Friday, December 31, 2010

Hope for the world...

I'm not sure why I woke up with this song running through me, but I did. Especially the words: "Hope...when life is hard. Light...when everything seems dark."

Hope. It's such a powerful thing, for it fights despair.

But now abide these three: faith, hope, and love. What is it about these three things that made Paul choose them? Why not list joy and peace?

I don't know...but I do think that these three are, perhaps, what the world needs most to see and feel.

Faith that is real...faith that is knowing and relying on God and that is the product of revelation so deep that doubt is powerless.

Hope shining in a world that has none and that is being overtaken more and more every day by despair.

Love from the One who is love, for a world that has created its own definition of the word...a world where hatred and selfishness reign in everything from governments to families to churches...love shown in a way that breaks down barriers and misconceptions and reveals the Father to the world He sent His Son to save.

The lyrics to this song can be taken to mean the politically correct themes of world peace, etc. But my prayer--my meaning when I sing it--is that the hope that Jesus offers would shine forth in 2011 like never before...in quiet ways as tens of thousands of people around the world simply love those around them and walk out their faith...that those tens of thousands would be strengthened by the joy of the Lord and nothing else...that even as wars amidst governments and political realms increase, peace would reign in more hearts than ever before...that as the world gets darker and darker, the Light of the World will shine through all of us with greater and greater clarity...that the millions of hungry souls out there, whether rich or poor, would discover the relationship with God that alone can meet their deepest hunger.

Except my Christmas prayer isn't just something I'm hoping for. It's something I'm looking forward to seeing and being a part of, for God has promised that all this will come in His perfect timing. I don't know how much of it we'll see this coming year, but it's coming nonetheless.

I pray joy....to the world...
Peace...for every boy and girl.
Hope...when life is hard
Light...when everything seems dark.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Waiting on the Awakener...

I woke up with this song going through me. I don't know if it's because the rush of Christmas is over, or because it's just God's timing, or what...but I feel my spirit waking up. At least, that's what it feels like. And perhaps that's what He is continually doing...waking us up more and more and more to the truths and reality that the devil works so hard to keep us in ignorance of. Yet His timing and His ways are perfect, and He has no difficulty breaking through every lie and deception and attack of the devil.

This might hurt
It’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care
If I break
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just ok
Is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions

No regrets
Not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love
Make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something

Take me all the way



Deeper and ever deeper...always moving onwards, to know Him and the fellowship of His sufferings...to be changed from glory to glory...to learn to walk in His ways.

,.~*~.,.~*~.,.~*~.,.~*~.,.~*~.,.~*~.,.~*~.,

I was given this wonderful little book this Christmas from one of my closest friends. It's called Waiting on God, and in it, Andrew Murray offers 31 short studies on waiting on God.

This book is such a blessing to me right now. It's confirming and gathering together little things that God has shown me over the course of this last year, cementing them inside of me and encouraging me to continue to wait.

I wrote two weeks ago:
I wonder if times like these are when God is testing how much I really want Him? Will I continue to seek Him when He allows weeks to go by without "wow" moments? Will I worship Him both when I can feel and sense the walls falling, and when I sense nothing whatsoever? Will I continue to choose Him and do my best to obey, even when my best is far from perfect, my knowledge of His will is faulty and hesitant, and I receive no confirmation that I'm on the right track? Will I...can I...trust that He is indeed leading and guiding me even then? Even now?
Every time I prayed and sought God about the quiet nothingness that I felt I was in, I felt only one thing...that He wanted me to trust Him with my relationship with Him. Maybe that seems elemental to you, but for me, I realized that I somehow fell into thinking that my relationship with Him is my responsibility. That He was always up there waiting on me to pray, to listen, to obey, to do this, to do that.

I know that all that is true, in one sense, for He said that when we seek Him with all our hearts, He would be found by us. That is most definitely Him, waiting on us, for He will not force Himself upon us.

And yet...I went too far in the other direction. I found myself thinking that, if I wasn't finding more of Him at the pace I did once, or at the pace I thought He wanted to reveal Himself to me, it was my fault because I wasn't seeking Him furiously enough.

You see how the devil was using my desires and my perceptions of what God wanted to condemn me?

This little book is confirming that I am hearing God in this season...and He is simply asking me to wait and trust Him with my walk with Him. I am doing as He asked. I am seeking Him. I am surrendering and obeying to the best of my ability, according to the grace that He gives me. Beyond that, I must rest, trust, and wait. He does not move on my timetable. He said that I would find Him, but He gave no schedule that outlines the pace and unfolding of those revelations. He wants me to trust Him with those, and be willing to wait as long as He chooses for the next revelation.

Why? Because there is a blessedness and a new level of surrender in waiting. There is, I think, a deeper lesson that I need to learn in this, which will be vital in the plans He has for my future.

The section I read this morning begins with these verses:
Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.
-Ps. 25:4-5
Those verses are underlined in my Bible, and they have two dates written beside them...two dates in my journal that record things God spoke to me. How wonderful it is to be able to write a third date beside them!

I'd like to share this precious little book with all of you, as well. If you'd like to read it, you can, of course, see if your local Christian bookstore has it, but here are three other ways:

1) If you don't mind reading an ebook version of it, I can lend you my nook copy for 14 days, for free. Just click that "Send me an email" link on the left and let me know.
(My wonderful husband got me a nook for Christmas, but you don't have to have one to borrow my copy. You can download the free reader to your PC, iPhone, iPad, or Android phone. This is the only way I know of to lend you the book for free.)

