Do you see things unseen?

As Christians we base our eternal lives, our very souls, on things unseen.

2 Corinthians 4:18

18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

We believe not just in God, but every truth He reveals to us through His word, prayer, worship and Spirit. I believe He raised mountains, parted seas and tore down walls; though I didn’t see it happen. I know people who lived thousands of years ago. Their struggles, failures and the way God used it all to reveal Himself to me. I believe His Spirit lives within me to help and guide me, though it is a still, small voice to which I’ve never laid eyes on.

But I struggle with unbelief every day in a myriad of ways that might not be as obvious. Because I have yet to see. I worry about my family’s future because I have not seen it. Though I know His plans for us are good.

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I push to the back of my mind the suffering of others because I have not heard firsthand their cries. I have not felt their tears, smelled the smoke, felt the earth shake beneath my feet or the gnawing hunger in my stomach. I have not seen their trauma or felt their particular broken heart and the hopelessness left in its wake.

It begs the question then. Do I believe in God, or do I actually believe Him?

James 2:19

19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

What makes my belief different than that of a demon? Do I believe everything He reveals to me? Do I truly believe it as if I’ve seen it first hand? And if I’m truly believing Him, what does that look like?

To truly believe is to follow. It is to take every God breathed word of the Bible as truth regardless of whether I’ve actually seen or known personally the people within it and to respond in a way that I’ve been instructed to. It is to hear the cries of God’s children whether they are within my own home, in my community, or half a world away.

2 Corinthians 1:4

who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

It is to give freely the gifts of grace showered upon me by a loving, generous Father because I know that He will provide for me. I have received His comfort in more ways than I can count. But have I given it as well?

James 1:17

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

 

It is to take up the great commission and share hope to the hopeless.

Some of us are called to the mission field into our own home, serving in a hundred ways no one but God will ever see. Some of us are called to serve our own communities, neighbors written off by the world. Still others are called to mission fields far away from the comfort and privilege of Midwest America. But all of us are called to believe and live a life broken and given to Christ. To live free of the chains of this world. This is great news! But it takes a commitment from us to live a life of belief. Believing the ultimate in unseen suffering, the suffering of Jesus, and staking everything we know and have on that truth.

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Sometimes I am deeply grieved by the products of my own unbelief. Selfishness, pride, worry and fear can keep me shackled to this world without me even being aware of it sometimes. But thankfully there is no need to despair of the condition of my heart! Thanks to Christ’s willingness to live broken and given for me, this condition is not terminal! In God’s infinite loving kindness, He even gives me a treatment for this condition. A way to help me experience the true freedom of the Gospel and sharing that healing freedom with my neighbors. Both seen and unseen.

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Mark 9:24

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

*emphasis mine

Lord, I believe; help me overcome my unbelief! Please help me listen to and be guided by Your Spirit. Please give me Your eyes to see and soften my heart to feel for all of Your children. Reveal to me these things I’m holding more dear to me than You. Show me how to honor You with the time, gifts and resources You’ve given me. Help me to see beyond me, to hear above the noise and to run hard after You. In Jesus name, Amen.

If you see, and if you are feeling so lead to believe in the unseen suffering in the images above, I’d ask you to prayerfully consider helping! You can find out more about the need, and how you can help by visiting the link below.

http://livebeyondwords.org/

 

Good And Faithful Servant

She lays in a bed, her breath slowing, filled and surrounded by what love built. Love of the Father that filled her and has spilled out to the children and grandchildren currently at her bedside. Love that has fueled a life of joyful service.

A veritable whirlwind of energy, she has loved in a thousand ways of laying down herself. Short on words she has always been long on movement; constantly loving her family by meeting their needs. Before this flesh started to fail, she had a key to every house and on any given day you could find her in one of her adult children’s homes cleaning and doing laundry. Running errands from behind a steering wheel she could barely see over. Ferrying grand-children to appointments so their parents wouldn’t have to take time off of work. Caring for close and distant relatives alike. She delighted in her service and as far as I know, never refused a request that was within her means.

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She lived to serve and lived because she served. Because of the love she had for Christ she modeled a life crucified to self. Some may think this way of life, this selfless love, would leave a person tired and empty of joy. Unless they understand, like this beautiful woman does, that this crucified life brings more energy and joy than a life of serving yourself ever can. Never have I believed her to be unhappy. In fact, you needed only to watch this tiny spitfire of a woman on a dance floor with a good Polka band to see the joy she had in life.

