The River’s Edge

The River’s Edge

When Joe left his office that late afternoon, he had a huge grin on his face and 20,000 dollars in his pocket. He figured that was the approximate amount more he’d be making with his new promotion; therefore, his pants pockets felt extra heavy. On his way home, he clutched the neck of a bottle of champagne as he pictured the blue eyes of his wife shining with joy from the good news.

The sun beamed over the river as he strolled beside it whistling a tune that would make the birds jealous. He passed a gentleman sitting on a park bench tossing birdseed into the water where the ducks had gathered. As Joe passed, the gentleman spoke up.

“What’s the occasion?” he called out.

“I’m sorry?” Joe paused in his tracks, a bit startled. The gentleman stood to face him. He was wearing a long black trench coat which Joe thought was out of place on a warm spring day.

“Looks as though you’re on your way to a celebration?” he said. The mysterious man stared at Joe with sharp eyes. His unusual interest distracted Joe for a moment, but he soon recalled the reason for his giddiness.

“Actually, I’ve just received a promotion, and I’m on my way home to celebrate with the family,” he replied.

“And this promotion, it means good things for you?”

“Of course. Now, my wife can stay at home to raise our little boy, we can travel more, and maybe even have an early retirement.”

“Fool!” The man pointed a long arm at him. Joe jumped, afraid he was going to get mugged.

“Excuse me?”

“Don’t you know your soul is required of you this very day!” The dark figure licked two of his fingers, rubbed them together, and gave a firm snap.

Before Joe knew it, something collapsed at his side followed by the shrill sound of glass breaking. The champagne bottle he’d been carrying had fallen and shattered into a broken array of green glass. The bubbly contents flowed onto the sidewalk and pooled around the body of a man who lay motionless on the ground.

As he gazed upon the fallen man, Joe began to recognize the dark skin, the black curls of hair that crowned the face, and his favorite ball cap laying at his side.

“No, it can’t be. This is impossible,” he said aloud. He looked at his own hands in front of him expecting to see through them, but he appeared and felt as normal as always. He felt like he had just entered a dream state, completely aware of himself, others, and his whereabouts, but not fully grasping the entire image. He looked up to see the man in the trench coat walking away.

“Wait, I don’t understand. What about…him?” He looked back at his body lying on the champagne-soaked pavement. Even though he knew that was his own, he felt distant and separate like walking away from a good friend.

“He’s no concern of yours now,” the mysterious man answered still walking ahead.

Troubled voices came from behind as a couple of men passing by stopped to investigate the body. What would they find? Knowing he couldn’t assist in any way, Joe decided to leave the scene and catch up to the man responsible for this. Joe followed him, his body moving, but no longer feeling the ground underneath his feet.

“Who are you?” Joe asked as he approached him.

“Only fools ask questions they already know the answer to.” The man kept an eye on the flowing river as they walked.

“Why here, why now? Is this some kind of cruel joke?”

“Do I look amused? I’m never a joke.”

“Please,” Joe said, wanting to burst with tears that no longer filled his eyes. “What about my wife?”

The man stopped and faced the river once again.

“She will mourn. But if you’re worried about her happiness, know she will remarry within five years.” He stuck his hand in his coat pocket and removed a handful of birdseed. He flung a sprinkling of seed into the water, summoning the ducks to follow. Joe pictured the tears of his blue-eyed girl, but knowing she’d be walking down the isle once again disturbed him even more.

“What about my little boy?”

“He will be cared for if that is your concern. You will be remembered fondly, but his memory of you will become like a blurry photograph or a word on the tip of his tongue.”

His child’s face, framed in little black curls came to his thoughts. Joe searched through his mind to hear just one more laugh from his son. He wondered what his small body felt like the last time he held him. Joe shook his head.

“Dare I ask about my work?”

“Your position will be available before your obituary hits print,” he scoffed. “And you think I’m cruel.”

Joe cringed, his mind and heart having trouble connecting and processing this new reality. In silence, they both stared at the ducks nibbling at the seeds floating in the water. They swerved around each other, fighting the current of the river to get as much food as possible before surrendering to the pull of the rapids.

The sun still shone, the river still rushed, but the spring in Joe’s step just minutes before had been seized by an anchor that threatened to sink him. Though his life had already been taken, he felt as though he were suffocating, unable to free himself from sorrow’s grasp.

