Author: Debbie Herbeck

A Father Who Waits

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This article originally appeared on the Be Love Revolution blog.

I’ve noticed in my own life how easy it is to relate to God as Someone who wants something from me—like an employer, a landlord, or a coach—and my “job” is to earn the right to be loved and accepted by obeying, serving, and loving Him. But the problem with this approach is that God isn’t looking for employees, tenants, or rule followers, He desires a deep, personal relationship with each of us that is rooted in trust.

To understand this reality, I’ve been meditating on the goodness and kindness of the Father, so that I can move from an “earning mentality” to a childlike posture of believing and receiving His unconditional love for me. Reflecting on my own father has helped me to do this.

I have a distinct memory of my earthly dad always waiting for me—waiting up for me to come home when I was a teenager (not sure I always appreciated it then), waiting for me to arrive home when I made the five-hour drive from college, and waiting for me when I came back to visit with my own kids. Throughout the years, his faithful “waiting” helped create for me a sense of stability and care, despite a painful family tragedy, rocky years of high school, and disagreements about my life choices. My father’s care was far from perfect and he often didn’t know how to talk through things, but his waiting implied: “I am here; I’m not going anywhere; your life, your part in our family, and your well-being matter immensely to me.”

A few years ago, as he lay dying, in and out of consciousness, my twin sister and I went to him. And for one final time, he was waiting for us. As we approached his bedside, he called out in a loud, strong, excited voice to my mother, who had died from cancer four years earlier. “Carole, the girls are here! Debbie and Dana are home!” And once again, a familiar scene was re-enacted in my mind—my dad waiting in the den for the front door to open, and then calling to my mom upstairs, to announce my arrival. And even as he took his last breath, he was waiting for me, so that now, at last he could go home to his Heavenly Father who was waiting for him.

Although my father’s mind and body were ravaged from disease, he represented to me the patient, ever-waiting-always-present heart of my Heavenly Father.

I am thankful for my father, for always waiting for me, for his selflessness and unconditional love, and the pain he carried for our family. I pray that he is in heaven with our Father, and that he is still eagerly waiting for me to come Home.

Hope is a Who

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This article originally appeared on the blog for the Be Love Revolution, which you can view here.

Many Decembers ago, in a small dorm room at the University of Michigan, a miracle happened. The God of the Universe broke into my selfish and sinful heart. That night after months of searching, my unnamed longing was revealed to me in the person of Jesus the Messiah, and through my feeble YES, faith—as new as the baby Jesus—was born in my heart.

Now as a disciple of Jesus I’m trying to help others, especially young women, to know, love, and follow Him too. My idea of a great week is Pine Hills Girls Camp, being on mission in the garbage dump in Mexico City, an early Tuesday morning bible study at the local coffee shop, and being with my grandchildren.

Yet despite all the good things and God things in my life, I am prone to discouragement, and at times I struggle with HOPE. After many years of following Jesus, I have faced great joy and great pain, triumphs and disappointments, answered prayers and ones that seem to fall on deaf ears. But during the season of Advent there is a truth that has helped me cling to and grow in hope. Hope is a Who. I know this sounds like a Dr. Seuss book title, but hear me out…

When I was pregnant with each of my children I was filled with such expectant hope because I was preparing to giving birth to a real person, not a theory or a concept, but a real, living person with a name (Sarah, Michael, Joshua, Rachel), a face, an identity, a personality, and a purpose. I couldn’t wait to welcome that little person into our life.

Advent helps me remember that God who really exists—not as an idea, a philosophy, or theory—was born into our world as a human person, with a name (Jesus), an identity, a personality, and a purpose. Hope is a Who. My hope is rooted in the person of Jesus Christ and the certainty of what God has promised in Him. My hope isn’t based on my feelings or circumstances which change constantly, or in material things which break and wear out. My hope in others can bring disappointment, and hope in myself incites self-reliance and often ends in failure.

What fills me with hope is Jesus’ unbreakable promise: “I am with you always.” The name Emmanuel, God-with-us, reminds me that I am never alone, that he came to earth to set up his dwelling within me; that he will never leave me or forsake me. True hope isn’t anchored in my word, on wishful thinking or what I want, but on what the sovereign, loving God knows I need, revealed to me in the Word made flesh, and the rock-solid truth of the Scriptures.

Hope has a name and His Name is JESUS. When the light of hope fades within you, like it does in me sometimes, I challenge you to speak, proclaim, and praise the name of Jesus with the confidence of a trusted friend. Let your hope grow—not in what is to come or in what may be, but in Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah who has come to make His home in us. This Christmas, may Jesus, the Hope of the world, find a welcome place in our hearts.

