Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Easier Said than Lived

Prayer Flash

Every difficult, harsh, stretching, unwanted, confusing . . . detail or happening in life is NOT necessarily the result of nor punishment for error or failure or sin. 

I've been wrestling with this dynamic in the midst of the extended fiery trials I've been experiencing . . . and with the realization that there is no end in sight. 

It would be right to question my statement and ask for an explanation from Scripture.

My first and greatest piece of evidence would be the life and death of God's only begotten Son. Christ's life was anything but rosy from His birth in rude quarters to His death on a public cross. The written record contains scores of difficult, harsh, stretching, unwanted, confusing . . . details and happenings throughout the Savior's life. 

Dare we say these are the marks of error or failure or sin? 

Borrowing from the words of Paul, may it never be!

"God made [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."  2 Corinthians 5:21

From the cross. "It is finished." John 19:30

Clearly, not only was Christ's earthly life free from errors or failures or sin. The work He came from heaven to earth to accomplish was not hampered by difficult, harsh, stretching, unwanted, confusing . . . details and happenings in His life.

But Jesus was the incarnate Son of God, the One and Only. Surely it's reasonable to make an exception in His case. One might easily think so.

However, Scripture reports about many who were not sinless yet whose lives were difficult, harsh, stretching, unwanted, confusing . . . through no specific error or failure or sin of their own.

  • Job
  • Daniel
  • Joseph
  • Naomi
  • Sarah
  • Abigail 

It's been an awakening of sorts to come to grips with this perspective. Evidently there's a lot more going on around here than simple cause and effect, crime and punishment.
Could it be that God is managing our lives with much more diversity than a punishing rod?
Could discipleship be a deeper dynamic than measuring up to a bar?

It seems the image of God as The Potter is much more appropriate.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  Ephesians 2:10

Could it be that times of struggles and trials are merely a gauntlet run orchestrated by God for our good? 
Could our Abba Father be standing at the end beckoning us onward using every blow to remind us of our unity with Christ, provide us with blessings in this life, and prepare us for eternity with Him? 

You know, it's a lot easier to write this stuff than it is to put it into practice in my life. I feel as if I'm constantly returning to first grade in my spiritual journey. Never mind. It's all part of the Father's perfect plan for Sandra Allen Lovelace.

I don't know about you, but I intend to scramble, crawl, drag myself across that finish line that I and the world might see my Savior in all His glory.

"Dear Friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."  
1 Peter 4:12-13

Friday, May 23, 2014

Four Simple Words

My last post was about Three Simple Words.

The LORD has been doing a powerful job in my life through them.

I've been practicing the art of coming into God’s presence with a concerted effort. I stop my often frenzied thought life and turn my full attention to presenting myself before the throne of grace. Well, to be precise, before my loving Elohim, the Creator.

This was no easy task with all the challenges surrounding me over more than 10 months of serous health issues and nomadic living. A complicating challenge is that God built me with a high-speed processor for a brain. It's my natural inclination to apply this gift to every single HUGE and tiny item, issue, problem, . . . anywhere on the horizon. It's as if I need to try to solve all the problems of the world. For a long time I worried about what would happen if I just stopped thinking. 

Would the globe stop spinning? 

Okay, that's silly. But I did wonder what might fall apart if I weren't tending to 100+% of everything 100+% of the time.

I'm learning that as I slow their pace and actually direct my thoughts toward God I experience a calm I hadn't known was even possible. And He meets me every time. And the more I practice, the easier it gets. I praise and thank El Elyon, the God Most High, for being the focus of those 'stolen moments' and showing Himself to me in such an intimate way.

I thought that glorious spectacle was sufficient to carry me the rest of my life. Evidently I was wrong because my Abba Father showed me more.

It happened one day as I came to Him, bringing my fallen and fragile self to stand in His presence. Being filled with awe and gratitude and so much more seemed somehow inadequate. I dared to ask if there was anything I should be doing.

That's me.       What's next?

That's when my God opened up a whole new vista by giving me four simple words.

"Be still and know . . ."

These first words of Psalm 46:10 lead into a declaration of marvelous truths about God. But to me that day they stood on their own. I thought I was being still so I think I told the Father that's where I was, in case I needed to say it. The words repeated.

"Be still and know . . ."

