Category Archives: God’s Questions

distracted …


I am. I have been for the past couple of weeks, and now I’m physically sick. What has been brewing in my mind and circling over my emotions has taken root in my flesh, and I have taken to my bed. Oh, perhaps there’s a floating bug in the air that took advantage of my compromised immune system; ‘tis the season to catch unwanted viruses. But I’m thinking the two are connected.

Whenever a virus lies in wait, whether of the physical variety or of the assault-your-heart-and-mind variety, some breakage is inevitable. When both are present at the same time, there’s bound to be a collision that forces the issue of healing.

I hear the Father’s question spoken to my heart today, even as I read it in antiquity from John’s Gospel (5:6) …

Do you want to get well … Elaine?

The answer seems obvious. However, that which is obvious is not always that which is chosen. Follow-thru is paramount regarding a choice for health. If I want to get well, I’d better start acting toward that end. What does this look like for me?

Two things: a choice to medicate and a choice to meditate. To fuel my body with the proper regimen of proven remedies and to fuel my mind with the same. And so, as I reach over to my nightstand for another Vitamin C tablet to bolster my flesh, I also reach for the Book that’s been remedying my soul-maladies for nearly half a century. Together, they are prescriptive, a best course of treatment for attacking the viruses within and bringing about my healing in due time.

When I am distracted by God’s Word, I am less distracted by the many cares of this world. Not that I live apart from the world; the world is ever-present around me and requires my participation. But in the midst of that requirement, there are ways to temper such burden. A good dose of vitamins and a good dive into scripture is a good beginning.

Maybe today a virus is eating away at your good health. You’re worn down from the chase, running in circles and slamming into walls that won’t move. Try as you may, you can no longer deny the impending collision. Where your preference plays a role is in answering the same question that was offered by Jesus to the one infirmed at the pool of Bethesda some 2000 years ago:

Do you want to get well?

I know I do. My prayer is that you will as well. Whatever sickbed you’re lying on today, the prescription for healing is within reach.

Medicate and meditate. Meditate and medicate. Back and forth – forth and back until the worldly disruption in your flesh and in your mind fades to black and the eternal distraction of Jesus comes into clear focus. In him and with him, all things are made well.

Peace for the journey,

Do you want to get well?

“When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’” –John 5:6

Do you want to get well, Elaine? So whispered the Holy Spirit to my heart this past week.

Of course, Lord, I want to be well. I am well . . . right? Even before I uttered my response, I knew the answer. Otherwise God wouldn’t have asked the question. God doesn’t waste words with his children. God speaks them as they are needed.

Being “well.” What does that look like for you? Feel like? Live like? The culture we live in dictates a wide variety of responses to this question. Soundness of mind, financial security, health of body, a stable family, and a charitable life, are just a few of the barometers used by society to measure personal wellness. But what do you use? How do you know if you are well?

I’m asking myself the same question, and I’m doing so in the context of Christ’s sacred conversation with the invalid at the pool of Bethesda some 2000 years ago (see John 5:1-15). I’m backing into story and into an understanding of wellness by examining its contrast—what wellness isn’t.

Wellness isn’t:

• Lying on a mat for thirty-eight years waiting for the waters to be stirred.

• Lying on a mat for thirty-eight years waiting for the waters to be stirred.

• Lying on a mat for thirty-eight years waiting for the waters to be stirred.

Yes, you read that correctly; three times over. I tried to come up with more bullet points to further define the contrast. Given more time and more deliberation, I’m sure I could come up with a fuller definition, at least as it pertains to understanding what wellness is not. But I have an inclination that there is one or two or ten of you out there, like me, that could hear these words and have them be enough to shake you up, wake you up, and grow you up. There is nothing about lying on a mat for thirty-eight years that is going to bring you and me any closer to gaining the healing we long for, the restoration and wholeness our Father longs to bring to us.

What loves us closer to wellness is our willingness to stop making excuses and to start walking with Jesus. Just start walking with Jesus. Healing and wholeness take time. I am not devaluing or disrespecting the timetable attached to the process of getting well. I’m forty-six, and I still have work to do. But unlike the invalid of Jesus’ day, I know who Jesus is, what Jesus can do, and how I can be well. I don’t have the benefit of ignorance to coddle my excuses. I have truth on my side—an entire Bible’s worth of hope at my fingertips, holy words from the holy God that can be wholly trusted with the wellness road.

Do you want to get well? Have your “thirty-eight years” been too many years? Today is the right day to begin your healing walk with Jesus. Roll up your excuses, pick up your mat, and pick up the Word.

