Thursday, August 31, 2006

A word about hope

It's not like grace.

Grace, for me, often leaves me feeling vulnerable, undeserving, and unworthy. And while I appreciate it, and know without it I'd be hopelessly lost, it still stands out starkly in my mind as a debt that I can't repay. And I don't like that.

Hope though, is an entirely different matter. For me, hope changes every single moment of every single day. With hope (strongly entertwined with faith) there is an excitement about getting up every day. It changes how you deal with things, and how you pray about things. It changes you.

That said...

As happy as I am, (unbelievably so) the biggest mar in my smile is a bad attitude about something I'm struggling with and just can't get past. I'm absolutely frustrated with someone about something, yet, can do nothing about it. It's been awfully confusing to be so absolutely happy, then to find yourself in someones presence wanting to kick them in the shin.

I remember back a couple of years ago I was absolutely violently angry at a person. I literally felt they had murdered someone I loved and yet no one else seemed to feel this way. The rage inside me was unbearable, and I didn't see any way past it. During a conversation with someone one day I confessed as much as I could of my anger and the situation and received the best advice. I was told I was sinning and I should stop. It sounds crazy, since I knew this already, but having someone else lay down the fact that I was deliberately rebelling against God with my attitude helped.

Even now as I consider what I just said about how grace makes me feel I realize I have such difficulty extending it so often myself is because I feel whoever is in need of my grace is undeserving, unworthy and hopelessly lost. The very idea intrigues and shames me at the same time.

I've spent time confessing my attitude to God, praying for change and haven't gotten very far yet. But I'm not giving up. There is something amazingly exciting to me about being able to get past this. To be able to love someone I'm so fed up with. To have my grace be, well, more like God's.

At least that's what I hope.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Peace, sweet blessed Peace

I stopped at a secondhand furniture store to check out a chest of drawers that was sitting out in front of the store. I decided to pop inside the store for a minute to see if they had more than just this one, and I saw it. I was face to face with the bunk bed set that I'd been dreaming about for two weeks. I hadn't looked for one because I considered it a pipe dream, totally inconceivable and unpractical for me to even look for my dream bunk bed set because of financial reasons. But there it was staring me in the face.

I talked to the owner about it and haggled him down to $100.00 bucks, and he'd keep it in his store until I figure out some way to get it home. And then, I went home and pulled out all my change. I hauled my change jar to the bank and prayed. I went back to the store to pay for the bunk bed yesterday, and the cost with tax was $108.25. According to the bank, the change I'd accumulated throughout the year was exactly $108.27. It's as though God literally wanted to throw in His two cents about my purchase.

Ready for more?

On a whim, I looked up to check out houses in the city nearby that I've been hoping to move to one day. They had a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1200 sq ft house with a large wooded backyard, and a garage for $36,500. After drooling on the windows a bit that evening, I informed God that I really did give Him this dream. Whatever He wanted me to do was fine with me, but if He did want me to make this leap, I needed some kind of sign.

I went home to the house I've just recently described as having severe fire damage. As I cooked my dinner and sat on my couch, and flipped through last Sundays coupons, my heart absolutely was overwhelmed with love for my house. It is mine, my own little space. It's rented, but when my parents DO pass away it will be mine. I couldn't ask or wish for a nicer little, and most definitely quirky, spot to call my own. It's perfect for me and I love it. And with that, my property search has ended.

My God has called me to be content. It's not every day that I sit back and contentedly consider all that He's done for me. It's not every day that I see His specific intervention in my life. But He's called me to be content where ever I am, and whatever the circumstances. And on days like this, I never have to question why I am content now. I will rejoice for He has made me glad.

He has made me glad.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What's He to you?

