If You Feel Helpless in the Waiting

I am so happy to have my friend, Kasia Allen, guest writing here today.  I had the privilege of getting to know her when she was a young teenager in high school when I first started going to my church.  She has grown up, gone to college and moved on to the big city but she’s still in my heart.  She is also still active in her faith.  What an encouragement it is to know a young woman still walking with her Lord through high school, college and beyond.

I’ve always struggled with waiting.  From the coffee being made in the morning to waiting for the right husband and the ability to have children.  Even now I struggle greatly with some waiting issues.  As I learn more and more that waiting will be a lifelong experience, I also learn more and more how to not waste the waiting. Kasia has learned at a young age to be active while waiting.  What a difference actively waiting has on our lives, the people around us and on our disposition before the Lord.  Be encouraged today as Kasia points us toward what you can do, what you should not do and, most importantly, what the Lord does do in our waiting…

When it’s not important, I like to wait in line. It’s actually quite nice. You aren’t responsible yet for that purchase (is the dress really worth this much? should I buy this much brown licorice? what if I get tired of this piece of furniture?) but I’ve already done the work of choosing it so I accomplished that part of the task. Then I get to just wait in line. I can text or talk to a friend, read, pray, think, so many things.

When it is important, my perspective changes. Instead of being grateful for the blessings and circumstances I have and content with what is out of my control, it’s easy to feel so many other emotions and thoughts.

There can be a hopelessness in waiting: wondering if it will ever happen; if that person will ever change. Hopelessness can lead to anger, melancholy, listlessness. Jealousy that someone else doesn’t have to wait. There can be also fear in waiting: knowing what will happen but knowing it won’t yet. Anger that it has to happen but that you can’t do anything now. Melancholy over not being able to stop it.

There are more ways that waiting is hard. More specific ways that it can be difficult. We have to wait in so many various ways: relationally, spiritually, emotionally, biologically, etc.

But I’ve wondered, if it is foreordained that I wait in this particular circumstance, then what do I do now?

Psalm 37
English Standard Version (ESV)

He Will Not Forsake His Saints
Of David.

David speaks of what to do, of how to think of God because He is God and how to do so when things are hard. He instructs us to trust, delight, and commit ourselves to the Lord.

There are positive actions and behaviors we can act on.

3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.

David then commands us to wait upon the Lord with patience, not to fret, and to restrain from evil. We restrain from the sin that can be tempting when things are difficult–we abstain and refrain.

7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!
8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
    Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.

But we are not left without encouragement. Our Father foreordained all things to pass.                   He protects us, preserves us, and takes care of our lives–here and throughout eternity.

23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
    when he delights in his way;
    so shall you dwell forever.

28 For the Lord loves justice;
    he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
    but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land
    and dwell upon it forever.  

While waiting can range from being an annoyance to so emotionally painful that it is also physically so, we do have instructions and holy ways we can can wait. We have a kind, loving, and powerful God who knows that we will wait and knows the full complexity and pain it may cause us. While we wait and live out our lives in prayer with with love for others–while we wait–we do have a loving and merciful God who watches over us and will not forsake us.


Kasia Marie Allen is thankful she lives in Maplewood and can walk to a pie shop on the weekend (try the chocolate bourbon pecan!). She thinks flowers are always a brilliant idea, milk should be added to tea, and books are best in hardback but even better if they smell old and dusty.

Image: Woman-Silhouette-Waiting-For-S-5824100 by Denise-Bigstock

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Enter Graceland

graceland

Each time I drive by this I think of an imaginary place where I turn away from the wasteland of wrong thinking.  It’s a beautiful dwelling place in my mind where I turn my thinking over to the truths about who Christ is and who I am in Him.  It’s a plantation where I sew the seeds of grace and preach the gospel to myself.  It’s a habitat that I call Graceland.

So I finally had enough forethought to bring the camera and ask the question my husband hears all too often, “Will you pull over so that I can take a picture?”

When I visit Graceland in my mind I see, once again, that I’ve already been made alive with Christ by His grace and raised up, along with all of the other followers, with Him and we’ve been seated with him in the heavenly places in Him.

I remember my true identity and the identity of my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I recall that I am dead to sin and alive to God and that, although I sin, my most true self is not just a sinner, but a saint because I am found in Christ.  Because I’m found in Christ, I have a new identity and an entirely new way of looking at myself.

