‘Day One’ Blog

HOPE for Real – Pt. 2

HOPE
תִּקְוָה tiqvâh,
ἐλπίς elpís,

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my HOPE is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
Psalm 62:5-6

I’m pretty sure that HOPE is a commodity I have not seen for the true RICH (and possibly rare) thing that it is. If it is hewn as the Apostle Paul suggests in his letter to the saints in Rome, it comes by rugged means. But the thing is, I can’t live without it… and neither can you. And it’s not just HOPE we’re talking about. It’s mainly about the object of that HOPE. Christians (Christ Ones) HOPE in God.

The pursuit of HOPE is ultimately about the development of relationship with God. Whether that development comes through the refinement of my inner person, or whether is comes from time spent with God in His Word, I can expect HOPE to surface as the invaluable undergirding that God intends for it to be.

HOPE is described as an anchor for my soul, (Hebrews 6:19). It is sure and steadfast because it is attached to Someone who is sure and steadfast. I don’t HOPE in HOPE, I HOPE in God, so it’s not the anchor that is the windfall but the One it’s attached to. My soul anchors to God because He is the singular reliable attachment. It’s what the writer of Psalm 62 is stating as he talks to his soul.

When I feel HOPE waning, it’s NOT because the anchor has detached and I’m adrift. But my perception has shifted so that it seems as if I’m no longer attached. That can and does happen for so many reasons, but it can’t be overstated: God never severs my attachment to Him. This helps me understand why Believers through the ages have had to talk to their souls… to remind themselves of what is true.

But sometimes despair is overwhelmingly present so that my efforts to waken my own soul will fail. It’s at that point that healthy, Christ centered community becomes especially essential. I have come to terms with the fact there will be gaps in the presence of HOPE in me. That’s a far less scary proposition when my brothers and sisters in the Lord are at the ready to hope all things (1 Corinthians 13:7) on my behalf. It also compels me to make sure I am ready to offer HOPE to anyone at any time.

So what is this rugged, non-negotiable path to becoming a person of HOPE? Both of these broad thoughts have their roots in relationship. This is what I’ve been learning:

Hope emerges out of the pursuit of God through His Word
HOPE comes through “the encouragement of the Scriptures,” (Romans 15:4). If I’m going to be a person of HOPE I must be committed to the diligent pursuit of God through His Word (non-optional). The Psalmist says, I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I hope, (Psalm 130:5). This thread runs throughout Psalm 119 as well. Here HOPE manifests naturally as the roots of my relationship with God deepen through ongoing fellowship with Him in His Word. The more I experience Him, the more confident I am that He is entirely reliable. That translates into HOPE.

Hope emerges out of deep personal refinement
HOPE is the final manifestation of this formidable sequence found in Romans 5:3-4:
Suffering (which begets…)
Endurance (which begets…)
Character (which begets…)
HOPE
Each is a predecessor to the next, necessary before what follows can manifest. I’ve had a mental playlist of this sequence on “repeat” for several weeks now. Each time I come ‘round to HOPE, I get a little flush. Why do you imagine HOPE shows up after the previous three traits have their full affect?

I can’t help thinking – There’s only one reason a person could end up displaying Godly character, and that is that God Himself would have been present to carve and craft him or her (apparently through the portals of suffering and endurance). If you were that person, wouldn’t you have come to know God pretty well through that lengthy process? And isn’t it reasonable to think that after you had traversed the valleys of surrender and submission and the abdication of your will to Gods (which you would have to do before character could emerge), the roots of your relationship with the Lord would be extremely deep? So why wouldn’t HOPE surface in the aftermath of that kind of intimate journey? Something would be wrong if it didn’t.

This is a massive conversation – but here’s where I’m landing for the moment. People who manifest the HOPE that the book of Romans speaks of, know God intimately. They enjoy true abiding fellowship with Him. They practice His presence with openness to His pervasive influence in them, and they pursue Him with their whole heart, mind, soul and strength. They are so sure of His character that even the storms of life do not cloud their perception of His goodness and ultimate control of all things. And when those moments come when HOPE wanes for them, somewhere in their soul is stored a lifetime of memories of the faithfulness of their God. When HOPE returns, they become ever stronger. I want THAT. And yet if I’m honest, I’m also afraid of the path to getting what I want.