I stood outside in the rain trying to figure out how on earth something as simple as changing a wiper blade could be so difficult for me. I literally ended up smashing the mechanics of the old wiper all to pieces just trying to get it off. The pictures on the wiper box telling me how to install this new blade had me wondering how on earth a person couldn't figure this out when they supplied pictures!
Finally, after about an hour, I gave up and I went to another source for help. Once there I was soberly reminded that humans aren't always there when you need them. No one really 'wants' to help, but as a general rule I can scrounge up help from others when it's important. But, again, there's no assurance that someone will be there at the moment that I need them.
But God is.
I returned home helpless, and reminded God of all the other things he's helped me through. He's helped me bumble through replacing spark plug wires, splicing together new wire for my headlight, replacing several headlights, and somehow unstopping a plumbing hassle that I still don't know how it was cured.
He's been my mechanic, He's been my phone technician, He's been my financial counselor, He's been my plumber, He's been the security guy that keeps me calm when I've seen someone in my backyard in the middle of the night, He's been my chauffeur driving me down the road when I've fallen asleep at the wheel. More than any of that though, He's been my friend. The only one I can turn to when I need to talk. The only one that sees me as I am and believes I can be better. He's so much to me, and every year He shows Himself even more powerful and capable to me.
If you're married, you probably don't understand how necessary He is to me. You have someone in your house. If you're stumped over some problem, you can tell them about it and get an instant verbal second opinion. Whereas I, well, God's never verbally reminded me to unplug the phone jack before trying to hack my way through the phone wires. And He never told me that plastic plumbing pipes would come apart when I applied too much pressure with the plunger. I make it from one chore to the next by simply praying God will teach me this newest skill before I break something too expensive or wind up shocking myself one time too many.
So I reminded God of all this, my daily need of Him and His wisdom. I reminded how He's always come through in the past.
Less than 5 minutes later I had finally successfully installed a new wiper blade.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who prayed for my family this weekend, and those that even went so far as to spread the word to other believers.

My mom is doing better. I hope and pray she will continue to improve, even though the pace seems horrifically slow right now, to both me AND her. At my last phone call, I asked her how she is filling the time and she responded that she is sitting around a lot until time for her to get up and move to another room just to make sure she still could.

We're a family that never went to the dr, and certainly never went to the emergency room. I'm 25 yrs old and have never seen a dentist, and to this day still haven't been to a dr for anything beyond a physical both for college and the Red Cross. We've been blessed.

Sitting here thinking now about my blessings, I realize how much they tend to simply blend into the background of my life. My family, my job, my health, my home. The previous owners of my home were drug dealers, and as an act of violence against them someone set their car on fire outside the house. The house caught fire and was substantially damaged, both inside and out. My father bought the house for 3,000 and spent another 10,000 redoing a lot of the inside, and a little of the outside. My house looks like a burnt shack on the outside, but on the inside it is just lovely. He's never done anything about the roof, AT ALL, and yet it has never leaked. In the 4 years that I've lived there, I have never needed to have any type of major repairs done. No minor repairs are coming to my mind at the moment either. ---- What would you pay for that kind of blessing?

In monopoly, the get out of jail free card saves you 50 bucks. It is a gift and a blessing that has a specific value. If you receive a gift of health though, the value is harder to see. You don't notice the gift until it's missing. The same with the value of a car that rarely breaks down, and a house that doesn't fall apart, and a thousand other expenses that come along at the spur of the moment and knock the wind out of your budget.

You don't see it until it's gone.

I've been struggling with something lately, unsure of how Christ would handle a situation that I've found myself in. Yet every time I turn around, someone is telling me to praise God. They're not pointing at me when they say it, but they always seem to quote a scripture, or mention a situation or preach, that we should praise God for our blessings because we have no idea how truly blessed we are.

So, I leave you with the same idea I've been chewing on. Praise God. Count your many blessings, name them one after another. Saying "praise God praise God" doesn't praise God as much as praising Him for ________. Fill in your blank. Have an attitude of gratitude, walk with gratitude and thankfulness over His many blessings. If you think you don't have that many, trust me, you're not looking hard enough.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Life is too much - God is more than enough.

I wanted to ask for your prayers.
Yesterday I actually ended up at two different mechanics getting two separate problems fixed, and then I received word my mother had passed out and her body was seizing up with cramps like I have never seen before (and hope to never see again). I ended up scrambling to get my car back immediately and racing my way to the ER.

The official diagnosis is that mom had a heat stroke, but getting her back on her feet is made more challenging by her other problems. The gatorade that replenishes the minerals she lost being dehydrated, also raises her blood pressure (which she's already on medication for high blood pressure anyway). The biggest problem with her blood pressure raising, is the fact that she has alzheimers, and when her blood pressure spikes she gets extremely confused and there is no telling what she might decide in her head is happening or should be done.

