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Archive for February, 2011

Ripening

Do you know that God has called you to a certain position, yet you are tempted to run ahead of Him into making it happen on your own time and by your own strength? It is good to remember that you can be in the right place, but be the wrong person. Today I was reminded that I am a person in a process, and I can trust Him with the pace. Who He is making me along the way is as important as getting there.

It’s so hard to admit that we simply may not be ready yet for the things God has in store. And when we choose to submit, we trust that He will not forget. He is faithful to finish the good work He has started in us, and when we surrender He is best able to make us fit to answer our calling. Just like a fruit must remain on the vine to be ripe, we must abide in the Vine in order to bear the fruit necessary to minister.

Personally, I believe one calling on my life is ministering to victims of sex trafficking, and I’m learning that answering my calling today might look different from answering my calling tomorrow. Today’s instructions are patience and trust in God’s sovereignty, while tomorrow’s instructions may be to move forward through the door of a women’s shelter. Both days are equally important in my journey. Who I am matters as much as where I am.

I am ripening, and the Gardener knows the right time and season to pick me so I can best nourish others.

‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Ps. 46:10).

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The Waiting Room

I am in a waiting room. Trying to sit still but every tick-tock of the clock on the wall pulls me toward the door, yet I must stay till I am called. The doctor can meet my need, but he must come to me. I know he is a good doctor, but every passing minute tempts me to doubt him. Does he know how deep is my need? Is he running so behind time that I will die? Is he too preoccupied? Maybe the reason he has not come for me is because of me… and I couldn’t blame him. Yet I know the deeper my need for him the more reason he has to see me.

I survey the scene of patients around me. They all seem patient indeed, but there’s a storm in me. And I think I know my own remedy! If only I could take my prescription and leave.. Or find one similar at a pharmacy? Is waiting on the doctor a necessity? Yes, according to my history, so I’ll keep waiting. Pacing. Hoping. Praying.

At the moment, I am actually sitting in my room, writing this analogy to express what I’m going through in waiting for a job call. The doctor is God, and I am tempted to question Him though I know He is good. I also tend to put my hope in timing or in a certain prescription for my need (a certain job) or in only my own efforts. I wonder if I could make things happen without Him? Yet remembering how that worked out in the past keeps me patient for Him.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1-2).

I lift my eyes up higher than job opportunities and potential employers, to God Himself, who is the Maker of all these things. If a job falls through, my hope does not fail because it is in He who never fails. Of course, as time goes by my eyes tend to fall upon the ground, but each new day I must lift my eyes again to the heavens.

Are you also in a waiting room? It is tempting to feel as if waiting is a waste, yet how it is used to test and increase our faith! To make us into faithful people (because isn’t who we are in life even more important than what we do in life?). And surely God knows a thousand other good reasons worth waiting for. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6).

“I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go” (Isaiah 48:17). “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My loving eye on you” (Ps. 32:8). “For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end” (Ps. 48:14).

Lord, “You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long” (Ps. 25:5).

‘All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.’
-Frances J. Crosby

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a prayer

Jesus, how I admire you.. you not only see broken people and are moved with compassion, but you are compelled to action. Whatever you have to give to help us, you do. Despite what it costs you. I need to be more like you. Despite what it costs me.

Help me to cry your tears for the lost and to feel how your heart breaks for the broken and to hear your prayers for your enemies. But more than that Lord, give me your hands to help them. Hands that would be pierced for them. Hands that would wash their feet. Hands that would bind their wounds.

I’m so sorry for being fearful, passive, or inactive at the expense of broken and lost people. Help me be brave for them. Like you were brave for me. Jesus, your love for me made you go to the cross trembling, but for the joy set before you. Help me to go to them even trembling, yet for the joy set before me.

You are my only chance for change. Apart from you I can do nothing good or eternal. I can not work for the Kingdom but by your Spirit. Show me the responsibility and the authority I possess in you. Christ in me, rise in me. You are the only hope in me.

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You know how during the day you will suddenly be reminded of those things you are working toward and believe you need? Almost instantly they turn to burdens. “I need that job” or “I need that relationship” or “I need that position” or “I need that house.” Or maybe they are various anxieties you wish to forget.. “What if this, what if that?” Or even regrets.. “I wish this, I wish that..”

I have been reminded that what I need most in those moments is not for those things to happen, but to pray for what I need. The life of a Christian should be a simple life, because there is One who holds all things together so we don’t have to, “for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matt. 6:8).

In bringing every need before God, we not only have the best chance of our needs being met, but we will come to depend on Him which is the greatest need a human soul will ever experience.

Much of the time, we are truly seeking to experience love, joy, peace, or hope, which the Spirit of God brings sometimes through circumstances, and sometimes despite them. Whatever the case, He is the Giver of every gift, the source of all the goodness of life, and He knows what we need better than we do.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word…
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.’

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Conformation

Do you sense a continual stretching and straining as you are being pushed and pulled by the waves of life? Search your spirit and remember the times you’ve cried out, “Please make me more like You, oh God!”

Sometimes I stop in the midst of a storm and cry out, “Why!?” Sometimes I’m still long enough to hear His voice, “Leah, I’m answering your prayers.”

No matter what I’m going through, I have to admit that it is worth being conformed into the image of Christ. Sometimes it means a walk in the park, and other times I find myself in a prison. Sometimes a desert, and other times a garden. His image can be seen on a cross, and also risen far above.

Yet what matters more than where I am is fellowshipping with Christ everywhere I am, so I can behold Him in that place and become like Him there. His presence will turn any desert into a garden. He is the comfort, the love, the bread I hunger for, yet I am tempted to be refreshed in a thousand other places. I tend to seek so many other faces. Yet there is One who remains at the end of the race. To be like Him, to be with Him, is worth losing everything else I thought I needed along the way.

The LORD makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
(Ps. 37:23-24)

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Overcoming

When considering the commands of God and the commission of Christ, it is easy for us to feel defeated and to count an overwhelming amount of shortcomings. We can find more excuses as to why we can’t carry out His commands than reasons for obedience.

‘In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands’ (1 John 5:3). Instantly we doubt our love for God and experience feelings of defeat, so it’s no wonder John continues to write, ‘And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world’ (v. 4) as if to say, Don’t worry! The battle has been won for you! You are not defeated! We who are in Christ are victorious by faith! ‘This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.’ (v. 5)

Reminds me of Paul’s writings in Romans 8, ‘Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us’ (v. 33-34; 37).

Faith will evidence itself by our desire to follow God’s commands, but our works will never count like faith does in pleasing God! (Heb. 11:6)

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Good Words

The other day, I found myself desperate and terrified to hear God’s voice at the same time. Desperate because ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matt. 4:4). And terrified because what if He would tell me to do something beyond my will or ability?

I had just read the biography of a missionary who flipped open her Bible to a random place and through that God spoke to her, so I decided to try it. Despite my fear, I would listen obediently to whatever He had to say.

To my absolute delight, I had randomly opened the Bible and my eyes fell on Jeremiah 15:16, ‘When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.’ What I felt the Lord say to me was that I should never fear what He might say to me, but actually I should rejoice in His words to me. ‘For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart’ (Matt. 12:34) and what fills the heart of God but love and goodness? And so His words will be loving and good.

What He went on to say to me is another entry, but what good news was that to hear!

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