Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hannah's Journey


Hannah's Journey was written in 2006 after she spent three days in the hospital. It offers us a glimpse of the love our Father has for His children and the reasons He allows suffering this side of eternity. This powerful lesson taught me that He walks us into our times of testing and wants to comfort us through them.

Hannah's Journey 2006
God further reveals himself during times of trouble. He strips away all distractions. The mundane events of our day are no longer the issue of our frustrations. The little list of to do’s is thrown out the window along with our preconceived agendas on what the day holds. What is left is a new perspective.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006, Hannah our little girl is sick. She is having a hard time walking, wobbling around as if drunk. Her determination is what keeps her going but she is clearly troubled and insecure. She gropes about looking for something to hold onto her eyes showing every emotion. What we see right now is panic. She sits down and holds up her arms for me to pick her up. She is tired and gives up the fight for now but she will try again. She rests her head on my shoulder, puts her finger in her mouth and we wait. Wait for the series of tests we are told must be preformed. Over the next three days Hannah will undergo a MRI, Cat Scan, Spinal Tap, EEG (tests that look at her brain activity), blood work, sedation and doctors coming in and out to further analyze her behavior and progress. I want so desperately to comfort her. I want to reassure her that I am walking along this scary journey with her. I want her to know how much I love her and that all these tests are for her good. They are going to tell us what is making her feel the way she does and help us determine how to make her better. Wanting so desperately to tell her all of this knowing I can’t because she doesn’t understand and has no capacity to understand breaks my heart.

Saturday, March 25, 2006, we are now at the end of this God ordained journey. We went from being told that she had a severe but treatable nervous system disorder that was attacking her nervous system to finding out that it was Atoxia which is swelling of the brain due to infection. Atoxia we are told will go away on its own.

New Perspective, The lessons we walk away with from this experience are profound. The thing that breaks my heart the most and yet is the most precious to me is this….No matter how many times Hannah was poked and prodded, she trusted me; No matter how scary the tests, she trusted me. She had no capacity to understand and yet she simply trusted. She still wanted me to hold her to comfort her. She still knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I love her and would never leave her. She recognized this love and received it even in the midst of this testing. I was the one walking her into these tests and into the scary places and allowing these events to happen to her and yet she wanted me to be the one to comfort her through them. HOW REVEALING!! God, our Heavenly Father, so desperately wants us to see Him in the same innocent way. We are all stumbling around. We are all groping our way through this journey called life. We are being tested, poked and prodded. At times we want to give up. We need a rest and are weary with trying to walk in our own strength. It is at those times that God wants us to plop down and reach up so that He can carry us through them. He wants to walk us into our times of testing and to be the one to comfort us and carry us through them. Our trust in Him is precious. It moves Him to tears. When we trust Him no matter the circumstance and rely on His strength it gives Him the opportunity to carry some of the burden. He would have not been able to teach us this precious truth about Himself if we had not walked through this journey with Hannah.

We are all sick. We all struggle this side of eternity. We were not created for the world and the purposes of the world. We were created for God and His purposes. To be used by God we must be free from the stronghold of fear. We must live our life in total submission allowing Him to mold us and shape us into who He created us to be. Allowing Him to reveal the areas within us that He desires to heal. Being free from fear is an ongoing process. It is a daily submission. It is a daily battle that we were not created to fight on our own. It is God’s battle.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Sword of the Spirit

Most of us don't like our flesh to be prodded by the sword of the Spirit and our eyes to be opened to the sin that resides below the surface. It has been in my times of discontentment and restlessness that God has prodded me with His holy Word and has allowed my eyes to be opened to the sin that resides in my heart, the sin of self reliance and indifference. Sin exposed for the sole purpose of repentance and redemption. What do we do when God gently prods us? If you are like me, we walk around feeling guilty and ashamed. We rationalize away the consequences of the hidden sin, which by the way, is never really hidden. We do all this instead of doing the one thing we should do which is rejoice and repent. Rejoicing in the truth that He doesn't leave us as we are but calls us out to be set apart for His glory. When God prods us, it is a gentle nodging in the right direction, which requires movement on our part away from the things in this world. Things which may bring temporary comfort but viewed from a different perspective would be deemed a distraction.
I have been thinking about my eternal home a lot lately. My desire to make a difference for His glory. The idea that our life, this side of eternity, is described by God as a vapor and a mist in comparison to our time spent in eternity. Without Jesus leading my life and the direction of my steps my goodness and good works are in vain and wretched holding no real eternal significance. May He always prod me to keep me on the path He has prepared for me. May He guard my heart against apathy and self reliance until He comes to take me home.
Is your flesh being prodded by the sword of the Spirit and if so how are you going to respond?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Repentance

Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore, bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our Father '; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew: 3:1-2;7-10
The word repentance in its biblical sense refers to a deeply seated and thorough turning from self to God. It occurs when a radical turning to God takes place, an experience in which God is recognized as the most important fact of one's existence. Holman Bible Dictionary.
You see, the Pharisees depended on human tradition rather than on God and His word resulting in gross hypocrisy. They were legalistic and ritualistic. Unlike the Pharisees, the Sudducees denied legalism, the supernatural, the resurrection of the dead and the existence of angels. They only recognized the first five books of the Bible as authoritative. They were liberal and political opportunist. John McArthur Study Bible.
If repentance means turning from self to God than there is a shift of importance and devotion. Jesus states in Luke 5:32, "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." One must realize their sickness to seek healing and to turn from their reliance on self to their reliance and devotion to God. I find it interesting that in some churches today repentance is not preached and sin is minimized. We have seen some churches take a dramatic shift to make God more like man and man more like God. So much so, many churches are now scrutinizing the very fundamentals of the Christian faith. Isaiah tells us, "Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him and to our God, for He will ABUNDANTLY pardon. " For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways declares the LORD. For as I high as the heavens are than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." I wrote a post entitled Abundantly Pardons detailing this verse.
The Lord is gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love, for sinners. He pardons sins abundantly and not reluctantly. When we turn, He hears and restores. There is NOTHING that you have done that is too big for God to forgive. He forgives the worst of sinners and brings healing and restoration to all sin. Do not let anyone tell you, "your sin is too great." Do not let anyone tell you, "there is nothing wrong with partaking in certain sins". For all sin leads to bondage and captivity. Jesus states early on in His ministry, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Luke 4:18-19 Only Jesus has the authority to forgive sins and bring restoration. To free us from the bondage of sin and give us eyes to see and ears to hear.
It is important for us to realize our depravity so that we will seek out restoration and forgiveness. Turning from self reliance to reliance only on God.

More on Matthew 3 and the Kingdom of God later this week.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dearly Loved Children

Happy Mother's Day! As I reflect on all this day means to me it brings thanksgiving for God gave me four precious gifts to raise and nurture. He entrusted me with their hearts and minds. When I'm still enough to listen, He equips me daily for the tasks at hand. When I take time to hand over my insecurities, He gives me what I need when I need it. I do all of this with the hope that one day my girls will want to imitate me because they see Jesus in me. God tells us to be imitators of Him as dearly loved children. It is my hope as I imitate Him they will want to imitate me. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
The Message translation of Ephesians 5:1-2, states it like this, Watch what God does and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us. Love like that.
The first time I understood the heart of this command was when Hollen was 18 months old. I was busy vacuuming with my canister vacuum cleaner. I didn't think Hollen was watching but all of a sudden she comes toddling up to me with her daddy’s golf putter in her hand. She starts pushing the putter back and forth giggling and clearly so proud of her accomplishments. That's when it hit me, what it means to imitate God as dearly loved children. Hollen loved me enough to WANT to imitate me. She knew she was dearly loved by me and therefore trusted me and wanted to please me. It was precious to me because for 18 months I nurtured her, fed her, changed her and loved her, all in the hope, one day she would want to imitate me. I wanted her to know she was dearly loved by me.
Paul tells the early Christians to be imitators of God as dearly loved children. This verse tells us we are dearly loved by God. It tells us God sees us as His children. Children He loves, nurtures, feeds and protects. Many times, we fail to see Him working in our lives. We are so focused on the "show of life" that we fail to see Him vacuuming up our messes and restoring our home. We fail to trust Him for our everyday needs and our eternal security. We fail to receive His unconditional love.
Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection we are now adopted as sons and daughters of the Most High God. Because of His love for you He sent Jesus His son to the cross. Let us not forget He went willingly. He is the authority above every authority. Jesus, the one who created heaven and earth and yet He chose to die on the cross for your sin.
Let me ask you a very important question, "What saves you? Your works or His death?" If we truly understood that we are called children of God only by His blood and not by what we do than our hearts desire would be to imitate Him. It is by grace that you have been saved not by works, Ephesians 2:8.