When God’s instructions don’t make sense

Upon waking this morning, a strange thought ran through my head. “Instead of asking today, I will start thanking God for what He’s doing”.

This is weird.  I’m not awake enough for this to be my own thought, and while asking God if that’s what He wanted, my mind and heart began to obey.

Thank you, Lord

…for moving us here

…for your protection

…for your provision

…for your people

…for whatever it is you are doing

I’m starting to wake up now, and my habit of asking for things is starting to kick in;

How much longer, Lord?

Will you deliver us today?

Show us your will

Guide us, give us peace, help us…

And He gently reminded my heart of my first waking resolve; “I will thank Him”, so I started again.

Thank you, Lord

…for seeing and knowing the beginning from the end

…for my kids, for what you are doing in them through this trial

…for the wonderful time we had yesterday with family

…for laughter, and good memories

Again, my mind wandered, and settled on things that I have no control over—things I habitually pray about; money, unemployment, disappointments and stress.  Again, habit took over and I began calling out to God, “deliver us, fulfill your promises, help us, Lord.  We’re at the middle of the month, and then what?”  Again and again, I have been stopped short and reminded “Thank me.”

I remembered the daily readings from earlier in the week, how God directed Joshua to claim victory at Jericho.  It wasn’t by military might, or strength.  It was a strange order; “March around the walls seven times, then blow your musical instruments, and the walls will come down.”  The Israelites must have thought Joshua was off his nut.  March and blow?  Really?  But they obeyed, and they got the victory, just like He said.

I remembered yesterday’s reading, and a conversation with my husband that occurred concerning it.  When God healed Naaman of his leprosy, Elijah instructed him to do a weird thing.  He could have laid his hand on Naaman, or waved his staff over him, or just said a prayer over him, but instead, he instructs Naaman to go dunk seven times in the dirty Jordan river.  Even Namaan is disenchanted, the Word says he was angry.  His expectation was met with disappointment and a seemingly absurd directive.  I can hear his heart “How will a dirty river heal me?”  Nevertheless, he obeyed, and he was healed. 

Kevin and I talked about these two stories, scratching our heads trying to make sense of them regarding our situation.  We both have had numerous confirmations that we have done what God has asked of us so far, we are waiting in expectation for His promised deliverance, and by all accounts of what we see, we are running out of time.  But God sees above and beyond what we see, and He asks us to trust Him.  And He asks us to wait on Him.  And I thought yesterday, maybe He was asking us to rest in what He was accomplishing.  I thought that was the “weird request” He was making for our victory, I mean, really.  How do you rest?  And how do you explain to someone who asks for the umpteenth time what our plan is.  When the money is gone, and the time is up on the rent, the landlady is not going to understand “we are resting”.  But I think that’s what I heard Him speak to my heart yesterday, so I asked “How in the world do I rest at this time?  My faith has been stretched beyond it’s capacity, and now not only am I asked to believe what He says, I have another directive, “rest”.

I’m starting to see today’s resolve to thank Him instead of asking Him, as His answer to yesterday’s prayer “how”?  And so, I continue, and will continue to look for ways to practice this strange request today.

Thank you, Lord

…for Gracie, for your healing, for your hand that will guide the doctors today in her surgery

…for Kaitlyn, for her Momma heart, and her quiet trust in you

…for Josh and his family, for your hand on his life

…for Briana, for her sweet, generous spirit, for providing her with an income that she needs for the desires of her heart

…for Kristin, for the mighty work we see being accomplished in her

…for your comfort

…for your mercy

…for your plan

…for everything you are.  Father, thank you.

 

He Remains

When from my life the old-time joys have vanished,
Treasures once mine, I may no longer claim,
This truth may feed my hungry heart, and famished:
Lord, THOU REMAINEST!   THOU art still the same!

When streams have dried, those streams of glad refreshing–
Friendships so blest, so rich, so free;
When sun-kissed skies give place to clouds depressing,
Lord, THOU REMAINEST! Still my heart hath THEE.

When strength hath failed, and feet, now worn and weary,
On gladsome errands may no longer go,
Why should I sigh, or let the days be dreary?
Lord, THOU REMAINEST! Could’st Thou more bestow?

Thus through life’s days–whoe’er or what may fail me,
Friends, friendships, joys, in small or great degree,
Songs may be mine, no sadness need assail me,
Lord, THOU REMAINEST! Still my heart hath THEE.
–J. D. Smith

Shepherd Me O God

I have everything I need

Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life.

God is my shepherd, so nothing shall I want,
I rest in the meadows of faithfulness and love,
I walk by the quiet waters of peace.

Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life.

Gently you raise me and heal my weary soul,
you lead me by pathways of righteousness and truth,
my spirit shall sing the music of your Name.

Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life.

Though I should wander the valley of death,
I fear no evil, for you are at my side,
your rod and your staff, my comfort and my hope.

Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life.

Here Comes the Sun

 

This Friday flashback is from Christmas, 2009 (or was it ’08?  It’s all a big blur now).  We found the Wii on sale that year, something the kids had been asking for, but we could not afford.  I had the sense to sock some money away in a Christmas club account that year, and surprised the kids with not just the wii, but Beatles Rock Band as well.  My favorite memory ever, is my girls, playing the wii and singing this song together.  Listening to it today is a healing balm, and I believe it, again.

 

 

More Than I Can Bear

“God doesn’t give us more than we can bear.”

