Monday, July 28, 2014

Is Enough REALLY Enough?

I was relaxing in the lake the other day. 

Sorry, no personal pic - maybe later.

I had cleaned up the beach and was basically overheated from my efforts. It was a blessing to be able to walk into the refreshing water. I rested my tired body in the foamy support of some 'noodles', closing my eyes in the warm afternoon sun. 

It felt so good to just float on the calming ripples.

I opened my eyes and surveyed the blue heavens above me. There was hardly a cloud. I whispered to my attentive Father, "Your grace is like this, isn't it? I can rest completely and be healed fully in your embrace. And it even goes into and through me. Thank you for the way You surround me with Your merciFUL grace."

Gentle - kind, tender (older usage: noble, chivalrous)

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift from God - not by works, so that no one can boast.  Ephesians 2:6-9

God does the saving and lifting and placing of my soul as I rest in Him.

Radical - far-reaching, thorough

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

God in Christ was filled with grace to accomplish His earthly task of eternal restoration to those given to Him by the Father. 

Aware - knowledge, understanding

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  Romans 3:22-24

God knew our need and met it in Christ, providing reconciliation to the undeserving.

Compassionate - sympathetic, concerned

With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sale and put it all at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Acts 4:33-35

God sends grace in the measure and time it's needed to meet every need.

Enough - adequate, sufficient

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."  2 Corinthians 12:9

God's grace is ALL that's needed no matter the circumstances or challenges.

You then, my son, be strong in the [G-R-A-C-E] that is in Christ Jesus.  
2 Timothy 2:1

When was the last time you soaked in God's grace?

all quotes from NIV, 1984

Friday, July 25, 2014

H-P, P, P, and S-D

There doesn't seem to be a moment to take a relaxed breath. The pressure on every side continues and increases. 

There doesn't seem to be a way to sort out what's happening. Nothing makes sense even with ongoing consideration. 

There doesn't seem to be any possibility to avoid opposition. Concerted effort leads to stronger resistance.

There doesn't seem to be an end to being thrown into the dust. Getting up becomes a greater chore each time it happens.

Paul described the situation quite well. I'm just not sure where he found these responses.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  
2 Corinthians 4:8-9

H-P, hard pressed but not crushed?

P, perplexed but not in despair?

P, persecuted but not abandoned?

S-D, struck down but not destroyed?

How can that be?  I need to know. 

Paul goes on in the passage to remind us of the life-giving Truth that the sufferings for God's chosen in this world identify us as belonging to Christ because He too suffered here. AND the life we continue to live provides a testimony to His ongoing, resurrected presence - with us here and in heaven eternally. 

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

The faith and hope the Father imparts are for my benefit as well as the glory of His Name. They sustain me in this life and, according to His will, cause His grace to abound and gratitude to overflow. There is a reason for it ALL, my good and God's exaltation.

I'm beginning to think there may be a "but not" for every situation I face. 
Time to start looking for each one.

I don't know. Do you have any idea what I'm talking about?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

On Loneliness

I've noticed a type of loneliness beginning to settle over me these days. 

It's not as if I have a hermit's life. I've got caring people all around me. 

Maybe it's the loneliness of feeling like nobody else could possibly understand what I'm facing.

As I settle in for a good, old-fashioned pity party, the Word comes to me and disrupts the whole thing.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin.   Hebrews 4:15

Since God is the God of Truth I have to trust what He says. But, I wonder, what did Jesus know of loneliness? I mean, crowds followed Him to the point of harassment.

Then again . . .
                      there was that time in Gethsemane.

Backwards and forwards thrice he ran.
As if he sought some help from man;
Or wish't, at least, they would condole - 
'Twas all they could - his tortur'd soul.
Whate'er he sought for, there was none;
Our Captain fought the field alone.
Soon as the chief to battle led,
That moment every soldier fled. 
                                 by Charles Spurgeon

Yeah, okay. So maybe Christ at least tasted loneliness as His friends deserted him when the situation with Judas and the Roman guards turned scary.

And . . . 
          Calvary was not exactly about happy family togetherness. 

Quite the opposite.

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" - which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34

It must have been absolute agony for the Son to be abandoned by His Father with whom He'd been One from before the creation of the world. 

I guess Jesus does have much more than an idea of what loneliness feels like . . . and even how to persevere in the midst of it. 

I sure do need His divine understanding and transforming provision.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

The more I think about it, the more grateful I become. 

