Friday, February 28, 2014

Let them see You...

Life is crazy. Full. Overwhelming. Confusing. Blissful. Stressful.

You pick the adjective you want to use. You can probably add some different ones of your own. For me, it's been a combination of the above. And yet, I still continue to peacefully drift (for that's what it feels I'm doing) through jam-packed, full-to-the-brim, how-will-I-get-it-all-done days.

How is that possible? I don't know. I look at my life from an external point of view and I think, "I'm crazy-busy." Yet inside me there's this laid back peace saying, "It'll all work out" that is nothing short of phenomenal.

It's been like this since November, I think. After all the years of finding deeper peace and trust, I've somehow been carried into a level of something that is even more profound. Something that I can't help marveling at.  Something that I find hard to quantify and describe.

But this morning I was thinking about something else.  I have also had quite a few people these last few months tell me something that indicated that I had made a difference in their lives that day somehow. People at work. People at the nursing homes. People who are thanking me for how I made them feel rather than thanking me for the actual thing I did.  For me, this is very, very remarkable.  I feel like an outsider looking in on my life, to a great extent, when I think about this, just because it's so not me.

Is there a connection? I'm thinking so. I'm thinking this even-more-profound peace and trust is flowing out of me, and that is really what they are thanking me for sharing. Him. My Savior.  He is making them feel more encouraged and more happy and like they can do it. But they either don't recognize it for what it really is or they don't know how to describe it any more than I do, so they just thank me.

I think this because this morning, as I lay there in bed praying, I found myself not so much praying but simply marveling in the greatness and awesomeness of God. Yeah, I have another crazy-busy day today, but instead of thinking about that, I was day-dreaming about the perfectness of my Savior. I thought about the day that will someday arrive when I'll get to see Him face-to-face. Except we won't just see Him, we'll experience Him, for He's the All-Consuming One.  And because He is that, I thought about how many people will shake and tremble in terror at being face-to-face with a perfect God who sees and knows everything and consumes them... and yet I find in myself is this longing and excitement and eagerness to have my mind blown and my spirit totally overwhelmed by His greatness and beauty and perfectness. I know that, in that moment of actually being in His presence that way, I will find the absolute, complete and perfect fulfillment of everything I was meant to be. The most life-changing and awe-inspiring moments and revelations I've had on earth are mere shadows of what that moment will be like.

And it will all be because of who He is and the fact that I've chosen to seek Him. Nothing more and nothing less, for everything has followed that heart-choice.

But the more little bits of Him that He shows me now, the more those little bits overwhelm more of the Katie-who-could-never-truly-help-anyone. Those bits of Him overwhelm the selfish Katie. And the tired Katie. And the impatient Katie. And the inadequate Katie.

He fills even more of me, and I'm experiencing the amazing privilege of watching some of Him touch people around me in the most inexplicable ways. Even though all I do in the nursing homes is sing words they've heard a thousand times through the decades. Even though at work, all I talk about are grammar rules and which button to click where and what issue on which report is compliant with that gas station or cell phone carrier or home improvement store's standards. Such un-glorious conversation... and somehow I make them feel encouraged?

Yeah. That is Him. No doubt about it.

The reality is simply this:

It is not our effort that helps people. It is not our wisdom or words that encourage them. It is not our love that touches them.

It is Him. All Him. 

When He touches them, they feel it, even if they don't yet know what they're feeling.

Do you know people who need Him? Stop trying to reach them. Stop trying to teach them. Stop trying to think of things that will "get through to them." No matter how good our intentions, it's still us. And we are so very nothing compared to Him.

Instead, keep seeking Him for yourself, and ask Him to do whatever's necessary to overwhelm you until you are scooted out of the way and He takes over. Touching others through you will be the natural result!

Are you willing? Do you love your lost friends and family enough to ask God to do whatever is necessary to take over you?


Thursday, February 06, 2014

The power of the Word...

This is not the first post of the year that I had planned.  I've had a post stirring in my spirit for months, and this isn't it. It's still percolating... even though it's now February.

