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Life Outside the Boat

Insecurity

It’s funny (not really) that it has been about a year and a half since I first posted this, but somehow, I find myself up in the middle of the night fretting over THE. EXACT. SAME. THING!

This time, the story involves Legos, an architect, a preacher, an ipad, the same 3 little boys and stained glass…I’ll let you put that puzzle together.  The details are a little different, the people are different, there is no blood involved this time (thank God!) – but the theme is the same: When I fix my eyes on the opinion of people, not only will I never be good enough, but it will actually keep me from functioning in my normal capacity. But when my eyes are on Jesus… “I can walk in a way that is pleasing to Him”.

So read, get a little freer and remember: no matter how free we get, the enemy is just lurking…always lurking, waiting for us to look away…

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…” Hebrews 12:2

Life Outside the Boat

I know, I know, definitely not an original topic for a gal to write about. But the thing is, there is a reason why we see it so often. It is because we feel it so often. Every single human being suffers at some point from some form of it. Insecurity.

We were born into this legacy of questioning our identity and ultimately questioning God’s identity. But I am so thankful that God orchestrated a way for us to be free. He sent Jesus to take back the power that the enemy stole on the day he slithered into our existence.

I am all too familiar with what it is like to be riddled with self-doubt. It wasn’t long ago that everything I did, every decision, every action, every opinion I had was based on the opinions of others. From clothes, to houses, to parenting, to cars, to responses – everything…

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Who else?

I recently had a conversation with a good friend who was telling me about a family member who is….ahem…challenging – to say the least.  As I think back to what she was sharing with me about this person, I can’t help but think of Zacchaeus.  I know I have written about this story before in a previous post, but as I couldn’t sleep tonight, I just kept thinking of the similarities. In the time of Zacchaeus, having a guy like him in your life would have definitely fit the description of “challenging”.  He was a tax collector in the days that tax collectors were like social piranhas.  They were cheats, they were greedy and they were sellouts that were disliked by all of their own people.  But the day came that Jesus was passing through town and Zacchaeus,with all his faults, was also short so he couldn’t see past the crowd.  So little Zacchaeus shimmied up a sycamore tree to get a look at this “Messiah”.  As Jesus got to the tree where he was perched, he looked up and told Zacchaeus to come down out of that tree quickly, that he was coming over for dinner. Of course, all of the religious people were appalled and began to whisper about how Jesus was hanging with a “sinner”.  But you know what?  The very next verse is one of my favorite plot twists of all time:

“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look Lord!  Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Oh, how I love this!!  Just by seeing Jesus, Zacchaeus was compelled to do good.  To change who he was.  To right his wrongs.  Verse 9 says that Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house.”  By seeing Jesus, an entire legacy changed.

I think back to that conversation with my friend about her “challenging” family member and I remember something else she said.  She said it so simply, but it has been echoing in my heart all night as I toss and turn.  She said, “Who else is going to show Jesus to her?”

What if I dared ask myself that question?  What if the next time I go through the checkout at Wal-Mart, I look into the eyes of the cashier and ask myself, “Who else is going to show Jesus to her?”  What about the next time my kids are all whining and throwing fits in unison and all I want to do is lock myself in my room and throw my own tantrum?  What if I ask, “Who else is going to show Jesus to them?”

“…make the most of every opportunity.”  Colossians 4:5

Every moment is an opportunity.  I’m so glad that someone took the opportunity to show Jesus to me – gave me my ‘Zacchaeus moment’.  What might happen to that family member who weirds us out, or the cashier at Wal-Mart or our fit-throwing toddlers?  What if we give them their ‘Zacchaeus moment’?  A chance to see Jesus.  A chance to right wrongs.  A chance to change their legacy?  Because if not us…then who else…?

