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Imperfect Progress

Unglued. Have you come unglued yet today? This week? This month? Don’t try to tell me you are the “together type of person”. Every single one of us has an area of our life that just makes us come unglued; makes us separate ourselves completely from the adhesive “stuff” that holds us together and keeps our world turning.

So be honest with yourself? When was the last time you came unglued? What was the trigger?

These days for me, it doesn’t seem to take much. For some unknown reason, I’m sort of stressed out. Maybe it’s because I’m about to teach a college class for the first time after not having worked for almost 6 years. Maybe it’s because I’m losing my mom and watching her slip away all too fast. Maybe it’s because my house is coming up on 3 years on the market and I’m tired of having to keep the house “20 minutes from spotless” all the time. Maybe it’s because I can’t keep my three year old son from chasing our poor dog around the house with his dump truck or from pulling his tail, or because my five year old daughter is thinks she can have the attitude of a fifteen year old. Whatever the reason, my aim is to not become so easily unglued. I need to find what it is that causes that feeling in me and turn my eyes immediately to the one who can keep us glued, to our world and to Him.

But HOW???

So go back to that thing or those things that cause you to become unglued. Do you often promise yourself to change and then become frustrated because you can’t? You failed again? I do. Over. And over. And over again. You know what my main problem is? Often, this change in my life that I want to make may align with scripture, but I leave Him out. I forget that He is the one that works in us, changing us from the inside out. I try to do it…on my own…without Him. No wonder I fail!

Sometimes this can failure alone cause us to come unglued. Why? Well…we can become sad because of the way that we acted. After all, we failed, right? We didn’t do, or did the very thing we promised ourselves we’d do (or not to do). I don’t know about you, but when I fail, I am already upset, so it doesn’t take much for something else to make that mountain just a little bigger. Thoughts racing through my mind at the time are something like, “Why can’t I control my reactions? I stuff. Then I explode. This kind of stuff hurts. A lot!

If you can relate to any of the above, maybe you can relate to the hope that I am starting to see.

You see, being the microwave society that we are, we want things (change) instantly. When we don’t get it, we feel like a failure. When we make those vows to change, to stop overreacting, to stop yelling, to stop whatever it is, we want to be masters of having a handle on things the very next day.

I do, do you? I ‘m betting you are just like me. You want everyone to think you’re perfect and have everything together…but oh goodness are we far from perfect under that facade we put up. The truth is, all people have more in common with each other than we think. Whether you’re married or single. With kids or without. Old or young. Employed or out of a job. Rich or poor. We all are different, but we all share the same struggle and have the same core issues.

If knowing you’re not out there alone in your struggle isn’t hope enough, here’s something else. This is what Lysa Terkheurst in her book calls imperfect progress.

Imperfect progress…what in the world is that!?!?

Let me put it simply. Imperfect progress is allowing yourself to take baby steps, allowing for forward and backwards movements. But progress should be a pushing forward, right? YES!! But reality is that progress is filled with big victories, small victories, set backs, and do overs. It’s allowing yourself to admit that you aren’t perfect and require time to change. It’s HARD. But thankfully, hard doesn’t mean the same thing as impossible. Hard just means we need to remember that He is beside us walking with us, guiding us, and sometimes even carrying us. Hard keeps our eyes focused on the goal, and on Him at the same time.

Imperfect progress brings with it emotions. But if we realize that emotions are a God-given thing, we can also realize how those emotions can help us continue moving forward, one baby step at a time. It’s OK to have a setback or to have a do over as long as we keep moving forward, slow and steady.

So join with me as we pick up the pieces from our unglued experiences and watch as those ashes become something beautiful. Get ready, though, for the roller coaster ride.

I’m ready. Are you?

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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Be The Branch

“Be the branch”…that’s my new favorite phrase.  And it’s even better if it’s coupled with someone putting their hand up in the air to resemble what a branch might look like.  “Be the branch” is a short and concise (very short and concise) way of interpreting one of my favorite verses, John 5:15 which says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he
will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

So why is this my favorite phrase?  Because it represents what we need to stand for…being the branch, not the source.  In other words, relying fully on the Holy Spirit instead of on ourselves…allowing Him to take the be in control of everything, not just some things.

