Monday, December 29, 2008

Waiting on God's Promises

I had a rough week, thinking about and feeling things I would rather leave alone. A sense of hopelessness, confusion and the desire to throw my hands in the air and crumble were gaining a much stronger foothold than I would like as well. Then something strange and good happened, and I am still trying to figure it all out. God spoke to me about his promises, though I'm still not quite sure which ones. I visited a new church Sunday morning, and the message was about waiting on God's promises. He was using the story of Simeon and Anna waiting to see the Messiah their whole lives until Christ finally came. The gist of it was that when God gives you a promise, he sometimes makes us wait, but he will always bring it to pass. He makes us wait for many reasons. To develop our character in patience, generosity and faith or because it is simply not time. His timing fits perfectly into his will and plan, which means we sometimes have to wait. I bawled like a baby in the service sensing that God was encouraging me to wait and trust because he would fulfill his promises to me, but I did not know what promises he was referring to.
That evening I went to the Brazilian church here, only my second time. The sermon this time is about Abraham, the promises God gave him, and how he had to wait to see them fulfilled. In fact, he never did see them entirely come about because they were fulfilled after he died. The pastor encouraged us to trust God, knowing that He will fulfill his promises, even if we do not see them in this lifetime. He encouraged us to remember God's eternal promises, of heaven, of the kingdom of God, of the return of Jesus. These, he said, were much more important than anything we could desire on this earth. We should set our hearts on these promises rather than anything we might desire in this life.
Hmmm... I think God is trying to tell me something... Please keep speaking, Lord. I still don't completely understand.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Focus!!!

Letting go of the past. Striving towards the future. Living in the present. Living in the present. Living in the present. Living now. Cherishing what God has given me now. Seeking growth in the struggles. Resting my heart in his hands. Knowing he is God and fully able to complete his plans in me. He does have a plan, for the present and the future.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Out of control and in His will

What does God's sovereignty mean? I don't mean the definition; I mean in how I live my life, in how I understand what is going on around me. Do I truly believe that God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him, and that He is working out His will and purposes in every circumstance of my life? Bringing that concept down from theoretical belief to allowing it to take hold in my thoughts and reactions to circumstances is pretty difficult. Do I trust that whatever happens is in God's hands, and so believing, entrust them into His hands completely? How do I let go of control? How do I rest? I used to think I knew how to do this. I thought I was pretty good at it actually, but the more I experience difficult circumstances the more I realize I have an ingrained pattern of taking control when things seem to be out of control. Oh, Lord. How do I let go? How can I live wisely and at the same time give up control? I want you to be in control, but when I can't see or don't understand how you are working I think, "I better do something or else everything is going to fall apart!" I am coming to you now, saying that I can't give up control and that I don't know what to do. Oh, I know what I want to do and what I think is best, but I don't know what to do. My wisdom is foolishness. Yours is life and goodness. Show me your ways that I may walk in them. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. You make me lie down in green pastures and lead me by still waters. Restore my soul and lead me in paths of righteousness for your name's sake. Lord, lead me in paths of righteousness as I wait for YOU.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Needing

Wandering, waiting,
Asking, seeking,
Trusting, knowing,
Hoping, laughing.

His hand, my shoulder,
My heart, his hold,
His grip, my tear,
His strength, my rest.

Falling, falling,
Kneeling, curling,
Rocking, shaking,
Standing, rising.

Flying.

Peace, peace,
Peace, peace,
Peace, need,
Peace.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Love

Love is so painful sometimes. We think it's not supposed to be. Love should be something that uplifts, not somethings that brings us down. Right? If our love is harmful to us, then why put up with it? Why invest in it? Why listen to it? Why not just get rid of it? Fill it up with anger or contempt. That would be easier. But love... love bleeds sometimes. It hemorrhages, and it just won't stop. The rejection of our love is what hurts. That someone would refuse to accept the most precious thing we have to give. I think about God. How God is calling, inviting, offering his love, which he sacrificed his life for in order to offer. And yet, we reject it, over and over again. Does he feel the same pain? Does he long for us like we long for others? I'm so sorry, Father. My love does not even come close to yours. Does that pain you? Or do you wait patiently, knowing simply that I am incapable of such love? Are you so secure in your own love, that my lack of it does not move you? What a twisted world this is sometimes, Lord. That love, the thing of most beauty, could be the source of the most pain. Oh, Lord. Bring us quickly to you., and perfect us in love. You are our hope. Come quickly, Lord, come.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Letting Go

