This quote has been on my mind for quite some time. It is one of my favorites. It’s “religion” in action. It’s “religion” that jumps off the page and becomes real and alive. Over the years, I’ve searched for so many things in life to make me happy but this is the answer. I’ve worn masks and pretended but nothing has ever been more fulfilling, more freeing, or more life changing then when I made the choice to connect with others and step out from behind the mask. We tend to like keeping our problems safely tucked away in the dark, but God does His work in the light. Sometimes, I think God is just waiting for us to make the courageous choice to bring the issues we struggle with secretly… out into the sunlight. When we take this small step of faith, God blesses it.
I came across these verses in Micah. I love how much confidence in God they illustrate. Just beautiful.
But me, I’m not giving up. I’m sticking around to see what God will do. I’m waiting for God to make things right. I’m counting on God to listen to me…. I’m sitting in the dark right now, but God is my light… He’ll turn on the lights and show me his ways. I’ll see the whole picture and how right he is. (portions of Micah 7: 7-9 MSG)
I just finished a 7 week bible study called “Birds in my Mustard Tree” by Susanne Scheppmann. It was a good study about faith and learning to trust God. Trusting God is the most difficult part of faith. We are reasoning beings and we like proof that we can touch and see all the time. We like to be in control too and trusting in something that might be asking us to let go of that control is very difficult.
I was thinking about how very different the statement “I believe in God” is to the statement “I believe God.” The latter has the ability to be life-changing. The former, simply believing in God, believing in his existence, is close to useless. Believing that God can do what He says He can do and reorienting our decisions and our lives around this fact…now that’s powerful!
When I was kid and a teenager. I believed in God, but this belief rarely influenced the decisions in my life. It was just something I accepted. It wasn’t until I conscientiously and humbly began seeking Him out with every corner of my heart that I discovered that my mere belief could change to actually believing Him and everything that encompasses.
I made a choice to trust Him 100%, to lay down my need to always be in control, or the need to always be right, or the need for answers to all my “why” questions. It was almost as if I was asking God to prove himself to me. Not in a mocking way…but in a “desperate, no other way to turn” way. I wanted real peace. I wanted real answers. And if this was the way to get that…I was at the point in my life where I was willing to try it!
God, I am going to believe you. I am going to trust that you are who you say you are. I am going to believe that you really do care about me as much as I really, really hope you do. I am going to cling to You with what little faith I have.
An amazing thing happened in my life. God showed up. Despite my puny faith, God showed up! From that moment on, I have firmly believed that how big our faith is is never a factor in whether we can trust God or whether we find God. The factor is always how willing and how humble and how open we allow our heart to be.
Some of the most significant times of growth I have experienced in my faith and in my walk with the Lord have been when I started to pray, “Lord, change my heart.” I think God loves to honor this request. He wants nothing more than for our hearts and our desires to line up with His.
And I think, if we were to be completely honest with ourselves, this is what every human is really searching for in this life. Even if they still don’t recognize it or not. We chase after so many things to make us happy and content but I believe every chase and every path is really a quest for our Creator.
We were created by God and for God. So when we pray prayers like…”God make me into who you think I should be”, I think God smiles. I even imagine Him doing a little happy dance. Kinda like I (and other mommies I know) used to do every time my toddler son did something I was teaching him to do correctly. Or every time he was willing to try something new like a new food or a first step.
When God changes our hearts, He is training us to start looking at things through his eyes and from his perspective. If God created everything, knows everything, sees everything…doesn’t it make sense to desire that perspective? He is the wisest parent I know. Sometimes, like a toddler, I resist his advice and his way. I stomp my feet, I throw myself in the middle of life’s floor and throw a fit. But eventually, maybe even after some discipline or correction, I see the wisdom of asking, “Lord, change my heart. How do You want me to proceed? What is the best path to take?”
I want the kind of heart the makes these requests and asks these kinds of questions. This kind of heart always points me in the right direction. I might not know where I am going. I might not know how I am going to get there. But I am certain I am exactly where God wants me.
“You may not realize it, or it may seem odd, but the sufferings that are scratching at your door are the very windows through which God wants to shine his brightest rays of hope. He wants to illuminate your heart with his peace, power, and perspective.”
Looking forward to starting this study by Susanne Scheppmann tonight with the ladies at church. I have always loved the story Jesus shares that even the smallest amount of faith (mustard seed) can move mountains. It reminds me that it is not how much faith we possess but rather who our faith is in. It’s a reminder of all the times in life when I’ve seen God do His thing even when my faith was small and I was weak and his ability to work with what little bit of faith I can muster up. God gets His hands on that little faith and He RUNS with it!
My son has been calling me back into his room on a few occasions after tucking him in at night. He tearfully asks me why he always has to sleep alone, “You and Daddy get to sleep together…why don’t I have someone?” He then goes on to tell me that he wishes he had a little brother or sister.
I try to explain to him that even if he had siblings he more than likely would still sleep alone. Most of his friends who have siblings still sleep in separate rooms. It helped a few weeks ago when he and I picked a night on the calendar when he could look forward to me being his “sleeping buddy” for the night. Now, he wants a special night on the calendar when Daddy will do the same! This seems to have helped when he cries about being alone. I really don’t think it is so much the sibling he desires but rather just someone there with him. Regardless of the true reason for his sadness, his tears and quivering lip pull at my mommy heart strings.