Yes, I did just say that we should refrain from our controlling nature, climbing from the drivers seat to the passenger seat.  Ouch!  Does your gut hurt yet?  Mine does. Because I like to be in control.  Not in a dictator way,  Just in a go getter sort of way.  And I think you’d be lying to yourself if you said you didn’t have a little bit of that in you, too.

What our role is:
Our role in this Christian life is to simply…well, be the branch.  We are to remain attached to our source of life, the Vine.  And when we do that, we will bear fruit…good fruit.

Our role is to draw from the “nutrients” He provides.

Our role is to grow, but only through being connected to the Vine.

Our role is to not force that growth of fruit, but to wait on it to grow naturally.

What our role is not:                                                                                                                                    Our role is not to detach ourselves from the branch. Just one verse later, it says, “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and
withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned”.

Our role is not to attempt to control our lives and every circumstance in our lives.

Our role is not to take situations into our own hands.

All of that being said, if we try to detach from the source, we wither and die.  We are unsuccessful.  We are nothing.  But if we stay connected, drawing from all of the nutrients that are provided to us, keeping our eyes on Him, we naturally produce good fruit.  We remain alive!

In thinking often about this passage and my new favorite phrase, I heard a our pastor speak last week on the faith chapter…Hebrews 11.  He took one major character out of that book, Noah, and talked about his jorney of faith.  Think back to that story.  We all know the basics, but do we really know what kind of faith it took to acheive such a feat?  Noah had to be the branch.  He had to completely rely on God to provide him with what was needed next.

Noah, as historians often say, had never seen rain.  So if he’d never seen rain, he had no clue what a flood was. And though he’d probably seen a boat, he most certainly had never just run across an ark.  So how did this giant ark come into being?  Did Noah just come up with the plans just like that, say “Abra Cadabra”, tap his magic wand, and out of nothingness appears this gigantic boat that was supposed to hold two of every single species of animals on the earth?  Uh – no.

What happened is that he had to wait…and then he had to wait some more.  I imagine God didn’t just slap some plans down and say, “This is what I want you to build, and this is what it’s going to look like.  Good luck!”  I imagine it went something like this:

God: “Noah, you are the only good left in this world.  You and your family are about to witness something that is far beyond your wildest dreams.  You will be spared.  But in order to be saved from the destruction that awaits the rest of the world, I need you to stay focused on me.  I will show you exactly what to do, but one step at a time.”

You see, when God gives us an assignment, big or small, He will show us what He wants us to do, but not all at once.  He prepares us…prepares us for one step at a time. This is where our faith comes in.  It wouldn’t be faith if we were given all instructions at once because we would see the end result.  It is hard to wait on Him.  Hard to not see what is next.  And because he shows us one step at a time, it is that much more important for us to be the branch, not try to be the vine.  Because when we try to be the vine and guess at what is coming next, we are trying to play God, and we are taking the glory that is due Him away from Him.  He rejoices in seeing our eyes on Him, awaiting His instructions.  And when He sees that step of faith on our parts, He responds.

With Noah, God gave him a huge assignment.  One that took 120 years to complete.  But God showed him, one board at a time, how to finish.  And because of Noah’s obedience, focus, and reliance, we are here today.  God could have just said, “You know what?  Maybe you’re not as good as I thought you were.  I think I’ll allow you and your family to die in this flood too.”

What is the assignment that God has called you to do?  It may not seem as big as what Noah’s was, but let me tell you, it’s important nonetheless.  And when you wait on Him, when you’re the branch, you just might look back on your journey and realize how much you’ve grown because of that faith in Him.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Missing her…

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  In years past, as a kid, we’d have gotten together with my dad’s side of the family for lunch and fellowship.  Sometimes it was a big family reunion type of deal.  Now that I’m married with kids of my own, we don’t do anything major.  We usually go out to eat and I get to hear the kids say in their loud, cheery voices, “Happy Mudders Day, Mommy!”  Then that afternoon sometime, I call my own mom to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and we talk for a while about things going on in the Big D.

This year was different.  There was the typical restaurant, and the “Happy Mudders Day!” squeals, but there was no conversation with my mom.  It’s not because I’m angry with her or anything of that nature.  It’s quite the opposite.  It’s that my mom isn’t really my mom anymore.

