Saturday, July 31, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
I'm frustrated tonight.
I'm angry because I have a very important life decision to make, and I just want God to tell me what to DO.
And He won't.
Instead, He keeps repeating to me over and over and over again who He wants me to BE.
And it drives me crazy because I live in a culture that DOES things in order to BE things.
But apparently God's culture looks a little different than mine.
Apparently God wants me to BE things so that I am equipped to DO things.
Identity, then fruit.
not the other way around.
The BEING, the WHO I AM, my IDENTITY IN JESUS, is step one.
And I am challenged, once again tonight, to be intentional about what it means to BE.
Because I think for us to walk like Jesus did requires from us a constant state of surrender towards God's will.
It requires us to be a person who can say, in any circumstance, "not my will, but Yours Lord, be done."
And getting to that point of surrender takes some wrestling. It takes some hard, intense prayer. And it takes a lot of time spent with God's Word.
Even Jesus himself, our Rabbi and example, had to wrestle against his own will in order to align it with God's.
Before He went to the cross, he prayed all night on top of the Mount of Olives, struggling and wrestling and pleading with God about His calling, asking Him to align his spirit with God's. He did this so that when the time came, He would be able to rise to the obedience that was required of Him with a submissive heart and say, "Father, Your will be done."
Being like Jesus means doing everything possible to reach a point where our hearts and our desires are totally surrendered to God's will.
Whatever it takes - whether that's praying all night on a mountain (or maybe going to Costa Rica for five weeks?) - whatever it looks like for us to find surrender - we need to do it. And we can't don't until we reach the point of submission. Work it out with God, wrestle with Him, until we find ourselves able to accept (humbly and with gratitude) what He is asking of us.
Because when we are people who can say, "Not my will, but Yours, Lord," then we will be people who are able to do what is right and what is good and what God desires of us.
And it won't always be easy. Jesus showed us that.
But it will always be blessed.
And it will always bear fruit.
And the idea of fruit fits in well with what Tim Keller says - that BEING is not mechanical, it's organic.
Being happens on the inside, and it's complex and grows and is ALIVE.
It is something that is planted, takes root, and transforms inside of us into something bigger and much more beautiful than when it began.
And that kind of change, the organic kind, requires assistance.
The growth and change of Being requires the Spirit of God.
And so, tonight, I shift my prayers.
Instead of asking God what I should DO,
I stand before Him and I ask Him
to FILL ME with His Spirit.
I ask Him to REVEAL HIMSELF to me
and let His presence wash over me, root in me, and begin to grow.
And I will do this,
the asking, the seeking, the wrestling,
again and again,
until I can say, "Your will be done."
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
A job that lines up perfectly with my schedule.
A job that I desperately need.
A job that I did nothing to get.
A job that God alone provided.
HE. IS. TAKING. CARE. OF. THE. DETAILS.
The Lord is my shepherd.
I shall not want.
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. -- malachi.
I have seen Lord. Today, I see.
Thank you, gracious provider, for the blessing.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
I'm running like Elijah ran.
Away from the noise, the expectation, the questions, the chaos.
My desert, my mountain - Costa Rica.
I go there, Lord, because I'm tired.
I go there, Lord, because I need to be fed.
I go there, Lord, because I want to hear your voice.
Over the wind. Above the earthquake. Through the Fire.
Your still small voice.
I run like Elijah, Lord, trusting that You will do the same for me that you did for Him so many years ago on that mountain - trusting that You will meet me, you will speak to me, and that you will send me back again, filled up, fed, and restored for the next phase of my journey.
Speak, Lord, in these next five weeks. Help me to hear your voice above the rest.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
And although I am learning how to bring my loneliness to God, sometimes it doesn't go away.
Because sometimes what I am lonely for is strong, tangible arms to wrap themselves around me.
Sometimes (ok, lots of times) my loneliness is for human touch - for contact, for the physical, for someone to put their arm on my shoulder and let it rest there for a while.
And right now, that's a loneliness that can't be met in my life.
Which is hard.
And of course, lonely (duh).