Also, because of the type of work my father does, and the fact that my mom has always stayed at home, they do not have health insurance of any kind. I don't know about other states, but I know our Texas hospitals literally quadruple the hospital bill on patients that do not have insurance. My parents simply cannot handle the cost of any type of hospital stay. This ER bill is going to be hard on them.

Also, my dad has prostate cancer and is killing himself (probably literally and figuratively) trying to continue working so mom might have a small nest egg set back when he passes on. The problems are so many, but God is bigger. Please keep us all in prayer - a quick recovery and strength for both of them, a financial miracle, and wisdom as we all make hard decisions.

If you even say one prayer because you've seen this, I cannot even possibly express the depths of my gratitude.

Thank you,

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

He is in the house

I sinned yesterday. Granted, I sin so very much, but this was a specific "I know I'm doing something wrong" sin. I knew better, and I did it anyway.

Then at 2am this morning, I'm driving down the road listening to a song. I hear the words "My Treasure, My Priority". The song was speaking about God, and directly to me. Somehow a light of understanding went off, reminding me just who I serve. It's not a hands off God that doesn't care what I do as long as I repent every now and then. I serve a God that stood right next to me watching me sin. Was His heart breaking? or was He seething with Holy Anger? I get myself into so much trouble.

With the reminder of who I serve firmly implanted in my mind, I, as soon as I was finished working, went to correct my sin. With a repentant heart I ended up before God, once again discussing my failure.

It is so easy for me to stray off the path I'm trying to walk down. But here's what I got out of it.

First, I got a reminder that God is watching me/watching over me. He's protecting me even from myself. I'm not baptist, and I firmly believe that I can harden my heart and walk away from God, and the salvation promised me. I wouldn't accomplish it with my one deliberate sin, but I very well might start the process of hardening my heart, and closing my ears to the Holy Spirits correction.

Second, I was moved by His mercy. Moved by the very idea that God watched me sin, and then - knowing I wasn't responding to just plain old conviction - gave me the understanding that I needed to be willing to turn from my sin.

Third, He taught me once again that I cannot do this on my own. My salvation, my witness, my knowledge, my walk, my ability to minister, my fruit, all come because of His mercy and grace poured specifically into my life. And beyond that, He's not just doing a work in me and through me, He's doing it -quite often - despite me.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Trust in the Lord with all thine Heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Eve leaned on her own understanding and ate the fruit. _ Consequence: Fall of all mankind
David leaned on his own understand and sent Bathshebas husband to die in battle after he'd made the woman pregnant. _ Consequence: Death of baby
Moses leaned on her own understanding and hit the rock instead of talking to it. _ Consequence: Unable to enter the Promise Land
Sampson leaned on his own understanding and told Delilah his weakness. _ Consequence: Ultimately... death
Zacharias leaned on his own understanding and didn't believe the Angels message about the birth of John The Baptist. _ Consequence: Unable to speak until the baby was born.
Ananias & Sapphira leaned on their own understanding and kept back some of money from the land they sold for God. _ Consequence: Death
Peter leaned suddenly own his own understanding when he looked at the tumultuous water he was walking on. _Consequence: He started sinking.

The phrase "trust in the Lord" - as an instruction- is in Psalms and Proverbs 9 times. It's not written down 9 times because we ought to work on it. It's written down 9 times because we MUST do it. Story after story in the bible tells of men and women, a lot of them Godly followers, suddenly just going haywire. And it all starts when we start leaning on our own understanding.

Every day lately, I've found myself struggling over and over again with my own understanding. Do this, go here, say this, spend this, send this, my own understanding is so deeply imbedded into my decisions that I can't imagine how God is ever able to make me do what He wants me to do.

I like logic, no, I love logic. I'm forever wanting to know the reasons behind such-n-such decision, and heaven help us if it doesn't make sense to me. From the order you pick things up/drop things off, the order in which bills get paid, or simply the times arranged to do xyz, it's all well and good as long as it's logical. But I have to remember, and it's hard, that His thoughts aren't my thoughts. His ways aren't my ways. If God told me to go murder my firstborn child I'd probably begin accusing the devil of speaking, while Abraham, leaned not on his own understanding, and began the solemn walk to Mount Moriah to sacrifice his son.

