Sunday, January 25, 2009

I serve a God Who is Able ...

I know this is the lazy way to do it, but I ask you to visit my main blog for a post that is significant for here as well. Have a blessed day...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This one is whiny and not sacred at all.

We've been planning a get away, me and Hubby, to celebrate our tenth anniversary that happens on Friday. The best laid plans are what they are and now we're not going.

In the end, it's no big deal. It's just a trip. A tenth anniversary trip with my Beloved mind you, but sick kids come first and so we're staying home. And I'm a tad (read: uber) frustrated about it. You've probably been there, not realizing just how much you needed something to happen until it doesn't. I needed this. I needed rest. I needed time with Hubby. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I needed this trip, this separation from every day life for me. I have been fantasizing for weeks about walks in the harbor, fresh seafood, a drive up the coast, breakfast in bed among other things I won't talk about on my blog. I needed it.

And our trip isn't going to happen. Bug has a bug and it's a nasty one and although she seems to be better today, yesterday decided it for us. I know this is where I need to be, caring for my kids. I wouldn't have been able to relax knowing that they were somewhere else, in someone else's care while they are feeling bad (and I wouldn't want someone doing that to me) so that part is alright. I know this is what I signed up for becoming a Momma. And it's okay.

The part though about not catching a break is what gets me. It seems that this happens way too often in our lives, where there's always something complicated that happens to change the best-laid plans. I'm a planner by nature and I've talked about the frustration that comes from not being able to plan or plans being thwarted (and I'm working through some stuff I have yet to put to paper because I'm not ready, about how the uncertainty brings fear and that fear shows up in anger about all sorts of things). But I have been trying to look at things differently. I really have.

I read a few weeks ago some wise words from Oswald Chambers...

Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you Who He is.

Now, Mr. Chambers is speaking about seeking God's will in future circumstances where you're asked to 'go out' without knowing. He's not talking about a canceled anniversary trip. But as I read this one thing hit me that I've been doing all along my journey... I've been shaking my fist at God, often angry because I don't understand what he is trying to do when things are hard and twisty and don't go as we hoped and prayed they would. I have been wondering what he was doing in the circumstances of my life.

But here it is... instead, I should be searching not for what he is DOING, but seeking after who God is revealing Himself to be in the middle of whatever situation I find myself. I won't say it's made things easier. Frankly it's alot easier to throw a fit and be mad that once again God didn't let me have my way. But there is solace in knowing one thing... I haven't done anything to 'deserve' the frustration (which has always been my first turn... what did I do wrong to deserve This?)... rather, I must seek for who God is as He walks with me and guides me through. That is a hard, new discipline, one that feels so very unfamiliar. It's not about what is happening, but who God is showing Himself to be in the middle of what is happening.

So I'm trying this. In the middle of tears this morning (and I'll admit in an attempt to get away from a whiny little man named Si) I went to my room and closed the door. And I prayed that God would reveal to me WHO He is in this, not WHY it is happening. I have to confess it hasn't stopped the tears, and I feel a sense of loss in all of this, but I know that God is WHO He is and that the rest of it shouldn't matter. So we hunker in for a few days of quarantine, me and the girl. And praying that the boy doesn't get this bug, or me or Hubby for that matter. As for the trip, who knows what we're being saved from... maybe nothing... but it is what it is and it is that my kiddos need me in this moment.

Cross posted at You Just Never Know

Friday, January 09, 2009

If Only I had Followed my own advice yesterday. This One's on Letting Go.

Yesterday was a hard day for me. No particular reason except I was willing to think through and admit some things that needed letting go. I find that whole idea a hard thing because it feels so much like giving up instead of anything positive. It was an emotional day. An exhausting day. A praying day. A confessing day. Of course, I did the dishes and took care of my kids and a few loads of laundry, made baked chicken for supper as well, but at the heart of it, it was a hard day.

And you know what I wish? I wish I would have taken my own advice. I'm using Oswald Chambers' writing as a starting point for my devotional reading this year. And yesterday's entry, had I read it yesterday, would have been a 'spot-on' encouragement for me in all that I was trying to work through. Lesson learned.

Mr. Chambers used the story of Abraham and Isaac to show us how God reveals himself not as a God who necessarily DEMANDS us to give up our life physically as a sacrifice for him (although that is part of the willingness in discipleship and many people do this every day), but that God expects us as His Followers to experience the sacrifice through death that gives us a glimpse into what Jesus did for us.

