Saturday, May 30, 2009

When The Rain Comes...

Lately, it seems like more and more people I know are in a time of struggle. From feeling the sting of death as my sister in law’s father passed away to many friends and family around me struggling through financial hard times; all around things feel bleak, like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The other day I had lunch with my brother and in the midst of all that was going on, I felt sad that life has to be this difficult. I felt hopeless because I had no answers for any of the questions and I had no solutions for any of the problems; I felt powerless.

As I headed back to work the song that came onto was Third Day, “When The Rain Comes”. I sent a text with the lyrics to my brother, “I can’t stop the rain from falling down on you again, I can’t stop the rain but I will hold you ‘till it goes away.” That’s how I have felt with all of those around me going through struggles. I can’t stop the rain from coming down, but I can be there holding your hand until they are gone. I noticed it said, “I can’t stop the rain from falling down on you AGAIN.” Inevitably, the rain will come, again and again, but if we are there for each other bearing one another’s burdens as it says in Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” then we find the way to persevere.

Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that trials are a sure thing to come in this world, but that we can have peace knowing that He has overcome the world. We have to know that the rain will always come, but that He always comes with it. Sometimes it feels like we want to run away, another part of the song says “When the rain comes/It seems that everyone has gone away/when the night falls you wonder if you shouldn’t find someplace to run and hide/escape the pain/But hiding is such a lonely thing to do.” We want to run but I have to believe this song is straight from the heart of Jesus. Though the rain will come, He is there holding on to us. He promises us “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

Jesus wants us to know that in Him, we will find rest. The song finishes “Rest awhile/ it'll be alright/No one loves you like I do/When the rain comes/I will hold you.” This is the promise of the Good Shepherd who loves us and will never leave us. No one loves us like Jesus and no one will hold us safely in their arms like He does.

Just to reassure me further, the very next song that came on was also by Third Day and started “To you, O Lord, I lift my soul/In you, O God, I place my trust/Do not let me be put to shame/Nor let my enemies triumph over me/My hope is you/Show me your ways/Guide me in Truth/In all my days.” In God our hope lies, “I will lift my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121: 1-2) I knew in my heart that God was reassuring me that though it seemed like there were no answers or solutions, He really is the answer, the solution.

That night, my brother came over for dinner and we ate, we joked, and we laughed…and it rained the whole time.

Jesus, thank You for bringing the rain and for meeting us where we are when it comes. Thank you for holding us in the midst of the storm, quieting our hearts, and reassuring us that it will pass and that you will stay with us until it does.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An Alarm Clock or A Calling?

“Is it an alarm clock or a calling that gets you out of bed in the morning?” This is an ad from a magazine that Pastor Greg Laurie has quoted in a few of his sermons. It stayed with me the very first time he said it, but never came into full view for me until the last day of our spring semester of Bible study. As I listened to brave ladies give their incredible and sometimes heart breaking testimonies of how the Lord worked in them through His Word, one thought kept repeating itself in my head, “this is why I do what I do every day.”

People often ask me, why do you work at the church? Why did you take a pay cut to work there? Why do you work such long hours during Bible study or for an event? Why are you here when it’s your day off or you are supposed to be on vacation? Why don’t you ever leave “work” at work? The answer is simple, it’s not my job, it’s my calling. Often times I hear people who say they are not sure what they are called to do; they work at jobs that pay the bills, getting up at the same time every day to the alarm clock snapping them out of sleep. Sadly, they find that at the end of the day they are no more fulfilled than when they first began. This is not to say that anyone who doesn’t work in the ministry has a meaningless job. Often people are called to be doctors, trash man, or insurance agents, simply because that is the avenue that God has chosen to use them; they are in the ministry right where they are…they are called.

My calling is a room full of women, worshipping the Lord, hearing the Word taught, and sharing in their lives. In the past I would have nothing to do with women as friends; the many women I met in the world were catty and ruthless. When the Lord called me, I had to stop and ask Him if He was talking to the right gal; me, in the women’s ministry? In my old life that would have been my worst nightmare. Thankfully, the Lord doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those He calls. What He equipped me with was a heart for lost women, for women who feel like they don’t have a place, for women who don’t feel loved, or like they fit into God’s kingdom. Some of them even feel like they can’t possibly fit. That is my calling, for I know that everyone has a place in God’s house. No matter what skills you have, or don’t have for that matter, you still have a niche of your own in the Lord’s arms. My joy is being used by Him to reveal that; it’s nothing in my life or wisdom; it’s all His will, His timing, His calling.

Honestly, some days ministry is the hardest job I have ever had. The spiritual attacks can seem endless and daunting. The tasks at hand can sometimes seem impossible or beyond what we can comprehend. But God tells us that all things work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). And it is a high calling, as Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:1 “I beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.” We have to walk worthy of the King that we serve and that is the highest calling there is. I learned early on to lay it all at His feet to begin with, admit that I can never do it without Him, and ask Him to pick it up and show me the way. People often ask me why I seem so calm in the midst of the chaos. I have found that no matter the task, no matter the event, God always shows up as long as I am walking worthy of what He has called me to do. This is the way it is whether you are in full time ministry or pumping gas at the corner station.

Every day I now ask myself, it is my alarm clock or my calling that gets me out of bed? It’s a great heart check and a way to know daily that my life belongs to the Lord. So ask yourself, are you called and if so, have you answered the call?

