7.05.2016

When It Seems That God Doesn't Have a Plan

Have you ever felt like God gave you a promise and then was slow in keeping it?  Or did it in a way that did not make sense at all?  Or perhaps He gave a promise, but then didn't appear to have a plan in place to accomplish it?

I sure have been tempted to feel that way.  But there's a problem with that type of thinking... it goes completely against His character.  His very being.  Who he is.

I was reading in Exodus about His promise to the Israelite's and the land they would overtake.

When I got to verse 29 of chapter 23, I stopped and went back to read it again.

And again.

And then one more time.

"But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply and threaten you." ~ Exodus 23:29

Do you see it like I did when I read it?


God had shared his promise of giving them the land.

BUT

He also explained to them why He wouldn't do it as quickly as they may have hoped, wanted, or expected.  To do so would have caused the land to become desolate and allowed the wild animals time to multiply and threaten them.

He does not owe us an explanation or a plan.

But when He chooses to let us in on it...

Yes, just a small glimpse of the constant truth that we CAN be assured that when He promises, He provides.

In His time.  His way.

He has a plan... and it is ALWAYS for our good!

 

6.25.2016

Light vs. Darkness vs. Darkness vs. Light

Have you ever had the opportunity to be down in the earth?  To enter a cave?

The coolness.
    The dampness.
         The darkness.


When we had reached the very bottom of the cave, the tour guide turned out the lights.  And do you know what we saw?  Darkness!

A darkness so dark, so thick, so palpable.  It was so dark that, even when putting my hand directly in front of my face, I could not see it.   

A few weeks ago I was stirred in my heart to begin considering light vs. dark.  And the theme has continued to surface in my days (which I have learned means I am to press in even harder... I believe repetition of themes, concepts, or ideas is one of God's ways of inviting me into a deeper conversation with Him in that.)

Here is some of what I have pondered and considered...
 

Physical Light and Darkness:

Without light, dark is. The entrance of light itself is what dissipates the darkness, even from the very beginning.
"The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." ~Gen. 1:2-3
In the cave, the guide didn't turn the dark off, instead he turned the light back on.  The darkness didn't necessarily go away.  It was still there.  The light just overcame the dark.


I am also trying to open my eyes and ears to how creation speaks of the Creator.  And so I consider the darkness and the created light...

Spiritual Light and Darkness:

In addition to sin... how often our difficult, our struggles, our pain, our frustrations.... are referred to as the darkness of our lives.

So then, in that, is there light?  And if so, what (or who) is that?
"Jesus once again addressed them: 'I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.'" ~John 8:12
I am coming to a new understanding of my own "darkness".  We aren't told that it will necessarily go away.  Instead, we are promised that there is a light strong enough to dissipate whatever darkness we find ourselves in!

The darkness doesn't necessarily disappear, the light just becomes greater.

In my darkness, He is my light!
"O Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness." ~2 Sam. 22:29  (Ps. 18:28)
 "The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.  For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine." ~Is. 9:2 (Matt. 4:16)

New Truth and New Prayers:

* And then I wonder... instead of praying for what seems my dark situations to go away, would the greater prayer (and miracle) not be to instead pray for my eyes to be opened to seeing Light (Him) in the midst of my darkness?  What if that was His greater will (and good) for me in that?
"Let us walk in the light of the Lord" ~(Is. 2:5b)

* And then allowing that Light (Him) to shine through my darkness and brokenness for others to see Him...
"But this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us -- is held in a perishable container, that is, in our weak bodies. Everyone can see that the glorious power within must be from God and is not our own." ~2 Cor. 4:7

* And even throughout eternity... He is the Light.
" And the city has no need of sun or moon to light it, for the glory of God and of the Lamb illuminate it" ~Rev. 21:23 

What about you? Have you found yourself praying for a difficult/dark situation to just disappear?  What if, instead, you began asking to see Him dissipate and overcome that with His Light if that was His greater will for you in that? --  And what other ideas of light vs. dark have you discovered, considered, or learned?...


Not all inclusive, but other verses to consider:
2 Cor. 4:4-6;  I Peter 2:9;  2 Cor. 11:14


 

6.18.2016

I Don't Want to be Remembered for Being Nice

I was talking with a co-worker friend recently about the life and passing of a sweet friend that Jesus took home after her 6+ years of fighting cancer leaving behind a young family.  The words pouring in from all over the world via social media and other venues were all pointing to her life well lived, loving people, and how she had lived out Jesus.

