Monthly Archives: March 2013

Seeds of Faith

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God’s plan may not be fulfilled in our lifetime.

That statement has been on my mind since I heard it days ago.  You see, I have this image in my mind that God has big, big plans for me.  I’ve been waiting for that plan to unfold for years.  I’m going to do something big and magnificent that is going to change the face of the world.  I might win a Nobel Peace Prize in fact because this “thing” is going to be amazing and awesome.  Fame.  A written book.  Chatting with Jimmy Fallon and the President at some special soiree in my honor.  Maybe I’ll get a beautiful gold medallion with color ribbon attached to it and sit with other truly brilliant people at the Kennedy Center for my honors.  

Something tells me it isn’t going down that way.  I’m not sure God uses people in magnificent ways that are planning the after-celebration celebration to advance His plans on earth.  

In fact, when I go back through the Bible it is very clear that God often uses the least to get the most.  It’s my understanding that Moses had some sort of speech impediment, David’s first stellar act was as a young, unkonwn shepherd boy against a horrific giant, Rahab was a prostitute, Mary an innocent teenager and so on.  

Importantly, if you read through the lengthy lineage of Jesus Christ in the Bible (Luke) you see that it took 77 generations for God to work His way to the birth of our Lord and Savior.

My father has compiled extensive research about our ancestors who came from Germany.  I believe we can go back into the early 1800s.  Years ago I was going through old photos and found a family of young women. The photo featured my great-grandmother and her sisters.    They looked almost identical though they spanned a number of years in age.  It suddenly dawned on me my oldest niece, born 100 years later, looked exactly like the sisters in the photo.  It was uncanny.   That illustrated for me how connected to the past we truly are.   God’s plan lined up a great-great grandmother, great- grandmother, grandmother and then mother to get to my niece.   Now she has children of her own.

Each member of those five generations has been faithful to God.  I have to believe the five generations before that were equally faithful and going back further I would find the same.

Not a single name of any of the women from whom I came, or my niece, for that matter, is a name you would recognize.  That I know of none had a special ceremony in their honor for some life-altering feat.  However, knowing myself, my sisters, my nieces and now my daughter, I can tell these were strong and faithful women.   No matter the circumstance, each of them planted a seed of faith that turned into a sprout that grew to drop more seeds for planting, sprouting and maturing.  In small ways they touched each other’s lives and their effort has been kept alive to this very day.  Their seeds of faith didn’t just touch the next in line though.  They took root and branched out to touch many lives who touched many more lives…to this day.

God does not seem to have an epic plan for most of us.   He drops us like seeds along the trail of His purpose for taking root and growing in our faith and reaching out to others.  He may be saying, you write Psalmgirl,  I have a life for you to touch with my word and that’s the most important thing I need you to do for me—because, it’s not about you…it’s about ME.

In my lifetime I probably will not see how God is using me.  Perhaps 100 years from now when someone makes a connection back they will say, I am faithful today because my great-great grandmother planted her own seeds of faith.

That’s the best honor I can imagine.  I’m totally o.k. getting my reward in Heaven.

 

Wisdom and Courage

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This morning I woke with two thoughts on my mind and they were each unique and pretty clear.  When I’ve got any positive thought on my mind as I wake, and can remember it minutes later, it’s pretty miraculous so I feel compelled to share.  

Their ideas relate, but then again they are both independent strong messages.  I’ve decided to write about each in two separate blog entries so as not to dilute the importance of either.

From time to time I’ve mentioned having struggles over the past several years.  To be honest, I’ve struggled throughout my adult life.  I’m hyper-sensitive which has many benefits and equally as many disadvantages.

An episode in my life about seven years ago was a major wake up call for me.  I didn’t know what to do with the changes that were upon me and I was lost and scared.  Among everyone’s very well meaning and often excellent advice, my dad shared a very simple prayer that resurfaced for me again- seven years later. It had been lost in the cobwebs of my brain and somehow broke loose today.  It’s not going to knock your socks off and make you say, WOW!  However, through its simplicity it demonstrates a true faith in God and His power and love.  It focuses on two characteristics I love: wisdom and courage.

