Susannah Baker

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How to Restore: Solitude

On June 8, 2021, Posted by , in Encouragement, With No Comments

The start of each summer feels like an invitation to me to restore – an invitation to come and rest so that I can have enough in my tank to last through the remainder of the year.

But I’ve learned that rest isn’t just about sleeping in or going on vacation.  It isn’t about abandoning routine; it’s about embracing a new routine, one that invites true rest. 

This routine involves three very different but important elements:

  • Solitude
  • Rest
  • Work

A summer without solitude develops no intimacy with God.  A summer without rest develops striving.  A summer without work develops no room for growth. 

But I’ve also learned that none of these elements grow on their own.  They must be carefully cultivated within the context of the seasons of rest we are given. 

This week, join me as I talk about Solitude and ways to incorporate it into your summer rhythm. Be on the lookout over the next two weeks for posts on Rest and Work and then a new PDF to tie them all together.

For ideas on how to incorporate solitude and intentional time in God’s Word into your summer season, watch this popular posts from last summer, Biblestudy Tools and Women in the Word. You can find the resources mentioned in the Biblestudy Tools post here, and the resources from Women in the Word here.

Happy Summer everyone!

For more encouragement through the week, you can find me on Instagram, @baker.susannah.

Thankful for Freedom

If you live long enough, you realize freedom is never free.

It’s something we pause to remember as a nation on Memorial Day. We remember the many men and women who have laid down their lives so that we, our family, our neighbors, our friends, our nation, can be free, and it is a debt we can never repay.

For a father and a grandfather who were both willing to give seasons of their lives for the service and protection of our country to safeguard our freedoms, I am so thankful.

My handsome dad graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1964 and served for five years on nuclear submarines during the Cold War.

My grandfather served in the Navy during World War II in the Pacific and during his two week leave during the middle of the war came back to the States to marry my grandmother, Suzanne. She traveled by train to San Francisco to meet him with her wedding ring sewn into the inside of her undergarments. They were married, honeymooned for a few days, then she waved goodbye to him as he stood on the deck of his destroyer, not knowing if she would ever see him again. For his decision to serve and her decision to love and pray him through the war, I am forever grateful.

But there is another freedom for which I am thankful today, a freedom I don’t think on often enough.

And that is the freedom of reading, understanding, and knowing God’s Word in my language.

There are 7 billion people on the earth today and approximately 7000 different languages are spoken. But here are some sobering statistics:

  • Of the 7000 languages spoken on the earth today, only 706 have the complete Bible in their language.
  • Only 1,568 languages have the New Testament translated into their language.
  • There are 2,010 languages on the earth today left with no Scripture in their language.

Stop for a moment and think about that.

#1 – Think about the immense gift that it is that you and I speak a language that has the whole Bible translated in a language we understand.

We have the book of Psalms to help us in our laments and our praise. We have the book of Genesis to give us understanding and knowledge of who made us and that we are formed in the image of God. We have the historical and prophetic books of the Old Testament to show us the sinful cycle of the human heart and to give us the knowledge that we are all in desperate need of a Savior. And we have the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – to show us the Savior who has come. We know the name Jesus Christ and that He died to set us all free – free from the slavery of sin and bondage of the darkness of the human heart.

#2 – Think about the cost that was involved in giving us the Bible in a language that we can speak.

This is a cost I do not think about often enough, and frankly, a cost I didn’t even know had been paid until several years ago. But many men and women gave their lives so that we could have the whole Bible in English. Up until 1611 AD, Bibles for English speaking people were written and read in Latin. The nation of England was founded in 927 A.D., yet it took almost 700 years for an English-speaking nation with English-speaking people to have the freedom to read their Bibles in a language they understood.

700 years. Our nation has been in existence for less than 250 years. Yet we have had full and complete access to all of Scripture in our language for every single year we have been in existence. Why do we enjoy the freedoms we enjoy? Simply put, it’s because we have had access to the life-giving, restorative, healing, freedom-inducing Word of God.

