Hope and Soiled Hands

When small seeds of hope, planted in fresh soil, are stolen by the ravens it’s easy to become weary.

We toil in darkness on hands and knees. Prayer lifted in desperation can seem to hit empty air when the harvest waits.

Still, I’ve found hope doesn’t lie in seed. Hope lies in the waiting soul and the hands of the sower.

Tomorrow will grace us with newness and we can plow and dig. We can take life in our hands and cover it, willing, in the dirt and start a revolution. We can wet it with tears wrought in prayer. We can wait hoping for rain. We can harvest the rewards of diligence.

My hope isn’t in one seed. My victory not taken by one theft. My hope is bigger, stronger, cared for by work, and harnessed in faith. My hope, the anchor of my soul, is in the giver of life. I will win and I will rest in Him.

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When the Bottom Drops Out

fallen

Ever feel like Elijah? Elijah was one of the prophets. He accomplished so much for the Kingdom of God. In 1 Kings chapter 18, we see him have an amazing victory against the prophets of Baal in which he called down fire from heaven. He was a warrior, a conqueror, a man who clearly heard God’s voice. He was a man.

Fast forward to chapter 19 of 1 Kings, and we find this man running for his life and eventually hiding in a cave depressed and discouraged. I’ve often wondered how he went from one extreme to the other. It would seem that the man of God who just called fire from heaven would have enough trust and faith to believe that God would help him out when the Queen threatened his life. It’s so easy for us to read the story and judge isn’t it?

I think if we are completely honest with ourselves, we do the same thing. We probably haven’t called down fire from heaven lately but we have our victories. Things are going well and we believe! Then the bottom drops out and we wonder where God went. Still in those moments of weakness when we’re tired and struggling to hold on, God has not abandoned us. He still faithfully feeds and cares for us. Remember that it was there, in the dark moments for Elijah that God chose to reveal Himself to him.

“So he [Elijah] said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’ Then He [The Lord] said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:10-13

God can break the mountains in our lives in an instant. He can shake the earth, trample the enemy of our souls beneath us. He can do anything. But remembers, He has a reason for everything. Sometimes, he’s not in the earthquake or the fire. Sometimes, he’s the still small voice reminding us that He’s in control and we just need to trust Him. The best part is, His still small voice is still bigger and louder than any other if we choose to listen.

Autopilot

eagle_flying_bird

Autopilot – when I go through the motions

Head down, resolved, ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen

And then I sometimes break as resistance pushes me to realize I’m not built to maintain; I’m built for greatness.

Not greatness I’ve built with the persistent efforts of my hands, but greatness that comes only when I let go of my ambitions and allow yours to take over.

I ask so often for you to take all of me and then I feel injured when it’s pointed out that I can’t do everything on my own.

Why I allow the stubborn me to crawl off the altar of sacrifice and proffer a vote, I’ll never understand.

So today, once again, take it ALL.

Take my rights, my self preservation, my emotions, my ambitions, my plans.

Make them yours and use them for your glory.

I will fix my eyes firmly where they should stay, on the prize of the high calling of Christ.

There my feet find wings and fly, above the clutter, into your presence.

There, I find peace.

Blue skies

The Edge of the World

winter

In my own little world I become numb

The small of my back resting in a small little chair

In my small little house on a small little street

In a small little town

Where the green grass grows all around, all around…

The days go by one by one like a blur and I forget to open my eyes

Perspective is a thing gained in increments, easily ignored, or swallowed forcibly

We can either look straight at the moments that define us

Or recover with as much grace possible when life hits hard

I hope to choose the former

mount

So here I am on the edge of the world realizing that there is a vastness so much greater than me

Adventure so much grander than I have imagined

A people gripped by more need than I have acknowledged

There are tears I have not shed in prayer

Hands I’ve refused to hold for fear of soiling my own

Eyes I have not looked deeply into

Thirsts not quenched by the reaching of my own hand

Somehow here, my mundane seems to lack meaning

To make an impact above the ordinary

To excel in the midst of the mediocre

To fulfill, suddenly becomes the only source of fulfillment

I am made full by the pouring out of all I am on the altar

The emptying of self in reasonable service to the Most High

Deep calling deep within my soul

Revealing to me that I only live when I stop living only for me

Here on the edge of the world, I find a new beginning.

Wine & Airy Dresses

Image

We can’t always trust our eyes. They lie. This morning I kept glancing at a magazine on my table (pictured above). I could have sworn it said “Wine and airy dresses to indulge your sweet tooth”. I kept thinking it just didn’t quite make sense. It wasn’t until much later when it caught my eye again that I looked closer and realized “dresses” was actually “dessert”.

Life is like that too. My pastor always says, “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyes so I can see things as they really are and not as they appear to be.” We look at our lives through earthen glasses and miss the bigger picture. God is looking from beginning to end with a plan in mind. We need to trust that He’s got it all under control and not let our senses fool us.

I encourage you to trust Him fully today!  Have a wonderful Monday everyone!

Who Told You that You Were Naked?

The lizard in the rough

There they were in the garden.  Man created in the image of God. A single rib taken to craft stunning beauty, a helper designed with detailed intent, a companion worthy of him. The crowning achievement of the Father warranting an affirmation of “goodness” from the lips of the one who’d just spoken the world into existence.