Ok, in reality, she still really IS my mom, but she’s not the same.  There’s some other person trapped in my mom’s body.  At least that’s the way I try to rationalize it.  My mom died about a year ago.  What’s left is this….this lifeless, cognitively challenged being.  What I wouldn’t give to be able to have a rational conversation with her…just once more.

One last chance to tell her that I’m angry that she’s having to deal with this disease.

That I want, as a 30 year old woman, the chance to have a friendship with her.

That I want to go shopping with her, or on a girls weekend with she and my daughter.

But I can’t do that.  I’ll never be able to do that.  And because of that, I find myself angry a lot.  Angry at the fact that my dad is having to watch her die.

Angry that I never got the chance to have that cherished friendship that so many of my friends have with their mothers.

Angry that my mom is starting to forget who I am.

Angry that God has brought this on her.

I’m just angry.

And that, though a very real and raw emotion for me, is not the appropriate emotion to have.  I didn’t want this for her…for my dad…for my brother…for me….  But the truth is it’s not about me.  It’s not even about my mom.  This is about God’s sovereignty.  Though I can’t see the silver lining in all this, I know that I don’t have an ounce of control.

I cry a lot.  My poor husband has been warned that at any given moment I might just break out into tears.  He knows that when I do that, the best thing he can do is just come to me and wrap his arms around me.  And he’s had to do that many times.  It’s not a sin that I’m angry.  Anger is a very real emotion.  It was written in scriptures that Jesus was angry in John chapter 2.

No, it’s not that I’m angry that’s the sin.  It’s what I’m choosing to do with that anger.  I’m choosing to dwell in that anger which in reality just makes me more angry.  What I’m not choosing to do is capture that thought and give it up to Him.  I’m not choosing to rest in His presence.  What I’m choosing to do is be selfish, because it all comes back to why I don’t think it’s right for her to be in this situation, and why it’s not fair for me.  Do you hear that?  It’s called selfishness.  And it’s called sin.

At this point, I must begin to work through my sin…my selfishness.  I must try and focus on Him, the one who created her.

He is the one who has the reigns and gets to decide when to bring her home.

He decides how rapidly her decline is.

He is sovereign.  And He is who I must put my full trust in.

I don’t get to choose those things, no matter how badly I want to.

A friend wrote about a similar situation on her blog – about how we often hear “All things work together for good.”  The full verse is, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28.  I hear this often, and it stings everytime I do.  Because I can’t see the good in this.  In any of it!  I can’t see that there is good in the fact that I no longer have my mom. I can’t see the good in the fact that my kids have to be told everytime we go visit her, “She might not remember who you are today…just remind her.”  I can’t see the good in the fact that my dad is having to watch her slowly die…that his spouse is cognitively no more than 5 years old…and that one day, probably very soon, she will forget who he is.

But the reality is that we were given that verse as a promise.  If we love God, and if we are called according to His purpose, He promises that ALL THINGS will work together for good.  I’m not sure I fully understand that verse, but I will cling to the fact that it is a promise.  And what He promises, He carries out.

Truthfully, if I take myself out of the present circumstance, it is obvious that we as humans are so very limited on what we can see.  And it’s a good thing, too. We can only see the here and now, not even a second into the future.  So for now, I must bring myself to a point where I can rest in His promise.  Rest in Him.  I must set my anger, my hurt, my longings to have my mom back aside.  Because until I do, I my mind will be so clouded with all the “what ifs” and “why this?” that I will miss the most important thing.  I will miss His presence.  His security.  His peace.  His blessings.

And if my choices are to be angry or to trust in His promise, I’m choosing to trust.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

What’s it to you?

People often talk about religion like it’s just another part of their life, like it’s just no big deal.  I’ve heard way too often, “Yeah, I’m a religious person.”  But in the conversation before, they might have said, “Yeah, I’m a pretty outdoorsy person.”  Being outdoorsy doesn’t define them, it’s just something that they consider to be something they do from time to time.  And so often, being religious doesn’t define them either.  It’s just another part of their life.

What the mean by their “I’m religious” statement (most of the time anyway) isn’t I am a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.  More often, it means something along the lines of “I believe in God, and I try to be a good person, but ask me to give something up for God and I won’t do it.” 