We were not given this freedom without great cost. A man named William Tyndale was strangled and burned at the stake in England for originally translating the Bible for English-speaking people into English, and a group of men and women named The Covenanters were imprisoned, tortured, and killed for their belief that God was their only king. They died to gain the freedom to worship Him in the way they chose reading the Scriptures in the English language.

Author David Teems writes about the end of Tyndale’s life, “A rope was fitted through a hole in the upright beam and curled around his neck. At the urging of the magistrate, and just before the flame was lit, with all the necessary parties present, the rope was pulled with sufficient force to end his life. No symbol went unused. By strangling Tyndale, the Church thought to silence him forever. They were wrong.”

Were they ever! Tyndale’s work of translation continues today to give the 360 million people who speak English as their first language and the 1.35 billion people who know the English language, access to knowing the life-giving words of the Gospel – Jesus Christ came to set us free.

Would you consider something with me as we celebrate and remember those who have died so that we could be free?

#1 – Remember to thank the men and women you know who have given their lives to serve, protect, and defend the freedoms of our country.

#2 – Remember to thank God for those who have given their lives to give you the freedom to read His Word in a language you know, love, and can understand. (This summer, consider reading a biography about the lives of these people. Here are two I have read and can recommend: Fair Sunshine: Character Studies of the Scottish Covenanters by Jock Purves and Tyndale by David Teems.)

#3 – Remember the Bibleless. Remember those 2,010 languages on the earth today, languages that represent 171 million people, who still have no access to the Word of God in a language they understand.

Consider learning more about the Bibleless by learning about the work being done among them through ministries like The Seed Company. Spend some time on their website reading stories about translators all over the world who are giving their lives for people to have God’s Word in their heart language just as Tyndale gave his life for us.

Consider adopting a people group and language project to pray for and to give to. Giving to and praying for the Bibleless makes life more alive, more exciting, and more worthwhile, not less. When you give of your time and resources to set other people free with the same freedoms you have been given, joy is unlocked and unleashed in your heart.

You and your family can become a prayer partner for an unreached people group – https://www.prayforzero.com/aboutus/ – something great to do with your kids or co-workers this summer.

And you can also find information on how to give here as well – https://seedcompany.com/

But whatever you do today and this week, stop. Thank God and others for the freedoms you enjoy, and remember to give others access to freedom as well.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery….For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:1, 13-14

For more encouragement throughout the week, you can find me on Instagram @baker.susannah.

How to Stay Afloat in May: Interview with Kristen Stedham

On May 25, 2021, Posted by , in Video Weekly Words, With No Comments

If your family is anything like ours, during the last few weeks of May, we LIMP over the finish line of school instead of crossing with flying colors! If you, like me, are in need of the reminder that it is ok to feel deep gratitude during certain seasons of life while feeling deep frustration and weariness all at the same time, then take a few moments to sit back and listen to one of the wisest moms I know.

Kristen Stedham is not only a good friend but someone I turn to for advice, counsel, and prayer. She speaks the language of the heart, a language she’s learned through facing suffering with a great deal of endurance, patience, and joy.

So even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom or hide yourself in the back seat of your car to enjoy a quiet moment, join in the conversation with two moms who are right there in the race with you. (But don’t get too quiet – if you’re anything like me, you might fall asleep and forget someone in the carpool line!)

When You Need Encouragement as a Mom

On April 12, 2021, Posted by , in Encouragement, Family, With 4 Comments

Several weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on unique ability. (Click HERE to read the post.)

To recap the post, the definition of your unique ability is this:

Your unique ability can be defined as the thing that nobody else can do but you. It’s the thing that God created you to do and if you aren’t doing it, the people around you, the world around you, and you yourself will suffer.

Part of your unique ability is doing that thing that brings you joy and when you come alive doing it – drawing, painting, writing, creating, running, cooking, pastoring, teaching, accounting, counseling, coaching, or whatever it is that God created you to do.

But if you are a mom, I want you to hear me on this: part of your unique ability is to love, care for, pour into, shepherd, counsel, care for, and clean up after – yes, that one too – the children God has given you.

