Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Trusting God...

What does it really mean to trust God? When some part of your world is caving in… when you find yourself being forced to deal with things that you never in a million years thought would touch you… when you find yourself thinking things that you never would have believed you could think… how do you trust God then?

If you really believe that God is all-powerful, then you can’t help asking why He allows terrible things to happen. That’s when you reach the crux of the matter… is God a liar, or are you willing to trust Him for real? Sure, it’s easy to say we trust Him when things are going great. But we find out what’s really in our heart when things come against us. Then it’s either get angry at God and call Him a liar, or trust Him. There really is no other option.

He said that He cares for us more than the lilies of the field (Luke 12) . He said that He is faithful to us, and won’t allow more to come against us that He knows we can handle… (1 Cor. 10:13 – the Greek word that is translated temptation also means a trial, so this verse applies to both temptation to sin AND difficult circumstances that we must endure.) This verse brings us to the difficult-to-face fact that anything and everything that gets thrown at us comes only after receiving His “okay.” You can read how Satan went to God asking permission to attack Job… I don’t think it’s any different with us.

But God said something else… He said “all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) People like to offer that verse as comfort, but that’s not what I believe that verse was given for. It’s not there to comfort us, it’s there to challenge us. Those of us who know in our hearts that we love Him and that He’s called us, have a question to ask ourselves… do we really believe that God is able to turn anything around so that it ends up benefiting us? When we’re in the midst of something that overwhelms us with confusion or pain, that’s when we’re forced to face the most difficult question of all… Did God lie when He made all those promises, or am I willing to trust that He knows what He’s doing? Am I willing to believe that He knows more than I do or am I going to get angry at what He’s allowed to happen? Am I willing to let Him be God in my life?

Me… I’ve repeatedly found that when I get to the heart of the matter, I have no choice but to trust Him. There’s just nothing left worth even attempting. I honestly don’t know how He could possibly turn some things into good… but thankfully, He’s not relying on my ideas…

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Feeding the spirit...

Obviously it's been about five weeks since I wrote last. After a whole winter of praising God that none of my family caught any colds or flus, we had one of each go through the family in the past month. *sigh* So it's been a bit of a rough month.

There's nothing like getting sick to make you realize how much you take health for granted though. Getting a stomach flu also has a way of making you much more conscious of what you feed yourself, too--both physical and spiritually. At least it does to me.

My mom starting this habit when I and my brothers and sister got sick as kids. Somewhere along the line, she got cassette tapes of the dramatized New Testament, and she'd turn those on--especially the Gospels--anytime we'd get sick. Even as children, we could tell how hearing those Scripture tapes fed us. Eventually, Mom didn't have to remember to put them on. The minute we weren't feeling well, we would ask for them, because we knew from past experience that we always felt better when they were playing.

I don't remember doing anything other than just listening to them when I was a kid, but now, as an adult, having just gone through a stomach flu that allowed me to hear Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts all in the space of a day and a half, I've noticed a number of things. (Yes, I have my own Scripture Tapes now, which I turn on whenever either I or my husband or my kids are sick.)

First, while I by no means have those first five books memorized, I do have them very much in my heart. Having listened to them dozens and dozens of times through the years, there are very few verses in those five books that anyone could quote that I wouldn't recognize. I might not have any idea which book it's in, but I KNOW it's in there. This makes it much easier for the Spirit to bring verses to my mind when I need them, too. Now, I catch my kids recognizing and referring to verses that they've heard enough to be familiar with them... and that means SOOO much to a mother's heart!

Second, it is something else to be able to listen to all four gospels one right after another the whole way through in one day. It gives you a perspective that is perhaps impossible to get any other way! And at what other time in our lives are we easily able to lay in bed and do nothing else? When we're sick, our schedules are pretty much cleared without any effort on our part whatsoever!

Listening to the Gospels for hours on end made me notice differences in them that I'd never had noticed on my own before. I felt like I could step into the lives of the disciples in a much more real way. And all of it became more real to me in a historical sense... events that happened two centuries ago unfolding "before my very ears." For example, when John is describing what happened on the Mount of Transfiguration, it occurred to me for the first time what that must have been like for Peter, James, and John. They grew up reading and memorizing the Torah. They knew every word of how Moses went up on Mount Sinai and God spoke to Him from the cloud... how Moses' face shown so brightly. Then one day they follow Jesus up a mountain with no clue that they're about to witness this themselves.

They're tired and falling asleep when suddenly something starts. Finally they wake up enough to realize that what they read about in the Torah is happening again. Not only is Jesus standing there with them, but Moses is there, too... shining just like he did then. And Jesus is also shining...And Elijah's there, too, and he's shining...and to top it all off, there's the cloud, too! THE cloud. I mean, they grew up knowing how Moses was the Friend of God, who knew God face to face like no other... and they're getting to witness a repeat of what they've only read about. Can you imagine?

Then God spoke from the cloud, and the fact that they didn't fall down on their face in fear really says something about where they were at, spiritually. It just became so real to me.

Yet there's another way that the Scriptures can become real to us, and that's when they come to mean something in our own lives. And now, as an adult, so many of those verses that were just part of stories when I was a kid, now really mean something to me in a personal way. So when I was laying there listening to Jesus' life unfold, and He said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life," then both the historical real-ness and the revelations He's given me on that verse in the past just compounded on top of each other in such a way that I couldn't get enough of it. It was that way with so many verses that I found myself just feeling completely overwhelmed with the wonder of what God did in sending Jesus.

I think my spirit got fed more during those two days stomach sickness than it has in a combined year of Sundays....
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