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed and having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” -Romans 6:17-18

And if that wasn’t enough…”But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith.” -Ephesians 2:4-8

We’ve been raised but we also await being raised. A remembrance of the past (I’ve been raised) and also a reminder of  a future reality (I will be shown in the coming ages the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward His people in Christ).

A game-changer if I would intentionally turn to these truths…enter Graceland in my mind.  The imagination can be used for good.

I can imagine a place in my mind where all of these truths are easy access and a reality right now.  I can also imagine my future.

Do you ever dream of eternity?

We are in this world but we’re also citizens of heaven.  A place where grace will truly reign with God and also with each other.  So we are raised and are being raised.  But the Kingdom of God is also being brought here through us as we bear fruit of His the Spirit right here in this world.  How can I cooperate with that playing out here…bringing Jesus’ Kingdom to bear in the here and now?

How is Christ bringing his kingdom to bear through His people in the world right now? 

How can I partake in bringing the kingdom to bear in my part of the world right now?

As I  dream about entering Graceland now and in the future eternity with Christ—these are the the questions I ask.

Linking up this week with the following inspiring and encouraging blogs.  I highly recommend visiting any and all of them!

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A Journey with The Good Shepherd Pt. 2

shepherd 2

Last week I wrote about journeying with The Good Shepherd and how all that we really need  is what we already carry around with us…Jesus.  I asked the question, “Am I really free to dare to pursue adventures with Christ…dangers and all?”

And of course the answer is yes.  I…we…are really free to dare to pursue Christ…and adventures with Him…dangers and all.

Let that sink in.  What would that look like?   “Do you have a God-given passion or desire on your heart that you have set aside over and over because it would be too costly, dangerous or “unreasonable” to pursue? I ask this question only because I have been there and done that myself.

I can also answer the question of whether or not we are really free to pursue dangers in Christ for Christ.  The answer is yes.  A resounding yes.  My husband and I have pursued some of them and we’ve experienced an excitement and joy as we’ve watched the Lord carry out His identity as the Good Shepherd in every possible way.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
   He makes me lie down in green pastures.” -Psalm 23: 1-2

If you’re worried that following Jesus and adventures in him might cost you things that you want, you are right.  It will cost you.  But you will also receive.  The Good Shepherd provides all that you need.  When a sheep puts herself or himself in a place of need, she or he will find The Good Shepherd provides. That which may have seemed impossible before becomes possible in Christ. All  that is needed is either with her or him already or will be provided for.

If you fear that following Jesus with abandon will be exhausting, you might be right.  There is potential for that to happen and it does happen.  We can follow too hard or we can just experience disappointment, burnout and the fallout of evil forces battling against us.  But here is what also happens.  We get to experience this:  Jesus making us lie down in green pastures.  Imagine that for a moment–a shepherd making a lamb lie down.  Has the Lord done that to you?  Sometimes that feels painful or hurtful, but it is also a beautiful thing.  He calls us out and makes us lie down. How sweet it is to experience rest and care when we are exhausted, carried along by the Holy Spirit.

  He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake. -Psalm 23:3

And He doesn’t just leave us laying there in green pastures.  He restores our soul and leads us back out again in paths of righteousness.  He calls us to the dangers of loving and giving once again for His names sake.

This is our calling as Jesus followers.  To follow Him in dangers and all and allow Him to care for us.

Is there something He is calling you to?  Will you step into it and allow Him to care for you?

About six years ago, my husband and I decided to follow a path that we had felt called to for quite some time.  We pursued pastoral ministry.  While we’ve experienced losses and challenges along the way, it has truly been the most rewarding, amazing and incredible experience of my life.  I wouldn’t give up what we’ve experienced for anything because, through them, I’ve been shown that these passages are true.  We really do have the Lord as our Shepherd and He is always good.

He always fulfills His identity as My Shepherd…My GOOD Shepherd.

My mom and dad send me God’s Word each morning of my life. This is what I received today and I share it with you:

“I lift up my eyes to the hills.

    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.” – Psalm 121

 The above painting is The Shepherd, by artist Tim Wang.

Linking up this week with the following inspiring and encouraging blogs.  I highly recommend visiting any and all of them!