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So, from half a continent away, I am grieving that I can not be there to hold her hand. Hands that worked and loved so long. To whisper I love you and thank you. For the milk shakes after the dentist, the french fries to “hold me over” on car rides home, for so many apple pies and the dozens of other ways she cared for a grand daughter that was often as short of words as she was. And most of all, for showing me what a life as a good and faithful servant looks like.

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Lord, I pray that if these are, indeed, her last breaths here you will fill them with moments of supernatural peace, confident in Your love for her. In the days to come please help us all to celebrate her life over the grief. Bring to all of our minds memories that make us laugh and remind us of how well she has loved. Jesus, please give us a comfort and peace that can only come with the truth that all who believe in You shall not perish, but have everlasting life. In Your name, Amen.

Let this cup pass…

I know that as followers of Christ we are to expect trial and suffering. But I find that expecting it and being prepared for it are two different things for me. Part of me conveniently forgets this truth until I’m staring at it, blinking in shock because it’s happening again.

A dear friend of mine, who has walked through no small amount of trial and suffering herself, recently was hit with more. Her walk through trial has so greatly encouraged my own and her wisdom, support, and encouragement have been such a huge blessing to me. My heart literally hurt to hear she was facing more. Yet through her pain, I was blessed yet again. This time through a conversation we had about cups (Yes, cups) and the resulting picture I was given.

I’m in a large upscale banquet room filled with tables covered in crisp white linen. Rows upon rows of us are seated. Expectantly waiting. Suddenly, there’s a shifting and murmuring as hands start passing along cups. From left to right and around to the other side, each table passes them one by one. Intrigued, I examine them as they pass through my hands.

Some are fine china, light and delicate with gorgeous, hand painted designs and gold rims. The handles so fragile I hold them on the bottom to pass them along. Others are of sparkling crystal creating orbs of prisms as they move along catching and throwing the light from the overhead lights. Still others are ornate goblets with designs that tell stories and inlaid with precious stones the size of robin’s eggs. I’m in awe of the differences, the uniqueness of each one, as I pass it to my right. Eventually I’m holding an earthen cup, more of a vessel. It’s edges are crude and it’s surface so rough and porous I’m sure that it can’t possibly hold anything.images-31 It’s ugly and it weighs far more than I think it should. In no small hurry, I look to my right to pass it along. Only to find their hands are still full. Looking around, I realize that everyone now has a cup. They aren’t moving anymore. Uneasy now, I glance to my left, hoping to pass it back the way it came. They actually lean away, protectively holding the cup they have. Increasingly alarmed, I look for sympathetic eyes, someone who might be willing to trade. I see pity and judgement in eyes averted. Overwhelmed, unable to bear holding it any longer, I place it on the table. My own eyes overflowing, I think if this is my cup, I don’t want one at all.

Head bowed, I rub my hands on my legs to try to rid myself of any remnants of that cup and I feel a hand on my shoulder. A gentle pressure. I look up through blurred lashes and make out an arm reaching in front of me and taking my cup. Startled, I look up into merciful, kind eyes looking straight into mine. “I don’t want it.” I whisper in explanation.

“I know.”

And His understanding kindness undoes me and I weep anew.

“It’s okay. Follow me.”

And because there is hope there, I do. Past curious glances I follow Him through the maze of tables and people and cups and I realize, they don’t even see Him. Puzzled and out of sorts, I follow Him through a doorway, into another room. The light is somehow softer here, but no less bright. There are people here too, but the tables are not covered in linen and they’re seated close together on benches. These eyes look right at me, and shift to my cup. But they’re not afraid. Instead, they shift to make room. Uncertain, I hover behind Him until He holds out a hand, calloused, yet soft, with remnants of clay under His nails. I take it, and my place at this table.

The people here, they lean in close while He dries the tears from my eyes. Through the open doorway I can hear music and too loud laughter. There’s clinking of dinnerware piled high with food and beautiful cups filled with drink. I can smell the abundance and see the chandeliers hanging high and glinting in florescent light. There’s a woman standing in the doorway with one foot in each room, her eyes distracted and pulled to the merriment next door. And I see Him get up, and hold out the same hand to her. Uncertainty and longing flashes quick in her eyes but she remains still.

“When you’re ready, follow me.”