Where to from here, my brothers and sisters? You and I are supposed to be poised to, at any moment, “make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you,” (1 Peter 3:15). The world is desperate for HOPE. The source of HOPE is our Father. Please Father, give us courage to pursue You relentlessly. Shape us into the men and women You would have us be. Build our faith and trust in You as we take our place and remain in your presenceuntil HOPE abounds!

May the God of HOPE fill you
with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit
you may abound in HOPE.
Romans 15:13

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HOPE for Real

How is your HOPE meter registering these days? And how about your people? These days I’m finding there’s a major HOPE deficit no matter where I turn, (which of course means that people are despairing at an all time high). Do you wonder why? Why so much hopelessness?

The Word of God is very specific about the necessity of having HOPE. And it’s very specific about the Source of HOPE. The picture is of a human soul metaphorically anchored to GOD, (Hebrews 6). There is no other reliable place to anchor our souls. Any other anchoring will fail. Anchoring to GOD cannot fail. No new news here for Christ followers…

However, I am learning afresh that I have been thinking far too narrowly about HOPE, settling for an elementary understanding when something far more significant is right under my nose. Can you identify? And if so, might this be a clue as to why HOPE is plummeting in record proportions, (more about that in the next post). For now, I wonder how the following thoughts, along with the scripture references below, will strike you. Perhaps the LORD will speak to you as He has been to me.

THREE THOUGHTS ABOUT HOPE ~
~ HOPE appears to be a treasured commodity, one produced through very specific means (think how a pearl or a diamond come to be what they are).
~ HOPE is an essential. Its polar-opposite is despair. People experiencing despair struggle to find a reason to keep living. People of HOPE remain anchored in the midst of all manner of hardship.
~ Hope wanes. No one is always HOPE-filled. When hope wanes and I cannot waken my own soul, my brothers and sisters in Christ are meant to stand at the ready… to HOPE for me until I get my feet again.

I’m looking forward to posting again soon, to flesh out what I’m learning as thoughts keeps percolating in the company of God. I would love to hear from you too if the Spirit is speaking to you about HOPE.

“Hope means hoping when things are hopeless,
or it is no virtue at all…
As long as matters are really hopeful,
hope is mere flattery or platitude;
it is only when everything is hopeless
that hope begins to be a strength.”

G.K. Chesterton

~For reflection~
Romans 5:3-4; 15:4,
I Corinthians 13:7,
Psalm 130:5-6,
Lamentations 3:24-25,
1 Peter 3:14-16

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Shifting Awareness

How AWARE would you say you are, right in this moment, of your NEED of GOD? In general, would you say you have a pervasive awareness of your needfulness, or not so much? This has been on my mind for many years, especially as I live in the aftermath of some of my “not so great moments” in life.

The thing is, I’m certain as I read the Bible, that my need of God is comprehensive, whatever my awareness. If I slip into the template Jesus established when He walked the earth, I would do NOTHING of my own will or in my own power. The idea is that God is supplying every need 24/7. You can’t be more dependent than that.

But the truth is, I’ve scooted through moments or days or even whole seasons of life dangerously oblivious as I’ve lived in my own strength. “I got this!” (famous last words). It’s been to my detriment (and sometimes to those around me) to allow my own ability or competence or self-discipline to come to bear. When I choose to forget the pervasiveness of my need of God, I exit the safety of His care, let alone His power. “Shift my awareness of my need of you, God!”

How needful was King David as he lounged on his rooftop with Bathsheba in his sites? How needful was Eve when she applied her own reasoning in response to the serpent’s challenge to her in Eden? How needful was Abraham when he took Sarah’s advise so that they might hurry along the arrival of the promised child? How needful was Peter the Apostle, when he passionately insisted his devotion to Jesus could never waver?

