Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Seeing

The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them. 2 Chronicles 15: 2-4

This morning, my Bible reading brought me to the passage above, in 2 Chronicles chapter 15, which starts telling us how, The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. He went out to meet Asa and said to him, verses 1-2a.  God revealed His Word to Azariah so he could deliver the message to the current King of Judah, Asa.  Long gone were the days of King David, the man after God's own heart.  Israel was no longer unified.  Brothers were fighting against brothers and the House of God was broken.  The new kings were seeking the divine among the pagan, and many had walked away from The Lord's path.  Praise the Lord, however, we have a God of Compassion and of second chances.  

We have been talking about periods of waiting and how stressful it is to sit still and wait.  Anxiety and fear creep over us and we lose our minds when we wait...especially if we don't approach waiting with an attitude of stillness that allows us to listen, and with a desire to seek the Lord, so we can find Him.  Today, we see that confirmed in His Word.  In our distress, we must "turn to the Lord," Our God, and seek Him with all we've got...and we will see how we find Him in all His splendor!

When we quiet our minds long enough to listen to His voice, and when we seek Him with our heart and soul, we will see that The Lord is GOOD! And that blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. (Psalm 34:8)

We might not see our circumstances changing or being resolved the way we expect it or want it.  We may not see our problems dissolve and disappear.  Our anxiety and stress may still remain.  Our fear may not completely go away.  But, we will see that Our God is Good! With thanksgiving, in spite of our situation, we will see that The Lord is Good, and that His Love endures forever.  Therefore, we trust.

May the Holy Spirit reveal to us, like He did to Azariah, the fact that when we seek Him with all our hearts and souls, we will find Him and see Him by our side, fighting our battles, and taking us to victory.  May our spirit trust His Word and may His strength keep us in the game.  In the Precious Name of Jesus, The One Who Sees Us...and the One we seek to see.  Amen!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Listening

 Have you ever been in a classroom full of energetic, early elementary school age children?  Mercy...I have...not often, but enough times to know that it is hard to get them to listen, to pay attention, to be still enough so they can hear what I have to say.  It is hard for them to be quiet, and because of that, they sometimes miss the fun, the real fun.  They miss the treats that come from managing their...laboriousness.  Well, they're kids, right?  Kids are supposed to be hectic and restless.  They haven't learned how to quiet themselves yet...and now that I think about it...neither have I.

Continuing with my brief meditations on the things we could do while waiting, I said we were going to look at "seeing" as the next one, but actually, the next thing we should do while we wait is to listen.  We seek, and we pray, and we pray and we seek in our attempt at figuring things out, and at getting closer to the One we are looking for.  We are restless and panicky in our efforts to seek and trying to find.  But then, it comes a time when we just have to be quiet...we just have to be still...and let Him do the doing...let Him do the talking.  It comes a time while we are in our periods of intense waiting when we just have to listen.

O, but it is so hard, isn't it?  Especially when the listening not necessarily happens with the ears alone. Listening to the whisperings of the Holy One involves our full self.  It involves a state of stillness of the mind, of the body, of the spirit, that is very difficult to achieve.  

The Lord Himself says to us in Psalm 46:10

Be still, and know that I am God.

Jesus tells us, in John 10: 27-28

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

And in Revelations 3: 20, He proclaims:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Great things come from listening: knowledge, eternal life, fellowship with Christ.  But the act of listening, while an action, requires stillness.  And maybe it is just me, I don't know, but I find it so very difficult to be still. That's where my impatience robs me of the great rewards that come from listening.  I don't want to miss the treats that come from managing my laboriousness and turning it down enough to be quiet, to be still.  Perhaps, as I am in the stage of seeking, my prayer should be that I can be still enough to hear His voice, so I can open the door, follow Him and allow Him to be God in my life and in my circumstances.

When the teacher manages the classroom full of elementary school age children in a way that they are able to listen, there is immense joy in the heart and soul of that teacher, because they get to see the miracle of learning happening right in front of their eyes. After all, as teachers, that is what we live for, isn't it? I wonder if that is a semblance of the joy of the Lord when we finally are still and know...

May we seek the joy of the Lord, for it is our strength...may we seek to be quiet and listen to His voice while we wait.  Amen.


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Seeking

 To seek...what a great, little word.  I love the way it sounds, short, strong, but, at the same time, the beginning "s" followed by the double vowel is a letter combo that gives it a special softness to the ear...yeah...I like words.  I've always been sort of a nerd.  I also like seeking, bargains mostly, but information too...as in research...again, nerd, right?  And as I researched a bit about the definition of the verb "to seek" I came across one that made me pause:  To seek:  an attempt to find something.  