What I am realizing is that there are a lot of people who consider themselves to be religious, some just simply because they wear a 14 carot gold cross chain around their necks.  Being “Christian” these days is just a way of lumping yourself in with the next guy.  But being “religious” can sometimes get us into trouble.

Now I’m not trying to negate the fact that many who say they are Christians really are.  If they truly had a moment in their life where they gave their life to Christ, meaning they professed that He is Lord, acknowledged that they were a sinner and needed Christ to save them, and asked for Christ to be their Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9 (NIV)9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.)  But becoming a Christian isn’t the hard part.  The hard part is knowing what comes next and actually doing it.  It’s that personal relationship that should follow that initial act accepting Christ. 

So what’s religion mean to you?  What does it mean to you to be a Christian?  What does it mean to you to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? 

Let me share what it means to me.  When I was a teenager, I strived to “be a good person”.  I accepted Christ as my personal savior at the age of 8, so technically I was a born again believer.  But I didn’t really get what it meant to be a follower.  Being a Christian to me meant trying to act as Jesus would.  And I wasn’t necessarily wrong in that.  That is part of what we are to do.  We should strive to be like-minded.  But it is only part.  I also allowed my identity to be shaped and molded by what others thought of me.  I wasn’t one who was easily swayed in my actions, but I sought acceptance from others when the One I should have sought acceptance from was God. 

You see, if you grew up in church like me, you probably are familiar with “the prayer” that you’re told to say.  All pastors have their own version.  All of them have slightly different wordings, but most say just about the same thing.  Acknowledge who He is, confess to being a sinner, and ask Him to live in your heart.  Until pretty recently, I was always hung up on the “ask Jesus to live in your heart” bit.  I’m not sure why.  It probably has to do with the fact that I’m a very literal person, and just struggled to understand why we chose to use that verbage.  I guess I just thought it was a good way to explain it to new believers.  Truthfully, I just never thought to look into why that was the phrase that was chosen. 

So let’s talk about that phrase…”come live in my heart”. What does that really mean?   Let’s look in the book of John, chapter 14.  While Jesus was on this earth, knowing He was leaving soon, he made this promise:  (vs 26) “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, our heart is changed.  We become a new creation, one that now has the Holy Spirit literally living inside of us.  He is there to be our counselor, constantly wooing us back to Christ, constantly talking to us, constantly desiring to provide peace, comfort, security, etc.  He IS living in our hearts. 

If you are a born-again believer, you may have gotten to the point in your life where you don’t feel like He is a part of you anymore.  Like He left you.  Let me assure you that you will NEVER leave His grasp once you accept Him.  And let me assure you that He still is within your very core, but His voice will become so small that we won’t even hear it.  It’s those times that we tend to feel like He has abandoned us.  But in reality, it’s that we’ve abandoned Him.  It’s the danger that comes from drifting away from that personal relationship.  Maybe you have ignored His still small voice so much that your heart has become hardened to hearing Him.  If that is the case, confess to Him your hardened heart and ask that He open your ears to hear Him once again.  He will be faithful to do that. 

As a teenager, I always knew that there was the trinity; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But I don’t think I ever realized what that all meant.  I obviously knew that there was the Holy Spirit, but what I didn’t know kept me from having a true personal relationship with Him.  Having the Holy Spirit is the bridge that was provided for us to have direct access to God himself.  You see, the Holy Spirit only speaks, not on His own, but what He hears from the Father. (John 16:13) “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” 

Having the Holy Spirit means more than this, though.  Because we have the Holy Spirit, we are afforded the opportunity to have that personal relationship, one on one communion with our Savior 24/7.  The concept of God no longer has to be this far off fairy tale idea that is something that only the most holy of holies has.  No…it’s just the opposite.  When we become this new creation, we become new because the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us.  That doesn’t mean we can treat Him like a genie.  What it means is that we have the security of knowing that the Holy Spirit immediately begins to mold our lives.  He begins to slowly change us from the inside out.  It’s a lifetime process, one that has many ups and downs.  But we can rest assured that He who has begun a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).  He doesn’t start and decide we’re not worth it. He continues…until we are complete. 

