Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Where Does the Good Go?

Today I was confronted with the reality of the ideas that God has good gifts in store for his children and that He works all things together for good for those who love Him.  Too often, these ideas can seem like empty platitudes. These two phrases can seem like things we are told when our circumstances are difficult, statements meant to simply to ease the discomfort and to spark a flame of hope to life within us.  They can seem false, even when they are so incredibly true. I found myself discovering these truths today, particularly the truth that God is GOOD. I realized that, because it is in His nature to be good, and He does not act in ways that are contrary to His nature, that all things that come from Him are also, inherently, good.

The truth of what this idea of good gifts from God really means is much more difficult to grasp than I originally thought. It means that our inability to see the good in our circumstances does not mean that those circumstances are not good. What it means is that, even when we don't think we are benefiting from our trials, God is providing benefits that we may not see see. It means that, when we are living within the confines of His will, all things are good and all things eventually work together for our good. It means that God takes the things that make us feel like we are suffering and makes them good for us.

I do not get to define what is good for me and what is not. Instead, I must subject myself to the Lord's definition of what is good and endeavor to see my life more through His lens. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, and everything that comes from above is ultimately good. I am trying to trust in that today.

Today's Verse
James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Move Mountains

I've been thinking about faith that can move mountains and, today at least, I'm not sure what that would look or feel like. Today, faith that strong seems too cocky, too good to be true. I've spent the last two days in bed, in the midst of a fibromyalgia flare up that has been the worst pain I've felt in months. The pain is there when I'm still, it's there when I roll over. The idea of lifting anything heavier than a glass of water makes me want to scream, but the Word says that faith, that amorphous, intangible concept, can move entire mountains. I don't want to move my own body, but faith can move mountains.

On days like today, God seems too big for me. On days like today, even mustard seed-sized faith seems like too hard, too huge, too incomprehensible a task. On days like today, I'm glad that even when my faith is smaller than a mustard seed, I know that God is with me. I know that God is there, patient with me, even when I am not patient. I know that He is not frustrated with me, even when I am frustrated with Him. I know that He'd rather I fight with Him than turn away from Him. I know He'd rather I argue than stop speaking to Him. On days like today, I am grateful for His enduring faithfulness, His unwillingness to abandon me. On days like today, I am grateful for the hope, the possibility, of mustard seed-sized faith.

Today's Verse
Matthew 17:20
"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


We're getting to that period of the year when everyone seems to be sick. I hear sniffles all around me, and they are not the emotional kind. It's so easy to spread germs, and so often the germs we catch are from people we never even make contact with. Door knobs, counter tops, and all sorts of common surfaces hold traces of things others have left behind, things that can have a large effect on our own bodies given the right circumstances.

I've been thinking about how faith can also be contagious. I want to be living a life that points to Christ in a way that draws people to Him. I want to be leaving traces of Him behind me wherever I go, so that others find Him even if they never see me. I want my enthusiasm and my trust in the Lord and what He is doing in my life to be catching.

My prayer is not that I would prosper in my faith but that the Lord and His work would prosper through me. I pray that I would be used to spread His love and grace and that I would leave a legacy of belief and surrender to the Lord.

What is your legacy?

Today's Verse
Colossians 4: 2-6
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I might proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Through the Cracks

This morning I was reminded yet again that God is in control and that I need to submit and surrender my whole life, successes and failures, to Him. I’m operating on a schedule that is more demanding than any I’ve ever had to deal with before, and today I realized that a number of things have fallen through the cracks. Are any of them major, life altering things that deserve panic? No. However, I hate letting people down and I hate that feeling in my stomach that crops up when I realize I’ve forgotten something. It’s so reminiscent of forgetting that an assignment is due and waking up the morning of the due date and saying “Oh no! That’s today!”

My childhood was full of moments like that, and I thought I’d grown beyond that kind of absent mindedness. I thought I’d gotten to a point where I wouldn’t forget things so that I didn’t have to hear that small voice inside me that loves to remind me how often I fail. I didn’t think I’d have to deal with the fact that that voice just gets louder when I realize that things have gone undone or been entirely forgotten.  

The voice tells me that I let people down. It tells me I’m always a few degrees off center and that everyone is disappointed. It tells me that it’s no wonder that God has to teach me so many lessons, because I keep failing to learn and that He is tired of me too. Today I am reminding myself that the voice lies. I’m reminding myself that I am human and as such cannot be perfect. I’m reminding myself that the grace that comes with Christ’s love covers me. I’m reminding myself that I am not so important or essential that everyone could be disappointed in me. I’m reminding myself that humility means admitting when I’ve made mistakes and then letting them go, refusing to beat myself up, refusing to give in to the pride inherent in a defeatist attitude.

Today Verses
Psalm 124:8
Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Powerful Prayer

I’m finding that one of the greatest gifts we have from the Lord is the ability to pray. How incredible is it that we, small and human, can enter into the presence of the Almighty with the assurance that He hears us and responds. The power of prayer is total in that God hears us and responds, but our hearts also respond and change when we pray. Prayer doesn’t just lead to changes in our circumstances, but it also leads to changes in our attitudes.

I’m so thankful that prayer not only has power over my life but also has power over me and my mind. I’m praising God today for His provision in prayer, for his attention to the details of my spirit. I’m coming before the Lord in prayer, not just asking for change in my life, but begging for change in my heart and He is gracious and faithful to provide.

Today’s Verse
Jude 1: 20-21
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Monday, October 7, 2013

What is the Answer?