The waters have been stirred. There is no time to waste. Movement wins. With Jesus, movement always wins.

Peace for the journey,

Do you want to be well? What is one tangible way you can move forward with your wellness today?

Breakfast on the Beach with Jesus (part three): seeing whom we see

“Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.” {John 21:7}

I’m sitting here this early Saturday morning, wrestling with his question. I first took notice of it two mornings ago, even though it was initially asked 2000 years ago. It haunts me, intrigues me, saddens me, and quickens my heart for a response all in the same breath. A question spoken by Jesus to his well-meaning disciples, who after three years of intense discipleship beneath his sheltering wings, were still a bit confused regarding his identity.

“Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will enough for us.’ Jesus answered, ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?… “ {John 14:8}

“Don’t you know me, Elaine, even after I have been among you such a long time?”

His is a question that cuts me to the core. If you’ve been a reader of my pen for any length of time, then you know that I firmly believe God intends for his ancient questions (whether spoken by prophet, an angel, his own voice, or Jesus) to jump off the pages of scripture to become a question we entreat within our own spirits. In fact, I’ve written an entire manuscript answering some of those questions, but that’s another bend in my road I’ll re-address in a future bend in the road.

I’ve walked with Jesus my entire life, and still there are days when Jesus’ question to Philip is an appropriate response from his heart regarding my faith. Not always does my faith practice with the corresponding revelation of God’s truth within my heart. Not always do I know him, understand him, recognize him, and see him, even though I’ve shared my life with him from the beginning. And this contradiction doesn’t sit well with me. It leads me to some Galilean waters—to a boat and to some disciples whose “right side of the boat” kind of fishing opened their eyes to the truth of the One who was waiting for them by a breakfast fire.

Take a moment to re-read today’s focal scripture from John 21 as printed at the top of this post. Go ahead; I’ll wait.

“As soon as…”

When was the last time you held one? An “as soon as” moment of sacred revelation that spurred you into the waters of reckless abandon? When was the last time your eyes beheld the living Lord? When did you last look up from the “busy and bounty” of your nets to behold the Lover of your soul tending to the fires of your soul’s feast? When was the last time you jumped ship for Jesus?

It’s been awhile since my robes were wet with Peter’s anticipation. I spend a lot of time “doing what I do” {part one} and “answering what I’m asked” {part two}—good things and good gains, but “seeing whom I see”? Perhaps, not so much.

It’s easy to get caught up in our nets, friends. Kingdom fishing is a big business these days. God has issued his call for fishermen and women, even directing our nets to fertile waters ripe for the “catch.” We’re obedient to go, obedient to cast our energies and God-given abilities on the right side of the boat, believing that our Father will honor our obedience. But sometimes in our eagerness to serve, we lose sight of the shore. Sometimes the net’s haul grabs too much of our attention, masking our need for some down time with the One responsible for that haul. Sometimes our wrestling with our nets leaves us restless in our spirits because, even though God inhabits those nets, his unseen presence is masked by the seen and tangible holding of his provision.

It’s a delicate balance—seeing provision and Presence all in the same moment. It’s a quick leap to think that our “right side of the boat” bounty is all about us. But it isn’t; not really, at least not as much as we think. It’s all about Jesus and his willingness to place those 153 fish in the pathway of our nets. Certainly, we must be faithful to direct our nets to right and good waters, but in the end, without fish we have little to show for our hard laboring other than our weariness.

But when we hold provision in our hands—when we hold the living reminders of God’s grace within our grips and are careful to examine their authenticity and ownership—then we, like Peter, risk the wetness of the waters that bridge the chasm between our hunger and the breakfast waiting for us on the shore. When we make the connection between the seen “rewards” of our hands and the unseen treasure trove of God’s heart that placed them there, then we can say as John said in that moment, “It is the Lord!”

His Presence leads to provision, and his provision helps us to recognize his Presence.

Seeing whom we see… knowing whom we know. Two realizations wrapped around one revelation… one Truth—

Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ.

See him this weekend, friends. Know him as well. Let your faith in that seeing launch you into the waters of expectancy so that you might come to the shore of God’s fire and feast on the provision of God’s heart. He’s been up all night in anticipation of your arrival, and don’t be surprised if he’s got a few questions for you. Receive them as his invitation to sacred conversation, and be thankful for the gift of consecrated relationship with the living Lord. As always…

peace for the journey,

post signature

Copyright © February 2010 – Elaine Olsen

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Breakfast on the Beach with Jesus (part two): answering what we’re asked

“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large amount of fish.” (John 21:4-6).

