Tag Archives: trusting God

I don’t have to like it…

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the-boy-4

Recently God and I were locked in a battle of the wills.  (Of course you know who won.)  As I squirmed under his thumb, I felt him speak to me in that Fatherly tone that he often uses with me.  He said, “You don’t have to like it, you just have to obey.”  

Now clearly I would be assured of a greater blessing if I submitted with humble faith to the thing that I didn’t understand.  But God and I were beyond the point of tender prodding and gentle leading.  I had gone through all my whining “Whys?” and settled into a defiant pout.  Now all he could do with me was to pull the “Because I said so” card, the Parental Ace.

I go through this with my own children sometimes.  They whine, “I don’t want to brush my teeth.”  You don’t have to like it, you just have to obey.  “I don’t like peas.  I don’t want to eat them.”  You don’t have to like it, you just have to obey.  I don’t always explain my reasons to my children for the very purpose that learning to obey a parent will help them learn to obey God when he is also silent about his motives.  Sometimes children just need to trust that the grown ups know more than they do.  And sometimes I need to trust that God sees things that I don’t see.

I’m still not happy about what I know I’m supposed to be doing.  I still don’t understand it. But I have grimly set my face towards obedience, like Jonah plodding towards Ninevah with whale vomit pooling in his shoes.  I don’t have to like it.  I just have to obey.

Last night I prayed, “Lord, change my desires.  Give me your desires.”  And immediately I felt my cold heart begin to melt a bit.  This is going to take some more praying and more submitting of my desires, but I think I’m learning little by little.  I still don’t understand, but I choose to obey.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/slightlyeverything/6086714262/”>slightly everything</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>CC BY</a>

Before you break your heart

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Heart-BrokenSometimes when the Lord speaks to me, it is in the same tone that I speak to my children.  I know God is treating me like his child, and I need to respond to him as my Heavenly Father.

This last week I sent Teacher Christmas presents to school with all my kids.  My Kindergartener has two teachers, an English teacher in the morning and a Spanish teacher in the afternoon (it’s a bilingual school).  In each gift bag, I packed a cute mug, hot chocolate mix, chocolate covered coffee beans, and a plate of home-made Christmas cookies.  My little one was so excited!  She’s 5 years old, so of course she wanted to carry her own presents to her teachers.  But she’s also short, so for the entire walk from the car to the classroom I was coaching Lulu in my most patient parental voice.  “Pick up your bags, don’t drag them.  Don’t clink your bags on the ground or you’ll break the cups.  Do you want me to carry those for you?  Be careful.  Lift them higher honey.”  Every 2 seconds it was a new instruction.

Now, I’ve mentioned before that this child is an insurance claim waiting to happen.  She is a natural disaster on two feet.  I have FEMA’s emergency number on speed dial.  She’s not malicious or naughty (usually) but she is high-spirited and has inherited her mother’s gracelessness.  So I knew it was a risk to let her carry her presents herself.  Sure enough, my fears proved to be foresight.

The minute she saw her little friend Anika she went running to hug her with a gift bag in each hand.  The arms swung around her little buddy and the bags smashed together behind Anika’s back!  It was all I could do to surpress the disappointed tone in my voice.  I then had to explain to her teachers that she just got too excited and forgot to be careful.  Sorry, here’s your broken coffee cups.  A little Super Glue should do the trick.  I felt so bad, but there was nothing more I could do as a parent to prevent her from breaking the cups aside from carrying them myself.   If she was going to carry them, it was a certainty that she was going to break them.

So last night I had a moment with God when he spoke to me like I was speaking to Lucy on that day.  He said to me in a Fatherly tone, “Give me your heart to hold for you.  Give me your heart before you break it.”  I set my heart on things that are unrealistic, dreams that will never become reality.  I invest my heart in ideas or plans or day dreams or wishes and then I am disappointed when my ideas fall flat.  Father God asked me to give him my heart for safe keeping.  If I were to hold on to it, I would certainly break it.  I have high expectations.  I am constantly getting my hopes up and then they come crashing down to the ground like Lulu’s Christmas cups.  I get all excited and smash my heart to bits.  God says, “Child, let me hold that for you before you break it.”

