Wednesday, September 30, 2009

True or False revisted...

It was interesting reading the comments that people shared on my last post. For those that might have missed it, I posted:

A statement:

It is possible for us to rest in the Lord and still be "stressed out."

True or False? And why?

I realized that people were going to have different interpretations of what "stressed out" meant, and I wanted that. Each of us has a slightly different relationship with God, each of us handles stress in different ways, and each of us is "stressed out" in different ways. I wanted the answers to portray those differences. Because of this, there isn't necessarily a right or wrong answer. But I do want to share what God has shown me, through my own life.

I think of stress as pressure--pressure brought against me by people or circumstances around me, and pressure I put on myself through my own desires, perceptions, expectations, etc.

Most of you have probably read the testimony I wrote last January, relating how far God has brought me in learning to trust Him. (I thought it was about money, in particular, though the lessons are definitely spilling into many other areas of my life.) As that story shows, I was frequently stressed out. In fact, just the thought of where we were at financially and where we could potentially find ourselves in just a few short months was enough to reduce me to a mass of worry. I felt like I was about to be crushed by the responsibility of making ends meet and “doing things right.”

Anyone else ever felt that way??

Last week, however, I realized something. My husband and I are basically in the same financial position we've been in for the last 6 years. We're still living paycheck to paycheck, and we still frequently look at the bills and wonder how in the world they'll get paid. Only now the economy is firmly down. Now my husband's company is getting rid of employees. In fact, if you look at all the indicators, we have more stress pressing against us than we did.

But I am not stressed out.

Last week, for example, I looked at the bills, considered the paycheck that was expected Friday, and saw that we were going to be $200 shy of making the mortgage payment. But the fear of not making our payment obligations never came. I did have to toss a few devil-inspired thoughts out of my head...but the tossing was done rather calmly. In fact, my overall feeling was, “This will be interesting to see how this works out.”

Is this brief summary succeeding at all in portraying what a huge difference this is for one Ohio woman named Katie?

The stress factors are the same or worse than they were two years ago. My history of watching God's faithfulness is now only slightly longer than it was then. What is it, then, that has made the difference? Why do these things now press no deeper than my skin? What keeps them from reaching the real me—my spirit, my emotions, and my mind? How can I now see the pitiful smallness of the dust pile that was once my mountain? (And pitiful it was, for He had no trouble providing the money for yet another mortgage payment.)

The answer to all these questions is that God has given me a deeper revelation of submission and the trust that comes along with it. But this revelation involves more than His promised provision—far more. Not only am I able to trust that He will continue to pay our bills as long as paying those is right in His eyes, I am also able to trust that He will guide me in how to use whatever money He entrusts to my keeping...and that He has already made plans to cover the mistakes I will make. I now know I can trust that I will accomplish what He intends for me to accomplish today, and that trust keeps me from feeling rushed. I am able to trust that He will raise my children to be the man and women He has called them to be, regardless of my mistakes and the differences of opinion between my husband and I. I am able to trust that the new struggle that has found its way into my marriage is yet one more dust-pile that He will sweep aside when He no longer needs to make an object lesson out of it.

Quite honestly, I have discovered what it means to rest. (At least, to a certain degree. It will be marvelous to discover what untapped wells of rest are waiting for me!)

And I have learned that when the pressures, struggles, and stress of life do make it inside me, that is a red flag—a signal that I have reached a lesson that I have yet to learn—that I am missing something that will enable me to watch these struggles from place of rest. Yes, watch them, not fight my way through them. Because if God has taught me anything through these last six years, it's that I have only begun to tap the strength and peace and power that He has waiting.


So you there, with the heavy burdens weighing on your shoulders. Whether you're man or woman, boy or girl, stranger or the woman in my mirror...you say that life gave you those burdens and it will always give you more. You listen to a voice that says it's impossible to live without feeling the weight of them. I remind you that Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”


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I challenge you to surrender those heavy burdens and watch how easily He carries what weighs you down. Take His yoke in place of those burdens and let Him guide your steps, for He is a gentle taskmaster and His yoke weighs almost nothing. It is certainly nothing compared to His strength, which He can make flow through you.

You say you don't know how? Frankly, I don't either. But thankfully, His Spirit has come to teach us all things, and this just might be one of the most glorious of them. And somehow, He is capable of doing things inside of us that we don't understand. For He understands it all.

All He asks for is our surrender...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

True or False?

A statement:

It is possible for us to rest in the Lord and still be "stressed out."

True or False? And why?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Act well...

(Note to the unknowns who read this blog: I haven't abandoned my study on the five love languages...I just keep wanting to post interruptions. Please don't give up on me, if you're looking forward to those posts!)

,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,

Today would have been my mother's 57th birthday, if we hadn't lost her four years ago.

I've mentioned a little about her now and again, and today I find myself thinking of her life in a whole new way.

You see...I also happened to have just finished reading a book today that is unlike any other book I've ever read. I don't know if Mom would have enjoyed it or not...but I do believe that she understood one of the lessons this book paints.

