Tuesday, May 7, 2013

One Petit Four Or A Full Meal

I was thinking the other day about the journey that it's taken me to become a fully committed and God-pursuing believer, not just one in name and external behavior, but someone who lives and breathes this life because it has actually become my very breath.  I don't say that to be dramatic, but now if I am not immersed in His presence on a regular basis, I can feel as if I am suffocating.  

I am sure people who have known me over the years read my Facebook or Twitter and probably think, "Wow, when did she become such a Jesus freak, Bible thumper, etc., (insert your favorite nickname for a radical Christian here)?"  As I was mulling this over, I began to think, you know the radical ones are actually the most rational ones.  That is...if you believe what the Bible says about the length and weight of this life versus eternity.  As Christine Caine says, "This life is a vapah!"  That's my best attempt at phonetically writing how that wonderful Aussie says vapor :), see the actual Scripture below:

James 4:14 ~ Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 

Like much of the Word, if we believed what it says, rather than what we have surmised or experienced, we would live our lives very differently.  If this life truly is a vapor (or mist or fog as some other translations say) compared to the SUBSTANCE of eternity, why would you not shift and rearrange the circumstances and efforts of this life TOWARD the one that really matters?  I began to think of an analogy of completing a course of study that I think illustrates this rather well, so here goes.

In my academic days, I, like many other over-achieving type-A personalities, would strategize my grade in a course from day one.  You know, I need this grade on this test and this grade on this paper, in order to only need a grade of say 75 on the final to get an A overall.  If you didn't do this on the front-end, I guarantee you did it during finals, if only to prioritize and allocate your study time for your course load to maximize your grades for the semester!  The point here is having a long-range vision for the end goal, but this is all kind of subjective when talking about business studies.  I thought a better analogy would be a course of study for something very tangible, like say, a chef.

If you are in culinary school, your end goal would of course be to graduate and be able to prepare a full meal, of many different kinds of foods, with amazing presentation as well.  But suppose, you got hung up on the dessert portion of your study, or worse still, on one small part of the dessert course.  The smallest thing I could think of was a petit four.  You spent all of your time in culinary school trying different recipes and decorating and sprucing up one tiny dessert.  Your classmates tried to encourage you that you should look toward completion of your study, and maybe spend some time toward that end, rather than getting so focused on one small sugar-filled portion.  But you didn't listen, and at the end of your time, you were left presenting an amazing petit four to your professors, but that was all, while the rest of the class had full meals prepared.  They pursued that which really mattered and would end up with successful completion, while you would not.

Many believers are like this culinary student.  They know the truth, but for whatever reason, they have become so focused on this tiny sugary portion of our existence, that they are missing the end goal of growing in God, furthering His kingdom, and becoming more and more ready for an eternity spent in His presence.  What does it take to make this shift, to have a long-range vision, and to make eternity become so much more substantial to us than what we experience with our physical senses here on earth?  Because once you make this shift, as I said in the beginning, focusing on spiritual matters truly becomes the most rational thing you can do.  

For me, it took the removal of all external stimuli during these quiet years as a mom to small children - not a process I have thoroughly enjoyed, but one that I am ever so grateful for its results.  For some, it may be a tragedy that reminds them how short life on earth really is.  For others, maybe it is the Holy Spirit revealing this truth ever so subtly through a song, the Word, or some other resource.  Whatever it takes, as I told a friend the other day, this is what I pray for anyone I know who is wandering.  I don't pray that they don't search anymore or that they don't wander.  Instead, I pray that the season would be as short as possible - that God would reveal the truth to them and woo their heart in an undeniably personal way - to where their faith would become so real that no one can ever take it.

And I pray this for more than my personal world, I pray it for the church at large.  That we would wake up more and more to the REALITY that we are the object of affection of a good and loving God and that loving and serving Him for an unimaginable amount of time become our ultimate end-goal.

Ephesians 1:15-18 ~ Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Don't Turn The Channel Too Quickly

We are beginning a pretty big life transition right now - that of moving to Houston with our little family. These transitional times always leave me feeling contemplative. I have been more emotional than I ever thought possible, especially given that our eight years in San Antonio have felt more than a little like a wilderness (or a left hand!) season. As I thought about my unintentional responses to the move (and tried to suppress them mind you), I began to realize a couple of things.

For one, I had actually become quite settled here. I had no longer had that "grass is greener" mentality that was always looking for the next exciting thing, but had resolved to be content and thrive where God had planted me. My sudden, strong emotions in regard to leaving (especially given that we are headed back to where I grew up and some of my family - picture my confused husband!) could mean nothing less and would not have happened a few years ago. Now that is progress and growth for me - to His glory!

Two, I needed to take some time and allow myself space to work through the emotions, acknowledge the end of this time in our lives, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to me about it. As our pastor says, "Don't change the channel too quickly." I am still in the midst of doing all of this, and God is revealing more and more. (Stay tuned for the next post.)

Three, God is so gracious to have given us lots of confirmations along the way that this is His next step for our family. From the vision I had almost exactly a year ago where he showed me this move, to the small transitions of friends here that make us feel more released to leave, to the peace my husband has about this career move - He is faithful!

So whatever you are going through today - whether you are in a transition, desperately looking forward to one, or trying to find a way to avoid one - take some time to be still in His presence and let Him put some perspective on your life up to this point. He knows, He knows, He knows, and that's all YOU need to know! Here is the song/scripture that's been in my spirit:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning, great is thy faithfulness O Lord. Great is thy faithfulness. ~Lamentations 3:22-23