Does it really matter that I acknowledge my need of God and practice dependance rather than allowing my own competence to come to bear? I have woken from too many self imposed slumbers to find myself having drifted a very long way from the company of God. Those scenarios happened one “I could do this in my sleep” day at a time. All the while the full breadth of my need remained. God has been very merciful to remind me time and again: both the ordinary and extraordinary days are laden with land-mines. I don’t want to navigate either in my flesh.

Lord, shift my awareness of my comprehensive need of You, and then bolt me to that bit of ground. May both the ordinary and extraordinary moments of today be lived out under the sway of Your Spirit. It matters more than I know.

~for further reflection~
Psalm 40:16-17; 139:7-10,
John 5:30; 8:28,
Philippians 4:10-20,
Galatians 5:16-17,
Romans 8

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Face to Face

What words would you, as a Christ Follower, use to describe how you relate WITH God? Distant – Intimate – Contentious – Familial – Fractured – Friendly – Cool – Seasoned…

I ask because too many of us seem to be starving from a lack of meaningful relationship with God. I would wonder how on earth that’s possible for children of God except I’ve lived my share of years unable to bridge the invisible chasm I FELT between myself and my Maker. The thing is, without doubt the LORD is offering His sons and daughters a highly personal connection with Himself, even friendship. That’s where the lifeblood flows from, so it’s a monumental deal if the connection is lousy.

From Eden forward, God has been inviting us to take our place in the center of His company. In this “fellowship” we learn that we are not simply relating to another human, but to the Living God – one human intimately connected to the One True God. It’s NOT going to be like any other relationship we have, yet it promises to satisfy as no human relationship can. Any discrepancy that exists between God and I can only EVER be on my end. But that ends up being very good news.

So, what to do about this lack of fellowship? There’s no getting around it: We must be willing to figuratively RUN in God’s direction, with our Bibles open (that part isn’t figurative). And we must be willing to take our place in His company and practice patience as He teaches us. He will show us who He is and who we are. He will take the lead in cultivating meaningful fellowship between Himself and us. Our job is to remain and submit, (I’m pretty sure that’s why this process takes a lifetime!). But there is NO OTHER path to fulfillment and purposefulness. None.

When we actually begin to experience God through the portal of His Word, we begin to waken to the reason we exist. There is no greater joy than communing with and making MUCH of the One we have tethered our hearts to. He is the ultimate Companion. And it might just be that after a time God would describe our relationship with Him the way He described another from ages past…

“The LORD used to speak to Moses,
face to face,
the way a man speaks to His friend.”
Exodus 33:11

Today would be a perfect day to open the Word of God, and enter the narrative God has been writing with humankind from the beginning. Open it with the objective of finding Him rather than as a utilitarian exercise. If you don’t know where to begin, start on page one. God might very well meet you and reveal Himself to you in a way you NEVER thought possible. It happened to me!
I’m sincerely praying for you ~

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Paying MERCY Forward

I had never noticed the details in the exchange between God and Moses when God sent him off the mountain to deal with the rebellion of the people, (Exodus Thirty-two, The Golden Calf). God was incensed, ready to consume His “stiff-necked people” and start all over through Moses offspring. The Lord’s desire in that moment was to allow His wrath to “burn hot” against Israel. Moses made a bold plea on the people’s behalf, and God “relented of the disaster He has spoken of bringing.”

So there you go. Moses’ intercession worked and the people were spared. Moses then headed down the mountain to face what God has just informed him he would face. Here’s where my ears perk up: Moses, upon seeing for himself the people’s lewd behavior, burned with rage, and in a fit of temper destroyed the precious tablets of stone he carried with him. Then Moses burned the golden calf, ground it to power, scattered it in the water, and made the people drink it, (that whole sequence took a minute… or days).

