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Looking Through the Right Lens

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    For they shall be filled.
~Matthew 5:6

It’s those words Jesus spoke to his disciples during the Sermon on the Mount that came to mind while out on my run the other morning.  They popped into my mind several times since then too.

Hungering and thirsting are postures of weakness.  This morning I thought of another verse that I’ve been sharing with volunteers at church the last couple of Sundays.

“You have given me the shield of your salvation;
your right hand upholds me,
and Your humility exalts me.” Psalm 18:35 

It’s the last line capturing my heart lately.  Your humility exalts me. 

Just think about that for a moment.

It is His posture of weakness, His posture of servant, His posture of low that lifts us up. He doesn’t use his position of power to woo us to Him, or at least not in the traditional sense.

This is so drastically different than the world’s idea of power, success, and leadership.

These verses remind me that if we are looking through the right lens, humility is a type of strength. Need and dependency becomes a strength.

And if we are to take our cue from Jesus.  Our humility, our low position, our posture of weakness should be used to exalt others too. 

**********

This morning I read Psalm 28.  I’ve always been particularly drawn to verse 9, the last verse.

“Save your people, bless Your possession, shepherd them, and carry them forever.”

Again this verse seems to be the opposite of what the world often shouts at us.  The world tells us we don’t need anyone to save us, that we are capable of navigating life all by ourselves, and to be our own boss.

But this request from David is full of humility.

My paraphrase:  Lord, we need You. Save us.  Bless us. We were created by You and we ultimately belong to You.  Lord we need You to guide us. We need Your direction and Your wisdom. Lord we can’t do this life alone, we depend on Your strength to hold us up. 

We are hungry and thirsty.  Possessed and carried by a humble power greater than ourselves.

If we are looking through the right lens, this is the most spacious place we could ever find ourselves.  

A Time as This

Perhaps

in the Kingdom of God

for such a time as this 

a time as this

is every moment

a time as this

is right now

every moment

opportunity

every moment

full of purpose

every moment

providence

“Before you were even conceived, God had a script for your life. And he is in the process of fulfilling it today.” Mark Batterson

The Wind and the Wrestling

 

Tug of wars and wrestling matches seem be the theme I see popping up all over the place these last few days.

Last week I shared HERE how it was Paul’s tug of war story between flesh and Spirit in Romans 7 that reminded me I wasn’t alone during a personal season of unending struggle. Then earlier this week I heard the beautiful new song by Rend Collective that I shared with you all yesterday, Weep With Me. It’s about wrestling with faith in the midst of pain and suffering. It’s about coming to Him anyway, praising Him anyway, trusting Him anyway.

“Lord I will wrestle with your heart
but I won’t let you go
You know I believe
Help my unbelief

Yet I will praise you
Yet I will sing of your name
Here in the shadows
I’ll light up an offering of praise

What was true in the light
is still true in the dark
You’re good and you’re kind
and you care for this heart”

Yesterday I also read these word in the devotional I’m currently doing:

“It is the wind of the wilderness, dry and cutting if necessary, that blows our own thoughts out of us and the Spirit’s knowing into us. It is that wind that will eventually allow us to see though our eyes be closed, and hear though our ears be deafened. It is Holy Spirit, the wind of the wilderness, that flings us into the desert like rag dolls, cradles us out there like children, feeds us like the ravens above Elijah’s creek. It is the wind that seeks to polish us with sand, to let the erosion of the grit reveal our truest contours. To see what we take with us out of nothing. What we leave with the nothing.” ~ Face of the Deep, by Paul Pastor

I love that image of the “the wind of the wilderness blowing our own thoughts out of us and the Spirit’s knowing into us”. The wind gives us the ability to hear and see things differently. The wind… flinging us, cradling us, feeding us, polishing us, shaping us, making us, renewing us.

What treasure will we take from nothing?
What baggage, what lies, what pride, what junk will we leave behind?

What unforgettable lesson will we learn from nothing?
What hope, what truth, will sustain us as we journey forward?

The wrestle in the wilderness is filled with a strange kind of beauty. It’s the beauty of His glory and His presence showing us and teaching us lessons about love and life that we can’t learn anywhere else.

Desperate dependence opens our hearts to His love and we are never the same again.

Do We See?

“But as for me, God’s presence is my good. I have made the Lord God my refuge, so I can tell about all You do.”  Psalm 73:28

I’ve been reminded over the last 24 hours of the power of God’s presence. I’ve also been reminded of how, sometimes we fixate on the wrong things and, in doing so, we miss the presence of God… Himself.

