Daily Devotions

Worse Than an Apocalyptic Novel

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For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I had a wonderful vacation the last two weeks of July. We had a “stay-cation.” Along with seeing grandchildren, kayaking, and bike riding, I spent a lot of lazy days reading. Some of the books were meaningful, but some were simply mind-candy, or so I thought. I read CyberStorm, by Matthew Mather, because I needed a good end-of-the-world story. I guess living in a pandemic wasn’t enough stress.

By the end of the book I realized I was wrong, it too had some redeeming qualities. It described a horrific cyberattack that killed more people than the Vietnam War. The irony is that this apocalyptic book ended up being less threatening than what we are enduring right now. The Vietnam War suffered 58,220 deaths over eleven years. Between the middle of March and August 7 of this single year, we have already experienced over 161,000 deaths. In Cyberstorm, the rest of the world came to our aid. Right now, COVID-19 is ravaging our entire world.

While we can sit and feel sorry for ourselves and fall further in despair, we can celebrate so many things thus far. While our present situation is worse than an apocalyptic novel, our present situation is a reminder that God is still at work. Unlike the characters in CyberStorm, there has not been mass hoarding and physical violence. Of course, that does not include trying to get wipes and toilet paper at Costco.

Amidst everything, people are working together to feed the struggling, provide employment, and work toward a vaccine. While the pandemic has hurt our society, it has not devastated our ability to care, and find hope. Today, prayerfully thank God for keeping our world from panicking and destroying each other. Ask God to strengthen our faith so we can remain courageous and compassionate. As we continue to put our faith through the purifying fires of these challenging times, we can remain hopeful because God is protecting and guiding rather than destroying us with an apocalyptic CyberStorm.

Know Your Identifies, Grow Your Identities

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So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Throughout our lives, we have identities we love and hate; cultivate and try to diminish. When you are young, it is often a curse to be the first one to get glasses: “four eyes.” As you get older, you are herded into middle school and high school groups. Once placed in a group, it can feel like it is for life. Sometimes they are not even the identities we’ve created for ourselves, instead they feel like they’ve been branded on us by others.

Shawn Casey, in her article, “To Grow, Let Go of Your Identities,” calls us to “Know your identities.” Especially as we get older, our identities become more subtle and complex, but are the same, nonetheless. Things like occupation, financial income, weight, skin color, sexual orientation etc., can all impact an adult’s identity.

Even little things, like “I’m a morning person,” can impact how we envision ourselves. Knowing how we identify ourselves, helps us embrace identities like “smart,” “funny,” “faithful,” while other identities like “limited,” “hurtful,” and “dull,” can be diminished or removed. We can choose who we are and who we wish to be in this world. Casey affirms, “In order to grow, old identities must die for new ones to emerge.” This takes emotional honesty and maturity.

Today, consider the identities you’ve had in your life, the positive and the negative. Then, consider the identities you possess at this moment. Finally, and most importantly, consider what identities you would like to possess in the months and years to come. Ask how you might make them a reality. Then, ask for God to guide and bless your identities. If they are of God, then it is time to get to work. If not, then more prayerful consideration needs to take place. Before they were Apostles, their identities were based on their occupations. The more our identities reveal God in your life, the more your true self will emerge.

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