Letting go is hard. Of anything really. Especially for us eternal optimists and ever confident and hopeful souls. I tend to always believe the best will happen, and that things will work out pretty close to how I think they will. Most of the time I'm wrong, but nevertheless, I still keep hoping! Hope is a double-edged sword. When we are hoping in things that have a secure foundation, our hope is good and uplifting because it is based on truth. Hope that is not based on truth, however, can lead us down a desperate spiral that is very hard to get out of. When we cling to things that can crumble at any moment, when we gain our sense of security from things that change, our hope leads us astray. Breaking away from that hope is one of the most painful processes I know. We hope because whatever we are hoping for holds some promise of happiness or completion. When we finally realize that our hope is empty and that that which we long for is not going to come to pass, we must let go. Giving up that hope means we are giving up that possibility of happiness and satisfaction. Or so we think. Scripture talks about how great hope is. It's way up there with faith and love, pretty lofty company in Scripture. But the hope Scripture speaks of is hope in Christ, of our future with him, of the new life he gives. The struggle is to constantly tear away our hope in other things and place our hope upon Jesus. That is a sure foundation and one that will not disappoint. Not all hope in other things is bad. But when our joy hinges on the fulfillment of that hope, or when it is a hope that is based on something that is not true, we will inevitably be disappointed. When I find myself hoping strongly in something, I must ask God to show me truth and to lift my eyes continually to the hope of knowing Jesus and "seeing him as he truly is when he appears." Then when all other hope disappoints, my hope and joy in HIM remain.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ever tire?

Do you ever get tired of being strong? I do. I know that the Spirit is supposed to be my strength, but I still get tired. I'm tired right now of trying to feel or not feel or think or not think certain things. Maybe I'm not living His strength the way I could. Regardless, it is always such an effort to keep lifting my thoughts to Him, to continually refocus on Jesus. If it is God who does the strengthening, why do I continue to spend myself? I don't know, but I do know that thanksgiving and the presence of God change things. Next time you are down or tired try thinking, "God is HERE. Right now. Right beside me." I never would have guessed it, but that reality changes my whole perspective and makes me smile. Mmmm. Thanksgiving. It can be very difficult. And even more difficult to really mean. Not only, as my roommate said today, does gratitude release healing chemicals into our bodies, :o) it also demonstrates and fosters trust in God. We trust that God is sovereign and recognize that life does not revolve around our momentary happiness. It fosters selflessness because we are no longer thinking of what we do not have but on the goodness of God, his provision and plans, his greatness. And in this mindset we are then more likely to live generously and seflessly. What a discipline, to give thanks always. And what a blessing, for thanksgiving to be such an integral part of your spirit that gratitude, trust and generosity overflow in your life. Oh, Lord, may it be. Forgive me for my ungrateful, discontent spirit and words. Lead me in the way everlasting, draw my heart to thanksgiving and worship, to the God who is above all and before all, who keeps the universe in balance, who watches as I sleep at night.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Waiting...

Waiting... why is waiting so hard? Psalm 37 says:

"Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong... Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: he will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him..."

When things don't make sense, God says, "Don't get all worked up about it and run arround crazy-like. Just keep doing good, being righteous, doing what I have called you to do. Trust me and wait." Our righteousness is not in vain; our obedience is not in vain. When life is evil, when people are evil, when everything we do seems to fall apart, God tells us to trust that he will bring about justice and goodness. That when our hearts delight in him, when we are acting out of obedience and a way committed to him, our desires will not go unanswered.

I think the problem for me is often that I approach the problem in the wrong way. Instead of being still before the Lord, I try to control and get frustrated when I can't. Instead of waiting patiently for him, I wait on others or on some other event in my life. If only that person would do what I want, or if only this or that would happen... instead of looking to God, waiting for him, sitting before him. Making him the object of my desires, hope, contentment and trust.