Do you see a discrepancy between the Lord’s response to the people’s actions and Moses response? I harken forward in time to the story Jesus told of the man who was forgiven much, who almost immediately refused to extend the same mercy he had only just received, (Matthew Eighteen). I realize these two stories have significant differences, but they both involve a giant display of mercy, followed by “not so much.”

I cannot help but do a self-exam and wonder how often I have walked away from the throne of MERCY only to withhold it from another. I also wonder how many times I am hard on someone whom God has chosen to shower with mercy. This is no small thing. Because in the face of my personal rebellion, the breadth of the mercy of God toward me is immeasurable. If I’m at all clued in to that FACT I ought to see it paying forward! Yikes.

Back to the throne of mercy I go! Lord, forgive me for not doing for others what You do for me time and again, (more than likely many times every day). Teach me to offer what is not deserved. Teach me to be like Christ, who showers the human race with mercy upon mercy.

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The Golden Calf and Beyond

(The Golden Calf
artist – Vida Khadem)

There are scads of tragic stories in the Bible that illicit an uncomfortable familiarity when I read them. Does that happen to you too? Air-drop pretty much anywhere in The Book and you’ll see evidence of a narrative that repeats over and over again; a narrative that humankind has continued to repeat right up to the present. I have done my part as a “faithful” contributor…

Inevitably then, as I sit in the Word with God, I do a lot of apologizing on behalf of my own sorry self, and my fellow humans that have gone before. The upside of that is the opportunity that is always there to be blown away by the character of God. So God-worship ends up being the final, happy product.

In my terribly/wonderfully slow plod through the book of Exodus, I have been literally thrilled time and again as God has opened my eyes to who He is, who humanity is, and who I am. But when I crept up near the end of the time God was giving Moses the six-hundred plus laws, I felt a little sick in my gut. The golden calf was coming and I wasn’t ready to face it. So when God finished speaking to Moses (and me) on top of Mount Sinai, I had to close the Book for a little while. Ridiculous.

Two weeks later I ventured back in and reluctantly opened Exodus thirty-two. Ugh! I didn’t want to look into the heart of the Chosen Ones. I’d seen enough about “us” to know I was going to grieve all over again. But I would also have the blessed and VERY good fortune to remember the goodness of my long-suffering God and “ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name.”

Aren’t you glad that after the pain of facing our colossal failures, God turns our faces toward Himself?! And there we see the essence of love even as we see His glory. There is life beyond my personal Golden Calf experiences. There is for you too. He has seen it all innumerable times and His heart remains tender toward any who would come to Him for forgiveness.

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Up And Running Again!

Hello My Precious, Faithful Readers –

I am writing to say “hello“, and acknowledge that I have been essentially off the grid for more than eighteen months. I have been using my “writing time” to complete a large project that I hope to share with you shortly. If I were more of a grownup, I would not have needed to pause my blogging so that I could apply myself to a new endeavor. Alas, I hope to be more versatile in the future!

In the meantime, I hope you will receive my future posts in the same gracious manner you always have, and engage in the potential dialogue!

I’m VERY happy to be back, opening up discussions with you that might spur all of us on to a more satisfying experience of life with God and people! I have most sincerely missed you!

Talk Very Soon – Anne

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Free From Everything

Through this man (Jesus)
forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,
and by Him everyone who believes
is freed from everything from which
you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
Acts 13:38-39

I’m struck this morning by what must have been an inconceivable proclamation to the Jews in those initial years following Jesus death and resurrection. How much of the life of a Jew was constructed around making certain one kept the laws of Moses? How much time and energy was expended to keep oneself “clean” or to make amends for transgressions of the law? Wasn’t the bulk of life about maintaining right standing with God?

I’m trying to imagine then, how significantly disorienting this message Paul was preaching would have been. Jesus was now offering the forgiveness of sins through belief in Him. The entire construct of the life of a Jew, since Moses introduced them to the law at Mount Sinai, was changed in an instant (for those who believed). The words that leap off the page for me this morning are freed from everything. I’m trying to envision being there in the synagogue and hearing Paul’s oration. I would understand the words all right, but I would be at a total loss to know what a life freed from the law might look like. I would have exactly zero frame of reference for living in light of that.

