Making a list and checking it…

I’m not a worrier by nature, so it surprised me more than a bit to wake really early the other morning with an anxious feeling about some of what is going on in our lives right now.

I know God is in control. I also know that I’m not and–like most anxieties?–mine seemed to stem from that. (grin) In all truth, I don’t want to be in control of everything…just the parts about which I have questions! (bigger grin!)

Anyway! I woke up early with all of these questions and concerns running through my brain, so I did the only thing I knew I could control about them. I prayed…and then I opened up my Bible.

God led me to several different verses that He’s shown me over the years about HIM being the One in control (as a reminder, I’m sure!) and then to two verses I’d written on note cards for a teaching opportunity earlier this year.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”  Genesis 15:1 (NKJV)

Did you see the connection in those verses? HE is the reward! When we seek Him, we GET Him! That’s huge!! It ought to make us really excited and more determined than ever to seek Him every day–whether we’re anxious or not!

As I thought about this, I started making a list of what I KNOW about God and who He is–things I’ve personally seen Him do/be  in my life. I grabbed a simple 2-column steno pad all lined and easy to fill…

What I KNOW about God: Holy, Righteous, Perfect in every way, Loving/Loves Me, Gracious, Kind, Patient, Saving, Comforting, Doesn’t always reveal plans ahead, Provider…

You know what? I got stumped about half-way down the first column. I mean my mind went completely BLANK and I thought, “REALLY, Becky?! This is the best you can do?!” So, I stopped and prayed, “God, this is really pitiful! BUT, if I only knew THIS about You, then that’s enough. It’s still enough to trust You with this–enough to trust You with everything.” And then…more came to mind…and then more.

Soon, there were 2 filled columns and still more favorite things to write down about God, so I went back to the first column and started to fill in the empty spaces on the lines. Every time I got stumped again, I’d pray again. I started looking through the Psalms–not to copy David’s lists, but because I know David really knew God and we all feel more comfortable knowing we aren’t the only ones to feel things like fear, glory, anger, and peace with God. I didn’t find anything “new” there, just reminders of how my life has been a lot like David’s…and yours.

Pretty soon, there were only a few small blank spaces left on the page, but there weren’t any left on my heart. I was in full out praise mode…and oddly enough, ready to rest again.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

Are you struggling with decisions, details, disasters or just holiday angst today? (grin) Start making your own list and see what happens. I’d love to see those! Feel free to share them with me! What made your list?

“People with their minds set on you,
    you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
    because they keep at it and don’t quit.
Depend on God and keep at it
    because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.” (The Message interpretation)

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Well, it sounds simple…

Well, it sounds simple.

“Then Joseph, being roused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife…”  Matthew 1:24 (NKJV)

Yeah, it sounds simple…but I’m betting it didn’t feel all that simple. That’s the way of obedience. On one hand, it is exactly what you’d expect–you hear and then you do. On the other hand…well, we’ve all been there. We’ve all been there more than once. “Hear, then do” more typically looks like “hear, then think/rationalize/make excuses/make possible alternate plans/talk to other people/get their opinions/wonder why God can’t or won’t do it that way/worry a little about why He’s doing it this way/ask again to make sure you heard it right the first time/ wait a little bit longer…to make really sure/long road/long sighs/long faces…

(PSST! Hey! Anybody else out there? or is this just for me?) Yeah, I’ve done that…at least a time or two. If you’re going to tell me you haven’t…then I’m probably going to have to have a little chat about truth-telling with you a bit later, too. Either way, we humans tend to take the simple thing and complicate it…regularly.

Sometimes the command sounds simple, but the follow-through actually is complicated. I think that was the case for Joseph. I’ll bet the follow-through changed him. I’ll bet he heard a LOT of unsolicited advice and opinions over the years. I’ll bet he wondered about a lot of it…for a long time…and yet, he obeyed…as soon as he heard and woke up–and maybe even while he was still rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

I think that may be one of the reasons why God chose Joseph to be His Son’s earthly father. Joseph already had that obedience thing down and you can’t model what you do not know. God knew Jesus would be obedient when the time for the hard choices came–Jesus is GOD, after all, and this was part of the plan, but I can’t help but think that having that Joseph-obedience right there in front of you all the time was both a blessing to God the Father in heaven and to Jesus-God-with-us right over there in the living room! I want that kind of faith. I want that kind of obedience to mark my life. I want more of HIM and His choices and less of me and fewer of mine. (I’ve seen how well they work out.)

Sounds simple enough…doesn’t it?

So, what are you waiting on where you are? What do you need to do–right now!–that sounds simple, but feels complicated, and is STILL what God told you to do? Trust? Go? Stay? Be? Choose? Yes. We have to choose obedience. There’s only one other option…and it really is that simple.

Grace & Peace! (and quick obedience!!)

