Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"...believe that you have received it..."

Have faith in God ... Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.—All things are possible for one who believes.—And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.

This is from today's Daily Light. It is very perplexing to me. This thought of "believe that you have received it and it will be yours" has always caused both a great stirring in my heart and a conflict in my mind. The problem, for me, comes in that I am not divine. I do not know what the future holds for me. I do not know the plans God has for my life. I am walking baby step by baby step, at times even uncertain of the next footfall. The future is often a big blank to me. Not that I don't have thoughts about what I want it to look like. Often I sit and daydream about what it might be like to be married, home during the day tending to little ones and preparing some special meal or surprise for my husband when he returns home. But I don't know that this is what the Lord has for me. I hope it is...but I do not know. I cannot know right now. And I am ok with that. I DO know that He knows. That he has plans for me. That they are plans to prosper and not to harm me. That they are plans to give me a future and a hope. And, that He will work all things - the good, the bad, and especially the ugly - together for good...for my good...and for His glory. But I don't know specifics. Yet, I am called to pray about specifics.

I know this all makes sense to the Lord, but my feeble mind just can't really get it.

I know it makes perfect sense to ask us to ask Him in faith, believing we have received and yet know and acknowledged that He is sovereign and His ways are not our ways and His plans are, at least in the short-term, hidden from us. So, though it doesn't make sense...though I feel presumptuous at times asking in this way...I must obey and trust that He will guide and correct and reveal His will to me in His good time.

And in those moments when I do approach the Throne of Grace with fears are alaid, my heart is comforted and cheered, and my confidence in the Lord to accomplish His good and perfect will is strengthened. Though most mornings, I walk away with no clear answer...that comfort and encouragement is answer in and of itself...and more besides. It is grace and strength to persevere in continue in obedience...and to stand through temptation. In truth, that is better than an answer.

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord

Thus far, what has been promises is peace, strength, and a wonderful (though yet unknown) future. And that is enough.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Light Breaks Through

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a somewhat personal situation. I hesitated to do it for discretion’s sake, but felt really led of the Lord to put it out there as so much of what He is doing in me right now is in and through the vehicle of this situation. The post I am referring to is from May 15th, titled “Sense & Sensibilities”. Here is an excerpt:

Right now, I am in that painful and difficult spot. A few months ago, I met someone... someone different... someone that was almost instantly special to me...someone I began to hope might become my Edward or Mr. Darcy or Boaz. Like Elinor, I had no reason to set my mind on this as word from the Lord (except "Ask me. Trust me.)...only my heart, which I know is deceitful and treacherous. So, also like Elinor, I have had to keep the rising emotion in check, correct it, and apply God's truth, the only truth I know, to it. I don't doubt that, whatever the outcome, my response will be much like Elinor's. But I can also know that, whatever the outcome, there will be comfort, there will be peace, and though it is momentarily painful...the end it will explain. And the will be wonderful.

This certainty of God’s faithfulness and goodness was what I was determined to set my mind and heart and hope on…but throughout the course of days and weeks and months, I know that is not what my mind and heart looked like. I am quite certain that at times, what I felt and thought and even said proclaimed “I don’t really trust God”. Sometimes it even felt like all around me was cloudy and stormy and dreary. I am thankful, however, that the Lord truly is faithful and good and always showed me the silliness and futility of such a condition…and then turned my eyes and thoughts and heart back toward Him.

Over the past month, the battle for the object of my hope has intensified…and those storm clouds threatened to become darker and more fierce. More and more I have felt the physical tugging and pulling back and forth. At times, I’ve felt weary for all the determining and repenting and willing to obey…and also from the frustration of seeing NO change in my circumstances. No word. No e-mail. No phone call. No glimmer of hope whatsoever.

That is…until today.

Today, a ray of light broke through the dreary clouds. After all this waiting and determining to keep my hands off and trust His way, His time…He gave me a wonderfully unexpected glimmer of hope via a phone call from the person mentioned in the excerpt up top. There were no declarations of love or expressions of feeling or anything like that…but it was contact when there had been none, it was the kind voice I’d been aching to hear again, and it was obvious that the person on the other end wanted to be talking to me at least half as much as I wanted to be talking to him. It was also answered prayer. And after I stopped shaking (about an hour and a half later), I lifted my head and tearfully thanked the Lord for His unmerited and extravagant kindness to me.

I have no doubt that more waiting and more periods of silence are in store for me. I know I need it. And I know that I will be equally grateful for those as I am for the ones that have just ended. I know, also, that this phone call would not have been quite so sweet were it not for all the waiting and longing or might never have come had I insisted on keeping my hands firmly around it.

Lord, thank you for causing me to wait for this…and through that, teaching me to wait not for circumstances but for You! Thank you for your faithfulness…for hope in You that never disappoints…and for growing my faith through denials and delays. You are a truly kind and good and merciful God!

What is really good

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. (Psalm 73:28)

There are many things I regard as good:

My hopes for my nieces
Peace in my family
Sparkley flip-flops
Evenly spaced out deadlines at work
Starbucks Iced Coffee
Marriage and family
Singing with the Worship Team at church

You get the idea...

When I think about life, mine or anyone else's, at any given moment, my mind is filled with thoughts of what I think would be good...even best...for them/me both presently and in the future. But, as vivid as my imagination is, the Bible says that "no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him."

Those who wait for Him.

Anyone who has read this blog, even casually, over the past few months will know that waiting on God has been the consistent theme. Right now, in all the things that are most important to me, I am being made to hope not in circumstances but in God.

I could fix my mind and set my hands to go after the many good things I want for myself and for those I is what feels natural to do. But that is not what is spiritual to do. That is not the way to see God act on behalf of me and those dear to me. Had the Israelites not waited on God when they were stuck before the Egyptians and the Red Sea...they might have missed out on the parting of the waters. The same is true for us today. If we are too busy making things happen for ourselves, we likely miss opportunities for God to act on our behalf. In effect, we settle for what we deem good in exchange for what is ultimately best.

For me, right now, God's best involves waiting and all the feelings of denial and delay and disappointment that come along with it. That doesn't really make any sense...but I believe it is truth. Through this waiting, the Lord is showing me that not even the best things I can think of and hope for and make happen for myself are better than this one thing: His nearness.

As I wait, He meets with me. He comforts me. He sustains me. He brings me joy. He is the refuge I run to when all around me is crumbling or confusing. He is my El mighty God - the God who is enough.

I could demand my "rights"...demand those things I feel He has liberally given to others and denied me, but this is not the life of faith. Oswald Chambers says, "if you are living the life of faith, you will exercise your right to waive your rights and let God make your choice for you...this is the discipline God uses to transform the natural into the spiritual through obedience to His voice...The greatest enemy ot the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best."