What would one do with his or her time, talents and energies, now that they no longer needed to be spent securing and maintaining right relationship with God? For the first time in the history of the nation of Israel, those who ‘believed’ could look beyond themselves. In other words, the painstaking attention payed to one’s standing in the eyes of God, would give way to a new pre-occupation, namely, joining those who were proclaiming this exceedingly good news. Easier said than done! My compassion for those who lived in those very early years deepens as I struggle to live in the freedom I have been given.

I am led to stop and ask God the Spirit (who lives in me) if there aren’t aspects of my life where I’m living as a bound person rather than the free person I am in Christ. Because bound people are impeded people. Bound people are inward focused people. Bound people tend to their bondage like a wounded person tends their wounds. In Christ I am freed from EVERYTHING, but know full well I can and often do live as if I’m not. I don’t think I’m alone! What a coup for the adversary, that the Church would be full of bound-up, free people.

We were buried therefore with Him
by baptism into death,
in order that,
just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:4

For freedom Christ has set us free;
stand firm therefore,
and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

Father, the Kingdom stakes are too high for me not be on the field of battle. Those influenced by our culture and the world’s system of belief will NEVER find freedom there. I know it. How tragic that I, a freed person, would continue to live bound. Help me to walk in the freedom you paid so dearly to give me. Then give me Your eyes to see those about me who need Your good news.

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Stones of Remembrance


And Aaron shall bear their names

before the LORD
on his shoulders
for remembrance.
Exodus 28:12

Two onyx stones, enclosed in settings of gold filigree, each having 6 names of the sons of Israel engraved on them, in order of their birth. Aaron was to bear these before the LORD on his shoulders… for remembrance. I was asking the LORD who this was for. He wanted their names facing upward, toward Him. And why? Who needed to remember? He doesn’t forget His sons and daughters.

As I’ve been happily plodding through these chapters in Exodus, transcribing for myself all the detail of the constructing of the tabernacle and now the priestly garments, I’m amazed over and over again by the specificity of the instructions God gave to Moses. But this particular detail, these stones of remembrance… my heart is struck by the tenderness of God toward the sons of Israel.

Aaron bore their names before the LORD. This was God’s idea; His instruction. How highly personal. As Aaron would move about within the tabernacle, performing his priestly duties, those names would be in “view of God.” The LORD would “see” them… always.

The names were on Aaron’s shoulders, facing upward. He was literally bearing them on his shoulders. Visions of a shepherd carrying a lamb come to mind. Or the command to bear one another’s burdens… the part we play in each other’s lives so that we are not solely burdened with the full weight of our cares.

And finally, the names were before the LORD, on Aaron’s shoulders… for remembrance. For all that has been pondered about this over millennia, here is the life-giving thought for me this morning: As God peers “down” He sees His children, not in mass but singularly, recognizing each of us by name. He sees us as we carry the burdens of one another; as we carry “upon our shoulders” the names of those who would be driven to the ground were they to have to bear them alone.

I have many stones of remembrance on my shoulders this morning, facing upward so God can “see.” I have loved ones laden with cares who I bring before Him. Their names are engraved on the stones. As I slip into my priestly garments, in view of the Living God, I praise Him with renewed passion and vigor. God sees. God knows. God acts. The LORD has asked that I bear their names before Him, on my shoulders… for remembrance.

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In the Hearing of a Fool

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
for he will despise the good sense of your words.
Proverbs 23:9

I was thinking how often I’ve been frustrated with God for not giving me a direct answer to a question, not being keen on waiting. I would process those times by thinking He was being silent about it. As I read this proverb and reflect back over the years, a couple of thoughts percolate. The first is: I’m not sure God remained silent as much as He was tending to “first things first.” The picture that comes to mind is of a toddler having asked for a cookie and their mom leaving the house rather than giving them one. They don’t understand mom had to make them from scratch and needed to go buy flour. They just assume she’s ignored them (cue tantrum).