The warmth here is greater than that next door and has little to do with the fire blazing in the hearth. There are no plates piled high with food or waiting in silver warmers. Instead, the fare is simple bread and wine and fills more than my stomach. I watch these people at the table with me as they share what they have and what they know. You see, it’s a work table and they’re looking up instructions in the books at their sides, helping each other. And their cups?

They’re being transformed by a master potter. Expertly washed and painted, they’re made new. Rough lines and crude material are made into the most beautiful of creations. And the fire?images-45 I’m now kneeling with a friend next to it, holding her hand. While He is reminding us that though it burns destructive hot to the wood within it, it’s bringing out incredibly unique colors and patterns. And when our cups emerge they will be more beautiful for the process and hold far more than they did before.

In the waiting, we’ll grow together and closer to Him. And maybe someday, when complete, we will no longer want to pass on these cups?

John 18:11

Jesus commands Peter, “Put your sword away, shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

Rest

This last month I’ve been tired. That kind of body, mind, weary that drags at your heart and your soul until your eyelids want to follow. Sometimes at about nine in the morning. It seems no amount of sleep helps. Every morning I wake up and it’s still there. Dragging eyelids down creating fuzzy edges and slowing what seems like my every move. Unfortunately, the world keeps moving at a break neck pace and I’m left with the feeling that I’m never fast enough. Never getting enough done. Never ENOUGH.

I pray for more strength. For more endurance to run this race. For more patience. For more of me to go around. Enough for a family of five. For enough of me.

A dear soul, a sister in Christ, a friend, pointed out to me that I have indeed, been running a race. For two years. With every new symptom, test, appointment, and endless mountain to climb I’ve been running to find an explanation, a diagnosis, a way to make it through the latest roadblock and hold onto Jesus.

I know that our brand of suffering is very rare, but suffering in itself is universal. I know that I’m not the only one surrounded by it in this fallen world. I have only to check my text messages, social media or catch a tidbit of the news for my heart to be further weighted down by the heaviness of broken hearts and broken lives of everyone around me. Aren’t you TIRED?

Does it feel like it’s just too much and we’re just not ENOUGH?

Yesterday I hit the wall. Not literally, but figuratively. Test results came back for our oldest son and he has not responded to treatment. In my beloved kitchen, staring at his results I got a return phone call from the ophthalmologist to make an appointment to check his vision again for signs of damage from the CTX because he’s having vision problems. My toddler is screaming because I cut his strawberries and he wanted them “big”, and our daughter is asking me for the fourth time that morning what day it is so she can figure out how many days to her play date and we need to be out the door for therapy in ten minutes. The dishwasher is running for the second time today and the twelve year old is panicking over a double booked Saturday and can’t decide what he wants to do more. In a stellar parenting moment, I tell the nine year old with the short term memory impairment, “I just told you five minutes ago it’s Friday!”, tell the toddler, “Fine! Don’t eat them!”, and the anxiety filled twelve year old,”I’ll decide for you and you won’t go to either!”. Holding my head trying to hold in the tears I schedule the appointment with the sympathetic secretary and hang up in time to realize the time I picked means I’d have to miss my Bible study that week. We’re five minutes late leaving, everyone is upset and I look down to see a toddler still in pajamas in need of a diaper change I meant to do when I switched the laundry….a half hour ago.

I’m not enough.

I step outside trying to fill my lungs with air, my soul with peace. As chaos ensues inside, I pray. For MORE of me. Resigned to being late, I stare at a yard filled with scattered toys and discarded shirts from a water fight the night before and I’m blessed with a reminder.

I’m NOT enough. I’ll NEVER be enough. I shouldn’t be praying for more of ME, but more of Him. I will never find rest in myself.

Father, please help me to rest in YOU. I am so very tired and on my own I’ll never be able to run this race with endurance. Help me to make more of YOU, and LESS of me! images (1)

I’ve had it backwards lately. I’ve forgotten that He is enough for me, for my family of five, for every chaotic moment. He alone can redeem every parenting fail, every scheduling mistake, every exhausting day. And with that reminder, I can dry my face, walk back in amidst the chaos, apologize to my children and accept the amazing grace poured out on me every day. I can herd unruly cats into a van in five minutes with a bag of “big” strawberries and answer questions again. I can listen to a perfectly timed song, “Just Breathe”, and remember that I can truly rest, just be, at His feet. Thank you Jesus!


images (3)Matthew 11:28

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.


