The Door

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock (Revelation 3:20).

I wrote this several years ago and the visual of the door comes back to me over and over again in my life. I am finding that the invitation to walk through this door happens every day and sometimes, many times a day.

 

In the morning and at night and everywhere in between,
there stretches wide open before me:

…a door…

It is surrounded on the edges with blossoms and ivy trailing down the sides.
On THIS side of the door is fear, worry, anger, self-protection, pride,
and every other act I may not at first label or see as sin.
On this side of the door I FEEL safe,
because it’s all I know.
It feels good because it’s the place I stand up for my rights
and make demands for my needs to be met.
It is the bed I choose to lie in that pouts and blames
and gives the silent treatment and angry threats.
It all makes me feel powerful and in control.

I can do it myself.

I don’t need God in the depths of my own secret garden.
Those other people deserve my tongue lashing.
They deserve my silence.

But there is another side to this door.

And it takes all the faith I can muster to walk through.
It takes keeping my eyes on Jesus;
it takes my full trust.
And when I commit to walk over the threshold, I am committing to leave the rest behind
and take what feels like a-step off of a cliff to free-fall into the void of the unknown.
Why do I call this a void?
Because following Christ is risky.

HIS door led him to a cross.

What will God ask of me? What will become of me if I’m kind to that mean person?
Who will be there for me if I’m looking out for their needs?

For a while I don’t know.
But I am grabbing hold of a greater power, the power of love.
It means I wash the person’s feet who has offended me;
I speak lovingly to the one who has bellowed out a curse.

Jesus did.

And he has given me the ability to follow him.
It means I pray and pray and pray for God to bring answers to my tough situations.
And I never give up.
I keep trusting even when all seems lost.
Even when I don’t know what’s up or down in this void.
I keep trusting even when I don’t think I can last another second.
I keep serving and praying and serving and praying,
even when I can barely lift my eyes to the sky.

And one day, in that void, I feel the arms of God
and the joy of God reach down to my very soul
and wrap itself around every part of who I am.

I feel completely loved.

And I feel completely full.

And I realize that this feeling didn’t happen because of anything this earth provided
or because of anywhere else I might put my trust.
I realize that on the other side of the door
is the greatest pleasures I can experience on earth.
But I can’t experience them unless I walk through
and stake my life on obeying the sweet will of God.

Years of stepping through that door I realize that everything I will ever need is met.
I find myself overflowing with some inborn service,
now a habit, now making sense, now bringing fruit.
It is a long journey and it is full of tears and fear of what will happen,
but that door stands open for me to choose.
And I have a big God who stands and waits as he knocks for me to answer.
The question is will I walk through and experience all God has for me?
Will I let him into the deepest places of my heart
so he can help me walk through that door?
Will I put my confidence in God and not in myself
and my own fleshly way of dealing with things?

There are vast treasures on the other side of that door,
treasures in obeying God‘s will.
Yet all of us tend to hold on to things,
burdens-we carry that keep us from crossing over.

What are your burdens today?
How might you lay down those burdens
and save room in your arms for the bounty God has for you?

Thank you, Jesus.

Don’t You Care?

“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40)

Martha was fretful and angry. There was so much to do and her sister, perhaps in another room, was sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His every word.

I breathe a sigh.

How often has this been ME, though it may look a little different? These same angry words come in all different forms: in my thoughts, complaints, weary responses, bitter choices, and anxious, restless days.

Jesus approved of Mary. She was like a little child following her Father, wanting to be just like Him. The thoughts of her surroundings must have disappeared as she gazed into the Savior’s eyes. She had no thought of meals and dishes and work.

We all have busy days. We all have times of need. Who do we turn to?

My mind pictures the humble and needy sheep. We are so like them. They can sometimes be in a perilous spot if they accidentally roll over on their backs. It’s rare for them to be able to get back up again without help.

If the sheep could talk, I can hear him say, “Doesn’t anyone care?”