I realize lately, one of the reasons I'm so fully weary is all the time I spend thinking. There is always constant dialogue running in my mind of this or that, or dreams or hopes, or concerns, or trying to puzzle out what my next move will be, things like that. And so my prayer, as of now is, that God will slow my mind down. That He'd remind me constantly that I'm not the one that should be making the decisions, but just staying open to find out what His decisions on the subject have been. I want Him, his decisions, His guidance, His direction. It's too exhausting doing this my way.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Want or need

I was reading yesterday and in this book a little girl was frightened to be sleeping in a new house and was insisting on having her brother. She kept crying over over and over "I need Thomas, I need Thomas" and nothing else for quite some time would satisfy the little girl. And from there I began thinking about spiritual things.

We use the word need quite liberally. I "need" to go to wal-mart and get dish soap. I "need" to tell Jane about my new job. Do I view God as a luxury item that I "need" though in actuality I just "want" Him?
I want God, I want Him and all the benefits that come with Him. I want to be more like Him and to do what He'd have me to do.

At some point in my life, I've admitted that I'm a sinner and need His saving blood for salvation, that I can't make it to heaven on my own. But do I admit that in my every day life? I need God. I cannot take my very next breath unless it's in His will and He literally places it in my grasp. My brain will not function, nor will my eyes, ears or limbs function without His agreement.

But when I go to God, I choose today to remind myself regularly that I am going after something I need. I cannot go away empty, or without Him. I NEED Him and I must have Him.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Words fail

I can hardly express to you what it is like to walk with my Savior.

So I'll give you some exciting and purpose giving words from the Holy Spirit and Peter.
2nd Peter 1:3-10

3According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

Monday, August 14, 2006

Would you love Him?

I heard an interesting commercial on the radio yesterday. A wife was asking her husband "Do you love me?" The husband responded, "Well.... the laundry hasn't been done and I noticed this morning my shirt had wrinkles in it. You were suppose to do the ironing last week right? I noticed when I came in that you haven't dusted the house in awhile also. This meal is mediocre, but it's not bad so I'd say my love for you is, on a scale of 1 - 10, a 3" The wife exclaims "A THREE!" And the husband defends his score saying "It's a solid three though, and I really mean it." The wife then informed the husband that he didn't love HER, but he loved the things she did for him.
Then, on comes the radio announcer that asks the listeners, "Is this how you love God?"

Do we love Him only for what He does for us? Do we trust Him because He's proven Himself time and time again throughout history or do we trust Him because at the moment everything makes sense to us?
I ask these questions because this is exactly what I was dealing with last week. I didn't trust God. I questioned whether the things He said in His word were true. It seemed as though He were actively working against me. I didn't understand, and for some of the situations the resentment and anger is still there about the situation, but not towards God. I believe - actually, I JOYFULLY proclaim - I believe God is good. I know He is. Though I don't understand all of my circumstances, I know HE DOES.
During Sunday School class this past Sunday we're studying Revelation. One of the verses we read was Rev. 14:7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
I know the verse has other meanings as well, but an unusual thing that jumped out at me was that it doesn't say "Worship Him that saved you from your sins" "Worship Him that promises you heaven" "Worship Him that saves you from the pit of hell" It talks about what He's done in the earth.
So let me ask you this, if there was a King out there, that never did anything specifically for you, but took care of the whole earth, would you worship him? Countries all over the world worship their kings, and yet their kings don't take care of their finances, give them jobs, heal their sick, or listen to my every petition.
So why is it, our King, who does so much more for us than a regular King (besides just salvation and eternal life) and yet if we don't understand something that happens to us we throw a hissy fit.

How fickle we human creations are, that we have a standard for our God, Savior, Redeemer, Friend, Comforter, Provider, Protector, Peace-giver and Rock that we wouldn't hold anyone else to.
So I ask you this, because I had to answer it last week myself.
Is your relationship with God such that if you don't see 100% of what He can do, 100% of the time, you won't love, believe, trust, worship, praise, serve Him?
What if God could do anything, except heal your sick? Would you still serve Him?
What if God WOULD do anything except heal your sick? Would you still serve Him?
Could you? or WOULD you?

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know "Thus saith the Lord"

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!