Now the question is, will I trust him?  Do I really believe that he knows better than I do what is good for me and what is wrong for me?  Am I going to surrender my heart, my dreams and expectations to him?  Am I going to trust my Father with my heart?

Here’s a promise I can trust when I am looking for how to guard my heart.  “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:7

Stop trying to control your future

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Happy Monday morning everyone.  This was from my devotionals last week and I’ve been mulling it over in my mind for several days… trying to apply it to my own life.  If you’re a planner, if you’re a worrier, if you rehearse speeches in your head then this might speak to you as much as it did to me.  Be blessed.  Jesus loves you!

Trust me enough to let things happen without striving to predict or control them.  Relax, and refresh yourself in the Light of My everlasting Love.  My Love-Light never dims, yet you are often unaware of My radiant Presence.  When you project yourself into the future, rehearsing what you will do or say, you are seeking to be self-sufficient: to be adequate without My help.  This is a subtle sin- so common that it usually slips by unnoticed.

“The alternative is to live fully in the present, depending on Me each moment.  Rather than fearing your inadequacy, rejoice in My abundant supply.  Train your mind to seek My help continually, even when you feel competent to handle something by yourself.  Don’t divide your life into things you can do by yourself and things that require My help.  Instead, learn to rely on Me in every situation.  This discipline will enable you to enjoy life more and to face each day confidently.”

~Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

Why don’t we use the word “Repose” anymore?

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“Now there was a famine in the land… The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live.  Stay in this land for a while and I will be with you, I will bless you’… So Isaac stayed and planted crops in that year, and in the same year reaped a harvest a hundred fold becasue the Lord blessed him.”  Genesis 26

 

In church on Sunday I happened to be having a good Spanish day, my mind tracking exactly with what the pastor was preaching.  I got into the zone where I didn’t have to be translating back into English as I was listening, I was just thinking in Spanish.  Then the pastor said a phrase that just caught in my mind.  He said, “Repose en El”.  I knew he was saying “Rest in Him”, but I got stuck on the word Repose.  I tried to think of the exact English word.  I know we use the word Repose in English, but I just couldn’t think in what context.

So I went home and looked up the word in the dictionary, I mean on the internet.  And I was thrilled with what I found.  “Repose” does indeed mean rest, relax and lay down.  But it also has other uses.  It can mean:

a state of being at rest

peace, tranquility, calm

a dignified calmness of manner, composure

to rest from work or activity

to refresh by rest

to put confidence or trust in a person or thing

to put under the authority or at the disposal of a person

to deposit

This was very interesting considering the context.  The message was about what to do when a Crisis comes to your life.  When a Child of God finds himself in a Crisis of some kind, he should tune his spirit to the Lord and find out what God’s plan is.  We are not to strive and worry and stress.  We are not to follow the plans of our own minds or the natural ways of the world.  God’s ways are not our ways.  Very often God’s ways are contrary to our logic and our instinct, but if we follow His instructions, we will reap a harvest even in times of drought.  He will bless us for our obedience.

When the Crisis comes, Rest in the Lord.  Put your confidence and trust in Him.  Put yourself and your wellbeing under the authority of God.  Put all you have at God’s disposal to do with as He sees fit.  Make your deposit in the Lord.

Your calm manner, your peace and tranquility in the face of general panic and chaos will strike a stark contrast with the ways of the world.  Your soothing manner will become an oasis.  You will be the calm in the center of the storm.  When you repose in Him, you will become a very appealing oddity in the worried eyes of the world.

Are you ready to Repose in Him?  When all the world is in a panic, can you trust and rest and remain calm?  Only a true child of God will be able to put their trust in Him in the time of crisis.  Make your deposit safe in the Lord.  Repose in Him when the storm rages around you.

One of my favorite pictures. If you look closely, the guy in the doorway is holding a cup of coffee. Love that!

 

Taxes and the Rapture

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If there’s any subject 100% certain to cause me stress, it’s money.  When I was a child, my family was in financial distress all the time.  There was always talk of not enough and of the grand-daddy of all money woes:  Taxes.  My parents’ business owed back taxes, so this word was always floating through their conversations.  They didn’t realize it, but I was listening, always listening.  I didn’t know what taxes were, but they sounded so scary!