About 3 years ago, I finally came to a place of peace with not being able to have more children. After one miscarriage a year after my son was born and countless trips to a fertility specialist trying to conceive again, I finally “let go”. It was a hard journey getting to that point of surrender. I so DID NOT want my son to be an only child. I had never pictured my life with just one child. My ideal life included having at least two kids. I had to have another one! That was the plan.
I agonized over this for a couple years until I finally heard God’s voice speaking to me on the subject. Loud and clear, I heard Him say…But Eileen, I am okay with you having just one child. I am God AND I know what I am doing. Immediately, a calm came over me and I let go– finally willing to accept whatever path God thought was best for us.
Another thing that happened when I surrendered was a deeper understanding that just because my life was not going along quite as I had planned in my head, it didn’t mean that I had failed or was “less than” or that I did not measure up somehow. God had other plans and regardless of how many children I had (zero or 10), my Heavenly Father loves and accepts me and knows what is the best plan for my life. I think this place of acceptance and surrender is much easier to reach when you already have one child. But through this whole journey, the Lord opened my eyes again to the fact that even though I didn’t understand the “why”…God does, and His plan is perfect.
I know that when people are confronted with trials in their life that don’t seem to make sense, they tend to comfort each other by saying “Well…God has a plan.” Well…that’s great… but most of the time that answer doesn’t do much to ease the pain or disappointment we often feel. I usually have to walk through this explanation before it brings me any sort of peace or comfort. Why should it matter that God has a plan? I once heard a quote from Francis Chan that now pops into my brain anytime I feel like life is not going along as I have carefully planned it out. “You might THINK you have a good plan…but YOU don’t have a universe!” The God that created the universe, the God that placed all the stars in the sky and counted every hair on my head and knows every tear I will ever cry…maybe, just maybe, He knows more than I know about the trials I will face.
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (Hebrews 12: 1-3 MSG)
I love this translation of the first few verses of Hebrews 12. Just reading it seems to “shoot adrenaline into my soul.” Sometimes I picture a runner approaching the finish line totally exhausted and yet picking up his pace because he can see the tape and the big clock on the side of the road. Sometimes I picture Rocky in the boxing ring fighting his heart out…I can even hear the Rocky theme song in my head.
I love how we have the perfect example to follow. Every single day we can choose to remember that He has already crossed the finish line, that He has already thrown the last punch. Our job is to just keep on running until we reach the tape. Our job is to stay on our feet (or get back on our feet) and continue until we hear the boxing bell. What an awesome day that will be!
Yesterday I posted the story of our dog Reggie. He was a great dog my family owned when I was a child. Two specific things came to mind as I was recalling the story. I started thinking about my father’s love for this dog. The lengths he went to save him. Not just once, but twice. My dad was determined to bring him home where he belonged.
The other thing that came to mind was Reggie’s fear. He spent over a year of his life in “fear mode”. After over a year of running, he became too afraid to trust. So, even when the solution (my dad) approached him and called out to him, his initial response was to run and hide. It wasn’t until Reggie found himself in a position where he could not run any where that he finally became willing to really listen to the voice calling to him.
This, of course, got me thinking. I started thinking about the times in my life where I’ve run from my Heavenly Father. In hindsight, I can see so many of the times in my life when God called my name and I ran away in fear. Eventually the choices I was making in life brought me to the point where I was forced to stop and listen, to really listen.
What I found when I finally reached this point was actually something I had been searching for all along. I found the peace and contentment that only comes when we are where we were always meant to be…safely at home with the Father.
Okay, so I watched a video earlier this week that a friend of mine posted on Facebook. I keep thinking about it. It was one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever heard. So for that reason, I’ve posted it here.
Zac Smith stepped into eternity and went home to be with Jesus on Sunday,May 16, 2010.
After I watched it, the song Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman came to mind. “You give and take away and still I choose to say, blessed be Your Name.” God knows what He is doing, despite our lack of understanding. My mom’s birthday is coming up on May 23rd. She would have been 74 years old this year. I try to picture my mom at this age and I have a hard time doing it. It’s been 19 years since I lost my mom to breast cancer. A few years ago, I came to a point where I actually began to see the “good” that came from that tragedy. God has been able to use the death of my mom to teach me things about Him and things about life. This is a precious gift and I find myself thanking him for it all the time. His plan for our lives is more than our little human minds can even comprehend. But one thing I know with complete certainty is that God is good even when we are confronted with challenges in this life that are difficult to understand. I love this verse and for some reason it came to mind while I was writing this…
“This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:25 (NLT)
Taste and see that the Lord is good, Blessed is the man that takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8
I’ve been thinking a lot about this verse today. I am a mom to a six year old little boy who is a picky eater. He is very reluctant to try new foods. I have lost count of how many times I have said to him, “Just taste it…you won’t know if you like it or not until you taste it.” He is also a very strong willed child when it comes to food. Sometimes, I think that even as he is trying a new food he has already convinced himself that no matter what it tastes like- he is going to say he does not like it. He has already discovered the beauty of free will. The power to choose.
I like how the Message translates this verse “Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see- how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him.” I was thinking today that, as God’s children, we sometimes do the same thing with our Heavenly Father. He desires for us to taste the life He has to offer us and to experience all of His goodness. He so wants us to trust Him, to open our eyes and lay down our stubborn pride and eat from His banquet table. Just taste it…you won’t know if you like it or not until you really try it.