I have a long to do list. There are a ton of things that I need or want to be doing, situations that need handling, and problems that need solving. What I'm continually realizing is that I can't do those things, handle those situations, or solve those problems alone.

It's strange for me to find myself facing things that I just don't have an solution for. I always have an answer. Teachers ask questions, and I raise my hand. I've been a professional student for years. To suddenly see obstacles in my life that have me saying, "I don't know what to do," is scary. I know that I am supposed to trust God with all of these things, with everything, that I am supposed to simply surrender my whole life to Him, but these are new circumstances that I don't have practice surrendering. I don't know how God will provide. I'm having trouble seeing a way through that doesn't involve some seriously amazing and undeserved provision from the Lord.

And that's the crux of the issue. It's not that I don't think God provides, it's that I find myself unsure that He will provide for me. I find myself doubting whether He will look at me and say "Yes, I will do these great and unfathomable things for her." I know He works in phenomenal ways for others, but it's so hard for me to trust that He will treat me the same way.

So right now, for me, it's not just about surrendering my circumstances. It's also about surrendering to how God sees me, to how He loves me. It's about trusting that He works all things together for my good, even when I'm not good enough to deserve it. It's about recognizing that, on my own, I am never going to measure up or be able to earn the love and care of the Almighty, but that Christ paid the ultimate price so that I never have to. It's about total, all encompassing trust that God knows me, knows my life, knows my future, and will make all His plans come to pass.

Today's Verse
1 John 3:19-20
This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: if our our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Different Role

This week I reread the story of David and Goliath, and I was struck anew by the implications of the story. I discovered that, in the past, I have always read this story and asked, “How can I be more like David?” I tended to cast myself in the role of the hero and attempted to learn how to conquer my giants through their example.

This time, however, I realized that I have been casting myself incorrectly. I have been attempting to play the wrong role. In this story, I am not David, I am Israel. I am unable to conquer giants on my own. I need help to do so. I am not the young, handsome shepherd walking through the army’s camp with confidence that I can bring down Goliath. Instead, I am like the scores of people who cowered in the face of Goliath’s challenge. I am like the king who, even after agreeing to send David out to meet Goliath, tried to lend David his own armor to wear, not believing that David could handle things all on his own.

So often I find myself facing giants that I am determined to conquer on my own, only to find myself unable to meet the challenges and unable to stand up to the accusing voices that boast of their invincibility. When I finally admit that I can’t do it alone and yield to the Lord, I still often try to help, offering Him my ideas and my plans as if He needs my assistance. But in fact, the Lord is like David, fully capable on his own, not in need of any ‘armor’ I may have to offer.

Today’s Verse
Psalm 68: 19-20
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Loving the Unlovable

I encounter a number of difficult people in my job. Offering service to people in high stress times in their lives means that I often speak with people who are at the end of their rope. They don’t necessarily want to hear what I have to say, they just want me to fix things. Explanations about changes taking time and requiring things from them aren’t always well received.

The Bible is clear, however, that we are to love our enemies. Now, ‘enemies’ strikes me as a harsh word, one that describes parties in armed conflict or people who truly hate one another. In order to better grasp this concept and its applicability to my own life, I have been conceptualizing ‘enemies’ as those with whom I experience conflict. Under this definition, the Bible calls me to love those with whom I have conflict.

I have been thinking on this lately, the idea of loving others and treating them as I would wish to be treated and I realized something. When I love my enemies, I tend to stop seeing them as enemies. When I love those with whom I have conflict, I pray for them, I pray for God to change my perspective, and my heart attitude towards those people changes. It does not necessarily solve the conflict, but it certainly changes my emotional state. When I love my enemies, I no longer have enemies.

I see what you did there, Jesus.

Today’s Verses
Matthew 5:43 & 7: 12
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Where Can I Go

There are song lyrics running through my head this morning from the song Rescue:

“I need you Jesus
Come to my rescue
Where else can I go?
There’s no other name by which I am saved
Capture me with grace
I will follow you”

When I am in need, there is truly no other place to turn. When I need assurances that the work God is doing is good and that my time and efforts are not for naught, I need only turn to Jesus. When the world around us seems exhausting, chaotic, and out of control, we needn’t wonder how our needs will be met.  He is a counselor and comforter, a peace-giver. Even in the midst of life’s challenges and difficult self-realizations, Jesus rescues.

Today’s Verse
Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Call and Response

Today I find myself examining how I respond when God calls out to me. When He beckons me nearer, I tend to have such a shallow understanding of what that means. I feel Him prodding me, begging me to come to Him and discuss something with Him, so I do, and I am always shocked when that discussion leads somewhere I never expected. The Lord is constantly revealing things about me that I am blind to.

The beautiful thing is that I am not alone in those revelations. He is right there, not condemning me, simply correcting. He cradles me in His arms with love and assures me that, while I am not strong enough to overcome my flaws, He is. He has not abandoned or forsaken me, He is simply teaching me to be better than I am. He is growing me and maturing me so that I might better serve Him.

I want to be a good and faithful servant, one who loves the Lord and loves others well. The road to loving well is paved with difficult lessons, with sacrifice of self, and with humility. Pride and control are things I struggle with, things I come back to again and again, and things that crop up in insidious ways. But the Lord is there. He knows what I need, He knows when to step in, and He knows how to love me through them. I give thanks for He is good and His love endures forever.

Today’s Verse
Proverbs 3: 11-12
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves as a father the son he delights in.