And in certain seasons, if your children are your only outlet for your unique ability to flow forth and shine because of time, energy, and emotional constraints, then pouring into them is enough.

I am writing the above statement through tears with a lump in my throat because it is so hard to believe, accept, and do.

I got such great feedback from the post I wrote on unique ability – partly because I think, as women, we struggle knowing what our unique ability is and if we have permission to develop it, engage with it, and let it flow.

And the answer is – yes. We do. But I also got great feedback about using our unique ability as moms to pour into our children. Because we all know, deep down, that pouring our unique ability into the world around us has to take second seat to pouring our unique ability into the children God has given us.

And friends, this is hard.

Nothing in our world stands back and applauds this decision. It often feels like the time we take to play a board game, read a book with someone nestled beside us, stay home at night to tuck everyone in or have a late night conversation with a lonely teen, get up early to make breakfast, pack lunches, plan, shop for, and cook dinner, plan birthday parties, draw up chore charts, or expend emotional energy doling out consequences, instead of blog, write, work, or do something measurable, manageable, and valuable from a growth standpoint in followers, numbers, or dollar signs, is flushing our time down the toilet.

Can I tell you something? I feel your pain – I wrestle with those very same things.

And I’m going to be even more honest: I dreamed of being a doctor, a missionary, author, teacher, and going back to school to earn my masters and doctoral degrees AND THEN be becoming a mom. But a mom first? Changing diapers? Playing board games? MAKING CRAFTS??? Nope. Didn’t cross my radar. I didn’t grow up longing to babysit. Didn’t like to babysit. Didn’t even like other people’s kids. I preferred books and academics to living, active human beings with real time needs that took away from fulfilling mine.

But then I had children – four of them – before accomplishing anything I thought measured as “significant” in the world’s eyes. And while I deeply love my children and would not trade being a mom for achieving any of the other dreams on my list, staying present to their needs, desires, wants, and hearts is something I have to remind myself is worth fighting for and doing on a daily basis.

I am thankful I am married to a man who loves to see me engage in my unique ability of writing, teaching, and discipling other women and helps me find and create avenues to do that, but I frequently have to reign myself in to remember: the unique ability of being Lillian, Lizzie, Caroline, and Mia Grace’s mom comes before any other.

I know this might sound harsh or like I am sharing too much or baring my soul in an inappropriate way as a mom, but I am sharing this because I think there are many others of you out there who struggle and feel the same way I do.

But I want to encourage both you and me in this: your work as a mom in the lives of your children, your pouring your unique abilities in them, is work that God made you and you alone to do. And it is work that will bear eternal, everlasting fruit.

I did a little research on how long the time and effort I put into sharing my unique ability of writing and teaching lasts:

  • The lifespan of an Instagram post is about 21 hours.
  • The lifespan of a blog post is about 2 years.
  • The life span of a book is 20 years.
  • The lifespan of your children and the generations who come after you is – eternal.

Puts it into perspective, doesn’t it?

My mom sent me a link to a podcast several weeks ago that I can’t stop listening to. The podcast is called Nothing is Wasted and is hosted by a guy named Davey Blackburn.

Davey was a pastor in Indiana, married for seven years to a beautiful woman named Amanda, and they had a two-year-old son. When Amanda was pregnant with their second child, she was murdered in an in-home break-in that left her husband, parents, siblings, and church community devastated and reeling.

But what Satan intends for evil, God uses for good. Every single time. Davey is committed to kicking the tail of the enemy by telling how his own story, his family’s story, and others’ stories, while full of pain, can be transformed, healed, and used for good by the power and grace of God. Any of his episodes is highly worth the listen.

But one episode just grabbed me. It is where Davey interviews Amanda’s father who is also a pastor in Indiana. This man did a phenomenal job raising his girl, and while he talks about the immense pain and grief of losing a daughter, he also talks about the tremendous fruit that came from her life.

And he doesn’t say this about himself, but I will – the fruit that was there in Amanda’s life was there in large part because he and his wife stewarded their unique ability well of being Amanda’s parents.