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A Journey with the Good Shepherd Pt. 1

sheep

My last post, When You Wonder if the Lord Really Shepherds You, was almost a month ago.  I had dug up the past…an old post from a couple of years ago in which I shared an entry from my journal and a question:

“Does The Shepherd really care for me??”

I had not intended for it to be the last for a month but so much has happened in life since then. I had not intended for it to be pondered by myself as much as it was, but it really lead me throughout the week that I re-posted it and the truths in it continued to lead me this past month of great uncertainty and challenge.  As I was contemplating that post, I thanked God for healing me in that time period of life in the past and asked for Him to bring me through new situations where I would be needing to trust in His shepherding.  I asked a new question….How do I make sure I don’t lose the assurance I have of His presence and care?  How do I not end up like others I’ve seen who have lost hope?

As I said these words, my eyes landed on a framed Psalm 23 which sits on my desk.  As I read it, I was reminded of the fact that the answer has so little to do with me.  It has more to do with Him and who He is and what He does. All I really need to do is be mindful, follow and keep turning my heart, mind and spirit toward Him…my Shepherd.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

I remember going on a hike by myself years ago in the Rocky Mountains at Estes Park, Colorado.

It was when I first started traveling by myself for work.  After a business trip to Denver, I stayed over a few days in the Rocky Mountains.  I was just beginning to feel less scared and more adventurous in life.  Though hesitant about hiking alone, I went shopping the night before my hike and picked out a bear bell in order to warn bears I would be coming along the path.

I felt so free and brave—hiking alone with all that I needed on me.  A backpack, my camera, water, snacks and the bear bell.

Do you know that feeling? A feeling of simple sufficiency…that all that is needed is on you. No need to worry about the extras in life. Although much of my bravery was placed in what I had taken along with me (namely the bear bell) and my own self-sufficiency, I can’t help but use it as an illustration for these thoughts I’m having on Psalm 23.

That feeling of adventurous bravery and freedom is what I experienced when, in the midst of fear, my eyes landed on Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want…

On this life journey, what if all that  I need really is what I already carry around with me?  Am I really free to dare to pursue adventures with Christ…dangers and all?

Because my true home is not here and I’m heading for eternity.  The path may have dangers, snares, bears and ledges.  And if I don’t escape them?

If I am not rescued FROM those snares, Jesus will rescue me through them.  A line I’ve heard a few times over the last decade from someone who has shepherded me through my fears about the future.

Jesus will either rescue me from the snares of life in this life or He will rescue me though them bringing me finally to Himself where no more harm can touch me.

Yes…truly…all I need is Him, the Good Shepherd.

I’m contemplating the Good Shepherd this month…will you join me for part two next week?

photo by Cowboy on Pixdaus

Linking up this week with the following inspiring and encouraging blogs.  I highly recommend visiting any and all of them!

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When You Wonder if the Lord Really Shepherds You

hermann pastoral 3

My heart is heavy this week so I’m retrieving yet another post from a couple of years ago.  Today you can steal a peek into my private journal.  I hope you’re encouraged by how the Lord responded to my heart’s cry…

6/18/13                                                                                                                                                            “Do you, the good shepherd, also protect me?   Do you protect me and care for me too?”

That is all I’ll let you see!  Sorry…no further details!

My journal has become, not merely a recording of my thoughts and the events in my life, but my side of a life-long conversation with God.  I try to record my thoughts and prayers toward Him and how He answers and guides me as well.  It’s where I talk to Him.  This was my question of the day a few days ago…maybe the question of the year.

That was written in a moment this week in which I felt vulnerable and unprotected in a worldly sense.  It was a cry to God to want so badly to truly grasp  and sense His loving care.

I happen to be in the book of John at chapter 10 where Jesus proclaims that He is the Good Shepherd.  The day that I wrote my question in my journal was the day I first began meditating on this chapter this week.

By my last post, you could see that  I was discouraged last week.  I am disheartened all the more this week, though.

I was also encouraged last week, though, and I am heartened all the more this week.

I count it a privilege to be among those who can say that.  Discouraged yet encouraged.  Vulnerable yet protected.  Lost yet being guided.

A follower of Christ can, will and should experience both extremes since we are in a broken world but following Christ.