I had another great fear as a child, also due to a mysterious word floating through the adults’ conversations:  The Rapture.  In the type of church that I grew up in, the preacher often taught about the Second coming of Christ, also called the Rapture, when all the believers would be snatched up to heaven in “the twinkling of an eye”.  There were songs written about it, sermons preached about it, and even movies made about it.  From the movies, I had the idea that we would all fly upwards naked, leaving our pile of clothing as an ominous indicator of whatever activity we were engaged in at that singular moment.  I was OK with flying naked into Heaven, but my major concern lay in the final destination of my blankie.  If we weren’t bringing any fabric to Heaven, then what would become of my beloved blankie?  I wasn’t sure I could enjoy Heaven without it.  This caused me deep anguish.

As an adult, I have out grown my blankie-love and it’s accompanying fear of loss, but I still carry tension where money is concerned.  I have over and over again experienced God’s faithfulness in providing for our financial needs, but it’s a hard lesson for me to retain.  I seem to have to learn it over and over again.  I’m like those block-headed Children of Israel who wandered in the wilderness for 40 years learning and forgetting how to trust God.  Learning and forgetting, relearning and forgetting again.  So last night when my husband said, “it’s another bad month for us” my heart clenched in my chest.

Our livelihood, every penny we need, comes from supporting churches and individuals back home.  And when times are tough back home, times are tough overseas too.  Month-to-month we are thankful for our faithful supporters who don’t forget that we are still “out there”, who don’t abandon us.  And month-to-month, God stretches the money somehow.  We’ve cut corners, eliminated luxuries (from an American’s perspective), and pinched pennies.  It’s just tight all around.  And it’s tight around my heart too.

We do what we have to do to survive.  This week I accepted a teaching position at my kids’ school.  Due to the kind of visas we have, I can’t actually receive payment, but I worked out a deal with the administration to convert what I would get paid into free tuition for my 3 kids.  This is huge for us!  Schooling isn’t free overseas.

We have made tough choices for our family.  We feel responsible to our supporters and want to respect their sacrifices as well, so we are careful about how we spend our money.  We chose a school that fits within our missionary way of life, yet is not the most expensive school there is.  We don’t have our kids in the expensive sports clubs.  They just have the after school activities that meet in the dusty old barn of a gym at their school.  They don’t get expensive music lessons.  We pay a friend to teach guitar lessons.  We are careful with how we spend our money.

My point is, we do make tough decisions, just like many of you have to make.  We make sacrifices to survive, just like you do.  And I have to remind myself constantly that God has been faithful to us… just like you have to remind yourselves of this.  Ultimately, the style of life that we have chosen is a life of faith.  We believe, though we don’t see it yet.  We believe that God will pull us through at the end of the month, but we don’t see it until the last minute.  Just like we believe that Jesus is coming back for us, though we haven’t seen it yet.

The Christian life is a faith walk… it’s meant to be.  It’s supposed to challenge us.  It’s designed to teach us how to remember- through repetition we remember the lessons of how to Trust in our Faithful God.  These are the faith-building stories that we tell ourselves and tell our children.  God has been faithful, and He will be again.

The Break-In

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Our story part 2, continued from yesterday.

In 2001 we were living in a little house on the East side of St. Paul, MN.  I was 9 months pregnant with our second child.  A girl that we had prayed and cried over for 5 years.  We were nearing the end of the pregnancy when the St. Paul Police started a crack-down operation in the neighborhood south of us.

This flushed bad guys into our normally nice neighborhood all summer long.  Our mail man was held up at gun point.  Our garage was broken into and our bikes stolen, even Taylor’s tricycle!  And one morning we came out to go to church only to discover that our car was stolen.  The police found it later that day, window smashed, hot wired and still running, abandoned in a parking lot.  We dropped it off at the repair shop.  The icing on the cake was that I was over-due to deliver this baby and now we had no car.  We borrowed the church van to go to the hospital.

Baby Emma finally came and it seemed like everything was settling down… then 9/11 occurred.  I remember standing at the television set and screaming when the first building went down.  It felt like the whole world was ripped apart at the seams.  Over the next few weeks, five year old Taylor kept building tall towers with his Legos and knocking them down with toy airplanes and cars.  I had nightmares about being trapped in an elevator and feeling the building swaying then free falling.  Everyone everywhere was tense and on edge.

