Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Walking in the dark

(The Sea of Galilee at night. 2009)

"Do I trust in God's blessings, or in God himself?" - Oswald Chambers.
Sometimes I think it's so easy to lose hope and start questioning ourselves and God when life gets hard. When we experience a lack of obvious blessing, or go through a time of struggle and hardship, we start to wonder if we're doing something wrong, or worse, we start to question if God really is who He says He is.
A lack of obvious blessing often goes hand in hand with doubt.
But what needs to be remembered is that God leads His children through the desert for a reason. He wants us to be ready for when the time comes to take what is promised us. And sometimes that requires ALOT of wandering in between.
Don't forget how our God works.
He promised Abraham a son through Sarah, and she didn't get pregnant until 13 years later. He promised the Israelites a land of their own, and then led them around the wilderness for forty years. He promised Israel a Messiah, and then waited 2,000 years to send Him.
God sees the big picture. And He isn't about immediate blessings. He's about long-lasting ones.
And He's about growth.
And sometimes trust and strength and joy can't be learned until we walk in the dark for a while.
It's in those moments that God makes Himself known, and it's in those moments that we recognize how much we need Him.
And that is the best thing that we could know.
How much our need is for this Great, Almighty God.
And our greatest blessing?
The fact that HE IS.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ears to Hear.

(Mount of Olives, Israel, 2009)

I used to get very frustrated by prayer.

When I was young, I would get down on my knees in my bedroom, clasp my hands together tightly, and ask God a question. Then I would work my hardest to clear my mind of any thoughts, strain my ears towards heaven, and listen.

And I would wait.

And wait.

And wait some more.

And I would get nothing but silence.

This would go until finally (usually after about 5 minutes), my frustrated, impatient kid-brain would give up and I'd go on with my day.

After enough instances like this, I eventually gave up listening at all, figuring God didn't really talk to me, and I started talking AT God, because that was all I knew how to do.

As I grow older, I am realizing more and more that God answers prayers (whether they be questions or requests) slowly and deliberately.

For example, a while ago I asked God to show me the needs of a person in my life who is struggling, and how I can meet them. I wanted to see this person through God's eyes and intercede, but I didn't know how. And so I asked God to show me.

And I waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

And then, one month later (last night), God gave me a little glimpse of this person's heart, and a small amount of understanding as to how I can support them in their current struggle.

Keep in mind, this is something I have prayed about every day, for a month.

And just yesterday, God opened a door, and a very small one at that...

I think the reason that God works like that with prayer is because to Him, prayer isn't as much about giving us an answer, as it is about the time we spend talking with Him about our questions.

Because God wants to spend time with us.

And God desires a close relationship with us.

And God wants us to come back to Him, Every. Single. Day.

To talk.

Because that's what people who love each other do.

And so, He holds out on us.

He makes us wait.

Because He wants us to keep coming back. He wants us to feel our need for Him. And He wants to spend time with us.

That's His first priority.

And I want to make it mine, too.

Monday, January 11, 2010

God's Timing.

(Roman Road, Susita, 2009)

God is so good at TIMING.

Whenever I read things of history, I am reminded of this.

And it's amazing to me how God can put people exactly where they need to be, surround them with the resources they will need, and give them the connections that will aide them on their journeys and further His plan, and do it so well.

Most often too, I don't think we recognize these details until they are already history. The people that are living IN God's timing, often don't get the privilege of seeing the things that He is bringing together for His mission, RIGHT NOW.

Perhaps that is why I have such a love for Biblical history (and history in general). History allows us to see better how God is working now, based on the things that He did a long time ago (because He was, is, and is to come. He doesn't change).

This morning I read in "Walking the Bible," by Bruce Feiler, that during the time the Israelites were going through their Exodus from Egypt, the alphabet and a writing system were just starting to break forth in the ancient world...

Just before God gives them the 10 commandments, establishes (or renews) His covenant with them, and starts them on their journey of becoming a nation of their own, the written word is gaining power.

Think of how important that is?

Writing was KEY to the Israelite nation. It is so important, the timing of this, that it almost baffles me.

It was the beginning. The beginning of The Book. The Text. The Torah.

The Word of God, being written down, remembered, passed down, shared.


It seems God knows what He's doing.

And this is just one instance of God's incredible timing and His attention to detail.
There is also Jesus. God sent Him to a time when the Rabbi/disciple model was normal and a popular, respected institution. He sent Him to a culture where faith, God, and morality was the most important thing, where the Bible was talked about and discussed and debated, and where people were HUNGRY for truth.
There's the early church. God started the movement of Jesus' message in a time when Rome ruled, and therefore Roman Roads covered the land, connecting cities and towns like never before. Travel was easier, and the likelihood of a message being shared with the WHOLE world, much stronger. There was a common language, making communication possible. Everything was connected in a way it had never been before, just in time for the story of Jesus to be shared, grow, and gain power.
And there's now. At this moment, God has placed us in a world with the Internet (our Roman road), enabling us to connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime.
He has placed us in a time when science is making incredible discoveries about the world and how it runs, pointing us to a God who is bigger and smarter that we could ever dream.
This is a time when Biblical Archaeology is making huge discoveries, allowing us to know more about our Jewish forefathers, the land they walked, the people they were, and the covenant that God established with them. Not only that, but it allows us to know more fully and intimately the Rabbi we serve, and the God who sent Him.

And my favorite? He has placed us in a time when Jewish history is becoming a huge part of Biblical study, which enables us to understand so much better, this faith that we have been grafted into.
All this being said, I think the question to ask ourselves is this;
Are we using the resources that God surrounded us with to share His story and bring Him glory?
Do we even see the details that God is bringing together now, in this time that we're a part of?
God has put each of us Here. Now. For a reason and a purpose.
And someday hundreds of years from now, someone will be studying our time, and reading what God did, now. What will they see?
We are only a small part of this ongoing story, but we are most definitely a part.
So what is God doing with ours?