But I think right now, just maybe, that kind of loneliness can be a good thing.
(it's all in how you look at it, right?)
It can be a good thing because it's a constant reminder in me of this deeply rooted desire I have to experience a great love.
A desire that was placed in me by my Creator.
A desire that motivates me to seek out not only God, but community as well.
And although, at this current moment in life, I can't get wrapped up in someone's arms or rest my head on someone's shoulder or hold someone's hand under the table - that's ok.
Because I can let God sit with me in my longings - let Him comfort me in my desires - let Him speak to me in my loneliness.
And I can be a part of the adventure He's putting in front of me, RIGHT NOW.
I can pray and love and sing and live and run and explore and journey and laugh and encourage and learn and write and be brave and study and share and smile.
Yes, I can hope.
I can rest in the great love that is currently before me,
and I can hope.
First. Wow. What a thing to be told.
The God of our fathers has chosen you to:
1. know His will. 2. see the Righteous One. 3. hear words from His mouth.
That's big news.
And to receive it only a day after meeting Jesus Himself on the road?
Big stuff. Scary stuff. Awesome stuff. Momentous Stuff.
The power of what was promised to Paul struck me so much that I wanted to understand the fullness of it, so I looked up some of the words in their original Hebrew, and I found this:
The word used for will in the passage is "thelema," meaning will, desire, choice, determination. The description goes on to explain the word more fully with the following:
"Thelema means, then, will, not to be conceived as demand, but as an expression or inclination of pleasure; a want or desire which pleases and creates joy. When it denotes God's will, it signifies His gracious disposition toward something. Used to designate what God Himself does of His own good pleasure."
Just look at those words.
Desire. Joy. Gracious disposition. His own good Pleasure.
So, then, the passage could be read like this:
The God of our fathers has chosen you to know His desire.
The God of our fathers has chosen you to know His Joy.
The God of our fathers has chosen you to know His gracious disposition.
The God of our fathers has chosen you to know His own good pleasure.
Wow. God delights in me on my journey.
Wow. He walks with me because he enjoys it.
Wow. He stays near because it brings Him joy.
Wow. His will for me is His own good pleasure for me.
whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa.
Thanks be to God for taking pleasure in our journeys.
I'm so grateful He allows me to be part of the adventure, a part of the joy.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
(well, at least it started out that way).
This morning, for whatever reason, I was hit hard by a lot of fears, and I found myself struggling to feel God's hope. Life felt heavy, life felt scary, and everything seemed dark.
So. I prayed for some light.
I huddled on my bed, I cried, and I made this little request:
God, please. I need some LIGHT today. send me some light.
And then, after making that small request, I sat myself up and proceeded to check my Facebook page.
(I know, I know).
And it turns out that during the five minutes I was saying my prayer, my friend MP had written me a little FB message. Interestingly enough, just two days before I had told MP that her heart was like a window to God's light for me, free and open and bright - so it was pretty interesting and appropriate that she was the person to write me (God.is.so.good).
Her message said this:
i'm living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart. -- e.e.cummings // can i getta amen, sister Sarah Hamm? they say crazy, i say trust.
They say crazy (and believe me, this is pretty normal feedback lately), I say trust. Bingo.
LIGHT #1. Stay brave in my trust. All resources are God's. A step of faith sometimes looks crazy/unpractical/naive to the world, but that doesn't mean that it is. The vision will come, it will not delay. God did not give me a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power and of love. He leads me to green pastures. I have no need to worry. The.Lord.is.my.shepherd. I SHALL NOT want. He will astound me with wonder upon wonder. He clothes the lilies of the fields, why not me? They say crazy. I say, TRUST.
Later that afternoon:
I got a letter in the mail from my friend Anna. It had been delayed because I recently moved. It was originally mailed June 7, 2010. It should have gotten to me much sooner than it did. But God knows His timing (blessed be His name). In this letter, my friend talked about Psalm 23 - how when the kids from her school recited it she could feel that the promise was true - that the WORD of God never returns void, that the truth of Psalm 23 would be stored in those kids' hearts, and that through it God would be given glory.