So in conclusion, accepting Christ is just part of this thing we call “religion”.  It’s a first step in a life-long race.  Truly following Christ means being in tune to what the Holy Spirit is telling us, to what He is teaching us.  Being a follower of Christ means that we run the race to its end, through the peaks and valleys.  Being a follower means we keep our eyes on Jesus, and on the prize.  Being a follower means we carve out time to spend with Jesus, seeking to find what it is He is wanting to share.  Being a follower means we are striving to be like-minded with Jesus.  Being a follower is hard, but it’s rewarding.  Being a follower is what we were called to be. 

We weren’t called to be religious.  Religion can be blind and dead.  Even the anti-Christ will seem religious.  Religion is a practice of rituals and can stifle the movement of the Holy Spirit.  Religion seeks to be seen by others, bringing glory to themselves, not God. We weren’t called to be religious.  We were called to be His disciples…His followers.  Are you following Jesus?  Or are you just being religious? 

 

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Yes, I trust you God. I think….

It’s funny how God works in and through our lives. I guess it’s not funny how He works, but rather how we work. I guess what’s strange is how much patience He has for us.  Who else would ask for us to trust Him fully only to get a half-hearted answer, “yes, God…I trust you.  But let me handle this one just this once.”  And then we try.  And then we fail.  Over, and over…and over.  I imagine hearing those words are equivalent to hearing a child say, “No!  I wanna do it all by myself!  Can I do it, please???  Pretty please with a cherry on top?”  But He simply steps back and allows us that free will.  He watches us fall, and then He is there to pick us back up again asking once again, “Will you trust me?”  And so the cycle continues.  He seems to have to literally beat things into our brains before we get them.

Why is it so hard for us?  Why can’t we surrender our lives totally to God.  We know that life would be so much easier if we would just do what He asks of us the first time, so why don’t we?  Those are answers I don’t know, and don’t ever anticipate knowing the answers to.  Why, you ask??  Because I fall into the category of “I trust you God, I think.” 

John 14:1 says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God.  Trust also in me [Jesus]” 

That’s seems pretty clear to me.  We are not to worry, or be troubled, or trust in someone else or something else.  We are to truat God.  And we are to trust Jesus.  And since we know that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one, trusting in one means trusting in all.  AND since we know that when we accept the gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit immediately comes to live within us.  Knowing that, it should be a comfort to trust in God fully.  But is it enough to get us over the barrier?  Enough to break down the walls? 

Here’s the kicker.  Jesus knows that with sin having entered the world through Adam and Eve, we will always have trust issues.  He knows and expects that.  Look at the Old Testament stories and you’ll see that common thread running through.  There are a select few who seemed to trust fully…Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice his son, Noah when he was asked to build a humongous ark when he had never before seen a drop of rain.  But then look at others.  Adam and Eve.  Moses, the leader of the Israelites.  ALL of the Israelites who ended up wandering for 40 years because of lack of trust.  David on multiple occasions.  Jonah.  Saul.  Sampson.  And on and on, all the way through the new testament with the disciples, one of whom was named DOUBTING Thomas.  Sadly, lack of trust seems to come with the territory of being a human being.  So should we just use that as an excuse?  Absolutely not. 

So the next question is, how do we trust?  Well, that may be different depending on who you are.  But here are some ways that I find it easier to trust in Him fully.  For starters, we can cling to a particular verse or two that talk about trusting, ones like the familiar Proverbs 3:5-6; “TRUST in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not unto your own understandings.  In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He WILL direct your paths.”  There’s a promise embedded within that one.

This may sound crazy, but another way I find that I can trust Him a little easier is to imagine myself strapping into a yoke with Jesus.  A yoke is a big wooden contraption that is used to pull heavy loads.  But usually it takes two animals to make it work efficiently.  And there is usually a stronger animal that does the guiding and carries a larger portion.  I, in my human form have a large load to carry.  It’s called life.  But when I try to do it myself, I find I move slower and wear out faster.  But when I allow my Jesus to strap into it with me, I give a significant portion of my load to Him, AND I allow Him to lead the way.  It’s a breath of fresh air when I can visualize myself handing off my burdens, stresses, fears, etc. 

Remember the other day when I quoted a marquee board I saw once?  I’ll quote it again.  “Faith looks up.  Worry looks around.” 

Do you have a hard time trusting Him fully?  How do you think you might be able to come to a point where you can trust Him more?