As I was having this discussion I said, "It all has me thinking about how I would be remembered."

Their response was, "Oh, you would be remembered like that... for being nice, considerate, kind..."

And as inappropriate as it probably was for me to interrupt, that's exactly what I did.  And I interrupted with these words before I could even think twice about what was coming out of my mouth... (that actually happens more than I'd like to admit which can get me in to trouble.) 
"But I don't want to be remembered for just being nice.  I want to be remembered as someone who pointed to Jesus in every. single. thing.!"

I've continued to consider this immediate, visceral reaction from deep within.  And it is giving me something to pursue. To strive for.  To be conscious of.  To be intentional with.

Not for anything for myself, but all for His Glory!

How about you?  Have you given much thought to how you would like to be remembered when the day comes?  What are you doing or changing to make that a reality as much as possible?

 

6.12.2016

Challenged by God's Goodness

So often the goodness of God is mentioned when things are going right. An answer to prayer, health restored, protection noticed... and the words "God is good" slip across the tongue.

Then I am challenged.

Should those same words not pass through the mouth when things don't seem to be going right? Answers to prayers seem silent or even opposed to what was hoped for, continuing illness with no restoration in sight, death of someone way before what seems their time, tragedy strikes...

Do things and situations alter the goodness of God?

Does God simply just do good? or is He good?

In the classic by C.S. Lewis "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", Aslan represents Jesus. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver begin describing Aslan to the children, and this is part of their conversation:
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver...; Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.

Jack Modesett Jr. gives this definition of the goodness of God:
"Wise enough to know what's best for me.
Loving enough to want what's best for me.
Strong enough to do what's best for me.
Gracious enough to give me all that goodness would provide."

And then I consider the words of God Himself: 

"Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!" ~Ps. 34:8 (NLT)
"The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation." ~Ps. 145:9 (NLT)

Circumstances of this fallen world do not change the goodness of God.

Being good is not something God does, rather something He is.

Good or bad, ecstatic or tragic... God is Good!

It is part of His character. Just plain who He is... all the time.

God IS Good.

We have situations that we are working on sorting and processing through. Not ones I would have personally chosen, but ones that are ours nonetheless.  I knew this was a perfect time to put this truth to practice in my heart.

"Even now, in the middle of this...God, You are still good."


What about you?  Have you ever thought or been challenged to remember the goodness of God, even when it appears that things are not going so well?  Or especially when things aren't going so well?

When was the last time you were reminded and able to say that God is good?  Not finishing the sentence with "when"...  

Instead, just using these three words to sum it all up.  

God IS Good.

6.05.2016

Learning to Embrace the Wait

We have a theme park not too far from our house. We went for opening day of the season.

Which meant we had to stand in lines. Waiting. For our turn.  Watching others board and ride the ride that we anticipated taking.


 As we were standing in line, I glanced down at our little guy as he was leaning against the railing saying repeatedly, over and over, almost as if under his breath, "I hate waiting.  I hate waiting.  I hate waiting."

I interrupted his cycling statement with, "Oh, but waiting is a good thing to learn.  So many times in the Bible God tells us to learn to wait.  It is part of how He created life to work."

And as I was encouraging and educating my son, my Heavenly Father began to point out current situations in my life where I have been standing, waiting, leaning against the railing saying repeatedly, over and over, almost as if under my breath, "I hate waiting.  I hate waiting.  I hate waiting."

And so I am challenged.....

As I was trying to instruct my son in the lessons of waiting... I myself was instructed.

Not because I want to, but rather out of obedience...

Learning to embrace the wait.

5.22.2016

Attitude Perspective... It's a Choice

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. “Well,” she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today.” So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. “Hmm,” she said, “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today.” So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. “Well,” she said, “Today I’m going to wear my hair in a pony tail.” So she did and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head. “YEAH!” she exclaimed, “I don’t have to fix my hair today!”

--author unknown
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Attitude is a choice. I am choosing mine for today. Have you?

5.16.2016

How to Begin Quiet with Just 5 Minutes a Day

Do you feel like you are running with no time to rest?  Do you drop into bed each night exhausted and falling asleep before your head even hits the pillow?  Do you find days filled without time for even a minute to reflect?

Do you find yourself experiencing mounting frustrations?  Dreading what the next day, the next minute has in store because you haven't even completed yesterday's tasks... or can't even remember what those were?