What I Told My Kids Today

As headlines, graphic images and special reports flooded the airwaves today my kids couldn’t help but catch wind of tragedy. Of pain. Of loss. Of hate and anger.images (4).jpg

“Mom, why are so many bad things happening?”

Ugh! How to explain a fallen world to innocent, soft confused hearts?

“I don’t know baby. God tells us we live in a fallen world where bad things sometimes happen.”

“What do we do?” Anxious words from a tiny heart that wants to help. To DO something. Don’t we all?

“We pray. We can pray for protection and pray for all the people who are sad and angry and hurting.”

“What do we do if something bad happens here?” Oh, to wrap them in bubble wrap and bolt our doors. But no.

“We look for God. ”

“But we can’t see him. What if we’re still scared?”

“He’s promised to always be with us. We look for Him in the people we see. Look for the helpers He’s sent. Whenever there’s something bad, look for the people helping. Sometimes they’re a police officer or fireman, sometimes they’re a man in a suit, a man covered in tattoos, or a teenager with baggy pants. Sometimes they’re black, white, brown or yellow. They help people out of fires, pull people out of car accidents, help fix their injuries, carry babies to safety, hold people that are crying, pray with people who are scared. But they’re there.”

“Does God send helpers everywhere?!”

“Oh yes!! He sent us too! Remember? We’re strong and brave because God is with us and loves us! And we love everyone as much as we love ourselves so we will help if we need to!”mms_20160709_001718

“I’m a helper?! God’s helper?!”

“Yes! We are! And there are lots of us. Just remember to look for them, and be one!”images (1).jpg

“Because we can do all things with Christ who gives us strength….right?”

“Right baby.”


2 Corinthians 13:11

11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peacewill be with you.


Psalm 23:4

Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.


Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”


Follow Me

I recently had the privilege of hearing a message from one of the founders of a relief organization called Tutapona. Eight years ago, Carl, his wife Julie, and their young family picked up and moved to Uganda to provide trauma and rehabilitation counseling to what would turn out to be thousands of refugees in the area. Carl provided an update of their progress, a victim’s heart wrenching story and the relief she found in the program, and plans for Tutapona‘s expansion to Iraq.

In a sanctuary full of Christians, Carl posed the question of how many Christians were truly followers of Christ. He maintains that to simply believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior, is not enough. A true transformation of the heart will cause a transformation of your life. We are called to be disciples. This term implies active participation on our part. An outward reflection of our inner faith.


dis·ci·ple

(dĭ-sī′pəl)

n.

1.

a. One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another.
b. An active adherent, as of a movement or philosophy.

Sharing several verses in which Jesus states “Follow Me”, it is pretty clear that Jesus intends us to, indeed, follow Him. (I searched on my own…and stopped counting at 19)

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Often, when processing a message, I am gifted with images that help make sense of, and usher important information to be stored and filed in the orderliness of my long term memory. Over the past few days, I have a clear picture of a classroom full of Christians. All have professed to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Jesus silently enters the room and speaks two words.

Follow Me.

That’s it.

Now, there is a person in the front, center. Let’s call her A+Disciple. Her hand wildly waving, squirming in her chair, she’s practically shouting, “Ooh, Ooh, Pick me! Pick Me!”. The Christians in the back are mulling things over. I’m sitting in the middle, off to the left, unobtrusively hiding behind someone taller than I am. I take a couple of deep, bracing, breaths. You know the kind; in through the nose, out through the mouth. And resolutely raise my hand.

If I were to “unpack” my reserved response, I believe it’s not necessarily fear that has me mentally preparing myself. I think it has more to do with the seriousness of the invitation. The knowledge and respect of what this commitment requires. There’s a (not so nice) part of me that wonders if A+Disciple truly appreciates the gravity of what she’s signing up for. At the same time, noticing her unreserved joy at the offer makes me wonder what I am lacking in faith that makes me so somber at the thought of following Him through anymore valleys that I sometimes can’t hold onto the joy of the promise of my final destination?

(This is when I’m reminded of Julie. Bless her beautiful, honest, Christ filled,heart for sharing her lack of joy when first called to uproot her family from a place they’d grown to love and follow Jesus to Iraq. Was she willing to follow wherever He led her? Absolutely. But even she had a moment where she raised her hand without chair squirming, arm waving, JOY. I also like to think maybe she will be saving a seat for me next to her on the bus?)