And then she quoted for me pieces of Psalm 37:
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
LIGHT #2. God's Word never returns void. It is living, it is active, it separates bone from marrow. It is alive and relevant and powerful to my circumstances. It offers so much light, in and of itself. I am to delight in the Lord. When I do so, and only then, my desires will line up with His. God offers me safe pasture, always. God lays out land for me, a place for me to dwell. I am never without a home. And all of this is for HIS glory.
Later that night (tonight):
Old friends are in town for my sister's wedding. I got to spend a few minutes with some of them tonight. One of them, a fellow blogger and one of the funniest people I know, had a present waiting for me. I unwrapped said present to find two of the coolest things a bag can contain: A book and a coffee mug.
But this was no ordinary book and coffee mug, this was a book and coffee mug crafted around my own personal desires, my very own heart. This was a gift from God.
The first present, the book, is titled "Just say Nu, Yiddish for every occasion (when English just won't do)." Incredible. I jumped up and down from joy. The second present, the coffee mug, is chocolate-colored and has beautiful HEBREW writing on it. I almost couldn't believe it - I have been on the lookout for a coffee mug with Hebrew writing for months now. It was one of my those desires of mine - a desire of my heart.
So no. This was no ordinary present - no ordinary book and coffee mug.
This book and coffee mug were LIGHT.
LIGHT #3. God loves in the most amazing and intimate ways. He is a romancer of my heart. He knows me, He sees me, and He hears my prayers. He rushes in to take care. Even in the very small things, He is fully present. In the desert, His still small voice allures, speaks tenderly. He longs to show me compassion. He delights in me.
1. 2. 3.
light. light. light.
God's love is so amazing.
Again and again, I am blown away by the power and the nearness of it - its ability to rush in and surprise me.
This God of ours hears our prayers. He uplifts our souls and sets them free. He illuminates life's details and romances our hearts - deeply. personally. faithfully.
So tonight, I want to thank Him.
God of Glory, blessed King, lover of souls:
I thank you.praise you.glorify you.
incredible gift of
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
help me help me help me
thank you thank you thank you.
help me help me help me to rest in the fact that all resources are yours.
thank you thank you thank you for always providing me with enough.
(It looks like Anne might be on to something here).
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
We remember her as the unfavored one.
In our minds she remains the unnattractive sister - unwanted by her husband.
It is the legacy we have given her.
But that is only a small part of Leah's story, and certainly not how it ends - in fact, Leah has one of the most beautiful and incredible stories in all of the Bible, and one that can teach us a whole lot about who God is.
The part of Leah's story that we often miss comes after Jacob has been married to Rachel and Leah for quite some time (both 7 year work contracts have been completed). The Bible at this point in the story informs us that Jacob loved Rachel more than he did Leah. It goes even further to tell us that Leah was not loved by Jacob at all, in fact, the hebrew word that is used denotes a hatred or strong aversion towards someone.
The Bible makes it clear that Jacob didn't just mildly dislike Leah, he actually hated her.
And so, God steps in. "When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb" (gen. 29). Leah gets pregnant, has a son, and names him Reuben (meaning: he has seen my misery). She assumes, after giving birth to a son, that Jacob will begin to love her; "Surely my husband will love me now."
Leah assumes that God has blessed her with a child so that her husband will begin to love her.
But the Text implies that Jacob's feeling towards Leah do not change. She then conceives another child, who she names Simeon (meaning: the one who hears), deducing again that "Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too."
Apparently the favor of Jacob is a hard thing to earn, and despite bearing him two sons, Leah's cirumstances are still the same - she remains unloved by her husband. She conceives a third time, naming this son Levi (meaning: attached), thinking, "now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have bore him three sons."
Leah's desperation to be loved by her husband is so evident throughout her story. Like all of us tend to do, Leah seeks her validity and worth through human relationship. Leah hopes to be valued and chosen by her husband, and she sees God's blessing of sons as a means to that end. She desires so strongly to be looked on by another with desire and love, and despite all the time that has passed, she still hopes that Jacob's love will come.
