Thursday, May 30, 2013

150 Days of Grateful

On January 1, 2013 I made challenge to myself to make a choice to be and express gratefulness. I called it ‘365 Days of Grateful’. It’s nearing the end of May and I haven’t missed a day. That in itself is something I’m grateful for. Every day I post my grateful thoughts on my Facebook page, and [often] when I have an accompanying photo I also post on Instagram and Twitter.

If you’ve read my previous post, you’ll know I’ve been working out some stuff with God. (I don’t know why when one issue comes up then every insecurity surfaces. Okay, I do know why. Doubt comes from the enemy and he doesn’t play fair – he kicks you when you’re already down.) As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I’ve been consistently choosing and expressing gratefulness but one of the thoughts that has crossed my mind lately is, “What’s the point? I wonder if it’s even doing anything for me.”

The very next day, my Man tells me I’ve been quite active at night – laughing and singing in my sleep. I started laughing when he said that because I knew God was answering my internal questions. Yes, choosing to have a grateful heart has been making a difference and it’s changing the very core of who I am.

It’s easier than I wish it were, to be overwhelmed by the negative stuff of life but that’s when it’s good for me to review what I have to be grateful for. Indulge me today and let me share some of my happy thoughts for past five months.

Date night  - reason no. 2013002

Baking on the weekend - reason no. 2013034

Loving people with food, that's my favorite - reason no. 2013038

LOVE my new swing flags. God is faithful - reason no. 2013047

When I was little I'd overhear he adult women in my life speak about laugh lines as if they were something to avoid and I thought to myself, "I should like to be known for laughing." Now, as I look in the mirror and see the lines around my mouth deepening, I thank my God for filling my life with so many good things to laugh about - reason no. 2013057

Reminders from friends, telling me what to do - reason no. 2013071

Finding $ in hidden pockets in my wallet - reason no. 2013084

How beautiful are the feet of those that bring good news; incredibly humbling experience to wash the dusty feet of those that bring the gospel to the unreached people of Cambodia. - reason no. 2013098

I always have company in my worship room - reason no. 2013136

 What have been some of your highlights for 2013, so far?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Psalms for Sundays, LXXVI

I turn my eyes toward heaven, where my help comes from. You reign with truth and justice and joy. Because you are nonplussed by the plans and workings of the enemy, I am comforted. I drink from the river of life; I am refreshed and can stand once again.

You make everything new, and with you, all things work out for good. Your goodness is glorious and my life will glorify you, the Sovereign One of Heaven.

Jump in the river,
jump in the river,
jump in the river
                           of life.

Let me swim deep in the river that flows from the throne; get lost in the silent world and breath deep. Fill my lungs with the Spirit, the breath, the pneuma of God.

I am not overcome because he has already conquered. Bless the Lord, all my soul and all that is within me.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Using "I" Messages with God

I’m angry. I’m angry at God.

I discovered this last week at a conference I attended in California. During the morning teaching session, the speaker was teaching from 2 Kings 4:8-37 (Elisha and the Shunammite woman). He was speaking to the prophets. It was a great word/teaching about staying connected to family, and I was nodding and agreeing and saying, “Amen,” “Good word,” as he taught.

After the early session I entered the main sanctuary to prepare for worship. A few of the main speakers were at the front so I walked over to chat with them. While I was at the front, a recognizable (and well known) woman touched me and we began to pray together. She told me to expect an encounter with God during worship and told me to “be ready”. My interest was piqued so I got prepared i.e., I found a place, turned my face upward and held open my hands to “receive”, expecting to receive something akin to an ecstasy experience.

That’s not what I received.

God spoke to me and told me I wasn’t the prophet in the story the speaker shared that morning; I was the Shunammite woman and he opened my [spiritual] eyes to see the parallel.

The Shunammite woman offered friendship, a relationship, to the prophet. First it was just a meal, but soon after she rearranged and renovated her home to build a room, a permanent place, for the prophet to stay when he was near. She included him into her family, but when the prophet wanted to do something for her because of the sacrifice she was making on his behalf, she replied, “I don’t need anything.”

Still, the prophet wanted to do something so he found out she didn’t have a son and he promised her a son, in one year’s time. Her response isn’t overwhelming joy, rather she said, “Don’t lie to me. Don’t give me hope for something that won’t come true.” Nevertheless, her hope was birthed but after a time her son died. Next, she lays down her son and went to meet the prophet. When asked if she was okay, her response to anyone less than the prophet was, “It is well,” but to the prophet she said, “I never asked for a son. I told you not to give me hope, and now my hope is dead. What are you going to do about it?”

He showed me how I had opened my home, my life to him. I created a place for him to stay and I was content with that. Nevertheless, God spoke a lot of promises to me and gave me hope for something more. But right now, the promises seem dead and he said, “You’re angry at me.” As soon as he spoke to me, I knew it was true and I started to cry (and snort and sniffle). For the next 45 minutes I shared my “I” messages with God.

I feel mad because the promises God has spoken to me haven’t been fulfilled yet.”

I feel afraid my dreams and expectations are bigger than God can perform.”

I feel afraid God can fulfill his promises but he’s choosing not to.”

I feel afraid I don’t actually hear God in the first place and maybe I am waiting for promises he didn’t make to me.”

We went around, and around like that until I had expended all my anger and fear. I didn’t know it was inside me, but God knew and he wasn’t afraid of letting me vent, at moments violently even. Afterward, I told God we were going to finish this issue because I was not going to come around this mountain of anger and distrust again.

I’m still in that place. I’m still angry but less so. It’s an uncomfortable place to be, because it’s ‘character-building’.  Not only is it building character but this place is making me look at every promise he’s given me again and ask myself, “Do I trust this word?” I want to believe it. I want to keep dreaming with God and going for more, but it's hard to believe for more when I don't see the first promises being fulfilled.

In the world of writing and blogging, this is not a tidy place to end because there isn’t any resolution but I have a feeling there are others who relate to living in the gap – the one between the promise and the fulfillment and dealing with the emotions that go along with living in the tension. There aren’t easy answers, but I’ve come too far to let go now. I’m holding on for the blessing. How about you?
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