Monday, October 20, 2014

YET ANOTHER LESSON FROM A BEAGLE


This post could be subtitled:

"A Beagle and Some Ear Drops."

In case you don't already know, my youngest son owns a beagle, Martymy beloved granddog.  And I'm doing some dog-sitting.  I love when I get a chance to watch him.  He and I are the chummiest cohorts, inseparable allies. We are the best of friends.

So, I'm feeding him and taking him for walks.  I'm snoozing next to him.  I'm petting him and playing with him and cuddling.  And, since he also happens to have an ear infection, I get to give him his medication.

You see, beagles tend to be susceptible to ear infections because they have such big, floppy ears.  And, because Marty also suffers from allergies, his ears are his Achilles' heel, so to speak.


So, the other night I'm preparing to give him his drops.  First of all, I must plop him on his side in order to get him into proper position for the application of the drops.

Somehow, he knows this.

I don't know how a 30-ish pound dog can suddenly turn his body into *Jupiter weight.*

(I googled this – an object, person, or small dog (!) would weigh 2.34 times more on Jupiter.  Hence, Marty's *Jupiter weight* is around 72 pounds. Of course, if you factor in his "stubborn dead weight" I'm figuring he weighs about a ton…just sayin').

OK, then there's "The Look" he gives me – or, more accurately "The Avoidance of The Look" that he executes.

He very slyly turns his eyes away from mine, as I tell him that I need to do his drops now.  He doesn't look at me, but I know he's heard.  I can almost hear his inner dialogue:

"Oh no you aren't.  You are not going to give me any drops.  You can't do it if I don't look at you…"

It's like he thinks he's invisible if he isn't looking at me!

Then, in a maneuver that would rival any football running back, he slowly extends one arm out against me in a stiff-arm move.  It's quite effective, and does indeed prolong the *plopping* process.


OK, finally plopped, I now try to push his head flat.

How on earth can a dog be so strong??

When he sets his mind to it, Marty is almost immovable!  When we go out on walks, when he stops to sniff something…

HE. STOPS.

Dead in his tracks, low to the ground, with every muscle tensed to defy me.  I have literally been unable to tug him or move him.

We take our walks on a street where my son lives.  It's a busy street.  I often wonder what people think as they drive by.  One smallish woman tugging and pulling (unsuccessfully, mind you) on a retractable leash (let out to its full length) with a small dog at the other end who might as well be a mountain – not going anywhere!

Of course, I also wonder what they think when they see him pulling me along on our walks like a sled dog.

I can hear inside people's heads as they drive by:

"Well, I never.  Look at that lady running after her dog.  Looks like he's winning."

"Hey, see that woman?  She must be practicing for the Iditarod.  Wait, that’s not a husky, though, is it?"

"Mommy, aren't people supposed to walk their dogs instead of them walking their people?"

Yes.

So, anyway, my point is this:

Marty is headstrong (with a very strong neck!), stubborn, and resistant.

But, the eardrops are needed, and I must prevail.

So we go through this little "dance."

I wrestle him into position.  I push his head down.  He raises it back up.  I push harder.  He looks the other way.  I push his head again.  He stiff-arms me.  I push yet again.  He pushes back harder and raises it again.  This goes on for a while, until finally Marty relents and keeps his head down.  He finally yields to my authority.

And then the drops go in rapidly and easily.

It's like Marty finally understands that these drops are needed, and he just stops fighting.

I think his trust in me finally kicks in, and he yields to what I know is best because he knows that I love him.


A God lesson?  Indeed!

So, there are three things I'm thinking about.

One, the issue of resistance.

Why do we do this?

OK, that's a bit of a rhetorical question.  For indeed, I KNOW why we do it!  We are prideful and ornery disciples, a sometimes stubborn and stiff-necked people.  We could be called "The Recalcitrant Redeemed."

It's in our nature (sinful nature, that is) to resist outside authority.  After all, isn't that the seed of the apple that caused the Fall?

We want our own way when we want it.

Which is usually right now.

So, we resist when life starts to go another way.  We rebel against circumstances that are not pleasing or comfortable.  We do not want to take godly testing lying down.  We are not inclined to roll over and let Him do what has to be done.

The *eardrops* of refinement are not fun.


