April 30, 2013 Short and Sweet and Insufficient

Short and Sweet and Insufficient

This morning, I asked my husband to read today’s “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young while I got ready for work.

WHEN SOME BASIC NEED IS LACKING– time, energy, money–consider yourself blessed. Your very lack is an opportunity to latch onto Me in unashamed dependence. When you begin a day with inadequate resources, you must concentrate your efforts on the present moment. This is where you are meant to love.–in the present; it is the place where I always await you. Awareness of your inadequacy is a rich blessing, training you to rely wholeheartedly on Me.

The truth is that self-sufficiency is a myth perpetuated by pride and temporary success. Health and wealth can disappear instantly, as can life itself. Rejoice in your insufficiency, knowing that My Power is made perfect in weakness.

We both laughed—you know how that goes–  and said, “Wow! We must REALLY be blessed.”

Today’s lesson– rejoicing in my insufficiency. Because, to be perfectly honest, we have nowhere else to go, and we know who holds the keys to life.

May your days be filled with dependency on Jesus.

April 24, 2013 A Minute for Jesus

A Minute for Jesus

Some mornings I wake up and it feels like the movie “Groundhog Day.” I think to myself, “didn’t I just do this?” Once the shower has opened my eyes and I dig my lip balm out of the drawer I stashed it in, the days’ events start to swirl…there’s work projects, household cleaning, laundry, more work projects….did I call that person back? Did I put water out for the pets? I need to spend some Quality Time with the husband… Thoughts take over and the desire to organize it all roars like an angry lion, forcing life and limb into a simple, ill fitting, daily plan. I go rushing out the door, all pertinent pieces in hand…keys, check; lunch, check; purse, check; sunglasses, check; pen I took off my desk and found in my pocket from work, check.  

 

But something’s missing. What did I forget? Ah, yes. The grumpy monkey on my shoulder quickly reminds me what’s missing.

 

It takes me 10 minutes to realize the alarm has gone off and I need to get up.  10 minutes to do hair and makeup. 10 minutes to shower. 10 minutes to search out “work clothes” and get dressed. Somewhere in all those 10 minute increments, while attempting to adjust my attitude and prepare for the day, I have forgotten the most important 10 minutes that would make it all worthwhile. And I didn’t give Jesus even 1 single minute, let alone 10. No wonder!  Isn’t he worth more than my scatter brained attempt at “good morning” during the 4 minutes it takes me to drive to work? It’s focus time.

 

Today’s Jesus Calling was about just that – making time for the Lord. There’s no condemnation in missing that time, even when you finally grind the gears to a dead stop and turn back to him. And there’s no shame in admitting that some days, stopping for Jesus is HARD. It shouldn’t be, but it is. We are bombarded with stuff that fills our life! Life causes pressure! Pressure causes stress! Stress causes the need to organize and plan and we get busier and busier….Sarah Young, the author of Jesus Calling,  wrote (and I am paraphrasing) that our busy-ness is, in its purest and simplest form, an idol. Our scheduling, organizing, planning… an idol—the illusion of control that we cling to, an idol! (Big Sigh). And idol worship is, well, bad. It redirects our focus from what we need and what is necessary to survive our day to day life to the temporary, the wants, and the extra pressure that (let’s face it) we don’t need in any way. Yes, pressure turns us into jewels, and fire refines and reignites us. But not the world’s pressure, and not the world’s refinement. Say it with me. Bold, Italics, Underlined. Not the world’s pressure. Not the world’s refinement.

 

The challenge for me was to stop searching for the sock the dog ran away with, to stop looking at the clock, and to start by picking up Jesus Calling. After all, it was sitting on top of my makeup bag. I had to pick it up to get to my daily routine. (Funny how I’ve never had to look for Jesus Calling or my Bible) Coincidence? Not on your life. That was Jesus, planned, prepared, and calling my name every so subtly.

 

The challenge for you this week is to give Jesus one honest to goodness, minute, each and every day. Christ can offer abundant blessings, calmness, and organization in those 60 seconds (though he’d love a few more!); and those seconds are priceless to him. Let’s take it a step further and get a little crazy — shoot for 5 minutes.  Basking in the glory of our Creator’s presence is oxygen to the breathless man. Breathe him in. Your life and limbs will become ordered by the maker of order. And all that stress, that “didn’t I just do this” mentality — it melts away in the light of the Morning Star. (Now that’s a wonderful feeling!)

 

May your time with Jesus be never ending.

April 16, 2013 Plan Ahead: It Wasn’t Raining When Noah Built the Ark

“Plan Ahead: It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.”

Genesis 6:9- 9:17 (it’s short read!)

This was one of my favorite phrases on a mug in my parent’s cupboard. I used to say it to people, thinking I was being “smart.” Little did I know that God was planting a seed, an idea, a desire to gain the organizational bug that I was not born with. Now, as an adult, this phrase holds a solid piece to the foundation of my beliefs, even when I fail.

Let’s think about this for just a moment. When exactly did the flood rains of Genesis begin to fall? It says Noah was 500 years old (wow!) when God announced the intended clean up and commanded Noah to build the Ark (no rain yet). Then, 7 days before the rain was to fall, he notified Noah of the finality of the plan. When the rains began to fall, Noah was just over 600 years old. It took Noah 100 years to complete this project. And a week, give or take.

