Thursday, March 19, 2015

Restless for God

A few days ago, I was really restless. All afternoon, I moved from thing to thing—doing chores, making dinner and cleaning up, baking cookies, and writing a blog post. I got quite a bit accomplished, but something was still off.

It was after dinner when I figured it out…I hadn’t spent time with God all day.

I thought I had—I spent all morning going through Scripture. But…as part of the church ministry staff where I work, that time in Scripture was for a project I was working on, not a personal Bible study.

My morning had been about God, but not spent with God.

Once home, my afternoon was quiet and I thought about sitting down for some quiet time with Him…but I was antsy. So antsy I wouldn’t be able to sit still. That’s what I told myself. So, I mopped the kitchen floor instead.

After dinner, I baked cookies because I couldn’t imagine sitting still to watch TV with my family. I thought about how I didn’t try to sit still that afternoon and talk to God. And I wrote about it.

Then…I asked my daughter to read what I wrote. I value her opinion and ask her to read most of what I write before it goes online.

In her gentle, I-don’t-want-to-hurt-mom’s-feelings way, she suggested I let it sit and see what I thought of it in the morning. I don’t remember her ever suggesting that before, so I started to wonder what had gone wrong.

That’s when it all started to make sense—my morning was about God, but not with Him…I mopped instead of spending time with Him…and then I wrote about it—but still hadn’t had a conversation with Him.

God had been trying to get my attention, but I’d been too focused on my restlessness. It didn’t even occur to me that I was restless for Him.

That post I wrote never made it online. I haven’t even reread it yet. But I thanked my daughter the next day for her honesty. And I thanked God for pursuing me.

I did enjoy the warm cookies that night and my clean kitchen floor, but more importantly, I relearned a lesson that easily gets forgotten…

Being about God is not the same as being with God.

It’s an easy place for the lines to get blurred, especially when you write about faith—both personally and at work. I need the reminder to pay attention and surrender to the nudges from God.

Because He knows, before I do, when I’m restless for Him.

In Christ,

Photo credit: Stock photo:Cookies 3

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Get to Know Me – A Conversation with God

Photo credit: K. Rath 2015
Me: (closing my Bible) God, I keep trying to read Your Word…but I just don’t understand it all.

God: I don’t expect you to understand it all.

Me: Shouldn’t I get some of it? If I’m reading it, then I should be learning something.

God: You are learning something.

Me: I don’t feel like it. I just feel frustrated.

God: You’re putting too much pressure on yourself.

Me: What do you mean?

God: What were you thinking when you opened your Bible today?

Me: Honestly?

God: Of course.

Me: I was rushed and knew I didn’t have a lot of time. I wanted to read, but felt frustrated because I wasn’t focused and didn’t know what I was reading.

God: And yesterday?

Me: It was different. I wasn’t in a hurry. I still didn’t understand what I was reading, but I felt calm. I felt like I was spending time with You even though we weren’t having a conversation, like we are now.

God: And you didn’t hesitate to talk to Me today. Why?

Me: I feel more comfortable now.

God: I want you to open your Bible—read and explore My Word—and spend time with Me. You won’t be able to make sense of everything you read. And I’m not asking you to try so hard. I will meet you where you are, and as I feel you’re ready, I’ll open the Scriptures to you. Little by little, you’ll find wisdom and understanding as you’ve never known before.

Me: So, even when I don’t know what the verses mean, I’m still spending time with You.

God: Yes. When you first meet someone, do you believe everything they tell you is true?

Me: Not always.

God: Do you feel comfortable and tell them everything you’re thinking and feeling?

Me: No, I have to trust them first.

God: Would you know that person’s voice if you didn’t see them speaking to you?

Me: No, not until I really knew them.

God: Like you’re getting to know Me now.

Me: (lightbulb moment) So, I’m learning even when I can’t explain it, and I’m getting to know you better every time I spend time with You.

God: That’s right.

Me: And You’re not waiting for me to figure it all out—You’re meeting me here…right where I am…everyday?

God: Yes. I AM.

Me: (big smile) Thanks God.

Lord, thank you for meeting us where we are…for speaking to us individually in ways You know we’ll hear…and for continuing to reveal who You are to us. Thank You for not expecting us to figure it out all on our own, but instead, giving us wisdom and understanding as You know we’re ready. Please continue to draw us closer to You every single day, and let us never lose the desire to spend time with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Keep reading, keep searching, keep exploring…He will meet you where you are.

