Diana’s Lamp

by Debora M. Coty

I was six years old and in big trouble. I’d done something horrible.

It happened at the house of Diana, my nine-year-old neighbor, a tall, gentle girl who was kinder to me than all the other big kids. A bunch of us were playing in Diana’s room when gravel crunching in the driveway announced the arrival of Diana’s father, a grizzly bear of a man – towering and burly, with a deep military voice. He was very strict and often barked orders to Diana and her little brothers, who knew they had better obey immediately.

We all knew.

When he drove up that day, everyone suddenly remembered a reason to go home. I saw the sad look on Diana’s face as the other kids fled, so I stayed.

After tiring of board games, Diana picked up her baton and suggested we go outside to twirl; a hard-and-fast rule allowed no batons or balls inside the house. I grabbed my baton and couldn’t resist trying to impress Diana by whirling it around my neck.

The sound of shattering glass froze my heart as Diana’s bedside lamp crashed to the floor. Then the huge shadow of Diana’s father filled the doorway.

Diana intentionally stepped between her father and me as his face turned crimson and a large vein on his forehead began to pulsate. “Who’s responsible for this?” his voice boomed as he eyed the shards of ruined lamp on the floor.

Immobilized by fear, I stared mutely at the mess, unable to breathe. Diana held up her baton and answered, “It’s my fault, Daddy.” She gently pushed me into the hallway and closed the door behind me.

I listened outside the door, quivering, as Diana’s dad shouted about rules, learning responsibility, and paying for a new lamp with her own money. When I heard the stinging lashes of his leather belt, I couldn’t take any more. I blindly ran, not stopping until I was in my own room, sobbing on my bed. I knew Diana was at that moment receiving the worst kind of punishment in my place. I deserved that belt, but she willingly took the pain for me.

I had to do something. I shook my piggy bank and gathered the handful of coins that fell out. Still weeping as I ran, I stumbled back to Diana’s front door. Diana answered my knock with red, puffy eyes. Yet she smiled. I was forgiven. It made my heart hurt.

I held out my pitiful offering, knowing it wouldn’t be nearly enough to pay for the lamp. But Diana shook her head. “No,” she said softly. “Keep your money. It was an accident. It’s all over now, so let’s not talk about it anymore.”

And we didn’t. Not that day. Not ever.

But I’ve never forgotten. Even now, decades later, a warm tear escapes when I think about Diana’s lamp. My friend willingly sacrificed herself on my behalf through every lash of that belt.

I realize now that in her selfless actions, Diana exemplified what Jesus did for me – and for you. He sacrificed Himself in our place, accepting our rightful punishment and loving us through every lash of the whip and pounding of nails into His flesh.

Even unto death.

How, then, can we not be moved when we consider the Sacrificial Lamb suffering so that we might have life everlasting?

“He was beaten that we might have peace; he was lashed – and we were healed.” Isaiah 53:5 TLB

About the author: Debora Coty is an inspirational speaker, columnist and award-winning author of 200+ articles and over 40 books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series, with over 1.3 million copies sold in multiple languages worldwide. A retired orthopedic occupational therapist, Debora enjoys teaching piano, mountain hiking, choco-scarfing and smacking a little yellow ball around a tennis court. Debora lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband of 42 years and five feisty grandpals who live nearby. Deb would love to have you join her fun-loving community of BBFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 411r1NR6ASL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Debora’s newest release, Too Blessed to be Stressed for Momsaddresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Join the conversation: Has anyone ever sacrificed on your behalf?

Resolving a Spiritual Disconnect

by Patti Richter

You know you have a problem when Amazon can’t find your house.  

We were not surprised at this difficulty since GPS wasn’t yet showing our new street address. Meanwhile, we tried to guide delivery drivers by phone. “You’re getting close,” I said to one exasperated man. “Just backtrack a few miles east and then turn south at the ice-cream shop,” I added. We never saw or heard from him again.

We finally resorted to giving drivers the address of a farm across the road: “Find this driveway and turn the opposite way.”

High-tech gurus warned us a few years ago that using navigational tools would eventually diminish our natural capacity to find our way in the world, geographically.  Based on my personal experience of perhaps a dozen people who couldn’t locate us with directions such as north and south, I’m convinced this regression has happened sooner than expected.

Our location frustration reminded me of a spiritual condition I’ve observed too often. Some who believe in God—or at least want to believe—complain they are not on his radar. They feel disconnected from receiving any personal benefit or help from above.

Lacking favor with God is a valid concern, and there’s an early example of this in the story of Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve. Cain was “downcast” after God accepted his brother Abel’s sacrifice of a sheep while rejecting his own, non-blood, sacrifice. Even so, the Lord encouraged Cain: “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” (Genesis 4:7 ESV). Doing well means approaching God on His terms. What He wants from us is our trust.

Psalm 139 is a profession of faith in an intimate God. He knows our exact location, “when I sit down and when I rise up,” our current “path,” and “even before a word” is formed by our tongue (vv. 2 – 4 ESV).

This psalm is credited to David, who God chose as King of Israel to replace Saul, who did not trust God. Like Cain, Saul did not heed God’s commands and chose to seek approval on his own terms, by offering a sacrifice to Him. But God did not want an external act of “obedience.” He wanted Saul to trust Him enough to obey what He had told him to do. God rejected Saul as king (1 Samuel 15:22 – 23).

When it comes to finding God, we need to abandon our personal ideas and assumptions about trying to be good enough to win his favor or what we might sacrifice to be on good terms with him. We need only look to Christ, “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29 ESV), who “once for all… put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26 ESV).  

The opportunity to know God is available to “whoever believes in [his only Son]” (John 3:16 ESV). “In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13 ESV). God wants us to trust in His way to salvation. We can never work our way into a relationship with Him.

Many people wait for God to show up and make himself known to them, yet God has already delivered to us the gift of his Son. He wants us to believe in Him and enter into a relationship of trust.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20 ESV

TWEETABLE
Resolving a Spiritual Disconnect – encouragement from author Patti Richter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: What helps you to trust in God?