Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thankful for Light in the Midst of Evil

I am truly thankful for evil being thrust into light…even in the midst of a self-motivated agenda. Many who know me intimately will know exactly what I am talking about and others hopefully will understand the heart of what I am sharing even though the details may seem cryptic.

Clearly what was intended for evil and harm, God is going to use for good. What was meant to cause devastation and ridicule has only exposed the perpetrator’s evil and self-centered desires. When you are secured in your identity in Christ it only takes a few seconds after being knocked down to realize that what was being lobbed can only cause you to trip, it can’t change who you are or how you are defined.

The beauty here is that in the desire to destroy, the real heart was exposed. Where there may have been uncertainties and questions, those are now are laid to rest as the full realization of how truly evil someone is has been exposed by their own selfish ambition. Evil has been brought out into the light and in the process a freedom realized that was struggling to find footing.

When your hope and faith are in Jesus and you live your life in the light, it’s only a matter of time before the darkness (evil) is revealed by the light. I am thankful that God has chosen to turn His light on us.

Psalm 27
The LORD Is My Light and My Salvation
Of David.
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold[a] of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet[b] I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire[c] in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek[d] my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, LORD, do I seek.”[e]
9 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the LORD will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe[f] that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Thankful for Gentle Strength

I am a week behind and we are only three weeks into January…not a good sign. To be honest, I’ve struggled this past week with being thankful for anything. I have been agitated, angry, bitter, and quite comfortable in my entitlement.

After a series of breakdowns and emotional outbursts what I can honestly say I’m most thankful for in this moment is my husband’s gentle strength. I watch him struggle and work through our current circumstance but the moment he sees that I am spinning or struggling to see the hope of God; he stops, pulls himself out of his self-centeredness and gently leads me back to the truth. He has a strength about him that is not about powering through or being a tough guy, he leads me through his own tears and his own fears and his unwavering faith. It’s a beautiful gift to watch my husband suffer well and live out his dependence and need for a God that has lavished him with grace, mercy, and truth.

As I start to panic and fret and control…he gently guides me back to the truth that has given me peace the last few months. The truth that God and God alone is the one in control and God decides what is good and what is next; that we can truly find comfort and peace in the knowledge that we belong to God and only because He decided so.

Thank you Mr. for being a constant reminder of who Jesus is; not by your own strength but by His.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Thankful I’m not “Making it Happen”

In seasons of not knowing what is next, I have a sinful habit of wanting to just get a glimpse of what God has for us and then taking charge and "making it happen". This has played out numerous times in our eight years of marriage. In regards to our struggle with infertility, we had some interesting conversations around “making it happen”. I am thankful that we ultimately decided the best plan was God’s plan whatever that might be.

At the root of “making it happen” is a desire for me to define what I believe is good. I wrestle with the situation, decide what a good (or redemptive) outcome looks like, and I take charge to ensure my desired outcome happens.

You would think I would take more cues from the bible and see that “making it happen” outside of God’s timing and will is not wise or beneficial or ultimately good (as I would define it). We see a picture of this in Genesis 16 when Abram and Sarai, understanding what God had promised them, but not having faith in His timing take things into their own hands.

1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children[a] by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.[b] 5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.

It has been a hard season of not knowing or understanding what God is calling us to (specifically). God has made it clear what ultimately He is asking but has not given us much clue about where, when, or how. It has been a hard season of knowing what He’s called us to and being patient as we wait for the specifics of what that would look like. I believe God has left me (us) in the dark intentionally so that I would not move forward to “make it happen”. This has been a season of walking in faith and trusting God with all things. If I knew what He was doing and where He was sending us, I wouldn’t need to sit in faith; I could just move forward.

I am thankful for His timing and that He has given me the peace and (little) understanding of our next season so that these past few months would be about Him. As I begin to see things gaining momentum and things falling into place at just the right moment I am fully aware of how comforting it is to rest in His presence and trust that He has defined all good in my life.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Thankful for Communion by Intimate Participation

So as I start the New Year with thankfulness, I honestly had no idea where to start. I’m actually feeling pretty angry and hurt by many things; however God is showing me a lot in this season.

As we drove home from our 8th Anniversary getaway to Leavenworth, I tried to look out the window and name that one thing to start my New Year’s blog of Thankfulness off with, but the anger and bitterness in my heart kept me from really appreciating the beauty of which I was seeing.

Truth is, I’m hurting, deeply. I feel the strain of awkward relationship, friendships on hold, friendships drowning…Some had to happen this way due to the season we are in, some chose this, some have just naturally evolved here, all painful. I would not have picked this season, I certainly have struggled to call this season “good” but it is the season we are in and I’ve had to fight a lot of lies to see truth and beauty in this season.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I am reading Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts” and felt challenged to blog about what I am thankful for, not as an exercise in discipline but an awareness of how often I don’t appreciate the gifts I have been given. Today, Voskamp wrote a blog about naming 2012 The Year of Koinonia (http://www.aholyexperience.com/). I am not a stranger to the word Koinonia because I have a theology loving husband that often goes to the root Greek word to find meaning but I went the quick route of Wiki to come up with articulate definition for this blog…

Koinonia is the anglicisation of a Greek word (κοινωνία) that means communion by intimate participation. The word is used frequently in the New Testament of the Bible to describe the relationship within the Early Christian church as well as the act of breaking bread in the manner which Christ prescribed during the Passover meal [John 6:48-69, Matthew 26:26-28, 1 Corinthians 10:16, 1 Corinthians 11:24]. As a result the word is used within the Christian Church to participate, as Paul says, in the Communion of - in this manner it identifies the idealised state of fellowship and community that should exist - Communion.

Communion by intimate participation, beautiful! It identifies the idealized state of fellowship and community that should exist. So first, thank you Ann Voskamp for the ways in which you write and use imagery that captures my heart and gets me feeling again. Second, I am truly thankful for a small (unbelievably real) community of friendship that God has placed before me in this season. It is real, it is authentic, it is life-giving, and it is full of the gospel.

This small group of friends (all individually) have reached in and continued to pursue, love, seek, and seek, and seek. All have continued to let us know they are here and desire to know how to love and serve us. They have not been ok with “we are good” answers and when they receive the “we are good” answers continue to camp out on our couch or in or voicemails or in our emails waiting until we can give an honest and authentic response to “how are you doing”? This group of friends have let us stir and struggle in our sin and confusion and have gently pointed us to the cross and helped us see where we are in sin and where what we are experiencing is a righteous anger. They have allowed us to process and vent and not let it be a stumbling block for them. This group of friends span along the I5 corridor and have lived closely and intimately with us as well as from a far.

I am thankful for their regular calls, their regular emails, and their regular invitations. Sometimes it’s seeking and sometimes it’s just waiting or listening. I am thankful for them either way. I am thankful that God has given us the right kind of community at the right time in our life. I am also thankful that He has called us to some friendships in their time of need and that He doesn’t leave it to me to define.

This second day of 2012 I am most thankful for the friendships we have in this season and pray that I can be a godly friend in return.