To be honest I was a bit confused. Once again familiar words from Scripture were echoing in my head and heart. There was that tinge of newness I needed to grasp. Surely you know what I mean. I was already caught up in some dramatic growth in my spiritual life. I wondered how much more I could handle. Then the tone became insistent.

"Be still and KNOW . . ."

Drat. There it was again. I was relieved that it seemed the still part wasn't the main focus. Maybe I was at least making progress in the slow-down, take-time, and be-calm part. It was as if God were reaching out to me with a flexible but sturdy ribbon to secure me to Himself. I took a bit of encouragement and waited in breathless expectation. 

"Be still and KNOW . . ."

Be = exist; specific state, quality, identity, nature or role; signify or represent*

still = not moving or making a sound, undisturbed, calm, tranquil

and = connecting two words of same parts of speech to be taken jointly; to imply order in time or progressive results; between verbs implies intention

know = be aware of through observation, inquiry or information; have knowledge or information about; be absolutely certain or convinced; recognize, be familiar or acquainted with; perceive with specific characteristics; assign a specific name or title; develop a relationship through meeting and spending time

"Be still and KNOW . . ."


And so my course is set. 

“Come to me . . .” 

"Be still and KNOW . . ."

What course is Jehovah-mekoddishkem, the Lord who sanctifies you, laying out before you?

*definitions adapted from my dictionary widget

Monday, May 19, 2014

Three Simple Words

There’s been a lot going on in my life lately. 

Maybe you noticed I’ve missed a few deadlines here.

And now I’m back in my Prague loft asking God to sort out my life.

Uncertainty and confusion seem to reign on every front. I don’t have a clear view in any direction. I can’t see the trees for the forest - the foreboding darkness of my situation is preventing me from being able to pick out any markers to help me make headway. 

I lived out of a suitcase for the last six+ months. I cherish the gracious hospitality of those who’ve been hosting us here and there and I’ve been humbled by their generosity. I have major surgery looming over me and daily ponder the decision and possible timing. The process to get a new well at our home in Maine has developed a glitch. It took me days to organize all our stuff in order to travel and what we don’t have with us is just sitting in bags. No matter what effort I try to apply anywhere, roadblocks persist. And there’s no evidence that circumstances will change any time soon.

To say life feels temporary and overwhelming would be a serious understatement. 

Maybe you know what I mean. 

Maybe you’ve got some stuff going on in various areas of your life that are causing you consternation. Maybe a combination of unresolved issues and stalled progress is filling your days with chaos and frustration too. 

In the midst of so much turmoil three simple words keep echoing through my being. They’re words I’ve heard many times over the years. I’ve even heeded them in the past. This time around though the phrase is impacting me in a deeper way.

Maybe you know what I mean here too. 

Maybe you’ve been drawn back to basics when the world seems to be collapsing around you. Maybe a familiar verse or passage appears in your mind in a fresh and more meaningful way.

In either event I realized today that I needed to share my newfound pathway to peace, if that’s what I could call it. Then again it’s kind of like a strategy for sanity born out of desperation and powerlessness. The instruction boiled down to three words for me last week.

“Come to me . . .”   

I heard Christ’s words at the opening of the Matthew 11:28-30 yoke passage at first in a loving whisper. It is developing into a persistent refrain that calls me out of my cyclone circumstances and spinning thoughts.

“Come to me . . .”   

The sense I have is that the direction is not given as from a dedicated teacher or overbearing authority. It’s more an invitation offered by a loving grandfather or gracious hostess. There are blessings to enjoy that ought not be lost. The rest of the verses add essential details, but I find myself clinging to these three precious words.

“Come to me . . .”   

I’m noticing that the sooner I hear and respond, the faster I’m at rest. The more diligent I am to choose to turn to God through Christ, the easier it is to shrug off the snares of this world. They are only three little words and yet they change the direction of my thoughts and my life.

“Come to me . . .” 

Come = approach toward a place closer or more familiar to the speaker, arrive at a specific place, join a certain activity or event, travel to be with a specific person, take or occupy a specified position or priority*

to = moving in the direction of, expressing a location, identifying a relationship

me = used by a speaker to identify himself as the object of a verb (come) or preposition (to)

“Come to me . . .”   

Approach closer and take up a position in relationship with God Himself through Christ.

And so I'm practicing and learning.

“Come to me . . .”   

If you find yourself meditating on these words, let me know how it goes.  Thanks.

Next . . . Four Simple Words.

**definitions adapted from my dictionary widget