How curious...the action of "seeking" implies the action of "attempting" not of "finding."  The emphasis is on the attempt.  Finding is only a possible result, not guaranteed.  Except when it is part of a promise of God in the Flesh, Himself:  

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  Matthew 7:7

These are the words, the promises of Jesus as part of the greatest teaching moments in His ministry here on earth, The Sermon on the Mount.  The command to seeking also came as part of this divine encounter with Jesus at the Mount, when He told us, a bit earlier, not to worry about the things of this world, to stop chasing after them,

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:33-32

And here lies the answer as to why we must seek Him first, today, now, as we wait: because tomorrow doesn't matter.  He takes care of tomorrow.  Tomorrow does not belong to us.  The future is not part of the promise other than the fact that if we get there, there will still be problems.  Our job is to get a grip of today, of our now and in this moment, to seek Him first.  The rest will come as He has planned it.  

Therefore, as we enter a period of waiting...o, the disagreeable time of waiting...let's make it into a time of seeking.  Let's make it into an attempt to find Him, His Kingdom and His Righteousness right here were we are, right in the middle of our circumstances...let's let go of the rest, because the rest is it up to Him.  Let's seek, and then let's see.  But, that's the next step.  We'll get to it another day.  In the meantime, we continue actively waiting in Him as we Seek Him first aided by the inspiration, comfort, strength and guidance of Our Ever-Present Helper, the Holy Spirit.  In His Hands we wait and we seek.  Amen!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Exploring the Productive Potential of Waiting

"You and Dylan are such a volatile combination:  you don't have any patience and he requires boat-loads of it...not a good thing, Mom."  This was a statement of fact gently delivered to me yesterday by my older son as he witnessed, yet another scene between his brother and me in which I played the part of the Mommy Hulk...sigh... I know...I have mentioned this before: I am a very impatient person.  I also despise waiting.  Of course I do, they go hand in hand.  One is basically the result of the other. Sigh...

I know, gentleness is not one of my qualities either.  I wonder if that's where Grant got his bluntness from?  But again, the Lord has been teaching me over the last...many...many...many years, the valuable lessons of waiting patiently in Him.  I have learned a lot.  But, I still have a long, long, long way to go.

This morning, however, I woke up thinking about a person I sort of know who is going through a very scary situation that involves a very tense waiting period filled with anxiety and fear.  What makes it scarier, in my opinion, is the fact that she does not know God.  She professes her disbelief.  On the same token, she has also disclosed her fear of dying.  I don't know this woman very well at all.  I don't really have any relationship with her myself.  But she is very dear to someone who is one of my dearest persons in the whole-wide-world...so, as my dearest person is going through great distress due to this situation, I'm feeling the sting of her pain in my heart as well.

I want to help...but I have no idea how.  But, I sure can't get this whole thing out of my mind, either.  This is why I decided to write about it a bit...to try to process what I see and feel through this experience.  And what I am seeing and feeling this morning is that this is another opportunity to meditate on the action of waiting upon the Lord.

As I'm able to detach from the situation a bit, I have been thinking that one of the reasons I don't like waiting is because waiting feels too much like doing nothing.  It's like I'm helpless...at the mercy of others who may or may not have my best interest in their minds.  I hate sitting there...waiting...I need to feel like I'm doing something to make the situation better...to improve things...to change the outcome...to manipulate things so everything goes my way...waiting is just so...unproductive...sigh...

Waiting, however, if done right, could actually be a very productive time.  I just have to be smart about it...in a surrendered way, of course.

Looking back at my intense periods of waiting, I realize that those have been the most fulfilling times of my life.  Those have been the moments when God has revealed to me in the most amazing of ways.  It has been while I wait, that I have felt the closest to My Lord.  And the reason this has happened and continues to happens is because waiting is a time to seek, to listen, to trust and to see...and we do all that under the umbrella of thanksgiving.

For now, I'm going to leave it here.  But, I would like to explore each of these concepts one by one in the next few days...so I can fill this period of waiting experiencing the richness of the presence of the Holy Spirit, Our Guide and Our Ever-Present Comforter and Companion.  May the Light of His Face shine upon us as we walk on the complicated paths of waiting in Him.  And, I don't know...maybe, someday, Grant would be able to see the fruit of patience fully grown in the heart of his crazy Mom.  Amen!


Monday, January 11, 2021

People of Hope

 "We are people of HOPE not of despair."  This was the strong message presented by our Pastor yesterday at church.  "Despair is not from the Lord," he added.  The words convicted me.  How often have I fallen into despair? I am a glass half-empty kind of person.  I admit it...I can't deny it.  When the going gets rough, I shake in my boots.  I panic.  I turn my eyes to the storm and all I can see are the waves.  All I can feel are the winds.  My circumstances take over and I easily fall into despair.

My devotional reading this morning wrapped it up with the question:  "What can you do today to "look up" above your circumstances and see God?"  The question is inspired by the opening verses of Psalm 121:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121: 1-2

I believe these verses contain the answer to the question of how we walk on this Earth and through the circumstances of our lives and surroundings as people of Hope.  The answer is to remember to whom we belong, and who is in charge.  The answer is to remember that the answers are not here.  The answer is to remember that we need to look UP for the answers, for the battles we wage are not of this realm.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6: 12) Therefore, they must be fought up there, with the weapons of the spirit.

