Pause

Often, when life isn’t working out the way we imagined or hoped, our impulse is to pray for God to change things.

We think, “if only” things were different, “if only” people were better, “if only” our needs were met, “if only” the pain went away, “if only” the choices were simple, “if only” temptation disappeared, “if only, if only…”

Sometimes God does transform situations, but more often, God changes us… if only we ask.

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Listen

Jesus replied, “Don’t stop him. No one who does powerful acts in my name can quickly turn around and curse me. Whoever isn’t against us is for us."

Mark 9:39-40

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Think

We tend to look at other people’s lives—the things they own, the way they act, their family’s lifestyle—and compare them to our own. We tend to think other ways of doing things are “weird,” because we believe the way we do things is “normal”! We equate “normal” with “acceptable” or “true” or even “correct.” When people or situations don’t fit our definition of normal, we often see them as unacceptable, or even simply wrong.

Maybe this is what the disciples thought. They had up-close and personal experience with Jesus, walking with him, talking to him, eating with him, learning from him, watching him. They thought their experience of him was “normal” and “right,” and it seems they distrusted those who did not share this experience. How could someone who had never been with Jesus do works in his name?

Thankfully, God’s power is at work in all kinds of situations; and thankfully, all kinds of people are showing Christ’s love! Thankfully, not one of us is “normal”!

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair

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Pray

God, show me that your power and love are not limited to my version of what is “normal.” Help me to let go of judgment so I can rejoice in the work that you are doing in people’s lives and hearts. Thank you for inviting me into that work! Amen.

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Go

God doesn’t only change us; God changes the world through us. When our attitudes are transformed, God can transform the people and situations we encounter.

If only we choose wisely when options are hard,
if only we respond kindly when people are cruel,
if only we act boldly when someone is hurt...

May God use us to answer the “if only” prayers of our world.

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair

Rev. Nicole Finkelstein-Blair is a 2001 graduate of Central Baptist Seminary and an ordained Baptist minister. As a military family for the past 15 years, she and her husband Scott and their two boys have found “church homes” across the country and across denominations. For fun, she writes, reads, knits, and helps the school librarian make bulletin boards. :)

Stillness

Carter Harrell: Making Space

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