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A+Disciple is skipping to the bus while I am mentally “packing”. Repeating comforting scripture and pondering how many toothbrushes I should bring? After all, God seems to keep His itinerary pretty close to His chest. Now, A+Disciple is, of course, already on the bus, in the front seat, not so patiently waiting for the journey to begin. I see the loving smile Jesus welcomes her with and wonder if I’m worthy of the same reception. After all, I’m not exactly skipping in line, but putting one foot resolutely in front of the other while holding onto the promises written on my heart.

But He does.

He smiles at me with love and understanding. The same invitation. The same reception. Accepting me as I am, where I am.

Follow me.

Okay.

And those Christians now sitting, watching from the curb? He smiles at them with love too. Patiently waiting for them to pick up their cross, and follow Him too.

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The disciples on the bus are surely in for hair pin turns, low valleys, some rough roads (after all, the road less traveled is bound to be bumpy) and the most beautiful destination. Sitting in the middle, staring at Jesus, I find the JOY. When I’m focused on Him, and not what’s coming up ahead, I find the joy in the knowledge that not only has He made a way for me, but He’ll be with me through the whole journey.

So where are you on your discipleship journey? Are you dancing with joy ready to leap into anything He calls you to? Are you sitting, prayerfully waiting for instruction? Or are you still sitting on the curb deciding if you really need to pick up your cross and follow Him?

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UPDATE:

If you are already on “the bus”, are daring to be a Disciple, please take a moment to view the following video and prayerfully consider supporting the ministry of Tutapona either through prayer or a financial gift and help many more to follow Jesus. ❤

So Close

When your life unfolds like a heart wrenching drama. When you get that phone call at 2 a.m., those test results come back, a uniform shows up at your door, your loved one shudders their last breath and the curtains suddenly close on that life you had and the lights fade to black. You can be sitting in that theatre surrounded by people, completely alone. And the One your soul is crying out to is silent.

I’ve talked with so many people who have walked through suffering and have recalled the same thing. During their darkest moments, biggest trials in life, God’s silence seemed to echo louder than the beating of their broken hearts. During my own darkest moments I’d pondered things I’d heard. The Footprints in the sand poem and “The teacher is always silent during a test”. Neither sat well with me. Partially because neither seemed to have any Biblical backing. I wanted real answers. Real truth. Where was He and why couldn’t I see Him, feel Him, or hear Him when I’d needed Him the most?

I recently read Ann Voscamp’s One Thousand Gifts. And I was blown away by her thoughts on a piece of scripture I’d read plenty of times before but now has been rolling around in my head for weeks.


Exodus 33:22

22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.


What if, when it’s the darkest, you feel the most alone, you could have been so close to the One you needed, you could have practicallyimages (3)

Reached out

And touched…

Holy

Wait. What?

Yes, what if during those loneliest, soul wrenching, heart breaking, moments.

He was passing by

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And placed you in a cleft in a rock. Mercifully covering your eyes until He passed.

But wait, it gets better.


Exodus 33:23

23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”


Then, when you’ve exited stage left of grief, the curtains open again to slowly reveal your new normal, and you can see. You can see His perfect timing, His masterful weaving once He’s gone by. He’d been there all along. Closer than He’s ever been.

When it had seemed like the world’s worst cliffhanger, you hadn’t been hanging to the edge of a cliff at all, but been carefully placed in a cleft instead.

And if you’re currently in the dark, achingly silent, loneliness of that cleft, patiently waiting for His glory to pass, for the chance to see, feel and hear Him again, know that He is SO CLOSE.

Blessings,

Bobbi

Spring

Darkness, defined, is the absence of light. Buried deep within it, immobilized by the weight, you lose sense of up or down, left or right. Scents and tastes do not penetrate. Why am I here? What do I do? How do I get out? There is a penetrating coldness that seeps in and permeates your deepest corners.

Just when the isolation threatens to consume you, you start to hear. You’re not truly alone. The warmth of the Son thaws and softens the weight. The reassuring stirring within you brings an awareness of life. In the absolute stillness you listen thoughtfully and prayerfully and gain a sense of direction. HandsThere it is, the hand to guide you. It’s been there all along, holding onto you. You just couldn’t see it. But now, you can feel it. You grab on tight. And hold onto the promise that He will never let you go. Fall

Hands and prayers lift you up. The process is painstakingly long. You’re in too deep and you’re not strong enough to make it on your own. You lose your grip. Your process is slowed. But He hasn’t lost His. Powerful, loving hands still hold yours. Words written on your heart become a mantra in your mind. Phillipians

 

Hold on.