Lord, help me always to forsake the good when you call me to wait for the best. You alone are good. You alone are enough. I have no one or nothing else in Heaven besides you. Your nearness, especially in the midst of barreness, has been my greatest good!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Thoughts on Psalm 78

Psalm 78
9The Ephraimites, armed with[
b] the bow, turned back on the day of battle.
10They did not keep God's covenant, but refused to walk according to his law.
11They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them.
23Yet he commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven,
24and he rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven.
25Man ate of the bread of the angels; he sent them food in abundance.
30But before they had satisfied their craving, while the food was still in their mouths,
31the anger of God rose against them, and he killed the strongest of them and laid low the young men of Israel.
32In spite of all this, they still sinned; despite his wonders, they did not believe.
34When he killed them, they sought him; they repented and sought God earnestly.
35They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer.

As I read the passage above this morning, I couldn’t help but identify with it. I think we all can, though it is easy to read it in the third person and miss the lesson. How often do we “turn back on the day of battle" though we are equipped with all we need to fight…though we are promised that His grace will be sufficient for us and that His joy will be our strength? How often do we chose our own way and seek our own ends…without prayer…without patience…without regard for even the conviction we feel to the contrary? And like the Israelites, as God continues to “command the skies and open the doors of heaven”…to care for us and provide for us…we are still ruled by our cravings and demand more or something else than what we are being given. In this passage, God’s wrath is kindled and He unleashes it on this ungrateful people. And then it says…”When He killed them, they sought Him… they remembered that God was their rock.”

Isn’t death always the way to that point? Don’t we always have to “die” to self to see and serve the Lord? Before our willful *I* can become “your will be done”?

The other night, some friends and I were talking about where we are right now; our struggles and triumphs and consistent themes and such. I started my turn off by saying “I’ve had to die a lot lately.” And this is true. Daily I come face to face with opportunities to seek my own way or wait on God. Mostly that is the choice…act now or wait on God. I want to act now. I want to see results. I want to see progress. I want to get what I want without the whole annoying waiting thing…and did I mention I want it NOW?!?! But that is not God’s way…at least that is not the way He is leading me at this point. At times, all this waiting is very frustrating. At times, it truly does feel like I am standing on the front line of a great battle and I often don't want to fight...I want to turn away. But, spiritually and realistically speaking, I have no other choice but to fight as He arms me...and at this time it is with faith...obedience...and prayer. To choose another way is to take God out of the equation (as far as my heart and will is concerned) and I cannot do that. I will not do that!

There have been times over the past month or so, when I’ve felt like I was being held in the middle of a hurricane…wind swirling, rain crashing down, frightening claps of thunder ringing in my ears. I look at today, apply it to tomorrow and it magnifies. Upsetting situations become horrific when I look a few years ahead. Disappointments lead to despair when I see them as a trend, rather than an isolated incident. You get the idea.

But this…the hurricane emotions, the forecasted future…all of it…is a big lie. IF God didn’t exist and IF He didn’t promise to work ALL things together for good and IF He had no plan for my future and my hope, perhaps the doom-filled future my mind sometimes jumps to might be accurate. But that is not the case. God does exist and is not slack I keeping His promises. He spoke the world into existence and holds sway even over the hearts of pagan kings. He orders every molecule and every whiff of wind and every “instinctual” habit of every animal and every instance in every life on the face of the planet and throughout all of time. He can handle my piddley little life…and all those that touch it.

But His ways, how He marks time is not the same as mine. That, I think, is where I often get tripped up. I want to conform God to what I can see and perceive and understand. That is utter nonsense. I am but a breath…He is eternal. I know only what I can see and hear and the few things my feeble mind can ponder and expound on. He knows everything…EVER. His ways always prosper. Mine usually lead to death of some kind.

The point…We need to just trust His ways. Period.

But, again…His ways are not our ways.
Psalm 77:19 says, Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.

When the Israelites came to the Sea, with the Egyptians behind them they saw a trap. God saw…and made…a highway!

Oh Lord…let us see that, too. Whatever our circumstances. Whatever the battle. However much we need to die. Let us trust you. Let us hear you. Let us not turn away. Let us fight your fight. Let us walk your road and none other!

Monday, May 22, 2006

More on corn...

There is corn in Egypt. (Gen 42:1)

These words were such a comfort to me last night. On the us modern folk... those words don't seem all that comforting. There is corn in Egypt...ok? There is corn at the Winn-Dixie and the convenience store across the street, too. Taken at face value, there is no great consolation in this word...or even this passage. We don't know famine. We don't know real hunger in the sense that Jacob and his family did. But, if we put it into our frame of reference, substitute actual physical famine and hunger with our own brand of becomes a bit more real and a lot more comforting.

We all know what it is to want long for ache over it very much like these people wanted and longed for ached for food. We each have situations which cause us to long for resolution, answers we hunger to hear, ends we ache to see as reality. To each thing, no matter what it is, the Lord says "There is corn in Egypt!" Not that corn is the solution to all the problems and all the dilemas and all the ills of the world. For Jacob and his family, corn meant they wouldn't starve to death. What is your thing...your corn? Whatever it is, God has preparing it and storing it up and waiting to give it. It might not be where we want it or exactly what we think we need and it might not come from the direction we expect, but, regardless, our needs will be met and satisfied and fulfilled. The corn we get will be more than enough.

Though we can't see any way clear from where we are...our Lord has corn for us in Egypt! He can and will bring help, healing, whatever we need from wherever it needs to come. May we not limit God to the resources WE see. He has cattle on a thousand hills, holds sway over the hearts of pagan kings, and10,000 legions of angels to come our aid...AND He has corn in Egypt!

Now think on this...the sweetest bit of providence in this verse is not just the corn...the hunger met...the prayer answered...but the fact that the Lord took the sin of these men to bring about their blessing and rescue! Jacob's sons sold Joseph into slavery...left him for dead; that is how he wound up in Egypt over Pharoah's house. Through the sins of the brothers, the Lord was making a way to deliver them and meet their needs! What a kind and merciful and longsuffering God we serve! And, He is we can know that what He did for Jacob and his sons...He can and will do for us. He will work in and through even our sin and failings and those of others to bring about our good. Nothing...nothing...nothing can hinder His purposes. And everything...everything...e v e r y t h i n g...that touches us must pass by His hand first. Let us be thankful for today...for the rough and the smooth...let us rejoice knowing that no matter how difficult the path He appoints for us today...He has corn in Egypt! Help is there...on the way...if only we wait on our God!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

"There is corn in Egypt."

