Thursday, September 29, 2011

Psalm 119

On this cold rainy afternoon I'd made a very tall cup of coffee and was slowly making my way through Psalm 119:  it's filled with two line nuggets of gold and I was mining it for all it was worth.

 Remember Your promise to me for it is my hope (v. 49)
Your principles have been the music of my life throughout the years of my pilgrimage (v. 54)
 Lord, you are mine!...with all my heart I want your blessings (v. 57)
 All your commands are trustworthy (v.86)
Lord, accept my grateful thanks (v. 108)
You are near O Lord, and all your commands are true (v. 151)
Let my lips burst forth in praise for You have taught me your principles. Let my tongue sing about Your Word. (v. 171)

The whole psalm is like a love letter to the Lord about the value of His commands and how they have guided the psalmist all throughout his life and have been his joy and peace even though his enemies have been out to get him. At one point it even seemed to me that the writer was a bit of a braggart as he keeps saying how much he loves God's law and has kept his commands; it's obvious that God is a very big and very important part of his life.

So I guess that is why the last verse caught me unaware...

I have wandered away like a lost sheep; come and find me for I have not forgotten your commands. (v. 176)

After 175 verses of praise and faithfulness the psalm concludes with an admission of humanness - although I LOVE your law, O Lord; I have wandered away... However victorious and faithful I've been to
You through all these years, at the moment I'm not there. And in his admission is honesty, humility, and a cry for help - Come and find me. Other translations say, Seek thy servant.

No matter how much we love God's Word, or how long our feet have faithfully stayed on His path; there are times we wander. And wander is such a good term for it; not a deliberate stomping off God's path to pursue our own desires but just kind of a mindless, not being diligent, kind of wandering until we look up and wonder "how did I get here?"

But the beauty is that, no matter we've endd up here, He is willing and able to come and bring us home!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall Frolics

Ah, it's fall in the Midwest and, along with the apple picking and pumpkin choosing, it is the season of corn mazes.
It must have been some very enterprising farmer who thought to cut mazes into the browned out fields  before they were harvested for winter feed. The concept is simple. You enter the field at the appointed point and find your way to the exit point.  Sometimes there is a map, often there are only clues, and you, and rows and rows of corn...

There is a path, a way out, a solution; however, the trick is avoiding all the dead ends and paths that lead to nowhere...

From the air it's much easier to determine the correct route out
It's a whole different story though from ground level!

We live at ground level.
We live being able to see only the path directly in front of us, the rest of our perspective shielded by circumstances that surround us.

When we feel we're wandering aimlessly it is good to remember that the course of our lives is clear to the Almighty; that He knows the way that we take (Job 23:10-12) and He is directing our steps (Proverbs 3:6)

Often I feel I've progressed so little! It all seems the same as when I've started although my journey has been long. All I can do is continue to put my trust in the One whose thoughts and ways are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8) and know that He has never lost one of His own and will safely bring me home ( John 18:19).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Time of Uncertainty

If ignorance is bliss and knowledge is power; than what is uncertainty?

What is that pause between not knowing and knowing?

What if you are aware you don’t know but will soon find out; and that when you do the impact on your life will be significant.

Where do you go in such a time?

You go to the One who knows.
Because not only does He know the future, but more importantly He knows your heart.

He knows your heart because He made it – He made their hearts, so He understands everything they do. Psalms 33:15

He knows your heart because He is close to you – You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh. Psalms 38:9

He knows what the impact will be and how to give you all that you need.

Praise the Lord; praise God our Savior! For each day He carries us in His arms...who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68:19

...May He equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him.  Hebrews 13:20

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3

When you don’t know, stay close to the One who knows you.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How much coffee does one girl need?

I have no business walking down a coffee aisle; and yet, here I am trolling for the Autumn Apple (it’s so yummy!) I have already amassed enough coffee to start my own coffee shop. Seriously. Yet I’m still looking for more, just in case…

I can’t imagine having only a single bag in the house. What if today I have a taste for Island Coconut and tomorrow I’m feeling more like Pumpkin Spice? What if tonight I’d like some coffee so I’d need to have some decaf on hand? Chocolate Raspberry is wonderful made into an iced coffee and a cup of Caramel Vanilla is like dessert! I’m never sure of what I’ll want so I aim to be prepared!

It’s absolutely ridiculous and reveals, to me, a deeper truth about myself.

“The Lord who made you and helps you says…Do not fear. For I will give you abundant water to quench your thirst…” Isaiah 44:2

For I will give you abundant water.

Why is it that I feel I have to meet my own needs; that I am responsible to stockpile supplies for every contingency life may bring when I have a promise such as this? When I do think that God is not sufficient to satisfy my heart?

“Every one of these depends on you to give them their food as they need it. When you supply it, they gather it. You open your hand to feed them, and they are satisfied.” Psalms 103:27,28

Is it not the most basic tenant of our faith that God will take care of us? Is not all of Scripture a series of testimony of how there was a need and God met it?

The Israelites were trapped by the Red Sea, God opened the waters. (Exodua 10)

The widow and her son were out of food, God provided jars of endless meal and oil. (I Kings 17)

Elijah needed a compelling demonstration of God’s power, God sent fire from heaven to consume the altar and the moat of water surrounding it. (I Kings 18)

A woman reached out in faith touching the hem of Jesus’ garment, God healed the disease in her body.(Matthew 9)

We are sinners, God provided a Savior. (Luke 19:10)

“But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19

All my needs.

Abundant water.

God is faithful to do what He has promised.

No worry or stockpiling necessary.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Derailed

My son was freaking out this morning.