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…”  Ephesians 5:1-2 

Look Up

It was late.  Well past dark.  I was out picking up milk/returning a movie/whatever other errand I could run with exactly zero kids in tow after 9:00 pm.  I wonder, exhausted, where did the day go?  All those minutes and hours and seconds, gone.  Did I see Him once?  In any of those moments, in any of the activities or errands, or responsibilities – did I ever see Him?  Did I look?  Between the kids and the lesson plans and the arguing and the laundry and the 85,000-th “can I have sumpin’ to eat?” I somehow have missed the rhythm of grace, the gentle melody that rocks me when the world around me shifts and clamors and screams, not even a glimpse of eternity in the midst of humanity.  How?  How, when my life is so full of everything that I thought would glorify Him.  Yet, where is He in the midst of it?

Sometimes, I can get so busy being ‘godly’ that I miss God.  And I hear that constant question, “Why do all this? Shouldn’t you be filling plates at the mission/caring for orphans/preaching in the dirt roads of Africa/Haiti/India – why are you wasting your time on ‘blessed’ people – what difference are you making??” I think about tomorrow’s lesson plans, then the next day’s/week’s/month’s, the bible studies, and the small groups and the mistakes I’ve made, the wrong decisions, the bad attitudes I’ve had – people I’ve offended – little boys I’ve yelled at.  And I wonder,  “all this is for you God, but where are you?”

“I am right here….

My child, I am here, in these moments, in this car.  Look up.  See me.  You spend so much energy and brain power trying to do for me, you have forgotten to just be with me.  I know it’s easy – I don’t blame you for getting distracted, that is just what my enemy wants you to do.  He knows how to keep you too busy for me.  But if your eyes are off of me for too long, all that you do will become corrupt.  I love what you do for me and for others, it is precious to me.  Even when you make mistakes, that’s where I do my best work.  Redemption.  But look up.  Even if for only this moment, that’s all it takes.  Just a moment for our eyes to meet and you to be filled, but I can’t force you.  Please, Look up.”

So there, in the middle of 83rd Street, in the pitch dark, I look up.  I gaze into the black sky as the music plays in the background of my minivan…

 

“I will lock eyes with the One who’s ransomed me, the One who gave me joy for mourning.  I will lock eyes with the One who’s chosen me, the One who set my feet to dancing.”

I see. We connect. And it is enough, no much MUCH more. It is everything. These moments, eyes locked with the lover of my soul, I am whole.  I am rested.  I am even made holy.  Everything makes sense again.

 

“Never stop praying.”  1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

 

“One Thousand Gifts”: Book Review…only 9 months later…

So…last October!? in another post, I hinted that there was a post coming about a book I had just read and now, nine months later, I have finally taken the time to sit down and actually hash it out.  I picked up “One Thousand Gifts” again recently and let the words transform me all over again.  There is no other book I recommend more often and more emphatically than this:

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In the corner of our living room, sits a table. Just an ordinary square table, nothing fancy bought in the early years of marriage from a Scandinavian furniture store by married babies trying to keep up with the trends.  Never could we have pictured that table where it sits now.  This simple table and the couch next to it are my Sinai, my Jacob’s well, my garden of Gethsemane, my very own Holy of Holies.  It is the very place where I meet God everyday most days.  I wake in the morning, I fill my mason jar of water,  settle into the corner of the couch already worn and shaped to my frame.  I reach over for my first drink of water then of living water.

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Under that most important book, and under my journal lies another important book.  One that managed to wreck my world, attitude, theology.  I first picked this book up about three years ago when it hit bookstores.  I remember getting halfway through that first chapter with all it’s sentence fragments and “blood pooling” and “baby sister dying” and “Does God really love me?” ‘s and I stop.  I close the book, I don’t get it.  I don’t get the poeticism, the hard agony of loss, of pain, of gut-wrenching heartache.  I remember – in my own naïve, holier-than-thou arrogance – wondering “how could anyone who has met God ever doubt his goodness?” Somehow, through multiple moves and a pregnancy and third new baby.  Unexplainable symptoms then ominous diagnosis.  An ineffective treatment that rendered me closer to death than ever imagined.  Through a marriage on the brink of statistic – talk of logistics and “I give up’s”.  Then… through glorious restoration of family and home and heart.  Through hearing the prognosis: chronic – but believing in healing.  Through unpacking our old life – having sat for countless months in storage box just south of the city – into our new home filled with hope and love and promise, I open a box marked “books” to find this one long forgotten.