Waiting…

Potential“but when the fullness of time had come…”  Galatians 4:4 (KJV)

“But when the set time had fully come…” Galatians 4:4 (NIV)

“But when the right time finally came…” Galatians 4:4 (GNT)

No matter what translation of Scripture I’m reading, I love those words written by the Apostle Paul about the timing of the birth of Jesus…the One I call Savior. That makes them special. They were written after about 400 years of silence from God…yes, that’s right! That deliberate silence from God meant 400 years of waiting time for God’s people. It can’t have been easy. People came and went on this planet. They lived whole lives never knowing what we know now. They had no other choice but to wait. That sounds really harsh, doesn’t it? (Don’t worry about my offending God with that statement…He knows.)

Those words tell me that everything was finally in place for every single prophecy (over 300 of them!) about the Promised Messiah to finally begin to come true. They also tell me that

  • God was in charge back then just like He is now.
  • He has a plan and it is for my good–and yours!
  • He was particular about the details of the plan on purpose.
  • There were people who needed to be in the right places and in the right positions before the plan would work like it was supposed to work.

Those words carry hope. They cradle the thought that God had been busy on our behalf and was finally through preparing our Best Blessing ever…and that timing was EVERYTHING in order for it to actually BE the best blessing ever. Important words. Instructive words…

Those words also make me crazy sometimes–especially when they apply to MY life today because I’m not always the world’s best wait-er! (Who is?!) As an adult, I totally understand the need for waiting…I just don’t always fully embrace the concept personally! (You, either?! ha! Imagine that!)

What I do know, however, is that the same list of statements under my first paragraph are just as true today for MY life as they were when God was waiting to bring His Son into the world to save us…and those details that we’re all waiting to fall into place in our individual lives today? Well, once He has those in place in a way that will bless us best or teach us most, our wait will be over about whatever we’re praying over or holding our breath on now, as well.

Whether His answer is a “Yes!” or a “No!” or a comically rhetorical”What were you thinking when you asked Me that?! (because, YES, God has a sense of humor and sometimes I think we’re allowed to see the possibilities without the pain as a way to grow us up a bit!)…whatever it is that He’s chosen for your answers and my answers, it will be just what we’ve needed all along.

Welcome to the Advent Adventures!

 

 

His face

 “The Lord bless you

and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine on you

and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face toward you

and give you peace.”  Numbers 6:24-26

I ended my last post with these verses. They haven’t ended it with me, yet. They keep showing up and rolling around in my brain like some wonderful gift. I keep thinking about those words:  “his face” and they kind of melt me.

It’s considered cross -cultural, I think, that when you’ve been abandoned or disavowed or just disapproved that the symbolism for those who feel you’ve outstayed your welcome is that they turn their back on you. Sometimes that’s just figurative. Other times, it actually happens physically.

These verses show the other side. They’re beneficent, encouraging, hopeful, and personal. They are grace. They are life-giving. They are possible.

No matter where you are today or what you’ve done before, these words are for you. God wants a personal relationship with you! He WANTS to turn His face toward you and be gracious to you. He WANTS to give you peace–peace that lasts forever, not just until the next crisis arrives.

That means you’ll have to look at Him, too, of course. It means you’ll have to see past all of the misconceptions and half-truths and preconceived notions passed as fact by those who don’t really want to do the work of getting to know Him. It means you’ll need to dig deep. It means you’ll have to go to the Source and ask Him to come in. He can do that. He will do that…if you ask.

It isn’t complicated. It does have to be deliberate. You have to choose it–NO ONE just falls haphazardly, or by heritage, or by just being a good person–into a personal relationship with God. It is simple, however. You’ll need to acknowledge the vast gap between who you are and the perfection that is Him. You’ll have to recognize that you can’t make up the difference on your own. You’ll have to see yourself for what you are: someone with sin (and if you’re like me, a lot of it)…someone who has missed the mark…repeatedly. You just have to ask Him to get rid of that sin and make you whole again.

Be ready, though. Asking this isn’t temporary. It will change you. Completely. Forever. He will rock your world in ways you can’t currently imagine…and it will be amazing.

It’s worth it. HE is worth it. The peace is worth it.

These verses are more than just an ancient blessing. They are prophetic. When you ask God to come into your life and be in charge, these words will leap to life and this will happen:

  •  The Lord bless you–with a new heart and a clean soul!

  • and keep you–forever! Never alone again. Always in His care!

  • the Lord make his face shine on you–able to know the Almighty and experience His pleasure in you! He values you! He loves you! He made you on purpose, so He’s already on your side!

  • and be gracious to you–grace = unmerited (unearned!) favor! Who couldn’t use more of that?

  • the Lord turn his face toward you–He will let you see Him! He will be personal with you! He will choose to have a relationship with you that will surpass anything you’ve ever experienced.

  • and give you peace–long past this holiday season. His peace is for a lifetime…and our world needs this now, more than ever. It can start with you today. Just ask.