Two, I'm thinking about the necessity of testing.

Yes, as much as I hate writing that, as much as I hate admitting that, I know this is true.

TESTING. IS. NECESSARY.

After all, I really don't think that any sort of progress can happen without toil, and struggle, and perseverance.

Athletes know this.  Musicians know this.  Artists know this.  Writers know this.

Parents know this.

Shaping takes effort – both on the part of the Potter and the clay.

It takes hard work to shape something beautiful out of the raw material of our humanness.  And it's difficult work to accept the refining fires.

God saves us, yes.

But He loves us too much to stop there.  He continues to do His work – the work of sanctification. 

Necessary work, but not always very enjoyable.

The *eardrops* of testing are necessary.


Finally, I'm thinking about what happens when I finally give in.

There comes a time when I can sense in Marty that the next time I push his head down, he won't resist.  I can't explain how I know, I can just tell.

It's something in his eyes, I think.  (Even if they're not looking at me…)

And why does he finally submit?

I think it's because he knows that I would NOT do this if it wasn't for his own good.


Is this not EXACTLY what happens in our walk with God?

He knows that we are not stronger than He is.  He knows what we need. He knows we're going to resist.  But He persists.

For He indeed knows what is best for us – what is necessary for our own good – provided by His perfect goodness.

After all the posturing, and the avoiding, and the stubborn resisting, I submit to Him.  I surrender to the greater knowledge that God has of what is good for me.  And then, in that moment when I finally yield, when I finally submit to His ministrations, I will be on my way to spiritual health.

In trust, I give my will over to Him.

Why?

Because I know He loves me.

The *eardrops* are what's best for me, and God administers them because He loves me.

Even if He has to wrestle me into the proper position to receive them!


Yup.

Thanks, Marty, for once again teaching me some valuable insights about God.

And Lord, if You think I need some *eardrops* – please don't give up on me. Even if I don't plop down right away, even if I stiff-arm You, even if I try to look away and pretend You're not there.

Please do it anyway.

For I know that testing is not always fun, but I know that it's necessary and for my own good.  I trust You.  I know You love me.  So, help me stop resisting and help me yield to Your wisdom and Your will.

Even if I use my "Jupiter weight."





"Drops?
You're kidding, right?" 



"Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands." (Deuteronomy 8:2, NLT)

"For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 13:3, ESV)

"Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!" (Psalm 139:23, ESV)

"For our present troubles are small and won't last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!" 
(2 Corinthians 4:17, NLT)

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2-4, NASB)

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment.  For we know how dearly God loves us..." (Romans 5:3-5, NLT)

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT)

"And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children?  He said, 'My child, don't make light of the LORD's discipline, and don't give up when he corrects you.  For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.'  As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children." (Hebrews 12:5-7, NLT)

"For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed." (Hebrews 12:11-12, ESV)

"[For] we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28, ESV)

"...yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42, NIV)



What is the *test* that you resist the most? 



Linked with:

UNFORCED RHYTHMS, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, SALT & LIGHT, TELL ME A TRUE STORYSHARING HIS BEAUTY, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS,  UNITE, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, WISE WOMAN, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, TELL HIS STORY, SO MUCH AT HOME, WHAT YOU WISH WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEARTWEDNESDAY'S PRAYER GIRLS, THRIVING THURSDAY, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, EVERYDAY JESUS, HEARTS FOR HOME, GRACE AT HOME, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAYTHOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS,  MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYSTHE FRIDAY FIVE, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, FAITH & FELLOWSHIP



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, October 13, 2014

60 IS THE NEW...40??


Well, in my opinion, 60 is still the same old 60.

Emphasis on old.

Sure, there are those who say 60 is the new 40.  (Why are most of them celebrities??  Or plastic surgeons??).  I gotta say, there is a part of me that agrees with that idea.  For instance, I think I'm in much better shape than my parents were when they turned 60.  I think my mindset is younger, too.

But 40???

I admit to standing in front of my mirror and *test-driving* what it would look like if I had a little "work" done.  I tug a little here, and pull a little there.  Not bad.

But here’s what I'm thinking about…

What is so bad about growing older?