To Joe’s despair, the man began to walk away again without even a second glance at the grieving soul he’d plucked from existence.

“Wait,” Joe said, and the man paused. “What do I do now? Where am I supposed to go?”

The man heaved a sigh and turned his head back to him.

“Why do you ask me? Your whole life planned for this moment. Now you’re where your heart chose to be.”

The man turned and walked away, leaving Joe by the edge of the river. He watched him go noticing how the man’s fingers rubbed together at his side.

Then Joe was alone with only the ducks to keep him company.

 

 

Written by Leah Jordan Meahl

Inspired by Luke 12:16-21 and Matthew 6:21

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Losing Weight: Body or Soul?

Losing Weight: Body or Soul?

The two areas in my life that call for my attention and constantly undergo total resets are the disciplines of losing weight and spending time with God. Maybe you feel the same?

Losing weight seems to have a negative connotation, but we all know it’ll ultimately be for our good. Similarly, being a Christian has certain necessities, and sometimes, we fail to follow such criteria.

One thing is for certain, we’ll look in the mirror one day and say, “You have to make some changes.” Both processes can be powerfully transforming to your health as a person and as a child of God.

The spine of Christianity relies on two main elements: prayer and time reading the Bible. If you’re going to spend your life dedicated to getting closer to God, those are the keys to growing in faith, and they are both necessary for a relationship with Jesus.

If we’re talking about losing weight, no matter how many programs and products you use, you will always be faced with the bottom line: you must eat healthier and exercise more. Both areas take a lot of discipline and will affect your overall spiritual and physical health.

Prayer coincides with watching what you eat. You must constantly be aware and make choices about what you’re putting in your body. Likewise, prayer is a constant state of awareness of the spiritual realm and God’s presence with us. The Bible says to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), and in doing so, you’re feeding your spirit when you stay in communication with God.

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The little choices are the ones that make a significant impact and eventually, you will start to feel more cleansed and healthy.

Knowing about Jesus doesn’t make you anymore a Christian than knowing about a treadmill makes you physically fit. God has given His Word as a tool to understand Him, and if you don’t take advantage of it, the result ends up stunting your spiritual growth.

Reading the Bible can be like going to the gym. Though you may have moments when you drag your feet and make every excuse not to do it, in the end, you feel refreshed and rejuvenated knowing that you’ve done something good for yourself.

Both disciplines need to become lifestyles. They are day-to-day battles. The key is to keep pushing, and over time, you’ll start to see the changes. In the end, you’ll reap the benefits of your determination and perseverance, and the struggle will always be worth it.

God bless!

-LJM

1 Corinthians 9:24-25

When Your Heart Needs That New Car Smell

When Your Heart Needs That New Car Smell

Soaped down, hot water jetted, and towel whipped, your car might as well have come out of the furnace like a piece of blown glass, crystal clean.

You know the feeling. Your beautiful wheeled baby is free from the layer of grime that had begun to build on the doors. Not a spot or blemish can be found sprinkled on the windows. The leaves stuck in the windshield wipers have been vanquished. And that’s not all.

The crumbs wedged in the crevices of the seats have been lapped away along with the dirt and candy wrappers that littered floor. Dust no longer coats the dashboard and the coffee stains have been scrubbed until their existence is forgotten.

To top it off, a little cardboard tree hangs from the rearview mirror filling the car with the aroma of sexy Black Ice or whimsical Tropical Sunrise.

That drive home feels just as satisfying as if you had driven straight off the lot with a new car. Remember that feeling and savor it as I tell you why a car wash is on my mind.

You see, that’s how I feel when I read the Bible. That’s how I feel when I spend time alone in my room praying. And not just the “Dear God, A. B. C. Amen” kind of praying, but simply being in total awareness and transparency with God, which is a state we tend to reserve for when we’re really in a bind.

As a result, I always end up feeling clean and new, but I often wonder why I don’t strive for that as often as I could?

Can we really say we drive a clean car when we only clean it once in a while?

Only when the dirt and clutter get too overwhelming, we finally cave and clean out the car, just to wait another six months before doing it again.

Our hearts are the same way. Every day adds another layer of grime or a new addition of garbage and we are the culprits. We allow it. Wouldn’t we feel better if we just kept the car clean?

