On Real Trust and Real imperfection

I think my biggest problem with trust has always been this stark awareness of my own ability to mess things up.  I’m learning how — trusting and believing– they’re very closely related.  I remember how the amplified Bible often included “clinging, trusting, depending on” as it explored the depth and beauty of the language from which we translated “believe”.

But trusting Him…clinging to Him, it’s not really about me.  It’s about who He is, what He says. His trustworthiness.

And what will it be? No, what is it?  Because, I really can’t control what I will choose in five years, five days, five minutes.  I can only choose in this moment.  It’s all I’ve been given in this realm of time and space.

Real trust keeps believing and swallowing the life-sustaining, enough-for-this-day peace-Bread He offers.  And Jesus is that Bread.  And He keeps on giving, because He is Living Bread.  Real trust surrenders the perceived  need for any exemptions from the command, “don’t worry about anything, but pray about and give thanks for all things.”  Real trust allows for perception change when that, which we cannot see as grace, becomes a deeper glimpse into the heart of a God Who is Love, and has a plan that is good, and which nothing can thwart.

Because He knew how anxiety gets us into so much trouble.  How it twists our stomachs, our hearts, and the paths that He would make straight.  And how He really is using it for conforming these images to the Image.  And how it strangles the peace, chokes the faith sustaining our intimacy.  Paralyzes these clay jars that He purposed for all-surpassing-greatness revealing.  And how all worry is just “this desperate clinging to wanting things my own way”.

Real trust can only be if there is a God who is good and loves me.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

“Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’  Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the One he has sent.'”  John 6:28-29

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever would believe on Him, would have eternal life.” John 3:16

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

“And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.” 1 John 4:23

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The Really Best Birthday Gift

She’s turning 10 today.  This amazing girl whose name means “grace”.  For weeks, we’ve schemed and planned, looked for “perfect” gifts.  But….

There’s this knowing inside of me that knows the gifts themselves won’t bring lasting satisfaction.  Because they’re not intended for that.

She’s thanked us for the presents and…

I’m thinking, there’s one more gift I really want to give her, to help her see, so that she’ll know the secret that doesn’t have to be hidden…  That it’s gratitude that keeps on helping us see all of God’s gifts.

She numbers her index card and counts the gifts…

She’d already forgotten some of them, just like me.  Forgetting what great grace I’ve been given, until I name it, write it down, and this smile just slips on.  Thanking Him for exactly what is, how it is, Who He is, who He’s made me– not this shell, but my “in-Christ-ness”.  Being present in the present with the Presence is the present!  This depth of treasure that is available to all who see the the Gift. It’s Him!  Grace Himself, the One who satisfies the hungry and thirsty, and keeps on satisfying, and keeps on giving more and more grace, because…”He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

And, it was right there on my daily verse this morning, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

When mountains move

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

A friend of mine recently wrote a great blog about a similiar passage I thought was worth sharing, you can find it here http://weaklyexperience.blogspot.com/2012/08/fig-trees-and-mountains.html

I was thinking about these ‘moving mountains’ today, too.  About how the ego in us wants to be involved even in being the “best” Christian, the spiritual giant of our time.  Then, I was thinking how Jesus always seemed to be pointing us to be doing the secret, almost imperceivable things to be great in His kingdom.  I wondered, how can our faith moving a mountain not get us some kind of spiritual clout?!  What does moving massive boulders have to do with loving others?

Here are some thoughts:

Perhaps, it has to do with the prayer of faith that literally changes the atmosphere.  That that which was once an immovable obstacle to a fellow sojourner has disappeared as we join our faith with the heart and will of God.  That, when we trust in Him, lean not on our own understanding, acknowledge Him in all our ways, He makes our paths straight.

That, when we strengthen ourselves in the Lord, we “make level paths for our feet, so that the lame may not be disabled but rather healed.” Heb. 12:12-13

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God..” Hebrews 12:15a

What do you think?

“You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded…

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.  You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.  You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”  Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24

I have not arrived, but that’s not the point

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.  And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.  Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”

Phillipians 3:12~16

Looking for God (#2091 and 2092 on my gratitude list)

I was looking for Him.  Wondering how in the world I would find Him in washing the bedding, vacuuming the floors, mothering so messily.  I knew He was here, He is “I Am”.  So, it must be possible to find Him.  I prayed silently for godly order in us as I put things in their places.  Thought of God’s patience and unfathomable love toward us as I pondered how many times I’ve washed the same garments, only to have them get dirty and need the washing again.  I thanked Him that He knew I’d need the continual washing to be of any use.  Thanked Him that He wasn’t surprised.  That He had a process for these sorts of things.  I prayed for the people who wore the clothes and played with the toys I put away.  I wondered how much passion could be put into laundry, and school, and…anything.

As I enfolded the mattress with the sheet corner, I saw a 3×5 card.  It was one of the eight we made that Beth Moore encouraged us to write as she led us through a study of Queen Esther.  We learned about some of the specific challenges God’s women might face, and how God could be the One to hold them.

On one side it said, “It’s tough being a woman who can balance passion with patience.”

The corresponding scripture on the other side was where I found Him, (#2091 on the gratitude list), “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion.  For the Lord is God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for Him.” (Isaiah 30:18)

#2092- the folks who stopped to buy cold coffee from the 9 year old entrepeneur daughter in the wet grass with the rabbit cage table, and even gave a tip!  It made it all worth it for her!