Well, for one thing, it's certainly not applauded in a culture that's obsessed with chasing the fountain of youth.  We're often embarrassed to share our real age, we're chagrined to admit we qualify for "senior discounts," and we bemoan the travails that age brings.

Don't get me wrong, I am NOT a fan of arthritis, cellulite, or menopause.

But c'mon – let's admit the truth.

We cannot stop the aging process.

Back a generation or so ago, old age was venerated, not despised.  Older people were sought out for their wisdom.  Now they're often marginalized as irrelevant.

How sad.

And folks, I think it's more than just sad – I think it's unbiblical.

You see, I believe that God sees old age as a gift.  I believe that He bestows long life on some people because He has very specific purposes for those who wear a crown of gray hair (even if it's dyed!).


And what might be those purposes?

I've got some ideas:


1) Passing on wisdom

Now, I'm not going to boast that I'm wiser now that I'm older.  But you know, I just might be.  Experiences (good and bad) have a way of showing us life with a clearer vision.  And sometimes as our physical eyes grow blurry, our inner person is focusing more accurately on the Lord and His ways.  We have an obligation and the privilege of passing on the wisdom that He has given us through the years.


2) Teaching truth

Years of being in church and Bible studies, searching the Scriptures on my own, and learning to listen to the Spirit – all of these things have served to give me a greater insight into and understanding of Truth.  No, I'm not always right (don't tell "The Hub"!!), but, I am well-acquainted with God's Word, and I am privileged to teach others what He's shown me to be true.


3) Testifying to God's faithfulness

Sometimes God's faithfulness can only be seen by looking back over the years.  By remembering.  By reflecting on the ways His hand was at work when we may not have even been aware of it.  It is from this perspective of a long-range view, that we can tell others about God's immutability – His unchanging character, and His unfailing grace.


4) Exhibiting inner beauty  

I'm not gonna lie.  I do not like the effects of aging on my body.  I fight against it.  I've got lots of creams and gels and serums.  Wrinkles still abide happily on my face.  I've tried whitening my teeth.  Results are mixed.  Saggy is the new adjective that's replaced perky and firm.  And my makeup routine? A well-coordinated effort at hiding, disguising, and diminishing spots and flaws.  And DO NOT get me started on tweezing.

But, there is a beauty that is more meaningful to God, for He does not judge on appearances.  God looks on the heart.  And so, I believe that we are called to age gracefully – and full of grace.


5) Praying for others

The power of prayer is never diminished by age.  In fact, some of the most powerful prayer warriors I know are much older than I am.  So, why bemoan our increasing physical immobility if we can travel and cover the world with prayer from our own homes?  As we get older, we can always explore and develop this most awesome aspect of prayer – the effective intercessory prayer.  The enemy would love us to focus on all the things that we can't do as well as we used to.  And that's because he's afraid of what we can accomplish on our knees!


So, God loves His *older* saints.

Yes, He does.

And He is never finished with our work or our purpose or our sanctification until He calls us home.

I figure that every day I wake up, He has something for me to do.  Sure, sometimes I don't know what it is, and sometimes I want a *big* something to do – the lure of big ministry, and big audiences, and big recognition still tugs at me.  But, I cannot allow myself to be sidetracked by that distraction. If I do, then I will forget the *smaller* things He wants me to do.

To pass on wisdom, to teach the truth, to testify to God's faithfulness, to exhibit inner beauty, and to pray for others.

Important tasks, and vital purposes.


60 is the new 40?

Naw.

But it IS the age where God is going to use me now!


Oh Lord, teach me to value myself in the way that You do.  Show me that the image in the mirror will never be as important as the reflection of a heart that longs for You.  Grant me wisdom, and help me to pass it on.  Reveal more of Your truth, and let me teach others about it.  Give me the courage to testify to Your faithfulness and unchanging character.  Help me to focus on the inner beauty of a spirit totally yielded to You.  Equip and enable me to pray for others like a warrior.

And though I'm growing older, I am grateful for every day You give me, until You call me home.

And THAT is going to be the best day ever!






You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand! 