Trying to move on with our ordinary lives, we planned a baby dedication for Emma on Josh’s birthday, October 7.  Early in the pre dawn hours while the whole family slept, terror was stalking our house.  Coming up suddenly from a deep sleep I heard a loud banging.  In my sleepy mind, I thought it was Taylor turned around in his little bed kicking the headboard in a wild dream.  I was on my feet and running down the steps as fast as only a Mommy can run while still being half asleep.  My husband who normally sleeps through tornado sirens was on his feet and running down the steps behind me without being fully aware of what he was doing.  That surprised me.

At the bottom of the steps, I stopped dead in my tracks and my knees buckled.  I collapsed on the floor.  There was a MAN standing in our living room!  My mind raced to catch up with reality.  Who is this?  What is he doing here?  What’s going on?

“I didn’t want to do it.”  He said, “They made me do it.  I didn’t want to hurt you, but they made me do it.”  He kept saying.  Oh Dear God, we’re going to die.  I looked around within the radius of my arms to see if there was anything to use as a weapon.  There was a piece of paper lying on the steps and the phone on a side table.  We would need the phone to call the police, so we couldn’t fight with that.

Josh just kept calmly saying, “Go, get out of here.  Just leave, get out of here.”  All of my senses were totally alive.  My eyes etched every detail of this man into my memory.  No weapon in his hands.  I smelled.  No alcohol, probably he was strung out on drugs.  I’ve heard that drugs can make people feel no pain and freakishly strong.  I wanted to pray out loud but I didn’t want to draw his attention.  Time was meaningless.  Had we been standing there face to face for years?

My ears were alert to any noise from my kids’ rooms to my right.  Not a peep.  Were they laying in bed scared, too scared to call for me?  I had to get to them.  But maybe the man didn’t know we had kids in the house.  Would he hurt my kids?  A steal rod entered my soul at that thought.  OVER MY DEAD BODY!  This guy will literally have to step over my dead body to get to my children, I determined.  Slowly I stood up and slowly I slid into the hallway were there was a fire extinguisher in the closet.  I was going for it when my Mommy instincts took over.  The second I was out of view, I ran into Taylor’s room.  I scooped up the sleeping child… dead weight, he was out cold… and heavy!  Sleeping through the whole thing, thank God.

By the time I plopped both children safely in my bed upstairs and returned down to the living room the man had fled.  I found Josh standing in a daze in the center of the living room.  Where did he go?  I asked, “I don’t know.”  Josh said.  “He just turned and ran.”

I looked at the door.  Our big, solid wood door with the dead bolt still in locked position lay flat on the floor, hinges torn off the jam, ragged wood all over the place and plaster from the wall snowing down on the carpet.  My jaw dropped.  After the police left, we used the couch to prop the door shut and we sat there for the rest of the night waiting until daylight when we could call our parents without scaring them to death with a middle of the night phone call.

That was the last night we stayed in that house.  We moved into my parents’ basement that day.  When the door was fixed, we put the house up for sale.  I was scared of the dark for months.  As the sun would begin to set I would start to shake.  I refused to leave the house unless I absolutely had to.  I jumped out of my skin at every bump in the night.  We all slept piled together in one tiny bedroom for almost 3 months.  On December 23 we moved into a new house and tried to close the chapter on that horrible experience.

But here’s what I learned:

1.  Bad things happen here in America too.  You don’t have to live over seas to be robbed or attacked or scared out of your mind or to face death.  It happens everywhere.

2.  God is still in control even when it feels like everything is out of control, even when things don’t happen like you thought they would.

3.  And God is still good, even when he allows bad things to happen.

It’s very scary to put your trust in something that is bigger than you and so unpredictable, but no matter what happens, He’s still good.  It’s like what Mr. Tumnus in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” says when Lucy asks if Aslan the Lion will come back.  He says, “He’s not a tame Lion, but he is Good.”  God is not a tame God, but He is good.  Through it all I have arrived at a deeper trust of God.  He may kill me because he’s not tame, but he’s still Good… no matter what.  Yet though He slay me, I will still trust Him.

More of the story tomorrow…