2) You can purchase your own ebook version for $.99 in either kindle format (which can also be read on your PC if you download the free application) or nookbook format.
(I can't find it in epub format, but if someone else does, please let me know.)

3) If your local store doesn't have it, here's the link to buy it from Amazon or from Barnes and Noble.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

'Tis the Season...to trust...

'Tis the Season to...

Celebrate Christmas?
Be with family?
Enjoy the snow?
Be busy?

I'm afraid that last one has got me this year. I don't feel frazzled, which is really nice...but I feel like the days are passing me by. I do one thing, and another, and I'm not enjoying the season like I usually do. Usually by now I'm big into Christmas decorating and Christmas music, and I'm in the Christmas mood, and I'm either loving the tree or can't wait to get it up. Instead, I haven't decorated anything yet. I don't mind the Christmas music when I hear it, but I'd rather have sweet silence. The tree is up but not decorated.

I'm not depressed and not enjoying it...I just...

::shrugs::

That's really the only way I can describe how I feel about it. With a shrug. Truthfully, it seems like it was just Christmas a few months ago, and Christmas should still be a month or two away.

It just doesn't seem to matter. At least, not as much as other things...such as the fact that I feel like I've gotten lost again. Again, again. And so (again) I am practicing walking based on the truth I know, rather than by what I feel.

I wonder if times like these are when God is testing how much I really want Him? Will I continue to seek Him when He allows weeks to go by without "wow" moments? Will I worship Him both when I can feel and sense the walls falling, and when I sense nothing whatsoever? Will I continue to choose Him and do my best to obey, even when my best is far from perfect, my knowledge of His will is faulty and hesitant, and I receive no confirmation that I'm on the right track? Will I...can I...trust that He is indeed leading and guiding me even then? Even now?

It's surprisingly hard, for it's that point where the devil's tempting me to give up on this or that...to slip into complaisance... to think that I'm right back where I was a year ago or two years ago... to believe that everything that happened in-between now and then doesn't count and obviously wasn't real.

And yet...if that were true, then I wouldn't be unsatisfied with where I'm at.

You see...it was slightly over a year ago that God ushered me into a new season or level in my spiritual life. I have never been able to recognize seasons the way some people do...knowing and see how things change as months go by. For me...I've only been able to recognize four very long seasons over my entire life.

There was my growing up in a Christian home years...then there was a very specific day in my teenage years when my walk with God passed to a level that was far more personal...the day I believe that my walk with God changed from being dependent in any degree upon my parents to becoming mine and mine alone.

That began my second season, and it lasted ten or twelve years until 2002...the day I share in the story, "My Ultimate Makeover." That began the third season or stage of my walk with God, and it lasted until November 2009.

Last year, God called me on even higher...and my walk with Him became even more intensely personal. I knew it that day, and I've seen it throughout the year. And boy was it amazing as I was flying those heights!

But now the path is leading through what feels like wastelands. Spiritual wastelands in the midst of a crazy-busy metropolis. I'm so thankful for everything He's shown me in the past, for it's allowing me to rest in Him as I certainly didn't the last time I went through wastelands.

But the wastelands have their own battles. Battles about who I am and what walking with God is really supposed to be like. As I write this, I'm coming to think that God is trying to teach me something very specific here. Something that is absolutely crucial for where He wants to take me in this season.

He is asking me to trust that He will finish what He began in me, and finish it perfectly. He didn't start a voyage last November, only to stop a little ways into it and dump me back on the shore. He's asking me to surrender my own ideas about what my walk with Him is supposed to look like going forward. I am learning to trust Him with the pace that He gives me revelations, with the frequency that He does (and doesn't) speak to me, with how often He does (and doesn't) use me...and even with my own abilities, skills, and faults.

It's all about His power, and the only reason I matter one bit is grace...grace so abundant that I am humbled and in awe of the love for me that gives me such grace.

I'm finding that Psalm 119 reflects my thoughts more than ever before. And I think again of King David and a story that, to me, carries tons of meaning, especially in times like this.

2 Samuel 15 tells the story of when Absalom was conspiring to throw David off the thrown. You could say that David had arrived. He'd been through the season of growing up. He'd been through the season of battles. He'd even been through years of ruling as the most powerful king in the area, with peace on all sides.

But now battles are arising from within, and he finds himself leaving the palace he built and everything God had given him and heading back to the wastelands of the wilderness.

Again.

In verse 14, the priests followed David out of Jerusalem, carrying the ark of God. Listen to what he said:
25The king said to Zadok, "Return the ark of God to the city. If I find favor in the sight of the LORD, then He will bring me back again and show me both it and His habitation. But if He should say thus, 'I have no delight in you,' behold, here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him."

That statement awes me and shows me amazing things about David. It shows me more about why God called him a man after His own heart.

He could have railed at God for allowing things to happen the way they were. He could have beat himself up and say that he deserved it for not dealing with the problems in his house earlier. He could have gone on and on about God's promises to him. He could have given up and walked away...or walked off to a witch like Saul did. He could have done all sorts of things.

But instead, he simply chose to remain in God's hands, and to trust Him completely. He showed that he truly understood what God would show Jeremiah years later...that He is the potter and we are the clay. He shows complete humility and surrender to God's divine way, no matter what it might be, and God's right to do as He sees fit and fulfill His promises in whatever manner seems right to Him.

This is the heart of David.

This is a heart that trusts and surrenders, no matter what.

This is the heart that I want to have...
Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion