Friday, May 28, 2010

Standing Firm Sometimes Means Taking A Leap of Faith

Sweat poured down my face and back. Turquoise water below shimmered in the mid-day sun, cool, calm, beckoning me to take one more step. The sun baked my shoulders as I peered over the edge, and took in a deep steadying breath. I can do this! Just one more step forward then gravity would take control....

Then I glanced back at the growing line of kids waiting for their turn to jump and my heart joined forces with my fledgling brevity and they ran the other way. Taking the hint, I stepped aside and let the kids have their turn.

I have a terrible fear of heights. Stepping off that ledge, despite the screeches of laughter from children a quarter of my age, was simply the most irrational thing I could possibly do. For two days I tried. I coaxed, scolded, ordered myself to just do it! I tried jumping off lower ledges and working my way up. But whenever I stood at the very top, I couldn't take that leap.

Funny how many ledges we face in our lives.

It's humbling to think of all the times I've needed to step out in faith and couldn't.

We love our comfy, safe cushions. Linus with his blanket. Peter Pan and his ragged Teddy. That thing- whatever it is- that we feel gives us security and peace of mind. That keeps us safe.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Prov. 3:5

I have a great job, but God is calling me to something higher. I've worked as a teachers aide for the past three years. During that time, I've attained a teaching certification and am now in the process of looking for a job. The hunt for a professional position has been difficult and beyond my usual comfort zone. As this year ends, and I've had to think about returning for another semester, I've had to come to terms with who am I now and how will I choose to see myself.

Do I still see myself as an aide? Or can I take that leap and dare to see and call myself a teacher now? Will I stay in this safe aide's position, or will I begin to move toward doing everything I can to become a professional teacher?

These thoughts warred with each other as I packed all my things at work into boxes.

Should I leave the boxes there to wait for my return next year?

I could always get them later if a job opens up. . .
This job is here if I need it. . . .

Unfortunately, it wont lead me on the path I need to be on to get to where I know I'm called to go. all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Prov. 3:4

Visions of the river...
clear, cool, ready to wash away the sweat and dirt sticking to me. All I had to do was jump in. That's all. Below, the kids cheer me on, telling me how much fun it is. Urging me to be brave. Telling me I could do it, it's easy.

I never did jump, sad to admit. Fear held me too firmly.

I don't want Fear to control my actions.

I want to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and trust that the Heavenly Father really does have my life in His hands. That He has good plans for me, plans to prosper and not bring harm.

I'm going to believe that.

I choose to not allow Fear to rule my decisions.

In the quiet classroom, I look at my boxes.

I'm not an aide anymore.

It's time to leave Egypt, as a friend said in a recent conversation.

I'm a teacher.

The wilderness is a scary place, but I'll keep my eyes on God and make sure I stay in His shadow.

One at a time, I move the boxes out to my car.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Taking Refuge

There [Elijah] went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

He replied,
"I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."

The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks
before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him,

"What are you doing here, Elijah?"
1 Kings 19:10-14

I opened the bedroom blinds, and spotting a lizard looking right at me, jumped like someone had thrown a popper at my feet. To my relief, the small reptile clung to the screen between the window and mesh. I thumped on the glass and got it to move upward toward an opening on top. Yet, the gray-scaled reptile refused to take the passage to freedom.

Scratching at my bed-head, I tried to think of ways to free the lizard when I noticed a black crow perched on a nearby oak. Head cocked, its glistening, onyx eyes focused on the prisoner.

Mystery solved.

The lizard, seeking refuge from the shadowy predator, could still see the outside world through the mesh screen, though unwilling to find its way out.

How often have I trapped myself in a refuge of my own making? My view of the world became distorted through the protective screen I hide behind? While my true refuge waits with open hands, calling me out of my self-made hiding place.
“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4:8 (NIV)

Father, help me to seek your shelter and not build up walls made of fear, doubts, and a false sense of security. Remind me to seek your refuge when life gets difficult.
May we always seek refuge in God’s company
instead finding our own ways to protect ourselves.
(reposted from May 2009)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Umbrella of Praise

When life hails down on you, when storms threaten to whip you off your feet and your feet are stuck in the miry clay, the best protection is to try to raise up a Praise Umbrella.

Praise slaps the enemy in his lying face.
Praise gives you a steady place to stand when all the world seems like sinking sand.

This past week, I came across this song and it helped to lift me out of my fears and doubts. Look over the lyrics, then listen to the video and let the words fill your spirit. It'll do your heart some good, I promise.

On Christ the Solid Rock

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust in the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way,
He is then all my hope and stay.

(be sure to turn off the music on the sidebar. The additional verse to this video is provided below. Hope it blesses you as much as it did me.)

This part realy touched my heart and strengthened my resolve that no matter what happens, I will stand.

When my world falls apart and light turns to dark
when the clouds gather round and the storms overwhelm
When my heart breaks in half and my strength cannot last
When I'm lost in this land and I can't see your plan

I will Stand! I will Stand on you, Jesus.

Heavenly Father, help me to stand when the earth shifts beneath my feet. Let me look to you and not my circumstances. Let me remember that you are good and you have only good instore for me. And when bad does come, you give me safe places to stand. Thank you, Father. Amen.

Be blessed,

Friday, May 14, 2010

Faith and Prayer #37

Dear Glorious Saints,

Yesterday I was pondering God as our Father and I wrote in my journal, “God is our Father. What ‘good’ father withholds something good from his child unless there is something better to be given?” Then the Lord reminded me of the movie, “The Ultimate Gift.”

In this story the selfish, worldly playboy grandson goes to the reading of his extremely wealthy grandfather’s will expecting to come away with a huge bundle. Instead, the grandfather has left him with 12 tasks to perform and complete satisfactorily before he can receive his inheritance. As the tasks are revealed we see that they are all character building exercises that involve selfless things like becoming someone’s friend and giving from the heart. Through the course of the movie, as he jumps though his grandfather’s hoops the young man begins to change and grow to become the good hearted person that the grandfather always knew he could be, thus receiving the “ultimate gift.”

Later yesterday afternoon I came to realize that something that I had been looking forward to and expecting had come and then totally evaporated. Completely gone!
I was, of course, very disappointed but instead of my normal reactions I found myself praising the Lord. I was able to keep the “bears” of discouragement, self-pity and despair out and instead was thanking the Lord for His love for me and His good gift. Instead of withering, this little tree took a deep drink and stood, only just a little pale in the heat.

And I say to You this morning, Lord, I love You. I love You. I love You. Even when it feels like You have put me through the wringer, I love You. Even when the carrot is so close that I can almost grab it and You seem to move the stick, I love You. And I know that You are a good Father, the very best. You do love me and have my highest good in mind in all Your ways and in all You do toward me.

He is your Father too; and He loves you with the same kind of love that wants you to have the very best, the ultimate gift.

Believing and still standing,


Monday, May 10, 2010

Praise in the Tears

Isaiah 43:25 - "I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins."

Psalms 56:8 - "You have recorded my troubles. You have kept a list of my tears. Aren't they in your records?"

Jeremiah 8:21 - "Today is recorded in the heavens, and its pains are written with the wet tears of God who 'hurts with the hurts of my people'."

A sparrow doesn't fall to he ground without You knowing, my Lord. The Bible says You keep track, not of my sins and failures, but of my tears and trials.

You do not turn a deaf ear to struggles and sadness. You hurt right along with us. You know us so well, each and every last one of us, down to the very numbers of hair on our heads.

Though sad times come, the times I fall face down in the mud, my prickly heart can be glad that even when everyone else abandons, You remain at my side. You stay, a shield and fortress as You cover me with Your wings.

When my tears fall and intermingle with the dust of the ground, You, Heavenly Father, reach down and offer Your hand so I can rise back up.

While thunder and lightening crackle deep in a marble-gray sky, I can praise You for Your wings provide shelter in the storms. I may not be kept out of the storms, but I don't have to ride them out alone, and I know the rising waters will not sweep me away as long as I remain under your covering.

You are not one to tire easily in your pursuit to make me all that I can be. For this, I can whole-heartedly offer my praise. Not just for the good, but for Your continued love in even in the bad. For You are an ever-present help in times of need.

There's so much to be grateful for. So when I look up, it's not to the mountains, but to Your face. For your mercy is new every morning.


Be blessed,


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wonderment Wednesday - Video

I lift up my eyes to the mountains...

Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth.
He will not let your foot slip-
He who watches over you will not slumber.
The Lord watches over you-
The Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day nor by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life.
The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121

No matter where you are, what you are facing, or how you are handling it, you need a Savior to see you through both the good and bad times.