Fruit that I am tasting and eating and enjoying and growing from every time I listen to a podcast episode that came from her life and death. Fruit that came because he and his wife were willing to lay their lives down to prepare their daughter’s soul for eternal relationship and union with God.

Moms (and dads), every board game you and I play, every book we read, every phonogram card we hold up, every spelling list we dictate, every hurt we bandage, every consequence we give, every game we cheer on, every devotional we read, every prayer we pray, every teachable moment we teach, every moment we are present to the goodness and grace of God in the mundane moments and big moments of our children’s lives, eternal fruit is being born and shaped that will outlast us. It will.

As a screensaver on her phone, Amanda Blackburn had this quote: “Perhaps the greatest contribution you have to give this world is not what you do but who you raise.”

It’s so true. And those are the words that have to reign me in and reshape my values, my time, my heart, and my unique abilities every single day.

If you do not have children, or your children are not living the way you would like them to or are praying for them to, don’t despair. Jesus Himself did not have any biological children while He lived and walked on this earth, but He had the most eternally fruitful life of anyone who has ever lived.

The point isn’t if you able to have children or not, or if your children have turned out exactly like you expected or wanted them to. The point is this: if God has given you children, they are there, with you, for God to shape your heart. For you to pour your time, presence, and unique abilities into them and leave the results up to God. He is the great grower of every seed after all. The part that is up to us is the digging, planting, scattering, and staying present to their lives for the seasons we are given with them.

So if you are gifted as a cook, cook. If you are gifted as a writer, write. If you are gifted as an administrator, administrate. If you are gifted as a hostess, host. But if you are given the gift of children, stay present to that very precious gift. When time, season, and margin allows, God will open other doors and give you the peace and the courage to step through them. But until then, go at His pace. Work on His timeline. And don’t listen to the voice in your head that tells you you have to be more. More than “just a mom,” or “just a wife,” or “just at home.” Like I said in the previous post: Hogwash. (It’s a word I have to tell myself daily.) The soil in my home is the most fertile soil I am given to plant, tend to, and watch good seeds grow.

I want to end today as I ended the first post on unique ability:

I can’t do everything. God hasn’t asked me to or expect me to. I fall off the deep end when I start thinking God requires more of me than is possible for one single human being. I have to pull my pride in constantly – God is God. I am not. He can do everything. I can do a few things. My job is to stay in my lane and do the things He has called, created, equipped, and asked me to do. I can let the rest go. Leave them in His Hands. Surrender to His timing. Trust His ways. And let the peace flood in.

And might I add – my job as a mom is to tend to the soil of my children’s hearts with the unique abilities I have been given and let the seeds grow.

For more encouragement throughout the week, you can find me on Instagram, @baker.susannah.

Sunday – Mary: Resurrecting Love

On April 4, 2021, Posted by , in Lent and Easter, With 3 Comments

Our journey with Jesus to the cross ends today at an empty tomb with Resurrection. His passion is a picture of our own – all suffering, if buried with Christ, is raised in everlasting life. It’s not just a myth of fairytale or far-fetched dream. It’s a promise – a promise for all those who entrust their hearts to Him. Join me this last day of the journey with a scripture to read, a face from the journey of the cross on which to reflect, a prayer to pray, and a practice or suggested discipline to carry out.

Read the Scriptures:

John 20:1-18

Reflect on a Face of the Cross:

Former prostitute, demoniac, now follower of Jesus, Mary had watched the Teacher she loved endure beatings, mocking, mutilation, and finally crucifixion. At first light on the day after the Sabbath, she quickly went her way to Jesus’ tomb to anoint His body with spices for burial.

After discovering an empty tomb, running to find Simon Peter, and running back to the tomb, Mary finally stops to weep. Distraught, exhausted, weary to the point of an emotional breakdown, desperate to make some sense out of all the suffering, she weeps so much that she apparently misses the fact that the two men in verse twelve are angels. 

Enter Jesus. Ready and waiting, He is poised to give one of His closest earthly companions the unexpected gift of the resurrection. When He sees her weeping and hears the desperate nature of her request (to single handedly carry the weight of a dead man’s body probably twice her size through the garden), He breaks. “Mary.” At the sound of her Shepherd’s voice, Mary turns, and experiences incomprehensible surprise and sweetest reunion. It is a meeting of old friends who endured brutal separation, yet now are bound to one another for eternity through the blood of One and the faithful love of the other.