But, again, the Text implies that it does not. After 3 sons, Leah remains unloved by her husband.
Once again, Leah bears a son, but something has changed this time. When her fourth son is born, Leah simply says, "This time I will praise the Lord." She then names her son Judah, meaning praise.
Leah finally got it - she finally understood.
The whole time, Leah had been seeking love, and the whole time, Leah had been hoping to be validated and seen by her husband.
But by baby number four, I think she finally began to realize that from the beginning of the story, she had been seen - by God. From the very start, God has chosen her, God had cared for her, God had covered her with His love.
It wasn't about Jacob, it was about God.
And the beautifiul thing about this story is that God did not bless Leah and give her sons and intervene in her life so that Jacob would love her.
God did it solely because He Himself loved her.
No goal in mind, no secret agenda, no strings attached.
God just loved Leah and wanted her to know it, so He showed her.
And once she realized that those four beautiful sons were simply a gift of love from a gracious God, her whole demeanor changed. Instead of rejection, there was gratitude.
The love of God changed her.
(But wait, it gets even better...).
Do you want to know the most amazing part of this whole, beautiful story?
Out of the line of Leah - out of the line of Judah - comes Jesus.
Our Messiah, the promised One, traces His lineage back to Leah, the one we remember to be unfavored.
Unfavored? Friends, God lavished Leah with favor.
He saw her, he loved her desperately, and he esteemed her to a position of incredible honor.
Because that's what God is like. He SEES us. He FAVORS us. He CHOOSES us. He LOVES us desparately. And He ESTEEMS us to a place of honor, allowing us to be a part of the family of the One who was Promised.
That is what this is about.
This life of ours comes down to one thing and one thing only: we are desperately and deeply loved by a gracious God.
Nothing more, nothing less.
God loves us and He wants us to know it, so He births in us blessing upon blessing upon blessing upon blessing until we understand. He pours over us grace until we see. He looks upon us with favor until we realize.
He covers us with love
until we can say,
"this time I will praise the Lord."
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Saturday, July 3, 2010
All I really know to say to this quote is "Amen."
(Oh, and one more thing):
Praise. the. Lord that at times His mercy is severe.
Praise the Lord when He drags us out of our boxes, forces us outside our lines, and is willing to make us really uncomfortable .
Praise the Lord for his work in us and its sometimes white hot intensity.
Yes, praise the Lord for it all.
For without His refining fire,
I would surely be lost.
So hard to embrace promises in the midst of confusion, to walk forward in silence, to do what is right without benefit of immediate or obvious blessing.
It is so hard, sometimes, to believe.
But I am learning, as I stumble along on this journey of faith, that no matter how challenging or unlikely things can seem, I always have a choice.
When the light seems dark and the promises seem far away and the waiting is harder than I think I can bear, it is in those times that the choosing matters most.
Because in maturity, our belief needs to rest on God alone, and not on His blessing.
Sometimes God is silent.
Sometimes God is still.
Sometimes God is slow.
And in those times, I must choose.
I must choose to believe that God is near, solely because He says is.
I must choose to trust that the vision will come, solely because He says it will.
I must choose to embrace the promises, solely because He has made them.
There is nothing harder than waiting for the Lord and trusting in His appointed time.
But we must.
We must learn to put away the milk of our youth and move on to solid foods.
We must choose faith.
There are times when it feels like faith is all I have, but it is not.
God is near. God is moving. God is working.
And God NEVER stops leading.
I must choose to live in such a way that believes that, no matter the circumstances.
I must root myself in hope.
I must learn to wait, trust, and walk in faith.
I must persevere.
Because God is the God that He says He is.
And when, after a time of preparation or growth, God begins to speak into the silence again - when He, for a time, leads me out of the desert and once again enriches me and pours forth blessing in my life - it is then that I remember.
I remember how worth it this faith really is.
I remember how deep and full is the love of God.
And so, in the desert times, I choose to remember His living water, and I try my best to cling to it - in the winter months, I choose to hold on to His promise of spring.
He will certainly come, He will not delay.
Today, in the silence, I choose once again to believe that.