Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Prayer

Lord guide me
Inspire me
Lead me
Show me
Work in me
And change who I am
Show me where you want me
Don't let my mind get in the way
Pierce my heart with your ways
Cover me in your peace and love
Teach me how to walk
This is the cry of my soul

Cuz everything inside me feels torn
And everything outside me seems to fall apart
My world seemed to shatter over night
And you are the only one who can truly see my heart

I hide the pain
The confusion
The mistrust
And I turn to you alone
Healer and Comfortor
Protector and Lover
Transform my ways
Give me a taste
Of being sure of that is hoped for
Certain of things unseen
Capable of once again believing in dreams

Because when all seems broken
You're the only things that left
And in my shame I refocus
Pretend its all a test

You alone Lord. You alone.
You are all I have
But you are my stability
The one who goes ahead...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Testing the Strong Ones

So...I'm very much all about finding your strength, choosing happiness and relying on God for your peace, strength and joy. I think we have a lot of power over our attitudes and our attitudes have power over our emotions.

I'm also a girl. You can't control how you feel. Right? Well it is a battle. And sometimes we lose that battle. But we can't stop fighting.

No one has to fight their battles alone however. I don't just mean God is with is. He is. And perhaps there are battles we have to fight alone. But God also encourages us to find fellowship with fellow Christians. We're the body of Christ and he intends for us to fellowship with each other to encourage one another and lift people up. We don't have to be alone.

In the past I've tended to internalize and try and handle things on my own. Mostly because I know it can take a tole on friends and I should not be dragging them down with me day after day...they need encouragement to! But there is a balance here.

This semester I've been blessed with a group of girl. Once a week we have an all girl Bible study. Having it be all girls allows us to be vulnerable, honest and transparent about our struggles with each other. I am so thankful for them. In that time...we laugh and find joy amidst pains and stress. We share our sorrows. We pray and encourage each other. We keep each other accountable. It's amazing.

I've noticed that we often have a lot of the same issues. Stress, pain, heartbreak, etc. We could easily have a weekly pity party. We could just vent and focus on our pain and problems. But we don't. Because we have a purpose.

The following is an exert from a book I'm reading about loneliness:

-Be still and know that He is God.
When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste your soul. Use that stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge.
-Remember that you are not alone.
"The Lord, He it is that doth go with thee. He will not fail thee neither forsake thee. Be strong and of good courage." (Deut. 31:8) Jesus promised His disciples, "Lo, I am with you always." (Matt. 28:20) Never mind if you cannot feel His presence. He is there, never for one moment forgetting you.
-Give thanks.
In times of my greatest loneliness I have been lifted up by the promise of 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18, "For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen." This is something to thank God for. This loneliness itself, which seems a weight, will be far outweighed by glory.
-Refuse self-pity.
Refuse it absolutely. It is deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.
(I agree so much with this. The second you start focusing on yourself and turn only feel worse because you let your own problems consume you and you can't see the bigger picture, much less anyone else around you.)
-Accept your loneliness.
It is one stage, and only one stage, on a journey that brings you to God. It will not always last.
-Offer up your loneliness to God,
as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. God can transform it for the good of others.
(Christianity is one of the only religions that considers suffering a good thing. Our trials strengthen us and they are temporary. They help shape us into stronger better people who are more affective. No, it is not that God wants us to be in pain. He does however allow pain. He doesn't set in. He wants to see us look to him in that pain and he blesses us with strength peace and character.)
-Do something for somebody else.
No matter who or where you are, there is something you can do, somebody who needs you. Pray that you may be an instrument of God's peace, that where there is loneliness you may bring joy.

The last one is where my Bible study fits. We are all in pain. Yet, rather than dragging each other down day after day...we are lifting each other up. Though we are in pain...we can allow other people to encourage us and in return we encourage them...think of them.

I think this helps me put my own pain into perspective. If I focus on myself, I hurt myself more. I drag myself and everyone who cares about me down with me. If I realize that everyone around me is struggling to...and put my own struggles into context I realize that it my responsibility to be there for others. There is something about doing that, that makes you feel good too. You aren't focused on yourself, you realize youre not alone, and others will be there to encourage you right back.

All this to say I am thankful for these girls. And I encourage everyone to choose to think of others and be uplifting.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Technicolored Thoughts and Dreams

I've been thinking about the story of Joseph lately.

Does God play favorites? (Of course not.) When you read the story of Joseph do you think it IS in fact a little unfair that Joseph is treated differently then all his other brothers? If you were the brother would you resent seeing a sibling spoiled and given nice things while you were ignored. Of course you would. It's human.

Human impulses, however, are not something we're meant to live by. Did Josephs brothers have unwilling hearts to follow God? Did they focus on what they didn't have? Did they feel sorry for themselves and build up resentment?

Do you think if Josephs brothers had been actively fighting their impulses and open to what God had for them, they would have had an even bigger role, like Josephs?

Joseph was given a great responsibility. His life was not spoiled and perfect. With great reward comes great sacrifice. Willingness to follow God means willingness to surrender a mediocre "safe" life. Maybe at times admist the turmoil you wish for boring. And yet, after all the pain comes the reward...greater than anything you may have received otherwise...and with a character much stronger.

That isn't to say everyone must to be imprisoned and enslaved in order to someday rule...

The question is, are we willing to accept hardship for Him?

I think the most striking part of Josephs story was his joy. He had peace and joy in God...and trusted him completely...even when he was in prison and at the lowest point of his life.

How many of us really do this? Trust God to the point of joy amidst the midst of unfairness even. Other people manipulating you, being selfish, lying, etc. as in Josephs case.

Let me use yet another Cool Hand Luke song here:

Let me tell you what he did for me,
With the weight of my worries tearing my sleeve.
I cried to my father the other night, the end of all hope.
"Show me the rope, which way to go"
As I fell asleep, he took away my worries.
He picked me up put me on his shoulders.

I could see for miles.
He showed me that the mountain I'm climbing, is not a mountain at all, but a gentel slope leading home.

There are mountains towering ahead.
He says to me
"These are mine. Hold my hand, you'll be fine."

I could see for miles.
He showed me that the mountain I'm climbing, is not a mountain at all, but a gentle slope leading home.

"The mountains are mine."

Cool Hand Luke

So...when we find ourselves in the pain...there's so much joy we can have in that. The joy of God's trust in our strength. The joy of knowing the other side will be great. The joy that God is with us right then and there giving us peace...lifting us onto his shoulders...

Our mountains seem so significant while we're climbing them. But if we could see past the bigger picture...they wouldn't seem so significant. And he never asked us to endure trial and pain alone. He's right there with us...holding our hand...suffering with us. And we can look at our mountains and hear God say "The mountains are mine."

Joseph is a great example of extreme pain and extreme blessing. But the Bible (especially the old testament) is full a sacrifices that are frankly much larger than most things we seem to be asked to give up today. Even in cases of love...Jacob worked YEARS to be with Rachel. Years. How many of us are asked to wait years? Not many. If God asked us to...would we think it was insane? Then look at Job who had his children and all his possessions taken. If we lost every one of our children and all we had...could we keep out faith? And the list goes on.

But at the end of each of these stories is Redemption. And often, unexpected and better than expected.

So in our temporary pains...we can find peace in him...but can't we also find some joy?



It's okay to hurt and not rid yourself entirely of your hopes or the pain of submitting them to God. What would we offer as our sacrifice if we had no personal desires? It'd be easy to follow God if we had no personal feelings of our own on that matter of our lives...but we do...and the pain of giving them to God is a willing sacrifice and submission.