Friday, May 23, 2008

And It Came to Pass

I heard it said once, that these words were someone’s favorites in all of Scripture. Used as a reference to time going by, many chapters of the Bible begin with “and it came to pass.”

Isn’t that good news? It will be over. Whatever comes our way, will also come to pass. A very comforting thought.

Psalm 68:28 says, Summon your power, O God, show us your strength, O God, as you have done before.

This verse is a great reminder that God’s provision in the past. He has shown us his strength before when times were hard, and He will do it again.

And this, too, whatever it is, will pass.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Abundant Showers

From Psalm 68:7-11

When you went out before your people, O God,
when you marched through the wasteland,

the earth shook,
the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.

You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance.

Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty, O God, you provided for the poor.

The Lord announced the word,
and great was the company of those who proclaimed it:

Ever felt weary? LIke a droopy, dried out plant in desperate need of water? LIke you have nothing left? Those are the times when God moves in.

I think it is interesting that the Psalm writer, the great poet David, doesn’t use a gentle autumn rain, or a sprinkling metaphor. Abundant showers -- a downpour -- tons of water. Pouring all over our weary selves.

What a great image. When we are weary, God gives abundant showers.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

God Intends Good

One of the Moravian Text verses for today is:

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good. Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

Remember the story of Joseph? So many ups and downs, so many peaks and valleys. I encourage you to read his story if you don’t know it well. He certainly had a rough go of it sometimes and it appeared that God had abandoned him. However, each time, God intended good.

Have you had situations in your life where others have tried to harm you? Or possibly, it isn’t others who are causing the pain, but difficult situations or curve balls that life throws us? Health problems, relationship issues, job loss ... whatever the case .... they appear to be only harmful. We can’t see good in them, especially when we are in the midst of the pain.

However, in those situations, we can see that God intends good. When we come to Him and ask Him to bring about good in our lives through hard times, He can do just that.

Do you feel like someone is intending harm? Or is there a situation in your life that appears like it will only result in negative things? Take consolation in the life of Joseph. No matter how many twists and turns, God always intended good.

Look for the good that God is doing through what may have appeared to be a harmful thing. You’ll find it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Love is a Decision

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

I memorized this passage from First Corinthians 13 as a child and it comes back to me often. Especially in regards to our children. Love is a commitment, not an emotion. I tell adoptive parents this all the time. It means deciding to love and loving, forever, no matter what. And with damaged children, who do not always love back it is very difficult.

But loving the unloving teaches me a lot about God. God loves us even when we don’t love him back. God loves us when we are difficult, stubborn, out of sorts, distant, uncommunicative. He just keeps loving.

And if God can love me like that, can I keep my commitment to love my children no matter what? Can I love them when they don’t love me back? Can I love them when they are difficult? When they are stubborn? Etc. Etc. Etc.

Yes, I can. Because love is a decision and a commitment, not a feeling.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

God, You're Brilliant

I have always found Psalm 8 to be amazing, a beautiful poem actually. Spring took so long in coming to Minnesota this year that I am appreciating God’s creation more than ever before.

I read it for the first time in The Message today:

1 God, brilliant Lord, yours is a household name.

2 Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you;
toddlers shout the songs
That drown out enemy talk,
and silence atheist babble.

3-4 I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
Why take a second look our way?

5-8 Yet we've so narrowly missed being gods,
bright with Eden's dawn light.
You put us in charge of your handcrafted world,
repeated to us your Genesis-charge,
Made us lords of sheep and cattle,
even animals out in the wild,
Birds flying and fish swimming,
whales singing in the ocean deeps.

9 God, brilliant Lord,
your name echoes around the world.

But had to go back and read it in the NIV because I wanted to read the words I have nearly memorized:

1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.
2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise [b]
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings [c]
and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

I want to remember today as I look at the blue sky and feel the cool breeze that God’s name is majestic in the earth.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Loyal in His Love

Again from the Moravian Text today, Psalm 66:16-20 in The Message

All believers, come here and listen,
let me tell you what God did for me.
I called out to him with my mouth,
my tongue shaped the sounds of music.
If I had been cozy with evil,
the Lord would never have listened.
But he most surely did listen,
he came on the double when he heard my prayer.
Blessed be God: he didn't turn a deaf ear,
he stayed with me, loyal in his love.

We can learn a lot about God through other people. I have learned a lot about God, recently, through others.... through people who are loyal in their love... my friends, some of my children (smile) and my husband. You may have read here, how Bart has amazed me by demonstrating what God is like. I have learned lately how to better imagine God’s arms around me, God’s presence in my life, and God’s willingness to always listen. And I have learned about His loyal love.

Regardless of what we do, where we go, and what happens to us, we are never far from God because He is within us. He is always waiting for us, offering Himself to listen to us and to be there, no matter what.

And as we grow more and more aware of His presence in our lives, He draws us closer to Himself with that ever-loyal love.

What more could I ask for?

Friday, May 16, 2008

What is Your Cistern?

