So much of life is waiting. . .

As a Christian, I am waiting for a lot--for God to do His refining work in me, for Jesus to return, for me to GET how much God loves me and for me to see what He is doing . . .

What to do in the meantime? I have learned much about what the Lord is trying to teach me, tell me and show me through the discipline of daily time spent reading the Bible. So often we make this time harder than it has to be.

This blog was born out of wanting to share what God is showing me and wanting to be an example that daily time with God is not a deep or mysterious thing (well, every once in a while it can be), but simply a time to read scripture and note what jumps out at you that day. We don't have to be scholars or super-holy or ministry leaders to do this. Some days I hit the jackpot and others I come up empty--but only by persevering do I give God the space in which to speak and myself the stillness in which to hear and obey.

As of June of 2017, I've now decided to include parts of our adoption journey, which is, so far, yet another chapter of waiting.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Trusting the Author

Funny how God speaks from out of nowhere. Last week I was on vacation with some friends, reading a young adult book called "The Underneath". I am not a fan of books with loads of sadness or unhappy endings, and since this book contained many sad elements, I was a little worried about whether it would end well. To my relief and satisfaction, the ending was just what it should have been--redemption for the most lovable main characters and justice for the villain.

In discussing the book with my friends, I was sharing how I had been unsure about whether it would be worth it to keep reading, because I wasn't positive that there would be a payoff at the end, but that I did, and there was. A friend commented that it was just another example of how life and the Christian walk is a journey. I'm not fond of the journey analogy. In fact, I pretty much loathe the reality that it's the journey and not the destination. The Lord and I argue about that regularly.

However, this is where the Lord jumped in, and spoke through MY mouth. I replied, "Yes, I know, I know, but in the book I trusted the author that the end would be worth it." Ouch. Therein is the crux of it: Do I trust God, the author and perfecter of my faith? Do I trust that in my story, the sadness and trials will be necessary and I will see their purpose at the end? Do I believe that the circumstances are not the end, but the means? Am I confident that the Lord's authorship of my life is skilled and careful and full of redemption?

I trusted the author of this novel because I could see the care in which she had crafted her characters and the poetry in her story. Evidence of God's caring and craft is all around me. Amazed again at how the Lord knows the perfect way to communicate with me, I am determining to trust the author of my story and keep reading to the end!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Setting Our Hearts

While I may no longer be in the desert, I think I am still wandering through the wilderness--hearing God's voice clearly now and then. I continue to pray, read the Bible, and wait. Today I was reading in 2 Chronicles about Jehoshaphat's reign. These verses stuck out to me:

"He [Jehoshaphat] walked in the way of Asa his father and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the LORD. The high places, however, were not taken away; the people had not yet set their hearts upon the God of their fathers."

Though Jehoshaphat was following the Lord and listening to His prophets, and had even officially ordered that the high places be torn down (2 Chronicles 17:6), the people were not wholeheartedly committed to the Lord. They had not "set their hearts" upon the Lord.

What does setting my heart upon the Lord look like? The people had just seen God do a miracle, in winning a major battle for them without them doing anything but go down to meet the opposing army. The Lord struck their enemy dead without them raising a weapon. So, listening to God and obeying Him does not seem to be the same as setting their hearts on the Lord. Maybe it is a deeper, heart work? A decision to commit completely to following the Lord, loving Him, and trusting Him at an emotional level and not only a practical one? Does it mean that, along with reading the Bible, praying, and obeying, I need to determine that my heart belongs to the Lord and that I will trust, praise, and believe His goodness in my life regardless of circumstances? That I won't just listen and obey without engaging my emotions? Lots to think about today.

Monday, July 12, 2010

With the Blessings, Risk

Reading 1 Chronicles right now, and have finally gotten through the geneologies and on to the accounts of David's kingship. Today's portion told of when David decided to move the ark of the covenant, but did not follow the rules set forth by the Lord in how to do so (the ark was considered to be the presence of the Lord). 1 Chronicles 13:10-14 tell what happened:

And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzziah, and he struck him downbecause he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God. And David was angry because the LORD had broken out against Uzzah. . . And David was afraid of God that day, and he said, "How can I bring the ark of God home to me?" So David did not take the ark home into the city of David, but took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of God remained with the household of Obed-edom in his house three months. And the LORD blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that he had.

I had never noticed that David was angry with the Lord, and afraid of Him as well. I can relate to David's emotions. He might have been thinking, "Hey, I'm just trying to return the ark to its rightful place, and now this man is dead." Followed by, "Uh-oh. Maybe I don't really want to mess with the ark if death could be a result." So David sends the ark away, and the people who receive it also receive blessings.