The second thing I’m thinking about is how often, as a parent, I was determined to enlighten my young son to things that were simply too much for him to comprehend at that time in his life. The picture that comes to mind is a mom strapping her toddler into the drivers seat and being aghast that they weren’t able to drive. Hmm.

God not only knows exactly what He’s doing, but He knows when to do it. He knows precisely when to enlighten me because He (and only He) knows when my ears and heart and mind are ready to receive. Fools aren’t destined to always be foolish. God is kind to hold off in telling me a thing if I can’t yet comprehend it. He doesn’t waste words or opportunities to deliver them. He just has impeccable timing, (note to self).

A word fitly spoken is like
apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Proverbs 25:11

 

 

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He Who Hesitates

He called them,
and immediately
they left the boat and their father,
and followed Him.
Matthew 4:22

“He who hesitates is lost.” Oxford Dictionary categorizes this as a proverb and defines it this way: Delay or vacillation may have unfortunate or disastrous consequences. A good Biblical equivalent might be these words from Proverbs 1: For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them.

For many weeks I’ve been pondering what it is I do when I hear a voice behind me saying this is the way, walk in it. Specifically, I’m thinking about my initial response to that Voice. Jesus says, in John chapter 10, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. My part, as the sheep, is to HEAR and to FOLLOW.

The part of that equation that I can’t escape for now is the timing of my following. It seems that generally there are two responses when I hear His voice. One is very simply that I hear and follow. I don’t question or hesitate. But that, I find, is often NOT my default response. More often, there is some kind of hesitation, some period of time where I might do a number of things leading up to actually acting. But of those possible variations, I most frequently pause to make my own assessment of my surroundings… to in essence, validate God’s directive. Hum.

Is that assessment period a form of hesitation? And if it is, what might the implications of hesitating be? What might I be risking? What might I lose in that moment?

  • Abraham gets giant kudos for his unquestioned response to God’s life-altering directives. He simply did what God told him to.
  • Moses argued after God gave him his marching orders. God got seriously miffed, but mercifully allowed Moses to express the “flaws” in God’s idea.
  • Mary, the mother of Jesus, is lauded for her immediate acceptance of God’s plan for her life.
  • Zacharias wanted some substantiation after the angel Gabriel informed him of the son his wife would bear. That didn’t go so well for him.

I see a pattern of God’s grace offered to those who hesitate but eventually comply. But, as Zacharias discovered, there was also a price for that hesitation.

On the cusp of a new year, I’m asking God what He would want me to pay special attention to. This idea, that I would mature in the immediacy of my responses to Him, is definitely on the front burner.

I wonder if there aren’t gems that can only be discovered through prompt obedience, gems that go by the wayside when I hesitate. I want the blessings that accompany an immediate “YES.” I want to honor God whether or not I understand the implications of His direction. His word should be enough for me.

My sheep hear my voice,
and I know them
and they follow me.
John 10:27

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‘Day One’ Archives – Structure, Systems & Duplication

Today I’m contemplating cycles of behavior and what it is each person within that cycle holds to in order to keep the cycle… cycling :/ – and because my mind explodes with tangent thoughts, I jettisoned back to this post from the Day One Archives. While God is most certainly a God of order, the “cycles” He creates always and only serve His purposes to advance wholeness, life and purposefulness. Human cycles usually serve a far lesser cause.

In any case, it helped me get out of a negative stream of thought, to re-read and remember how magnificent my God of structures and systems is. And when I’m tempted to create or extend a cycle of behavior I know is not ultimately promoting life, I CAN reach for God for fresh perspective and insight into a new approach.

I hope this re-post encourages you as it has me. – Anne


SolarSystem
Structure, Systems & Duplication

I would never buy a book with this title!

I’m musing about the systems God invented and put in place when He made the universe. He designed earth to essentially look after itself. Geology, astronomy, chemistry, these are all systems. Our physiological body is a system. God made them all.