Follow Me.

You can hear the soft rain of truth gently poured out, raining down and saturating the dark around you.

Tighten your grip.

Light

Now you can see it. The light of the Son, penetrating the darkness and overcoming it. Your path is becoming clearer and you are pushing through.

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You were not buried at all. You had been planted. You weren’t just struggling to the surface, you’d been laying roots. Roots deep enough and strong enough to hold fast to the truth planted within your heart. Tenderly sprouting to the surface, buffeted by the cool winds of spring, soaking rains and thawing snow, you strain towards the light of hope in the Son.

Roots

And rejoice in the roots sewn so deep there is promise of the strength to endure, to persevere, to grow in Christ, and bear much fruit. The darkness is fresh in your memory and there are some bruises from the battle to the surface, but the darkness did not overcome!

And now! Now you can see the beauty of His grace surrounding you. His creation coming to life, blooming in a palette no artist can capture. You can hear His birds singing His praises and smell the damp earth shrugging off the last remnants of frost.

I will bask now in the warmth of the Son, soak in every last drop of truth poured out onto me, grow roots ever deeper in Christ and bear as much fruit as He calls me to. For today is the day that the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it for His glory, and my good.

 

Food For Thought

spiritual milk.jpg

I encourage you to listen to the above podcast of a great message from our pastor, Mike, a few weeks ago on 1 Peter 2 in it’s entirety. However, if you are short on time, for the purposes of this particular blog, at the very least skip to about 31:45.

At about 34:20, if you listen closely, you might be able to hear me giggle and clap. Convicted. Because this image came into my mind.

birds

I’m convinced that our beloved pastor has, on occasion, looked into our congregation and seen this. If you look closely, that is me, the one on the right screaming, “feed me!”. I spent years (I know, right?) walking into that worship center waiting and begging to be “fed”. I longed for pure spiritual milk. I was dependent on someone to take a chunk of the meat of the Bible, dig into it, digest it for me, and feed it to me on a weekly basis.

This, in itself, I don’t think is a bad thing. We have all been places where, consumed with trial or suffering, we require a helping hand to “feed” us. And there are people perfectly gifted to nurture us in this way. But what happens when this is our only source of nourishment? We will have a “failure to thrive”. If you’re a parent, you know those are some of the worst feared words of a parent. There comes a time when milk is no longer sufficient to sustain your child’s growth. And, there comes a time in your walk of faith that it’s not sufficient to sustain your spiritual growth either.

So, what had stunted my own spiritual growth? Me. I had some ill conceived notions that my only source of nourishment was supposed to be corporate worship. That instruction manual was huge, and was surely meant for people gifted to read it, interpret it, and translate it into layman’s terms for “the rest” of us. Thankfully, I was pressed to take a Bible 101 class and with my first true step of obedience, I signed up. I learned some incredible things. First, I can read it. Second, He intended me to read it. And third, the more I read it, the clearer it becomes!

Another blessing in that step of obedience was the encouragement from those that were gifted to teach it and obedient in using that gift for His glory. They provided me with resources to give me the confidence to dig in on my own. Our pastor, Dave, shared a “light bulb” moment on a verse he had read just that morning for probably the hundredth time. They, too, looked up answers to questions they didn’t know. If these people still learned something new after years of study, if they still had to look up answers to questions, and still used tools to find them and consulted other Believers, then maybe I could too! Suddenly, this very large book of instructions seemed manageable and not so intimidating.

I like to think that I may have now progressed to toddlerhood. I still require supervision. I am still learning the rules and gaining the self control to follow them. I have a lot to learn, but I do know where to look for help when I need it. Some of my steps are clumsy but there is so much joy in the successful completion. I have days, okay sometimes weeks, where because of circumstances I still require a good deal of hand feeding. But now there are also days that I rejoice in some newfound taste and texture that He has revealed to me and the discovery only whets my appetite for more! Those days, I am praying hard for the next “growth spurt”!

Have you ever experienced a “plateau” of your faith? If so, what helped you move past it? What was holding you back? If you are currently, I challenge you to step out, however wobbly, in obedience. If you are actively seeking Him and His truth, He will meet you where you are, with the nourishment you need!