What is your experience like right now?  I hope you are only encouraged and feeling guided and protected by God.  If you are in a time where you also feel the opposite from the world, take heart!

He knows even the most silent prayers.  The ones spoken in the heart…written on  a piece of paper…typed into a Word Document on the computer.  I believe He is pleased and, perhaps, most glorified when we turn to Him for our needs and desires instead of what the world might give.  That is our faith playing out…it shows true belief and trust.

The day after I wrote down my question for God, I was cleaning behind furniture.  I found a ball, some puzzle pieces, a forgotten craft, and a note from my husband.  Seeing the year 2008 scribbled on the note intrigued me. I couldn’t wait to read his thoughts from five years ago.

It was a note from Mother’s Day that year.  It had been given to me along with my gift that day which was a favorite painting, Hermann Pastoral, by a local artist, Catherine Mahoney (see picture at the top of this post).

Before I finished reading the words, the tears came. I remembered what he wrote…from John chapter 10.

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

I’m writing more in my journal today…more about the Good Shepherd.  I’m looking up writings by theologians on it.  I want to understand what this means that Jesus is a Good Shepherd.  That I have not just A good shepherd but THE Good Shepherd.  I love what Dan Doriani, pastor and professor has to say about the Good Shepherd…

“Abraham, David and others functioned as good shepherds when they led Israel faithfully. But when Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd” he says it’s more than his function, it is his very nature, for “I am” is a name of God.

In Exodus 3:6 the Lord says, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.” Soon he makes the absolute statement “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:13-14). He adds, “I am the one who blots out your sins” (Isaiah 43:25, 51:12). “I am the one who comforts you” (Isaiah 51:12).

So when Jesus says, “I am,” he speaks as God speaks and claims to be God. He says, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58, 18:6). He says, ‘I am” bread, water, light, a door, the way, and “the good shepherd.’

With each “I am” saying, Jesus directs longings and needs to himself.

The law gives light (Psalm 119:105), but Jesus is the Light.

The law shows the way we should walk (Deuteronomy 5:32-33), but Jesus is the Way.

Jesus says it is his nature to satisfy our proper longings – our longing for light, guidance and protection. Therefore, we should train ourselves to turn to Jesus to satisfy our longings. If Jesus doesn’t satisfy a desire –directly or indirectly – we should at least ask if it’s a good desire.

We tend to seek fulfillment from temporal things….But these things can’t satisfy our deep desires. When Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd,” he teaches us to take our hopes to him.”

Hope for safety, understanding, love, joy, healing, peace, approval, understanding, kindness, gentleness, patience, guidance, care, protection…

Are you training to turn to Jesus to have your longings satisfied? All that He has is yours.

What does that look like for you to turn towards Him for your longings?  I would love to hear what this looks like for others in their everyday life.  Please share!

And if you wonder if He really cares, protects and shepherds you?  The answer is YES!

Linking up this week with the following inspiring and encouraging blogs.  I highly recommend visiting any and all of them!

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On Revisiting the Past

I’m revisiting the past this week…a post from about one year ago…

DSCN0005

The million steps to 35 years ago is literally just a few blocks away.

I live one street over from a house I grew up in. Sometimes I take my children down that dead-end road. We walk down the gravel road where I remember…like yesterday…playing in the puddles with my brother. Running his green Tonka truck through the brown sludge.

It was a dream home for our family. A house in town but in the woods. We could walk to school by taking a trail through the woods. There was also a cave we could hike to.  My dad would always stop at a persimmon tree along the way to see if it’s orange fruit was sweet yet. We built log cabins with some neighborhood kids out of fallen trees. I kissed frogs and believed they really might turn into princes. There was a giant rock shaped like an owl. We would outline it with chalk. I remember one time, my sister stepped on a giant thorn near the rock, so owl rock was always tainted in my mind as being a bit dangerous. It went right through her shoe and I can still see the thorn and the mustard yellow sock drenched with red.

We only lived there for about four years but they were my elementary school years. The beginning of my vivid memories. It turns out that these memories are what I think of when I think of my childhood.

So this walk to the old house that I take with my kids every so often…it’s…magical. I’m flooded with all of these memories and more. I cry too because there is some pain in these memories. After four years of living in that house, we had to sell it and move. It was a loss of a dream for my parents and it was a loss of the magical child-world for me.