I love this prayer song. Sing along, all you who are weary and heavy laden and let this prayerful petition fill your spirit. He hears our pleas and sees our shed tears and he is trustworthy to answer our cries for help.

(be sure to turn off the music on the sidebar before playing the video- enjoy!)

Be blessed,

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hope Undaunted

Caleb and Joshua were in their 80’s when God finally allowed the Israelites into the Promised Land. Over the past couple of months, this story has revisited me several times. I read about it in Francine River’s book “The Warrior: Caleb.” Heard the story referred to during not just one sermon, but a few. Then during a parenting crisis, the story in the Bible of God leading the Israelites out of Egypt helped me understand that God knew only two well how frustrating children can sometimes be.

Constant battles make even the best of soldiers grow weary. I’m not warrior material. At least, I’ve never felt much like a warrior. I’m a peace-lovin’, Let’s-all-get-along-and-love-one-another-right-now kind of girl. I hate conflict. Despise confrontations. Get mortally wounded when people don’t “play nice.”

In a moment of hopelessness, someone reminded me once again of the story of the two old warriors that fought each battle like young men in their prime. Yet I know they, too, grew weary. If Bengay had been available back then, it might have been one of the greatest inventions beside the wheel and fire.

I came to realize one morning as I read the story of Jericho, that it wasn’t their strength that won the battles. It was their obedience. God provided the pounding force that brought down the walls; they provided the willing hearts that made it possible.

On my knees, I cried out to God that I had no more fight in me. I had run out of ideas on what to do next. I had simply run out. In that moment, though, a glimmer of hope shone through the one crack the enemy couldn’t blind me to.

I was able to say, “I know You. I know Who You are and what You can do. And I know that when I’m weak, You are made STRONG.”

Joshua and Caleb learned to listen and obey. More importantly, they never wavered in their faith and trust in Who they served and What He Was Capable Of.

Father God, never allow me to lose sight of who you are. Like Job after he lost everything, and his friends were berating his faith in You, he was able to say, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (42:2)
Father, I know you have good plans. I know you have placed us in the palm of your hand. I know the magnitude of Your miracle-working wonders. You are all I need to sustain through this life storm. Thank you. Amen.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Getting a Grip on Guilt


I read of a New Jersey artist who capitalized on people's need to let go of the past by selling them "guilt kits." Each kit contained ten disposable brown paper bags and a set of instructions which said,

"Place bag securely over your mouth, take a deep breath and blow the guilt out. Dispose of bag immediately. "

Amazingly, about 2,500 kits sold at $2.50 each.

But perhaps not so amazing when you think of the guilt many of us carry around.

Of course, guilt serves its purpose. More than once I made a better decision so that I could look myself in the mirror without blushing. And the kits probably also serve a purpose - if nothing else, to remind us to get rid of those unnecessary and destructive feelings we seem to have so much trouble shaking.

But if blowing in a bag doesn't do it for you, then you might try another man's method. He hired a friend to go into therapy for him. He says he always hires other people to carry his baggage.

And if that doesn't work, here are a few simple steps that that should get at the problem:

First, if you make a mistake, resolve to try never to repeat it. The whole function of guilt is to change behavior.
We underrate our mistakes as effective learning devises. When possible, welcome your mistake, learn from it and decide to do things differently next time.

Second, seek forgiveness from any others who were affected.
If possible, make amends.

In Ernest Hemingway's short story "The Capitol of the World," a Spanish father decides to reconcile with his son who has run away. Now remorseful, the father takes out a newspaper ad in El Liberal: "Paco, meet me at Hotel Montana noon Tuesday. All is forgiven." When the father goes to the square he is surprised to find eight hundred young men named Paco waiting for their fathers.
We can't underestimate the need for reconciliation and wholeness.

Finally, forgive yourself.
No purpose is served in continuing to whip yourself over past events you can do nothing about.

And how will you truly learn to love when there is one person in your life you refuse to completely forgive?

If you follow these steps, you can rid yourself of unnecessary guilt. You will find that you are happier and healthier - and you can save all those brown paper bags for lunch.

-- Steve Goodier

I hope you enjoyed this piece from Life Support System. If you are interested in seeing more of Steve's writings, click on the link and sign up for his weekly emails. More often than not, they have been a great blessing to me when I've read them.
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