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As the summer fades and I lay in the hammock and begin to try to muscle through the hard pages of loss and pain and closed doors, something sparks:

I wonder too…if the rent in the canvas of our backdrop, the losses that puncture our world our own emptiness, might actually become places to see.

To see through to God.

That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond.  To Him.  To the God whom we endlessly crave.”

I pour through page after thankful page of Eucharisteo.  The biblical Greek word for “Thanksgiving”.  Really, could it be that simple?  This plain Ann with no “e” tells of the secret.  The secret that really is no secret at all.  That “thanksgiving always proceeds a miracle”.   Miracle?  What is “miracle”?  It’s hard to talk about miracles when the word “chronic” has been painted over the canvas your life, your body.  Miracle, really?  That Jesus broke bread and gave thanks and still he faced death.   Where is the miracle?  The miracle is in the JOY.  That secret that really is not secret is this.  JOY.  Joy – not in place of, but in the midst of.  (Nehemiah 8:10, James 1:2-4)

Through late lunches and “I’m bored’s” and taps on my arm.  I smile, I nod, I highlight, I update my status with quotes:

“The only place we need to see before we die is the place of seeing God, here and now.”

and

“Thanks is what multiplies the joy and makes any life large, and I hunger for it.”

and

“The only real prayers are the ones mouthed with thankful lips.”

And I am thankful, I am.  But this – this daily listing of all the things I am thankful for.  I can’t seem to start it.  It just doesn’t register yet.  The pages get harder more real, more personal.  Then I get to the page, the one that stopped me for 2 whole months.  Page 89.  I just couldn’t get past it.  I couldn’t swallow it.  I took pictures of it, I texted it to friends.  I took it to bible study looking – searching for wise counsel (Proverbs 11:14) on this hard pill to swallow:

“I won’t shield God from my anguish by claiming he’s not involved in the ache of this world and Satan prowls but he’s a lion on a leash and the God who governs all can be shouted at when I bruise, and I can cry and I can howl and He embraces the David-hearts who pound hard on His heart with their grief and I can moan deep that He did this – and He did.”

What!?  This?  No?  It can’t be!  How can the God who knows all things.  Who formed me and knew me beforehand.  Who imagined me and positioned me.  Who breathed life and conquered death.  Who allowed – no, sent His own son to face the ultimate suffering.  How can this very One be involved in my agony??  Because He IS.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  The creator of the universe, and the holder of my heart.  And I toss and I turn and I flail and I doubt and I ask, those same hard questions that I thought so unthinkable just three years before.  “Does God really love me?”  Does he really have my best in mind.  Is he really working all things for my good?  (Romans 8:28)

I see so much agony – my sweet friend who has been sick and never found a name for an illness that tormented her.  That would leave her unable to do the everyday that we all take for granted.  And I think “God, why!?”  I think, “there is no one wiser or more gracious or more faithful or more generous.  No one more like Jesus.  What could she possibly need to learn or be broken of?”  Then – when I finally stop my wrestling and I listen – I hear…”Who would have pulled you through your darkest days of sickness?  Who would have spoken life to you?  Who would have taught you the true meaning of Eucharisteo, of Thanksgiving?”  And it breaks me.  I see that he loved me enough to send his son.  He loved me enough to let my dear friend suffer so that he could comfort her and teach her how to comfort me.  (2 Corinthians 1:4)

I see my sister, the one who would have made a better mother than me – than anyone.  This mother without children.  And I ache and I scream, God just one?  Couldn’t she just have one?  And I show my inability to see through the lens of eternity.  Again, I still.  And I see her children.  All the ones she holds in India and in the ER.  The ones she fights for and cries for when no other human does.  And then I see the possibility.  If we are still breathing, our story on this earth isn’t over.  Is it ever really over?