So I bring my kids back for a taste of it. What is it that I’m searching for? Innocence? A memory? An adventure lost in the woods at the age of 8? My cat…the one I never saw again after moving?

This past weekend my husband had the idea. We’d talked about it for years but have never done it. “Everybody put long pants on!” He announced where we were going and I ran to the basement to grab a box of sidewalk chalk. I stuffed four pieces in my husband’s pants. Two in each pocket.

We parked at the beginning of the gravel road and walked down. My feet settling into indentations where puddles grow. Thoughts of little brother and the Tonka truck. This time we didn’t just walk down the gravel road and back as I’d done since moving back to my hometown eight years ago. This time we went beyond the gravel road. We walked up to the deserted house. We peeked in the windows. I strained my eyes to see things I may have seen as a child and touch things I may have touched. My kids rolled down the hill…just like I did.

DSCN0006

I touched the wood on the deck…the same wood I touched as a child. A tear came as I saw the remains of the wood that used to hold up my dad’s herb garden. I’m sure he made it himself. I saw the shape of the rooms, but so much had changed. The paint, the wallpaper, the floors. The one that looked the least changed was the workshop where I remember “working” with my dad. Making the wood curls with the wood shaver. All of the rooms were so much smaller than they seemed as a child. The house itself was rotting on the outside. My husband had warned me that it wouldn’t be good. That the ruins of this house would be shocking for my soul. It was. He made a suggestion that we move on so we did.

We set out to accomplish what we had really came there for. To discover, once again for me and once anew for my kids…owl rock. It felt like Christmas morning to me. To discover, once again, this special place I had only seen in pictures since my childhood.

I knew just where to go. Like the million steps to 35 years ago had vanished. I was there. We tromped over junk. Old fences and appliances and even a refrigerator that was there when we moved in. Crazy how my memory got us back to it. It was so easy. But as I got closer to it, I grew greatly disappointed. It was covered by small trees. And it was almost as if the trees were intentionally grown over it. It wasn’t just brush that could be pulled away. Two to three inch in diameter trees were growing…as if they bent over backwards to make it impossible for me to re-connect with my childhood. I began grabbing them and trying to pull them away. But it was useless. The tree with thorns on the trunk and branches was the first I was to grab. As I pulled it away with frantic force to get to my past, a thorn drug through my finger and the trunk stayed put. Blood ran. Just like on my sister’s sock. I felt a bit rejected by my past. I’ve wondered in the past week, what the Lord might be telling me about looking into my past.

DSCN0012

My children couldn’t quite grasp what the excitement of owl rock was all about. They couldn’t quite make out the owl shape. The chalk…stayed inside my husbands pocket. I remained desparate to change the situation, but no change could be made. I took sad pictures of my kids on the tree-covered rock. No longer owl rock.

“I’ll come back up here and clear it out before we come back again,” said my husband. It was a nice thought but, my desire to re-discover owl rock was vanishing quickly.

With less enthusiasm than before, we left the woods and walked into the clearing of my childhood backyard. The kids rolled down the hill while I looked on with a sad heart.

Sometimes…revisiting the past can be thorny. It seems good at the time, but the reality of it can be painful…bloody…soul sickening. Although sad, God is using this wasteland of a once magical place to remind me of some glorious truths about grace. He renews me…even in this place.

The same week that I experienced this disappointment of the owl rock overgrowth, I experienced the reality of an overgrowth of disappointment and pain on my own heart over a matter of the past. Stuff that happened, not 35 years ago, but more recently. A long drawn out battle that keeps waging against me and rearing it’s ugly head.   Some of the most disappointing circumstances in my life have happened within the past year.

What do we do with these past experiences? Ones we either willingly revisit or ones that require us to revisit them? Sometimes it’s both. We are forced to revisit it and, perhaps, we stay too long when the Lord clearly tells us to not dwell on certain aspects of it. Or we willingly visit (innocently or not) thorny places that we didn’t realize how dangerous they were.  Or we sinfully dwell on a conversation or gossip about a situation. We tell our story…bring it up again…to be sure others know what really happened.  The bloody battles…like thorns that pierce us. If I had my choice, I’d choose to run away from this one. I’d choose not to peek into the windows to try to find something to remember because I don’t want to remember.  Yet in the midst of this past trial and the memories of it and the continuing saga…I am tempted.  I  am tempted toward gossip, defending, anger,  bitterness, worry, control, vengeance and even…distrusting God.