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

On the Wings of Eagles

All my life I’ve heard this verse, one I’m sure you’re familiar with. Paraphanilia is all over the place.  Pictures with giant, soaring eagles with the verse imprinted above it.  Miniature statues of eagles with wings spread wide.  Like I said, I’ve seen it dozens of times. 

“…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)

Do  you see a pattern here?  It’s amazing that we can read a verse dozens, sometimes hundres of times and the 425th time we read it something new sticks out.  Just recently, I looked at this verse in a new light.  Before, I was focusing on the three distinct parts, soar on wings, run and not grow weary, and walk and not be faint.  But as if I were reading it for the first time, something jumped out at me.  They will.  It’s a promise, not a “maybe statement”.  It doesn’t read, they might, just maybe, or even some will.  It says they will.  That’s unbelievely comforting to me to know that there are three promises that I’m guarenteed to have.  But there’s a catch.  One small thing that we have to do first.  You knew it was coming…   Before we imagine that we are lifted high the clouds on a plush set of feathers soaring far, far away from our troubles, we must first do something.  We must, as Isaiah puts it, hope in the Lord…so how do we do that??!?!

I am no scripture expert, but I believe it’s pretty simple.  In the Bible (NASB version), there are 140 mentions of the word hope.  Of those, there are multiple uses and meanings of the word.  In the NASB version, however, a different word is used for this particular verse.  Same meaning, but different word.  It says, “..and those who wait for the Lord.”  So what’s the difference?  When I wait, often, it’s done in impatience, complete with the hands on the hips and the toe a tappin’.  Hope to me means something completely different. The word wait in this verse means, literally, to wait, look for, hope, expect. 

So what does that mean for us?  How do we hope and wait? 

We “wait” by actively seeking.  Sounds a little messed up, right?  Wait is usually a passive verb, not an active one.  Yet, I think that the Lord wants us to wait by seeking Him.  When we seek Him, we are acknowledging that He is all that we need.  More than that, we’re acknowledging that He is our source of comfort, of peace, of healing, of (insert word here). 

This is no game of hide and seek, though.  He is there…waiting for us.  He does not hide His face from us.  No, we are the ones who hide from Him…or try to.  He is constantly wooing us to Himself, constantly drawing us to His heart.  But we, in our selfish, sinful ways…we are the ones who turn away from Him. The ones who walk away.  The ones who try to hang onto the control we think we have in this life.  And so His voice begins to fade, and we assume that He has left us or no longer cares.  But there he waits, patiently, lovingly.  Waits for us to come to the end of ourselves and realize our need for Him.  And I believe that when that happens, just like when a lost child freezes in their footsteps and can do nothing but cry out until they are found, we cry out to Him in a similar way.  And He is there just as that parent who has found their lost child. I know this because the Bible says in Luke 15:4,

“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?”  If one of his children is lost, you can rest assured that He is looking.

I once saw a marquee board with the following quotation; “Faith looks up. Worry looks around.”   It has become one of my favorite, one that I frequently am reminded of in my times of worry – which are plenty.  Faith looks up…it actively seeks…it hopes for, and it waits.  And in those times, the times when we feel we need Him more than any other, we only need to look up.  And wait expecting (there’s another one of those passive/active combinations) that He will show up and meet you where you are in your time of need.  He’s not asking that you meet any certain criteria before you come to Him.  He just wants you to call on Him, and when you do, your voice is enough to stir His soul, and He is there. 

This verse has been one that has whispered across my soul many times in the last few months.  I have watched my mom just fade away. Her body is still with us, but her mind is somewhere else, and she has since moved to a full time nursing care facility.  That has been hard on my family and me, and during the times when my heart hurts the worst, that very verse rests gently on my mind.   

Does it comfort you to know that when, in your pain, you wait expectantly (by simply seeking His face), He will in turn lift you up out of the valley on wings like eagles?  And that through your journey, He will give you supernatural strength so that you will not grow weary?  It does me. 

Next time you struggle with something, just whisper His name.  Just a simple whisper of His name is sometimes all we can do.  Seek Him, expect that He is there for you, and rely on His promises to get you through. We were never promised an easy, carefree life.  But we do have the promise, and the assurance, of Him and all that He is.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

A sense of urgency

Three days.  72 hours.  A whole lot of minutes and seconds.  It’s been that long since I lost two of my friends due to a senseless and cruel act of murder.  Three days since their three children have been without a mommy and a daddy.  Three days since Heaven received two more souls.  Three days since we on earth have spent sorting through our emotions and process the magnitude of the events that took place. 