In Christ,

Linking up with Sharing His Beauty, #TellHisStory, Give Me Grace, Playdates with God, #SmallWonder, Grace & Truth, Coffee for Your Heart, Everyday Jesus, Thought Provoking Thursday, Faith Filled Friday, Blessing Counters, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Faith 'N Friends, Spiritual Sundays, The Weekend Brew, #RaRaLinkup

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Today…I Will Smile. Yes, Today I Will...

Today...I will smile, even if it doesn't come naturally. I'll look past the trouble and annoyances and find reason to smile.
A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day. Proverbs 15:13 MSG
Today...I will pay attention to those around me. Family, friends, someone I happen to see once...I'll notice and see them. And I'll share kindness.

Today...I will find the positives in my life...the good in the midst of the trials. And I'll give thanks.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT

Please join me at 5 Minutes for Faith to continue reading.

In Christ,

(Thanks to KJ for her work on the picture.J )

Linking up with: The Weekend Brew, Sunday Stillness, Spiritual Sundays

Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Want to Be Like Mary

Are you familiar with the story in John 11 when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead?

I used to summarize it this way: Jesus receives word that his friend Lazarus is very sick. Lazarus’ sisters want Jesus to come to see him, but Jesus waits two more days before heading their way. When He finally arrives, Lazarus has been dead for days and his sisters are distraught. But Jesus, knowing the plan all along, brings Lazarus back to life…all for the glory of God.

Obviously, that’s a crude, in-a-nutshell, summary of the foreshadowing of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

But yesterday morning, I realized there’s so much more to the story.
So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days. Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” John 11:5-7 NLT
Although Jesus loved them, He allowed them to walk through this time of grief and loss.

Not because He wanted to be mean, but because there was a purpose.

Although Jesus loves us, He allows us to walk through particular storms in life.

“Because there’s a purpose” is hard to swallow much of the time, especially if you are the one living in pain, sorrow, depression, loneliness, or some other trial. Believe me, I know.

Martha and Mary wouldn’t fully see the purpose until they saw Lazarus walk out of the tomb.

Like them, whatever the purpose may be in our trials often can’t be seen until we’ve made it to the other side. And sometimes, we may never see it if God was working it to reach someone else.

I particularly wonder about Mary and what she was thinking and feeling. Jesus was a close friend. She was drawn to Him and had sat at His feet listening and learning from Him when women weren’t encouraged to do that. (Luke 10:38-42) In her grief and deep loss at her brother’s death, I wonder if she might also have felt abandoned, not knowing why Jesus hadn’t come.

Perhaps she even asked the same question I’ve asked before…Where are you, Jesus?!? Why aren’t you here with me?
…she [Martha] went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:28-29, 32 ESV
Mary was distraught and desperate to see Jesus. I can relate—I’ve been there. You too?

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. John 11:33-35 ESV
Jesus wept.

Jesus, who allowed Lazarus’ family to go through the grief of his death, was greatly troubled. Having compassion for His friends and the pain they felt, feeling angry at the state of sin in the world, and knowing the joy that was to come…Jesus was deeply moved—to the point of tears. Jesus wept.

Jesus never left Mary in her sorrow. He was right there with her—just as He is with us in our sorrow and struggles.

The sin in the world today, compassion for our suffering, and knowing the joy to come…Jesus is moved and troubled, maybe still to the point of tears.

Mary and Martha had to walk through the grief before they could they see the resurrection of Lazarus.

They had to walk through the storm to see the miracle.

And we do too. We can’t get to the mountaintop without walking through the valley.

The Book of John doesn’t describe the reactions when Lazarus walked out of the tomb after being dead for four days. We can only imagine the overwhelming awe and emotion they must have felt.

For Mary, who had sat at the feet of Jesus, her faith in Him had to have grown to level deeper than she could have dreamed—to a level deeper than she could explain to anyone else.

I want to be like Mary.

I want to sit at the feet of Jesus studying His Word.

I want unshakable trust in Him, even when I can’t see or hear Him, because I know He’s always with me. 

I want to know that as I walk through the hardest times of my life, He walks with me…and at the other side He’ll show me the miracle.

I want to be like Mary.

In Christ,

[Photo credit 1: Stock photo: Dolmen / Photo credit 2: Stock photo: rain / Photo credit 3: Stock photo: Sad & Lonely]