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So I go back, back to chapter 1 and try again:

maybe you don’t want to change the story, because you don’t know what a different ending holds.”  Then:  “There’s a reason I am not writing the story and God is.  He knows how it all works out, where it all leads, what it all means.  I don’t.”

So I swallow it, that pill that I’m choking on.  That page 89 roadblock and I turn the page:

“If I had the perspective of the whole, perhaps I’d see it?  That which seems evil, is it a cloud to bring rain, to bring a greater good to the whole of the world?  Who would ever know the greater graces of comfort and perseverance, mercy and forgiveness, patience and courage, if no shadows fell over a life?”

There it is, I see it.  I am transformed and changed and rearranged and gutted by this truth.  The truth that it never was actually all about me.  God is for me, but who am I for?  Because it only works if I am for Him.  When my focus is on me, none of life makes sense.  But when my purpose is for Him, the “why” ceases to matter.  Because He knows, I don’t have to.

“The quiet song of gratitude, eucharisteo, lures humility out of the shadows because to receive a gift the knees must bend humble and the hand must lie vulnerably open and the will must bow to accept whatever the Giver chooses to give.” 

In an endless cycle of grace, he gives us gifts to serve the world.”

Ahhh…the world.  This whole dance of eternity centered around one hard, beautiful theme:  redemption.

I finally see what it took this Farmer’s wife counting 1,000 ways that God loves, to see.  Joy.  The world warps, but He redeems.  Everything.  Even that which seems unredeemable.  I breathe in grace and breathe out thanks one thousand times over and over.  Because to stop thanking is to stop seeing through the hard, everyday, muck to this theme of redemption.  And I am thankful, thankful that this self-proclaimed farm-hick chose to fight for joy and to share the secret.  I will be forever thankful.

So I dare you to read this book.  To start counting.  “Because thankgiving always turns what we have into enough.”

 “And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.   They all ate and were satisfied…”  Matthew 14:19-21 

 

  

One word for 2014….So it’s almost February…just, whatever.

It seems like everyone has this new “theme” or “one word” for 2014. So, like any good wannabe blogger out there, I picked one too…I know, it is already closing in on February….but like I said…just, whatever.

My word for 2014?

PRAISE

I want to learn how to praise better.

To praise my God, my man, my miniature men, my family, my friends, complete strangers…you get the drift. I want the characteristics of God to roll off my lips. I want to speak of His enduring love, His great faithfulness, His new mercies. I want to “enter his courts with PRAISE” everyday, all the time. I want those I love to never wonder what I feel about them. I want them to know how precious they are.

Anyone who has ever done the quiz in the back of Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages” will know what I’m talking about when I say that I don’t speak “words of affirmation”. This may as well be Latin, or Greek, or more accurately some language with pops and clicks from a tribe in some far off land – it is that foreign to me. (Wanna guess what my husbands love language is?? Yep.) Me? I just want us to curl up on the couch, give each other foot massages and talk into the wee hours of the night about our feelings (Also known as “quality time”). Him? He just wants to make/do/build something and wants me to tell him how awesome he is (which he IS super awesome, and talented, and gorgeous, and patient, and loving, and smart, and…a million other things…but why are they all so impossible for me to say out loud!?) Alas, “NOTHING is impossible”…even me giving a compliment…ugh.

I’m going to add a few examples of his awesomeness below…he is going to be so mad at me for sharing these – because for as much as he thrives off words of affirmation and acts of service, he’s not huge into attention….(I’m not sure how we ever thought we had anything in common?)

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Building the most awesome bunk beds EVER.

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He has such a servant’s heart, for almost a week, he went to work everyday then was at the church into the wee hours designing and building this with a couple other guys.

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My old kitchen. He designed and installed the whole thing (with a little help from Ikea, his dad and his brother).

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I always think he looks like a stud when he’s skiing.

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I find myself humming…”we can go to town, or baby if you’d rather, I’ll take you for a ride on my big…eh…little green tractor.”

