Wednesday, March 14, 2012

To Pray

“And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Luke 11:5-9 When I was in the eighth grade, I decided to try out for the high school play, since they were allowing the eighth grade students an opportunity to audition alongside the high school students. My audition went well, and I decided all I could do was pray for God to allow me to have the part. I was an immature Believer and I didn’t yet understand praying within God’s will. So, my immaturity aside, I did understand that I should be persistent in my request. The staircase became a measure of my earnest plea as I knelt on every step to plead with the Lord about the part for which I auditioned. Growing weary during my second trip up the stairs, I thought the Lord would surely somehow honor my efforts and that I could somehow “get Him” to give in to my request. I did indeed get the part, but it obviously wasn’t due to my physical efforts or the whole staircase ritual. I agree that persistency in prayer is good, but persistency for persistency’s sake implies that we are trying to pry something good from God’s unwilling hand. Jesus’ disciples had asked Him to teach them to pray. Our Lord obliges and recites what we know as “The Lord’s prayer”. Notice that they asked to be taught to pray. Jesus went on to teach them about the loving Heavenly Father that hears their prayers by teaching them first what He is not. God the Father is not the friend that will be disturbed in the middle of the night by your requests…only giving you what you desire so that you will leave Him alone. He is not lazy and unwilling to give unless it is convenient. He does not have His hand closed tight around good things expecting us to wrench them from Him. No, Jesus teaches the disciples and us that the key to praying is knowing our Heavenly Father loves His children dearly, and He desires all that is good for them. Our requests may be offered up boldly, according to His will, and with the right heart when we pray in the knowledge that He “… is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” We are taught to pray as we learn more about who our Father is and draw close to the One who spared not His own Son, for our sake.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Provision (Coloring Pages of Yesteryear pt2)

The children and I hung out at a local park while I chatted on the phone with my Dad, who lives on the opposite coast. I joked with him that I was picking out a spot for us to live, and I suddenly felt so badly for people who had found themselves in similar situations but worse. My husband had a job, and we were experiencing a technical difficulty with a house we were trying to buy. I saw the need to count my blessings because there were so many who had things so much worse than we could imagine. I felt refreshed after talking with my Dad and surprised myself by how confident and light hearted I sounded to my own ears. All that singing on the way had certainly lifted my spirits and put things in perspective! I was reminded also of all the friends and church family we had locally that would be more than willing to help us. Things were not as bad as they felt, but still, it was a seriously humbling situation.

Help was offered to us, but it involved "camping-out" in the house illegally (in my opinion) until technicalities worked out (don't ya love Fannie Mae foreclosures?), since we were already paying for the insurance. This option was offered to us by two different "people in the know", and it sure was tempting, given our circumstances. I was reminded of how the Lord doesn't ever ask us to compromise or twist things to justify our actions. The fact is, He had every bit of power to make sure we had keys in our hand, we had prayed and prayed that we would get keys on time so we didn't end up in this very situation,yet He didn't allow that to happen. Tempting as it was, it just wasn't right, there was a reason He did not let us get the keys.

A little more than a few hours later, Brian was able to get off work and he gave us the wonderful and almost unbelievable news that we had actually earned two free nights at the Holiday Inn Express from our frequent stays at those hotels during our cross country move! I was praising the Lord and regretting my doubts, but He wasn't done!

When the six of us dragged our exhausted (from relief) bodies to checked in, there was limited space and the room they asked us to check into smelled like the football locker room I once had the privilege (???) to decorate as a cheerleader...that's enough to make one want to quit the squad right there...WHEW!! The manager had told us there was another room available at check in if we found this one not able to fit our needs, so Brian didn't feel to bad about inquiring about a possibly *less stinky* room.

When we walked in to what we were later told was the manager's quarters, my eyes just filled with tears! It was bigger than the little place we had been renting that summer! It was just gorgeous and so beyond what I would have imagined. I knew immediately why we didn't get the keys, and why "camping out" illegally was not in God's plan. He had something so much better planned than sleeping on the floor in an empty house. We had an amazing weekend with the children swimming in the pool by day and a comfy bed to sleep in at night. Our realtor put us up for a third free night and since every other room was booked, we got to spend yet another free night in that beautiful room to include a beautiful floral arrangement from our realtor who was so apologetic about the whole thing, though it was not her fault. What an amazing God we serve!

Our trials are only for a season, even if that season means the remainder of our lives here, it is but for a season and His grace is sufficient and the trial is always an opportunity to trust Him more. He WANTS good things for us, and we must believe that with all our hearts.

"May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."Eph 3:18-21

Friday, January 27, 2012

Coloring Pages of Yesteryear

"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." Acts 16:25

I had heard the account of Paul and Silas many a time in Sunday-School, as a young child. In my childish mind, I equated the desire to sing with their conditions probably not being all that bad. I might have hummed merrily along with the teacher as I colored the lesson page, being careful to stay in the lines, and making the robes they wore colorful and bright. I probably even added a happy little mouse or two, just like the story in my mind.

As I grew in years, I read the Bible on my own, maturity caused me to think on the miserable conditions they must have been in, and I then knew that being laid with stripes meant beatings. I don't even want to venture a guess at what my childish mind thought being “laid with stripes” meant. Though maturing, physically and spiritually, I still didn't think too much on the significance of Paul and Silas’ choice to sing praises to God so loudly that the prisoners heard. It was a choice to respond to their conditions with prayer and song, one that impacted those around them.