There were no thorns to prick the skin. There was no need to till the ground. The earth yielded abundance to them from divine mist that covered creation each morning. That alone is phenomenal to me, to think what it must have felt like to be covered by a mist sent from His own hand. What was it like to truly be kept…to walk with God in the cool of the day?

Then along came a serpent…

Even now his slanderous tongue spews poison to our souls. Did God REALLY say? Is there something more He’s not telling you? You can be like God. Dig deep within and listen and you may hear it. The scar on humanity left at the scene of the slandering. The whispered notion that it’s not quite good enough.

I hear it from time to time, the echoing accusations slither in to tell me that at the core of me I am naked and I should be ashamed. At the end of the day, when I’ve done all I could do before collapse, I hear the whisper that I have not done enough. I don’t think I’m alone in this. The scores of books written telling us how to a better parent, a better wife, a better lover, a better businessman, all serve as proof that we humans have an innate drive to be better. We forget that God looked at His creation and called it “good”.

perspective

So we sew leaves into coverings and though we are firmly planted in the garden of His grace, we feel the need to hide. We are ashamed and lulled to discontent by the siren song of something more. It looked good and pleasant to eat. Maybe the wisdom we attained, the knowledge of good and evil, was only the ability to discern the complete goodness of God juxtaposed against the inadequacies of man. We look at what God created as good and pure and view it as neither.

Don’t misunderstand me, when sin entered the world, it brought with it a world of death and ugliness. I do not in any way think that we should look upon sin as acceptable and call the ugly beautiful. But Adam and Eve didn’t just hide their sin. They also hid themselves, their beauty, their security, their intimacy. They hid from God.

God didn’t despise them, he called to them, “Where are you?” He longed for them. They felt exposed and unworthy…naked and ashamed. His simple question still rings out over the earth. “Who told you that you were naked?”

Who told you that you aren’t good enough? Who told you that you are a bad mother? Who told you that you aren’t a good enough wife? Who told you that you don’t make enough money? Who told you that you’ll never amount to anything? Who told you that you are ugly or not thin enough or too thin? Who told you that your ears are too big or your nose or your eyes?

Whoever it was and whatever it was, it wasn’t God. He looks at His creation and rests and calls it good. He looks at your abilities, your talents, your personality, who you are at the core of your being and he sees a masterpiece. You are the only you. He knows everything about you, even the ugly stuff and he still loves you.

Fortunately for us, He made provision for the ugly stuff. That day in the garden, he promised that would bruise the head of the liar and crush him underneath the heel of the redeemer (Genesis 3:15). He made good on that promise using some wood, nails and an empty tomb and exalting forever a Savior. So the next time those whispers try to slither into your soul, remember that you aren’t naked anymore and drown those whispers out with gladness.

Isaiah 61:10 “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness”

Crash Course

I was in a car accident about fifteen years ago. It happened on a Sunday afternoon on my way home from church. I was pulling in my driveway when she hit me. I never saw it coming. Apparently, she didn’t notice me slowing down to turn until the last second. When she did see me, she swerved INTO the driveway instead of away from it and consequently, nailed the side of my car right there in my driveway traveling around 45 miles per hour.

Everyone was okay, despite some cuts, bruises and a little whiplash. It was definitely one of the scariest parenting moments I can remember. My daughter was in her car-seat in the middle of the back. I remember it taking me a moment to realize what had happened and then hearing her screaming. My best friends little sister was with me also and the impact was very close to where she was sitting. She was 8. She looked completely dazed and blood was pouring from her face and mouth. It was in that moment, when it all hit me, that the panic set in. Suddenly, nothing else mattered but the kids. I didn’t even notice my injuries until later after I was sure everyone was okay. My car was totaled.

This morning I was thinking about how life can feel like a colossal mess sometimes. You’re traveling along enjoying the ride, when out of nowhere, it hits. You didn’t even see it coming, and you’re stunned by the impact. You spend some time trying to process it all. Maybe you feel your pain first, maybe you notice the others around you. Maybe you realize what you’ve lost right away or maybe it all comes in pieces, little by little, you take it all in and you break down a little more over time.

Often, we wonder why it happened. There’s usually no readily available explanation. Sometimes the hurt is so extreme that we turn heavenward demanding answers. Sometimes, the heavens are silent.

Some react with rage, others sorrow. Some weep while others remain locked in uncomfortable numb. We all have our ways of dealing with the aftermath.

I don’t have answers to the question why. I try to figure it out sometimes like we all do, but in the end only God knows the plan and we are called simply to trust him. But maybe sometimes he’s hoping when life hits hard, we will turn outward first. Maybe the trials of life are intended to train us to think of others and not just us.

Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

It’s not always our natural reaction to think of others in the midst of our greatest pain and loss. But our greatest comfort often comes when we do just that. Whatever your reaction is, it’s most important that you get up and keep going. Don’t let anything stop you from fulfilling your destiny. You were created for greatness. Don’t let anything stop you from believing that.

I don’t know what you’re going through. Maybe life is crashing around you as I write this. Maybe your cruising along loving the journey. My greatest desire is that you would know that you are in His hands, He has a plan and that someone out there needs you to get up and keep on going. You are not alone. Look around. Look up. Keep moving forward! It’s going to be okay as long as we keep our eyes on Him.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28