Humans like to make systems too. We crave predictability and control, doing what we can to project into the future, creating structure (the system’s 1st cousin), to minimize discomfort and maximize our life experience. We do it on a global scale toying with climate control and we bring it to the household in the form of robotic vacuum devises. We devise systems to educate our children, to mass communicate, to take the individual around the world without ever having to leave their desk and laptop or smartphone.

I’m drawn to systems. I like efficiency. I create structure and lists and cubbies for every little thing and I use them for what they’re intended. What’s on my mind these days is my tendency to lay siege to the structures I’m familiar with, so that they become the focus of what I think will bring me what I want, be that safety, comfort, success in my work, spiritual pursuits…pretty much anything that translates into forward motion, (my definition of it). It’s right at this point that I find myself on a precipice, teetering on the verge of out right idolatry.

If I’m not very, VERY careful, I find myself inviting God into the familiar structures of my life, giving him ‘permission’ to use what I know works. But the deal is this: God compares me to a sheep and refers to Himself often as Shepherd. A sheep finds his sense of wellbeing solely in his shepherd. The shepherd may use a staff, a fence, a salve, a grassy field, a stream……. any manner of things he chooses to care for his sheep. But there is no question that the shepherd is the source, providing structure and systems as he sees fit.

A sheep never mistakes a fence for his shepherd. But I do. So God teaches me to hold very loosely the forms I have seen Him use before. Will God use the form again? He is no way bound to. And it’s ludicrous to believe He should because of how well it served Him in the past. Form, structure, systems…… they’re VALUELESS if not contracted by, sanctioned by and inhabited by God. He doesn’t duplicate. He doesn’t have to.

Behold,
I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road
in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.

~Isaiah 43:19~

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Quiet Endurance

Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before him
ENDURED the cross, despising the shame,
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
~ Hebrews 12:2

When you are certain about why you’re doing what you’re doing, the ability to ENDURE becomes a little more attainable. Jesus knew what was at stake as He moved toward the cross and beyond. He knew what would be accomplished through His death and resurrection. I believe He understood the implications of everything He did and everything the rest of humanity was doing (or not doing) in response to His revolutionary message. But did Jesus ever lose perspective? Did He waver for a moment when He asked the Father if there was another way to fulfill His calling? What was it like to be fully God and fully human in those critical hours before His death?  For all the mystery, Jesus firmly resolved to finish what The Father had called Him to. He kept His eyes on the “finish line.” He kept His grasp on what was paramount and He, in harmonious cooperation with The Father, achieved victory.


I like reminding myself of these truths because especially lately, my perspective keeps vanishing. I’ve been easily distracted by a days unexpected details, because for months now, my over crowded schedule has left ZERO margin for error. Consequently, it’s been a deeply disorienting season… there is not a single day that does not have multiple “errors” built in to it (duh). So, round the clock I’ve fought to gain and then re-gain perspective, most days coming up woefully short.

At the same time many, many people in my circle of friends and acquaintances are in seasons they might describe as particularly difficult. “Winter” is lingering, and they are weary. Perspective is illusive.

I’m not made with the capacity to achieve perspective through understanding everything that’s happening around me. I have to find it another way. I have a picture in my mind of being on a ship at sea in a blinding blanket of fog. Jesus is in the crow’s nest atop the main mast and above the fog. His unimpeded view makes possible my salvation and ability to move. “I can of myself do nothing” becomes especially meaningful in that scenario.

Jesus’ perspective was linked to the joy set before Him. And so is mine. Quite literally, Jesus IS the joy set before me. I wait for Him and the eternal union with Him that is my future. That reality makes the arduous “present” endurable, albeit arguably clunky. Forward motion isn’t always graceful.

Quiet endurance, in other words, the ability to be inwardly settled even in a lengthy and painful storm, can be mine. The founder and perfecter of my faith comforts, strengthens and guides me from above the fog.

