Wednesday, February 27, 2013

ON GUARD!

When I was a child, my dad taught me skills to help me stay safe in a world that can be chock full of dangers. His protective side was especially evident as I journeyed through my teen years. Always lock the car door. Don't drive alone at night. Steer clear of neighborhoods with higher crime rates. Don't answer the front door unless you know who is on the other side. Don't let a stranger on the phone know when you are home alone. These were only a few of the lessons he ingrained into me.

I didn't mind. I may have rolled my eyes a few times at messages he repeated over and over. But I knew this was his love language to me. They told me how much he desired to protect me from harm. In my mind, I can still hear his footsteps making their nightly round as he buttoned up the house and made sure all the windows and doors were locked. It was a tangible way he showed his love to our family.

I know much of his attention to safety arose from personal experiences he had in his younger years. Because he had encountered times when his own safety was jeopardized, he was all the more diligent to protect his own little flock. How I wish I could have the opportunity to tell my dad how grateful I am for watching over me, and empowering me to navigate safely on my own.

I have another Father who speaks in the same love language. He tells me what to look out for, and what to avoid at all costs. His concerns for me are much grander than my physical safety. Some days, His words jump right off the page and into my spirit with such clarity, they take my breath away. And I have to pause. And listen up.

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be of courage; be strong. Do everything in love." (~1 Corinthians 16:13,14)

I meditate on these words. As I read them over and over, His message to me sinks in and takes root.
Be on your guard ~ Guard against negative thinking, time-wasters, and those who pull me down and lead me off track. Guard against old habits and self-defeating attitudes. Guard my heart and what I allow in. Put up a guard against false teachings and other deceptions. Guard my words and the messages I convey.
Stand firm in the faith ~ My faith is the foundation on which I stand. It empowers me to stand when circumstances threaten to knock me down. My faith calls me to take a stand, and stand up for what is right. In a world of unknowns, my faith is my one "constant". When I'm not standing on faith, I don't have a leg to stand on.
Be of courage ~ A spirit of discouragement likes to bully me. But I don't have to listen to the messages it doles out. These three little words instruct me to do the opposite. Be encouraged! Be hopeful. Have an optimistic outlook. Stay positive. Then go out and encourage others.
Be strong ~ Get energized! Get excited about this season and all it holds. Exercise my muscles ~ spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical, and relationship muscles need daily workouts to be strong and effective. Like the slogan says, "Just do it!"
Do everything in love ~ The ribbon on the package that holds it all together is love. I want love to be the heartbeat of my daily round that dictates all I say and do. Love for God, love for others, love for myself, love for my life. Just this morning I was reminded of how easily words can flow out of my mouth that are completely void of this powerful commodity. I want to do everything, and speak everything, in love.

Memories of my dad and his protective nature are so sweet and precious to me. So is the knowledge that my Abba Daddy is always looking out for me, teaching me the better way to go. May I always have a teachable heart.

"Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life." ~Proverbs 4:23

"He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from troubles."
~Proverbs 21:23


        

Monday, February 11, 2013

PUZZLE PIECES

"We live by believing and not by seeing."
~2 Corinthians 5:7

"Let's not look at the cover," my daughter suggested. "Let's do the entire puzzle without looking to see where the pieces belong."

Today I sit with pieces of my life before me. I don't know where they fit. I can't see how they will all come together, or the picture they will create when complete. Sure, there are parts that appear assembled. But I see God reaching in to even those sections and moving a piece I thought was settled. He sets that piece in a place that makes no sense to me in my limited vision. I scratch my head in confusion. It seemed to fit so well where I'd placed it.

But if I don't let God move the pieces to where they really belong, the picture won't come together. It'll be incomplete, and it won't possess the beauty it would have if I'd just let Him be God and put the pieces together, as He sees fit.

Pieces of a puzzle scattered on our table. Pieces of my life...my family...not taking shape the way I envisioned they would.

I can try to make the pieces fit myself. I can press them into the place I think they belong. I can create my own chaotic life picture.

Or I can relax. Let God build it one piece at a time. I can trust that He knows where each piece belongs. And I can have peace that the final product will not only come together, it will be beautiful. Even breathtaking.

Where does this piece go, Lord? How does this one fit? I can't wait for Him to show me.

"I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished."
~Philippians 1:6

"I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for."
~Jeremiah 29:11

"I don't think the way you think. The way you work isn't the way I work." God's decree. "For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think beyond the way you think."
~Isaiah 55:8,9 The Message   

  

Monday, February 4, 2013

FIX IT

"The difference is Christ in me. Not me in a different set of circumstances."
~Elisabeth Elliot

A quick fix. It sounds so appealing. God snaps His fingers and, BOOM. It's done. Taken care of. Another victory on the score card.

But God says no. A quick fix might change the circumstance. But it doesn't address the hidden issues. It's the underlying stuff He has His eye on. While we cry out for relief from our circumstances, His goal is to bring us a much deeper healing and victory. And God knows we need it, even when we don't have a clue.

I know what He is telling me as I stand knee-deep in stuff that cries out to be fixed. Do the hard work. Press through. Stay focused on the prize. Hold unswervingly to the hope He alone offers. Trust Him for the outcome.

But I'm tired, Lord. I'm exhausted from dealing with the hard stuff. I want You to fix it. Now!

Instead, He comes alongside me ~ in a message on paper, encouragement from a friend, a passage of Scripture. He fills my thoughts with reminders of the faithful work He's already accomplished in and around me.

So I drink in His refreshment. I wipe my brow, and pick up my tools. I give it my best. It's okay that it's not enough. Because He is enough, and therein lies my peace. It doesn't matter how weak I feel when He is my strength.

Yes! I'd love a quick fix. For everything that feels broken. But more than the fix, I want the One who alone can fix it. Fix me, Lord. Fix my heart...my mind...my spirit. I fix my hope on You. You are more than able.

A quick fix or God's fix. I see they aren't synonymous. This hard work, it can only be done on my knees.

"Let us hold unservingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."
~Hebrews 10:23

"My thoughts," says the Lord, "are not like yours, and my ways are different from yours. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my thoughts above yours."
~Isaiah 55:8,9
     
"Don't you know? Haven't you heard? The Lord is the everlasting God; he created all the world. He never grows tired or weary. No one understands his thoughts. He strengthens those who are weak and tired. Even those who are young grow weak; young people fall exhausted. But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak."
~Isaiah 40:28-31

"Now begin the work, and may the Lord be with you."
~1 Chronicles 22:16b

"You must be strong and not be discouraged. The work you do will be rewarded."
~2 Chronicles 15:7

"Cheer up! Because I, the [Lord] All-Powerful, will be here to help you with the work, just as I promised...Don't worry. My Spirit is right here with you."
~Haggai 2:4,5