Famine pinched all the nations, and it seemed inevitable that Jacob and his family should suffer great want; but the God of providence, who never forgets the objects of electing love, had stored a granary for His people by giving the Egyptians warning of the scarcity, and leading them to treasure up the grain of the years of plenty. Little did Jacob expect deliverance from Egypt, but there was the corn in store for him. Believer, though all things are apparently against thee, rest assured that God has made a [provision] on thy behalf; in the [midst] of thy griefs there is a saving [grace]. Somehow He will deliver thee, and somewhere He will provide for thee. The quarter from which thy rescue shall arise may be a very unexpected one, but help will assuredly come in thine extremity, and thou shalt magnify the name of the Lord. If men do not feed thee, ravens shall; and if earth yield not wheat, heaven shall drop with manna. Therefore be of good courage, and rest quietly in the Lord. God can make the sun rise in the west if He pleases, and make the source of distress the channel of delight. The corn in Egypt was all in the hands of the beloved Joseph; he opened or closed the granaries at will. And so the riches of providence are all in the absolute power of our Lord Jesus, who will dispense them liberally to His people. Joseph was abundantly ready to succour his own family; and Jesus is unceasing in His faithful care for His brethren. Our business is to go after the help which is provided for us: we must not sit still in despondency, but bestir ourselves. Prayer will bear us soon into the presence of our royal Brother: once before His throne we have only to ask and have: His stores are not exhausted; there is corn still: His heart is not hard, He will give the corn to us. Lord, forgive our unbelief, and this evening constrain us to draw largely from Thy fulness and receive grace for grace.

This was my evening reading from Charles Spurgeon. I read it in tears.

Believer, though all things are apparently against thee, rest assured that God has made a [provision] on thy behalf; in the [midst] of thy griefs there is a saving [grace].

This was the word I needed, desperately, this evening. My heart was grieving...heavy...feeling very much like all in the universe was set against what it wants. That is...everything except for my want of the Lord. In that, all has aligned...especially my griefs. Those have in a way been a saving grace. As my heart sinks or feels as if it might burst with longing there is the Lord to comfort and sustain and fix both my heart and my eyes on Him. Just a while ago, I was talking to a friend about the circumstances of my life and said something like "really the only thing I can 'woo hoo' about is the Lord...and though everything else is hard, that really is a good thing."

That really is a great thing.

As my eyes look at circumstances...
As my mind thinks on impossibilities...
As my heart longs for what it seems I may never have...
As my mouth even speaks of the here and now and all its woes...
The Lord says, "There is corn in Egypt!"
Despite how prone my heart is to wander...
Or how often I seek my own...
Or long for something more than I long for Him...
In the midst of pining and grief for wishes unfulfilled...
The Lord says, "There is corn in Egypt!"
Though I am worthy of nothing...
Though I deserve only correction and chastisement...
Though I moan and lament His present provision at times...
Though I sometimes can't see His lush forest for all the "me" in the way...
The Lord says, "There is corn in Egypt!"

He says, "rest assured that I have made a [provision] on thy behalf; in the [midst] of thy griefs there is a saving [grace]."

I believe, Lord. Help mine unbelief!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Finally Losing Again!

Well, it's official. After months and months of plateaus and natural disasters and life so topsy-turvy I couldn't see straight much less eat right all the time...the weight has finally begin to come off again. Over the past week, I've lost 5 lbs and an inch or so off my hips.

It's been a long time coming.

Just before Katrina, I hit a plateau. Though I was eating as I should, the numbers on the scale just froze. Then the storm came and I was displaced for months. I was well cared for by family and work...but I had to make due with what was being made available in the food department. Compromises were made. Then I began to compromise just because I could. When I got home and started being surrogate mommy to my nieces and nephew...I began what I call "mommy eating"...whatever the kids want because its easier. I tried to be sensible...but carbs is carbs and my body just takes those two slices of pizza and sticks on on either side of my hips. No matter how sensible I tried to be in my portion sizes, I began to suffer headaches again and feel sleepy soon after meals. It wasn't fun...especially when I had to care for and entertain the kids.

So, I began to pray specifically for faithfulness, regardless, to what the Lord had called me to do in regards to my eating. The Lord said "Start walking." So...after a while, I did. I continued to make bad choices in the food department. I prayed even more fervently. The Lord said, "Fast twice a month." So...with a friend, I began that. I continued to pray, beginning each morning with "Today's the day." Each afternoon I felt defeated in some way. So I went to the Lord again. He said, "Set aside an extra 20 minutes each morning to pray for others." So I did. And after a couple of weeks, I realized I wasn't eating the things I can't and I wasn't eating more than I needed and I wasn't really thinking about food much at all. It was almost like it was when the Lord and I first turned this corner nearly 2 years ago.

When I first began this, and saw the faithfulness of the Lord and how radically He'd changed me in this area...overnight it seemed...I thought that was how it would be the whole way through and by this time I'd be a normal weight and crossing my legs and shopping in the regular sizes and moving on to the next big thing he had for me. I didn't think about the physical reality of plateaus or foresee Hurricane Katrina or becoming part-time mom to my nieces and nephew. I also didn't see how those things would take a bit of the edge off of my joy and make everything harder. I didn't think about the reality that God gives ease...and He takes it away sometimes, too.

I have no doubt that the first year was a designed to display His glory AND to sustain me through this time. No matter how defeated I felt or how many whispers the enemy hissed into my ear that I was going backwards or stuck or whatever, I had that year to reflect on and remember that what He started He will finish. What remains to be done has already been done...both in the unseen and in the seen. Where I stopped is sort of a half-way point. So what remains, the Lord and I have already accomplished. We just need to do it one more time. Only, this time, I know there will be an added twist. This time, I am called to endure...through temptation and stress, I am called to stand...regardless of what life looks like, how strong the tempation is, or how slowly the numbers on the scale move. Now is the time to stand and fight the good fight the Lord has placed me in. And, by His grace, stand I shall!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

All means ALL

This morning, I got an e-mail from my boss. He wanted to talk. The way it went was, one of the VPs had gone to him with some complaints regarding the current state of our database and the speed with which information was being input and updates were being made. He also complained about the way the new database was set-up and his inability to get anything out the database.

I partially bit my tongue and prayed quickly for wise and sensible words. But, I was more than a tad miffed. See, I had had this conversation with the complaining VP in the past. I'd addressed his problems and questions and thought we agreed that the real problem was his dislike of learning new things and he just had to give it time. Every other issue should then deflate dramatically, as his frustration with the new software decreased.

Apparently, we didn't agree and he really didn't like my answers/solutions. So he went to my boss.

