Sunday, February 8, 2009
When I read this tonight it occurred to me how seriously Solomon revered God's sovereignty. The book itself seems to have that theme (the Sovereignty of God). But that Solomon would command that all the noisiness of the construction be done elsewhere so that the building site could be kept "reverently quiet" (as the place of God) seems to take that to a whole new level.
Lately, I'm living the reality of an over-packed schedule. School seems to demand so much of my time that my FT job has seemed more and more exhausting and at times impossible. Also, although my every intention when I started was that I wouldn't let school interfere with my quiet times with God, I seem to continually be rationalizing skipping these sessions. Or, even more aggravating, trying to have them but then not being fully into it and getting distracted. I will be praying about something and it will remind me of something else that happened and before I know it I'm replaying in my mind events and conversations and then thinking over things that have happened (that are done and out of my control). Late into the evening (or early morning) I'm doing this. Living my week for the weekend. It occurs to me (tonight especially) that I'm not getting anywhere (and not entering that special place where God and I commune) because I can't seem to shut up(!) If I paid attention to the themes of the lessons I do manage to take in, I probably would've gotten this sooner (I guess that's why they always advise you to write down what you've learned)- God is trying to show me His sovereignty in my circumstances.
The story of Elijah (one of the things I heard recently that stuck with me) - when he was fleeing Jezebel and went to the mountain of God - the original text says he went to "the" cave (not just "a" cave). Which some scholars believe was the cave that was the 'cleft of the rock' Moses rested in when God covered him with his hand (Exodus 33). Elijah and possibly Moses, learned in that same spot that God was protecting them (covering them with his hand) and all that could be done was nothing...rest. In addition to that God spoke to him in the still small voice - God was in the quiet.
Later in this chapter (I kings 6) God makes a statement about what this temple will mean to the Israelites (the parallel of which, the people won't see until Jesus comes). In verses 11-13 (MSG) He says, "About this Temple..." (notice how "Temple" is capitalized) "...you are building -- what's important is that you live the way I've set out for you and do what I tell you, following my instructions carefully and obediently. Then I'll complete in you the promise I made to David your father. I'll personally take up my residence among the Israelites -- I won't desert my people Israel."
God has promised me so many times that He won't desert me. Yet I still have this unshakable feeling that he's 'just not that into me' (yet another thing I heard recently). I'm embarrassed to admit I'm jealous of those who were born Jewish. If they had got it right, He might not have extended the invitation to everyone else. That thought has always bothered me. I'm grateful for the handout (to be the puppy who gets to eat the scraps of the children at dinner time [Matthew 15]), but I also sort of wish I was one of the original children.
Lately I've been very lonely. I can feel the Spirit diminishing within me everyday that I fail to make time with God a priority. I'm back to my old vices - meeting with an old boyfriend and grasping at the imitation of intimacy; missing the tangible aspects of the relationship - (for clarification I'm not talking about sex, but the little things - like holding hands or hugging - or deep meaningful conversations). I don't think its wrong to want those things (after all doesn't God say in Genesis, "It's not good for man to be alone"?) Which, by the way, the fact that He would design us to need each other as well as needing Him, is definitely a true testament to God's humble nature. However, its not good that I'm using that as a substitute (and a poor one at that) for something (or rather some one -- the ONE) I was designed to need.
The truth is, I sometimes have a tough time remembering just how much I need Him. It used to impress me with the last guy I dated long distance, that every time we were around each other, he was so infatuated with me (which I loved because I was infatuated with him even when we weren't around each other). I would wonder why he couldn't remember all the things he liked about me when we weren't sitting in the same room. I wonder if God wonders that about me (why I can't remember how much I need to be in His presence to just feel right). Each time I make it there, its so incredibly worth the effort. Yet once I'm back in the every day, I quickly forget and look for anything else that will satisfy that loneliness I feel without Him. (and have yet to find something that will).
"Every beginning is scary and every ending is usually sad but its the middle that counts" - Hope floats
I accepted a new job. New. I remind myself constantly (as do my loving friends) 'there is no wrong answer here'. In an economy where I'm lucky to have a job let alone two to choose from. I'm plagued with the fear of making the wrong choice. I've prayed for God to orchestrate a path for me to go back to school. (If that were his will for me at this time). And so far everything has laid itself perfectly in my path. Classes that I needed to take were available with the right timing, work was flexible and even paid for one of the classes. But at the end of this semester I knew another challenge faced me with time and money. And I prayed for a way for this to work. This new job literally landed in my lap. (I didn't even apply) The income of which would allow me to afford school. How can I ignore it? Yet I am comfortable with where I am at. I'm grateful for the opportunity but on the same note, feel like a rug has been pulled out from beneath me. Even staying with my old job would mean change. The company is merging with another - changed office, new supervisor. All of these unknowns in the equation. I could even be let go once the transition had completed. All of this has been running through my mind constantly, yet now (tonight) when I think about it (especially after seeing it on paper) it seems so worthless. What a waste of energy. God has promised He will sustain me (Psalm 55:22). He's promised that I can determine my path and he will show me the steps to get there (Proverbs 16:9). I have been assured that God will work out the specifics if I will just trust Him; stay near to him (John 15:4). What a ridiculous time to not stay connected with him (just when I need him most).
