Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Do you trust me?

That is a question I believe God asks all of us on a daily basis. Do you trust me to fix your marriage? Do you trust me to open the doors for a job? Do you trust me to give you a child? Do you trust me to fulfill the promises you were given? Do you trust me?

It is a question that truly requires us to be honest within ourselves and if we are honest, our actions typically reflect that we do not completely trust God. When we doubt, we are not completely trusting in Him. In addition, when we fear, worry, get frustrated, etc we also don't completely trust.

And so God takes the questions one step further. He asks: Do you trust My will for your life? Do you trust My way for your life? Do you trust My timetable for your life?  And the really hard question do you trust me even when it doesn't happen the way you want it to?

Do you trust God when He tells you to move and you want to stay? Do you trust God when others around you get promotions yet you remain in the same position? Do you trust God when the doors you thought were going to open, stay closed? Do you trust God when things seem to be falling apart rather than coming together? Do you trust Him?

 This is a question that I have been hearing God ask me. We have somewhat grown out of our home. And I have discovered I am not a fan or open concept (i.e., toys everywhere) nor am I fan of two story homes. Although we don't plan on putting up our home for sale until next summer, at the earliest, two of my neighbors, who have the same floor plan as us, just recently put their homes up for sale. And so many thoughts began to go through my mind. What if their homes don't sell? What if their homes are still for sale, when we want to sell? What if they have to decrease their price? Yet as those thoughts went through my head, I could hear God, "Do you trust me?"

Years ago, when I was still single, I decided to move my bedroom around. I was going to school at the time so my room was filled with bookshelves, a desk, a dresser and a bed. To move my bedroom, I placed everything in the hallway so that I could completely re-arrange it. To the outside eye, it appeared to be chaotic and a mess, yet I knew exactly what I was doing, because I knew where the furniture would end up. The same is true for our own life. God knows the final piece of the puzzle. He knows how the story is going to end. He knows how the chapter is going to turn out. It may seem like your life is a bunch of furniture in the hallway right now, but God knows where He is going to place everything. And so we need to trust in Him.

When nothing makes sense to us, we trust Him. When life is falling apart in our eyes, we trust Him. When doors open that we never wanted open, we trust Him. When the diagnosis is bleak, we trust Him. When children are rebelling, we trust Him. When our marriage seems to be crumbling, we trust Him. When the number in the bank account is only one digit, we trust Him.

We trust Him, because He is God. The Bible tells us that He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. Don't you think the God who parted the Red Sea, multiplied the fish and the loaves, walked on water, healed the sick, raised the dead can work on your situation? He is capable of doing anything. There is nothing too hard for Him. Not only that, but His love for us is so great.

As I end this post, on Saturday Malachi was standing on our bed. Hannah was on the floor and she began saying "jump Malachi, jump Malachi!" Malachi is a little wiser at his 4 years of age, than Hannah is at 2. He knew the consequences (getting in trouble) of jumping off the bed. But Hannah illustrated the trust she had that if Malachi jumped either myself of my husband would catch him.  That is the trust we need to have in God. If He says, "Jump" we need to trust the He will catch up. God will never let us fall. He is always there.

And He is asking the question "Do you trust me?"

Monday, November 3, 2014

When we are still

Yesterday the ride to church was typical. Not even down the street from the house and the cute adorable voices repeatedly called “mommy.”

“mommy, what sound do dogs make?”

“mommy, is the sun sleeping?”

“mommy, why are those trees green?”

“mommy, can I have water?”

“mommy, did you bring my toys?”
(Constantly saying "Mommy"

Well those weren’t exactly the questions that were asked by I am pretty sure for the entire 20 minutes it took us to get to church, my name was called at least 50 times.

We get to church at 9 in the morning because my husband plays the bass guitar and he has practice. So for the 30 minutes that he practices, my children also demand my attention. We walk to the water faucet a few times, the bathroom a couple times and around the sanctuary to burn off energy. At least a few times, I have to usher the littlest one out towards the foyer because she is talking (well screaming) a little too loud. And then during worship, my children test the width of my lap by both of them attempting to sit on me.

These are the moments I cherish, but from the time my son walks into the room to wake me up in the morning my attention is devoted to them. My amazing husband (he is) works on Saturdays so there are times I feel pulled in so many directions. The weekly laundry needs to get done, the carpet vacuumed, the bathrooms cleaned. In addition, my children need me…and all of me. They need my focus and my attention.
(my children NEED my attention)

And so my days are filled with noise. I have made it a purpose to make spending time with God in prayer a priority. This is difficult at times. There are ALWAYS toys to pick up. There are ALWAYS dishes that need to be washed. There are ALWAYS clothes that need to be washed and put away. There is ALWAYS dinner that needs to be made. There is ALWAYS two children and a husband that DESERVE my attention. Even when I go to sleep there is ALWAYS noise. I am constantly thinking of the things that need to get done.

Yet I have discovered that if I am always living in noise I live a physically drained and emotionally depleted life. I need stillness. The Bible tells us “Be Still and know that I am God.” And while there might be a different context that the scripture was written, I believe it is so important that I am STILL. I need to daily make it a point to find time to be STILL and rest in the presence of God.