Friday, August 11, 2006

A change in topic

I'm so excited about what I'm reading that I've actually posted twice today. :) God is so gracious to me to renew my zeal and excitement. To bring me forward and onward not beaten down and broken, but renewed, restored and satisfied.
In the bible reading program today we read in Isaiah 65 , under the heading New Heavens and New earth
17 "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.
20 "Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach [
a] a hundred will be considered accursed.
21 They will build houses and dwell in them;they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands.
23 They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them.

I assumed immediately during the reading that these verses were discussing Heaven. But when I started discussing them with a gentleman in our reading program he said it wasn't heaven because people weren't suppose to die in heaven. If you look at verse 20 it looks an awful lot like people can die, and not only be dead but considered accursed!?!?! In heaven??? In Revelation chapter 21, the very first verse makes it clear the writer is speaking of the new heavens and the new earth "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea". BUT verse 4 of that same chapter states "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away"
I was just wondering if anyone out there has any thoughts on this! :)

A tantrum ending in repentance

That's exactly what happened. I was listening to the radio (again) and a preacher began discussing the differences between God testing us, and Satan tempting us. He specifically mention that he could boast about how much he loved God only to have God test him to see if he really does love God. He gave a few other examples of the same thing to prove his point.
My head still bows as I realize that it was just yesterday I blogged that God got the best of my love and trust. Having eyes I haven't seen, and having ears I just haven't heard.
Until now.
You see, if I trust God, wholeheartedly, then I believe what He says. His word says He loves me, His word says He has a plan for me, plans for good and not evil. Before, I trusted Him easily to protect me from the evils of this world, yet, absently considered that it would be nice to have someone protect me from the whims of God. I was blind.
All week long, you've listened to me mention radio preacher after radio preacher whose sermon ministered and spoke specifically to me. At church my pastor began his sermon Wednesday by talking about how much God cares for us and wants to heal us, and wants to carry our burdens. I was deaf.

I blog today, so that you will know the end of my tantrum.

At 6am this morning, I crawled into bed after work hoping for a 45 minute nap before going to my real job. As I laid there, my heart poured out to my Savior, Father, Friend, Provider, Comforter, Counselor, and King. I repented of not trusting Him and thanked Him for loving me even at my most stubborn.
I have so much to learn, so very much. I see how many different ways God tried to speak directly to me and I put it off as mans words. I see the comfort God brought to my heart throughout the week though I stubbornly refused to be comforted. And because of those things that I now see, I also see He was loving me, through it all.
From the radio preachers, and OneSided's comments I have gotten some great advice about talking to God. I have come through this time with a burning desire for Gods Word. From reading the scriptures to listening to preaching on the radio I want to know more and learn more even more passionately than I did before. It is still difficult for me to take time to open up my bible, but once it IS open I read one verse after another, hardly able to get away from what I'm reading. I had no idea Isaiah was such an amazing book. I actually feared books like Isaiah and Ezekiel because I always assumed they were over my head. Don't get me wrong, they are STILL way over my head, but I'm enjoying every minute I'm reading them.
God doesn't give up on people, He just finds new ways to get through to them.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I remember once listening to a group of women telling me that on bad days they all wished that they had never left the blissful singlehood that I am enjoying. And I remember that same afternoon informing God that if I ever DID get married I would hope that I wouldn't trade even the worst day of married life for the best day of singlehood.
I realized today that the same principal applies to my relationship with Christ. The worst day living for Christ is still better than the best day without Him.
5am this morning I was listening to a radio program called Grace To You. The preacher John MacArthur started off his message by listing nearly a dozen questions about prayer that I have asked myself so many times. To give you an idea of the discussion he summed up all the questions with one "If God is Sovereign, why should I pray?" It was a good program and I really enjoyed it. As I was listening to the program, thoughts and ideas flooded my head, some ideas changing, some things he said raising more questions, I found myself thinking "I can't wait to talk to God about this".
God is the only one that gets the very deepest of me, the questions, fears, frustrations, but He also gets the deepest of the best of me as well. From my desires, love, trust, openness, and so much more. My relationship with Him these last 4 years has been the best relationship I could have possibly asked for.
Unfortunately, right after I got excited about talking to God about what I was learning through the radio program, I remembered... "Wait, I'm not happy with God right now." The quandary I was suddenly put in strangely enough put a smile on my face.
Earlier in the morning I had realized that my desire was simple. God can give me any burden He wants and I'm pretty well ok with it, as long as I know He loves me and this is in His plan FOR ME. It's seemed the last couple of weeks that He making plans for everyone else BUT me, and loving everyone else BUT me.
But for all my complaints, for my shouts of unfairness and whining, I love Him. I'm just desperately wanting reassurance that He loves me too.
If you go here and scroll down to the last section called "Old and Gospel Classic Gospel Music" the first first song is Alabaster Box by Ce Ce Winans. If you'd like to hear it, that song and a lot of others are free. It has been a great resource to me since I love music so much.
But to carry on the words to the chorus say "And I've come to pour my praise on Him like oil from Mary's Alabaster Box Don't be angry if I wash His feet with my tears and I dry them with my hair. You weren't there the night He found me. You did not feel what I felt when He wrapped His love all around me. And you don't know the cost of the oil in my Alabaster Box".
The second verse is even more appropriate for me saying "I can't forget the way life used to be. I was a prisoner to the sin that had me bound I spent my days pouring my life without measure. Into a little treasure box I thought I found. Until the day when Jesus came to me And healed my soul with the wonder of His touch. So now I'm giving back to Him all the praise He's worthy of . I've been forgiven and that's why I love Him so much."
I don't know how everyone else works, but for me, I know where I've come from. I know the changes He's worked in me. And for that, the freedom from the pain and guilt - I'm more than grateful. Even though I haven't acted like it lately.
Any other time I've known without an inkling of a doubt that God loves me. And right now I just can't see it, I desperately want a reminder.
Thank you, to those that have commented lately. You really were an encouragement, and I appreciate your words.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Grant me peace

