Truth


I’ve been allowed to take a step this week on a path that I’ve desired for all of my adult life, but not really believed in.  The obstacles seemed insurmountable.  I’d stopped hoping for it; stopped dreaming about it; stopped talking about it . . . even to God.

But I’ve been wondering if my belief that it was impossible was one of the things that stood in the way of God’s blessing, God’s gift.  It’s taken me a long time to get here, but I finally (at least in this one area) stopped looking at the waves and started looking into the face of my Saviour, remembering His fierce love for me, believing in it.  I believe that God has not brought and will not bring me into the desert to die.  The desert is a place of testing, of learning, of deepening, but it isn’t a place of abandonment, rather a place of meeting – my Lord and myself.

It’s just a small step, rooted in submission and painful denial of self. And the path may not end in the place I think it will, but I am hopeful for the next step and eagerly looking forward to the living out of God’s plan for the next season.

 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

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I get an email devotional every morning.  It is seldom the only thing I read, but often the first thing I read to prepare myself to listen for God’s voice.  The other day made direct reference to the serenity prayer:  God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change/ the courage to change those things I can/ and the wisdom to know the difference

As my lip was curling up into a sneer at this trite, familiar cliche of a prayer, God brought me up short with the realization that these three: serenity, courage and wisdom are exactly what I am seeking in my life.  I am struggling with unhappiness and I know that there is joy and peace and courage to be found, but can’t seem to find them.

And that set me to thinking.  What other scriptures, quotes, sayings and prayers am I treating with contempt because they are so familiar?  Which ones have become so pat to recite that I no longer attend to what they mean?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son . . .
If God is for us, who can be against us?
Do not be anxious about anything . . .
I will never leave you or forsake you . . .

May I never forget to ponder anew what the almighty can do, if with His love He befriend Thee.

My friend Cindy poses some challenging questions in a recent post.  Go there.  Comment.

Nothing is so fundamental to the Christian journey as knowing and feeling that we are loved.  Nothing.  This is the basis for the whole of what it means to be a Christian.  There is no other foundation on which we can build.  It is from the experience of God’s love that we know the grace of God and live out every other dimension of our Christian faith.

The above is a quote from The Voice of Jesus, by Gordon T. Smith.

Do you agree with it?

Is this what we’ve been taught in our churches?

Is this what we are teaching the next generation?

One of my favorite childhood book series is the All of a Kind Family series.  It is about a Jewish family in New York City in the early 20th century.  It is rich in culture, yet full of the same kinds of stories that my own childhood was telling.

One of the chapters in one of the books is about one of the daughters (there are many) who refused to eat what was put in front of her (it was the 1910 equivalent of “yucky”).  Her mother made no fuss, but let her go hungry.  The next meal, the same plate of food was put in front of her; and then again for breakfast the next morning.  With tears rolling down her cheeks, she choked down one bite.  At this her mother whisked the plate away and set down a fresh plate of her favorite breakfast (at this point, I seem to remember, everyone was crying).

Not only is this an excellent example of parental consistency, but it speaks to me, the daughter, as well.  God has been putting the same plate of seemingly unpalatable food in front of me for a long time.  And I’ve refused to eat it; pretended it wasn’t there; pretended to eat it, but stuck it under the edges of the plate; pretended I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t really need food; and worst of all, left the table altogether.  I say seemingly unpalatable because if I never eat, how do I know what it tastes like?

But, here’s the thing.  If I would have eaten it in the first place, I wouldn’t be staring at this days, months, years old plate of food for which it is getting harder and harder to work up any appetite.  But, because He loves me, my Daddy can’t give me another meal until I eat this one.  Because this one is good for me.  And if I refuse to eat it, I won’t grow properly and won’t be able to digest the next meal.

I took a bite today.  I didn’t like it very much.  But, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.  Here’s what I believe.  If I keep eating this food that I don’t like, I will start to develop a taste for it.  More importantly, I know that my Father sits at the table with me and more than anything, I want to sit here with Him.  And I hope through my obedience in eating the food I don’t like, I will experience a greater hunger and thirst for the Bread of Life, the Living Water.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll take two bites.

Thought #1:  In Every Thing You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven, Peter Kreeft suggests, “Since our highest freedom means freedom to be ourselves, we are most free when we are most obedient to God’s will, which expresses his idea of us. Thus freedom and obedience coincide. To obey God is to be free in the most radical sense: free from false being.” 

So, obedience makes one more who he is, more the person God means him to be.

Thought #2:  About a week and a half ago, I was sitting in a sermon that was the last in a series on, The Road to Maturity, by Dr. Marcus Warner.  One of the last things he said was that essentially the road to maturity comes down to one thing, trusting God. 

And I thought, yes, and where does trust lead? obedience, often blind obedience.

One of the things I’ve been saying to myself lately is that I only get today.  I don’t have tomorrow and I especially don’t get yesterday.  So, live for today.  Learn from yesterday, look forward to tomorrow, but live today.  This has been especially hard for me lately, because I don’t like today very much.  Today God is asking me to do things that I very much do not want to do.  The dilemma for me, though, is that I’m desperate to get where this road is taking me, freedom, wholeness, the freedom to be who I really am, who I’m meant to be.  I’ve wasted some time, lately, looking for a shortcut or a detour.  I’ve also wasted time telling myself that it’s not really where I want to go.  And I’ve spent a lot of energy explaining to God and everyone why I can’t do it.  But here’s a funny thing, as I’m spending more and more time with God, He is letting me lie to myself less and less.

The thing is, I’ve been on this road before.  Oh, it looked different, but the destination was essentially the same . . . freedom.  And each time, I’ve chosen the detour, the rabbit trail which has been the equivalent of running in the other direction – cowardice.

Isaiah chapter 30 says:

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel says:
     “In repentance and rest is your salvation,
      in quietness and trust is your strength,
      but you would have none of it.
  

You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
       Therefore you will flee!
       You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
       Therefore your pursuers will be swift! 
 

A thousand will flee
       at the threat of one;
       at the threat of five
       you will all flee away,
       till you are left
       like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
       like a banner on a hill.” 
 

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
       he rises to show you compassion.
       For the LORD is a God of justice.
       Blessed are all who wait for him!

 I’m tired from running and I think the balance is shifting.  My desire for what’s on the other side is beginning to outweigh my wish for another path.  So here’s to obedience and freedom and waiting on God and truth and one step at a time.

Yesterday, I got an email with the “hope you’re having a good week” sign off. I wasn’t . . .  Or was I?  It depends on what you mean by good . . .  Or does it?

When I read it, I thought, “not particularly”.  Then God brought Romans 8:28 to mind:  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  So really, regardless of how I feel about it, regardless of my perception of how things are going, aren’t they all good weeks?  I certainly love Him and am sure of my calling in Christ.  So even my failures, my frustrations and my disappointments can move me toward where God wants me to be if I surrender them to Him and follow hard after Him.  Right?

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