This was the way it was presented to me, anyway. I would find out later, that the motive and tenor of the conversations (from the complaining VPs perspective was quite different).

As I spoke with my boss, fielded his questions and responded to the criticism related to me a door opened. It was a door I had been waiting to open for quite some time and now was the time for me to walk through.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the firm decided to lessen its overhead and (frankly)drop some "dead weight" among the personnel. Two of those cuts were our Graphics Director and my assistant. But, while their respective layoffs were justified and reasonable, it created a vacuum...and all of their stuff was sucked my way.

Before Katrina, I was already carrying more than my share. My assistants ability to assist me was limited and I had also assumed many of the things which were previously done for our department by the Graphics Director simply because it was easier, less time consuming and I knew that way I'd get what I really wanted. Since Katrina, I've been left with no one to delegate anything to and have had to pick up all of the things which our Graphics Director was doing. A great many of those things are going on all at the same time as we need to replace so many updates, letterhead, business cards, conference displays, promotional items, as well as personal graphics and publishing things for the executive of our company. All the while, my deadlines have not stopped. As they say...I've been busier than a one-armed paper hanger...whatever that means.

Everyone is going above and beyond...I realize that. But, everyone else who is responsible for running a department has someone to delegate to and to help them. I AM my department and I have no one.

So...with all of this in my head and fresh criticism in my lap I sat before my boss and thanked the Lord for what He was about to provide. I'd been waiting for the right time to discuss my needs with my boss and prayed I could do so without complaining or demanding and also in such a way that he would accurately see the need and urgency.

This was that time.

I left the office, still a bit miffed with my co-worker for "going over my head" but could see that I actually needed to thank him for providing me the opportunity to discuss my situation with my boss in such a way. A conversation which resulted in my being promised a summer intern to help until such a time as we can actually hire someone.

So I did just that. I went into him and basically thanked him for complaining about me.

I didn't say it that way, though.

His take on his conversation with my boss was quite different. He said that his motive for discussing these things with my boss was to highlight my need for help and to recommend that I be given responsibility for coordinating and unifying all of our marketing efforts in all of our offices because I do such a good job.


Whatever the truth or reality...the Lord used what appeared to be a bad thing (i.e., someone complaining about the way I do my job) to extend care, meet a need and lead my boss and this VP to have favor on me.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

All means ALL.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

My brother's wedding

This past weekend, my oldest brother (Nicky) got married. The wedding was supposed to be in September of '05...but Hurricane Katrina had something to say about that. They finally made it official on May 13, 2006. Here are some photos...

Why I don't watch TV

Nearly 2 years ago, I did something that has been the source of confusion, perplexity and even irritation to many of the people around me.

I cancelled my cable subscription.

I didn't do it for financial reasons.

I didn't replace it with rabbit ears.

And, except during Hurricane Season, I never watch the one fuzzy channel I can catch without antennas and cables.

I simply stopped watching TV all-together.

Still, nearly 2 years later, I have conversations that go pretty much like this:

"Did you see that commercial about the [insert newest, funniest advertising bit here]?"

"No. [smile] I don't watch TV."

[crickets chirping...confused look on friend's face] "What?"

It is just a given that people watch is an almost equal given that people watch TV every day. Even among my church-going friends, I am a bit of an odd-ball in this respect. They monitor what they watch and that is fine for them. But, for me, the content of what is currently on television was not the reason I ended my relationship with my television. I did it simply because the Lord said "Stop watching TV." Oh, I fought it and disobeyed for a month...but finally submitted and haven't looked back since.

The timing of it was at exactly one month before the Lord led me to begin walking in repentence regarding gluttony. When I turned that corner, the TV got turned off, too. It was not coincidence.

Since saying "buh-bye" to TV, I have noticed changes in my life and habits that I do not believe could have been effectively enacted any other way, such as:

I hardly ever snack at home.
I have gotten into the habit of having one or two purposeful snacks throughout the day to keep my metabolism going, but at home...not so much. Before, I'd come home and watch TV and eat until bedtime. In fact, anytime the TV was on...I was going to wind up eating something. They went together. Now that the TV isn't on, the snacks aren't necessary.

I think about sex a whole lot less.
What I watched wouldn't have made it to anyone's list of the most risque shows on TV. I didn't have pay channels and stayed away from Soap Opera-type shows or anything that was known for it sexual content. But no matter what show you watch today...even kids shows on Nic and Disney...there are going to be romantic story-lines. In Prime time, there will be kissing and every step leading up to "the moment"...and most minds will pick up where the scene cuts off. At least, mine did. Since turning off the "boob" tube (forgive the pun) my struggle in this area has decreased by at least 99.7%.

I am more prayerful.
Where my mind was filled with the latest plot points, spoilers, catchy commercial jingles, fantasies of me as my favorite character or worries about my ability to program my VCR properly, it is now filled with something closer to the unceasing prayer Paul speaks of in 1 Thessalonians 5.

I think about others more.
See explanation above.

I actually have time to do things call friends, read, study the word more, write, clean and wash during the week, bake for the office, have friends over...all sorts of things.

inally, I find I am a much calmer, emotionally balanced, disciplined person.

Do I blame TV entirely for what was before? Of course not, just like I don't give the lack of TV credit for the peace and discipline that have come to my life. That was God's work, totally. But He used the removal of television from my daily life to acomplish this work and He used it mightily.

I know, to most, even after reading my explanation and all of the things that have come from this one act of obedience, you will still put me firmly in the "odd ball" category. That's ok. But I would like to extend this challenge to you:

Turn off your TV for one week and invite the Lord to show you the place it has in your life.

Prior to turning off the TV for good, I had no thoughts of doing it. I didn't see a need for it. I didn't see the effects it was having on my life. I am so glad I obeyed. I don't believe I would have been successful and would not have seen the obedience in all these other things were it not for them being preceeded by obedience in regards to TV. So, turn off you set for one week and see what the Lord shows you. It will likely be a revelation. It was for me.

Because of Who You Are

Not because of what you've done
Or for the sake of wishes granted
But because of who You are
I worship You: Father, Spirit, Son

The way before me has not
Always been smooth and level and plain
But because of who you are
You, my Shepher, made my steps secure

At times the mirror is still darkened
The veil still drawn, your purposes obscured
But because of who You are
You give counsel, your right hand guides me

I die daily, crucified with Your Son
The pangs and pains seem as if they might overtake me
But because of who You are
You come with grace, healing in your wings

It is my calling, to be broken and wounded
For the sake of your great name, and to reflect Your glory
But because of who you are
You only give or take what is good

Because of who you are
Savior, Redeemer, Friend
Healer, Shepherd, Counselor
Because of this and more
I do worship, surrender, and obey.