This well-meaning phrase has been used to offer encouragement and strength to someone walking through dark valleys, suffering in pain, or burdened down with the weight of circumstances beyond their control.  I’ve said it, I’ve even believed it; after all, how could a loving God give his child something He knows is impossible for them to bear?  He knows us, He loves us, and He is aware of our limitations, right?  So whatever He gives, He must know we can bear it, right?

And besides, even His own Word says this…somewhere…I’m sure I read it, or heard someone interpret it…or did I?

Here it is:  1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Wait.

I thought…

Hmmmm…well, this is interesting…this isn’t talking about trials, or burdens, or valleys.  This is talking about God not tempting his children, or letting them be tempted above their ability to bear it or escape it.

I guess, loosely translated, it could be made to say that my temptation to doubt God, His love, His power, or His providence will not be more than I can bear.  But it doesn’t say anything about the weight of a burden, or number of circumstances, or darkness of valleys.

Whew!  What a relief…because in the midst of my storms, it’s tempting to doubt God’s awareness of my burden.  It’s tempting to doubt His promise to never leave, never forsake.  He didn’t forget His promise, He is just not bound to my limited understanding of something I heard He said.  In fact, reading through the scriptures, there are plenty of places where God gave His children more than they could handle.  Hebrews 11, aka “The Hall of Faith” is full of examples of mere men who did things impossible in human strength.  And, lest we forget, even God’s only begotten Son couldn’t carry his own cross  It was more than He could bear, and He fell under the very weight of it.

One of my invisible friends, Sherry said it very eloquently this morning.  Her words were like a balm to my aching, questioning heart.

…I learned how nonsensical the saying “God doesn’t give you more than you can bear” really is. Sure he does. He knows when He is doing it, and He does not leave us alone to carry it. SO many times that year, ONE MORE THING would happen and I would say, “I can’t DO this, I cant handle ONE MORE THING, I just can NOT.” I swear to you, He said to me each time, and I HEARD HIM, “I know it is too much, but there is no one else who can do this for me right now. Lean on me, I will help you, I will not leave you alone, but there is no one else and I need you to do this for me. Come, I will help you.” … People have said to me many times, “I don’t know how you got through that”. Well, I do. I trusted in the One who said, “You have to do this, but I will help you.”

Sherry’s words are biblically sound. We’re instructed to come to Jesus, weary and burdened down (Matt 11:28), cast that burden and all our anxieties on the Lord (Ps 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7).  He KNOWS our frame, He knows the weight that is on us, and He wants to bear it with us…He invites us to share it with Him, and His invitation comes with precious promises.  “I care for you, I will give you rest, I will sustain you”  This takes it all off of us, and puts it all on Him.  We are not left as orphans, we are not forsaken, He comes to us.

And maybe this is His secret way of turning our eyes back to Him.  A way to make us realize our limitations so He can show us his infinite power and strength.  Maybe without these trials, we wouldn’t know our need for Him, wouldn’t need Him.  Maybe the burden isn’t the point, maybe it’s still all about Him.

…and the walls came tumbling down

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This week, in my favorite devotional, I’m realizing the difference between relying on my own effort to accomplish what I think is the will of God, compared to His way.  It’s heart-rending, I stand convicted of trying to do His will in my own strength, instead of resting in what He is doing, and waiting on Him.

Straining, driving effort does not accomplish the work God gives man to do. Only God Himself, who always works without strain, and who never overworks, can do the work that He assigns to His children. When they restfully trust Him to do it, it will be well done and completely done.

I’ve had this deep down feeling for the past couple weeks, that God is moving.  Not in the same way that we know He moves, because He is always accomplishing His will in our lives, but moving, in our situation…more like He’s already moved, already accomplished a wonderful thing for us, in this place we find ourselves.  Yet, for now, we are seeing it with our heart and soul, but not yet with our eyes.  It feels like we are waiting for Him to show us what He’s done.  It sounds  weird, and makes sense in my head, but not in the words that I use in my attempt to explain it.  Because I’m in a hurry to see Him move, because I’m tired of waiting, because I want to see this victory that I believe He has promised, I am trying to “help” the process along.  Reminding, nagging, crying, wishing, wanting…but still I don’t see victory, instead, I’m filled with angst, and frustration, and I’ve worn myself out.

On the heels of yesterday’s message from the Lord, came today’s.

The shout of steadfast faith is in direct contrast to the moans of wavering faith, and to the wails of discouraged hearts. Among the many “secrets of the Lord,” I do not know of any that is more valuable than the secret of this shout of faith. The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.” He had not said, “I will give,” but “I have given.” It belonged to them already; and now they were called to take possession of it. But the great question was, How? It looked impossible, but the Lord declared His plan. …it was the shout of a faith which dared, on the authority of God’s Word alone, to claim a promised victory, while as yet there were no signs of this victory being accomplished. And according to their faith God did unto them; so that, when they shouted, He made the walls to fall.

I’m getting the distinct urging in my spirit to start thanking God, and praising Him, in faith…without sight, for what he has accomplished.  It truly feels like the work is done, and I can rest in it, and am being told to rest in it.  It doesn’t make sense to my flesh, and I’m not sure exactly how to accomplish it, but I know in my spirit it’s true, and I will obey to the best of my ability.

♪ ♫ Happy Birthday to Me ♫ ♪

I almost slipped up and forgot to invite you all to my party!  One year ago today, I started back to blogging.  I can’t believe how fast this year has gone, and all that was crammed into 366 days!  Here’s to many more!