Then...what can I do to look up?  Well, just that: look up and pray that the Maker of Heaven and Earth and of the entire universe empowers me with the armor of God and that I may have the willingness to wear it daily in practical ways.  I look up with my belt of truth buckled around my waist so I recognize the lies of the enemy and keep my Hope on the Truth!  I look up with my breastplate of righteousness in place so my soul and my heart are protected from the evil and decay of this world.  I look up with my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace so I can run to The Word anytime I feel attacked and find the Peace of the Truth in Scripture.  I look up by taking up the shield of faith, with which I can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one; and hold it in front of me instead of poisoning myself with the lies the world wants to feed me...so my eyes are not distracted and tempted to look at the deception handed out to me, and I continue to look up.  I continue to look up with my helmet of Salvation protecting my mind, and the sword of the Word of God as my weapon of choice.

In other words, I look up by being proactive and deciding to look up.  I look up by rejecting what the world has to offer and by seeking to be a person of Hope, instead... guarded by the Holy Spirit and His Armor, and trusting that this world and all that is in it is The Lord's.  I look up realizing that my help and my hope come from Him.

May our days be filled with the kind of Hope that helps us to look up, for our help is not from this world, but from above.  It comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Amen!

Friday, January 8, 2021

Willing to Fight

 I woke up today feeling like I'm in a TobyMac video...one for his song The Elements...sigh...

Looking at the current state of our beloved nation brings worry, fear and hopelessness to many.  It is easy to feel disheartened.  Confusion is in the air.  The future seems bleak.  It is easy to feel as if we are totally exposed to the elements...naked...enduring these elements that threaten to destroy everything that we are...everything we believe in...distorting the truth...crushing our faith.  How do we protect ourselves and our loved ones from what we sense is coming?

We know how: we must cling to Our God tighter than ever before.

Unlike the Israelites from old, whom after King David, kept going through a succession of kings that pushed them farther and farther and farther away from The Lord, we must walk closer and closer and closer still to Him, Who is Our Only Hope.  Hope in He Who IS Hope will never disappoint...will never leave us wanting.  Like my devotional reading says:  "Hope is like a golden cord connecting you to heaven." (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)  In our weakness and despair, that golden cord needs to become thicker and ever stronger, for we are not of this world; therefore, we cannot allow this world to swallow us up.

Today we don't lose hope.  Today, we fight the elements as warriors in the Lord's Army...the one that has already achieved Victory!  And like the song says: 

"Stand up and rise to these elements. I'm willing to fight, willing to fight" willing to fight as long as it is by Your side, Lord.  Allow me to remain on Your side.  Give Your children open eyes to see what we are up against, and give us what we need to fight it with You covering all our flanks.  You go before me...let me be in your army.  I'm willing to fight!  In the Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ Our Only King.  Amen!

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Even a most familiar path looks strange in the dark

 Isn't it scary how even a most familiar path looks strange and difficult to navigate in the dark?  That realization came to me yesterday, as I held a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel of my car while on a road I've driven on over a thousand times.  Tense shoulders, slower than usual speed and intense prayer came about on this supposedly familiar road, all because it was pitch dark.  

I felt lost.  Every curve was a surprise.  I had to pull over a couple of times to let impatient drivers pass me by.  I avoid driving at night...but this was morning...I just didn't remember how dark mornings are in the winter time.  I hated that drive.  My nervousness was intensified, I believe, because of my destination: the hospital's lab.  It was time for my thyroid checkup and that is a great source of stress in my life.

Sigh...

I'm happy to report that I made it safely.  But, as I sat in the waiting room at the hospital, waiting for my name to be called, I thought of the drive...and how that must be what it may feel like to "drive" through life without the guidance of the Light of God shining on our path...without Jesus...without the Bible.  I remembered the words of our Pastor last Sunday talking about how Scripture Alone is one of the pillars of our faith, perhaps the most important one, because it is precisely in Scripture where we meet God, where we see the Light...where we find Our Lord...Who is The Word Himself.  Without the guidance of the Bible, we are totally driving blindly...and added to that, there's the uncertainty of our destination without Scripture...sigh...  That would most definitely make one feel totally lost.

After my tests were done, I walked out of the hospital and daylight had come.  It kind of surprised me.  All I remembered was the darkness and I had forgotten it was actually morning.  I got in my car and drove the old-familiar road again.  And, what a difference light made!  I rode on that street like I owned it.  I zigged and zagged fearlessly and full of confidence...all due to the presence of the light.

I still would not know all the curves, potholes, detours and blocked lanes I will encounter along the pathway of my life, but I know, that as long as I have His Presence and His Light with me...as long as I continue my journey in the Word, I will be OK...and I won't be lost.