Sometimes we innocently revisit the past with joy and find that it isn’t as sweet of a place to revisit as we thought.

Sometimes the past is sinfully revisited and we find that it sours our soul.

Sometimes the past is thrust upon us and we can’t seem to get away from it. It pierces our soul and bleeds us dry.

Sometimes, it’s a surprising mixture of all these things.

And in all these things, we must turn toward the Lord:

If we are sad, turn toward Him.
If we are bitter, turn toward Him. If angered, turn toward Him.  If feeling anxiety, turn toward Him. If distrusting, turn toward Him.
If we are tortured, turn toward Him.

There is no twelve step program.  Can we really manage the sin and pain?  Is there any way to keep these times from coming? 

I don’t think so.  But we can live the surprisingly abundant life that the Lord provides in the midst of it all.

The solution is to turn toward Him.

To simply (not always easily) turn toward Him in prayer and repentance (if needed) is the answer.  To be reminded of who He is and who we are in Him through His Word is the answer.

In all of these situations, I find these verses to be helpful, convicting and comforting…

1 Peter 5:6-11
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Linking up this week with the following inspiring and encouraging blogs.  I highly recommend visiting any and all of them!

purposefulfaith.com     Photobucket Holly Barrett    linkup  SDG Gathering A Field of Wildflowers sunday-stillness-button  Spiritual Sundays     Grab button for Faith Along the Way Renewed Daily - Recommendation Saturday Missional WomenFF Z Font Fellowship Fridays #45  The Watered Soul  “countingmyblessings"       Grab button for Being Confident of This  Dance With Jesus   

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But I Will Hope

ruthie egg

Her eyes delighted in the blue egg and her little hands cupped it gingerly.  I told her we should leave it where it was and she reluctantly complied.  For two weeks she wondered why the mommy didn’t come after it and how it fell out of its nest.  Every day she ran around to the side of the house to check on its status.

I tried to warn her of the realities of what happens when an egg doesn’t have a mama to care for it.  I told her it would take a miracle which was a mistake. To me, saying those words meant it was pretty much impossible.  To a little girl who hasn’t had many hopes dashed in life, it meant possibility and hope.  When I realized this, I tried to undo it but it was too late. She had already hoped and prayed for a miracle and I was cringing.

Two days ago she ran into the house announcing with great joy that the egg was cracking.  She was sure the baby was emerging.  She lead my mom and I to the side of the house.  We could see that the egg was not hatching.  The egg had been damaged and we could see the yolk.  The moment she too realized this, I could see something disappear in her face.  Joy, confidence and hope vanished and were replaced with what looked like resoluteness.

Was she resolving to never hope again?  Was she already kicking herself inside for not listening to us and instead hoping?  She turned and walked away with her new expression.  I knew that her innocent hope had been broken.  I started to explain to my mom how we had gotten to this point.  That I hadn’t encouraged her to hope this much.  My mother gave me a look that only a woman who has lived on this dream shattering earth for over seventy years could.  “She needs you,” she said.  I left my mom and went to her.

DSCN0047

She let out a cry as I walked in the room as if she had been holding it in for the full three minutes it took for me to get there.  I held her and she wailed.  It was the wail I’d heard come from deep within my own heart before. That wail that comes from loss in life.  The one that comes forth when you want God to come through with ever fiber of your being to explain himself, to DO something…anything, to turn back time, produce a miracle…bring back to life.

This during the week we are studying that Jesus called himself The Resurrection and the Life.  How do I connect this to the egg for my little girl…me?

I am a visionary and tend to think of myself as hopeful.  I try to pray big prayers.  When someone is sick, I pray for complete healing and miracles.  But I have to admit, at times I can be a bit jaded by shattered dreams, lost hopes and, what seems like, unanswered or delayed prayer.  Perhaps that is why I was able to tell my five year old that it would take a miracle for a baby bird to hatch from the egg.  You see, to me that was as good as saying that it would never happen.  For even though I’ve prayed big prayers and hoped big hopes, I haven’t always seen results or answers that I want.

