Saturday, August 25, 2012

We're Drowning!

"If you're not currently in a storm, get prepared because one is coming" words spoken years ago by my pastor. I remember the sermon well, there was a boat on the stage and he was talking about the passage in Matthew 8:23-27. The verse begins with "Then Jesus got into the boat..." and goes on to tell of a storm that came while Jesus and the disciples were on the boat; the disciples were freaking out and Jesus, well, Jesus was sleeping. But that day, my pastor pointed to the beginning words "then Jesus got into the boat". I'll never forget Bill stepping into the boat on stage as he said "never forget Jesus got in the boat first".

We will endure storms off and on throughout our whole life. It's a fact, not a option. No one is void of ups and downs. No one. But Christians MUST remember Jesus got in the boat first! But how do we remember that in the midst of life unraveling?


I endure intense storms at times. The kind that make me respond much like the disciples did that night on the boat, "Lord save me, I'm going to drown!" I see my circumstances and wonder how things are ever going to change, I have said to friends "I'm just not sure I can take any more." And yet...Jesus responds to me just like He responded to the disciples, "Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!"

Time and time again I draw upon the promises found in the bible. Those promises are what I cling to while enduring the pain of the storm. Those promises are also what guides me in how I'm to respond to my circumstances. We as humans want to throw our hands up and say "I quit" but we as Christians need to throw our hands around the only guiding compass we have, the Bible.

Stop with the excuses of "I don't understand it", "I don't have time to read it", "It doesn't relate to my life today". OR, continue to think like that but then stop expecting God to answer your prayers, guide your steps, bless your life. If you're wandering through the storm trying to find your way out, instead of reading books on the subject, seeking advice from friends, crying in bed because you're going to drown maybe you should try turning to the One who can calm the storm...Matthew 8:26 "...Then he stood up and rebuked the wind and waves and suddenly all was calm."

In no way do I do this "well". But I do it. You should too. Unless you like the panic of drowning.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Plan B?

There is no plan B. There is no person that can come along and fulfill what we miss, what we don’t do, what we screw up. There is no plan set in place for God to use in case we fail. Because God is sovereign and in that description we find God needs no plan B.

To imply there is a plan B, there is a plan in place for when we screw up, take the wrong path or refuse to obey is to imply God needs to work around us. That’s not the case at all. God doesn’t say “darn, he chose that path, I’ll have to work out my kingdom in a different way now” but rather God knew before time began he would choose that path and God had already set plans in motion to use that path to further advance His kingdom through that path, that choice in the moment.

So, it is not God that needs plan B. It’s not even really us that needs plan B. Sure God lays before us options, one of which is clearly the one He desires most saying “this one is what’s best for you” but in our free will we can say “no, I choose that one over there instead”. God simply says ok and off we go. Later, when we have enough experience on that chosen path to be able to look backward can we see how the other path would have been easier, more beneficial, equip us better then we see that God’s choice would have been much better.  That doesn’t mean, however, that God is now saying “well, great, now I must create a plan B since you didn’t follow the path I laid before you”. God says I knew this would be the path you would choose, I simply showed you the other one so that you can gain insight into why following my desires over yours is a better idea. The hope is that next time options are laid before us we will turn to God and say I choose the one You want, not the one I want.  Again, not because God’s work is dependent upon our choices, it is arrogant to think such things.

There is great temptation to look back over our life and ponder the times we turned left when we should have turned right. There is greater temptation to wonder what our life would be like if only we’d listened to His voice instead of the voice of momentary satisfaction. God is not about temptation. God is about redemption and restoration. You are breathing because God wants to love you AND work through you to love others. You cannot screw up God’s plans, no matter how far off the path you’ve been. You cannot force God to create a plan B. God is in control, regardless of how out of control life appears. God is in control regardless of how surrendered to Him you are. 

God’s plan, the only plan, is in place.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My first "fast"

It was a challenge given to me by a very good friend. I'm sure she didn't see it as a challenge, I'm sure she just saw it as a simple suggestion. But when I read the words "you should fast about this" I felt everything come to a grinding hault. Fast?!

I don't fast. Ever.

Two reasons. One, I like food too much and two (and most importantly I might add) I'm hypoglycemic so I always assumed I couldn't fast. Going without food leads to one thing for me--passing out. So, anytime fasting came up I always took a pass and said "I'll just pray".

But I had come to the end of my rope, I had no idea what more to do and I was filled with confusion and anger. I had thrown my hands up shouting "I'm doing it my way!" That's when my friend stepped in, hearing the bitterness in my words, and suggested I seek God's guidance via fasting. Almost without thinking I said "ok" and immediately felt better. I wasn't sure how to go about this fasting, but I knew I had done all I could and "doing it my way" wasn't a true option because frankly my way is rarely a good way.

So, yesterday I fasted all day. I journaled, I read scripture, I prayed, I listened to music. I sought God through the stomach growls, shaky hands, and headaches.

A lot of unearthing was done yesterday. Things I needed to ask forgiveness from God on, things I needed to realize were or or weren't good, things that are hindering me and hindering God from working through me. All of this is good. But I still didn't have an "answer" nor did I have peace inside.

So, today I kept searching. I kept seeking. And I remained confident God would answer. And He did. No, I didn't HEAR Him, relax I haven't started hearing voices. He answered through various conversations, through my reading and journaling and praying. Two days of non-stop seeking lead to me telling my friend "peace has arrived".

I don't have a "do this" kind of answer and I don't have peace because anything has changed. I do have a shift in my perspective, a promise of the sovereignty of God and a confidence that the answer will be revealed when the time is right. I have peace in my spirit, not my situation. What to do in the meantime? Continue seeking with the intensity the last 24 hours has created. Because when you seek God, God always responds.

I learned that fasting is actually an amazing gift we have as Christians. I didn't pass out, though I did get pretty darn hungry. I am really looking forward to the next time I fast! Apparently I love God MORE than food!!! Yay!

Thanks to my friend, Abby, for encouraging me to stretch beyond what I've "always done".

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Everyone but me

A friend of mine wants to get pregnant so badly. She has been trying for nearly a year now. The other day she called crying "does God hate me because apparently He does, everyone else is getting pregnant!?" I tried to explain to her that it doesn't work like that, a+b does not = c.

I overheard a guy at the grocery store, he was on the phone. "I have been looking for work for months. It seems everyone else is getting a job, I'm getting more debt." I smiled as I passed him, wanting to stop and say something encouraging, but I didn't because I know all the phrases I would say don't make the fear go away and don't bring a job knocking on your door. Bill collectors don't care that "God loves me".

I just sent an email to a dear friend telling her that I am sad to hear of an impending marriage proposal because it's not me that's getting married.

I think we all have something we are longing for. It doesn't matter if the longing is for living, like a job, or loving like a child or spouse. The longing is still an overwhelming ache in our soul that cries out "WHAT ABOUT ME!"

We live in a time that says you deserve X. I hear that phrase often, "I deserve it!" That thinking is straight up self-centered and opposite of being a Christian. Our existence is not to have more, do more, be more. Our existence is to shine the light on God love God and love others through the love He gives us. The rest is icing on the cake, it's not the cake.

Whatever you have that is aching in you, whatever you are wishing you had I encourage you to stop saying "what about me", stop having the victim thinking and start being thankful for what you DO have. God has already blessed you with so much, but you're missing it because you're focused on what you don't have.

The whole time we are shouting "WHAT ABOUT ME!" God is in turn whispering "what about Me".