God, I pray you will give me the wisdom to recognize the doors you are opening for me in my life and will then give me the courage to walk through them. Amen.

You might be asking, that’s it?  To which I will respond, that’s it.  It is short and doesn’t dwell, but to me it’s strong.   It shows extreme faith in God providing a door to walk through. It asks for discernment between the doors in my life that may be opening but are not God’s will, and it acknowledges that God has the ability to give me courage and will give me the courage I need. 

When my dad shared this thought with me it rolled off his tongue as though he had put no effort into thinking about it.  That made me appreciate the wonder of his strong faith even more.  I said it often seven years ago.  It then trailed away unfortunately.  Today it resurfaced.  It’s simplicity is powerful to me.  I hope you will see that too.

Expect To Do More Than You Are Capable Of…

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… from LCC devotion- lutheranchurchcharities.org

The devotion below was quite thought provoking for me.  Maybe for you too?  I’m going to try and pray for God to reveal His will for me for the next thirty days and see what happens.  Not sure what to expect, but I am going to trust.  I’m going through lots of change right now.  Maybe that’s part of His will.  It must be part of His will.  Curious to see what more is in store.  Nervous, but willing.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

God had a plan for your life before you were born. Indeed, it’s why He brought you into the world. Simply keeping you ‘busy’ was not His goal. He wants to see you doing the work He ‘prepared in advance for you to do.’ Joining a worthy cause and working hard is commendable, but you can end up as a square peg in a round hole, expending time and energy without achieving the you-shaped purpose God had in mind. He wants you to be purpose-driven, not work-driven! So: 1) Ask Him to reveal His will to you. ‘It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose’ (Philippians 2:13 NIV). God will actually create desires within you that guide you toward accomplishing His purpose. It’s not serendipity or super-spirituality, but God at the helm, steering your ship. 2) Expect to do more than you are capable of. Self-directed activity is self-limited activity. God-directed activity is unlimited activity. God never calls us to do what we can; He calls us to do what He can! ‘[He] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us’ (Ephesians 3:20). Listen, act on His promptings, and all things become possible to you. 3) When the work is demanding, draw on His indwelling power. Paul says, ‘I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.’ How much divine energy is needed for your assignment? ‘All His energy.’ Awesome! And it is available to you today.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over (that’s my addition 🙂 )

 

 

Fat or Muscle?

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I love to take walks.  I’ve always used it for my time of meditation when my deep thoughts erupt to the surface and I’m confronted with often impossible questions that I’ll never figure out the answers to.  Sometimes its less complicated than that.  Sometimes I just talk to God like He’s right there on that walk with me.  Today God talked to me through a radio program that pumped miraculously through little white wires connected to my iphone.  That’s another thing I don’t get, but it’s not the thing that occupied my walking time.

The radio program today related to how our faith grows through endurance.   I’m in a cycle of endurance training right now.  It started about a year ago.  It pushed me hard-perhaps harder than I’ve ever been pushed.  I crumbled often, but I also got up often.  I feel I’m getting close to the end of this cycle, but the cynic in me is a little hesitant to start celebrating.  Even if I am close, the key word is “cycle”.  Another phase of endurance will enter my life and I’ve learned that means another opportunity that will strengthen my faith muscle instead of turning to fat.

That was kind of what the message I heard today talked about.  Our challenges present us with options.  One is to endure.  As with any physical training, the more you endure, the stronger you become, and then the more you can endure.  If you give up, the training you went through becomes all for naught.  

I know so many people who have gone through amazingly intense endurance training themselves.  The types of things that make my life crises seem unremarkable, mundane and insignificant.   However, these people are remarkably faithful.  Their training strengthened their faith.  It demonstrates(ed) for me how faithful God is.  I question without the trials would we as humans be able to develop the faithfulness God needs from us to live the life He designed for us?  Would we accomplish His ultimate purpose in this life?

There is only one way out of this world for us.  Yesterday someone remarked to me how unbelievable the streets of gold must be in Heaven.  Recognizing it’s a controversial subject, I recall someone telling me about their dying loved one who believes he briefly saw Heaven before passing away and shared how astonishing it was.  If we didn’t have faith, we wouldn’t believe God sent His son, Jesus, to die for our sins.  We wouldn’t be able to experience the astonishment of Heaven.  