Thank you God for giving me rest. I know when I come through this I'll see your back (Exodus 33) - that you were there all along. If I can just settle down - I know You've got me covered and that You will protect me. I need to rest and to be still. Quiet.
This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."
Saturday, December 27, 2008
It seems, unfortunately, that we are always keenly aware of what we are missing (even to the point of overlooking what we do have). This time of year, especially, it seems the thing that is lacking feels that much more lacking - or the thought of going on without it seems that much more unbearable. I'm not sure why, really - maybe its the family gatherings and togetherness that remind us of where we are in life (and the gap between where we would've liked to have been with another year close)? Or perhaps its all this wonderful awful vacation time that leaves us with too much time to think and worry? Or maybe there is more going on that we are aware of, maybe we are decieved with our own thoughts and self-pity in order to distract us from the real mystery of this time of year?
A person I care very much for is not talking to me and it makes me sad...and frustrated. Sad because I feel this whole thing could be cleared up with one conversation...and frustrated for kind of the same reason with the additional aspect that I can't do anything about it. I think this is the most disheartening part about it and possibly the reason it occupies so much time in my mind. I've laid this one at the cross so many times in prayer only to turn around and pick it right back up again. Why is it so hard to relinquish control? And then in frustration I start to get angry with God (who also seems to be giving me the silent treatment right now).
In my more rational moments I know that good-weather-only friends are not worth having (myself included, sorry God). And that there is an ultimate plan and purpose to my life (and it is good).
And I also know that I need to "wait"...
"This is what the LORD says: 'In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you...'" (Isaiah 49:8)
"...but those who wait on [or hope in] the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
And further that "waiting" doesn't mean sitting still - the original Hebrew word for "wait" in that last passage is "quavah" (pron. ku-vuh) and is associated with "look for" and "gather" "to collect". I'm not pretending to know anything about Hebrew (other than what concordance will tell you) but the collection of those words makes me think "study". And I'm reminded of this looming project that I have yet to finish. I may only think I'm waiting on God, but He may actually be waiting on me.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
The problem is that I am involved - whether or not I like to admit it to myself. The Bible tells us we should love one another and submit to one another and always put that person first. In context it means we should be loving to our spouses, other believers and to the world - but it sort of leaves us guessing about what our romantic relationships should be like - how much of that is appropriate for dating? And what if they don't put you first? Or you perceive they may be acting in their own best interests rather than your own? Should you overlook it because, after all, only God knows whats in a man's heart and there could be more going on there than you're aware of? But wait - Is that really good advice when you're not married to the guy? Kind of makes me wonder, though, if turning the other cheek is a Biblical code of conduct for responding to everyone else, shouldn't Biblical truths like that also be relevant for every person in my life (and in every aspect of my life)?
The thing that keeps getting overlooked is that God placed this desire in our hearts in the first place, "Its not good for man to be alone". This urgent need to be known, accepted and loved is strong enough for us to risk security. But then, when disappointment after disappointment happens, we begin to question if its worth the risk. We stop hoping, "if it happens it happens and then after its happened I'll get excited about it." We're scared of our God-given passion - not just for relationships, but for life. Desire is just too risky. Hope can be crushing.
So what's the answer? How can we freely desire as God intended and as we were able to do before the world slowly broke us - yet avoid being leveled by disappointment?
I think the problem started with our "never again" pact. Instead of letting God pick us up and clean our scraped knees - we try to fix it ourselves. We decided it makes more sense to amputate the whole leg to keep from feeling the pain. We callous our hearts and prevent ourselves from truly experiencing our most innate desire, love. The Bible even tells us "We love because he first loved us." How could we possibly expect to do this right without His help?
-Tenth Avenue North ("Love is here" lyrics)
Saturday, December 6, 2008
So this article about control and actually a few more with the same author were written in such a authentically honest, and humble tone they touched me so deeply. It crossed my mind briefly over the next few days and then before I knew it, I had looked it up and was reading it again - there was something convicting there - the words were so powerful. I realized I was missing the power in my own life. I had charged ahead with my good works and didn't stop to ask God if I was even going the right direction.
Those who know me well know that I struggle with depression, and like diabetes (as I've heard it compared) it doesn't really ever go away; it requires daily 'medication'. My medication being constant communion, prayer, reflection and study. And now that I've gone so long without my medication I'm back here again, a complete wreck. Starting again from square one; so wrapped up in my own problems and feelings that I'm missing the opportunities Gods putting right in front of my face. Opportunities for REAL life. Not just happiness (based on happenings) but true joy regardless of circumstance. Rather than focusing on that person who let me down, the situation that didn't go the way I wanted it to, or any uncertainties with my future and its direction I should have my eyes on the road (the narrow road). Worry IS meditation - Even thinking of solutions, is still thinking about the problem and focusing on it.
2-3 Instead you thrill to God's Word,
So if I'm so good at meditation why not focus my mental energy in the right direction? After all if wrong thinking is the root of depression, wouldn't it make sense that right thinking could be the cure?