When you don’t feel it

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

1 Peter 2:24

I don’t know what particular set of events, genetics, or personality make-up in me contribute, but I have been one who, in the past, was absolutely consumed with guilt.  There were times when my guilt was appropriate.  When I stole a piece of candy at the store on vacation when I was 6.  When I lied or gossipped behind a friend’s back.  The list of my infractions could go on.   But there have been times, too, when I’ve turned from my sin through God’s power, asked forgiveness, yet did not feel forgiven at all.  What does that mean?  If Christ says that I am forgiven, then isn’t it so?

  I came to accept Christ’s payment for my unrighteousness when I was 17.  Understanding that there was nothing I could do to overcome my sinful nature in my own power, I fell head over heels in love with a Saviour who came to earth and said He would make it possible, and then did.   Jesus, the Son of God, lived a sinless life, was fully God and fully man, able to empathize completely with our weakness and struggle, and the only one able to overcome through a perfect life and sacrificing that perfect life on behalf of every human who would receive the gift.  This news absolutely changed my life.   For a time, my faith seemed so solid.  I genuinely felt forgiven when I asked for it.  It seemed there was unlimited power to overcome the things in my life that weren’t pleasing to God.  It was obvious, I was a new creation.

As time passed, the feelings became less powerful.  And somehow I connected my faith with my feelings.  I doubted that God was continuing to forgive and work in my life because I didn’t feel it.  James says that if I say I believe, and my actions don’t show it, I don’t really believe and I’m lying to myself. (James 1&2) He didn’t seem to think feelings were as relevant as actions in connection with my beliefs.  

I see this same paradigm, not just with faith, but with all of God’s gifts.  For instance, Love.   “Love is a verb.  It is a choice, not a feeling.”  Wise words that stuck with me and rang true in my core.  After 9 years of marriage, I can say I agree wholeheartedly.  When everything is not about me.  When things do not go my way.  When I do not feel romantic or have butterflies in my stomach.  When I am hurt.  Love is not a feeling.  It is a choice.  It’s interesting that psychology tells us that there is a circular behavioural pattern involving: thoughts–>feelings–>actions.  That you can choose to change one of those and the others will automatically be effected.  For me, dealing with the thoughts and actions arena has proven most helpful.  And I love that God reminds us through Paul that, “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy–think on these things.” (phillipians 4:8) Word in, Word out.  When I change my thoughts or actions, slowly but surely, my feelings line up.  I cook dinner when I don’t feel like it because I want to love my family, warmth oozes in.  Give a massage to an achy husband– love in action, a butterfly flutters.  Suddenly, I am feeling love.  With Service: give to someone in need, feel more blessed.  It is the same with forgiveness; Fall short, fall on knees, fall on grace; get up with the knowledge that I am white as snow, eyes catch a glimpse of Him.  Feel it or not, I’m forgiven because God said so. When I can’t choose the feeling, I can choose the thought, the action.  It is a hard process, but so worth it.  I had never read the Bible before I was 17.  I have never hungered for anything like I do the Living Bread.  I need it.  My process has been messy.  We’re all a bit broken.  That is why He came.  That is the good news!  That when I don’t feel it, He is true.  That when I am so infantile and have so much to learn, He is the Grace I need to get where He is leading.   I can trust and believe by acting like it and thinking like it.

 Word in, Word out.  Change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.  “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)

Have you heard the Good News of what Jesus has done for you?  Yes, you!  Jesus said, “For I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.” And when the “church people” of Jesus’ day saw him eating a meal with folks who were looked down upon in their community they questioned why He would eat with the “sinners”.  Jesus responded, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”  You see, Jesus had nothing to offer the folks who thought they had it all together.  Even though they claimed to love God, follow all the rules, and even deprive themselves for ‘religious’ reasons, Jesus said they were “hypocrites”, “white washed tombs”, and “snakes”.  So, if you find yourself among the “not enough on your own”, knowing there is an inner life that He sees and desires to make right, there is a place in His Kingdom for you.  He is the Door.  We can only enter through Him.  His death on the cross is what we can accept for our righteousness.  This is where we all begin the real life.  You can take a step in faith by seeking more. For more on new life with Christ, read the Bible, begin to talk to God, (I know that sounds crazy, but He is real and He wants to have a relationship with you), find other Christ-followers.

Open Up

Could they see right through these holes in me?  Is that why they came to give?  Called to ask and bless?  Made all my questions retreat like defeated foes.

All day long I fought with those questions.  Tried hard counting blessings to remember what counts.  Struggled hard to find God in my work.  To find my work.

He came home ready to bless and confused the Accuser and the accused.

I protested, feeling unworthy.  Who affirms the soul’s work?

I saw the pain in his eyes when I refused the gift.  Refused to let him be the blessing.

Stop.  Refuse this gift and refuse grace.  Choose to block the waters, to stop the flow.

Open up.  Unclench the fists, the heart.

There.

There we are now…all open wide, yes, blessing and being blessed.  No longer knowing who is giving and who is receiving.  Acknowledging God, right here, His gifts in and through us.

 

Soul more full, water faucet flows, and so does grace.  I hum a happy tune, cleaning dinner dishes, thankful again for my work, though still not all sure what it is.  The phone rings and it’s the friend we celebrate with on the birth of first son, four days old now.  I smile wide, because they let me share in this celebration, taking time to call with updates.  Time doesn’t really exist for them right now.  I laugh and listen to the adventures they’re having.  They’re well, joyful, and thankful.  But, they’ve called with a question.

I’m glad, anxious to hear.  I’d been hoping I could serve some way.  Hoping to be the blessing.

“Will you and Jason be the godparents?” 

Time has stopped for me too, now. 

 The water is still flowing.  My eyes are wide and I laugh a real, happy joy.

“Yes! yes!”

I don’t know what all my work is, but godbabies need praying women and God-seekers.  This I will do.