the face of an adult one day.

That's a difference to be proud of.

(Honorable mention in the Dear Reader contest.)