This morning, Christ wants to surprise you with the power of the resurrection, and just as He did with Mary, He wants to call your name. All that is dead in your soul from the trials and sorrows of life, He is waiting to resurrect. For as theologian J. Montgomery Boice writes, as we see with Mary, when love remains through the passion of the cross, not only are faith and hope resurrected, but love blooms in even greater strength.

Whatever passion you have born in this life, whatever sorrows you have suffered, whatever deaths you have endured, take heart. Jesus has overcome death and stands ready and waiting at the mouth of an empty tomb to call your name and hand you the gift of the resurrection.

Rejoice, for He is Risen! He is Risen indeed! 

Pray:

Father,

We thank You for the journey of the Passion Week, the triumph of the cross, and power of the resurrection! May we live our lives in joyful thanks and anticipation for Your love and redemption. You are worthy to be praised!

In Jesus’ Name we pray, amen.

Practice:

Spend time today in corporate worship, thanking and praising God for the reality of the resurrection.

For more encouragement throughout the week, you can find me on Instagram, @baker.susannah.

Saturday – Nicodemus: The Transformation

On April 3, 2021, Posted by , in Lent and Easter, With 4 Comments

To help us journey with Jesus towards the cross, each day this week I will post a scripture to read, a face from the journey of the cross on which to reflect, a prayer to pray, and a practice or suggested discipline to carry out.

Read the Scriptures:

John 3:16; John 19:31-42

Reflect on a Face of the Cross:

The first to hear the familiar words of John 3:16 were not the disciples, nor a crowd of people on a mountainside, but Nicodemus, a leader in Israel, who came to meet with Jesus under the secret cover of night. In John 19, we see him again several years later helping Joseph of Arimathea carry the dead body of Jesus from the cross to a nearby tomb.

The transformation we see in Nicodemus from John 3 to John 19 is staggering. In chapter 3, Nicodemus is struggling and searching to understand the law with his head but lacks all connection to his heart. Jesus even asks him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not understand these things?” 

But in chapter 19, Nicodemus’ head and heart connect in a powerful way as he confronts the bruised, bloodied body of his Lord. The words of John 3:16 must have come alive under the dead weight of Jesus’ body – God gave His one and only Son – in a way no one, least of all he, ever expected or imagined. No other reason explains why this prominent Pharisee would be willing to be seen with the crucified Jesus, forsaking the Law by handling the body of a dead man and becoming ceremonially unclean, particularly during Passover.

The cross transforms all true followers of Jesus. It calls us out on our questions, it confronts our concepts about church and religion, and it paints vivid, often surprising pictures of the God who loved so much that He gave us His Son Jesus Christ. We can no longer hide in the shadows for fear of identification. Like Nicodemus, we become willing to risk it all – our reputations, our lives, our wealth, our careers, our questions, our traditions – as we confront the God who so radically gave. 

What about you? Are you holding back from following Jesus from fear? From pride? From the distractions of wealth, career, and a hurried, busy life? From unanswered questions? My friend, like Nicodemus, today is the day to give your life to the God who gave you His one and only Son. Don’t want a minute longer to surrender your life and give your heart, your all, to God. If you want to take the next steps to give to God what He alone can fill, please watch the video below.

Pray:

Father,

Thank You for giving Your one and only Son. May our hearts, like Nicodemus’, be transformed by the power of the gift of the cross and all that You gave. 

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Practice:

Spend ten minutes in prayer today, reflecting on the God who gave. Ask Him to show you what He wants you to give – your reputation, your career, your questions – in response to Christ on the cross.

For more encouragement throughout the week, you can find me on Instagram, @baker.susannah.

Friday – The Centurion: Words of Power

On April 2, 2021, Posted by , in Lent and Easter, With 4 Comments

To help us journey with Jesus towards the cross, each day this week I will post a scripture to read, a face from the journey of the cross on which to reflect, a prayer to pray, and a practice or suggested discipline to carry out.