And you say
Because of who I Am
Not because of who you are or are not
Or what you have done or failed to do
I chose you, my bride
Today and Tomorrow, before and into eternity
Because of who I Am

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"Random" thoughts?

O Lord, do not delay (Psalm 70:5b)

And bring forth fruit with patience (Luke 8:15) long impatiently only hinders and depresses, whereas, in patience is continued fruitfulness. (Amy Carmichael - Edges of His Ways)

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God , my strength, in whom I will trust. (Psalm 18:2)

For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the convenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. (Isaiah 54:10)

There hath not failed one word of His good promise. (1 Kings 8:56)...He takes away our mountains and hills on whose strength we relied, so that He may the more become the Rock of our heart and our Fortress forever. (Amy Carmichael - Whispers of His Power)

The eye of faith looks through and past that which the human eye focuses on . Faith looks at the facts - even the ugly ones - but does not stop there. When the eye of fthe heart is fixed on the world and the self, everything eternal and invisible is blurred and obscure. (Elisabeth Elliot)

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26)

O little heart of mine! Shall pain
Or sorrow make thee moan
When all this God is all for thee,
A Father and thine own? (Fruerick W. Faber)

I sometimes wonder, when I look over my journal entries if they will make sense to me or anyone else as time goes by. Will I or anyone else remember what made these snippets so significant. Will I remember the feeling of spiritually seeing the tapestry weaved together by the Lord to say, resay, confirm, reinforce and encourage one thing to my heart and speak to me so specifically no matter where I find myself reading, how many devotional books or passages of scripture I go through, He makes it sound like one voice shouting one message. Will I hear that when I read over this next week or next year or when I am 64?

I hope so.

The above are the snippets I jotted down this morning. To me they reinforced the Jericho lesson from the day before. God alone knocks down walls. God alone accomplishes His good purposes in this world. God alone is my hope and portion. In God alone I must trust...for all these reasons and because "all this God is all for [me]."

As I read that this morning, tears formed in my eyes. Those words sparked my prayer time and were peppered throughout and have risen to the surface of my heart several times today. All this God...this rock, this deliverer, this fortress, this refuge, this savior, this father, this merciful and holy and sovereign and good God is for me. How dare I doubt or fear or become anxious about today or tomorrow or the next hour or the next 10 years when all this God is all for me? In truth, the only way it is even possible for me to doubt or fear or become anxious is to take God out of the equation...

I'll just led the ridiculousness of that thought hang in the air a while.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sense & Sensibilities

This is a screen capture of my favorite scene from the movie Sense & Sensibility.

I have never related to it more than I do now.

In this scene, Elinor has just found out that the man she has longed for, for quite some time (Edward), in fact loves her and does want to marry her. After what I presume is many months if not a few years of longing, deferred and dashed hopes (he was swept away by his family to prevent him from marrying her then another woman entered the picture and they became engaged etc.) she is told that, all along he has loved only her and been longing to be with her and feels exactly the way she does. He says, "My heart is now and always has been...yours." She is overcome and begins to cry...and cry...and cry. The reality of this hope, thought impossible, now fulfilled was just too much. It was as if every bit of emotion that had been kept in check and corrected and had the truth she knew applied to it now burst forth all at once, with no reserve or principle or will to stop it.

He understands her tears...and gets down on one knee to ask her to be his wife. She accepts and the movie ends with their joyful, simple wedding.

This is the stuff of great movies. As I watch it, I can't help but feel her longing, feel the need to stifle my own emotion, and also the need to let it all out at that very moment with her. That emotion and those tears say what pages and pages of words cannot. Yes, it makes for great movies...but (at least momentarily) it makes for a painful and difficult life.

Right now, I am in that painful and difficult spot. A few months ago, I met someone... someone different... someone that was almost instantly special to me...someone I began to hope might become my Edward or Mr. Darcy or Boaz. Like Elinor, I had no reason to set my mind on this as word from the Lord (except "Ask me. Trust me.)...only my heart, which I know is deceitful and treacherous. So, also like Elinor, I have had to keep the rising emotion in check, correct it, and apply God's truth, the only truth I know, to it. I don't doubt that, whatever the outcome, my response will be much like Elinor's. But I can also know that, whatever the outcome, there will be comfort, there will be peace, and though it is momentarily painful...the end it will explain. And the will be wonderful.


Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. And the LORD said to Joshua, "See, I have given Jericho into your hand, ... (Joshua 6:1-2)

See, I have given Jericho into your hand? This city, with high, stone walls and locked gates? This city where no one comes in or goes out? This city with no point of entry? This city with armed watchmen...guarding the city specifically against the people of Israel? All this, God sees and says "See, I have given Jericho into your hand?"

We may never be called to conquer a city or claim a land, but we will each have some moment in life (if not many moments) that resemble what the Israelites faced when they came upon Jericho. What, to you looks like a city, fortified and armed against you? What is your inpenetrable stone wall? I believe the message of Jericho is not, don't see how this city, this issue, this situation, this person is set against you and don't ignore the obstacles in your way...see them, see them clearly, and acknowledge your inability to do a thing about it...but don't stop there.

And...don't take matters into your own hands. Take the matter to the Lord. Cease from striving long enough to hear and He will speak and give direction and instruction.

The people of Israel were accustomed to taking things by force. They had been called upon to do it before, I am sure, when they came upon Jericho, they were prepared to do it again. But that is not what the Lord directed them to do. Rather than organizing an army and attacking the city, Joshua took time for the Lord to speak and direct. His direction was, essentially, to worship Him for 7 days and then raise a shout of praise, full of faith for what He had promised, and God caused the walls to collapse, and the city was given into their hands.

Strange orders indeed and not generally what we would plan to do in the same situation. Whatever our respective Jericho's are, there is always the temptation to make a plan and attack it, put our hands all over it and make it work out the way we believe it should. But, "there is a way that seems right to a man and the end, thereof, is death." Our ways are inherently sinful because they are generally motivated by or at least tinged with self-seeking. God's ways alone are perfect, holy, always purposed for the greatest good.

But, how great is our God! A God who can look at an impossible situation and say "See, I have given it into your hand..." He can look at our Jerichos, through the obstacles and our fear and limitations and say that same, because our lives and its happenings and the details of each day are not determined by circumstances or subject to chance or our will, but ordered and ordained and arranged by the Lord according to His holy, sovereign and perfect will.

