Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Resting in the Good

I haven’t had any free time to write lately. As you can probably imagine, I more than have my hands full caring for a 16-month old, my husband, my home and myself (in that order)—all while attempting to work efficiently from home. But this may be a good thing because I’ve really been mulling over what I want to write about. I’ve had several things that have weighed heavily on my heart lately, but a lack of time for writing has really let me disseminate and organize my thoughts.

I’ve been really touched as of late by a lot of things in the news. As I’ve written before, I have a tendency to be hyper-sensitive to bad news, but lately I’ve been virtually grief-stricken for the world as a whole. I feel the turpitudes of modern society are increasing at lightening speed. No longer the exception to the rule, I’m physically sickened to read the newspaper most every day. My spirit is literally weighed down when I think about the evil humans are capable of committing. Although this has been on my heart, I absolutely refuse to devote an entire blog entry to the subject of evilness. Simply put, I will not give Satan this much power.

Low and behold, what does God place upon my heart? Goodness! Grace! Empathy! Compassion! Mercy! Hope! The list goes on and on. Of course this has much to do with Holy Week—the days between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.

I’ve been reading Isaiah 53 a lot lately. This has come to be one of my all time favorite chapters of the Bible. I find Isaiah 53 paints the most moving portrait of God’s love for us. As I read the words of this chapter I feel (in my own heart) the same pain and anguish that God feels, over the death of His Son. These feelings of pain and anguish made me realize that if I am capable of feeling what God feels, then He is more than capable of feeling what I feel. I mean, after all, He created ME! If I’m grief-stricken about the downward spiral of humankind, just imagine how God feels. He is even more heartsick than I am because we are His creation.

But my thoughts don’t end here with the topic of sadness. My recognition that God feels what I do (and vice versa) made me realize that this carries over to gladness as well. If God and I feel the same anguish and pain then we also feel the same gladness and joy. I just don’t always take advantage of this. Shame on me. Seriously, shame on me for not always grasping the goodness God has placed in front of me. Why do I choose to dwell on the bad when I can rest in the good? God has given us hope in the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. And in this hope He has given us the future certainty of life everlasting. I should be joyful! My pain and anguish are temporary. I will face many trials and tribulations as I walk through this life, but I will indeed persevere because of the sacrifice God ultimately made for us humans. This isn’t abstract thinking, it’s reality.

I need to change my focus. I need to feel the happiness and joy God feels. I need to not only experience His gladness, but embrace it—fully! His joy is there for the taking, I just need to reach out and grab it.
Isaiah 53

1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Monday, March 15, 2010

One ship drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
‘Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
Which tells us the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As we voyage along through life:
‘Tis the set of a soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I came across this poem in Charles R. Swindoll’s So you Want to Be Like Christ a couple of weeks ago. I absolutely fell in love with it and think of these words often.

This poem gives me great pause as I contemplate which type of “sailor” I am. Does my ship take on water when the seas become rough or do I tack with the wind to keep moving forward, even if it means moving in a slightly different direction? I’d like to think I’m the latter, but it’s not by my own wisdom, strength and discernment that the waves don’t sink my ship. On the contrary, it is only with wisdom, strength, discernment and direction from God’s Holy Spirit that I am able to safely navigate life’s waters. I wouldn’t have it any other way. As I sail through life I am well aware of my limitations.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Amazing God

I serve an amazing God. He is a loving God. He is merciful and full of grace. He is faithful. He is omnipotent and omniscient. And He loves me. Despite all my glaring flaws and faults my Redeemer loves me. Who knows me better than He?

No matter what type of storm I’m weathering, God is ever-present in my life. No matter the turmoil I’m facing or the raging sea in front of me, He is there for me every moment of the day, every single day. Oftentimes I’m so mired down in the struggles of life that I forget to give God the glory and honor He so rightly deserves. This oversight causes me great sadness when brought to light. I wish I could tell you I learned from this mistake the first time it happened, never to repeat it, but of course that’s not the case. I stumble and fall time and time again. But God keeps no record of my mistakes. He still loves me despite myself. Through the blood of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ my sins are washed away.

I love my Heavenly Father. I give Him thanks and praise, not for what He does for me, but simply because He is worthy. He cares deeply for me and loves me beyond measure. He cares so much that He sent His son to die for me—a poor, miserable, undeserving sinner. I can’t think of anyone more worthy of my adoration and devotion. Thank you, Father God. Thank you.

Exodus 15:2
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Great Message Worth Sharing - Newsboys - Born Again (Official Video)

Video for the song, "Born Again", the title track off the newsboys new record which releases June 8th, 2010. This video was shot just outside Tijuana, Mexico in the Baja penninsula, where the newsboys will be taking friends and fans this summer to embark on one of the biggest home building projects ever to support the poverty stricken people of the Baja.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Epiphany #2

I have a very specific routine I follow when putting Jackson down for a nap or bedtime. Our routine culminates with us sitting in a chair in the corner of his room. He straddles my lap and faces me. Oftentimes he is so spent from activity that he immediately puts his head on my shoulder and nods off to sleep within a minute or two. He does, however, on occasion fight sleep by clapping his hands, making faces at me and in the mirror behind us or tugging my hair while intermittently resting his head on my shoulder, fighting to keep his eyes open. It is this last action that is so special to me. As Jackson’s head rests on my shoulder we look into each others eyes. His lids are heavy and it is hard for him to keep his eyes open, yet we lock eyes and gaze deeply into each others' hearts.

As much as I look forward to the days when Jackson is a little more able-bodied and independent, I dread the time when he will no longer want to or be able to physically fall asleep in my lap because he has reached big-boy status. These ten minutes we share (a maximum of five minutes per nap/bedtime are all is takes) are the most special, cherished moments of my day. It is special ten-minute soul- connection that I experience at no other time of the day. We are as close as two individuals can possibly be for these few moments.

This afternoon, as we were going through our naptime routine, it dawned on me that God probably feels like this about us—His children. Although we are independent adults, God never wants us to become so self-sufficient that we no longer need Him. He wants us to be healthy, functioning individuals; however, he still wants us to be dependent upon him. He wants the same closeness and intimacy—this same soul-connection—that I share with Jackson.

1 Chronicles 16:11
Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.