Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Back to Basics: Lessons from VBS, Day 1

I've always loved helping out with vacation bible school. The kids are fun, there are many excuses to be silly, and, this year, it's a great way to be involved with my church back home after so many years of living elsewhere. What I didn't expect when I signed up, was to actually learn, or rather relearn, so many helpful things.

Monday's take-away lesson was that, even when you are left out, Jesus loves you. The kids were asked to share about times when they felt left out, but I started thinking about times when being left out is unavoidable.

Right now, I'm not living in the place I usually call home. I have a reason for not being there, and I need to be doing what I'm doing. But, that doesn't mean it isn't sometimes lonely and that I don't occasionally wish that I was back with my friends, living where they are living, doing what they are doing.  However, God has a purpose for my being left out right now. We learn a lot about ourselves and about God when we have only Him to turn to and only Him to satisfy us. I'm learning a lot about God and myself and the things He is teaching me are valuable and necessary to His calling on my life.

Today I am choosing to be thankful for being left out, because even when I am left out, Jesus loves me and is fulfilling His purpose for my life.

Today's Verse
Matthew 28:20
I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Friday, June 20, 2014

All Things

I hear the phrase 'Trust God for big things' fairly often. It's a great concept, but lately God has been challenging me to switch from trusting Him for big things, to trusting Him for ALL things. When I fixate on trusting Him for big things, I tend to ignore the little things He is doing or, even worse, start taking on responsibility for those little things myself.

But God doesn't want me to only trust Him for big, life changing things. He wants me to trust Him with every bit of my life. Every moment, every day, everything. We are promised that the Spirit works within us to give us both the desire and the power to do what pleases God. My desire to trust God and my ability to do so are Spirit-driven, and so I know that, as I lean further in to the Lord, my ability to trust will follow.

Are you trusting God for all things?

Today's Verse
Philippians 2: 13
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Nature of Trust

A wise friend recently reminded me of exactly what trust is and what it is not. As trust is a huge part of any faith journey, understanding the process is key.

Trust is not a one time event. We don't simply decide to trust one time, with one thing, and suddenly find it easy to trust God for the remainder of our lives.

Instead, a life of trust is built on a series of decisions, a series of choices to trust. Each time we encounter a challenge is an opportunity to remember the character of God and reaffirm our trust in Him. It's not about being able to trust next year, next month, next week, or even tomorrow. It's about relying on the Holy Spirit and choosing to trust today.

The list of things that I am trusting God for right now is long and challenging. It's incredibly scary to find myself in a place where things will only succeed with His help - there is very little I can do. However, I am remembering that God is faithful and trustworthy. I don't need to doubt Him, nor do I need to strive to do more than I am able. I make the effort to the best of my capabilities, and God meets me according to His will.

Today's Verse
Romans 15: 13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fruits of Labor

I planted sunflower seeds yesterday. The flower pot sits on our front porch, and I wait for the seeds to germinate. When they do, when the plants are a little more established, I will transfer them to the garden. I'm excited and looking forward to the growing process. I have to be, because if I choose to be excited about the end result, about those big, gorgeous flowers, I'll be disappointed. You see, sunflowers don't usually bloom until August, and I won't actually get to experience the fruits of my labor. By the time they bloom, I'll be back in State College and I won't actually get to experience the beauty of the flowers themselves. I won't get to admire them from the kitchen window. I won't get to cut them and place them in a vase.

So much of life is about learning to appreciate the process because the end result is uncertain or may never come. Ministry is a lot like that, as are all relationships with others. We may never know the impact we've had on those we've come in to contact with. My relationship with God can be like that too. I follow where He leads, but I don't necessarily see the end result. As I spend this summer away from my friends, talking with people about my ministry, and as I go back to the ministry and my life in August, I want to remember this lesson that the sunflowers are teaching me. I want to remember that I don't need to know the end of the story, or to experience it for myself, I just need to play the part God has called me to play. I need to be willing to put myself out there, and be comfortable with uncertainty. I need to rest in the confidence that, at any given moment, I'm exactly where I should be.

Today's Verse
Hebrews 10: 35
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pressing Pause

Have you ever pressed the pause button on your life? I feel like that is what I'm doing. I'm back at my parents' house for the next two months, raising support so that I can join staff with Cru in August. I'll be back at Penn State then, back to my version of normal. The movie that is my life will play on when I get back, but for now, it is paused.

I don't have the luxury of taking a two month vacation; there are so many things to be done. But, being home is, in itself, a luxury. I get to step out in faith in some really huge ways and see God move and provide in my life. I get the chance to be an 'only' child for the first time in 24 years. I get the chance to get to know my parents as an adult, to build a new kind of relationship with them. I get to reconnect with people from years past, people I have see infrequently, if at all, since I moved away at 18.

Pausing a life can feel odd, like a step back, like some kind of strange demotion. It's not. In the Psalms, the word 'Selah' may have been used to instruct the listeners to pause and reflect. Pausing is a chance to think, evaluate, and deeply experience my circumstances. It's an opportunity, an exploration, an adventure. I can't wait to see what God does next.

Today's Verse
Isaiah 40:31
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.