I have experienced those very frustrations of busy, overwhelmed, noise, chaos, and no time for much of anything or anyone... especially time with what was most important... Jesus.

It was a desire of mine to learn and implement the rhythms of...

Quiet
Simplicity
Solitude
Pace Slowing
Moment Enjoying 
Time Treasuring

What if I told you I started with just 5 minutes a day?
 

Would you be up for the 5 minute challenge?

A Couple FAQ's I have been asked when presenting it to people:

~~WHERE DO I GO?
* a closet
* your car
* the back porch

Location doesn't matter so much as you find somewhere that you can get away for complete solitude.  


~~WHAT DO I DO?
Nothing!  That's right.  Don't do anything in that time but just be... you and God.

Start out without even bringing a Bible during that time.  So often my Bible reading became just another "to do". 

Just use this time to be honest with God.  Talk to Him. Perhaps even out loud. Be honest.  (He's even okay if you share your frustrations, anger, etc.  Just read the Psalms some time if you aren't convinced...)
And then just sit.  Be in His presence.  
Quiet.  
Listen.  
If you aren't hearing anything, just picture in your mind Him sitting there with you. 
His Presence.

I often picture myself just bowing at the feet of His throne worshipping and praising Him for all that He is...  and listening, and proclaiming with the heavenly beings... 

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.  Who was, and is, and is to come.  Worthy....
Note: you may want to bring paper and pen for the purpose of writing down any distractions that will come to mind.  I say "will" because it's almost guaranteed it will happen.  Write them down to refer to and deal with later.  Don't waste this precious time with what will fill the rest of your day!


~~SET A TIMER if needed
 I realize that even 5 minutes may seem like a very long time to begin with.

But be intentional.  Setting a timer helped me to not glance at the clock every 30 seconds wondering how much longer I had to go.  It helped me to really work at just quieting, knowing that the clock was keeping time.

~~NO EXPECTATIONS
Don't go into this time with any expectations other than to begin training your own heart and mind in the practice of sitting with Him in His presence.   

"Wasting time with God."

I remember beginning to train myself to this practice.  It wasn't easy in the beginning, but oh the benefits this practice and the sweet and special moments that have come out of it!
Once you have 5 minutes, increase to 10. And then 15.  And then 30.  And then 60. And then...

Once you begin to learn the rhythms of quiet, the stillness, the settled-ness...begin to bring in music, and Bible reading, and journaling, etc.

Quiet
Simplicity
Solitude
Pace Slowing
Moment Enjoying 
Time Treasuring

Keeping company with God...



Challenge Modifications:
* If you already have consistent time with Jesus, the challenge I issue to you (and that I am taking on) is to consistently increase that by at least 5 minutes.  And does some of that time include setting everything aside and just "being" with Him?


What about you?  
* Are you in?  Would love to hear if you are taking on this 5 minute challenge!  
* What other ways have you found to quiet and still yourself to just be in His presence?


 

5.10.2016

White Knuckled Grip

Have you ever held on to something so tightly that your knuckles turned white; and when you let go it actually hurt to straighten your hands?
~~~~~~~

Has there ever been a time when it seemed that you were alone in the heat of a battle, a heart and soul battle? Have you ever felt that surely you would not survive that battle?
~~~~~~~

Until recently, I'm sure I have read over Eleazar's name many times without paying much attention to his story. However, his is now a name I remind myself of in difficult times. Even when it feels I am all alone... No...especially when it feels I am all alone, I challenge and remind myself to be an Eleazar. To stand my ground, to fight, to cling...

II Sam. 23:9:.....

(Msg) "When the Philistines drew up for battle, Israel retreated. But Eleazar stood his ground and killed Philistines right and left until he was exhausted—but he never let go of his sword!"

(NASB) and (AMP) "until his hand was weary and clung to the sword."

The army retreated and left Eleazar. He stood his ground. He fought. He clung... to his sword.

Stop. Put yourself in that situation. Imagine just how tightly you would have been clinging to your sword.

After fighting that desperately, I wonder... did someone have to help pry his hand from his sword in the end? Was the battle so intense and long that it was as if his hand and sword had become one?

(NIV) "till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword."
~~~~~~~

Sometimes my life battles feel ever so fierce. There are times I feel so alone in the midst of those battles. God has used the story of Eleazar as a challenge to my own heart.

Do I cling to my sword as desperately, fighting for my very life in the midst of life's fiercest battles?

Eph. 6:17 (NIV) "Take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

Heb. 4:12 (NIV) "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword..."

Do I cling so tightly that my knuckles turn white? Is my grasp so intense that it is almost as if my sword, God's very Word, is frozen to my being? Is my grip so tight that to let loose would generate a pain of sorts?

In the heart battles that rage, by His grace and mercy:

Learning to not retreat.
Seeking courage to stand my ground.
Finding the strength to fight.

Determining to cling... with a white knuckled grip.... so desperately... for my very life...

To my sword... the Word of God.

4.29.2016

My Season of Lilacs

Ah, lilacs.  As I glance through my windows I see that they are almost in full bloom.  Everywhere I go around town I see them... lilacs.  Their scent is even beginning to permeate the air without even necessarily being close to them.

Each year that they come and go, I do a lot of reflecting, remembering, rejoicing, and re-living.

It was this season 10 years ago (but I remember it like yesterday) that I missed the season of my lilacs completely.  It was in that season that our daughter found herself in the hospital facing death for the second time in her life.

We had just moved into our home and I was excited for the first season of my lilacs.  As they started to bloom, we left for what was supposed to be a short trip.  However, our daughter became very ill on that trip and was rushed to the ER as soon as our plane landed.  She was immediately admitted. 

Once she was discharged weeks later... the lilacs were gone.  The season had come and gone, and I had missed it entirely. 

Because of that one season...  Every season now...
* is a reminder to me of God's love
* symbolizes memories of God's mercy
* is a visible witness to me of God's faithfulness, grace and healing power

As I remember that year, I stand amazed at the way God carried us through.

I see His hand so visible in areas that seemed so lonely, frightful and more than I could bear.

If you ask me how I made it through that time, I would have to tell you... it was not by my strength, power or anything of myself. It was by God's very mercy, grace and presence alone that each moment was faced with hope and faith in the sovereignty of my God.


Every year now, their beauty helps to refresh my perspective of what's truly important in life. They serve as an inspiration to count the little things in life as great blessings... to be grateful for the schedules, the tasks needing to be accomplished, the things needing to be done.

These things are stark reminders to me that those demands are needing to be accomplished for one reason... we are living.

Every season, with each glance out of my window...with each fragrant aroma inhaled, I am again brought to a brief quiet moment in my spirit where I realize and remember... I serve a great God whose character and goodness is beyond comprehension.

As we celebrate life being given fresh and anew to us 10 years ago, their season is a heart memory to me of what God walked us through and never left us to face alone.


We are now 3 years past when the doctor said she may need more surgery.  We don't know when... but it will most likely come.

The season of my lilacs serve as a reminder, that regardless of what comes... my God is a grace giving, mercy loving, all sufficient, wisdom containing God who leaves His fingerprints all over every situation that comes my way.

I will forever treasure lilacs and their season in my heart. My "Season of Lilacs" serve as a reminder to me of "A season God alone sustained me."


4.25.2016

Seasons

Once again it has been some time since I have been able to come and be in this place.  There was a time in the past that I would feel the need to apologize and rationalize my absence.  And yet, the irony strikes me that it has the name "quiet corner".  I have found that sometimes I need to be even more quiet than what this little corner of the world will allow.

I have also come to understand, and am learning in increasing measure, the lessons and lifestyle of "seasons".  There was a time that I felt to make a change, to have something be different than I had planned, vocalized, or even put plans into place for was negative.  A sign that perhaps I was losing my mind.

But now...I have discovered and am learning that seasons and change should be expected.  That maybe to change and have new seasons is the "normal."
"Maybe our normal is so subnormal that normal seems abnormal.  Maybe we need a new normal.  Bold prayers and big dreams are normal.  Anything less is subnormal. " ~M. Batterson


Various seasons and change represent newness.  Growth.  Rest.



I have also come to be at peace with the fact that to have changing "life seasons" is even biblical!

"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.  A time to ....... and a time to....... "   (see Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

In fact, God created the world with seasons.  Same... but different.  And when we are nearing the end of one season, instead of complete dread, apprehension, or anxiety... we wait, almost longingly and expectantly, for the next season.


Why would I not also do that in my life?  When a change is coming... eagerly anticipate knowing He has something in it and it is for my good.  Knowing that He will meet me there.


And so, it appears that I may have opportunity to find myself back in this place on a more regular basis once again.

At least for this next season......