"And Abraham built an altar . . and bound Isaac his son." Genesis 22:9
This incident is a picture of the blunder we make in thinking that the final thing God wants of us is the sacrifice of death. What God wants is the sacrifice through death which enables us to do what Jesus did, that is, sacrifice our lives. Not - "Lord, I am ready to go with death" (Luke 22:33). But - I am willing to be identified with Your death so that I may sacrifice my life to God.

We seem to think that God wants us to give up things! God purified Abraham from this blunder, and the same discipline goes on in our lives. God nowhere tells us to give up things for the sake of giving them up. He tells us to give them up for the sake of the only thing worth having - that is, life with Himself. It is a question of loosening the bands that hinder the life, and immediately those bands are loosened by identification with the death of Jesus, we enter into a relationship with God whereby we can sacrifice our lives to Him.

It is of no value to God to give Him your life for death. He wants you to be a "living sacrifice," to let Him have all your strengths that have been saved and sanctified through Jesus. (Romans 12:1) This is the thing that is acceptable to God.

As I read the Abraham story this morning (a day late, but really, right on time...) It hit me again how many times God asked Abraham to let go of what he knew and the things he desired to follow Him into the uncertain future (at least to Abraham!) and God didn't say "this is how it's going to be for you... follow me and life will be like a cruise in the Mediterranean". I mean, read the WHOLE story of Abraham's life (it's starts in Genesis 12). It's one kerfluffle after another but all the while, Abraham is following God through it. He's never asked until this moment 10 chapters later to give up as much, even though giving up home and land and country is alot.

Isaac was no ordinary son born to two naive young people blissfully embarking on their family planning experience. He was promised from the beginning and Abraham and Sarah believed and laughed in God's face at equal intervals. And then there he was, after all the wishing and hoping and begging and trying to make it on their own, there Isaac was in the flesh, a son to love, and Abraham was asked by God to march up a hill and lay him on the altar. And the crazy guy did it. And God proved that He doesn't want us to give up things for the sake of giving them up, and he doesn't expect us to always understand His ways. He asks us to give up things because we (I) end up setting them , my hopes and dreams I create for myself, on MY OWN ALTAR, rather than allowing the circumstances God has me in to reveal something of Him to me.

Maybe ~ yes, probably ~ I've been worshipping at the altar of my own hopes and dreams rather than giving up what I need to in order to find more of myself in my life with God. I've always believed in a determination that pushes through to dreams fulfilled but that determination is only legitimate if God is actually the fuel ~ the life~ that pushes me through. Only if I want what He wants is that hope legitimate.

God doesn't ask me to let go of things because He's mean and doesn't want me to be happy. He wants me to let go of MY things and dreams so that He can show me the walk down the mountain where you rejoice in the fact you know that you know that you know that God is in THIS.

I am certain that Abraham must have felt an overwhelming sense of living in the presence and will of God as he walked down that mountain with Isaac in his arms. How could he doubt anymore? Maybe that's what I need to embrace... yes, it is. Instead of being sad over the loss of a dream, of not getting exactly what I want, but knowing God has asked me to give up some things so that I might know him better, and that I can in spite of the heartache, know that I live in His presence, that I am in His Will.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

On Looking for Balance.

It seems I took an abrupt halt in my Advent writing. It happens. When life heats up for my family, writing and thoughtful reading takes a back seat. That is something I'm working on and hoping against hope to find more space for in the near future. I had alot more to say but I will say this, God is good and He truly is "God With Us" and was with us throughout all our Advent and Christmas celebrations. It was a blessed time for me and my family and the true meaning of Love's Pure Light breaking through the darkness of this world was truly evident.

And this year one commitment I've made has been to more disciplined reading even if it is a few minutes a day in order to keep up my thinking on the very real need I have for spiritual growth. I'm reading through My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. If you've never done it, I recommend it highly. Each and every day it gives me something to think about and pray about, something that makes a difference and draws me (hopefully) closer in my relationship with God. I hope to talk about some of those things soon. I hope. I long to, actually.

Now on this "balance" thing... that's what I'm looking for? I know that I am a better person, wife, mother, pastor when I am enjoying a more intimate time in my relationship with Christ. But I do not want to pursue it out of guilt in the way I was taught from early on, as in the "you HAVE to read your Bible and pray THIS much each day or you're not Christian"... I want to enjoy it without guilt. And find balance between allowing myself a pass for the times when life overwhelms me and the longed for time with God/prayer time doesn't happen and disciplining myself to make it a priority when it's easier to just ignore it. Balance. That's what I'm looking for.