This past summer, an unforeseen and unavoidable circumstance placed us in a situation to make a choice about how we would respond to our trial, considering our precious “cloud of witnesses”, our children:

After a long summer of making a military move and thereby traveling with our four children from Virginia to California, my husband and I had finally been told we would receive keys to the house we were in the process of purchasing. We merrily moved out of the tiny one bedroom, office, and one bathroom cute little furnished Casita that the six of us had squeezed into for the summer. I scrubbed and cleaned and excitedly packed our van and SUV to near overflow. As we handed the landlord our keys, Brian received a surprising call. I breathlessly waited until he hung up, and he then told me that there were some issues that still were not worked out at escrow. It was Friday and we would not be getting keys, and no one could seem to give a straight answer as to when or if we would move into this house that we had so bathed in prayer. Looking back, we are still quite confused, but not as to God’s plan. We had invested quite a bit into this house, and having our money tied up left us in an extremely tight financial position.

After a tearful goodbye, Brian had to leave for work. The kids and I sat in the "packed to ridiculousness" van, literally homeless. Money was too tight to stay in a hotel, and as they came, I quickly hid hot tears behind my sunglasses. I pulled out of the driveway pleading silently with the Lord to show us what to do. The kids were silent and my heart hurt as I saw their worried looks in the rear-view mirror. I wouldn't say that peace instantaneously filled my heart, at this time. No, truth be told, I really felt like pounding my head on the steering wheel just for distraction, but I was able to have a moment of clarity to see the importance of how I would choose to respond, for the children's sake, at least. I could testify to God's supreme ability to meet our needs or I could fail them by giving into the real tantrum I wanted to throw because things didn't go according to my carefully laid plan.

The old story of Paul and Silas came to my mind. I thought of how they sat in their bonds waiting on the Lord to see them through. They made a purposed choice to pray and sing praises to the Lord, and the Bible makes a point to say that their praises reached the prisoners ears. The children couldn't see my tears of fear and disappointment, but they could hear me as I prayed out loud for the Lord's help and they joined me in song as we drove to a park where we would spend our day: "He's able, He's able, I know He's able, I know my Lord is able to carry me through!". Though my tears still flowed, a new confidence in the words took hold of my heart as we sang. I also found that I couldn't worry and sing at the same time, praise God!

Carry us through He did, in a marvelous way, but that's another story, for another time! We can’t choose our trials, but we can choose how we will respond to them. Blessings, my friends!

Old Souls

I know many an old soul
equipped to bear a load
they're filled with wisdom
long before they're age old
their young sparkling eyes-
not a worry yet engraved
bear some quiet truths untold
for fear of old ones cold
some shut their ears
and scorn them away
e'en young David's youth
a reproach to his anointed place
God will use the young
He will use the small
the unexpected
scorned broken used-
we should wipe the envy from our eyes
unstop our pride blocked ears
and consider for the sake of truth
the wisdom of the young old soul

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WANTED: Weed -Eater

I found this draft from 2 years ago in my posts...amazing how it is still convicting even today!

Okay, after some big 'ole bumps and heart searching, here are just some of the weeds as a result of failure in one major commandment

1. Worry
2. Bite off more than I can chew
3. Love fiercely but not always so unconditionally
4. Perfectionist in denial
5. Give until I'm empty and then point the finger when I "burn out"
6. Lack of contentment
7. Allow the expectations of others to rule and overwhelm me
8. Desperately want to be a good friend, but due to #s 2,3,4,5,6 and 7 I end up withdrawing altogether for a season until I recover from my failures....the list goes WAY on too ;)

I, in my own desire to circumvent SIMPLE TRUTH, end up complicating it all, the answer is really a lack of faithfulness to that MOST important commandment of all which is Duet.6:5, "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." Not that this is suddenly the magic key that unlocks the answer to all of life's questions, nor does it save me from all heartache and pain, but it IS the key to having the peace, strength and discernment needed when faced with the trials especially those in which I have no answer or understanding as to why. It is *the* filter through which every single other decision, relationship, task, truth should be pushed through. It is not a something to be laid out and must continually used. So often, my beautiful garden of fellowship with my Lord has been laid aside while I was "busy" about the what I thought was the Lord's work...Math 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

We have a God who equips and sustains us to His honor and glory...not to our own or anyone elses. Oh Lord SAVE me from my own expectations and undertakings that are apart from Yours.

The only thing to do from here is to allow the fields of sin, (in my case, whether it be pursuing knowledge for knowledge sake or ministering to others before my own family or seeking man's approval over Gods') to die out as I labor in that FIRST field, busy about the FIRST things.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Basking in His Grace

Streams of sunshine poured into my eyes today, forcing me to close them, and I smiled as my face bathed in its warmth. Even with my eyes shut tight for protection from the pure brilliance, there was no darkness to be found, only light. I didn't feel the need to think on the cold gloomy days of last week in order to enjoy basking in the glory of today, nor did I run to find some seemingly suited gloomy corner in order to observe the beauty from afar...fearful of taking more than my fair share. No, I joyfully soaked it up, breathed it in, and allowed myself to be surrounded and filled with the pleasure of its abundance. That, my friends, is how we should humbly and joyfully bask in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus' perfect gift of salvation and grace.