Last night I sat on the couch downstairs and I looked at the toys scattered throughout the house. My children were sleeping, my husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to have a date after church and I allowed myself be STILL in the presence of God. I allowed myself to not care that the toys were on the floor, and that there was a basket of laundry upstairs. I just sat and meditated on the goodness of God.

I encourage you to allow yourself to be STILL on a daily basis. I encourage you to drown out the noise of a marriage that is crumbling. Drown out the noise of a pregnancy that is not coming to pass. Drown out the noise of another year that you are single. Drown out the noise of the financial troubles. Drown out the noise of the worry that is trying to consume you. Drown out the noise of the job situation. Drown out the noise of the bleak diagnosis. Drown out the noise of your messy house. Drown out the noise…..

And just be STILL. Because it is when we are STILL that we are able to rest in God’s peace. When we are STILL we are able to hear God speak to our life and in our life. When we are STILL we are able to hear Him gain the victory over our situation. When we are STILL we are able to gain strength for the mountain in front of us. When we are STILL we able to gain comfort.


When we are STILL....

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Take me back

Early in the morning I arose. There was something burning inside of me and I could not contain it. I got down on my knees and I began to pray. I began to worship the God that I serve. I began to call Him Holy and Wonderful. Tears streamed down my face in admiration. It was 2005 and I was in a hotel room in Ethiopia. I traveled to a country thinking that somehow I would minister and serve the people there, yet in reality they ministered so greatly to me.

When I was single, I was blessed to be able to go on many short term mission trips. My first one was when I went to the Dominican Republic. I didn’t even understand Spanish but I was forever changed by that trip. A desire was birthed inside of me to go the mission field. I have no idea who God will ever open those doors or if that was just a desire for that season of my life. I witnessed people who lived in poverty but who gave their all to God. Materially, they had nothing, but spiritually they were so blessed.

The following year I was able to go to Nicaragua. I saw homes made out of tin. Homes that were smaller than my living room but the people had such a hunger for God. And in Costa Rica we traveled to a village that was so isolated from everything. We had to walk through rivers, through mud and over a wobbly bridge, but we saw a people who desired God. I remember one morning getting up early and while many people were still sleeping, I went outside to pray. The faces of those people are cemented in my memory. Faces of young people and old people all desiring God.

And then Ethiopia and Uganda two poverty stricken nations. Yet in Ethiopia tens of thousands of people sat for hours on the dirt floor worshipping God. They walked miles to the church service all the while singing praises to God. Hands lifted up, tears streaming down their face, some burying their face in the floor as they worshipped and praised God…

After every mission trip I came back with such a hunger for God. I came back with such a desire to seek after God with all my heart. This evening while praying those memories came flooding back to me. Sometimes in worship on Sunday mornings, I can visualize and see scenes from my mission trips.

Life happens. Dinner needs to be made. A paycheck needs to be earned. Houses need to be cleaned. Yet that song “Take me back…” continues to play in my mind. “Lord help me remember what it was like to get up early in the morning and cry out to worship to you in a hotel room in Ethiopia. Lord, help me remember what it was like to stand in an open pasture with tears of admiration streaming down my face in Costa Rica. Lord, help me remember what it was like to stand in a humidity filled room in Dominican Republic worshipping you. Lord, help me remember what it was like to watch people give their life to you in baptism in the oceans of Nicaragua. Lord, help me remember what it was like…”

I don’t ever want to be so consumed with life that I don’t make God my priority. I don’t want to be so consumed with all the things that are taking place around me that I don’t make God my priority. I want God to be my priority. I want Him my first love. I want to be consumed with His presence during my daily devotions. I don’t want to care what others around me may think; I want to worship openly and freely.

Lord remind what it was like when I was 20 and in the Dominican Republic and so dedicated and devoted to you. Lord, remind me what it was like when I was 22 and in Costa Rica walking miles to a church service but praising you in my heart. Lord, remind me what it was like when I was 24 and so hungry for you in Ethiopia.

So Lord, I pray take me back to those days when I opened the church for prayer. Lord, take me back to those youth services when church was over but we were still crying out to you in hunger. Lord, take me back to those Sunday church services when all programs were put aside and we allowed you to move. Lord, take me back to those two hour commutes I used to make to graduate school just mediating on your goodness. Lord, take me back to those summers where I did not want them to end because I was able to totally dedicate myself to you. Lord, take me back.

I want to thirst after you as the deer does.

I want my heart to cry after you.

I want you to be daily bread.

I want to seek after you early in the morning.

I want to be content with you.

I want you to take me back.

I want to hear you call me in the morning. I want to hear you call my name. I want to feel your spirit speaking to me. I want to feel such a close intimacy with you. I want to feel your presence and your power daily.

So Lord, today I pray that you would take me back. And I pray that you would take me further. Take me further than I have ever gone in prayer. Take me further than I have gone in your presence. Take me further.
And as you take me further in you drown out everything that prevents me from hearing your voice. Drown out the pressures of the world. Drown out what everyone else is doing. Drown out everything so that I can hear from you.
Take me back.