Psalm 37:7a

"Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him." Psalm 37:7a

Sunday, April 19, 2015

In That Moment

Have you ever been in “that” place? You know… that overwhelming, exhausting, empty, grieving place? Were you grieving for something or someone you once had… and found yourself struggling to admit that you still desperately wanted them in your life for that moment in time?  Did you silently ask all the wrong questions, until finally, you realized that the One who loves you most has all the right answers?

Often I have struggled to truly live in the “present”. I hold on to the sweetest memories, and sadly, the bitter moments of the “past”, the very things that crowd out the joy of the Father’s presence in the “now”. I have quietly struggled with what isn’t… instead of being openly thankful for the reality of what is. I have wrestled with that ongoing fear of what might be waiting for me some place down the road, instead of celebrating what Jesus Himself has invited me to experience in this place… the very place He has led me to right now.

So often, just before I've picked up a pen and paper,  my scribblings have begun with a desperate cry, one full of questions … and pain… and unrest. And yet Jesus meets me right where I am. I find myself wrapped in His arms, His Holy Spirit quietly whispering His promise of peace and mercy, and then He invites me into His rest. It is in that moment that I allow Him to fill up the empty places left in my soul with Himself… His presence, His love and His joy. Yes, I am even filled with His joy in this weary moment and in this foreign place.

If you look on my poetry page today you will find something I wrote years ago. As I sat at my Mom’s bedside for almost 5 weeks, painfully watching her breathe what might be her last at any moment, I watched her struggle and found myself struggling… knowing in my heart that she never wanted to be on life support. But I listened to my Dad tell her that he was longing for the day he would take her home & cook for her & care for her once more. And in that dark place, I found myself desperately asking Jesus to give me a little more time with her. But right there in my selfishness, in my pain, in that place of unrest… He began to fill up the empty caverns in my soul with Himself… with His presence, His love, His joy and especially His rest. As I released her into His waiting arms, I exhaled and I relaxed… and then I relinquished my own weary grip.

It was in those weak and weary moments that He revealed to me this truth… that it’s not necessary for you or I to be strong enough to hold onto Him. He is the One who holds tightly on to us. I am discovering that so often the Father allows the emptiness, the exhaustion, the grief for this very purpose... that He might draw us to Himself. And in that moment we will experience what it feels like to “rest in His grip”. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Hard Questions

As I sat in the home of some good friends of ours last night, ate dinner and fellowshipped with three other couples, WE began to watch a video series called “Radical”. I was overwhelmed with a new reality. It is the reality that, although I am extremely blessed to know Jesus personally, I am also responsible to live out the life of a Jesus follower. Now… I know this shouldn’t have been a “new” reality. The sad truth is, in our church culture today, we often assume that all we have to do is say our prayers, attend church, love God and try to be nice to others. It seems so simple when you look at it that way. The problem comes when you realize that believing in Jesus and being a follower of Jesus are radically different. The lesson began to unfold with a few simple, yet challenging questions…

1) Do I believe what the Bible says about the church?
2) Do I believe what the Bible says about the lost?
3) Do I believe what the Bible says about the poor?

WOW. Just WOW is all I can whisper right now. As we began to consider what the disciples were asked to do when they became followers of Jesus, and when we began to discuss what those in other countries today are being asked to do as followers of Jesus, it became very obvious that our American culture has “dumbed down” our calling to actually be obedient to the words Jesus spoke about following Him. We have conveniently accepted the lie that all we really “have to do” is be a good person… most of the time…

If we would spend just a little more time reading the “words of Jesus”, we might find out that there really is more to being a “follower of Jesus”. We might realize that we have been called to be HIS hands and feet to a lost world… to so many people who are watching and waiting to see if we live out what we say we believe. This is admittedly overwhelming, and yet it is also inspiring for me to ponder! If we really LOVED the lost… and if we really LOVED the poor… and if we really looked like the church that scriptures described so beautifully, how would our lives be different? What kind of RADICAL changes might need to be made in our life in order to reflect Jesus to this lost and hurting world around us? Can we truly be recognized as a Jesus follower by our actions today, or yesterday, or last week, or last month?   Based on our daily choices, will others be drawn to this amazing Jesus that we claim to follow?

Whew… on my face before the Father right now. Will you join me in asking the hard questions??? And then… be a true “follower of Jesus” alongside me. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

And my heart responds "Lord, I am coming."

This morning as I spent an extended time praying for someone else, who needs You desperately right now, my thoughts began to race, and I struggled with a little twinge of fear… fear that seemingly came out of nowhere. I am not one to easily be shaken like that, and I know without a doubt that fear does not come from the Father. So I immediately went back to some scriptures that I had read earlier this week, and realized that, at the time, I had no idea how much peace they would bring me. I had read in Psalms 27  “Yes, though an army marches against me, my heart shall know no fear! I am confident that God will save me.” And then a few verses later it says “Listen to my pleading Lord! Be merciful and send the help I need. My heart has heard You say “Come and talk with Me, oh My people.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.””

It amazes me how often the Father will bring verses to us in preparation for a future need. As I look back over my life and see His handwriting all over the walls of my heart and mind, I am reminded how often He spoke His words to me in advance, and they were exactly what I would need in the days that followed. I think back on the time I was pregnant with my second child, and I knew what to expect, especially since I had been scheduled to deliver by C-section, just like I delivered my first baby. And yet, just a week before the date, I began to struggle with fear. A sweet friend encouraged me to sing a favorite hymn or chorus as I was wheeled into the surgery room, one that reminded me of the Fathers love and protection. I quickly explained to her that, if I began to sing loud enough for anyone else to hear me… they would quickly put me out of my misery… and out of their misery too! Singing is definitely not a gift the Father chose to bless me with!

Alas, as I hung up the phone that morning 35 years ago, I began to pray for the Lord to take away my fears. Immediately He reminded me of the 2 verses I had just memorized in the Navigator bible study we were involved in at the time. First, Isaiah 41:10 tells usDon’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” And the second verse was Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You.”  Having His words planted deep in my heart, I entered into that amazing miracle of participating in new life with absolute confidence in the God who speaks to us when we cry out to Him.

Just like He had provided exactly what I would need ahead of time 35 years ago, the verses in Psalms reminded me this morning of His provision once again. Just as the passage I mentioned earlier said, in Psalm 27, I am once again choosing to proclaim His words spoken to me in preparation, “My heart has heard You say “Come and talk to Me, oh My people”. And my heart responds “Lord, I am coming.””