Lord, thank You for calling me to be Your child even though I was a ruthless sinner myself. Thank You for taking this life and making it something that is worthy to be called Yours.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Two Hands

I’ve been living out of sanity
I’ve been splitting hairs and blurring lines
I am a house that is divided
In my heart and in my mind

I use one hand to pull closer
The other to push you away
If I had two hands doing the same thing
Lifted high, lifted high

“Two Hands” Jars of Clay

I heard this song on the radio one morning last week and after that it was in my head all day. I realized that this is often the inner turmoil we face as we try and walk with the Lord. At times it can seem like we have two separate people in us, one longing to get closer to the Lord and one trying to push Him away. We want all that He has for us, but when it gets hard we want to quit and say never mind. Some days the story of my life is Romans 7:19 “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice” There are so many days that I want to do the will of the Lord, and I simply don’t. There are so many days that I don’t want to sin, and I simply do.

When I heard the song, my husband and I were in a disagreement and the lyric kept repeating in my head “If I had two hands doing the same thing”. I realized that not only can there be an inner warring in each of us, but for those of us that are married, there can also be a warring with our spouses. God said that once we were married, we were then one flesh, one person in His eyes (Genesis 2:24). So when we fight or are at odds with our spouse, it is the same idea. We are two hands of the Lord doing different things. In my mind, it would be like trying to play the piano with one hand and crochet with the other. Each on their own would be able to be done, but doing them at the same time is counterproductive. I am sure there is someone out there who has the ability to play piano and crochet, but because you would not be giving either of the tasks individual focus you would not be doing either the best that you possibly could. If we are going one way and our spouse is going another, we will never be doing the perfect will of God. Only when we are working as one, in our hearts, our minds, and our spirits can we fully be doing the will of the Lord.

Mark 3:35 clearly says “and if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” If we are moving in two different directions we will never make any progress. Christ tells us that we are one body and that all parts are needed and should be working in sync for the same goal (1 Corinthians 12:12-26). When we don’t function as a body either in the body of Christ or even in ourselves, we are bound for doom.

And if we just keep digging,

we can reach the foundation of our souls

And if we just keep cutting all the

chains from our hearts we’ll lose control

If Christ is in us, then He is in our hearts and if we dig deep and remove the chains from our hearts, then He will reign. He takes control, and we simply follow, with two hands lifted high in praise and adoration.

Lord, help me to remember that I am never more in sync with You than when I have two hands lifted up to you. Lifted in praise, lifted waiting to see what You have for me, lifted reaching for You, always reaching for You.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Believing Is Seeing

Two weeks ago my husband surprised me with a lovely trip to Santa Fe, NM for our fourth anniversary. One day, he arranged for us to ride the Southern Santa Fe Railway train to Lamy, NM. Though the sleepy little village is 18 miles from Santa Fe, the train gently chugs along so slowly that the trip is an hour one way. It was perfect timing because though it was April, Santa Fe was in the middle of a snow storm. As we pulled out of the train station, there were big flakes swirling down and sticking to anything they could. Our train car was an enclosed upper deck, so sitting a level above the roof of the train we were able to see everything. Duncan and I snuggled into a cozy seat for two and prepared ourselves for the trip with some hot cocoa and candy bars.

Half way through the trip warmed with cocoa, I was content to sit and gaze at the lovely scenery blanketed in snow. As I looked out the window, where I knew mountains should have been, all I saw were grey snow clouds. It was an unsettling feeling, knowing there were sizable mountains there, but unable to see them because of something as simple as clouds. As I reassured myself the mountains were there even if I couldn’t see them, I realized this is very much our view of God at times. We know in our heart that God is a strong, immovable presence like a mountain, yet there are times that things get in the way, like clouds, or storms in life and the minute we can’t see Him, we get unsettled.

At times, we are content to sit and enjoy the ride not caring that we can’t see Him, knowing no matter what He is there. Other times, we get anxious and uncertain. We find ourselves searching for any glimpse we can get of Him. Hebrews tells us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Though we cannot see God at all times and many times we cannot see Him working, He is there, and is steadfast at work in our lives and those around us. “The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary.” (Isaiah 40:28) We are reassured that He never gets tired, never gets worn out, and never gives up. He doesn’t take time outs or quick naps, He doesn’t even sleep. He is attentive to watch His sheep and always knows where we are no matter how far we travel.

At one point, though I knew they were there, I asked Duncan, who reassured me that yes, there should be mountains there. Eventually, I realized that I couldn’t spend my entire trip worrying about not being able to see mountains that I knew were there. I simply had to let it go and trust what I knew. This is the same thing we should do when it seems we cannot see the Lord. We should never allow what we don’t know or see to overshadow what we do know about our God, and that is that He will never leave us or forsake us, His word promises that over and over. (Joshua 1:5) We cannot spend our lives debating things we already know the answer to; otherwise we miss the beautiful things the Lord has put before us. He wants us to be along for the ride, no matter what we can or can’t see. It’s the faith of things hoped for, things unseen that God uses to draw us closer to Him, and away from the worries of this world.

Lord, thank you for being my strong mountain that I know is immovable. No matter what clouds my view, I know you are always with me.