Read the Scriptures:

Mark 15:1-41

Reflect on a Face of the Cross:

To speak at all while hanging on a cross was a phenomenon in and of itself. Each phrase spoken by the victim was costly. While pushing up against the nails that held his wrists and feet in place and slowly exhaling, the victim was able to speak, and as he spoke, his lacerated back from prior scourging was drug roughly over the cross’ wooden, splintered exterior, causing pain to shoot up and down his body.

If a victim was to speak at all, he usually spoke in curses, expletives, and anger. So when Jesus expended precious breath to say, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34), or when He paid no attention to the blasphemous thief on one side but told the repentant thief on the other, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43), or when He had the selflessness and presence of mind to say to Mary, “Woman, behold your son!” and to John, “Behold, your mother!” (John 19:26-27), the Roman centurion at the foot of the cross took notice.

A common centurion, on a common day, during a routine crucifixion, encountered an uncommon man with uncommon words. And when the centurion “saw the way He breathed His last,” Scripture tells us he knew this man was the Son of God.

The words of the cross are words of power, for they are words of an unearthly, heavenly kingdom, even as Christ was suffering at the hands of an earthly, brutal one.

Think, today, on the final words of Christ. Let them mark you, change you, and if they were so costly for Jesus to give, find out why they mean so much. 

Pray:

Father,

Let us listen to the Man of Sorrows whose death gave us eternal life. Humble us through His words. Change us through His suffering, humility, power and glory.

In Jesus’ Name we pray, amen.

Practice:

Consider giving up a meal again today. Use that time instead to meditate and pray through Jesus’ last words. Do not forget to thank Christ for saving you from the wages of your sin and the price He paid for your redemption. Thank Him for the cross.

For more encouragement throughout the week, you can find me on Instagram, @baker.susannah.

Thursday – Mary His Mother: Facing Real Sorrow

On April 1, 2021, Posted by , in Lent and Easter, With No Comments

To help us journey with Jesus towards the cross, each day this week I will post a scripture to read, a face from the journey of the cross on which to reflect, a prayer to pray, and a practice or suggested discipline to carry out.

Read the Scriptures:

Luke 2:21-35; John 19:25-27

Reflect on a Face of the Cross:

“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:34-35). For years Mary must have pondered Simeon’s words. She must have thought about the sword, how it would pierce, and when it would strike. But most of all, as a mother, she must have thought about the prophesied pain of her firstborn Son. Yes, He was God in the flesh, bigger than life, but He was also hers. 

At the foot of the cross when the sword finally fell and its point finally pierced her soul, how did Mary respond? Did she reach up to touch Jesus’ face? Did she try to wipe His brow? Did she stand as close as she could, offering what relief she could? Or did she have to look away? And as she heard His cries, did she think on His first cry? Did she long to hold Him once again in her arms?

In the midst of all the uncertainties, we know one thing for sure – Mary stayed. When it would have been easy to run from her pain, Mary stayed by Jesus’ side. 

It is in the very midst of her pain that Mary shows us where to turn. When the sword pierces our soul, she shows us that we, too, can stay at the foot of the cross. For no matter how hard it is to remain, when all circumstances tell us to flee, the cross is the only place we find true comfort and strength.

Pray:

Father,

We dread the swords of life that pierce our souls. But, like Mary, show us the only place for our pain is at the foot of the cross. By her suffering Son’s side is where we find the mercy, grace, peace, and surrender needed to carry on.

In Jesus’ Name we pray, amen.

Practice:

Take an extra fifteen minutes today of solitude. Go for a walk in a park or close the door to your office or bedroom. Think about the specific sorrows and suffering you are carrying, and then prayerfully bring them to the foot of the cross where our only true comfort is found. Linger in Christ’s Presence at the foot of the cross, and draw on the comfort and strength He alone provides.

For more encouragement throughout the week, you can find me on Instagram, @baker.susannah.

