Eyes Wide Open

 

 

 

 

 

 

The world will feed me nonsense,

tell me quit or compromise,

convince me I am nothing,

beat me down with blatant lies.

 

Standards, what I should be,

what I could be, with their tricks.

But my life belongs to Jesus,

so I don’t need their measuring sticks.

 

God says I am marvelously made,

with purpose I’m created.

I’m loved, forgiven, highly favored.

It’s not that complicated.

 

It doesn’t matter what I have,

my status or my size.

I can leave the past behind me.

Renewed in Him, I rise.

 

—–

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism

into death in order that, just as Christ was raised

from the dead through the glory of the Father,

we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:1, NIV)

 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;

the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

—–

2012 Life Psalms Collection

Photo by W. Alan Dixon, Sr.

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Seeing Past the Storms

(Reflections in Cancun)

This is the view from our first hotel room. That’s right, our first of two rooms.

We arrived in Mexico during a storm. Rain pelted against the window panes, leaking, yes leaking onto our floor.

 

 

After considering several different rooms with the manager of our hotel, our leaky window was exchanged for a glorious balcony view. You won’t hear me complaining!

The rain didn’t stop. Palm trees bent under raging wind. Waves slammed onto the shore. Red warning flags dotted the beach. Dark clouds blocked the sun.

 

Yet, from my new vantage point, all I was focusing on was the beauty of the tropical paradise I’d soon be able to enjoy.

 

My husband checked the weather before we left, so we were prepared for a wet vacation. Warnings for Hurricane Eduardo had me on my knees. Lord, although I’d love a few days of sunshine, we trust You and Your plan. Please help us have good attitudes and keep us safe during the storms.

 

 

It’s not like I’m a stranger to storms in life. The waves of heartache and loss have been crashing on my shore pretty consistently over the last year and a half. But, with an eternal perspective, like our balcony view, trials have purpose and hope is always on the horizon.

 

As I stood on our balcony in Cancun soaking in the warmth of the humid air, palm trees bowed under the wind. Lord, help me bend to Your will and trust in Your everlasting love.

The next morning, the sun burst through darkened clouds. I thought of Jesus’ words in John 16:

 

 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV)

 

The words that sandwich the promise of difficulty are focused on Jesus. My focus needs to stay on Him, too. Not just on God’s character, but on His words of promise, hope, and warning.

 

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.”

 

I certainly desire peace, so I went to my Bible to find out what things Jesus had told the disciples.

 

 

In John 15:5, Jesus said apart from Him the disciples could do nothing. In John 16:28, He told them He was leaving them. Then, In John 16:33, He said they could have peace in Him. On the surface, these verses made no sense to me. It wasn’t until I dug into Scripture that I began to recognize the things that would help the disciples face trials with courage and steadfast faith.

 

Jesus acknowledged the disciples as loved and chosen (John 15: 12, 16). He encouraged community as He commissioned them to love one another (v. 17). He reminded them that the Holy Spirit would come (v. 26) and guide them into all truth (John 16:13).

 

Jesus assured the disciples that the Father loves them because they loved and believed in Him, the Son. Then, He warned of upcoming persecution, through which the disciples would be scattered.

 

“You will leave me all alone. Yet, I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” (John 16:32b, NIV)

 

These words remind me that Jesus understands abandonment, betrayal, loss, loneliness, sorrow and pain.

 

Just like we expected storms in Cancun because of the weather reports, the disciples expected trouble because Jesus predicted upcoming trials. Their flesh won and they scattered in fear and weakness. I can relate to that.

 

Yet, after personal encounters with the risen Savior and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, the disciples walked boldly through persecution with a vibrant hope in God’s promises. Their eyes fixed on the horizon of eternity with Jesus.

 

As we face storms in our lives, that same proper perspective can infuse us with peace.

Jesus has overcome the world! Though heartache and trials are inevitable, they don’t have to steal our joy. Our faithful Savior gave His life so that we can be reconciled with God.

 

 

By connecting with Jesus daily and acknowledging His presence in every circumstance, we can see past the storms of this life and catch a glimpse of Paradise. Hallelujah!

 

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12, NIV)

 

How does God help you see past the storm?

 

—–

 

Photos by X. E. Dixon & W. Alan Dixon, Sr.

 

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Stepping Out of the Boat

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through charcoal clouds, my faith you bade.

