Saturday, September 12, 2015

Letters to Danielle

I think humans’ attitude towards God is all wrong. There’s this huge belief out there that if there is a God He wouldn’t allow all the bad things in the world. That somehow the purpose of a God is to eliminate pain and suffering. That having a good and happy life is the purpose of life. But that isn’t what I think it is at all. I have one job on this planet and that is to get close to God. He doesn’t guarantee that it will be easy or pleasant. He doesn’t guarantee that things will go well for me or that I will be happy. He knows the hairs on my head, and cares deeply, but He isn’t about making things sunshine and roses. My job is to draw near to Him in love and to walk in obedience and grace. No promises of glittering rainbows. But that also means there is nothing that can stop me from doing everything God has called me to. No matter if I’m sick or well, making the world change through spiritual ministry or just trying to keep my laundry caught up and papers graded.

There’s such a desire in my soul for greatness….both godly and ungodly. I know it’s not a bad desire to change the world, but struggling physically isn’t keeping me from anything the Lord wants me to do. If he wanted me to be out there making it happen, I would be. So the joy of that is the fact that nothing stands between me and God’s purposes in my life. I am knowing some victory as I am continually being challenged to realize how irrelevant all the things I’ve wanted to do are. By that I mean… isn’t part of my plan until God puts it in. Until then, it’s actually contrary to what God wants for me and my pursuit of it means that I’m pursuing something other than God. It means I want it for myself, how I see myself, wanting to be someone I’m proud of or much more important…whom God is proud of. To justify my existence on the planet. There’s no God in that thinking. Those aren’t his thoughts or purposes. And I need to jettison them all. They need to fall away and not be part of my life space. I’m actually making some progress in this area, but it is something I continue to wage war with…..fortunately with more success than I ever used to have. When I read that verse below about needing to lose my life…..I’ve always thought that Mother Theresa lost her life. That Erin wanting to go to China is losing her life. But losing my life is exactly what God’s been working hard with me on for the last two or three years. It isn’t my life. I have given it to Him and now it’s His. 

Matthew 10:39

He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it.

Note: I wrote this in a letter to my daughter Danielle and then read it out loud at my small group the following week when we were talking about what God was doing in our lives. A couple of people wanted a copy, so here it is.....this is for you Amy and Rachel!!

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Unseen World

I am currently experiencing some Holy Spirit pressure. The push to embrace the unseen world is something I can’t escape. When I go to my journal I hear God say, “Quit looking at the seen world. Focus on the unseen world.”  When I find myself anxious, I hear God in my head, “Anxiety lives in the seen world. My Word says, be anxious for nothing. In the unseen world, there is no anxiety because I take care of you, and you know it.”  As I face having to simplify my life due to illness, and I compare my life to others and feel lacking, I hear the Lord say, “There is only comparison in the seen world, the world you can see. But I tell you that you are saved through faith and not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Jockeying and comparing and looking to see if you measure up to your neighbor is only part of the seen world—this world of flesh and bone and dirt that we are living in. In the unseen world we are covered by the blood of Jesus. All of our trappings, position, money and appearance fall away. Only our hearts and character remain.

So today and every day this week, my quest is to remain in the unseen world; the place in the spirit where truth dwells and the lies of this world are not present.

2 Corinthians 4:18  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Trust is a Free Fall

Trust is a free fall. It isn’t even trust unless you jump while you are still unable to see the bottom of whatever cliff you’ve just gone over. If I can see what’s ahead and I know the outcomes, then I can be calm, calculated, in control. But if I can’t see the outcomes, if I have no idea what comes next, well that requires trust. 

I didn’t think I had a hard time with trust, but I do. When I can’t see the end game, I panic. I called it anxiety. I called it being a perfectionist. But in my case, it was just lack of trust. I don’t want to free fall. I don’t like those roller coaster rides where the seat drops and you feel your stomach climb up into your throat. I like my feet securely on the ground. I like to control my life.

Well, the last three years have been all about trust. It’s been about not knowing end games. It’s been about free falling. I can’t say I’ve joined a sky diving outfit, but I have at least begun to be accustomed to jumping without the end in sight.  Because trust is BIG to God. He wants me to believe completely in His sovereign goodness and His amazing ability to care for me and love me well, even when it feels like He is absent.

For the past four and a half years I've struggled significantly with sickness. I spent long periods of time not walking and using handicap permits to get into stores. I have spent untold hours in bed by myself because I felt too sick to be out and about in the world getting things done (which is what I love to do!) The causes of my sickness as well as the treatments were at times unclear and discouraging. One of the doctors I saw told me, "I have never, ever seen a patient try as hard as you have tried to address your health issues." But my efforts did not change things. My efforts did not stop pain. Neither did all my prayers and faith seem to make a dent in my problems. However,  somehow, somewhere, in the midst of a road that felt never ending, the Lord faithfully led and guided and brought me to a better place. And taught me some things about trust.  

So I dedicate this blog from here on out to trust. To free falling. To going with the Lord where ever He takes me. Care to join me?

Proverbs 3:5-6New King James Version (NKJV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Be Honest: You Need God

Sometimes it’s just plain hard to do what I feel like God wants me to do. I just don’t want to do it. I want a “get out of it free” card. So this morning I woke up at 3:40, hurting, not able to sleep. I laid there for a while and finally got up at 4:30 and got in the hot tub, trying for some relief. I didn't want to face the day, hurting and tired from less than five hours of sleep. I didn't want to leave the house at eight a.m. and be surrounded by people all day, people who want and need me to talk to them, smile at them, and make them feel valuable. I wanted to crawl into a ball and hide.  Then there’s the issue of my book that I feel God wanting me to finish. I’m dragging my feet for so many reasons. I don’t want to face it, don’t want to do it, and don’t want to give the energy it would require. I feel the weight of my own resistance.

