Thoughts from a snow day

I find out a lot about myself when I look at how I spend my time. I typed something in a conversation the other day that hit me pretty hard once I looked at it again. I said, “Sleep always trumps food. Wait no, sleep trumps everything except God.” And then I realized that all too often, even sleep trumps God in my life. And then… when I take a deeper look I realize how much pride I struggle with… the idea that I’m somewhat in control is probably one of the hardest things for me to let go of. I find that I let it go and then somewhere between there and here, I’ve unknowingly picked it back up again. It determines how I behave, how I spend my time, and where I place my trust.

Pride. Sin. They keep me from God. I know that He’s completely sovereign… that He holds my life in His hands, allows each breath I take to provide oxygen to my lungs and has all of the hairs on my head numbered, but so often I question His timing, His plan, and the path I’m walking down.

Change. There’s very little I hate more than change. Especially if it’s life-altering. I recognize also, that change is good and that without change we die… but these recognitions don’t make it any easier to make the leap. I find that when I’m faced with it I begin to shut down on the inside… I tell myself it’s ok, that I’m ok, and that the distrust is merely preparation for the inevitable losses that will occur.

I’ve been this way my whole life. I’ve never been able to dive head first off of a diving board or do a cartwheel. And I think it’s because I’ve always been too worried about protecting myself – as if I could add even a second to the days I’ve been allotted (Psalm 31:15, 139:16).

Fear is a lack of faith. And its sin. We so clearly see that in the life of Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter’s an ordinary guy who displays extraordinary faith at different points in Scripture – He leaves his job to follow Jesus at just His words, “follow Me” (Matt. 4:18-19), walks on water out to meet Jesus at the word “come” (Matt. 14:28-29), and understands who Jesus really is before many other people do (Matt. 16:16, Mark 8:29). However, Peter is so often reactionary and easily swayed instead of unmovable in his faith. He starts to sink when he is distracted by the wind and the waves (Matt. 14:30), he cuts off a soldier’s ear when Jesus was arrested (Matt. 26:51), and then swears he never knew Him when he’s associated with Christ later (Matt. 26:69-75).

All of this to say: I find myself feeling a lot like Peter today. I feel like sometimes I wake up to the fact that I’m walking across water and I can’t make it on my own – I will certainly drown unless saved by grace. These times, the times when I recognize how very much I need Jesus – the times when my total insufficiency comes to light and all of my pride is exposed – this is how He keeps me close. In His overwhelming goodness, He walks me through change often so that my own heart is exposed and I’m forced to come to terms with the fear residing there. Without the grace of God, I’d be off always doing my own thing… forcing doors that aren’t supposed to open and clinging to things that I should gracefully let go of.

Ryan shared Acts 16:6-10 with me the other day:

“6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down lto Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul3 had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

The message here is great and I love the way he put it: “They kept moving. God closed doors. They changed directions. God closed doors. They went a different way. God showed them what they were to do.”

I was also reminded of Matthew 6:25-34 today:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?7 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, jeven Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

I’m learning to leap. I’m learning to let go. I’m learning to trust completely, all over again. All because of this truth: “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16)”

Character Close Up: David

I’ve felt a little lost for about exactly a week now. Sometimes things happen in life that remind us that life is just that – life. It has ups and downs, people are born and people die, some answers to prayer we understand and others we really don’t. It’s like Ecclesiastes 3 says – there is a purpose for everything under heaven. I think recently I’ve felt very overwhelmed at how much I don’t understand and I find myself longing to know God more – to truly understand His heart and His purposes.

With that intent in mind, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Psalms again. There’s literally nothing better for my heart than to hear David crying out for answers and salvation just as I am. So many times he didn’t understand his situation either… but the key to David was his heart (and he’s not called a “man after God’s own heart” without good reason). His heart is so transparent and he doesn’t just follow God – he pursues Him. As I read what he wrote in the Psalms I almost feel like some days he’s been reading my journal, completely understands all that I’m feeling, and could be one of my closest friends. Even when he’s struggling to make sense of his circumstances, David always remembers three very important things: 1.) he is humbled by his own depravity and the seriousness of his sin (and he repents), 2.) he’s overwelmed by the magnitude of God, His purposes, and His love, and 3.) is totally confident that he, as a child of God and his righteousness through Him, can lay claim to a rich inheritance and amazing promises. Seems like his focus always finds its way back to these three points.

And well it should, because David sinned greatly and is one of my favorite examples in Scripture of the extreme redemption offered in Christ. His story is crazy – he kills a giant that every one is terrified of with just a sling and a pocket full of rocks and then he’s anointed the future king of Israel while he’s still just a shepherd boy. God’s hand on him and purposes for his life are clear from a very young age, yet when he finally has everything God has promised him, he seemingly sets himself up to throw it all away. He covets and lusts after another man’s wife, sleeps with her and gets her pregnant, and then has the man killed so he can marry the beautiful girl and cover everything up. Thankfully, God doesn’t leave him there.

When confronted by the prophet Nathan with his sin, David’s immediate response was “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13) and he repents and worships even as he is punished (2 Samuel 12:16-23).

David’s incredible heart is chronicled throughout 1 and 2 Samuel and the Psalms. I love it all. He’s a humble worshipper, always caught up in the beauty of God. He’s real and broken, always asking questions and demanding answers, but always remembering who it is that sustains him.  There’s too much to write about him here… I could go on and on.  Tonight I’m thankful that he consistently remembered that the purposes of God are bigger than anything he could see, imagine, or understand. I’m meditating on the following this evening:

Psalm 86:11-13

“Teach me your way, O Lord; that I may walk in your truth;

unite my heart to fear your name.

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,

and I will glorify your name forever.

For great is your steadfast love toward me;

you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.”

and Psalm 91:1-2, 14-16

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;

I will protect him, because he knows my name.

When he calls to me, I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

LOVE these verses so very much. They remind me that it’s not about understanding my situation, my circumstance, or my pain… life is about understanding the faithfulness and the promises of the God who loves me and is about learning to be faithful to him. David’s story, like my own, is one of faithfulness and faithlessness and unfaithfulness. Thankfully, God redeemed me, just as He did David. It’s something we need to be meditating on always.

Wait on the Lord

I love the wisdom of the people who have walked with Christ ahead of me. I’ve long kept a large and growing collection of quotes that I love to page through often. They range from funny to incredibly profound.

Below are a few of the many that really jumped out at me this morning as I was just glancing through. One of the most astonishing things about the Christian life is that despite a multitude of individual circumstances, perspectives, and the fact that believers have lived through completely different eras, cultures, and countries – the basics of life in Christ are the same. The requirements have never and will never change. We’re all called to trust God with absolute abandon and to hold fast to His word and His word alone. Complete dependence, limitless faith, and total reliance on the Cross and His grace are our only hope.

I hope these words speak to you as they do me and that they serve to increase your faith in our amazing Creator:

“What is it to us how our future path lies, if it be but His path? What is it to us whither it leads us, so that in the end it leads to Him? What is it to us what He puts upon us, so that He enables us to undergo it with a pure conscience, a true heart, not desiring anything of this world in comparison of Him? What is it to us what terror befalls us, if He be but a hand to protect and strengthen us?” John Henry Newman

“God has wisely kept us in the dark concerning future events and reserved for himself the knowledge of them, that he may train us up in a dependence upon himself and a continued readiness for every event.” Matthew Henry

“God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will, a will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.” Elisabeth Elliot

Also see: Isaiah 30:21, Philippians 4, Isaiah 42:16, Psalm27, and Isaiah 46:11b.