The Wolves or The Way

Written by Lisa DeVinney on . Posted in devotions

"I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock."  Acts 20:29 NIV

Sometimes my dreams are so vivid that I know there is some deeper meaning to them. Last night I had one of those dreams. I was standing on the back steps of an enormous house surrounded by open fields, with a dark, wooded area beyond. Several friends were gathered there with me, enjoying the cool autumn evening, until we heard a bone-chilling howl. And not just a single howl… but the terrifying echo of an entire wolf pack. We knew in an instant that the wolves were on the move. And coming directly toward us.

Their constant presence was no secret. But since they had kept their distance for so long, we hadn’t considered them a threat. In fact, from a distance they looked quite beautiful. But as we glanced anxiously toward the woods, something else caught our attention. The puppies. The wolves were coming for our precious puppies.

Some of the puppies heard the howls and came whimpering and scampering for the safety of the house. But others were so busy rolling and bounding around the yard that they hadn’t noticed the cry of danger. Or perhaps just hadn’t cared. And there were so many of them still out there. We couldn’t just leave them to such an awful fate. But how would we ever be able to get them all to safety before the pack overtook them?

Determined to do what we could, each of us scattered in different directions, frantically trying to herd the little balls of fluff toward the house. But some of the puppies were determined to continue their games, backing away playfully with no sense of the pending peril. I vividly remember reaching down to quickly scoop them up, tucking as many as I could into pockets and folds in my skirt. But a careless few felt they were being imprisoned, and wiggled away, again, in a last ditch effort to be free.

As the hair-raising howls grew closer, we brought all those we could into the house. We continued calling to the puppies still outside our grasp. But when glowing eyes peered at us through the edge of the woods, we knew it was time to close the doors, so those inside would be safe. Our hearts were breaking for those who had refused to come in. But we had done all we could.

I woke with a deep sadness. And immediately recalled accounts in Scripture where God stepped in to save a righteous few before destruction overtook those who refused rescue.

Noah did what he could. He built an ark as a place of refuge. But so few went in. (Genesis 7)

Lot urged his family to flee Sodom with him. So few followed. (Genesis 19)

And then there were five foolish virgins hoping to take part in a wedding feast. But they found themselves shut outside because they were unprepared, having assumed there would be more time. (Matthew 25)

The Bible also tells us that there is another day of destruction coming. One like this world has never before seen. But it also says there will be a day when Jesus, Himself, will return in the clouds to rescue those who are “in Christ.” And goes on to say that we can comfort one another with this truth. (1 Thessalonians 4)

But what about those who are not prepared for His return? Those who are not in Christ, having never placed their faith in His forgiveness on the cross, and the power of His resurrection? Those whose names are not found written in the Book of Life? There will be so many left behind, who chose not to place their lives and eternity in His hands. Some will hear the truth and reject God’s extended hand of Grace. Others will hear, but assume they have more time. Both will find the door to eternal life forever closed. Revelation 20 speaks of the finality of that moment, with no second chances.

Colossians 4 reminds us to redeem the time; to make the most of what little remains. For those of us who have trusted Christ for our eternal life, we must do all we can to bring others into the safety of Christ’s fold.

For those still outside…listen closely. The howl of the enemy is not far off. He is coming to kill, and steal, and destroy your soul. It’s not a game. Your eternal life is at stake. Won’t you accept the rescue Christ offers? He, Himself, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6)

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

©Lisa DeVinney, September 2016

A Better View

Written by Lisa DeVinney on . Posted in devotions

While visiting West Palm Beach, Florida, I took this photograph heading over a wooden bridge toward the sunrise.  But I didn't notice until years later, looking at this picture, that there were coin-operated binoculars on the other side of the  bridge.  As I looked again at the picture, the Lord opened my eyes to two beautiful truths.
Sometimes you have to cross a bridge before things get clearer.
And often it will cost you something.
But the view of the glory of God will always be worth it.
- Lisa DeVinney, May 2016

The Essence of Mom in a Peanut Butter Cup

Written by Lisa DeVinney on . Posted in devotions

The essence of mom is in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup™.  I didn’t know it then. But now that I’m a mom myself…I know. Things were tight, growing up. Budgets. Schedules. Expectations for a pastor’s wife. So I don’t recall seeing my mom really relax much. There were games of Memory or Gin Rummy.  Or perhaps an old movie on our black and white tv. But one of my favorite memories, looking back, is that of Mom sitting down, actually sitting down, to enjoy a Reese’s.

To my knowledge, she didn’t have them often. So she seemed to make the most of each one, saving them for quiet moments when the day’s tasks were finally done. Eating them slowly, to truly savor every bite. But here’s the curious part: she didn’t like the edges.

Or at least that’s what I thought, because she would eat most of the chocolatey-peanut buttery deliciousness. But if one of us kids happened to be sitting nearby, she would invariably offer us the last bite, saying something about it just being the edge, anyway. Never did I reject such a delightful offer. And never did it cross my mind that she might actually like to finish the special treat all by herself.

Never, that is, until about a year ago when I flat-out asked her why she didn’t like the edges of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. For a moment she seemed confused. But as I began reminding her of the strange ritual, she gave me a look. That look. The half-amused, half-bewildered, “are you really so naïve?” look. And suddenly I knew. The mom in me knew.

It was yet another selfless sacrifice Mom had made for my siblings and me. No, she didn’t dislike the edges of peanut butter cups. Yes, she would gladly have finished the last bite if she were all by herself. But for her, the pleasure of eating that last bite somehow paled in comparison to the glimmer in her child’s eyes as she offered up the priceless treasure.

That is the essence of Mom.  Not just the obvious connections to her many layers of sweetness, and the joy she brings to others.  But the giving of what was rightfully hers, what she could have kept all to herself, in order to share that joy with her children. That’s what “Mom” means to me. That’s what my Mom means to me.

And isn’t that just the way our Heavenly Father is with us? He enjoyed the constant companionship of His only begotten Son in Heaven. A relationship He had every right to keep and enjoy for Himself. And yet, because of His amazing love for us He selflessly offered His most precious treasure, His one and only Son, as a gift for us so that we might enjoy a relationship with Him, too.

And life with Jesus is even better than the last bite of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish
but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 NIV

©Lisa DeVinney, for Mom (Jan Kesinger) on Mother’s Day, May 10, 2015.