While the Lord has seen fit to shock me with His goodness, provision and care, there have been many times that His provision has felt delayed or given in little crumbs here and there.  I have wondered if I was ignored at times. What if my words about the miracle showed me that my prayers don’t necessarily always show how much I hope in the God who calls himself The Resurrection and the Life?

So I pray big prayers but are they just lip service?

To “pay lip service” is to consent in one’s words while dissenting in one’s heart.

Am I joyfully hoping in an amazing God or am I just going through the motions?  Do I really expect big things anymore from the God who called Lazarus to wake up and who rose from the dead himself?  In my heart, is He distant or close?  Do I pray like He is listening and active or like he is sitting on his throne with arms crossed?  Do I live like I believe that He works in my life with the same power that brought Christ back from the dead?

Resurrection Power in my life…really…do I trust there is a God who wields that kind of power toward us who believe as we face life?

I’ve been reading Ephesians and I just can’t get past the first two chapters.  I want to wrap my mind around this prayer Paul prays for other believers.  I want to pray it for myself and others with thorough understanding and joyful hope that the Lord will grant it.

I do not cease to give thanks for you,remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” -Ephesians 1:16

To have joyful hope in this God like a little child, would that be so foolish?

Perhaps the lost dream was not enough to discourage my daughter from hoping again.  Later that day she said that she was praying for more eggs.  That she was dreaming of having enough eggs to give out to our friends.  Just a few hours later, the Lord answered her big prayer.  She just happened to come across another egg to watch when a friend found one.  She is still hoping and praying.  Against all odds, she trusts that God could do a miracle and that even if He doesn’t, He is still a big and good God. Her attitude reminds me of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands? 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so,our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”                   -Daniel 3:16-18

Those young men were testifying of God’s ability to deliver them as they faced execution for not worshiping King Nebuchadnezzars false gods.  I always liked that about them and this story.  Something I hadn’t thought of though is what comes across as fresh and child-like hope.  They and Daniel don’t seem jaded to me.  Though they were in exile, humanly powerless before their earthly captors, they also trusted that God was working.  They not only fearlessly prayed, but they also were hoping. I don’t think they were paying lip service to him.  I think they not only thought God was able, but that God would answer their prayers.  And perhaps the key to their ability to hope was a surrender to his sovereignty.

My ESV Gospel Transformation Bible puts it this way:

“But if not…”(v.18) indicates a willingness to bow before God’s sovereign wisdom and will.  They do not demand that God deliver them in the way that they think is best but trust that he will deliver as he knows is best.  God’s deliverance may come in this life or in the life to come, but his grace is always operating to provide what is best for our eternal good.”

My daughter now has some new wisdom about how much eggs really do need mama birds to keep them warm.  She also still joyfully hopes though, that her God is able to bring forth a chick from the motherless egg as sure as He brought forth Lazarus from the tomb.  She believes He will, despite her past disappointment.  By God’s grace she will continue trusting in him even when or if the egg doesn’t hatch.

And me?  I’m praying about how I move toward God in prayer and I’m earnestly seeking the Lord and His provision through it.

I’m also asking myself…

Do I truly believe that he is able to answer all of my prayers?  Do I still hope and take joy in hoping and the great privilege of approaching him in prayer?

Do I believe He will answer my prayers, despite past disappointment and worldly rationalizations?

Will I continue to trust him and proclaim his goodness even if he doesn’t answer my prayer as I see fit?

“But I will hope in you and praise you yet more and more.” -Psalm 71;14

but i will hope

 

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” -Ephesians 3:20

Linking up this week with the following inspiring and encouraging blogs.  I highly recommend visiting any and all of them!

purposefulfaith.com     Photobucket Holly Barrett    linkup  SDG Gathering A Field of Wildflowers sunday-stillness-button  Spiritual Sundays     Grab button for Faith Along the Way Renewed Daily - Recommendation Saturday Missional WomenFF Z Font Fellowship Fridays #45  The Watered Soul  “countingmyblessings"       Grab button for Being Confident of This  Dance With Jesus   

 1114updatedbutton  mom blogs party  Imparting Gracesaving4six     beloved_brews_faithbarista_badge _     7 Days Time      WHHWButton200X200I Choose Joy!    Photobucket