In the Bible it says we grow our faith by listening.  

Romans 10:17

17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

We need others to share their faith in order to strengthen our faith.  We need to hear from people who have endured and as such have been strengthened.  To me, then, without the drama in our lives we never have to endure and we can’t build our faith.  We wouldn’t have muscle.  We would just have fat.   If we could build faith without endurance I know God would allow it because we know from Psalms about His unfailing love (mentioned at least 32 times). 

I don’t want anyone I care for to struggle.  I don’t want to struggle myself.  The fact is by our very being, we do.  So let’s do something with the struggle.  Let’s use it for positive reinforcement.  Let’s battle it and not let it win.  Let’s grow from it and help others who might be weaker to be stronger.  Endurance training bites.  Is it fair to say that?  However, endurance training accomplishes what God needs to accomplish.  Those streets of gold are waiting for each and every one of us who believes.  If my endurance training helps someone who doesn’t know God, or isn’t quite sure, or me,  I’ve helped add some muscle where the fat was and God has blessed us all.  I certainly appreciate the times when I’m off the training course, but recognize I probably won’t get to rest for long.  

 

 

 

Through It All

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I came to know of Andre Crouch from years of singing contemporary Christian music. He’s probably best classified in the Gospel music genre, but I’m a suburban Lutheran girl so we call it contemporary Christian. Andre’s music has been a source of inspiration for me certainly because of his musical stylings, but mostly because of his message.

Today I was thinking of a friend I’ve known for years who lives in China. She became a Christian a few years back though I’m not certain she really understands it all. I try to share a thought here or there at the appropriate times, but I just let the Holy Spirit take care of it mostly. She wrote me that her husband just passed away. He had been ill for some time but was improving. All of the sudden his worn out body gave up. I provided a weak message of my sorrow for her her though an email. I didn’t know what to say. My heart aches because I know how much she misses her husband already. Then today one of my favorite Andre Crouch songs popped into my head and I decided this will be my gift to her.

I pray this video and the Psalm I’ve featured below will give you strength and comfort through the trials you are walking through this day.  Thank you for your beautiful gift, Andre.

Psalm 138

I will give You thanks with all my heart;
I will sing praises to You before the gods.
I will bow down toward Your holy temple
And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.
On the day I called, You answered me;
You made me bold with strength in my soul.

All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O Lord,
When they have heard the words of Your mouth.
And they will sing of the ways of the Lord,
For great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is exalted,
Yet He regards the lowly,
But the haughty He knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.
The Lord will accomplish what concerns me;
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

 

Thank you for your patience, Lord

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ImageThank you, God, for being patient with me.  

Thank you for allowing me to experience the struggles and challenges I’ve learned so much from.  Thank you for being at the end of the rope and where the light shone through the end of the dark tunnel to embrace me when I got there.  

Thank you for pushing me to trust you more as I tried to trust in so many other things that fell short.  Thank you for the grace to let me make mistakes, sometimes over and over again, and sticking with me while I became wiser.

Thank you for not laughing at me  as I tried to run my life my way thinking I had things under control when I was in the center of a storm.  Thank you for the times you’ve nudged me to feel remorse and apologize for my actions that hurt someone else’s feelings- even when my pride pushed back so hard.

Thank you for not abandoning me when I abandoned others during their time of need that I didn’t recognize because I was selfishly focused on myself.   Thank you for faithfully coming through to meet my financial needs even as I walk by people who could benefit from the dollar or two I have in my pocket.

Thank you, Lord, for the hurts and pains that have molded me to being the woman of faith that I am.  For without those moments I may truly feel I am invincible and self-sufficient.

Thank you for being patient with me through the doubts and triumphs of faith, through the fears of being forgotten, through the difficult lessons I am destined to learn.  I have plenty to be thankful for that makes my life more comfortable.  I forget that I have plenty to be thankful for because of the discomfort in my life as well.  

Thank you for being patient with me…Lord.