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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.

Monday, May 30, 2016

So THAT'S What I've Been Doing Wrong!

Every once in a while, I hear a message that both convicts me and illuminates truth to me. Christian nerd alert: I listen to podcasts of messages, usually from The Summit, the last church I attended in Missouri; and often while I clean. Please don't calculate my lack of regularity in cleaning when I confess that the last message I listened to (about a week ago) was from February 14, 2016. It is a message in a series about James, and the focus was from James 3:13-18:


 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.  This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.  And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
I recommend that you listen to the entire message for yourself: "Faith that Moves Us to Godly WIsdom", and put forth the caveat that what follows is how God used these words in my life, and may or may not communicate exactly what the pastor was trying to impart.

If you know me in real life, or even through this blog, it is not a secret that a weakness of mine is my speech and how I use my words. Sometimes I don't think. I am quite opinionated, and sometimes I don't listen. The past year has had some struggles in it, primarily my struggle to transition from a predominatley suburban school district to a much more diverse city school district, compounded with the reality that the group of kids I worked with this year have their own struggles with how they use their words and being opinionated. I have been highly frustrated at my inability to establish a class community of kindness and respect.

The crux of the message that I listened to was that, if we speak truth without humility or love, we actually can cause truth to be used by the enemy and can tempt other people to sin. I have said to loved ones, more than once, "But it's TRUE". This reply is usually in response to someone telling me that I am being negative or have hurt their feelings. I felt like it was their problem if what I said was true.

Ephesians 4:15 says this: "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ." I am quite familiar with that verse in theory. Apparently not so much in practice.

Could it be that much of my frustration in my classroom is due to the fact that, while I was speaking the truth about the inappropriate/disrespectful speech and behavior, I was doing it without humility or love? My correction wasn't coming from a heart wanting to help my students become better people, but from a heart wanting my class to behave in front of others and to simply make my day easier (both motives based the selfish ambition James referenced)? Furthermore, since my discipline was being delivered with little love, it actually caused MORE problems and disrespect (aka sin) from my students?

Closer to home, my other big struggle of the year (my life?) is how I share truth with my husband. Just the day before I listened to this message, I had shared a truth without (I now know) love or humility, and when my husband's feelings were hurt (and it wasn't even something directly related to him), I just kept saying, "But it's true. I can't help it if it's discouraging." The lightbulb--I was probably only sharing so that I could make some kind of snarky or self-righteous pronouncement, not to bring love or grace into the situation.

It's been a week or so since I listened to the message, and I have been praying about it and thinking about it often. I have also been trying to put it into practice. The only way that my heart will change is to draw closer to Jesus and the cross. When I do that, I see the sin in my own heart, and the humility and love that Jesus offers me even as He shows me the truth of my wickedness and my need for His redemption. Has my class magically become sweet and compliant? No. But I am becoming better at speaking the truth with love and taking time to weigh my words and heart.

My true words, in order to be truly wise, need to be peaceable, gentle, full of mercy, and sincere, just to name a few. (James 3, 17).  I will only find this wisdom by drawing near to Christ.

 



Saturday, May 7, 2016

Dimly

Still trudging out of the desert over here. I continue with reading through the Bible in a year and read in both Kings and Luke this week. The account of Elijah challenging the prophets of Baal via the "Whose God can Light the Altar on Fire First" contest remains one of my favorite Biblical stories (1 Kings 18). Elijah sees God's power consume a drenched altar and the prophets of Baal defeated. However, immediately after this victory, we find Elijah dejected in the desert, having fled from Jezebel and her threat on his life.

While in the desert, Elijah meets with God, and tells the Lord:
". . .I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant,thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away." (1 Kings 19:14)
In Elijah's mind, all hope is gone, and he is all alone, the only one who is faithful to the Lord. However, God reveals to Elijah that there are seven thousand people who have not bowed their knee to Baal. Seven thousand, instead of just Elijah.

Sometimes I have the same amount of faith as Elijah hiding out in the desert. Elijah feels alone, and is certain that there is no one else on his team. Yet, there are 7000 people allied with him. What he believed wasn't true. It wasn't even close to the truth. It reminds me of Jesus' miracle with the loaves and fishes. Though the disciples had seen him do miraculous deeds, they didn't believe He could feed the people, and yet there were twelve baskets full of leftovers when dinner was finished.

Over and over in the Bible, God provides so much more than we can imagine. I remember days in my life feeling like I would never find a man to marry. There were days I was certain that such a man simply did not exist (and I didn't think my requirements were even that burdensome). Yet, I have been blessed with a husband far better than I ever expected.

This latest stint in the desert has lasted a long time. Days and months of feeling far away from the Lord and morning after morning of opening the Bible out of discipline, deaf to the truth I was reading. I have thought that maybe I would never hear from God again. Reading about Elijah reminds me that I and all of us see so dimly and have such small faith. Elijah was sure he was alone--but he wasn't. I was sure I would never find a husband--but I did. I was almost certain I would never again have truth leap off the pages of Scripture--but it's starting to again.

I want to learn how to walk in faith, and how to remember the loaves and the fishes and the 7000 faithful when I feel hungry and alone. God is at work whether I see it or not. He is present whether I feel it or not. The Chris Tomlin song, "I Will Rise" has lyrics in verse two that speak to this: "There's a day that's drawing near when this darkness breaks to light, and the shadows disappear and my faith shall be my eyes."

I think I see clearly. I am wrong. My eyes, this world, are all shrouded still in darkness until Jesus comes again.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (I Corinthians 13:12)