A lighter moment hit as I realized how dramatic I have become over this when I notice how closely my words over my petty problems resemble Jobs words concerning his horrific troubles.

A thought struck me this afternoon, a reminder of something I'd heard a while back while listening to the radio. A pastor was giving an example. He walked up to his congregation holding out a glass of water. He asked if anyone thought the weight of the glass was too much of a burden for him. Obviously, everyone in the congregation agreed that their pastor was more than capable of holding a glass of water. But the pastor began to illustrate his point by reminding them that he was still holding the water. What if he continued holding it out for an hour? Or a day? He told them by the end of two days he would have either given up trying to hold up the water or his arm would be screaming in agony.
His point, he asserted, was not in how heavy or light our burdens are, but in how long we try and carry them.
My problem is I don't know how to let these burdens down. If I try, I feel entirely unChristlike and selfish for keeping myself from a burden. Yet, holding on to them makes me resentful and that too, I'm relatively certain is not Christ-like. The true and sincere question comes to mind. What would Jesus do?

MY God, the God of infinite mercy and grace, whose love and power are self-proclaimed to be everlasting. I need you.

Isaiah 58

In my reading program I was led to Isaiah 58. I'm going to post the whole chapter so you can see what I saw. I've made the decision to cling to this chapter, hoping against hope that God really does mean this chapter to apply to me as well, should I meet the conditions stated in the chapter.
My problem isn't in believing in a loving God, it's believing in a loving God that could love me. I know how hard and difficult I am. And even though I know better than to believe what I feel, it seems like Christ would have died for any one of the millions on earth except me.
I feel like a poison inflicted on the world that is simply working off penance by doing anything and everything someone requires of me.
Tell me how I came this far so quickly?
OneSided in his comments mentioned the refiners fire. And at times I've often felt His refining hand chipping away at me. But at this point, I feel like it's beyond honest for me to say He's refining me, because it honestly feels like He's not even looking this way. What have I done to make Him despise me so? What have I not done? Will I live out the years of my life forever exhausting myself for someone else's comfort? Will I never see my dreams? It feels like God is taking my desires and dreams from me and giving them to others. At times I wish what little He did glance my way would cease so that I might be left to some type of peace.
Yet even as I say that, I also say 'how can I say that'?
I'm confused, and hurt, discouraged and so very tired God. Forgive me, but somehow show me something that shows You aren't against me. Because it surely feels as though you are.

1 "Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?' "Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD ?
6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness [
a] will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Proving once again... God is strange.

