Archive | July 2015

Where Were You?

Galaxy Photo

Psalms 19:1-4 (NKJV) The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line[a] has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,

A few weeks ago Ed and I had the opportunity to spend a week at a lovely cabin in the mountains of North Carolina.  No cell service, no cable or wifi just us, nature and a sweet cabin.  As you can imagine, it was awesome!  While there I happened upon a National Geographic magazine from several years ago that had pictures from a recent hubble excursion.  Here I was in an area rich with the beauty of God’s handiwork in trees and mountain, rivers and wildlife and I’m holding in my hand pictures of some of the most glorious things I’ve ever seen, God’s galaxies.  To say I was humbled would be an understatement.  I was in awe.  Like most Americans, I’ve seen pictures of the planets and galaxies before but never had the impact reach me like that of how amazingly they represent our Heavenly Father.

During that week in the mountains Ed and I really experienced and felt God’s presence and it was one of the best trips we’ve ever had.  But like everything in this life, that part of our journey came to an end and we headed back to “real life”.  Very quickly the pressures and frustration of our current circumstances bounded back into our minds and onto our shoulders and the questions began again.  “God what are You up to?”  “Why is nothing seeming to change?”  “Have we missed something You’ve said?”  “What’s going on?”  You get the idea!

Fortunately for us, God had led us to an amazing pastor and author who we began to watch his sermon videos, J.D. Greear.  I was first introduced to J.D. through a daily devotional through my subscription to Faith Gateway (I’ll have more info. for you in the Resource Section below).  It was a number of months ago and God really used that word to comfort Ed & I, so I purchased his book, Jesus Con’t.  Recently we also began to listen to his teachings and in one of the sermons we were watching that was inspired by this book J.D. addressed the reaction we humans have to circumstances and situations God takes us through that to us are unfair, excruciating, devastating or unimaginable.  He talks about a number of things but one topic took me right back to those photos of the galaxies and changed the very way I was looking at my circumstances and most importantly God.  J.D. brought up Job (gulp!) and the wretched things that happened to him because God knew that no matter what satan came at him with, Job would not turn his back on God.  But that did not mean Job did not question what the heck was going on (remember Job wasn’t privy to the heavenly conversations between satan and Job’s Heavenly Father).

After 37 chapters of calamity of cataclysmic proportions and questions that we would feel Job had every right to ask, God shows up.  Interestingly enough though, God isn’t all “Way to go Job!  I knew you could do it!  I knew you’d show that pain in our rear devil what he could do with his boasting!”  No, that’s not what He says to Job.  In fact, with the wrong perspective, we think what God says seems very inappropriate for someone who trusted God with his life and everything that he had.  We could also erroneously think what God said was very arrogant.  I’m going to give you an excerpt from that conversation and Job’s response:

God:  Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?  To what were its foundations fastened?  Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Job:  Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’  Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.   Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.  Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.

Job 38:4-7; Job 42:1-6

I gave you a couple of versus but God goes on for several chapters before Job can get a word in edgewise.  Before my awestruck encounter with those photos from the Hubble I would have (and probably did in the past when I read those verses) thought that God just didn’t seem to be very nice to a man who just suffered the most of anyone we’ve seen in the Bible.  We know the rest of the story, that God gives back to Job double and more but at this point Job doesn’t know that.  But having my spiritual lens changed from our trip to the mountains and the opportunity to see afresh the majesty of God in His creation that is more amazing as you see the majesty of His galaxies, I actually began to be comforted by God’s words to Job.  I began to truly see that His question to Job of , “Where were you?  Where were you when I created all of this and planned for all of this and thought about you and every single other living person and creature?  Last I remember, you weren’t there.”, is a reminder to Job and to us that He is so much bigger than we allow Him to be in our lives.  His thoughts are so much more powerful and creative and majestic than we, as mere human creatures, can at this stage of our journey ever understand.  God’s comfort began to overtake me and like Job, I understood that I have uttered what I did not understand, things to wonderful for me. 

I don’t think it’s possible for us to, in this earthly body, grasp why we go through the things we go through.  Loss, death, evil, waiting, change in direction, change in circumstances…all of it.  It is too much for us, but for our Heavenly Father, the creator of galaxies beyond what humans can see or understand, it is all within His purview.  AND we can with confidence step back from our doubts and anxiety and confusion and know that while we weren’t there when God created everything that has been created, He was and nothing is a surprise to Him.  Despite the fact we turned control over to His enemy to corrupt what He in perfection created, that He, when He is our Lord and Savior, makes all wrong right!!