"You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul...You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." (Deuteronomy 11:18-19, ESV)

"Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart." (Psalm 51:6, ESV)

"Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen.  Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live!  And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren." (Deuteronomy 4:9, NLT)

"My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection.  That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long...I will tell everyone about your righteousness.  All day long I will proclaim your saving power...I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign LORD.  I will tell everyone that you alone are just...I will tell about your righteous deeds all day long..." (From Psalm 71, NLT)

"My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long...I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.  Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.  Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come." (From Psalm 71, NLT)

"...in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." 
(1 Peter 3:15, NIV)

"I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done." (Psalm 9:1, NLT)

"O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do." (Psalm 71:17, NLT)

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.  When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness...Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised." (Psalm 31:25-26, 30, NLT)

"Your adornment must not be merely external...but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God." (1 Peter 3:3-4, NASB)

"The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them.  People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT)

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 
(1 Timothy 2:1-4, ESV)

"...pray for each other...The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." (James 5:16, NLT)

"Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16, NIV


(NOTE:  My birthday was several months ago, but I am still reflecting - and adjusting - to my first year in this new decade!!)



What do you think are some things that God wants you to do as you grow older?



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, SALT & LIGHT, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, UNITE, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, TELL HIS STORY, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN, WEDNESDAY'S PRAYER GIRLS, SO MUCH AT HOME, WHAT YOU WISH WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, THRIVING THURSDAY, EVERYDAY JESUS, HEARTS FOR HOME, GRACE AT HOME, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, THE FRIDAY FIVE, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, FAITH & FELLOWSHIP, STILL SATURDAY, SATURDAY SOIREE, WEEKEND BREW, WISE WOMAN, GIVE ME GRACE, SUNDAY STILLNESS



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, October 6, 2014

DRY BONES


No, this is not going to be a post about osteoporosis.

(Though at my age, it could be…)

It's about feeling dry, empty, useless, and dead inside.

Now I know that this feeling is unique to me, right?  No one else has ever felt this way.  Uh, yeah…

We have ALL felt this way at some point in our lives.  Maybe you're feeling that way right now.

Like your spiritual gas tank is on empty.  Like the well is dry.  Like the bucket has been drained.  Like you're in the middle of a desert with no oasis in sight.

I'm kinda walking that journey right now.  


So, I'm thinking about a passage from the book of Ezekiel (found in Chapter 37).

It's kind of a weird passage in some ways.  Ezekiel and God have an interesting encounter.  And God gives Ezekiel a vision.  A rather effective object lesson about a valley of dry bones.  

And I think it reads like a very exciting movie scene!


Let's listen in to the conversation:

"The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones.  He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor.  They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out.  Then he asked me, 'Son of man, can these bones become living people again?'

'O Sovereign Lord,' I replied, 'you alone know the answer to that.'"

(Good, Ezekiel!  Right answer!!)


Then the Lord says this:

"Look!  I am going to put breath into you and make you live again!  I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin.  I will put breath into you, and you will come to life.  Then you will know that I am the Lord."

Exciting, huh?!

And so, Ezekiel does what the Lord asks him to do – he speaks a message to the bones.

(Good, Ezekiel!  Right thing to do!!)


And this is when it gets interesting:

"Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley.  The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons.  Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones.  Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them."


I love this word picture.

It so accurately reflects how I feel when I'm feeling dry.

Yeah, I might rally myself out of bed.  I might get those creaky legs moving…slowly.  I might rattle around, effectively imitating a human being.

But as far as my spirit – I still have no breath in me.

I'm a spiritual zombie.

However, the story does not end here.

The Lord has more in store!

"This is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.'"


I find all sorts of encouragement in this whole scene.

Yes, I know this vision pertained to the nation of Israel.  But, I don't think the Lord would mind if we apply it to ourselves.

For He knows how we go through dry times.

Times when we feel spiritually empty, tired, weary.  Like dry bones lying around useless.

And here's the dilemma.  What to do during these times?  How do we get out of the valley?

Are you like me?  Do you try to drum up some spiritual vigor on your own?

Are you like me?  Do you plaster on a spiritual "happy face" and tell everyone how great you're doing, even though on the inside you're feeling dead?

Are you like me?  Do you sometimes give up and just accept the deadness, thinking it might never go away?


My friends, let us all remember this…

The story does not end here!