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In front of a house he and a team helped build on a mission trip to Honduras.

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Teaching our boy how to be a man…and also how to shoot a bow. 🙂

“May my lips overflow with praise…” Psalm 119:171

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise.” Psalms 48:1

“In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever.” Psalms 44:8

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…” Hebrews 3:13

So….my one word for 2014 is PRAISE. Lord teach me.

 

 

Finding God’s Will

We have all said it maybe we ask all the time, “God, what is your will for my life?”. We seek out success, purpose, skills. We sit and wait for a sign, a burning Bush, a pillar of fire – something to reveal God’s plan. We tell ourselves: when I do this, when I go there, when I find my spouse, when I finish school, when my kids are grown, when my house is paid off, when I am cured, healed, well…..then I will be able to serve God fully. Then I will be able to be effective for the kingdom.

God isn’t looking for accomplishment, he is looking for humility – he isn’t looking for strength, he is looking for weak spots that he can fill and use. He isn’t looking for success, he is looking for submission. We can stop wondering or looking for God’s will for our lives, he has already spelled it out. So many times throughout His word, he gives clear instruction.

“the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:12-13

It is east to forget in the day to day that I was not made for the sole purpose of being a wife or a mother, those are just tools, responsibilities, gifts. I was designed and planned before the foundations of the earth to be a friend of God. This is why we are all here. But, what does a friend of God look like? Well, I’m glad you asked, John 15:14 says “you are my friends of you do what I command”. I know to some of us (especially if your are like me and have pride issues) will think that is arrogant of God to say that he will only be our friend of we obey. Let’s not forget, he is God! He spins galaxies, he breathes life into dust, he walks on water, let’s try to have a little respect for the author of everything in existence…ever.

So what does a “friend of God” look like?? If we skip back just a couple verses it says, “Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

We can stop bearing the weight of seeking God’s will for our life and start seeking HIM. He instructs us on what to do with whatever number of days we have on this planet:

Love as he loved.

Lay down your life for one another. (Hold a door, give up a seat, forgo vacation for a mission trip, give up a Starbucks habit to sponsor an orphan, push past sickness to go play with your kids, step away from your phone/tablet/computer and be present with your family) ok, that’s enough of that, those last 2 stung a bit.

Act justly.

Love mercy.

Walk humbly.

Be joyful.

Pray nonstop.

Thank God NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS.

“For this is God’s will for you.”

God’s will….found.

“Your statutes are my heritage forever, my heart is set on keeping your decrees. Please still my anxious urge toward rebellion. Let love keep my will upon its knee.”

“Because you gladly lean to lead the humble, I shall gladly kneel to leave my pride.”

God, Love and the Transitive Property

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Who has never heard this verse? Pretty much anyone (on this continent anyway) has heard this at a wedding, hanging in a plaque on a wall, on Pinterest… We see this verse consistently. Almost to the point of not even noticing or maybe even ignoring it. Especially anyone who has been jaded by “love”. Romantic or otherwise. But it is funny how a verse I know better than most, have memorized and was even read at my wedding can all of a sudden jump out and adopt a new meaning in my heart that I never even thought about. The theme of my study lately has been “Hearing from God”….not necessarily on purpose but it just sort of happened that way. As much as I may want or think I need to study something else, this is what I have no choice but to focus on as it is the theme of the newest sermon series at church and also of the book my bible study is doing right now. Apparently God wants to talk to me.

So, as I was opening my bible and notebook to surrender to this fact and go back through last Sunday’s sermon notes, I pulled out my bulletin and it had been shoved right into 1 Corinthians 13. Not noticing at first that my bible was just laying open to this page, I start journaling to God in my notebook about Jeremiah 33:2-3 (the scripture from the pastor’s sermon) “This is what the Lord says, He who made the Earth, The Lord who formed it and established it – The Lord is His name: Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Now, I am not one to normally just let my bible fall open and try to find something there, I am usually pretty intentional and plan what I am going to read, but as I was writing my thankfulness to a God who speaks and for “teaching wisdom and understanding” I looked over at my bible laying open to the “Love Chapter”, I wonder what more God could possibly have to say to me in these few verses?? I know them, they are “written on the tablet of my heart”…. What is it??