I encourage you to visit the link I’m providing of the space pictures of the galaxies.  View it with fresh eyes and marvel at your Heavenly Father, whose daughter you are.  He who created all things, and didn’t even spare His own Son but gave Him freely for you, what good thing will He withhold from you (Romans 8:32)?  As Paul goes on to say, Nothing.  So it comes down to trust.  Trusting He is wholly good, wholly loving and He says that He is, and He says He is not a man that He can lie (Numbers 23:19).  Re-read those verses from Job, maybe read the whole book of Job and then pay special attention Job chapters 38 – 41 when God is talking and chapter 42 when Job’s perspective changes.  You can trust Him, you can put your situation into His hands and know regardless of how each day of the journey goes, God’s got this.  We may never completely understand in this life, but the God who created the beauties of this earth and the majesties of the galaxies does and He is intricately working all these things for your and for my good.

A Daughter’s Prayer:  Abba the joy in my heart cannot be described when I look through my human eyes at the glory of your majesty.  I am so thankful that You are so much greater than I have believed You are.  Like Job I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not and do not know.  And I am ok with that and may each time I question you, and I am sure that I will, remind me again of Your glory and Your majesty and then show me again how much You love me and that nothing happens that You are not using for my good and the good of those I love.  Help me see with new eyes and hear with new ears, anchored in a new perspective that I am not even worthy but out of your immeasurable loving kindness, because of Jesus, I am worthy and I AM my Father’s Daughter.  Amen!

Resources:

  • HubbleSite – How people cannot believe in God after seeing this, I do not know, but these pictures are absolutely incredible!!  http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/
  • FaithGateway – I signed up to get their daily devotional emails.  Through this I have read some of the best Christian content I have ever experienced.  Now not every day and every devotional does that for me, but I would say 80% or more they speak something to me that I really need right then.  If you’re interested here’s how you can sign up.  http://www.faithgateway.com/
  • J.D. Greear – If you enjoy reading I would highly recommend J.D.’s book Jesus Con’t.  but even outside of that his sermons are life changing and point you to the One who is the one who transforms us.  http://www.summitrdu.com/messages/  Also, if you need an absolutely amazing teaching on patience, guest speaker Bryan Loritts has a fantastic one that he gave during the month of July: Bryan Loritts – Patience
  • PodBay – I first started listening to J.D. on this app on my phone as well as several other speakers.  It covers many genres but the good news is it has a lot of Christian speakers, so you may want to download this free app if you’d rather listen than watch:  PodBay for Android  PodBay for iPhone

Honest Prayers

Sheep and Shepherd

Isaiah 40:11 (NKJV) – He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.

 

 

You may have been wondering about my extended absence from my blog and I’ve wondered about that too!  It’s interesting because I know when I have something I want to post and over the last month or so, I’ve not had the words to share.  I’ve never been a book writer, so I’ve not experienced writer’s block, but this wasn’t a block it was knowing that what God was doing and saying in me wasn’t to a place that it could be shared.  But today is your lucky day, here it is!!

I think of myself as a very honest person; I work to tell the truth at all times, believe what is true and also stand for truth.  So you can imagine my surprise when it felt as if God was telling me I haven’t been honest with Him and a big part of that was because I wasn’t being honest with myself.  To describe this is going to take God’s grace because when you aren’t honest with yourself, but have always thought you were being honest with yourself and everyone else, it’s difficult to understand how you can be so far off.  This is where I believe I was, I had spent the majority of my life trying to be good, to act right, to believe right, to counter improper thoughts with correct thoughts, to forgive or have grace if I was mistreated…and the list goes on and on and on.  The bottom line is I have worked to be right.  I’ve used my will to manage myself and behaviors so that I would line up with what I thought God said, God promised and, quite frankly, what God expected.

Over this last month, something, and it hasn’t been this clear event but more of a journey, has made me realize I never have felt I could just feel and think all of these things that I feel and think when I’m angry, hurt, mad, confused or any of these negative emotions and spill them out to God.  For numerous reasons, even though I knew God knew everything I thought or felt, I believed if I thought too long on them or said them that I would cancel out what God said He would do on my behalf in His word.  It’s funny because when you really allow yourself to get to some beliefs that are way down there deep and you are able to see them, they aren’t complex or so weird that they aren’t understandable or they are not thoughts that make no logical sense, usually they are just these simple lies that we’ve believed to be true but based on God’s word, aren’t and we’ve filtered thousands of thoughts and actions through them.  Lies like we’re unlovable, that because one person close to us betrayed us that we can’t trust anyone or God is mad at me or I’ve been so bad, I can never be truly right.  But when these deep lies are exposed and God’s light of truth is shined on them, we can see what maybe for a lifetime, has held us hostage and if we can believe God’s truth we can really be free.  Also, that freedom breaks many other issues in our lives that grew because of that lie.

That’s what I’ve been doing these last several weeks.  Getting to a place where I could let God tell me I have a problem that’s affecting many areas of my life.  Things I’ve wanted to see God change, big things, have been rooted in this problem.  When I was hurt or upset I wouldn’t let myself be honest, with myself or with God, and I’d cover it and cover it and cover it but God in His mercy only let’s us hide stuff for so long.  And if we’re asking, and I was!, He’s faithful to show us, but at the same time He’s working in us to be in a place where we can come out in victory on the other side.  There’s pain in the process, and that’s usually why we avoid it, but I’ve had pain from all of the things I’ve been covering, so I’d rather plunge in with God in the pain and come out healed vs. hitting it unwittingly when I least expect it because I’ve got land mines buried everywhere.