Matthew Henry has some interesting commentary on this:

"No created power could restore human bones to life.  God alone could cause them to live…The wind was an emblem of the Spirit of God, and represented his quickening powers…and it represents the power and grace of God…[who will] put his Spirit within us, and keep us by his power, through faith..."


Yes, it is the Lord who will restore us.

Like a rushing wind, the Holy Spirit will once again sweep into us with power and strength and life.  It may not be today, or tomorrow – but He will come.

Actually, He's already there.

And He wants to bring us back to spiritual vitality.

"This is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'O my people, I will…cause you to rise again…When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord.  I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again.'"


Hearing those words brings a smile to my face. 

For I know it's true.  The Lord will bring me through the desert, for HE is the oasis of Living Water that will sustain me.

He will breathe new life into my wearied soul, and I will rise again.

One last image:

"They all came to life and stood up on their feet – a great army."


Hey you guys, I'm tired of feeling bony.  Are you?

Let’s become an army!






Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.
Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.
Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.
Now hear the word of the Lord.

(Words from a well-known spiritual song) 



"'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.'" (Matthew 11:28, NIV)

"'For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.'" (Jeremiah 31:25, ESV)

"'...those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again.  It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.'" 
(John 4:14, NLT)

"'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.'" (Matthew 5:6, NIV)

"For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things." (Psalm 107:9, NLT)

"...those who seek the LORD lack no good thing." (Psalm 34:10, NIV)

"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." (Isaiah 58:11, NIV)

"They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.  Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.  Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit." (Jeremiah 17:8, NLT)

"He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.  Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.  But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:29-31, NLT)

"The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.  He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength.  He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.  Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me." (Psalm 23:1-4, NLT)

"He will feed his flock like a shepherd.  He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.." (Isaiah 40:11, NLT)



Are you feeling like a valley of dry bones - spiritually empty?  How does this vision encourage you?



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, SALT & LIGHT, TELL ME A TRUE STORYSOLI DEO GLORIA, UNITE, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYSWEDNESDAY'S PRAYER GIRLS, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN, TELL HIS STORY, WHAT YOU WISH WEDNESDAY, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, SO MUCH AT HOME, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, THRIVING THURSDAY, EVERYDAY JESUS, HEARTS FOR HOME, GRACE AT HOME, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAYTHOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, SATURDAY SOIREE, RECOMMENDATION SUNDAY, STILL SATURDAYWEEKEND BREW, SUNDAY STILLNESS, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, September 29, 2014

POSTCARDS FROM THE BIBLE


Postcards from the Bible?

Here's some I think you'll never see:


"Sunny skies as far as the eye can see!  Noah"

"Having a whale of a good time.  Wish you were here.  Jonah"

"We should arrive in the Promised Land any day now.  Caleb"

"Delilah thinks I need a trim.  Samson"

"Enjoying my retirement years being a shepherd.  Moses"

"No plans  just on the roof sunbathing.  David"

"Life is good.  Job"


Yup, these would number among the most unlikely postcards ever.

Sentiments that were proven wrong in short order.

Heading in one direction, each of these people experienced a great reversal in their lives.  Life took a huge turn in another, completely unexpected, direction.

The Bible is like that.

Not full of contradictions, but filled with plenty of re-directions.

Unlikely circumstances that lead to blessed outcomes.  Setbacks that become divinely-planned appointments.  Desperate situations that bring great leaps of faith.

And what about the people?

The Bible contains a motley crew of misfits who somehow bear the image of God, and are used to advance His purposes in the most unusual ways.

Sometimes when people doubt the veracity of the Bible, I think about this fact.

Who in their right mind would compose a book full of flawed heroes, scared prophets, foolish servants, evil kings, stubborn messengers, impetuous disciples, and disobedient men and women?

Well, I guess God would – for that is what He has done.

He has written His love story truthfully.  Interwoven with real people, with real flaws and real problems.

And, in His divine wisdom, all the ragged and unraveled and frayed ends of thread that look like a chaotic mess somehow weave together to a specific end – a beautiful tapestry of intentional purpose.


I'm thinking about my own life.

And the lives of others.

I love Blog Land.  I struggle with Blog Land.  For in my travels I come in contact with many people and many stories.

Many of those stories are uplifting and inspirational.

But I am also deeply touched by some really hard things out there, too. Cancer, death, depression, physical illness, wayward children, addiction, job loss…

The list could go on.