The Shepherd is the hero in the story. He comes and saves the day. He’s there to comfort the sheep and set him back on his feet again, soothing him with his words.

When I am in need, the best place for me to be isn’t barking orders at everyone around me; it is sitting at the feet of Jesus, seeing Him like I see my Father and following His every step. When the times is right, He leads me in a calm, peaceful attitude back to my work.

Several years ago, I did an experiment. The Christmas holiday was a month away and I had a houseful coming. God was teaching me to lean on Him and I felt prompted to make a commitment not to ask for any human help during the entire few weeks of guests. I would look to my Shepherd for aid and cry out to Him alone.

For three weeks before the event, I baked and froze nearly every meal. I worked hard every day to prepare and arm myself for this huge commitment. I worked with joy.

The event came and went. My story continues by simply saying that I lived and breathed every moment with my Father. Sometimes, I was up in the middle of the night, early in the morning or late at night. But, everything got done. Everything went smoothly, mostly because the hostess (me) wasn’t cross, stressed or distant. I was able to enjoy my company and when it was time to get up and work, I strengthened myself in the Lord, I sang and praised Him. I depended only on Him. And pretty soon I was surrounded by helpers that came to my aid. I never said a word. God provided my every need. It’s not to say that it was easy. There were many times, I worked all alone. Yet, I wasn’t alone. My Father was strong in me. He was my help.

After those holidays, I returned once again to asking for assistance from those around me. However, everything was different. I had experienced the solid rock of Jesus and knew He would never leave me.

Jesus, don’t you care?

Yes, child. I’ve been waiting for you to turn to me alone.

Father, take my eyes off this world and put them on you. Help me to follow in your steps and speak your words and experience life with you by my side. I am in awe of you and how you make me able to do your work with joy. When I forget, remind me. Keep my gaze on you.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

The Void

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void. But it shall accomplish what I please. And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11).

There are days I wait for the next thing to happen.
I’m ready for it. But all is quiet.
I’ve done everything there is to do. But the void is deep and dark.
I get impatient. I want the answer now.

God has brought me this far. When will He show up again to provide what I need to finish the work He started in me?

My greatest answer comes when I worship, when I sing praise to His name and when I look around me and find another of His tasks to do with joy.

In the meantime, my trust isn’t in how ready I seem or how patient I’ve learned to be or not. My trust is in God’s timing to do what is best when He sees fit.

Now, means little to God.
His will matters more than my desire to get on with the work I feel He has for me.

Now is just another way of saying, “I surrender all.”

What if this big thing He started in me doesn’t ever get done?
What if people laugh at me?
What if I am misunderstood?

Then I will do the next of His callings with joy and look at the unfinished work as a way for Him to mold and make me under the Potter’s hand.

 

It is not a call to worry.
It is not an opening into allowing depression.
It is not my time to be knotted up in anxiety.

It is my opportunity to be on my knees and abandon myself fully to Him, period.
It is my call to have joy in faith that He’s in control.

Father,
Whatever comes I trust you. I let all the years of work I’ve done for you disappear into the heavens. I lay it on the altar. Breathe your life into it again, in your timing.
In Jesus name, Amen.

Chosen

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

There are benefits to being chosen.

I love being picked for my talents and selected for the very things God created me to be. There is a feeling of rightness about the situation. Every moment fits and flows naturally. The tough days don’t really feel so bad because of the joy of the work itself.

The sun seems to be smiling.

It’s a wonder every day to wake up and be me.

God has a plan and taking that path is my chance to fall in sync and join the many others around me whose gifts are multiplying them in a world that needs their light.

God’s ways are marvelous and good.

 

Then there is the other kind of “chosen.” Being picked in this way isn’t real fun. It’s a frightening job and it takes everything in me to put one foot in front of the other in faith that I was selected for this moment for reasons only God could know. But there is no doubt in my mind that He has chosen me for this purpose.