You see, Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl is a word-artist's attempt to portray the world as God's masterpiece. Its subtitle is "Wide-Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken World," and that wonder is something that Mom understood.

She also understood that life as we know it is only a reflection of something much larger and more complete...something that began before time existed and will continue throughout eternity. As this author so eloquently portrays, God's paintbrush is His spoken words, and the world and all of human history is His masterpiece. His novel. His painting. His poem.

My mother's death is a shadow in that painting. A tree whose day last season has ended.

Many people struggle with accepting death. And yet, because of who Mom was, I do not. It's no fun...but it's part of life. A part not to be feared, if you know your Savior. A part not even to be questioned, if you believe as I do.

Think about this. An author would look quite strangely at a character who leaped from the pages and began asking him what right he had to make him poor and crippled. As the author of the book I read asked, "Would Pride and Prejudice be improved by throwing away every page prior to the resolution, by erasing every character flaw, every misunderstanding and dispute?"

Of course it wouldn't! Yet isn't that what we sometimes tell God He should do with His story, both past, present, and future?

And what broken branch, lying under the snow on the ground, looks up at the painter who painted her and asks why he didn't paint her full of leaves on the tree above. Does she dare to blame the painter for the cold and ice and bitter wind? The painter has decided the season. That is that. And again, as this author puts it, "Could we improve this picture? How can we make it not better, but best? Remove the tension and the contrast. Remove the black. All of it. Remove the struggle and the inevitable end. Leave the white. Only white. And now it is perfect. Perfectly blank."

Does that make you look at life's struggles differently?

In the midst of my study for my Quality Time post, I was struck by something David said. Or rather, I was struck by the attitude that his statement portrayed.

In 2 Samuel 15, David finds himself running for his life. Again. Only this time it's not from his father-in-law or a neighboring king. By now, he has reigned securely on the throne of Israel for years. Decades, perhaps. Until his own son gets ideas.

Absalom conspired (and succeeded) in winning the hearts of a vast portion of Israel, including some of David's advisers. And when he'd decided he'd won enough of them, he rode into Jerusalem to take the throne.

And David fled. He knew that a king is only as strong as those who are loyal to him.

Had David done anything wrong in this story? Perhaps. That depends on whether parenting skills factored into the equation. BUT...this was not a judgment of God on him. This was simply a beloved and powerful son in total rebellion.

What struck me was David's response. He didn't rail against God or blame Him, asking, "Why did You allow this to happen to me?" He didn't judge God--either for what He'd allowed or for not protecting him.

Instead, he said, "If I find favor in the sight of the Lord, then He will bring me back again. But if He should say, 'I have no delight in you,' behold, here I am. Let Him do to me as seems good in His sight."

Does that seem as remarkable to you as it does to me? David not only believed that absolutely everything was under God's control, but he accepted anything that might come his way as being good in God's sight. He didn't even bother himself with the reality that getting killed by your son isn't exactly something that could be considered good in man's sight. He knew how very little man's opinion on things really mattered.

And that concept brings me back to what this author was talking about...that the history of the world is God's novel--His-story. We are its characters. We cannot choose the scenes we have been placed in, and we cannot control the characters around us. We can't control when we enter and exit the stage. The only thing we can control is the type of character we will be.

I'll share his challenge:


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Do you dislike your role in the story, your place in the shadow? What complaints do we have that the hobbits could not have heaved at Tolkien? You have been born into a narrative, you have been given freedom. Act, and act well until you reach your final scene.

My mother reached her final scene, and I will say that she played her part well.

What about me? What about you?

What about the scene we are currently in? And will we choose to act well?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The art of losing myself...

I've discovered that there's been an amazing song circling the globe for two years, and I just now heard it for the first time!!! Perhaps this has just been God's timing for me. I don't know.

But I can't resist following my sister's example and sharing this with anyone else who may have been missing out like I was.

This is the type of enrapturing worship I talked about on my last post...when we use our words to create a throne for His presence in our lives. It's about "the art of losing myself in bringing You praise, from the inside out" and asking Him to "consume me from the inside out" so I can "love You from the inside out."



Hillsong - From The Inside Out - With Subtitles/Lyrics - Mighty to Save DVD

A thousand times I've failed
Still Your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
I'm caught in Your grace
Everlasting
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame

Your will above all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself
In bringing You praise
Everlasting
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame

In my heart and my soul
Lord I give You control
Consume me from the inside out
Lord let justice and praise
Become my embrace
To love You from the inside out

Your will above all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself
In bringing You praise
Everlasting
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame

In my heart and my soul
Lord I give You control
Consume me from the inside out
Lord let justice and praise
Become my embrace
To love You from the inside out

Everlasting
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart
Is to bring
You praise
From the inside out
Lord my soul cries out

In my heart and my soul
Lord I give You control
Consume me from the inside out
Lord let justice and praise
Become my embrace
To love You from the inside out


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Everlasting
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart
Is to bring
You praise
From the inside out
Lord my soul cries out

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