Monday, November 18, 2013

Hairdryers and Vacuums

God provides.

This can be a perplexing phrase, especially given how very big and vague it often seems. God's provision can entail everything from economic miracles to a ride home from college for Christmas. I think I tend to forget the 'smaller' nature of God's provision, especially when He is providing in big ways. I get into this mindset that, when God is handling the really big things, it's only right that I pick up the slack with the little things.

God has been showing me that He has the little things covered as well as the big things, even the things so small that I don't even know they need covering, the things I've never even considered bringing before Him. 

In the last month, God has proven His provision, even in the little things, to me through small household appliances. A dear friend presented me with a new hairdryer, declaring that mine was entirely too heavy for hands plagued by fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel. She was right. The new one is amazing, not only incredibly light but it makes my hair look fantastic. I didn't even know I needed a new hairdryer or that one could be such a blessing, but God new that a new hairdryer would make each morning's routine that much better, that much less stressful and so each time I use it it is a reminder of his blessings in my life. Then, today, another dear friend brought me a vacuum. I've been existing without one for months, painstakingly sweeping the carpet whenever I have the energy (which, I confess, isn't often - that's a lot of work). But, without even the meager stipend grad school offered, the money I do have just isn't earmarked for things like a vacuum. But God knows. And I have friends who had an extra vacuum lying around, perfectly functional, and unused.

So now, as I type this, I have blown dried hair and vacuumed carpets. And while those things are small and often go unnoticed, I am noticing their presence today, and I am so thankful for the way God has provided them.

Today's Verse
Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It is Well

At a recent ministry meeting we sang the hymn It is Well. Now, this has always been one of my favorite hymns, but this week it was such a beautiful reflection of exactly how I have been feeling. Recently, I have been blessed by a period of time where I have been truly experiencing the Lord's provision and grace and presence in my life, and the assurance that it is well with my soul is incredibly real.

I recently heard a quote from Darrin Patrick that states that, "the reason you don't trust God with your future is because you aren't experiencing Him in your present." This is such a true description of my life. In times when my faith falters and I am consumed by doubt and unable to trust God with my future, I am not experiencing God. When I experience God, his faithfulness is real in a way that my circumstances might belie. When I experience God, I know the hope to which I am called in Christ Jesus.

Recently, I have found myself in the strange and new position of knowing that God is entirely trustworthy, that He will be faithful, and still having to accept that I don't know how He will provide. I have been experiencing God in brand new ways, and yet I have had still had to learn that trusting God doesn't mean having all the answers. Instead, it means that, in the absence of answers, I still believe. It means that, when I don't see a way out, I know that there is one, and that God will reveal it in His own timing. It means that, whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to know, it is well, it is well, with my soul.

Today's Verse
Psalm 46: 1-3, 7
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fill into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging...The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Caller or the Calling?

During the sermon at church on Sunday, our pastor said something that spoke directly into my life. He said that God places us in situations and circumstances that challenge us in order to discover whether we will love Him more than we love what He has called us to do. One of the biggest struggles of the Christian life can be eliminating our pride in our God-given passions and talents and submitting to the sovereign will of God.

My journey out of grad school was all about this submission. I wanted that PhD. I wanted to prove to the world that the brain God gave me really was top-notch. I wanted to prove that my ideas were stellar and new and impressive. But God didn't care about my ideas, He cared about my heart. He didn't care about whether others thought I was brilliant, He cared about what would bring Him glory. He knew that a career in academia was primarily about me. It was about Him too, but I was the one in the drivers seat.

So He asked me, "Devon, do you love me more than you love your calling?" He kept asking, and kept putting me in circumstances that challenged my thinking and changed my heart, until He got the right answer. Once I reached a point where I truly loved God more than I loved my calling, more than I loved the idea of my own success, my whole life changed.

As I began to do what God wanted and to do those things solely for His glory, my whole perspective changed, and my life became about Him and not about me. I was free to forget about myself and focus on God. I was free to stop worrying about what others thought, and I became concerned only with pleasing an audience of one. I gave my whole self to God and found that my calling matters so much less than my relationship with the One who calls me.

Today's Verse
Colossians 3: 16-17
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him

Monday, November 11, 2013

Apart from Him

"God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing." - C.S. Lewis
More and more, I am discovering that happiness is not found in my life when I am pursuing God, it is found in GOD when I am pursuing Him. In the past, I have not understood the difference between these two things. The first concept holds that, when I pursue God, it is easier to be happier with my life. This idea tells me that it is easier to find happiness in the things that are occurring in my life when I am seeking God. However, living this way still places the focus of happiness on my circumstances, rather than on the Lord.
Instead, as C.S. Lewis says, happiness cannot be found apart from God. When our circumstances are frustrating, and even when our circumstances are good, our happiness should still be found in God alone.  Rather than our relationship with God helping us to find things to be happy about in our lives, our relationship with God should make us happy simply because of God Himself. 
The Bible is full of descriptions of all the things we have because of God's benevolence. We are adopted as God's children, we are new creations, we are promised that God works all things for good for those who love Him. With all these numerous promises, we needn't look any further than God to fulfill our need for happiness. 
I am so thankful for the happiness and joy and peace that the Lord brings, simply by being Himself. 
Today's Verse
Psalm 37: 4
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Friday, November 8, 2013

It Was Never Supposed to be This Way

We know the world is broken. We are told that this is so all the time but, so often, the broken things of this world become so commonplace, so ingrained in our lives, that we no longer recognize them as things that do not belong.

Death is one of these things that doesn't belong. It happens, and we all know that it happens, but I, for one, like to ignore it. When I come face to face with it, it is always surprising. It always throws me for a loop.

I came upon an accident after an event last night. It was a single person accident, no others were involved. On my first glance, I thought this person was already dead. Thankfully, they weren't, so while someone else called the cops and reported the accident itself, I crouched by the victim's head and told them that help was on the way and that everything would be fine. I don't know if they could hear me, but I wanted there to be a calm presence in the chaos of the scene; if they sensed anything, I wanted it to be peaceful and assured. After the cops arrived, a friend and I stood to the side and prayed for them. I felt good about it all - I had done everything that I hope someone would have done for me, those who were skilled to handle this sort of thing were there, and I was hopeful about the outcome. Now, I tend to be good in a crisis, which means cops like to talk to me after things like this happen. In this case, the cops came back to my house later to get my statement. During my discussion with them I got news I wasn't expecting: they don't expect the victim to live. This person, who was right in front of me not a half hour before, is dying. By the time I right this, they may indeed be dead. And that tells me, in no uncertain terms, that this world is indeed broken.

The other day, I was talking with a wise friend about life and death and about how, in terms of eternity, life is as short as the blink of an eye. Everyone lives, everyone dies. We all know that death is coming, and yet, when it comes, we are still unprepared. We are still saddened. We still grieve intensely. My friend said, "That's because it was never supposed to be this way."

She's right. When God created the world, He didn't originally include the death of man. We were to live forever in community with Him. And then sin entered the world, and the wages of sin is death. And so we die. But we are not meant to die, we are meant to live forever with God, to inherit eternal life through Christ. This hope to which He has called us. We live in a broken world but we are not stuck here forever. To borrow a thought from another wise friend, we are not earthly beings who have spiritual experiences. Instead, we are spiritual beings having an earthly experience. Our experience was never meant to be broken, and through Christ we are reconciled to God. I long for and hope for the day when there is no more death, no more broken bodies, no more pain and I live a life of complete freedom with Christ on high.

Today's Verses
Ephesians 1: 16-20
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 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, having the eyes of your heart 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, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places