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I proceed to humor God (I firmly believe that he is humored by us pretty regularly) and begin to write out verses 4-8. Love is patient, kind, and so on… There I was looking at this verse on paper wondering “What now?” Then I pull up the thesaurus and start writing synonyms to all these words…

Love: is humble, polite, respectful, graceful, forgiving, calm, makes happy, soothes, is joyful, bears no malice, overlooks, liberates, stops blame, grants pardon, justifies, joys in authenticity, always defends, shields, takes under wing, is optimistic, always works hard, keeps on, is determined, holds fast, persists, pursues, stays the course. Never breaks down, never declines, never aborts, never backslides, never slips and never loses control.

As I finish this, still wondering the point, I looked at the bottom of my journal page and the there was 1 John 4:16. It took me three pages of synonyms to get me to this particular page, but there it was. The point.

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God is love.

Love never fails.

God never fails.

God is humble, polite, respectful, graceful, forgiving, calm, makes happy, soothes, is joyful, bears no malice, overlooks, liberates, stops blame, grants pardon, justifies, joys in authenticity, always defends, shields, takes under wing, is optimistic, always works hard, keeps on, is determined, holds fast, persists, pursues, stays the course. Never breaks down, never declines, never aborts, never backslides, never slips or never loses control.

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Thank you Father, for who you are. For love. For grace. For being more determined than I am…speaking over my noise and my plans. For drowning out my agenda. Thank you for loving me, for being love, for never failing. Jesus you are love, you are truth, you are the word of life. Thank you for giving us human beings the capacity to love and be loved. Let us not miss love in all its fullness. Let us know love that is humble, graceful, joyful, determined. Love that liberates, pardons, justifies. Thank you that you not only told us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friend, but you did it. (John 15:13, John 3:16) Thank you for modeling true love for us. Let me follow your example.

Since apparently it is my “thing” to add a song…

For the Sake of the World

I know I promised a post about “One Thousand Gifts”, but I’m still chewing on that one. So…here is a little revelation I pulled from one of last month’s entries in my journal….

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:13-14

“Ask and it will be given to you…” Matthew 7:7

“For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

All these promises. So true and so powerful! But I have always thought that these meant that whatever I claimed “in Jesus name” would happen. Then when things didn’t happen, my response was doubt. Unbelief. Anger. And finally, fear. Where was God? I needed a miracle. I needed an answer. I needed a powerful manifestation of these promises. Why. Wasn’t. He. Listening!? Why did I read stories of people being healed, restored, delivered, set free all over the world, but nothing changed for me? I knew that it was written that Jesus “bore our sicknesses, and carried our diseases.” (Matthew 8:17), that “…By His wounds we are healed.” I claimed, I plead, I commanded, I casted out, I called forth. Nothing. Nada. My circumstances not only remained, but intensified. Until one day…

Revelation comes in so many different ways. Our Father knows the language of our heart. He is the one that designed “the love languages”. He knew what it would take to make me hear him. Facebook. 🙂 A friend posted a link to a song. One I had never heard before. Ironic, because it was by my favorite band? But that day, I heard it and it wrecked me…

“I’m laying down my life.
I’m giving up control.
I’m never looking back,
I surrender all.
I’m living for your glory on the earth.
For the sake of the world, burn like a fire in me…
For every tongue to confess that you alone are the king.
You are the hope of the earth.”