25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
Lord, I'm starting over and this time I'll do it your way. I'm turning over a new leaf again with your power break my crutches - the pathetic gods I put in your place. They'll never hold me up. I'm at Your feet Lord and I need a reminder of hope right now more than ever. I'm desperate for something from you. Please forgive me for all the ways I've failed, for the ways I'm continuing to fail even as I tell you this. I long so desperately to be comforted by You. Give me clean hands and a pure heart. I love You.
Ps. 24:4-54 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
"Even when rain falls even when the flood starts rising even the storm comes, I am washed by the water"
-NeedtoBreathe (Washed by the water lyrics)
Friday, October 17, 2008
I don't know if you know or remember what it's like to train yourself to run outside (starting from out-of-shape)? My roommate loves running (she ran track in high school) and is probably in the best shape of anyone I know. And I, on the other hand, can make gym equipment work for me but running outdoors always feels twice as hard. I think when you're a true runner, the gym must be only for amateurs. Anyway, we were jogging at Katie trail last weekend and being the encourager that she is challenged me to run for five minutes straight (I had already been jogging/walking/jogging for about 30 minutes at this time) and was feeling like I was about done. But I decided to try. And I have to say, that was the longest 5 minutes of my life. She held her fingers up periodically, indicating the time we had left until the five minutes was up. Four fingers... three fingers... two fingers... I thought that last minute felt like ten. But finally it came - Along with a sense of accomplishment (and total lack of air).
I feel like this is where I've been with God for awhile now. I'm just straining to see how much I longer I can last. "Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds for you know the testing of your faith develops endurance." I guess I had a really nice stretch there for awhile and now it's time to get back to business. The business of being more and more like Christ. But instead of being excited at the prospect of shedding yet another bad habit or vice that's been weighing me down and holding me back, I find myself sulking and getting angry at the way things are going. I wish it were over... that I was already done and that part of me had already died, the stubborn part who always wants her own way.
Monday, July 7, 2008
When I had a flat tire a few weeks ago I discovered a wonderful product called Fix-a-flat. The stuff is amazing! I decided to get a spare can to keep in my trunk ('just in case') and prided myself on my 'be prepared' attitude. But after reading the precautions on the can, realized it probably needed a more temperature 'safe' environment and had added it to the unorganized junk in my tool 'box' (a pretty canvas basket) and soon forgot all about it.
The other day, as I put together my new bed (yay new bed!), I pulled the tool canvas (where the can was innocently hiding) and placed it in the middle of my bedroom for easy access. While cleaning up my room, I casually tossed a hammer in there and walked out of the room. I had only taken a few steps outside my door when I heard a "ksshhhhh" noise and thought to myself, self, that sounds kind of weird - so I stepped back in the room to find a stream of white foam spraying out of the tool box thingy. I paused in a "what the heck is that?" stupor just for a moment, but quickly came to my senses and grabbed the can and ran to the front door of my apt, threw open the door and set it down just outside. (Now what? ) I stood and watched it continue to "KSSSHHHH" for another moment or two - thinking it would stop any moment. (Apparently those cans hold quite a bit...though) But it just kept spraying... ...and spraying... So much, that in a matter of seconds, there was this huge (very foul-smelling) foam puddle. I looked left and right wondering which staircase I should attempt to run it down. I live on the second floor of a three-story building and it's not wonderfully easy to take something 'outside' (since there is pavement and stairs and parking lots involved) Of course if I'd known there'd be this much fluid I probably would have tried that anyway, but at this point it seemed like I'd just be spreading the mess? I needed a way to contain it...so, I grabbed the closest thing to a trash bag I could find - a Target bag. I put the stinky, foamy can in the Target bag and tied it - but it just kept going! ...and the bag started to inflate ...and I realized this was not a very good plan. I ran back inside to look for a towel or something to mop up the putrid mess; but as I surveyed the neatly folded towels in my linen closet I decided I didn't really want to ruin any of them. Pacing back and forth between the doorway and the living room (with my now incredibly stinky hands - in fact I'm not really sure "stinky" comes close to describing it) I thought frantically of someway to make it stop; but nothing came to mind. So I ran back out to the porch to check it's progress just as my neighbors from across the way came walking up the stairs from the pool (looking from me to the inflating Target bag -like 'what the.. ?') Just then the bag exploded... all over me, my door, the staircase and the hallway. And I screamed (more out of surprise than anything else)- and they laughed at me (of course) uh... really hard. I can only think of a few other times in my life when I've been this embarressed.
The can did eventually stop spraying but by then the puddle was so large it had oozed down the stairs - My neighbor just under me came out to survey the mess. He was NOT as easy-going about it. In fact he was furious. He asked if I was spraying gasoline in the hallway (oh yes, I just love to spray highly flamible substances in tight living quarters). I assured him it was just a tire fixing solution (which come to think of it is probably equally flammible?). The smell was nausiating. I apologized profusely. He kept saying how upset his wife would be if she were home and how it was a good thing she wasn't... (I could feel the defiance beginning to overwhelm me). I should probably do something nice to make up for it.