Because of this we can rest in His ways, even if (for the moment) that looks like a deck being stacked against us or feels like our hands being tied behind our back...and even if that particular wall never comes down. He will accomplish His good purposes. He knows the plans He has for us...we don't...and they are wonderful plans. However, those plans do include dashed hopes, disappointments...even bumps, bruises and beatings. These, too, are ordered and purposed for further His plan and conform us into His image.

Proverbs 27:22 says, Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his folly will not depart from him. This crushing is meant to bring about death to self and the surrender of our plans and our will to Christ's. It is what we are called to do, daily. Each day, we face that choice...submit to the will of God or pursue our own way. Often it is not until we feel the rod of God, by way of a denial or stumbling or deep conviction, that we realize we have not been submitted. Yet even in that, we have an option in our response. The rod should bring forth repentence, but as scripture says, the foolish person will only justify it and think of new ways to get what he wants. But, by the grace of God, when denial or delay or disappointment come upon a wise, God-focused person, his folly will depart from him and will be replaced with righteousness...and they will see the walls opposing God's purposes for their life collapse amid shouts of praise.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Peace that goes beyond understanding...

Praise is due to you...O you who hears prayer...(Psalm 65:1)

You have made known to me the paths of life. You will make me full of gladness i your presence. (Acts 2:28)

May the peace of our dear Lord fill every hour with peace today. (Amy Carmichael in Edges of His Ways)

These were portions of my morning readings. If I was ever tempted to think that God does not know our hearts and know how to speak to us...I have more proof of the foolishness of such a thought now.

There are a great many opportunities for me to fret. Each day, it seems, provides me with many new things to think and worry about. Whether it is family issues, work situations, the struggle of a friend, my weight loss, my finances, my future or something as silly as whether so and so thought what I said just that moment was name it.

This morning I was giving in. I was thinking and imagining worst-case scenarios. My chest felt tight and my heart felt as if it were made of lead. I had prayed and spent my time with the Lord and asked Him to help me cast rather than carry this particular burden...and yet I felt the way I described above.

As I climbed the stairs to my office, I again asked the Lord for His help. His response was this: Why fret over what is uncertain when you know what is [certain]?

The fretting stopped cold.

All that was running through my head was speculation, conjecture, and imagination. Not one thing actually going on in the present was requiring the intense response I was having. I was responding to what might be...not what actually is.

What actually is, is that God is sovereign - equally so over the lives of believers and unbelievers. He is good and kind. He promises to work all things (ALL things, good and bad...all means ALL) together for the good. He is trustworthy. And, He will always do better than we think or imagine (no matter how grandiose or horrifying that imagination is).

Several years ago, I was fretting over my size and the effect I believed it had on my prospect for marriage. It was a Sunday morning and I was getting dressed and said something like "No one will ever marry me unless I get rid of this" and slapped my ample backside. Immediately, I heard "I am bigger than your butt."

At first, I was like "God said 'butt'?!?!" Then I cried.

I never forgot that, though I don't think I really believed it until a few years ago. The older I get the more proof I have that God is indeed bigger than my "butt" or my "but". The only "but" I ever need concern myself is this one: "But God...". We want to define life and set our emotions to the ebb and tide of our circumstances, but God defines them according to His will. And His will is good and perfect and immovable. He is not worried when storms crop up for He created the storm. It is part of the plan and He says to us: It is I; do not be afraid. He slept on a pillow while the storm threatened to capsize the boat He and his disciples were in. He was not worried. All was well in hand...including the storm and tossing waves. Were it not for storms, would we have such proof of God's might and faithfulness?

If life was never scary or hard, would we ever go deeper with the Lord? I don't think so. It is in those moments when we come face to face with the reality of our desperate need for God and utter dependence on Him. It is there we learn the most about who He is and become the most conformed into His image. And it because of this that we can then have peace that goes beyond our understanding...peace that is not determined by what we understand or see or think or feel, but that is rooted and grounded in the truth of God.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

"It is I; do not be afraid."

"It is I; do not be afraid." (John 6:20)

It is I; do not be afraid.
I knit you in your mother's womb
I know your frame and how you are made
And remember that you are but dust.

It is I; do not be afraid.
I am the shade on your right hand
I walk with you along the way
I have drawn the lines for you in pleasant places.

It is I; do not be afraid.
Satan may ask to sift you like wheat
But I have prayed for you
I am your advocate with the Father.

It is I; do not be afraid.
I am in all and see all
I plan and purpose all
I work all things for your good and my glory.

All things.

I am plotting for your joy.

It is I; do not be afraid.
When you seem to go astray
When you see nothing but darkness ahead
When you feel the sting of heartache or pain.

It is I; do not be afraid.
I will come like a firm grasp of the hand
I will make the darkness bright
I will again give you joy unspeakable.

It is I; do not be afraid.
I am in all and work through all
Around and underneath
I surround you with a mighty hand and outstretched arms.

It is I; do not be afraid.
No one can snatch you from my hand
That which I began I will complete
And not one word of my good promises will fail.

It is I; do not be afraid.
I chose you from the beginning
I love you with an everlasting love
I will never leave you or forsake you

It is I; do not be afraid.
Hope in God and His purposes
Count all other things as joyful loss
For, one who hopes in God will never be disappointed.

And no matter what you face
this you can know
of this you can be certain
It is I; do not be afraid.

A Reminder about Hope

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. (Psalm 62:5)

What do you hope for? If you are you hope for a family? If you are you hope to be made well? If you are suffering a wayward child or strained you hope for the pain and struggle to cease? Is there a specific sin area that has yet to be conquered and you hope for the day when the Lord will just take it away? Are you just tired of things being hard or up in the air and hope for some type of resolution or ease? Or, are you like me and hope for the day when the Lord will bring another to come along side you and end your singleness?

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
(Psalm 62:5)

One thing I believe the Lord has been saying to me, consistently, and indeed says to all who find themselves in anyway dissatisfied or troubled by their current circumstances is this: set your hope in the right place...Hope in God.

For years I set my hope on waking up a size 8 or finally finding someone to love and marry me. I thought, all the ick inside, the churning in my heart, the pain and fear and dread would just "poof" vanish if I suddenly became thin and got married and became a momma. (All you married people and momma's...stop laughing!) I truly believed that. The weight and the unfulfilled dream was the problem...solving that was the solution and the key to happiness and peace.

But that thinking is the Word of Man...not the Word of God. His word says:
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. (Psalm 62:5)

Whatever the issue is...weight, singleness, wayard children, illness, habitual sin, strained relationships, financial difficulties, a dead-end job, a passive husband, name it...those are not really the problem. Those issues only serve to show us where we are truly placing our hope...and then should point us back to God.