I know God would prefer it that way.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” -Proverbs 4:23

The God of the universe can hold the stars in his hand like a pile of gold dust and yet He sent His Son so that our hearts could be His forever. We are just that precious to Him.

If we don’t take the time to maintain the condition of our heart with God’s Word and His presence, our heart will suffocate from the negative forces designed to strangle the life out of us. Their weapons? Chainmail of laziness. Arrows of bitterness. Daggers of anxiety. And of course, the tempting poison of everything the world has to offer.

As I challenge myself, I also challenge you to make more room in your heart for Jesus because He is the ultimate satisfaction and the greatest weapon for when Satan tries to steal it away. Believe me, he will try. It might take more work, but all the effort is worth it.

Don’t be caught with a dirty car, because you’re chauffeuring the King of Kings.

God bless!
-LJM
Romans 12:2, Psalm 51:10, Matthew 5:8

Surviving “Singles Awareness Day”

Surviving “Singles Awareness Day”

Singles Awareness Day, more commonly known as Valentines Day, is all about making you feel crazy sorry for yourself.

I mean it’s about love—celebrating love.

If you’re in a relationship, congratulations! I hope you and your other half make the day special, saturated in rosy romance. But for me and my single pringles out there, it’s a reminder of the fact that we don’t have someone to shower us in love, attention, and gifts.

Leading up to this day, we single folk like to collect the fixings for a Happy Valentines Day without the main ingredient: a significant other. Our recipe includes chocolate, rom-coms, wine, etc, and we give it all to ourselves to make us feel a little bit more special. Why? Because the world says we need to feel a little more loved on this day.

Even though I might be among you curled up on the couch watching a romantic comedy with a chocolate heart in hand, I want to give you a few reminders for this day.

You are beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

You are loved. (John 15:9-17)

You already have the hero who gave up His life for you. (Romans 5:8)

You have the deepest love letter in your possession. (2 Timothy 3:16)

Be thankful for your singleness. Be thankful for your significant other. Both can be such a blessing in your life, and it would be a shame to waste a blessing because of the warped perspective we have about love.

I invite you to join me in reflecting on our first love, how beautiful and pure we look in His eyes, and how we live to show the world our love for Him.

So, if you’re like me and have a twinge of self-pity rise within you on Valentines Day, remember a greater love surrounds you that is deeper and wider than any love a human can give.

God bless you lovelies!
-LJM

Post Grad Life: One Year Out of the Bubble

Post Grad Life: One Year Out of the Bubble

I read a post on Facebook this morning that read:

Adulthood is like looking both ways when crossing the street, and then getting hit by an airplane.    -unknown source

The quote got me giggling, because sometimes life hits you with a strong force you didn’t see coming. Sometimes it can be awesome, other times, it can throw us off balance.

My first year out of the college bubble has been all about making practical decisions, assessing needs over wants, and basically evaluating and reevaluating what to do every day. I’ve had to remind myself that I’m on a journey, and a journey involves taking one step at a time.

But in as much as it’s been about discovering life, it’s also been about deepening in relationship with God. I went to a Christian college–one of the best blessings in my life–but once I graduated, I quickly realized how strong that bubble was.

Now I’ve left the bubble behind, and I’m open and vulnerable and out there for the devil to send his arrows at me full force.

You know what I’m talking about.

The doubt creeps in, the rejection hurts, the routine wears on you. And the BIG QUESTION hangs over you like a threatening rain cloud. “Am I doing this thing called life right?”

But instead of just living with that rain cloud over head pouring down whenever it wants, it helps to dance in the puddles like the carefree child we once were.

One of Satan’s most successful tactics is to make us feel like we are inadequate. He nudges us and whispers in our ear, “You should have a job in your field by now. Why are you not in a relationship yet? You’re not doing enough. How do you think it looks that you’re not living on your own? Look at all these people who have their life together more than you do!”

And though these thoughts have a tendency to find their way into my mind, I know they’re lies. I know that God has paved a road specifically for me complete with all the signs I need to follow, the stops I need to take, and the final destination with my name on the welcome banner.

As I’ve navigated my first year out of college, I’ve learned that it’s all about how I react to the journey. I can’t let it overwhelm me and ruin the person I’m made to be. When that airplane hits, I need to be able to hang on tight and ride it to my next adventure.

So no matter what part of the journey you’re on, remember this: striving for a fulfilling career, a happy marriage, and a lot of fun will only get you so far.