Let us run
with ENDURANCE
the race that is set before us,
 looking to JESUS.
~ Hebrews 12:1 ~

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Midway – Reflections

We use New Year’s Day as an opportunity to take stock. We give ourselves permission to think and feel, and to contemplate the bits of our lives. That’s fairly remarkable in a society driven to live at light-speed. It seems most of us resolve, not to necessarily embark on new endeavors as much as to apply a fresh application of ourselves to what already is.

Where I have lost view of pieces of my life, I seek to RE-view. Where I have lost a sense of my calling to a thing, I seek to RE-call. Where I recognize I’m lacking clarity I seek to RE-focus. Where I feel lethargic or detached I seek to RE-engage.

I’ve pondered and read these past days, stories of some of my Biblical patriarchs. What was Moses’s Life like between the burning bush and the exodus; between the exodus and the promise land? What was David’s life like between being anointed and becoming King? Or Joseph’s life, between his youthful dreams and the famine poised to destroy the Israelites. How did these men steward the “in between” times?

The truth is, the exciting memorable bits of most endeavors are attached to the beginning and the end of the thing. It’s the “in between” that often doesn’t capture and keep my attention. That’s the harder part to steward, yet I am seeing afresh, that rightly tending to “in between” is nothing short of paramount.

~
Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 27:18

Two obvious and simple reasons surface for me. The first is, the substance of a thing is formed “in between.” And it doesn’t form as it’s meant to without intervention. You throw ingredients in a pot so you can eat stew later that day. It comes as no surprise that you have to tend that pot throughout the day. Not particularly fun or memorable, but essential if you want to eat.

~
As in water face reflects face,
so the heart of man reflects the man.
Proverbs 27:19

The second point is hand-in-glove to the first. HOW I apply myself, and the attitude of my heart AS I apply myself matters as much as that I apply myself at all. Without question, sometimes you simply have to grit your teeth and get a thing done. But it makes a world of difference to me and those around me, when my heart is right as I do that thing.

In this new year, I pray that you and I, by stopping the train and giving God a chance to speak to us, will have a fresh orientation to the people and circumstances in our lives. We are marathoners, not sprinters, so the need to take stock and a willingness to shift accordingly will follow us the rest of our days.

~

Please Lord, let me apply myself with renewed purpose to all you have placed before me. 2017 is fully known to You. You ask for my hand, eager to walk me though every day of it.

Even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
Psalm 139:10

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Jesus Messiah

There is no more thorough, compelling rendering of the breadth of the beauty of Jesus, than that found in John’s first chapter. So comprehensive is this passage… painting Jesus in the most vivid colors:

He is from the beginning, Eternal
He is the Word
He is God
He made everything that is
Life is in Him
That life is the light of men
Darkness cannot put it out
Jesus was coming into the world that He made
His own people did not know their Maker
Those who DID believe were GIVEN the right
to become His children, born of the will of God
Jesus is credited for the possibility of and the ability to be saved
Jesus, the Word, dwelt with us
We have seen His glory
He is full of grace and full of truth
From that fulness we have received GRACE UPON GRACE
Grace and truth came through Jesus
Jesus, Himself God, made God known to us
He is the Lamb of God who takes away the world’s sin
He was baptized by The Holy Spirit
He is the Son of God
He is Messiah
He is King of Israel
He is the Son of Man

This Christmas, my heart overflows with thanksgiving for Immanuel. That He would come to save, come to reveal, come to reconcile repentant sons and daughters to Himself is more than my mind can grab hold of. While my mind fails to understand, my heart is alive, full of awe and adoration for the Savior of the world.

This Christmas I pray He’d be honored… lifted up as He ought to be, as He deserves to be. I pray I would reflect a woman having received grace upon grace, by giving grace upon grace to my people. I pray I would express to Him the treasure He is… that there is no thing, no one, no pursuit worthy to compare to Him.

~

Riches I heed not nor man’s empty praise
Thou my inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, You’re first in my heart
High King of Heaven my treasure Thou art
Heart of my own heart whatever befall
Still be my vision oh Ruler of all
(Mary Elizabeth Byrne; Eleanor H. Hull)

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