“The early train is stuck at the station and my train is late! How am I going to get to school on time? Even if I run all the way from the train I’m going to be late!! I don’t even know where to go if I’m late!!! What if it doesn’t come at all? All these people are here and no one knows what to do…”

His plans had been derailed.

The way things should have been working, wasn’t.

His timetable was shattered.

Everything was up for grabs and no one had any answers.

What he didn’t know was that everything was under control. There were contingency plans in place for such an occurrence at the train station and at the school. Another plan was in place and everything was going to be just fine.

I told him that, repeatedly, but it wasn’t until he lived through it that he could realize I was right.

My Father tells me that although my plans have been derailed and although things aren’t happening according to my timetable, that there is a plan in place and everything will be as it should be.

I hear Him, but find it hard to believe, until I’ve walked through it and then looking back can see He was right all along.

We’ve lived through derailed plans before and we’ve seen, in retrospective, that God was in control the entire way. So the next time everything that’s been running so smoothly in our lives comes to a halt, may we remember that God has a plan and He is working it out in our lives.

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill His purpose for me” Psalms 57:2


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Connecting the dots in the big picture

 About fifteen years ago I was all alone and on my knees sobbing in a hospital chapel.

I was pregnant - with a child we'd been told had a good chance of some serious problems- and I was in pre-term labor.

I was scared and had no idea of what was going to happen next.
 Isaiah 41: 10 - Calligraphy by Timothy Botts

And what happened next was God, the One who knows the big picture, setting up the dots to be connected.

I looked up and saw this mural on the chapel's back wall and line by line the words of this verse calmed my terror and assured me that, whatever the outcome, I would be upheld by God's victorious right hand. I memorized both the verse and graphic presentation of it that day and held onto it throughout the rest of the pregnancy until I was holding my beautiful baby boy.

Today I sent my son off to his first day of High School -to commute by train to downtown Chicago - and I, with all my anxiety, was not the most anxious of the two of us...

I sent with him this verse, this specific picture of this verse and my story of how God used it when I was so unsure of the future and how that the same God who walked through that valley with me and gave me him was the same God who was going with him today into the halls and classes of a brand new school.

God knew 15 years ago that today this verse would go with my baby boy to high school. God knew that when the Timothy Botts page-a-day calendar was being assembled that this verse would be on September 1st so that I would have it to give to Robbie today.

I've always known that God sees the "big picture" but I'm realizing, yet again, that not only does He see it as the overview but that every detail is clearly in focus to Him. There was a direct line from point A to B with this scripture even though the connecting line was 15 years in length.

It’s a well worn scripture that “God works all things together for our good” (Romans 8:28) but to see it – this “working together” in such small yet significant pieces of my life, gives my heart yet one more evidence that “God will fulfill His purpose for me” (Psalms 57:2) because “God can be trusted to keep His promise” (Hebrews 10:23).

What evidence of the same have you seen in your life? 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Summer of the Snow Cone

It all began with the $2.99 electric ice shaver.  Add a couple bottles of flavored syrups, above average summer temps and suddenly mine was the most popular house in the neighborhood; my kitchen was like it was like a concession stand at a carnival!
I wondered how the syrup was going to last all summer-seeing that each bottle was more expensive than the shaver and at that price I really didn't want to be replacing them.

My worries were in vain for as the temperatures cooled so did the demand  and now on this 55 degree last morning of summer you can see (from the photo) that I had more than just enough.

We have these situations that demand every last resource we have; all of our strength, patience, discernment, energy and spiritual character. Seeing the road ahead is long the question is how can I keep this up? I don't have enough.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. I Corinthians 10:13

Although this verse specifically talks about temptation the principle is true for any situation that overwhelms us because the underlying truth is "God is faithful who will not allow you to (suffer/experience/bear) beyond what you are able".

God is faithful.
He knows our hearts.
He knows our capacity.
He knows how to make sure we have enough to persevere to the end.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Clean Feet

As the temperature has returned to the HOT range these last days of summer vacation, I spend this afternoon in the water with my kids.

While I was there, floating and frolicking, I realized two things; this was the first time I’d done this all summer and my feet were really clean!

I’m a “feet on the ground” kind of girl – as soon as it’s temperate enough my shoes are off which means for roughly six months of the year I’m either barefoot or in flip-flops!

Consequently my feet are never really clean – as in pristine or without a ground in kind of dirt residue; showers and quick swipes of the washcloth can’t completely get the job done.

But today I have clean feet because I went and played; enjoying the water for an extended time.

We are all "feet constantly on the ground" people; barely one problem is solved before another takes its place and the days turn into weeks and suddenly whole seasons have passed us.

We rarely have time to revel, to play, to just unwind enough to not realize, or care!, how much time has passed and all the things that could have been accomplished.

And if we don’t have play time like that we most certainly don’t have time like that to spend with the Lord.

I love the idea of women’s retreats – time away from normal responsibilities to spend with friends and really focus on the Lord; but even in these rare opportunities it’s still hard to immerse yourself in the waters of grace and  be carried away on the gentle current of His love.

It takes extended time to keep our hearts fresh and clean; free from the residue of life’s circumstances and experiences that have ground blackness into our souls.

I wish I knew a way to provide such an extended time to you. I know the psalmist had similar desires when he wrote, “This one thing I ask of the Lord- the thing I seek most- is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in His temple.” Psalm 27:4,5

Can we live in the house of the Lord? Even though we dwell here can our hearts be in residence in His presence? We know we are always in the presence of God for He has said that He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) so the question is are we aware that we’re always in God’s presence? And if we can cultivate that awareness can delighting in His nearness be far behind?

Can He give us, we who slog through daily through life, clean feet?