I think there are parallels to our lives. We want the presence of the Lord, so we seek Him and try to obey Him. However, this seeking and obedience will sometimes result in death (of a vision, of a desire, of a plan) and pain, as we unexpectedly see the power of God and realize that, though He is our loving Savior, He is also the Great I Am who will not share His glory. That realization, that the Lord is not just the great grandpa in the sky, and that following Him requires sacrifice, may make us fear Him, and choose to "send Him away" by not talking to Him or spending time with Him.

Yet, we then start to notice that others who are following God are receiving blessings. Eventually, as with David, our desire for the blessing and connection to the Lord will outweigh our fear (2 Samuel 6:12):

And it was told King David, "The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God."So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing.

I realize we cannot draw a perfect parallel from the Old Testament world of the law to the New Testament world of grace, but I do think that I in my life have had moments of pulling away from the Lord--sending the ark away--because of anger and fear, and then realized the blessings I was missing, and chosen to try again to walk in the presence of the Lord. The choice is to risk the often painful character refinement and disappointment of "no" in exchange for communion and blessings. As a Christian, God will never leave me, and I cannot really send Him away, but I can chose to live without consulting Him or including Him in my plans. May all of us see that the blessings of walking with God are worth the risk.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

One Little Word

I continue to think about how to understand faith and how to walk in it. The verse I'm still thinking about (trying to memorize) is Matthew 7:20:

He said to them, ". . . For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you."

When I was practicing and trying to get it word perfect, I kept changing the phrase "you will say to this mountain" to be "you could say" or "you can say". But my translation says "will". Hmm. So I looked up the verse in several translations, and in the ones that are the most word-for-word (English Standard Version, New American Standard Version, Revised Standard Version, New King James Version), the word is rendered as "will" or "shall".

What does that really mean? The idea of moving a mountain, according to the footnote in my Bible, is used to denote any very difficult or impossible task. If I truly have faith, is it inevitable that I will exercise it by applying it to something that seems impossible in my life? The verse says that if I have faith I WILL ask the mountain to move. What mountains are there in my life that I want the Lord to move--and right now I can only consider the mountains that I already know He wants to move (disbelief, fear, faithlessness). I'll save the more nebulous mountains (healings, miracles) for another day.

Can I, WILL I apply my mustard seed (the tiny, eensy, weensy grain) of faith to the mountains that seem impossible to move? Is it faith if I don't?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Logically Speaking

For months now I have felt distant from the Lord. Today, finally, I feel like the Lord and I were connecting again. How did this happen? Wonderful worship music? In-depth study of scripture? Hours of prayer? No, actually, through a very simple and logical question.

I am in the middle of doing Beth Moore's "Believing God" Bible study about faith--ironic, yes, in light of feeling very lacking in faith lately. Today's simple exercise was to answer (in a pros/cons sort of way) the questions: "What are you risking if you decide to surrender to a life of believing God?" and "What are you risking if you don't?". Okay, no biggie, I made my list:

What do I risk by having faith? Disappointment and pain
What do I risk by NOT having faith: Disappointment and pain plus missing God's power, plus lessening my intimacy with God, plus losing the chance to be a part of partnering with God. . .

DUH!!!!!!! The biggest "aha" for me was that the two bad things that I fear, disappointment and pain, are the SAME for both questions. I risk the exact same things by believing God as by not, but by believing I have the potential to gain so much more. . .

I am also smiling at the oddity that such a simple and logical question was the vehicle of God's voice. That the Lord speak in this way shows me how well He knows me. I came to Him initially by the logic of the question "Who do you say that I am? Liar, lunatic, or Lord?" from C.S. Lewis--that, logically, I could not believe in Jesus as just a "good person", but had to choose to either think He was lying, or crazy, or really was Who He claimed to be. Once again, I am pushed to the next step of faith by the rational idea that having faith risks no more pain than not, but has the potential for so much blessing.

Finally, I almost lost the point by starting down my own personal "circle of doubt", which always begins with "But what if I don't have enough ___________,(faith in this case)?". And, from verses I have heard/read/seen one hundred thousand times but apparently never really apprehended (Matthew 17:20):

He said to them, . . . For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you."

Those Sunday School and Vacation Bible School veterans among us know that the mustard seed is very, very small, and yet grows a very big plant. But somehow I have never applied that personally and realized that I just need to believe the teeny tiny bit that I can and it will be enough.

Is there anything better than hearing the voice of God?