Wednesday, April 30, 2014

when God speaks in unexpected ways...

So the other day I was listening to The Proposal as I was getting some tasks done.   Can we just take a moment to recognize the comedy genius of this movie?  It will always remain on my go to list.

Love me some Sandra B.

Anyways, I reach the scene where Margaret (Sandra) finds Grandma Annie (always hilarious Betty White) out in the woods thanking nature for bringing Margaret and Andrew (Ryan) together. 

I’ve watched this scene countless times and never once have I stopped and thought about what Grandma Annie is doing because it fits her character to be kinda wacky so I never questioned it.  But, this time around it stopped me in my tracks.

Suddenly, I wondered why in the world is she thanking nature of all things for bringing Margaret and Andrew together? 

What causes us to give power over our lives to the things of this earth?

I then remember that Native Indians worshiped many aspects of nature believing that it determined their future.  Israelite's formed the golden calf worshiping it while Moses was on the mountain waiting to receive the Ten Commandments from God.

I began thinking of all of the religions who worship physical idols and kept thinking why on earth would you worship something created by yourself.  By men. 

What makes us worship something that is lower on the totem pole than ourselves? 

Why do we think it has powers beyond our own self? 

Then God lowers the boom... 

You know like the one that a Preacher uses with finesse in sermons.  They throw you off guard by starting off the sermon with an interesting/funny story.  They have you so distracted that you are wholly unaware of when they deliver the boom that the person who was unjust or hateful or ignorant in their story could just as easily be you.  It’s a useful technique and I suddenly found God using it on me.

Here I am a young woman who loves the Almighty God.  I have not physically attributed power to any one thing on this earth that I allow to shape my beliefs.  I’m not following that line of thinking.  I momentarily excluded myself from that group…until I felt said boom.

He made it clear to me that I do this same thing, however discreetly, on a daily, moment by moment basis.  Ugh…talk about a rude awakening.  It hurt.  I didn't really want to be aware of my junk...which is precisely why he brought it to light.

I make an idol out of…

my appearance/how I match up to others
how successful I am in life
involvement in ministering to others
being active/working out
my talents/skills
spending time with friends and family
meeting the criteria of what I have been told a woman should be

and so on and on in the daunting list…

I try to use all of these idols as a means to control the direction of my future in the way that I want it to go.  Control is oftentimes the root of why we choose to worship idols of our own making rather than the God who has dominion and power over all things.  Our reach and power does not exist without him first giving it to us.  That is the beauty of his giving us a choice. 

He has given us the ability to choose something other than him even though he has complete dominion over those other something’s.

Mind blowing.

We get impatient when God doesn't respond with what we are expecting.  
We fail to give a listening ear.  
We use prayer as a means to gripe about our problems/desires without ever actually giving it up to his control.  
We make the choice to hang onto our requests to him instead of letting the burden be removed from us.

He is our Shepherd and we are his sheep.  Sheep are not burden-bearing.  So why do we continue to live in a burdened state of being when we have a Shepherd who is begging for us to drop it and move on?
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (NIV)   ~Galatians 5:1

We create idols out of things we have power over so that we can feel in control of our future.  Those idols then weigh us down and leave us with a burden we are unable to bear. 

Idols lead to being burdened which leads to an unbearable, dissatisfying life.

God leads to grace and faith which leads to freedom.

Suddenly things become clear when a midst the darkness there is a light that shows itself brighter as we draw closer to it.  Freedom is no easy task to accomplish when you involve humans who are consistently good at holding onto bad habits that come naturally to us. 
It takes building a faith habit.

It takes giving up the gripe you have been hanging onto in your prayers.

It takes walking each day, moment by moment in the grace of God.

Many people live each day without the provision of grace and peace to which we are spoiled with.  Its like we are throwing away coupons for a free life. 
Perhaps if we actually believed what we say and showed it in our lives those without it would be able to see what they are missing.
Cast away your burdens and receive grace which propels you forward in the faith-walk, daily, moment by moment.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

when you consider not doing this whole blog thing at all...

Since the beginning of this year I have fought an inner war regarding blogging.  One that questioned my motives, who the audience would be and what I would write about. 

Because I mean who would care about what I would have to write about…I don’t even know what I want to write about…I don’t have anything interesting to share…Most popular blogs are by people who have a family and tons of things happening to share…I don’t know the first thing about organizing a blog…

These are some of the many thoughts that run through my brain. 

I wasn’t sure why I even wanted to start a blog (which is generally not a good sign of longevity).  Before I jumped on this train I wanted to be sure I knew why and where I was going.  But I didn’t want it to just be about me.  I realized I want it to have a lasting purpose beyond myself. 

I have always loved words, both reading and writing them.  Putting words down makes them permanent in my life.  I remember experiences longer and with more depth when I have pondered them and 'put pen to paper'. I especially love reading blogs which showcase the ongoing lives of people.  I love being present with them in their discoveries of themselves and their interests.  I realized I do not want to attract a huge audience, simply those who wish to join me on this journey where life is leading.

Ever since high school I have become a lazy writer.  I don’t write anymore just for the sake of writing.  For this reason I have become sloppy with my writing skills (this is me asking for mercy as I try to get back on the bicycle after several years of not riding.  i.e. a little wobbly and awkward).  I have missed utilizing this creative side that the Lord gave me.  Its time I draw this part of me back out into the world.  So as I begin writing again I am simply going to share life with you in a setting where I will be held accountable to following through.  Let’s be honest, since no one else will ever read my journal I do not feel the obligation to be consistent.  But, if you are a part of it I will uphold my part of the accountability relationship we are forming.  Deal?  Ok, good.

I have realized that this is not just for me and it’s not just for you.  It’s for both of us.  Like many things in life you just jump in and figure it out along the way.  It’s time to discard those discouraging thoughts and start a new adventure.

My prayer is that we will both be blessed by the outcome of this act of jumping in with abandonment.

With this abandonment comes a raw quality.  It is my hope that you will be raw right alongside me.  I want to be real with you and oftentimes that can look ugly.  I have noticed though that I tend to connect best with those who are honest with me, even about the ugly stuff. Let’s face it we are used to seeing 30 second highlight reels that make us feel horrible about our 5 hour deleted scenes that never make it to the screen, but haunt us just the same.

This life is messy and beautiful all at once.  May we learn to recognize the beauty and value encompassed in both a rain-filled, cloudy day and a gloriously sunny day together.