I sat there alone in my hot tub thinking about these things, groaning inwardly (and outwardly!) I was at the end of myself. And it’s when we are at the end of ourselves that we find out we really can’t do this life without God. So I knelt down in my hot tub and cried out to God. I asked Him to please help me. Please help. I can’t do this without you. If you do not help me I will not be helped.

I live thinking I believe this truth, that I cannot live without God’s help, and then I come face to face with situations like this morning and I realize I didn't really believe that at all. In reality, I think I can and should do it by myself. And that is a foolish belief. I may be able to get by, but to live the life I’m called to live, I absolutely cannot do it unless I’m on my knees, and God is supplying my strength.

It’s now 6:38 and time to get ready for school. God help me! God help us all. I know He can…and have faith that He will. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Longevity in the Faith

One of the messages Nick and I listened to during our trip was on longevity in the faith. It was about finishing well. Staying loyal and alive to Jesus until the end. It’s something I've thought about often. I want to end my days well. I've seen so many people start off strong in the Lord, but sometime during their lives they fall greatly. Bill Johnson, the pastor who preached this sermon, looked at the history of the Old Testament kings for his backdrop. It made the message much more poignant for me because I've completed the same study, more than once. It’s kind of depressing when you study the Old Testament kings of Judah. There just aren't that many who do it right. Very few get the tag, “just like my servant David”. Of those who begin their reigns close to the Lord, many of them fall away during their lifetime.

I used to read their history with great incredulity. How could they do that? But the older I get, the easier it is for me to understand how this happens. Really, there are a couple of major thoroughfares which lead down that road and they tend to be based on how a person’s life goes. Those who experience success and accolades tend to become arrogant and those who have had pain and disappointments become disillusioned and bitter.

I've come to realize that it’s the reactions to what happens as we go through our lives that affect our thinking and lead us away from our relationship with the Lord. Since it’s been a hard couple of years for me, I more readily related to the disappointments than the accolades at this point. But either way, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that I must, on a regular basis, process the events of my life with the Lord. I need to deal with both my victories and my disappointments. I can’t just “go on” and live with things being wrong inside. I can’t let underlying attitudes rot out my heart. I have to guard my heart.

Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.

I want to deal with the issues of my life so that they don’t choke out my faith and keep me from finishing well. That’s what I've been working on lately!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hiding is a Strategy (But not a Good One)

I've been hiding from God. I didn't realize it at the time, but I have been. I have all sorts of great reasons why I haven’t gotten to this blog lately, but they ring hollow in face of the truth. I didn't want to talk about “God Stuff”.  It was subtle, not anything I could even recognize directly. If you had asked me, I would have said, “I’m doing fine.” But this past week I came face to face with the reality that I wasn't doing fine. In reality, I didn't want to talk to God. I didn't want to admit it at first. Who wants to admit they don’t want to talk to God? It doesn't sound spiritual at all!

The first thing I realized (after admitting that I didn't want to talk to God) was that there was a thick wall between me and God, put up by yours truly. It was all I could see.  I didn't know why it was there or how to remove it.  But this was a start. After that I started praying and talking to the Lord. And I talked to Nick about it, too.  Then God, in the cool ways that He works, began to orchestrate some change. Nick and I happened to listen to a couple of sermons and read part of a book and they all spoke to my heart. 

Eventually that led to me being honest and admitting that I was actually mad at God. So we had to go there next. It’s strange, because now that I am starting to feel better physically, you’d think I’d be praising God and feeling all sorts of faith. For some strange reason, I was mad. I was mad that things had gone so badly for so long. Mad that He didn't fix it all sooner. And that made me not want to trust the next direction my life might take….how do I know it isn't going to be awful? I've experienced some awful. I don’t want to experience more awful. I’m not feeling like I can take any more pain right now. So I was feeling faithless and like I couldn't trust Him and I was hiding. I’m embarrassed to say it out loud.

But God. (That’s an amazing phrase, do you know that?) But God who is rich in mercy, found me out in my faithlessness, came to my rescue and helped me out. I don’t have it all figured out, but at least I’m going to God about it now and we are working through it together. 

Ephesians 2:4-6 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Plain Old Obedience

Sometimes it just comes down to plain old obedience. The right thing. Following God when you can’t see the end of a thing. Believing when you can’t see a clear resolution. Knowing that you might be wrong, but deciding that the risk of missing God is too great, the chance that He could really be speaking to you too strong to ignore.

What do I have to lose?
My pride for one.
Being right.
Being exposed as thinking God is speaking to me when He is not.  

What have I to gain?
God’s pleasure.
The knowledge that I was obedient regardless of the cost.
The knowledge (both His and mine) that He is more precious to me than my pride, my rightness, or my potential humiliation.

So I’m going to trust Him. Why does it always boil down to trust for me? You’d think that after all these years and all of the ways God had proven Himself that I would be beyond this dance of trust/mistrust.  

Dear Lord, I place myself in your hands.  I choose to trust you when I cannot see the outcome. For “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” And so I trust. And so I will obey. Because you are worthy and I love you.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.