“Elaine, haven’t you any fish?”

“No, Lord, and to be honest with you, I don’t much feel like fishing today.”

“Well, you’re already in the boat; why not throw your net on the right side and see what’s stirring beneath those seemingly empty waters.”

“I’m tired; I’ve been at this for a long time. I can’t believe there’s anything to gain by my fishing, but because you say so, I will cast my net in your direction.”


And so I do, and here I am… casting my net this morning upon the waters of my “usual.” I may not be in a boat on the Galilean waters, but, like the disciples, I’m doing today what I normally do most days… living the life I usually live, while holding the resurrecting truth of Jesus within my heart and wondering where he’d have me “cast” it this day.

We’ve all been charged with the fishing, friends—with the casting of Christ’s net in a right and good direction. Everyone who harbors the truth of Jesus within and is anchored to God’s grace is assigned with the task of liberally dispensing that truth and grace to others so that they might hold truth as their own. Our fishing reels and rods are uniquely designed with our giftings in mind. Not everyone will cast their nets from a boat; some will cast them from a pulpit, from a classroom, from a hospital, from an office. Some from music, from acting, from persuasive speech, from words. Some from a soup kitchen, a barber shop, a check-out line, a prison cell. Some from a kitchen, a garden, a sewing room, a mailroom.

It matters not the venue we’ve been given. What matters is engaging with God’s question when it is given.

“Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

It was a fair question for Jesus to ask his disciples from the beach that morning. After all, they’d heard it before… in those beginning days when Christ first challenged them to no longer catch fish, but to catch men. They responded to his call by throwing their nets at his command and, eventually, throwing down their nets to follow after the sound of his voice and the heart of his eternal matters. In doing so, their hearts were intricately woven to his and were willing to move forward with his “next” for their lives. But as so often is the case with Christ’s calling upon lives—theirs and ours—the “next” sometimes seems vague, veiled and not yet perfectly clear to the believing heart.

Like Peter, John, and the rest of the fishing crew, we default to fishing in familiar waters without the parallel direction from our Father. Those waters may be well-intentioned ones, well-deserving of some time and attention. But if not directed to fish there, if instead we choose to cast our nets there without God’s corresponding “thumbs up,” then like our brothers of yesterday, we often walk away from those expeditions with empty nets and the subsequent “drain” that comes from casting those nets on the wrong waters.

Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to stop fishing and to immediately come to shore. No, what he told them was to cast their nets on the right side of the boat… the better side of the boat where, apparently, there were 153 eager fish awaiting a net’s retrieval. It was then that the disciples’ eyes were opened to the revelation of who awaited them on the shore.

When they fished in the “right” direction, God increased their return by 153 percent. Sit with that concept for a moment and with God’s initial question, and allow them to speak a fresh word into your soul this morning.

“Haven’t you any fish?”

When God asks a question of his children in Scripture, he’s asking it of us as well. His questions are his invitations to us to join him sacred conversation. He means for them to jump off the pages of our Bibles to become a “now” word for us as we go about our ordinary lives with an extraordinary Friend. Questions are God’s way of casting his reel and rod into the depths of our hearts and minds so that we might further probe them for an honest answer.

If I look around me this morning, I see little evidence of a net’s catch. I see dust accumulating on wooden furniture, a basket of clothes needing washed, remnants of last night’s popcorn fest on my living room carpet, and a dining room table filled with miscellaneous “stuff” that needs my eventual attention. Good waters to tend to, but not waters that will yield the kind of catch that God’s after this day. I could have given in to their immediate insistence—could have walked away from Christ’s question in order to accomplish my ever-growing “to do” list, but in doing so, I would have missed an opportunity to cast my net in a good and right direction—one in keeping with God’s kingdom agenda.

The net has been thrown, friends; the words have been written. I believe that you reside somewhere on the “right” side of my morning expedition. May God reside there as well, tending to your heart and in your answering of his question as only he can.

“Haven’t you any fish?”

Throw your nets on the right side of the boat today, and see if our Father’s faithfulness isn’t waiting there to fill them.

Fish well this week. Fish for the kingdom. I’ll see you on the shore where we will share in the bounty of a good and right obedience. As always…

peace for the journey,


PS: Where is God telling you to cast your net this day? What right and good direction has God allowed you kingdom influence in this season of living? When has the “catch” he’s given you exceeded your expectation? I’d love to hear a witness along these lines

A Building Matter…

“Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in. I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought Israel up out of Egypt to this day. I have moved from one tent site to another, from one dwelling place to another.’” (1 Chronicle 17:4-5).