Maybe your story fits in there somewhere, too.

And at times I am overcome by sadness at what I read.  Dismayed by the difficult twists and turns that life can take.

I sometimes wonder…

"Where is God in all of this?"

Most likely, He's right where He's always been – behind the scenes, weaving and weaving.

(Think of the book of Esther.  God's name is never mentioned.  But does anybody have any doubts that God wasn't behind the scenes orchestrating every single moment?)

For yes, God is a God who allows unlikely circumstances, great reversals and setbacks, desperate situations…

But always for a reason.

He has intentional purpose in everything that happens.

Whether we understand it or not, nothing is changed.  His will is accomplished as a foregone conclusion – for God has already gone to the future.


So God is always working His purposes out – and always working them for good.

I believe this statement…intellectually.

But my feelings doubt it all the time.  How can bad circumstances work good purposes?  How can pain bring sanctified blessing?  How can suffering bring about something wonderful?

I think the answer must lie in perspective.

Long-range perspective.

The kind that God possesses – outside of time, eternal, all-encompassing, omniscient, perfectly holy and wise.

How do I know this?

Well, I'm pondering another rather unlikely postcard from the Bible:

"I have a plan for the sin of mankind.  Sending a baby.  God"

Huh???

Would you have picked this plan?

Who would have thought that a baby who couldn't feed himself, couldn't clean himself, couldn't stay alive without nurture and care would end up saving the world?

Um, I guess God did.

And this is the Truth that I hold on to as I face my own struggles, and read about the ones that you are facing.

This one stunning reversal of fortunecradle to crucifixion to conqueror – this is the shocking truth that I hold on to so tightly.

It is the one truth that gives me hope when circumstances unravel, when plans and dreams fray, when emotions become ragged.

The end of the story has not happened yet – not mine, not yours, not the Lord's.

The threads are still being woven.

His purposes are being worked out in the most unlikely characters, in the most unusual ways, and in just the right timing.

I've got proof!


Noah's stormy skies didn't prevent him from saving a remnant of God's creation.

Jonah's boat ride and whale-watching expedition didn't keep him from saving an entire city of repentant people.

Caleb's wilderness trek of 40 years didn't exclude him from the Promised Land.

Samson's haircut didn't stop him from destroying the Philistines.

Moses' age didn't impede his role as the leader of an entire nation.

David's sin didn't disqualify him from the kingship that God had ordained.

Job's obvious and terrible suffering didn't thwart him from winning a terrific victory against the devil.


And my trials, my suffering, my struggles, my doubts – nor yours eitherwill avert God's ultimate purposes for our lives and our roles in His story.

No thing, no one, no how!

And someday, there will be an end to the story, for it has been written by God Himself.

It WILL happen…

In just the right way, and just the right timing.

We can hold on to that Truth when we're in the middle of the book.  Keep your eyes on the epilogue, for the story has a very happy ending.


Here's one more unlikely postcard:

"I win.  The Enemy."

Uh no, you don't.






History is His Story.
The future is already written.
And the story ends
with
happily ever after!



"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)

"O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us.  Your plans for us are too numerous to list.  You have no equal.  If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them." (Psalm 40:5, NLT)

"Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan." (Ephesians 1:11, NLT)

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." 
(Romans 8:28, NASB)

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good..." 
(Genesis 50:20, ESV)

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT)

"But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us." (Romans 8:37, NASB)

"'I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world.'" (John 16:33, NLT)

"...'Lord, to whom would we go?  You have the words that give eternal life.'" (John 6:68, NLT)



Are you confident in the way the Story ends?  How does that affect the way you live out today?



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, SALT & LIGHT, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITE, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, WHAT YOU WISH WEDNESDAY, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, SO MUCH AT HOME, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, TELL HIS STORY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, THRIVING THURSDAY, HEARTS FOR HOME, GRACE AT HOMEEVERYDAY JESUS, FAITH BARISTA, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, WEDNESDAY'S PRAYER GIRLS, ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, STILL SATURDAY, SATURDAY SOIREE, WEEKEND BREW, RECOMMENDATION SATURDAY, GIVE ME GRACE, SUNDAY STILLNESS



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"