Friday, October 28, 2011

Joyful are those...

This week I have heard two stories of God's faithfulness...and a few huge prayer requests.

My friend writes to me about her new job and her message is full of happy faces and words like "superb...hilarious...incredible...ridiculous...happy!"  I feel full of laughter that's half choked with tears as I read.  Months ago she boldly turned down a job that didn't seem right, but then there were no other offers.  We prayed.  She did a mission trip.  Waited.  Prayed.  Wondered.  Did she make the right decision?  Her bank account dwindled and she dared to give some more.  Still no job.  Then suddenly!  The job is perfect--all she hoped for and more!

I think of her heavenly Father smiling on her all those months of waiting and wondering.  I think of the angels cheering her on as she took courageous, faith-filled steps that seemed only wondering and trembling to her at the time.  All the while her Papa knew that He had this wonderful surprise in store for her.

The second story is of praying parents watching their daughter stand at a crossroad in her faith walk, knowing they can only pray and love and wait.  The daughter has taken small steps toward the light.  The parents have lain awake, praying in the darkness.  This week they met a total stranger who had encountered their daughter months ago...and has been praying for her ever since.  The parents are filled with joy realizing that God is at work, has been at work all along, and they don't need to be afraid.

These stories encourage and excite me!

But what about...

My friend who has a lump in her breast.

A friend who believes God has abandoned him because the circumstances of his life are so difficult right now.

The baby girl I've been longing to see healed for two years but open-heart surgery is now imminent.

A woman is still barren...a marriage is still falling apart...

When my thoughts dwell on all these things something icy cold fills up the center of me.  I want to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.  These challenges are big.  Real people are in pain.  How can I rise up and face the day?

Unless I surrender my right to understand for now.  Unless I believe that God is at work, even now, behind the scenes...that glory is yet to be revealed...that I'm someday going to use words like "superb...hilarious...incredible...ridiculous...happy" to describe the end of the story.  Unless I believe His promise that He is willing and able to make something beautiful out of messes.   Unless I choose to give thanks before I see the miracle.  Unless I begin to worship the One who is my only Hope...  Then a fire fills me and I overflow with laughter.

That is how we can rise up and face the day.  Worship.  Giving thanks in all things.  Remembering what He has already done...which gives rise to more worship.  Then we are filled with hope and laughter...and it's contagious!  It's a hope and a confidence that you can bank on.

Let all that I am praise the Lord.
I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath
...joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, 
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
Psalm 146:1-2, 5

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Exposure to Glory

"When all the people of Israel saw...
the glorious presence of the Lord filling the Temple,
 they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the Lord,
 saying, 'He is good!  His faithful love endures forever!'"
2 Chronicles 7:3

When I read this passage this morning the thought that struck me was that exposure to the glorious presence of the Lord didn't fill the people with fear--not even these people of the old covenant.  Rather, it provoked recognition of His goodness and love.  You might expect them to run in terror.  You might expect that exposure to the glory would make them self-conscious, aware of their own sinfulness.

If you're feeling afraid of God or focusing on your own sorry state, it may be that you haven't tasted or aren't currently tasting of His glory.

This glorious presence fell on them after the Temple was dedicated as a place of worship.  It came as a response to the worship-filled dedication spoken by Solomon.

That Temple is no more.  Now YOU are His temple.  And His glorious presence still fills the temple when we offer ourselves with worship and praise.  The glorious presence never condemns or inspires fear, but fills us with awe of his goodness and mercy.

Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship,
for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
Psalm 89:15

1 Corinthians 3:16

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Holy Moment

My favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is when we pause in between the main course and dessert so everyone around the table can take a turn expressing gratitude for something significant in the last year.  There are always a few tears as well as a lot of laughter.  Sometimes it's a little awkward for a guest new to the tradition--until they've experienced it.  Something holy happens in those moments of giving thanks.

I recently heard someone say that "complaining can only come out of a heart of unbelief".  I've pondered it a bit and I think it's true.  If I'm complaining, it's because I don't believe His promise that He can and will work all things out for good--I'm not believing that His plans for good in my life trump the difficulty I'm facing in that moment.

The holy thing that happens when we pause to give thanks is that our faith is strengthened.  The God who accomplished these good things in our life is able to accomplish great things in and through the challenges ahead.  We believe.

My biggest "thankful things" this year are the fun of a surprise trip to California to visit our far-away family, the way He's led us into and blessed us in our homeschooling adventure, and the way He provided for our family through a very lean financial time.   Remembering these things, I believe that He'll be there for us until the calendar comes around to this holiday again--with surprise blessings and help through difficulties.   He is good!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness
Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises
Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Exult in his holy name;
rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him.
Remember the wonders he has performed,
his miracles, and the rulings he has given.
I Chronicles 16:8-12