But this is what I feel led to share this morning. //

I've got two kids who caught the flu a few days ago.  And in my house, sickness attacking means we have the audio Bible playing.... for hours upon hours, day and night.  We have the whole Bible, but my favorites for when people are sick are Luke (because of how many people Jesus heals), John (because it has so very much of Jesus's words of Truth and who He is, spoken privately to His disciples), and Psalms (because they're so uplifting and because praise is so powerful).

Each time these are playing, I am reminded just how powerful the Word of God really is.  I see in a tangible way what it can do when it's filling my home.

Seriously.  I wish I could emphasize strongly enough to those who have not seen, how...

Kids that are feverish sleep peacefully instead of fitfully.

Hallucinations are banished.

Those who cannot sleep have something uplifting for their mind to focus on, rather than focusing on how they feel.

My mother did this for me and my brothers and sister growing up.  I fact, I consider this habit that she had to be one of the greatest gifts she ever gave me.  She gave me the Word of God in a way that I would never have gotten it otherwise.

They were cassette tapes, not mp3 downloads or CDs, and we only had the New Testament, but I clearly remember how we would always beg her for the scripture tapes when we weren't feeling good or couldn't sleep.

Why?

Because even as children, we could tell the difference that having the Word of God pouring into us made in how we felt.

Now, as an adult, I realize other things.

Having those scriptures pouring into me for hours on end, over so many years, put the Word of God deep inside of me in a way that just reading my Bible (especially as much/little as I did as a child and teenager) could not have come close to equaling.  Those tapes that we listened to so much... every single line of them is familiar to me in a way that is very special.

They're still there, years later, and they make hearing the voice of God so much easier.  Can I tell you how many times He just pulls one of those verses from my reaches of my memory, just when I need it? 

The word of God is powerful.  Right?  It's the power that the universe was created with!  And when it's filling my home, there is a level of -- something inexplicable that I find hard to quantify -- that my spirit senses.  It's like every cell in my body sighs in peace and rest.  It's like my soul becomes a wick that slowly but steadily draws in even more Truth.

And then, few of us have the patience or focus to read the Bible for hours on end and not get distracted or drawn away.  But when it's playing on its own, it doesn't matter if you get distracted. I'll be sitting here working, or I'll be doing dishes or folding laundry, and part of me is still listening, absorbing a viewpoint that I sometimes miss when I read and focus on a few verses at a time.  I find myself chuckling over the sense of humor God has in how He makes things happen.  I find myself smiling ear to ear because of the way Jesus said something... or pausing in whatever I'm doing just for a moment as awe sweeps over me.

Can I encourage you to spend a little bit of money and get some for yourself?  To give your children what my mom gave me?  Especially if you are someone who finds it hard to get into the Word, or to find time to read very much... get them for your commute to work... for when you're folding laundry... for the nights when you wake up at 3am and can't sleep.

You will not regret it.

Finally, because there are a number of different versions available, the one that I, personally, feel is the best, is The Bible Experience.  Why?

A) You can purchase the full CD set, or the smaller and cheaper MP3 set, or you can download just one book at a time if you want. (I recommend starting with John and Psalms.)  Either way, it's one of the most affordable, and you can get it from Amazon, Christianbook.com, their website, and lots of other places.

B) They are dramatized, which is great for kids, especially.  They read like a storybook. Dramatized means that it is still the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible read straight through, but different people read different voices, so one man did the voice of Jesus for everything that's red in many Bibles... another read the narration parts of John and Revelation... others read everything said by the Pharisees and Sadducees. Some places have background music by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, and you'll hear the rooster crow.

C) They are very well done. I tried several when my mom's old tapes wore out and broke. One version I tried had people who sounded like they were speed-reading. Some are read in such a way that you find yourself noticing strange things and inconsistencies in the reading more than what is actually being said.  Another version has Jesus sounding tired and sad the whole way through the Gospels.  This version has almost none of that, and between all five of us, we've listened to the entire Bible.  The guy who did the voice of Jesus... you can feel the love, and joy, and even grief and suffering in his voice. The joy in many of the Psalms and in Jesus's resurrection is almost a tangible thing.  The background noises and voices are rarely distracting. Sometimes I find myself noticing things about the Words that I never have before, just because of the inflections in the voices.

I've got to get on with my day... but be blessed!


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