Last night at our small group meeting, we were talking about walking our faith out practically. One woman in our group is facing a move and, though things went very smoothly at first, they are starting to hiccup now. She began to cry and spoke of her need to walk in if she hadn't been. I felt the Lord give me a word for her and leaned over and whispered in her ear, "You have been walking in faith. But things have to get hard in order for you to go deeper."

I took those words to my own heart and sensed that the Lord would also remind me of His truth...of where my Hope truly needs to be set...and that "things have to get hard in order for me to go deeper", too.

Specifically, he reminded me that I am not single because I haven't finished losing all of my weight yet. I am not single because there is something fundamentally wrong with my personality or that I am inherently un-loveable. I am not single because the men around me are too passive, proud or preoccupied. I am not single because I am too picky or don't go to the right places to meet single men. I am single because God has a plan...and marriage isn't part of it right now. In truth, it may never be. Regardless of that, He has kept me and perserved me and protected me for a purpose...a very specific purpose. And it is not just an OK purpose or a good is a splendid purpose. Has God used my sin to keep me...absolutely, but my sin is not the reason. In God's economy, He has worked it for my good and to further His purposes and will for my life.

The same is true for whatever your circumstances are. Sin is almost guaranteed to be a part of the mix...but God has a plan and if we hope in Him and not in change or improvement or resolution or relief...He will meet us there and give us His Peace, which is far more valuable and constant than even the best of circumstances.

However disappointing or disturbing today is, we have His promise that He works ALL things together for our good and that He has a plan so wonderful, so beyond our ability to even imagine...that it would be foolish to be distracted by any of the more difficult steps that get us where we are going. It would also be foolish to hope in the things He orders and purposes for our good and His glory as opposed to setting our hope on Him and Him alone.

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Monday, May 8, 2006

And what shall I say...?

Perseverance means more than endurance— more than simply holding on until the end. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, but our Lord continues to stretch and strain, and every once in a while the saint says, "I can’t take any more." Yet God pays no attention; He goes on stretching until His purpose is in sight, and then He lets the arrow fly. Entrust yourself to God’s hands. Is there something in your life for which you need perseverance right now? Maintain your intimate relationship with Jesus Christ through the perseverance of faith. Proclaim as Job did, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" ( Job 13:15 ). (Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost for His Highest)

Life tends to take many unexpected turns. We often find ourselves on roads we would never have ventured down on purpose, in places we never knew existed or, even, hoped and prayed we’d never be. And, if we are truly walking with the Lord, we will at times find ourselves feeling very much like the bow and arrow analogy in the quote above. Perhaps, like me, you feel that way right this moment.

In moments like these/those, we have a choice to make. We can either seek to relieve the pressure and strain and be shot anywhere, just to end the ordeal OR we can hang on…endure…persevere…and trust that when we land on the spot the Lord is aiming toward, the pressure and strain will be more than worth it. And as Amy Carmichael says “the end, it will explain.”

Our Lord models this appropriate response for us, He says:
Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? "Father, save me from this hour"? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name. Then a voice came from heaven: I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.—Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. [And to this response, the Lord always says:] My chosen, in whom my soul delights!

Oh, may He always delight in us!

Thursday, May 4, 2006

When God says "No" or "Not now." not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)

It is clear, biblically, that we are to pray to God. We are to go to Him with all of our hopes and dreams and problems and plans and trust that He will answer. The verse above says that we are to do so without fear or anxiety...and with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for an answer we have not yet received. An answer that may be "No." or "Not now."

What then?

Just this morning, I was driving to work thinking. It's what I do. Thinking, I mean. I sometimes wake up in just never stops. But, this morning, I was thinking about something specific. Something I'd "make known to God" and have been making known to Him for a few months now. Something that hasn't seemed to be progressing in the way I would like. So I am in the car, driving on auto-pilot, thinking about this...about all the Lord has done to encourage me to persevere in prayer...and how much He has done in me through it...and how there doesn't seem to be any real change in this particular circumstance. And the thought came to me. "Well, what if God is saying 'No.'...or at least 'Not now.'? What do you say?"

I thought a minute and then I said, out loud and everything, "I say, 'Hallelujah!' It might make me sad at first. It probably won't be easy and I will likely cry, too. But, still, I say 'Hallelujah!'"

Later that morning, the test came. Would I say 'Hallelujah' though things looked grim? Though they didn't improve or go my way?

I did.

And just now in the shower, I did again. I even raised soapy hands as I sang:

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Your Love makes me sing!

See, I had been thinking in the shower, too. Because, as you know now, it is what I do. I also sing in there quite a bit...but that is neither here nor there. Anyway, I was thinking about the Hallelujah response and the rightness of it. And it is right, because it affirms our trust in God but also because, knowing what we know about God, it is practical.

Who would really want God to grant each request we make to Him without reservation?

I can think back, just over the past couple of weeks and see reasons to be thankful for God's wisdom in answering the requests I make known to Him. If I look back over a lifetime...well, it's just scary to think where I might be were it not for God's goodness in saying "No." or "Not yet."

So, as I face another possible "No" or at the very least a "Not yet." and that is a little bit sad for me, my heart can still be ready to raise my hands in whatever condition they may be and sing "Hallelujah!" It is what is right and by God's grace, it is what He has put it in my heart to do. For His promise is not "make your requests known to God...and the answer will always be 'Yes'." It is...make your requests known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."(Philippians 4:7)

And because of this, we can and should say "Hallelujah!" No matter what answer He chooses to give!

He goes before you...

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

It is the Lord who goes before you.
He goes before.
He prepares the way.
He sees where you are and what lies ahead.

He planned and purposed what lies ahead.

He will be with you.
He will guide you.
He will lead you along with way with His right hand.
He will make your steps secure.

He has set forth the steps you now take.

He will not leave you or forsake you.
He will comfort you with His rod and His staff.
His rod to correct and rescue.
His staff to direct you on the path.

He is with you as you walk along the way.

Do not fear or be dismayed.
He has prepared the way.
He knows all that lies ahead
He will never leave you.

He is a God at hand and afar not fear or be dismayed.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

More thoughts on persevering in prayer

Patience is not the same as indifference; patience conveys the idea of someone who is tremendously strong and able to withstand all assaults. … A person who has the vision of God is not devoted to a cause or to any particular issue, he is devoted to God Himself. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

These thoughts have continued to swirl in my mind…”someone who is tremendously strong…not devoted to a cause or any particular issue…” As Chambers says, the only way to be this way is to be “devoted to God Himself.” I’ve done a lot of praying over the past few months… a lot… but I am praying about certain things, about causes or issues. In each instance, I pray a specific way, for a specific outcome or happening or resolution. Does this, then, mean that I am not devoted to God and simply just praying my will be done?

I don’t think so. I hope not. I don’t know.

I don’t think it is wrong to have hopes and ideas about the things we pray for. If we had no opinion or preference at all would we even care enough to pray. Jesus tells us to ask…to ask specifically. But He also says whatever we ask will be given to us…so long as it is in accordance with God’s will. Since we are not God and cannot know at the outset what that will is in most cases, all we can do is ask and trust and see how He chooses to answer.

This is where we get to the heart of what Chambers is talking about…where we find out if we are truly devoted to God or ourselves.

As we pray and wait, we will begin to see the circumstances surrounding our issue or cause changing…or not as the case may be. Our response to those changes will show if we are prayerfully pursuing God’s will or our own. If the circumstances do not support or help the way you’ve been praying, how do you react? Are you thrown? Sent into a tailspin of emotion? Give up on the whole praying thing and take matters into your own hands? OR, do you go back to the Lord and say “I trust you. Your will be done. For our good and your glory?”

That is the test of devotion…subjection of one’s will to another.

The “your will be done” response does not indicate indifference. It doesn’t even indicate emotionlessness. There very well may be great emotion, confusion, even a bit of fear. What rises up in the heart of man is going to rise up in the heart of man…that is not the point. The point is our response to it. To take all of that emotion and your preferences and confusion and go to the Lord and, in effect, say “I don’t like this…I don’t understand it…but I trust you” is to demonstrate devotion. It is also to be “tremendously strong” and to “withstand all assaults.”

Our will and our emotions are the enemies playground. If he can cause those to hold sway over the choices we make and how we respond to the will and providence and sovereignty of God…he has won because, as the word tells us, sin begins in our heart. But, for one truly devoted to God, no matter how prayers are answered or what circumstances look like the response is always a submitted “Your will be done.” Even when that means loss, pain, dashed hopes, and shattered dreams.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Persevering in Prayer

Today’s reading in My Utmost for His Highest was titled The Patience To Wait for the Vision. The scripture it was based on was this: “Though it tarries, wait for it…” (Habakkuk 2:3)

He writes: Patience is not the same as indifference; patience conveys the idea of someone who is tremendously strong and able to withstand all assaults. … A person who has the vision of God is not devoted to a cause or to any particular issue, he is devoted to God Himself. … He may give you a time spiritually, with no word from Himself at all, just as His Son experienced during His time of temptation in the wilderness. When God does that, simply endure, and the power to endure will be there because you see God.

These days I have found myself often wanting “the vision” (i.e., my hopes for certain situations) to be reality or wanting to feel indifferent or wanting resolution…clear, definitive, final resolution or answers or happenings. That is not how the Lord has chosen to respond. Rather than say “Here is that for which you asked” He says “Ask Me. Trust Me.” And continually draws me eyes off of myself and the “particular issue” and on to Him…His goodness, His sovereignty, His purposes, and His ability to order and orchestrate and bring to pass His perfect plans for any and every “issue” I can come up with. I want circumstances to change. I want a word that the end will be what I desire. And sometimes, I just want to give up and move on to the next thing, because persevering in prayer when all I can see is a brick wall in front of my face is hard work. But it is the work I am called to.

"Though it tarries, wait for it . . . ." But this waiting is not passive or indifferent or inactive. While my physical activity/involvement in bringing about the desired end is limited, restrained or hindered, my activity in prayer should be full-throttle. It should be prayer that is full of faith in God’s goodness and sovereignty and ability to do the impossible…whether it looks the way I believe it should or not.

It should also reach “out for more than we have already grasped.” If we pray only for what we can see as possibility we are not praying rightly. We are settling for what might satisfy us or what we might be able to manage ourselves…not for God’s will and purposes, which are often beyond our ability to think or imagine. We are also seeking a quick end to our struggle, thinking if we ask, and achieve the quick and easy end (even if that end is resignation and defeat), it would be better than enduring in the unknown and praying with no visible results. As Chambers says, We are apt to look for satisfaction within ourselves and say, ‘Now I’ve got it! Now I am completely sanctified. Now I can endure.’ Instantly we are on the road to ruin. Our reach must exceed our grasp. (Philippians 3:12). If we have only what we have experienced, we have nothing.)

Monday, May 1, 2006


For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. (Psalm 86:10-12)

A few weeks ago, I almost fell down the stairs. I was leaving for work and my heel got caught in the cuff of my pants. In an instant, I could see myself tumbling down the steps to be left in a crumbled, bleeding pile until one of my neighbors ventured outside. Thankfully, that did not happen. Just as instantly, I reached out and braced myself against the side of the building and stopped myself. More accurately, I put my forearm against the wall and the friction between my skin and the brick was enough to counteract the force of gravity and keep me from falling.

My arm sustained only minor scrapes, and aside from a thudding heart and shaking hands for a while after, I walked away virtually unscathed.

But that near fall got me thinking about truth. Until that moment, I knew about gravity. I believed it was real and it worked and that E=mc2 (though I don't really know what all those letters stand for), but it wasn't until I was facing a header down a full flight of stairs that the knowledge of gravity had an effect on my life. The proof that I actually believed it was revealed when I did all I could to counteract the reality of the force of gravity, and stop myself from tumbling down.

And that, truth which is followed by action, is the proof of anything we say we believe.

I can say I believe in the gospel and that the Bible is God's word of truth, but if I don't walk in that truth...if it doesn't determine how I live or effect the decisions I make and the standards I set for my life...then I really can't say I believe it.

Saying I believe that Jesus Christ was the Word in the Flesh, very God of very God, who became a man and died for my sins that I might escape the wrath of God and live with Him for eternity should not be the same as saying "I believe Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492." It is not just something we can rightly say we believe and acknowledge as a true thing and leave it at that. The gospel is a truth that requires action. Someone died for me, and not just a natural, peaceful death. Jesus died a horrible, torturous death BECAUSE of me...because of my sin. And it wasn't just that a good man took my place...God Himself did this for me. Not just to spare me a moment of pain, but an eternity of wrath...which I deserve.

To believe that compells me to respond and not just intellectually or emotionally. It requires that I "walk in" that truth. Failure to do so says I don't believe it really is the truth.

Just like my belief in the truth of gravity provoked a response from me as I began to fall, my belief in the truth of the Gospel (and thus the entirety of God's Word, both the commands and the promises) will provoke a response of obedience to that truth. It will effect how I walk. In practical terms it will effect the choices I make, how I am with my family, what I surround my life with, what I choose to take part in or avoid, what comes out of my mouth and what I allow to linger in my head or in my heart.

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him:
(1 John 2:3-5)