“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

 

My straying glances follow wind

‘til I sink deep in doubting sin.

 

Cries of anguish and desperate fear

are squelched by hope for You stay near.

 

Moved by love, You keep my hand.

As winds die down, You help me stand.

 

Still, stepping out of the boat, I must

depend upon Your grace to trust.

 

 

 

—–

 

“Stepping Out of the Boat” by X. E. Dixon

2012 Life Psalms Collection

 

—–

 

“When the disciples saw [Jesus] walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

 

But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’

 

‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’

 

‘Come,’ he said.

 

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’

 

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’”

 

(Matthew 14:26-31, NIV)

 

—–

 

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Peace in the Wait

– Reflections in Cancun –

After almost a year of challenge and change, we were blessed with the opportunity to vacation in Cancun, Mexico. We headed to the Sacramento International Airport at 4 am on August 6th. During our layover in Denver, Colorado two toddlers battled in a high-pitched scream contest as we waited to board.

 

I should have known God had great things in store for our trip after witnessing the first miracle.The tiny squeal-warriors wore themselves out at the gate and snoozed during our entire flight to Mexico. Hallelujah!

 

Ready for some family fun, relaxation and a much needed spiritual retreat, I pulled out my copy of Streams in the Desert. Lulled by the soft snores of red-eye travelers, I asked God to empty me of self and help me to be sensitive to the Spirit’s nudging during our vacation. He answered that prayer before we set foot on Mexican soil!

 

As soon as the ding indicated that the Fasten Seatbelt light was turned off, travelers popped up from their seats. They stretched, yawned and scrambled to be the first to yank their luggage from the overhead bins.

 

I wanted to stand, huffing and puffing with my fellow journeymen. I wanted to gripe about how the airline deliberately seated the slowest people in the first ten rows. Instead, I smiled at the Lord’s reminder:

 

I am your peace in the wait.

 

“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is the God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18, NIV)

 

 

In the beginning of 2011, we suffered a great loss in our family. At the end of the year, we were blessed by the short-sale of our home, but that meant we would have to move out of the home where we raised our 16-year-old son.

 

2012 greeted us with more reasons to thank the Lord as we practiced walking by faith, not sight. My husband went through a restructure, leaving his company of nine years just as he was entering his dissertation process.

 

While God has remained faithful and good in the midst of the waiting periods, I often struggled like those weary travelers anxious to get off the plane.

 

Now, I’ve been on plenty of airplanes and deplaning is the same every time. Passengers aren’t going anywhere until the door is opened. No one budges until the rows in front of them are cleared.

 

This flight was no different. I could rub my temples, roll my eyes, and mutter complaints about the slow process, but I was still going to have to wait.

 

Waiting is a part of life I can’t change. How I respond as I wait, however, is a choice that can infuse my life with anxiety, conflict, or peace.

 

For the last couple of years, God has been shifting me, moving me forward and nudging me back. His love secures my footing on unknown paths. Exciting? Yes. Terrifying? At times. But when I start to tremble I remember God is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

 

Every time I’m tempted to force my own way the Lord whispers His sweet assurance and reminds me to wait on Him. He always gives me everything I need and clearly shows me when it’s my turn to move.

 

He is never late.

 

He is never wrong.

 

No matter what I’m going through or how impossible my circumstances feel, God is in control. He is working all things according to His plan. I can trust His faithfulness. I can depend on His goodness. And I can find peace through His promises as I wait.

 

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is the shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” (Psalm 18:30-33, NIV)

 

When God has you in a waiting position, what helps you keep an attitude of joyful trust and persevering patience?

—–

 

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Butterfly Wishes

 

 

 

 

 

Stuck

in a cocoon of

insignificance and doubt.

Tearing away layers

of discouragement and fear.

Past hurts peeled back.

Resentment pushed aside.

Twisting. Turning.

Wrinkled wings wrestle free,

drenched and ready

to be restored by His sun.

A whirling breeze

tickles away inhibitions.

Wings span, pressing

higher and higher.

Through struggle

a beauty

transformed.

 

—–

 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;

the old has gone, the new has come!”

2 Corinthians 5:17

—–

 

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly,

but rarely admit the changes it has gone through

to achieve that beauty.”

Maya Angelou

 

—–

“Butterfly Wishes” by X. E. Dixon

2010 Life Psalms Collection

Photo by Natalia Mungia 2010

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