BUT if you,

“apply all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

-2 Peter 1:5-8 (NASB)

THEN you are doing this thing called life right.

***

If you’d like to see my year of growth for yourselves, here are the links!

Post-Grad Life: First Month

Post Grad Life: 3 Months of Limbo

Post Grad Life: The Selfish Six

For you college grads, how’s your first year out of the bubble going? Let me know in the comments!

God bless!

-LJM

 

 

What Are You Seeking? -Guest Post by Tessa Emily Hall

What Are You Seeking? -Guest Post by Tessa Emily Hall

January is a month for vision-creating and goal-setting. Like a clean page in a new journal, we have an opportunity to start fresh. Establish good habits and break bad ones. Strive forward in achieving our dreams and ambitions.

The New Years Resolutions we create say a lot about what we’re seeking. If we make a goal to put more hours in at the gym, then we’re probably seeking health; if we make a goal to spend more hours at work, then we’re probably seeking prosperity.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with setting New Years Resolutions—however, there is something wrong when our sole ambition lies in attaining worldly achievements. When these “goals” actually transform into idols that suffocate our pursuit of Christ.

You see, we’re all seeking something. Even if we don’t have a dream we’re chasing, there’s still an underlying motive for every decision we make.

The man who unwinds after a long day by indulging in one drink after another? He might be seeking an escape from depression and anxiety. The woman who spends hours pampering in front of a mirror before facing the day? She might be seeking acceptance and approval.

What are you seeking? I challenge you to examine the decisions you make and the goals you’ve set for this New Year. Then, ask yourself: Am I seeking something that only a relationship with God can provide (such as peace, joy, purpose, and unconditional love)? Are these ambitions greater than my desire to pursue God and grow in my walk with Him?

The thing is, when we chase Him wholeheartedly, we’ll no longer desire anything this world has to offer. Why? Because in Christ, we find lasting fulfillment. There’s nothing more satisfying than living the life Christ intended us to live and remaining in the center of His will.

Matthew 6:33 (NLT) says,

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

Notice this verse says when we seek Him first, then He’ll give us everything we need. In other words, when our ambition lies in seeking God, then we will be fulfilled, even if we never achieve our New Years Resolutions.

We won’t lack. Why? Because our Father will give us everything that we need—as long as we make the most of the time, resources, and gifts He’s entrusted us with.

Sure, we can set goals that may propel us forward in our careers. Who knows? This might even be the year that our dreams of success finally come to pass! But as we strive forward, let’s continually take a heart-check. Examine our motives and align our priorities with the Kingdom of God.

Besides, as we seek Him first, we store up treasures for ourselves in heaven (see Matthew 6:19-21). I’d much rather work for treasure that lasts for eternity rather than wealth that vanishes tomorrow, wouldn’t you?

 

 

 

Tessa Emily HTessaall writes inspirational yet authentic YA fiction to show teens they’re not alone. Her passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as an Associate Agent at Hartline Literary Agency, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PursueMagazine.net. Tessa’s first teen devotional will release with Bethany House in 2018. She’s guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. When her fingers aren’t flying 116 WPM across the keyboard, she can be found speaking to teens, decorating her insulin pump, and acting in Christian films. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: http://www.tessaemilyhall.com.

New Year, New Story

New Year, New Story

Ushering in the new year can fill you with bubbles of elation, infusing your mind with dreams and possibilities of the next 12 months to come. So it should. We all need that jolt of motivation and inspiration that charges us to take that extra step.

Though December 31st and January 1st feel the exact same to some, others look at it as if we have crossed through a magical portal that makes us a clean slate with a fresh path ahead of us.

I can’t help but compare God’s power to the wonder of the new year. His love made us pass from death to life just as simple as passing from 2017 to 2018. Through Him we can continue to live as a clean slate with the knowledge that He shares a piece of the future with us each step of the way.

Like leafing through the crisp pages of a new book or journal, adventure is waiting for you. This year is another chapter in the story that will make you the person God created you to be.

I will always encourage you to make time to spend with your Savior this year. My last new year’s post suggests how. Why? Because with a new year comes new difficulties and probably some tough times. But blessings are also coming your way and maybe even some miracles. We must accept whatever happens with the strong faith that Jesus is in it all.

Keep going. Those words are the beat to which my anthem will follow for 2018, what about you?

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God bless!

-LJM