The obedience is difficult.
The days are long.
The road is lonely.
The task is impossible.
The return feels barren.

The choices are clear, but the daily battle to move forward is fierce.

The storms rage.
The clouds are heavy with piercing rain.

I wonder…will I survive this chosen path? What will be left of me when it’s over?

Being me simply feels, well….strange. I stick out like a sore thumb.

Not everyone gets what I’m doing. Not everyone understands.

When the ray of light breaks through these particular days, it usually comes in the form of a spouse who dresses us in white to fall on our knees before the Father in prayer. Who does that? I DO!!! And so does he. It brings me joy to be married to someone just as strange as I am!

Rays of light also come in the form of a friend’s laughter or encouragement. In fact, God sends His people to us and he sends other means of support at just the right time to bring relief and moments of joy. It is when we feel understood and, in a sense, found. Being found means that my uniqueness is welcomed, enjoyed and even sought!

Esther had her people with her to fast before risking her life before a King.
Daniel had a God who shut the lion’s mouths.
Noah had an ark that saved his family from a flood.
David was given a pen to write what words God put on his mind, which comforts humanity even to this day.

And I have the provision of God always at my fingertips. He is there and I am blessed.

Being chosen can be the hardest thing we ever do. Yet, following the Lord in self-denial and trust in the Father is life at its very best. There is no better way to live than for my Mighty God. His Spirit is my constant guide, my comforter and my convictor of sin along the way (sin cleansed from me means a purer, cleaner life).

His companionship is masterful and wise. Listening to Him, I feel the wind of His breath, blowing across my mind when things get tough.
I am fed. My body is satisfied and full. I am revived to go back out and do His work with my head held high and my back straight and tall.

My Lord Jesus was chosen for things beyond my scope of understanding.

I learn from Him that crying out to God in my hardest moments is part of the journey to obedience and joy. I learn that that there may be rejection and pain, but it’s not forever.

In fact, His calling for me feels like labor, at times, the birth of something new.

The waiting is tedious, the burden feels heavy, the fear of pain is real….but the baby comes in God’s timing. And hope is restored.

I also learn that in the end there is always a new day, a resurrection of sorts, a reason for the journey that helps everything make sense.

The path sharpens and refines me. I am led by faith to give all my feelings and even the load of the work to my Father.

God’s ways are marvelous and good.

 

Today, I wrote this blog to encourage the walk of those who know they’ve been chosen and who need a reminder that God is very near to His children. He will never leave or forsake you. His promises are true. He is One we can depend on for all things. He will yoke with you to carry this cross you are called to bear.

You are not alone.
You are equipped.
In your weakness, God is strong in you.

 

Lord, you are amazing and wonderful. I trust your calling to keep walking this difficult path. Shine through me. Go before me. Though the way seems broken and lost, I put my faith in you and leave everything in your mighty hands.
In Jesus name, Amen.

Blessings to Experience

“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:25).

 

There are some things in life that I would just as soon not have to deal with and a few of those hit me in the face this week. I’m like anybody else. I cried and fought and struggled and belly-ached.

 

Then …I rested and listened to the voice of God.

 

I thought He would be on my side. Surely, I would get my way. After all, God wants my comfort, right?

A list was drawn up to agree with God that here were those things I wouldn’t have to do. I knew He had a better plan for me than these hated choices.

Come to find out, He would rather alter my attitude, my perspective and my focus, and turn my heart back to Him more than anything else.

He’s not interested in me gaining the whole world (or getting those things I long for). In fact, God is jealous and protective of my soul more than keeping me from what I dread. I wonder if He even views my focus on complaints as being detrimental to me. He doesn’t want me to lose myself, the self He created, the person He has plans for and whose path is set for purposes only He can see.

And when I choose to walk through the door of His will, no matter how much it hurts, something wonderful happens. The struggle is over, my heart is cleansed and the stormy seas calm within me.