I don't know how many times I have prayed this, Lord, but lift my eyes to you, Jesus. May I be overwhelmed and consumed by your love. May my love for any thing or any other seem like hatred in comparison with the love I have for you. Oh, Lord, be my everything, in every way...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fickleness

I am amazed at how vulnerable I am to the circumstances around me! How one day I can feel strong and hopeful and confident in Christ who is my hope and joy; and the next I am so easily dragged down by fear or lust or insecurity or discouragement. God does not change. His sovereignty and provision, goodness and greatness are still the same. Why then does my heart change? Why should a person or a situation cause me pain and fear when God continues to be God and to be my Father. Jesus speaks into my heart and calls me back to Himself daily, hourly, but I insist on focusing on my discontent and complaints. There is more. I know there is more. And there is more now, not just in the future. The presence of God walking with me and the redemption of Christ lifting me give me the power to live fully in Him, humbled and overwhelmed by his neverending love. But I, I insist on desiring everything else that I think can satisfy, and consequently, am shattered by disillusionment daily when my heart again comes up empty. If I could only stop looking at my life through the lens given me by the media and the world and begin to see the world God created. To begin to see the relationships God created. To see the truth, to see his strength, to see his salvation in every aspect of this life. Your ways are so far above my ways; your thoughts above my thoughts, oh, Lord. Oh, Lord, as it pleases you, strengthen me with power in my inner self through the Spirit, that Christ might dwell fully in my heart through faith.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Knowing love ~ the fullness of God

Ephesians 3:14-19
14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
15from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,
16that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,
17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Wow, what an amazing prayer! I pray this for all of my friends and for myself as well. To be strengthened with power in my inner being through the Spirit. I could use a little of that. But the purpose of the strengthening? That Christ might dwell in our hearts through faith. Is not Christ already dwelling in their hearts? Maybe being strengthened with power works together with faith or produces greater faith allowing us to give greater room to Christ in our hearts. The other purpose of the strengthening is that we might be able to understand the greatness of the love of Christ. Once we are rooted and grounded in love we can come to understand and know, perhaps experientially, the fullness of Christ's love. We have our roots in love, and from that we can grow into the surpassing greatness of the full extent of his love and into all of who he is. He desires us to know this love that we might be "filled up to all the fullness of God." I am not quite sure what this means, but it sounds amazing. There is a filling here that goes beyond the seal of salvation. It is a dwelling of Christ, as we saw in v.17, and a fullness of who God is, present in us. How can we experience this fullness of God? Through the knowledge of the amazing love of Jesus, which comes through strengthening with power through the Spirit. This is what Paul was praying for. It was not a strengthening only to get them through the tough times, but a strengthening that produced faith through which Christ might dwell more fully in our heart. It was a strengthening that reveals the love of Christ, allowing us to be filled with all of who God is: his power, his love, his mercy, his justice, his strength, his holiness, his presence, his peace, his love, his love, his love. God in us. Wow. Really? I can be filled this way by knowing the extent of his love? Oh, Lord, let it be. Let me comprehend and know the extent of Jesus' love; strengthen me with power that Christ may dwell fully in me through faith.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Newness

Funny. I came to San Diego about two weeks ago and really didn't know how I would react to the newness. Typically, I love moves and new places. Not only do I love exploring and having endless new opportunities, I also like being able to start over. I like the fact that I can look back over my life in Marin for the past three years and decide to change some things. I can think about what I want to continue and what I definitely don't want to repeat. Oh, Lord, and then there are those things that I feel like I have no control over but really do not want to repeat. Such as boys. Well, ok, I have some control over that, but I'm pretty lousy at it. Then there are the things that were REALLY difficult but that taught me things I never expected, like my work in the Canal, which I loved but which showed me that I really know a lot less than I thought I did. I think what surprised me the most in my move was how much I have come to love my friends in Marin. As an M.K. I learned pretty quickly to let go without regret and just focus on what was ahead and not on what or who I left behind. This time, leaving was like twisting my heart and holding it taut because of the people I left behind. I loved a lot of people there. Hmmm... this is a good sign.

So here I am surprisingly happy. Not that I thought I wouldn't like it, but I am happier than I have been for about a year. Lots of reasons, but I think largely because I know I am in the middle of God's will for me, which I have struggled with for a while. Partly because I have been at least partially successful at leaving some of the old things dragging me down behind. Partly because it's very sunny and I can swim at the beach. And partly because I am so excited about what lies ahead. What is most interesting to me though are the things that I bring with me. Well, yes, the car load of completely unnecessary things that I swear I need, but also the sinful and emotional baggage I hoped would pack their bags when I did. What scares me is the very real possibility that I will again let those things take away the joy that I have tasted in being free. Oh, the temptation is big... and unfortunately the newness doesn't automatically neutralize the old.

Moving forward. That's what I need to do. If I can't make the old disappear, I can at least keep the momentum and continue moving forward. Yep. That's what I'll do. And may it be a continued movement into Him who is above all and in all until I am living completely absorbed into Himself alone. May my joy and peace come from dwelling in Him.

"And I - in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness." Psalm 17:15