We see a beautiful sunset, but do we see His Hand?

Do we praise the One who stretched out His glory across the horizon for our eyes to enjoy?

We hold a tiny baby in our arms and watch him sleep, but do we see the righteous right Hand that crafted his little fingers, little toes, and little nose?

Do we see that Hand at work?

creating

moving

positioning

healing

stirring

The presence of God

everywhere we look.

Do we have eyes to perceive?

Do we have minds to believe?

Do we have hearts to receive?

Oh, Lord, I do believe. Help my disbelief!

*****

After finishing this post, I quickly got ready to take my son to his summer football workouts.  I put the key in the ignition and these words greeted me on the car radio.

“Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness”  ~ Holy Spirit, Francesca Battistelli

“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.”~ CS Lewis

Peace

“It feels like chaos but somehow there’s peace.”

It’s these song lyrics from a Sanctus Real song that keep coming back to me this week. I heard the song again while out for a long run the other day. I was about three miles through with my six mile run and those words had this beautiful way of energizing and renewing my mind, my spirit, and my legs.

I love those times in my life when the Lord has shown me how capable He is of overwhelming me with His peace despite my circumstances, how capable He is of calming anxious thoughts and feelings that begin churning away inside me.

This might be the most loving gift we’ve ever been promised from our Savior. Peace. His peace.  

And when we experience this gift in the midst of chaos, we never forget it.  It washes over us like a wave of reassurance from the God of the universe Himself.  The King of our hearts fills our heart with His perfectly timed Truth and Love.

 I AM.   And I AM bigger than it all. 

That peace is as real as the dear friend who sits beside us holding onto as we cry. When our world breaks and all feels lost, that peace becomes our compass. It takes us by the hand and guides us through the darkness.  It moves our feet forward with a strength and a courage that is not our own.

Thank you Lord. Thank you for your peace.

Don’t Ever Forget…

In five years, you may look back on this experience and understand why it played out the way it did. All the pieces might come together and it will make sense.  Don’t ever forget or let go of the hope that a sovereign God has ultimate control over all the details of your life. The same God who created you, has this incredible ability to take even these moments of pain or those seasons of disappointment and weave them into something more, something different, something beautiful, something better.

Don’t ever forget that an all-knowing God, and a God who wants His best for you is still in control.

The path we must take to get there might not be the one we planned, it might seem inconvenient or full of detours, delays, and discouragement but cling to this truth: He knows you better than you know you.  He knows you better than your parents know you.  He knows you better than your friends and your coaches know you.

Cling also to this:  He loves you and wants good things for you even when the circumstances in your life have a tendency to shout the exact opposite at you. And, ultimately, the whole purpose is to bring you to that place of knowing Him better and knowing that it’s His love for you that is keeping you, holding you, growing you, shaping you and perfecting you.

Take hold of the peace He offers to you… and rest.  You, my son, are His treasure, His masterpiece.  Let the Artist do His work in you.

Remembering

This week is a week of anniversaries.

This week in June 2012, I flew back to Arizona and saw my dad for the first time since his life-altering stroke. It was an alteration that would include paralysis and full time care. He passed away 9 months ago, after over 4 years of bed-ridden living.

This week in June 2013 also marks the four year anniversary of my mother-in-law’s passing.  My family and I had just recently moved back to my husband’s home state of Georgia and we were able to spend time by her side in her final days here on earth. Even though it was a time filled with heartache, I am thankful the Lord had brought us to Georgia “for such a time as this.” Some times you can see acts of love from the Lord even when life as you know it and understand it seems to be falling apart.

This is what I hold onto: The undeniable beauty in the midst of undeniable sorrow. 

This week in June 2015 marks the two year anniversary of coming on staff at Rock Bridge Community Church. It’s the same church my husband and I visited prior to moving to Georgia when by husband was in Georgia during Easter week of 2013.  I walked out of that Easter service and had this overwhelming rush of beauty and anticipation wash over me.

What if this is where we end up calling home, Lord? What if? 

I’ve thought about these anniversaries quite a bit this week. I’ve cried tears of joy and I’ve cried tears of sorrow.

Last night I was at church helping with our First Wednesday dinner.  Every first Wednesday of the month, we come together as a church for dinner, worship, fellowship, praise, prayer, and communion.  After I finished cleaning up from the dinner, I walked into the service as the worship band played a familiar tune, This Is Amazing Grace.  If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know how much this song means to me.  It’s the song that has been a part of this chapter in my life from the day I left North Carolina. It’s the song that reminds me of the Lord’s faithfulness and His promise to never leave me. It’s the song that reminds me of His undeserved grace and redemptive love.  He was with me then. He is with me now.  And, He promises to go before me too.