I’ve dealt with what seems like dozens of emotions ranging from anger and confusion to sadness and depression.  I’m not quite sure that I’ve been able to even fully process the fact that they’re gone, much less the fact that I’m never going to see them again.  That’s a lot to take in.

To some extent, I feel like I was a special guest on NCIS, one of my favorite TV shows to watch.  At least I’ve wanted to believe that was the case.  That it was all just a bad nightmare, or that I was just in the an extra in some TV scene.  I wanted to believe that I would go to church and that they would bound through the doors with smiles on their faces.  I mean sure, stuff like this happens all the time on TV shows.  And it happens all the time in big cities like Houston…not in small town Arkadelphia.  Not to our church members.  Not to MY friends!!!  Right?  Wrong.

God tells us in James 4:14,  “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  In other words…what seems to us like a million years is but a breath to those in Heaven.  This is not our home.  That much is clear.  We spend so much of our energy planning.  Planning for tomorrow, planning for next week, planning for a vacation that won’t take place until next year, and for those of us who did this as little girls, planning for a wedding that may or may not ever even take place.  But the truth?  The truth is that we don’t even know if we will have the next breath, much less that vacation to the Bahamas we dream of.  We just have grown to assume that we will be here.  Ahh…assumptions. We’re good at making them, aren’t we?  And yet, we don’t always realize how much they can get us into trouble.

I believe that God wants us to spend less of our efforts planning, and more on the here and now.  Now I don’t mean throw all future plans out the window.  There are some things that you want to plan for. What I mean is that I don’t think He wants us to map out every second of our day the way we tend to.  When we get so wrapped up in the details of life, we our focus tends to get shifted…shifted to the circumstances and away from Him.  How much more could we accomplish in life if we asked Him what we should fill our time with?  If we asked Him how we should spend the next day, the next hour, even? 

If I’ve learned anything from the tragedy that has hovered over our town in the last few days, it’s this.  We need to live with a sense of urgency.  As I said, I was friends with these two people.  I assumed (there’s that word again) that I would see them again at church this week.  But I assumed wrong.  So the question that hangs over my head as a leader of the women’s ministry is, “Did I do enough?”  And that’s what I’ve been asking myself.  What could I have done more of?  What could I have been more supportive of?  In what ways could I have been, (as I tell my daughter) “Jesus’ helper” to them?  That answer I will never know.  But one thing I do know is that there are hundreds of others that I can be a “Jesus helper” to right here, right now.   

Through their death, I have learned that I can’t ever guarantee that I will be here another moment in this life, or that my children will live to see another day, or that I will ever see my best friend again.  I just can’t say that with certainty.  So what does it motivate me to do?  It lights a fire under me to know that in my every breath, I need to be a “Jesus helper”, meaning I need to be a light in this world.  That I need to live every moment looking upward instead of around me.  That I need to allow the Holy Spirit to move through me and live in a like-minded manner. Not just that, but that I must be more intentional in my living; not just living the life of a good citizen, but living as though I can’t bear the thought of another soul stepping into the fiery pits of hell. Living with a sense of urgency. 

That strange man I tried to avoid contact with last week at the gas station…what if he doesn’t know Jesus but is seeking. What if that same seeking man got into a fatal car accident just minutes after I avoided eye contact with, and in that a potential conversation.  And what if I could have been the one person who ever cared enough to share Jesus with him?  What if I missed the opportunity that would have allowed him to step through the gates of Heaven instead of spending an eternity in hell????  Now I’m not suggesting to live in the what if’s.  That’s getting back to the same problem that planning every minute of our day…we’d be wasting our time.  What I am suggesting is that we should treat EVERY moment with EVERY person as though it’s our last and their last.  Because truthfully, it might be.  Be Jesus to them.  Love them despite who they are and in spite of who they are.  Hug your family often.  Never leave an argument without resolving it.  Share Jesus with strangers,even when it is WAY out of your comfort zone.  Treat every moment as though it is your last.  You never know when just they way you live might be teaching someone else about the character of Jesus.  Live with a sense of urgency.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in Uncategorized