1 Peter 2

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Hebrews 5:12-14

12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.


 

Revelation

When we built our current home, my favorite room was the kitchen. After leaving my career as Electronic Data Interchange Coordinator for Chief Executive Homemaker years before, my kitchen had become my “office”. I spend most of my time there so I put a lot of thought into the layout and décor. Ten years later, I still love this space, even if it’s probably getting a little dated. The pale, warm, butter yellow walls, light oak cabinets, and accents of sage green, cream, and tan never fail to relax me. My favorite time of the day is (late) morning when warm sun pours in through windows dotted with sticky fingerprints, reflects off those yellow walls, and fills my kitchen with a sense of calm that belies the chaos it’s usually in. The counter tops are a magnet for things like forgotten homework assignments, chapstick tubes, and Hello Kitty erasers. The refrigerator is decorated with masterpieces created by grade school artists on one side, and the front sports a hard working calendar that schedules five precious souls. My “drop spot”, well organized with slots for unpaid bills, things that need to be filed, and hooks for keys is usually overflowing and accompanied by an assortment of chargers and their accompanying electronic devices. The sink is full of evidence of a well fed family and my stove top constantly needs to be cleaned because of pots that have boiled over during busy evening meal preparations. My oven is never clean for very long and the proof is the smell of apple pie drippings when you turn it on because as soon as I clean it I am guaranteed to forget to put a cookie sheet under my next pie or overflowing casserole large enough for our family. My office is not perfect. It is well worn, hard working, well loved, and the center of our home. I can only pray that it is a reflection of me, as it is the place I am most comfortable in.

I know some amazing women who diligently spend time with Jesus, every morning, in their “cloffice” or “war room”. If you’ve read some of my other posts you will know that I’m not talking about myself. My current Valley finds me with three young children and two of them now with medical concerns. I spend much of my time on the “needs” of my little family but I am slowly learning to incorporate Mom’s time with Jesus. And what I’ve discovered is that there is something special about my kitchen. Maybe because, as the esteemed Homemaker, this is my office. Or, maybe it is simply because I spend so many hours there surrounded by dirty dishes, school work, meal preparation and clean up, and the never ending scheduling required of a family of five. Or, it could very well be because it’s the place my children often avoid for fear of being put to work. Whatever the reason, I realized yesterday this seems to be the place He comes to me, and I to Him, most often.

As I’m prone to do, I was doing my morning chores, undoing the damage to my kitchen the night before, and worshiping while I worked. This time, I was singing and dancing to Third Day’s “Revelation” while emptying, filling the dishwasher, and washing pots and pans. A quick peak into the living room confirmed the toddler was content with important robot building. I had a moment to pray.

Father, please show me what to do. I can’t see the completed work of this valley, but you do. Tell me, please, do I stay or do I move? I truly need a revelation here Lord!

And once again, I was brought to the floor of my beloved kitchen. Staring at those hard wood floors Hubby labored to give me, which were currently covered in dog hair, cat hair, a few crumbs, and a Lego I would find again later with bare feet. This time though, it was with grateful tears streaming past lips curved into a smile on a face upturned in gratitude to my Father.

Child, I’ve been telling you. You just haven’t been listening.

I sat on the floor shaking my head as the pieces that had been eluding me for months rolled around and miraculously fit themselves together.

Thank you, Father!! I am so sorry for not listening. Thank you for once again pursuing me. For pouring out yet more grace and love and meeting me where I am to gently and persistently open my stubborn eyes!

You see, He had answered my prayers. Several times it turned out. But, because it wasn’t the answer I was looking for, one of the options I had in mind, I didn’t see it.


Psalm 23:3 (NIV)

    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.

Psalm 17:6 (NIV)

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
    turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.


Toddler robot construction completed, he was hungry. He may have been a little surprised to find Mom on the floor, crying and smiling. He may have even been questioning my sanity. I set him up with his lunch at the  kitchen table. As usual, he ate his pickles first and asked for more. I assured him I hadn’t lost my marbles and that he still needed to eat the rest of his lunch before he got any more pickles. Two minutes later, maybe testing my mental status, he asked again. I told him we go over this every time, just because you are looking for a different answer, doesn’t mean I’m going to change my mind. I don’t know where he gets this from?!