Constantly for the last 7 days I haven't been able to wrap my mind around any other concept except that life was unfair I was obviously on the low end of God's totem pole. I'd blogged about it earlier in the week and found my own post so unfair that I couldn't post it. Finally I had a post that was utterly sincere in my angst, and focused the problem on exactly where the problem was. Though my complaints could turn my attention elsewhere, I've known deep down that I was that the root of my problem. No one else.
But, to explain the title of this post, "God is strange" -
Halfway through my evening last night I realized that the angst was gone. I don't know when it left, it was certainly still there yesterday morning! But it was gone. I keep waiting for the other shoe to fall, I'm expecting regret and shame at the selfishness of my last post to take the place of the beaten down feeling of before. It hasn't happened yet. My focus is on the 'yet' part of that sentence.
The reading program I'm in took me to the next chapters in Isaiah, and while I don't feel He's doing these things for ME specifically, for some reason they brought me comfort.
So listen to this from Isaiah 50:
2 When I came, why was there no one? When I called, why was there no one to answer? Was my arm too short to ransom you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you? By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea, I turn rivers into a desert; their fish rot for lack of water and die of thirst. 3 I clothe the sky with darkness and make sackcloth its covering."
But here's the part that caught my attention
4 The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.

I call your attention to the word "sustained". If you click on the link in the word, you'll see the definition of the word. It's nothing great and powerful, but it supports you, gives you relief. And that's exactly how I feel. I'm no longer attempting to go through the day feeling punished and overlooked.
I don't understand God, and I certainly don't get whatever it is He's trying to teach me. Maybe He's making me miserable here on earth so my reward in heaven might be all the greater......... It's a positive spin, but probably not the right way to look at it I suppose. Isn't it ironic that all of this happened shortly after I posted how I'd like to be more like my nephew and loving God more than I despise my circumstances? Some idyllic lessons just don't stick I suppose.
I'm learning. And here's a small tidbit of hope.
8 This is what the LORD says: "In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances,

Monday, August 07, 2006

Hard lessons

I honestly am starting to feel like a stepping stone. Though truthfully I remind myself that God surely does love me, and has a plan that I don't understand, I still feel like a stepping stone. God is using my hard work to bless others. I work hard to get out of debt, but God sends my money to do something else (besides get me out of debt).
I've spent the last week teetering back and forth between assuming the role of the Prodigal sons brother and Martha of the Mary and Martha combo. I feel like a slave to a Savior that seems intent on blessing everyone else and just wearing me out. And worst of all, as I get angry, people all around me start praying that nothing will destroy the work I'm angry about. It just doesn't seem fair, and worse than that, it leaves me feeling entirely beaten down.
In the Bible Reading Program we're reading from Isaiah, and one of today's chapters was Isaiah 45. And surprise surprise, here's what God planned for me to read today.
Isaiah 45:9 "Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands'? 10 Woe to him who says to his father, 'What have you begotten?' or to his mother, 'What have you brought to birth?' 11 "This is what the LORD says— the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands? 12 It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.
I've always had an issue with the stories like the prodigal son, where they have the huge party for the (in my mind) stupid son, or when the shepherd leaves 99 "precious" sheep to go looking for 1. To me, it seems like you could come back with your 1 sheep, and find that 58 of your other sheep have wandered off and killed themselves. Stories of how Christ goes of searching for the wayward do not inspire the do-gooders in the world. I say that, because of my Martha trait. Work and work and work, make sure everything is just right, while someone else is off reading the bible. Yet who did Christ favor in the story? Mary.
I'm frustrated, and I feel entirely alone as Christ wanders off to help others, maybe even those he described in Isaiah 45:4 For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me.
I know what I'm thinking isn't right, or good, or noble, and it's certainly not right for me to be angry with God. I'm just tired, and feel really used by people, and when I get upset at people, other people start praying *seemingly* against me and my anger, which then makes me really tired and feeling used by God. And I don't mean "used by God" in a good way. Mentally, I understand salvation means living with Christ for eternity, and not separated from Him off in a lake of fire where the worm never dies. Saved from unending torment. You'd think I'd be grateful for that wouldn't you. So would I.

I post this, for no other reason but that you will see both sides of me. The first side that trusts wholeheartedly and joyfully, along with the second side that questions God almost constantly. I can't give you the answers when I don't have them myself. But know this, more than anything, even when I feel abused and used and worn out, I would rather God abuse, use, and wear me out for a lifetime than to try and make it one day on my own.

Isaiah 46:8 "Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. 9 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.