If I had 100 years and the audible voice of God commanding my movements, I could get SO MUCH DONE! If I did as the Lord commanded. Such obedience! Now, think about the opposite: Imagine if Noah had waited till the last minute, even if his intentions were to start sooner (do we all know what “they” say about the road to hell and what it’s paved with?) God knew this particular project was a doozy— that it would take time…and planning. He knew that Noah needed 100 years to collect, organize, build….and then, gather “every kind of animal” from the earth to herd into that boat. It was a God sized project. If Noah had waited until the year before the rains were scheduled to fall and the earth was flooded, would the boat have been finished? Yes, I believe that God works miracles and could’ve gotten it done, but I also believe that we are to do things in his time for his glory…  and for Noah, the quality of the vessel, the stress on the people, and the attitude of service that he was supposed to foster for us thousands of years later was all part of the 100 year plan.

I know that some days we get busy, and end up waiting until the rain falls to organize and build the boat. We’ve all been there. The stress, the frustration, and the quality of our work can suffer. And while some think they do best under fire, under pressure, perhaps their perspective could use a change of scenery. Wait for it —  pressure doesn’t mean the flood is pouring down —pressure means that we know a flood is coming, so let’s be diligent and get the work done that God has asked us to do. We may be working while the waters are rising, but God’s got a plan—which means he’s asking us to prepare and do our part.

What are the things in your life that you keep putting off until the last minute? Remember, no task is too big (or too small) for our Creator!

Always start with prayer. Not only when you don’t know where to begin, but even when you do.

It’s time to plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.

April 10, 2013

Stressors. They seemingly appear out of nowhere, these invisible forces of destruction, and they cause all sorts of irritating physical manifestations that let you know that something isn’t healthy, isn’t whole, isn’t “right.” Our minds go into neutral and we press on, feeling alone in our schedules, just trying to get our daily tasks done all the while sanitizing our hands, blowing our noses, moisturizing our skin and willing ourselves to ignore the minor illnesses and annoyances that have befallen us. Recently I have noticed my own stressor—one that had no physical reason to appear and yet—there it was. But yesterday, “Jesus Calling” addressed this very issue and reminded me that I needed to slow down and spend a moment with Jesus. And there was clarity. (Can I get an AMEN!)

 

Christ, in the midst of our humanity, asks us to re-turn to him (did we turn away?), bringing both ourselves and our problems into his presence. How beautiful that the Creator in all his perfection has asked us to bring our imperfections, our “ickies,” our stressors, into the light of his presence! Many of the problems we face – emotional, physical, spiritual—vanish in the light of our Lord; and those that remain become lesser because of being so near to him. The best part—his presence goes with us everywhere!

 

So can you feel it? That release the very moment you allow Jesus to fold you in? It’s like breathing in fresh, clean air for the first time. It’s delicious, taking over your senses from head to toe, relieving, removing, and fading away all those things that bogged you down in the first place.  It’s like a misty, celadon, ocean breeze waking  redwood forested cliffs, the fragrance of the warming sun kissing the earth as it peeks over the horizon. And it’s like the end of the summer, when the heat finally breaks, the sky turns to cerulean, navy, and aqua, and the first star greets the cool, darkening night. Always, we are blanketed in his light.

 

The moment I realized I was farther from my Lord than I should have been – oh how the air grows stale–, allowing the daily grind to take over my focus, the Spirit of the Lord pulled at my heart.  Christ is my peace, my strength, and my health. And now, two days later, my own stressor has started to fade… in the light of the Lord and his healing presence. AMEN!

 

Exodus 33:14 ~ The Lord replied, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 

April 4, 2013

sunflower desert“Grandmother, why the desert?”  The answer was fitting of a “once upon a time” beginning.

Often times we think of the desert as the dry, cracked, ugly wasteland of weathered clay and dust. In storytelling, the desert is usually used as a metaphor for those who need to be healed, who are lost, forgotten, or desperately desire the waters that only heaven can quench their souls with. It’s a fitting metaphor most days, but last week I was reminded of my literary heritage and the love of a great story – a love that had been passed down over the generations. In that reminder, was the beautiful desert; the forgotten desert; the renewing desert. Not the wasteland we usually think of. It was the blooming, life filled valleys and mountains that, instead of showing their color and beauty at all times like a well groomed garden or lush forest, survive, thrive, and weather the storms until the rain comes, showing what lies underneath.

My grandparents have lived in one of the hottest and driest parts of the desert for years.  Amazingly enough, no matter how we protested about the blazing sun,  they never complained about the heat in a negative way. A few weeks ago, my grandmother, being the southern belle that she is, was happy to answer my question about her life decision as a younger woman with that “lost in memory” look in her eyes. In the wake of my grandfather’s passing, the answer she gave me in her Carolina accent as to “why the desert” when there were two other much cooler places they could have lived, was one of romantic imagination, classic story telling, and a love between my grandparents that weathered the heat of every desert summer they encountered together, knowing the rains would come. Underneath their beautifully weathered, desert exterior were lives that bloomed, seeding the depths of the desert’s underground rivers, never forgetting what the surface looked like when it was covered in lush, rain kissed foliage.

In that moment I was reminded that the blessed rains will always come — and how much I have always adored the hidden beauty of the desert.