I read this is my new devotional this morning. It pretty much sums it up.

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11

“Close your eyes and remember your first pangs of love. Remember your awe at the beauty of my world.

Remember when you stood as a child by the morning banks of the river and saw the mists dance, when you leaned over the tenement balcony and heard sweet laughter from your neighbor. Remember when you watched stars rise over the desert, so bright you thought each must be the sun of another world. Remember when a song first made you weep. Remember when you realized how truly you loved someone because you had lost them. Remember when you saw the face of your friend and knew you would die for them, when the garden your mom planted flourished with poppies and when your grandfather put you on his knee and told you the story of your brave pilgrim family.

Remember when you saw Jesus clearly and knew that a single day with him was worth your life.

I remember, Lord. It nearly makes me weep.”

The Listening Day – By Paul Pastor

I never want to stop remembering. Remembering brings my heart back to its true home. Remembering helps to keep me on the road to beautiful.

“And on the road to beautiful
My seasons always change
But my life is spent on loving You
To know You in Your power and pain”
-On the Road to Beautiful, Charlie Hall

Momentary Light Affliction

Was reminded of something last night while watching a video where a portion of 2 Corinthians 4 was being discussed.

My  heart meditated on this phrase again.

“For our light & momentary affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weigh of glory” (v 17)

Stop and think about that for a moment affliction is producing for us

I researched a few other translations too

affliction is achieving for us
affliction is preparing for us
affliction…worketh for us (can you guess which translation that is?) 😉

Love this reminder. Paul links suffering with something that is essentially positive. Production is positive, achievement is positive, preparation is positive. In the end, the positive far outweighs the negative. When we look at the whole picture, struggle and suffering becomes some kind of catalyst to the flourishing of us…not the destruction of us…even though when we are going through painful times we may have a difficult time seeing anything good or positive. And yet, redeeming work is still being done to create, achieve, produce….something “incomparably” better that far exceeds the negative. 

I don’t know about you but this fills me with hope.  We want suffering to be productive. We want it to not be in vain. We want there to be a purpose in our pain.  I was actually just reminded me of the scene in the movie Saving Private Ryan where Private Ryan’s life was spared because of Captain Miller’s loss of his.  His final words to Private Ryan…”earn this.”  Which means:  let this horrific loss produce and achieve something better, don’t let this be in vain, don’t waste your life…flourish…make this count for something.

It then made me think of Christ’s work on the cross.  Jesus didn’t say earn this. He said “it is finished”  Which means:  I’ve taken all the pain that has been inflicted and will ever be inflicted and placed it on myself.

There’s nothing you or I can do to earn this but we can receive it. We can accept it with a humble heart and live the rest of our days on this earth eternally grateful for what Christ’s affliction on the cross has produced for us.  

Again, this fills me with hope.  The cross reminds me that there is indeed a purpose in pain, that suffering can be used as a catalyst that produces something better and that abundant life is still possible despite the route we must journey is often filled with seasons of suffering.

The video that sparked all this.  The interview halfway through of man who lost his son is a powerful story to watch.

Captivate

It’s been forever since I’ve thought about this song but it came to mind as I rolled out of bed this morning.

I also, finally, took some time to watch the message from church this past Sunday. With all the preparations with baptism weekend I had yet to hear it in its entirety.
The God Box Part 6

One of the ideas I jotted down as I watched was “be captivated by who God is.”

Gosh, this is the key to everything when it comes to our daily walks with the Lord.

Here’s the definition of captivate:

to attract and hold the attention or interest of, as by beauty or excellence; enchant

To be captivated by something we must be intentional with our time and our positioning, we must be open and willing to allow something or someone to hold our attention. It requires humility and a desire to learn. And what the lyrics remind us above …we must be emptied in order to be filled with more of Him.  We must create space for this to take place.

I saw a great quote on Twitter last night from Christine Caine:

“Don’t have a ‘know-it-all’ spirit, but a ‘tell-me-more’ spirit. Be a lifelong learner!” 

I love that reminder.

Lord, I want to be captivated by who You are today. I want to take time to talk to You, to discuss things over with You.  I want to be so in tune with Your voice that I don’t miss out on more of Your grace, more of Your love and more of Your beauty.  Help me to taste and see You all around me today!