For a long time I was using the Moravian Text as my guide for this devotional. They still come in my email and I want to go back to using them. This was the verse that stuck out to me today:

My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:13

Very few of us who are believers consciously forsake God.... but sometimes it happens gradually. We get involved in things and slowly realize that we are not the person we used to be, nor are we as close to God as we once were. And we often walk away from God, the fountain of living water, to create our own "god." And even if that god seems to us to be a good thing, God tells us through Jeremiah that the comparison is ironic: A Fountain of LIving Water compared to a cracked cistern.

A cistern is a funny word, but basically was a receptacle to hold liquids, usually water. And the irony is that as humans, we walk away from a fountain of living water .... to build a small container that is cracked.

Do you have a cistern that you keep turning to to fulfill you? Is it your work? A hobby? Endless activity? Achievement? Success? Money? Another person? Your family? Friends? Food? Alcohol? even your church?

It's a funny image. A huge fountain flowing with living water, available to anyone who wants to continually drink it -- and all of us as humans, turning our backs on that fountain and busily scurrying around frantically digging out cisterns, putting all our time and energy into something that not only does not produce the water, but cannot hold any because it is cracked.

I've been proud of some of the cisterns I've built over the years. But when I make the comparison... a living-water-fountain provides everything I need, never lets me down. God is always there, beckoning us, no matter what shape we are in and no matter what else fails..

And he is waiting to hear our concerns when we have no one else to share them with, to feel our pain, to forgive us, to heal us, to help us, to pour out that living water on our souls. All we have to do is ask.

I'm asking today, are you?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mid Life Crisis

It may have come a little early, but I define the last year of my life as a mid-life crisis. I have learned so much about myself, about other people, about God. I have asked myself hard questions, and for the first time in my life, I did not have easy answers. I had highs and lows as I questioned things I had not questioned before. It was a wild internal ride that I shared with very few.

I do not know if I am in the middle of it, nearing the end of it, or just starting, but the journey has been both thrilling and exhausting. It has been the best and the worst of my 44 years. All of the things that I knew to be true about me suddenly became murky. I came to conclusions that I have acted upon (major lifestyle changes in regards to diet and exercise, for example, wanting to be around for my husband and children). I have come to conclusions that I have not acted on in regards to my future as a professional. I have decided that the children we already have need our focus without adding more, which I never thought I’d say.

But I wanted to make a list of the good things that have happened so far as a result of this MLC (Mid-Life-Crisis), and this pertains to this blog because of a small verse of scripture that I read this morning, which I will get to. (trust me).

I have become a more attentive spouse, I hope, and a better parent. I have begun to focus on controlling the only thing I can control-- and that is the response to those around me. I have developed a more inquisitive mind, have learned not to be satisfied with easy answers, and have learned to look at life from the perspective of other people. I have learned to rely on voices inside my head (no, not THOSE kinds of voices) instead of people and things around me, which I had never been able to do before because I am an external processor.

I have learned to express more emotion (crying daily for months, as opposed to twice a year previously). I have become more sensitive to personality differences in my children and to respond accordingly. I learned that I have an incredible capacity and endless emotional energy which needs to be directed into good things.

Most importantly though, I have learned about God’s continual “there-ness” in my life --about how He loves me unconditionally, how He is always with me even though I cannot ever physically be in His presence, about His faithfulness, consistency, and patience. I have learned that the way that God loves me is more perfect than the way that any human being can love me, though I have had many people in my life who have loved me well.

I’m sure the list will go on as I continue to process all this...

But how it applies to this blog and the Scripture are yet to come. I have learned that though my view of God and who He is to me has changed from when I was a child to when i was a was a young adult, to now, that God has not changed. When I was a teenager and young adult, i was very zealous about my faith. I made lots of strong commitments and kept them. I was very passionate about what I believed. But as the years went by, life didn’t seem quite as able to be put in boxes as it was back then. Life became grey.

But this morning I read these words from Ezekiel 16:60 and they were so appropriate for me to read, as though God himself was getting through to me specifically at this moment.

I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant.

While I have been careening around the twists and turns of mid life, God has been there, waiting. He has been waiting for me to realize and remember, as He has, the covenants of my youth and to help me establish an everlasting covenant. This covenant may not be the same as the one of my youth, but it will be everlasting.

On the hardest of days, it is impossible for me to understand how people without God can cope. Knowing that I have a loving and forgiving God is the only thing that gets me through the roughest of spots.

This morning, when I was driving a couple of my sons to school, I heard this song. And as God and I begin to work on making our everlasting covenant for the latter years of my life, I want this to be my motto:

It is a song called “Empty Me” by Chris Sligh

I’ve had just enough of the spotlight when it burns bright
To see how it gets in the blood.
And I've tasted my share of the sweet life and the wild ride
And found a little is not quite enough.
I know how I can stray
And how fast my heart could change.

Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.

I've seen just enough of the quick buys of the best lies
To know how prodigals can be drawn away.
I know how I can stray
And how fast my heart could change.

Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.

Cause everything is a lesser thing
Compared to you, compared to you.
Cause everything is a lesser thing
Compared to you so why surrender all?

Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me so I can be
Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.
Oh, filled with you.
Empty me.