God Wants to Bring Us Home

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This post originally appeared as a daily devotional on the website Blessed is She.

Friday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Bar 1:15-22

During the Babylonian captivity, the exiles prayed:
“Justice is with the Lord, our God;
and we today are flushed with shame,
we men of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem,
that we, with our kings and rulers
and priests and prophets, and with our ancestors,
have sinned in the Lord’s sight and disobeyed him.
We have neither heeded the voice of the Lord, our God,
nor followed the precepts which the Lord set before us.
From the time the Lord led our ancestors out of the land of Egypt
until the present day,
we have been disobedient to the Lord, our God,
and only too ready to disregard his voice.
And the evils and the curse that the Lord enjoined upon Moses, his servant,
at the time he led our ancestors forth from the land of Egypt
to give us the land flowing with milk and honey,
cling to us even today.
For we did not heed the voice of the Lord, our God,
in all the words of the prophets whom he sent us,
but each one of us went off
after the devices of his own wicked heart,
served other gods,
and did evil in the sight of the Lord, our God.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 79:1b-2, 3-5, 8, 9

  1. (9) For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
    O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
    they have defiled your holy temple,
    they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
    They have given the corpses of your servants
    as food to the birds of heaven,
    the flesh of your faithful ones to the beasts of the earth.
    R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
    They have poured out their blood like water
    round about Jerusalem,
    and there is no one to bury them.
    We have become the reproach of our neighbors,
    the scorn and derision of those around us.
    O LORD, how long? Will you be angry forever?
    Will your jealousy burn like fire?
    R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
    Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
    may your compassion quickly come to us,
    for we are brought very low.
    R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
    Help us, O God our savior,
    because of the glory of your name;
    Deliver us and pardon our sins
    for your name’s sake.
    R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.

Alleluia Ps 95:8

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    If today you hear his voice,
    harden not your hearts.
    R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 10:13-16

Jesus said to them,
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented,
sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon
at the judgment than for you.
And as for you, Capernaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven?
You will go down to the netherworld.’
Whoever listens to you listens to me.
Whoever rejects you rejects me.
And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

– – –
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

In the past few months, depending on where we live, we have been warned and cautioned to prepare for life-threatening storms and impending destruction. And in some places, disaster has come without warning, shaking the very ground of people’s existence. Warnings are helpful. Yet often, unless they are direct, firm, and even stern, we can miss and fail to heed them.

Today’s Gospel passage is a difficult one to read, filled with the language of prophetic warning and judgment. It seems foreign and remote. Even as I read it, I find myself skimming; how do Jesus’ words apply to my daily life?I notice in me a very human tendency to avoid His harsher pronouncements and prefer His softer, more tender words. But I’m reminded of 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, training in righteousness.

So, like it or not, these ancient words are also intended for me. The unusually harsh words of judgment reflect God’s love for us, and His desire that none of us perish. So, what do we have in common with the three Galilean towns to which Jesus announces doom? (Luke 10:13-16)

Continue reading here.

‘Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock’

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This post originally appeared on the Be Love Revolution blog.

There are some words used in the bible that we just don’t hear very often in our modern world, and so they fail to carry their weight. “Behold” is one of those words that has begun to fascinate me, because Jesus used it to grab our attention and make a really important point.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with them , and they with Me.

I went to Webster’s Dictionary for a little help with this word:

be·hold, a verb. To see or observe (a thing or person, especially a remarkable or impressive one). To look with deep understanding; to take your breath away, to give your undivided attention to.

This definition rattles me a bit, because it’s so hard to do. To behold someone or something, and in particular, to “behold Jesus”, means stopping still, ceasing all other activities, and giving my full attention and searching gaze to Him. He stands knocking at the door of my heart and says, “I’m here, look at (behold) me!” He will not enter in uninvited, where there is no space or place for Him. But the instant we ask Him to come, He is there.

Continue reading here.

What if Today is the Last Day of Your Life?

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Debbie Herbeck recently wrote about how coming to know Christ transformed her thoughts about mortality from ones of fear into ones filled with hope. We pray her recount of her journey will bring you comfort and peace, and help you also to confront death with faith.

What if today is the last day of your life? What if today is the last day in someone else’s life that you love? What if today is the day the world ends and Jesus returns?

These are challenging questions to ponder. No one wants to think about anything good coming to an end, especially our own lives. I distinctly remember when I was ten years old, lying in my bed late at night having just received the news of my grandfather’s death. That night, for the first time in the dark of night, I also realized that one day I too would close my eyes and never awaken. I know it sounds like a morbid thought, especially coming from a ten-year-old, but it’s a reality we all must face. It was the first time someone close to me had passed away, and little did I know then, that five years later another even more painful parting would shroud our family.

Continue reading here.