As surely as the Savior's Name is Jesus the Christ I am His.

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  Colossians 3:3

I . . . I . . . i . . . am hidden with, wrapped up in Christ. 

As integral and secure in His Name and person as that little letter i.


Lonely feelings can chase me, but I can never ever be truly alone.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Remember, Sandra. REMEMBER.

Ebenezer is an interesting word. 

It doesn't come up that often in casual conversation, but when it does I like the way it rolls off my tongue . . . Eb-e-ne'-zer. 

More importantly the word Ebenezer stirs my soul. 

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”  
1 Samuel 7:12

Think about it. Samuel gave a name to a rock. 

God sees names as pretty important things so it's worth paying attention when an inanimate object like a rock is identified with such a personal tag. 

The name Samuel gave the rock is actually two Hebrews words pronounced Even Haazer. Together they mean 'Stone of Help'. The Ebenezer stone was set up to commemorate God mercifully granting the Israelites the ultimate victory over the Philistines in the third of three battles.

The following is my testimony to three of the training battles I faced during the process of emptying our flat in Prague. I raise them here as an Ebenezer to God's loving presence and powerful help provided at a time when nothing less would do.

1. Books
After making and distributing the initial list of household items for sale, I noticed the collection of educational materials we'd gathered. I didn't have it in me to list and price each item. I wanted them to get into the hands of homeschool families yet had no idea how to do that in three short weeks.

Within days God intervened in an online conversation to bring the parents of a Dutch homeschool Dad for a stay at our flat on their way home from Romania. A few more days and, after a short but lovely overnight visit, Jan and Anthonia left with an extra load of books in their mini-van to be shared with our many homeschool friends in the Netherlands. The burden I'd been obsessing over disappeared.

2. Clothes
My reaction the first time my eyes caught the piles of clothing I was shocked at the volume. Besides needing to stay within baggage limits, we'd both lost quite a bit of weight. The most sensible thing to do was leave behind 95% of our wardrobes. I began to desperately plead that every article would get into the hands of someone who needed it, and be delivered in Jesus' Name.

God orchestrated a conversation with Zdeněk and Alenka, an elder and his wife, at the close of service the very last time we attended church in Prague. I asked if they had a ministry of sharing clothing items with needy folks and got a quiet, affirmative answer. "And whatever we cannot distribute in our own community, we send to Ukraine." This energetic couple drove to our flat two days later. We enjoyed a meaningful time of fellowship and they departed with a car stuffed full of clothing, bedding, towels and other household items. I didn't obsess this time around, merely kept repeating my petition until it was answered. 

3. Couches
I was happy for a while that nobody was interested in our two IKEA couches. After all, we could still sit and relax in comfort and welcome guests. By the final week it was as though they were assaulting my eyes every time I walked through our living space. We dropped the price twice and still no bites. Once we arranged for a service to pick up whatever furniture was left on Saturday I should have relaxed, but I didn't. I continued to beseech heaven to sell those couches.

God stepped in again. This time via a call from the friend of a friend. Staci explained that she wanted the couches, but that arranging the pick up and delivery was problematic. As we talked we realized we could ask the pick-up people to deliver the couches to her and pick up the sectional she was replacing. When Staci came to hand us the payment, she and I visited over tea. More meaningful fellowship between strangers would be hard to find. We enjoyed our comfy couches right up until we left our flat to stay with friends. I found myself almost settling into an expectant mindset that God "was able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine".  Ephesians 3:20

My loving, omniscient, and wise Father knew / knows that visual or physical problems are among the hardest for me to handle. Each of these crazy burdens in their turn jumped out and smacked me in the face. I was quickly overwhelmed by my own powerlessness and forced to run to my Abba for a divine solution.

And He granted it. Every time. 

May His Name be praised forever. Amen

The relief I felt at the lifting of each burden was accompanied by an irresistible need to stop in my tracks and praise and thank my LORD for rescuing me. It was totally clear to me that not one ounce of anything I was or had or could do played a part in my deliverance. It was ALL GOD . . . the same as when He justified me according to the Savior's blood. 

O the joy! 


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  
Hebrews 13:8 NIV1984

That means that as surely as I AM is able, willing, and interceding to lift visible and physical burdens, He is able, willing, and intervening to do the same for emotional, psychological, spiritual, intangible, . . . burdens.

I only need to bring them to His throne of grace.

Remember, Sandra. REMEMBER.