So here we are, I suddenly (it was a suddenly that was a long time coming!!) realize that I don’t acknowledge the ugly emotions that I get when something bad happens or someone or something hurts me and because of that I don’t tell God what I’m feeling so that He can overtake me with His word and His love and keep that experience from becoming a new wound that never gets healed.  And I don’t get stronger in those areas because I don’t let Him become my answer in those areas, instead I’m looking for a solution somewhere else and usually in someone else; myself, my husband, my kids, friends or someone I think is an expert in that area, but not God.  Again, seems obvious when you see it in black and white, but in the murky waters of our inside self, it’s so easy and so natural to look for an answer that’s not God.  Here’s what I’ve been learning, though, it is so freeing to be honest with God and it’s been really amazing that as I spew out the junk then a scripture pops up in my mind and I look it up and His Word overtakes me and my spirit says, “Yes, Lord, that’s what I want in this situation.  That’s what I want You to be for me in this.”  I’ve had this happen while I’m in bed when I was dealing with some really hard emotions, I’ve had it happen at my desk, while I was writing out my fears and frustrations over a big issue, and I’ve had it happen in the shower while I cried because I was so mad at an argument I’d just had and felt I’d been totally treated unfairly.  Each and every time I poured out to myself and to God all of the ugly emotions I felt, all the unfairness it seemed I was being subjected to, all the rights of mine I felt were being trampled and the injustice of my circumstance and situation and then God in His kindness and mercy put a piece of scripture in my mind.  I would then look it up and each and every time it was so amazing how appropriate it was.  Some times I’d look them up on Google and God would also point out an article or teaching that would lead me to an additional passage that just made the truth even greater in me.

This is huge in me right now, and I want to give you every chance to see what and how God is doing this so I’m going to share one of my prayers (this is my way, you should always feel free to do it your way because God loves it exactly how you are comfortable doing it).  I hope that my experience will help you feel comfortable to have your own if you haven’t in the past.  I’m also going to provide at the end of today’s post a link to some resources that helped me tremendously in praying honest prayers.  Let the chips fall where they may and then see our Heavenly Father, who loves His daughters so much more than we know, show up and love us through the mess.

A Daughter’s Honest Prayer:  Lord, today I just feel bad.  I feel lost, confused and down.  I know that there are things that you are doing and have done, but the unknown is overwhelming me.  Help.  I need help.  In my spirit it’s like I’m in a dark rainy place and I’m curled up feeling abandoned and hopeless.  I’m asking, “Where are You God?”  Why is this so hard and why does the way forward continue to escape our inquiries?  I don’t know what to do.  I have no clue as to what You are saying, what You desire.  I don’t hear “yes” and I don’t hear “no”…it feels like I hear nothing.  Well maybe not nothing, maybe, “Follow Me”, but I’m not sure I know where “Follow Me” is coming from.  I’d love to follow You, but where are You?!

I feel like I’ve asked and have kept on asking, and that I’ve knocked and kept on knocking but the part where You open the door and where You answer the question…that part hasn’t, isn’t happening.  You’ve promised that You never leave us, nor do You forsake us, so based on that I know You are here…but the lamp unto my feet and light unto my path part…where is that?  You say You are that, You say that as You do this new thing You’ll show us…where is that part of the promise?

I know I am feeble, but as far as I am able I’ve surrendered and I’ve laid myself at Your feet.  I’ve asked to die to myself and become alive to You.  When does the alive part happen?  I admit it, I’m just plain scared.  I know I’m not supposed to be, but I am.  Not all the time, not every day, but today, right now I am.  And I’m upset!  I’m upset with everyone else who knows what we’re going through and doesn’t say or do what seems like would be helpful and encouraging.  I know these aren’t right thoughts and emotions, but they are what I have right now.  All I can do is tell them to You and let You do with them what needs to be done with them.

Help.  I know I need Your help.  Holy Spirit, my Comforter, Jesus my ever present help in time of need.  I desire help from my good shepherd.  As Rich Mullins said, “Hold me Jesus, I’m shaking like a leaf.  You’ve been my King of Glory, won’t You be my Prince of Peace?”*  Amen.

Resources:

Here is a link to a folder where I have several exercises and tools I’ve used as I’ve dug into spending more time talking to my Heavenly Father and being in a place to hear His voice and experience His presence.  I think you’ll find them very helpful!  Prayer Resources

If you’re unfamiliar with Rich Mullin’s song, “Hold Me Jesus”, here’s a link to the words and his video.  I find this song really moving, especially when I’m struggling with what’s going on in a bad situation.  Hold Me Jesus