Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Faithful

Someone let the dog outside, twice. 

Angry voices, pitched high outside the window, carry just enough that I realize it is time to intervene.  Fingers point, voices raise, anger spills out with tears of frustration.  The dog runs free in the field, ears flapping in the wind, smile as wide as the sky, oblivious to the chaos happening behind her.  She knows we will come and find her, that we will be here.

A friend once noted to me that it's the behavior in our kids, reminding us of our own sin, which causes us the most grief.  So it's when I'm talking with my youngest about attitude and the feelings that say 'I do so much, I deserve my own way!'  that I can hear the spirit nudging me to get quiet and listen up because I too, need to hear some correction. 

How often I want things my own way?  How many times have I become upset at the way things have turned out? Doubting, fearful and listening to a voice of anger and defeat?

Hebrews 11:6   And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Faith is more than just a Pollyanna view of life which says  'Everything will work out',  Faith is more than hoping or praying for a better outcome. Faith is the action of trusting God and seeking Him.  It is an act of surrender.  I lay down my rights, my desires, my attitude, my hurts, my fears, and ultimately my desire to control, and trust in His will, His right, His desires. 

Faith is believing that not only is God my God, but also that God is Good even when it hurts. Even when things seem out of control and messy and I seem to be the only one who can see it? Faith is knowing that God is in control.

Isn't that what I am called to do? Have faith? Hebrews chapter 11 recounts many of the heroes of the faith, the prophets, the patriarchs, and at the very end it reminds me that these people died still hoping to see the promised Messiah.

My head tells me it is cautious, safer, to resist change, to strike a bargain and hunt for a way to stay the same.  There is a voice which says faith is for suckers, and you're in way over your head, and if anyone ever finds out what a failure you really are...... and the only way to keep that from happening is to try to control everything and everyone.  And if we are really honest, am I really being cautious or is that 'caution' born of a desire to control?

Caution and wisdom are not the same thing. One is driven by the shifting sands of anxiety and fear the other by firm foundation and anticipation of God's faithfulness.

In truth, Faith is only fear-filled when the one you trust isn't Faithful. 

My God is very faithful. My God is you'll never taste death faithful, and 90 years barren faithful, and I'll make you a nation faithful, and I'll walk you out of Egypt faithful.  He is even I'll bless you when all reasonable hope of blessing has passed faithful, and I'll heal your hearts and your home faithful, and I'll walk you though fire faithful.

As I think about all the examples in Hebrews 11, the things that God's people endured, I am awed by their faithfulness and stuck by the simplicity of faith.

Faith protected them. Faith protects me.

Anger, jealousy, fear, doubt. all of these eat away at me, gnaw at my faith, and when I embrace them, I can not also embrace humility, peace and faith and God's faithfulness. 

We talk about how the dog got loose, and how to be humble and considerate of each other. We talk about how to live in peace and store up wisdom. 

And I lay down some of my fears.  Fears about being inadequate to the task to which I have been called, fears about change. 

I see the promise on the horizon and I walk forward in faith, not knowing if I will ever see that day come to pass, still walking forward towards the promise. It seems so close, like change could be here tomorrow. I place my trust in the One who is Faithful and walk forward without fear.


Amanda


Friday, September 19, 2014

Feathers

 

 It is like a man who goes up on a tall tower - like the empire state building and rips open a feather pillow shaking all the feathers out. A few, fall at his feet and are easily recaptured, but most travel far and wide, to places unseen, unknown. 
 
Feathers aren't going to cause you pain when you run into them in a few years, they aren't going to stop you from fulfillment of a dream or making a friend. But gossip, just like those feathers, can never be re-gathered, it can never be taken back, you can never get back the spill of gossip - it will go to places unseen and unknown and when you encounter it again - it will cause pain. 
 
I am pretty sure everyone has experienced gossip coming back to them about themselves. When that happens, it is always tempting to correct the gossip, to identify the originator and to put them in their place.  But if I try to run it down I will never find rest or peace, it would be just as impossible as chasing down feathers dropped from the tower spire.  Imagine how ridiculous someone on the ground would look chasing these floating feathers and becoming upset when they could not gather them all.    I have grappled with this and realized that...
...when I  accept God's estimation of me, I stop worrying about what people say about me.
 
 Esteeming the praise of men, over the praise of God, creates in me a bondage of fear of men. (and women)

I am certainly not saying that we should live irresponsibly or disregard instruction, wisdom or correction. We should simply live our lives the best the Bible tells us how to. To love God, love people, submit appropriately, live humbly,  and try not to cause others to stumble through our behavior.
 
When I know I have been the topic of gossip, I often pray that God will recapture all those feathers for me. There is no way that I will ever be able to address it, no way that I could recapture feathers and convince others of the untruthfulness of the words spoken against me or my family. And in trying to undo the tangle of someone else's web - I too would need to climb a tower and rip open a feather pillow - I too would be guilty.
 
And one of my very favorite quotes from Mother Teresa
 
            People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.
            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.
            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.
            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.
            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.
         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
         In the final analysis...
it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.
 
 
 
Psalm 62:5-6 NLT
Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
    for my hope is in him.
 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will not be shaken.
 
Goodnight,
Amanda