Monthly Archives: October 2017

Life to the Full

DSC_0929By Judy Villanueva

I have come that you might have life, life to the full.” (John 10:10)

Standing next to the stone border that marked safe footing, my little grand daughter and I peered into an abyss of clouds that shrouded the incredible masterpiece.  So close, we eagerly strained to see what the wind and water had carved over the millennia. Staring down into the greyish lavender veil, we could see a depth of red, burnt orange and deep blues breaking through. All of a sudden, I heard the precious girl next to me gasp as the Grand Canyon opened up before her!  She could not help but smile, stretch out her arms and jump up and down. It is one thing to read about a wonder and quite a different experience to stand in front of it and feel its power surround you. Watching her delight and utter amazement blessed me.  She didn’t try to understand it, she simply received the gift it offered and danced!

There is something about these kinds of experiences that splash us with glory and offer us a gulp of life to the full.

For many years I understood “fullness of life” to refer to a life lived “happily ever after”— no worries, no pain, and a picket white fence!  When suffering did arrive, I didn’t know how to make sense of it and, even more troubling, I didn’t know how to make sense of God. I think part of the problem was with my expectations of God, what He should do and how He should do it.  I tend to forget that He is always up to something far beyond anything I could ever imagine, like Grand Canyons and massive rock walls layered in color and, little girls who remind me how to dance before beauty!  When I stop trying to control God and simply stretch out my arms in faith, I find myself at peace and open to receive the gifts God offers me, in all their unexpected packaging!

When Jesus said he came that we might have life to the full, did he really mean He came that we might have God?   

Are Grand Canyon moments designed to take our breath away and help us stumble over the One who IS our fullness?

It would explain why we discover hidden in beautiful canyons, great music, tasty bites, and blessed friendships, a shalom* that fills us fuller than full!   We drove hours and hours to get to the edge of this indescribable wonder, and when it opened up before us, God spoke! To a little girl He said, “I am here, deep and wide and beautiful!  Let’s dance!” To me, her Nana, He said, “I AM fullness of life! Behold, bow, stretch out your arms and be filled!” And, as I stood in silent awe, I heard, or did I imagine Him whisper,  “And, daughter, you are not too old to dance!”

“Thank you, Father God, that you came to give me life to the full! Help me follow beauty to your throne room, delight to your face and trials to your arms. For the Grand Canyon and all the ways you announce who you are, I am so grateful!  Fill me up! Amen.”

What about you?

Have you tasted life to the full?

What moments have you experienced that usher you into that deep place of shalom?

Does wanting to control God interfere with receiving the gifts of life that each day offers you?

When was the last time you danced before beauty?  Stretch out your arms!

*“Shalom” – completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.” (Strongs Concordance)



DSC_1456By Judy Villanueva

“But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-24)

“A short-cut!” my husband exclaimed and off he traipsed across the lake-bed. I was a small distance behind and watched as he blazed a new trail only to end up thigh deep in mud! Oof! He was thoroughly stuck and had to lay down flat in order to work his legs free and maneuver his way back to solid ground. I guess that’s a good picture of my life as it relates to “believing”. I want to believe and do…until I don’t…and then, I’m just stuck in the mud of unbelief, uncertain where to turn or how to get back on feet of faith. My challenge of belief is not whether God CAN do anything, but rather, lies in the muddy mire of WILL He do what I ask?

The “can” and the “will” of it are two separate matters, I suppose, but when I’m on my knees pleading for pity — I want both! The CAN of God inspires me to ask with great expectation for anything and everything on my heart but it is the WILL of God that governs His CAN and demands that I exercise faith.

Do I trust His yes or no? Will I tolerate “what happens next” when it isn’t what I’ve prayed for?

“If you can?” are the words that seem to jump out at me today with care and confrontation. They seems to look me in the eyes with love and ask if I do, in fact, know with Whom I am speaking when I pray.

When I want what I want, are my prayers lifted to the God who not only CAN but always DOES in perfect harmony with His wise and good purposes? In the midst of my pain or impatience, can I remember that the One to Whom I pray CAN ONLY be true and faithful? What then shall I believe?

That I’ll always understand the answers God gives or that He WILL forever ACT with perfection and love…beyond my understanding?

Jesus words, “If I can?” invite me to stop and look at Him today, to sit at His side and let His voice overshadow my doubts. When He is next to me and at the heart of all my prayers, I can feel my feet of faith grow wings and my unbelief set free from the mud to trust God do the impossible … above and beyond what I can see or understand!

“Jesus, in Your presence I find rest for my soul and faith to believe that everything is possible. Draw me close to Your heart where I am reminded with Whom I am speaking and given courage to believe that You CAN and WILL be faithful always. Amen.”

What about you?

Are you mindful when you pray that you are speaking with the God of the universe? It helps!

What fuels your believing? Feelings or faith?

What are you believing God for today?

God cannot but WILL and ACT in accord with His perfect knowledge and faithful heart. You can trust Him and believe that beyond what you can see. Registered & Protected



By Judy Villanueva

Luke 13:1-16

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

“What are you afraid of?” I asked my husband. He turned and looked at me with the most curious expression, almost as though he didn’t understand the question. “Well…nothing really,” he responded. “Nothing? You are not afraid of anything?” I queried. I have struggled with fear for as long as I can remember and God was helping me understand that I was living under the constraint of it as though it was normal! It felt like God was taking me by the hand and walking me into the light of understanding my condition. Not all at once, but gently, as I could handle the reality of my crippled state. And, as it became clearer and clearer that I was living “bent over” and unable to straighten, a desire arose in my heart…for freedom!

Sadly, we get used to being “bent over” and walk about the planet unaware that staring at the ground is not what we were made for!

Whether it is fear that pushes us downward or something else, God sees our condition and cares. He absolutely and always remembers that we were created for freedom. Jesus saw the crippled woman in synagogue and, as naturally as taking the next breath, He simply spoke the will of God over her, “Woman, you are set free.” She then felt the hands of God touch her and immediately straightened up to praise Him!

Dare we look with Jesus at where and how we are bent? It is easier to pretend that we are fine or, hide our “bent” parts so that no one will see our brokenness. We are embarrassed and ashamed but God is not! He keeps seeing who He made us to be and cherishes every bit of us…always!  What is curious to me about this healing encounter is that there is no mention of the crippled woman asking for healing.

It blesses me to read that after eighteen years of being stooped over she got up from wherever she was and walked crooked to synagogue!

There she knew she would be near to God and hear his Word.  What she could not have known is that on that day she would show up bent and leave straightened, loved and set free.

“Jesus, that you saw this woman reminds me afresh of who you are! A Healer, an Advocate, and a Straighten-upper:) Thank you that you never get lost in what you are doing and forget how much we need you! Come and touch me and anyone reading this in need of healing today. Amen.”

What about you?

Have you gotten use to being “bent over”? Do the things that bind you feel normal?

How do you feel about being helped to see, with Jesus, where you are “bent over”?

Can you trust Jesus to take you by the hand to freedom?

God is the One who lifts up, straightens and breaths freedom! Please don’t settle for a life “bent over”. He came that we might have life to the full! (John 10:10)