Wednesday – John: Beloved Friend

On March 31, 2021, Posted by , in Lent and Easter, With No Comments

To help us journey with Jesus towards the cross, each day this week I will post a scripture to read, a face from the journey of the cross on which to reflect, a prayer to pray, and a practice or suggested discipline to carry out.

Read the Scriptures:

John 19:1-30

Reflect on a Face of the Cross:

As much as John must have feared the events of the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, his love ultimately won out over his fear. Whereas Peter fled, John stood fixed at the foot of the cross. One can imagine John soaking in his last moments with Jesus – one last look, one last touch, one last moment with his teacher and friend. 

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, John was known as “the disciple Jesus loved,” and in His last few breaths, Jesus even trusted John with the care of one of His most treasured possessions – His mother.

Do you have a friend like that? A friend who, when every other friend has fled, remains? A friend who, when the skies are blackest, comes to sit beside you to take care of any requests or needs? Few people know friendship like that. But, surprisingly enough, just like John, we are called Jesus’ “beloved” and “friend.” 

The night before He died, Jesus told His disciples, “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends…” (John 15:15). 

Friendship is what the cross was for. Through the cross, Christ pulls us close, draws us in, and we too become privy to His requests and needs. We hear His cries and see His heart, all because, through His sacrifice, He has called us “friend.”

Over the next few days, stand with John at the foot of the cross. Spend time walking, talking, praying, and listening. Just as with John, intimate friendship with Christ is waiting.

Pray:

Father,

Through the death of Your Son, You pulled down every barrier that stood between us and friendship with You. Let us learn to walk with You, delight in You, and talk with You, as much as we would with our most beloved friend.

In Jesus’ Name we pray, amen.

Practice:

To focus on friendship with Christ, spend an extra ten minutes to an hour today (whatever your time allows) reading Jesus’ last words to His disciples in John 14-17. Turn off your phone, screens, or any other distractions. Focus, for that time, on hearing His voice. Hear Him call you “friend.”

Tuesday – Peter: Facing Your Fears

On March 30, 2021, Posted by , in Lent and Easter, With No Comments

To help us journey with Jesus towards the cross, each day this week I will post a scripture to read, a face from the journey of the cross on which to reflect, a prayer to pray, and a practice or suggested discipline to carry out.

Read the Scriptures:

Mark 14:53-72

Reflect on a Face of the Cross:

Brash, bold, confident Peter froze as soon as the sounds of violence began. He had followed the chained and handcuffed Jesus all the way to the high priest’s courtyard and inched as close as he could to the trial inside. And although it’s not clear what Peter heard from his fireside position, we know that whatever it was must have put ice in his veins. For once the sounds of Jesus’ abuse started, the denials of even knowing his Lord came quickly – once, twice, three times – before he even had time to think.

Would we have fled from the pain of the cross like Peter? Would we have denied Christ by the smoking fire in the courtyard of the high priest, with sounds of the beatings and blows of our Lord echoing throughout the darkness below? Perhaps.

But most of us flee every day. We look at the cross in the fullness of its power and pain and say, “No thank you. I’ll take the easy way out.” Yet daily we are to pick up our cross and follow Him, no matter where the path of Passion leads. Daily we are to die to self and rise to walk in the life only Christ can give.

Tradition has it that Peter died a martyr’s death by crucifixion – upside down. So somewhere between Jesus’ crucifixion and his own, Peter overcame his fear of suffering and pain. And like Peter, we must eventually come to the place of saying, “Yes, Lord. I have shirked the pain before, but I am willing to die every day from here on out. No matter the cost, I want to follow You.” 

Pray:

Father,

The thought of suffering for You scares us; we want to avoid pain at all costs. Yet in spite of ourselves, give us a desire to walk Your road, no matter the obstacles or the persecution in the way. We want to follow You.

In Jesus’ Name we pray, amen.

Practice:

Instead of eating lunch today, consider using that hour to spend with the Lord in prayer. Ask Him to show you what fears hinder you from walking the road of the cross. Let Him show you how to let go and walk in the freedom and secure love that comes from following Christ.

For more encouragement throughout the week, you can find me on Instagram, @baker.susannah.