Following Jesus to the cross is the most profound endeavor of my life. The impact of such a choice moves heaven and earth in my spirit. All things change within. I don’t get what my flesh wants, but I gain something far better. Whatever God desires for me is viewed differently now, as good, not bad.

 

What I used to see as rules to begrudgingly follow, I now see as blessings to experience!

 

It’s so simple; God’s ways are best.

 

And, when I follow Him, everyone around me receives a blessing of His presence in me instead of having to put up with ill-will. His ways spread to others and the world is a much better place.

 

Lord, I am so thankful for your higher calling and the gift of fixing my eyes on you. There is peace in walking through that door. My soul is soothed in the obedience of following your son to the cross of self-denial. Thank you for loving me enough to rid me self-centeredness and help my focus to return back o you. I bow at your throne and give you my breath and life for always.

 In Jesus Name, Amen.

A Time to Be Silent – A Time to Speak

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah…”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected, killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Luke 9:18-24)

 

I knew that Jesus had told many people not to speak about who He was to others. But I didn’t realize that Jesus told that to His own disciples. They walked with Him daily and learned what they needed to learn so that one day, after He was taken up to Heaven, they would carry out His plan for the Kingdom of God. Yet, they were not allowed to speak about who He was until after His death.

The older I get, the more I realize that there is wisdom in silence, when we’re called to it. And the time of speaking is more readily heard after the obedience of silence.

In the meantime, the disciples were told to expend their energies, not on words, but on actions: deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.

I’m sure they knew about the punishment of criminals on the cross, but until they experienced Jesus’ death, perhaps they didn’t quite comprehend the depth of His meaning, that they, too would be required to experience a different level of suffering while they lived their lives for Him.

We have the benefit of knowing God’s word and of reading ahead to understand the reality of the cross and all the torture and cruelty involved.

How much more does it touch my heart to read the passage above? I am called to do the same thing that they were called to do.

And when these opportunities arise to deny myself, to take up my cross and to follow Him, my life has meaning more than at any other time. My cross isn’t binding, it is freeing! It reveals God’s love through me. I shine and live a life of beauty when I pick up my cross and make Him my Lord and Master.

The disciples were not only free to talk about the Lord after His death, they were told to go out and make more disciples. Now was the time to speak boldly and clearly of who He was and who He is for us today. He bled and died so that we would no longer be separated from Him in our sins. This is good news.

We have a lot to speak about to the world. What an amazing life!

Dear Father,

Thank you for sending your only Son to die on the cross for us all. We bow down at your feet and esteem you above all others. Help us to be spreading the word of this wonderful chance to be with you and to live out your life here on earth. Help us to die to ourselves and give ourselves to you with our all.

 In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Seed That Gives

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown” (Luke 8:5-15)

 

I’ve lived a few days for each of these scenarios and the truths have captured my heart.

 

I picture the farmer with his bag of seeds. From Jesus’ parable, we see that the seed is God’s word. We know that we want to be the good soil who receives the seed deeply into our hearts.

 

At first Jesus speaks of what good soil is not.

  1. The first set of seeds falls on a pathway, a place where people walk. The seeds are stirred up and ruined by the trampling of feet. What the feet don’t stomp on, the birds take. Jesus tells us that this particular heart is actually listening and hearing God’s word, but the enemy of God is close by, waiting like a bird to swoop down and replace truth with distractions and lies. This heart is flighty and shallow. He lives on the surface of his life. He pursues immediate gratification one moment after the other. God’s word feels good at first, but it doesn’t last. Perhaps it is too much work or something comes along that appears to be better.

The big eye-opener for me was the word “trampled.” When I don’t bury God’s word deep in my heart, it can be easily trampled underfoot and taken from me.
When I feel trampled by life, perhaps I need to look at how focused or not I am on His word.
Certainly, the storms of life happen, but when I am sold on the word of God to guide, comfort and fill me, those storms may hurt, but they won’t destroy me.