I have little time to be here today, friends. Still and yet, I’ve been stuck in 1 Chronicles 17 for the better part of an hour and feel like I want to say something. Nothing new on my end; “saying” something seems an easy fit with my personality. That being said, not all my “saying” is worthy of the “saying.” Are you following me?

Even if you’re not, there’s something I want to say to you. Something I think that God would like for us to remember as we go about the business of our day, desperately trying to “build” a life that matters. We’re all busy building something.

Bank accounts.
___________________ (you fill in the blank).

Regardless of the “dressing” we’re wearing this morning, whether it be a hard hat, a whistle, and briefcase, some overalls, or, perhaps even our pj’s from the night before, you and I woke up to build something this morning. And while our intentions may operate from the purest of motives, nothing will build as lasting … nothing will frame as enduring… without the hands of God in the mix.

Here’s the deal. As Christians, we’re tempted to think that “If we build it, He will come.” Sometimes it seems to happen that way. But there’s a danger in thinking that the work of our hands and hearts can contain the holy presence of Almighty God. Our “building” may sound good on paper … might even match up with the truth of God’s Word and even receive the prayerful support of a well-intentioned committee or a home-team advantage.

But unless God builds it, we labor in vain … in our prideful attempts at trying to make God happen rather than simply letting God be. Where he will. When he will. Moving from one tent to another as he will.

You and I are that tent. As New Testament believers, we house the presence of the living God in this covering of our flesh—a temporary covering that will soon trade in for the eternal cloaking of a forever structure. Wherever we walk, he walks. God inhabits our flesh in order to build his kingdom through us, most days in spite of us. Most days we get it backwards. Most days we move ahead of God’s process.

We build and then we ask and then we wonder what went wrong. Why isn’t it working? Why isn’t the all-consuming fire from God descending upon our precious altar of hard work and sacrifice and causing it to burn with all the fervor and purpose of heaven? Why do the offerings of my brother or my sister’s heart seem more pleasing to God? Where is my payoff for doing something for kingdom?

Oh friends, we mean well. Really we do, and I believe that God honors our meaning well. We can’t always see on the front side of our laboring which way it’s going to go. Sometimes we just jump in with all the wild and wooly of a well-meaning trust, and rather than smacking us down immediately, God tenderly esteems the “want to” behind our building. He sees our hearts that are eager to do something … to be something … to work toward something that will matter in the end.

He doesn’t balk at our desire. Instead, he simply asks us for the shaping of that desire. For us to bring our desire before him … to sit with him in uninterrupted pause and consider the “building” together. As the “tent holders” of an extraordinary King and his kingdom therein, we carry the weighty responsibility of bringing Jesus into the mix of our everyday doings.

Wouldn’t it be better to consult him before dragging him into the work of our hands? In doing so, we might save ourselves a heap of heartache and disappointment on the front end of a long labor.

Regardless of your current building project, God is with you. Whether you started it in vain or whether you’ve sensed his fingerprints from the very beginning. God doesn’t abandon us mid-stream. He may not be a fan of our plan (and therefore calling us to change course), but God has and always will be a fan of our hearts. He understands that we won’t always get it right. That sometimes we let our dreams about “building something bigger” eclipse his dreams about “building something lasting.”

And I don’t know how you stand on the issue, but as for me, I’m after a “something” that is going to last. God determines the size of the building, and whether it is a big thing or a small fraction of that big, it will be a perfect fit into a perfect plan that constructs a perfect kingdom within a perfect forever.

I can live with that. Indeed, I can run with this one. Thus, I’d better get out of these pj’s and get on with my moving on. God’s got something to build through me; you too. And while we may not be able to see the fullness of the plan in this moment, we can be confident that there is one. May we all have the good sense and willing heart to sit before our Father this day and ask for it rather than assuming our wisdom and strength enough to build it. Thus, I pray…

Forgive us, Father, when we think ourselves worthy of building our lives in isolation. Your hands build everlasting. Mine build to dust. Keep me mindful and humble of the chasm between the two. Keep me thankful for the grace that covers my willful ignorance accordingly. Amen.

post signature

PS: Whew… that’s a lot of saying for someone who doesn’t have much time today! That being said, I believe someone needed to hear it. I certainly did. If you want to take further time with this concept, please read 1 Chronicles 17 and see what God might be saying to you about your current “building” project. Mine looks a whole lot like a WIP (work in progress) near completion, but that’s another post for another day. Shalom.

error: Content is protected !!