What!? You mean this (day, life, blessing, healing, miracle) isn’t about me? But God, I had been praying “in Jesus name” all along, is John 14 not applicable to me? Why doesn’t “my healing quickly appear”?? (Isaiah 58:8) “For the sake of the world”?? This made me ask: Why have I been petitioning the throne over this? What is my motive? If what I asked for happened right this second, would I be any different than I was 2 years ago? Ugh…

“Whatever you ask in MY name…” Lightbulb! All this time, I had been saying “in the name of Jesus” but I had been asking in my own name. For my sake. To make my life easier, more comfortable, happier. If being in Christ makes me a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), then it changes my motive, my cause, my purpose to His motive, His cause, His purpose. So also does my request change. When I pray in Jesus name, it is for His cause, His glory.

So here I am, no longer waiting for my miracle. Do I have any doubt that one day I will walk in complete freedom from sickness? None at all. That miracle happened over two thousand years ago. It’s done. So how do I explain these circumstances? Healing is easy. In Matthew 8, Jesus healed the servant of the Centurian without even going to his home. He said the words, “Go, and it will be done” and it was done. Heart transformation? That takes time, effort, surrender, casting of crowns, trust.

A.W. Tozer said, “When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.”

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I am not saying that God ever does anything “evil”. It just isn’t in His character. But I can say with confidence that sometimes our perspective, our feelings, our circumstances lie. Sometimes, if we feel under attack, this may just be the heat of the refiner’s fire (Malachi 3:2). The spin and smash of the potter’s wheel (Isaiah 64:8).

“The degree to which I allow God to keep breaking me, is the degree to which He will pour out His miracle.” -Christine Caine

My circumstances cannot change who I am. My identity is sealed. I have already been ransomed, redeemed restored, set free, healed, made new. This means that I may have days of doubt, days of anger and frustration at my circumstances. Days where I just want to go back to my “comfortable” existence. Days where I take my eyes off of Jesus and all I see are the waves and the wind. But then He rescues me and reminds me whose I am and that He will be faithful to complete what he began. (Philippians 1:6)

John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. (not comfort, not security, not wealth, not health, not happiness….peace.) In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

My prayer now is this: Thank you God for who you are. Thank you for your goodness and your mercy, your love and your healing, your peace and the transforming work of the cross. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me….grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” Burn in me for the sake of the world. May my life reflect your love. Holy Spirit move in me as a display of YOUR goodness, not mine. In Jesus name.

I heard a sermon recently by my hero of faith, Christine Caine about when Jesus fed the 5,000. I want to point out in Mark 6:41, Jesus “gave thanks and broke the loaves”. The theme: thankfulness and brokenness preceded the miracle. But that’s getting into my “One Thousand Gifts” post…. 😉

Home

Even before crossing the county line – can you feel it?? The excitement – the anticipation. Asphalt gives way to rocks crumbling under the tires….not long now. The only thing higher than our hopes is the number on the car’s thermometer. August heat. My minivan is a time machine transporting back 15 – 20 – 25 years….the canopy of trees, the hum of the locusts, the smell of pine and leaves and Skoal and childhood. The man sitting on the porch – greyer now – mostly white…held by a rusty metal auction chair. A long buried language finds it’s way out of me. “Aint, ya’ll, sumpin’, nuttin'”. Hot dogs with chili, Pepsi with marshmallow, sunflower seeds and bubble gum. Secretly loving that all these guys give me an excuse to pilot the gator/tractor/3-wheeler and wade in the creek. So thankful that we all have this man – this house – this land. A place that time has missed. A truck still sits in the driveway – the rusted wheel wells and crank windows replaced with heated seats and sunroof. This place – full of memories. Some good, some bad. The bad mostly forgotten…the good made even sweeter with time. More sounds….little-boy laughter, sportscasters recounting the Cardinal game, gunshots finding their bulls eye in the old stump at the edge of the woods. Three generations of freckles and flat feet. Little boys playing where little girls did. The little girls, now grown, watching – remembering. The dirt, the fun, the Dad…now Grandpa – teaching the joy of all things God-created. All of it the same but somehow different. Thankful that my Creator, while forming me, thought of this place. Thankful for this moment – for moments past – for the ones to come…

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A 4-year-old masterpiece.

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What to do with a rotten watermelon.

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