  1. The second set of seeds falls on rocks that give no moisture. The plants grow at first, but they have no roots. When the tests of life come, they don’t hold up very well at all. The joy they once had over hearing the truth turns to overwhelming despair. They wither and die. God’s word cannot flourish without an environment that provides water.

Jesus is our source of moisture: John 4: 13-14 says, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

With this soil, I picture the living water of Jesus spilling over me without end. Any time I began to feel dry, I remember the source. I remember that I am always well-watered. I don’t have to believe the lie of Satan that I am ever dry. My roots go deep into the rich, nourishing soil.

  1. The third set of seeds falls among thorns which keep it entangled. This soil has a hold of God, yet also has a hold of the world, at the same time. It is “choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures,” and never matures. This scenario is real specific. The storms come in the form of all things I can possibly worry over, all the hang-ups that come with wealth, and even pleasures.

As I ponder this soil, I am overwhelmed at the truthfulness of this particular pull in life. It basically covers anything of my concerns.

Matthew 6:25 says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…”

I am made up of flesh and blood. Until my dying day, I will be tempted to worry. Yet, the longer I live, the more I see the value in giving my worries to the Father who takes such good care of me.

 

I already know that worry and riches can be a trap, but what about pleasures? Isn’t enjoyment of life a good thing?

Any pleasure that is outside of God will not fill me up. Even good pleasures He gives me aren’t as good as He is. Filling up on anything this world has to offer will temporarily feel good; but my flesh will never be satisfied and will always be looking for more.

 

There is a self-control aspect to pleasures. I have enough in God. When He gives me more, it is a gift I can enjoy, not a demand to expect. When He gives less, I still always have enough.

  1. The last set of seeds falls on good soil. What is interesting about this soil is the outcome of such enrichment doesn’t seem beneficial to me. You would think that the story would end by speaking of good things that happen to the soil that fully takes God’s word inside.

The fact is the result is fantastic!

The result is multiplying the good in me (God’s word) a hundred times over. And when it comes down to it, that is better than any amount of wealth or solutions to my problems. God made me to want to spread His word. He made me a good news sharer.

When we aren’t sharing His love and His story, we are trampled, dry, choked and barren.

When we share God, we are the healthiest pile of dirt on the planet. We are soil that holds God’s word steady and solid, deeply rooted, peaceful and productive!

This good soil has a heart that hears the word and retains it.

And after “persevering,” it produces a crop. This soil must stick to it; it must hang in there for the long haul. This is a noble life, worth living with all the spunk we can muster.

 

After looking at all these different types of soil for the entrance of God’s word, I thought about the various moods and feelings we have here on this earth and how the Sower Parable affects such things. One of these, I really honed in on was: grumpiness.

I’ve traveled this past weekend and my weary body is calling me to be grumpy.

 

In the midst of deep rich soil, never-ending water, bountiful fullness of God and the fruitfulness of remaining in God’s word always, grumpy simply doesn’t fit. It simply seems inappropriate for my stance in God.

I am wealthy. I am forever fixed. Solutions are perpetually mine. In Him, I am not messed up or a lost cause. I’m never hopeless. Life, though it may feel too much for me, is swallowed by my God who conquers, stomps out, dries up, and chokes my enemy.

I am fruitful, flourishing and surrounded in joy.

When I think about these things, I can’t be grumpy.

I have days and situations that tempt me. Yet, God always gives me a way of escape into His eternal bliss.

He equips me to multiply good things, not bad.

 

Father, I am so overwhelmed by your mercies. You give and give so much. Thank you for your word that lives in my heart forever. Thank you for daily taking me deeper. I am quenched by your springs of water. I am spreading roots thicker and stronger into you and not into this world. I love sharing you with everyone I can. Bless my fruitfulness to your glory.

In Jesus name, Amen.