150-something

Day 150-something. Eyes on Jesus. I think it’s a good thing that I’m losing track of how many days, and simply wanting to keep my eyes on Jesus.

I’m wanting Him more than I want out… Out of what? I want Jesus more than I want out of this year. More than I want out of a circumstance. More than I want someone else to change.

I’m {finally} learning to be content simply dwelling at His feet. I’m finally getting what it means to be a calm, quiet contented daughter at my Father’s feet.

Not perfect in waiting. Not lukewarm. Not without feelings. Not without concerns. Not dry of tears. Not medicated or slothful.

I’m still learning… I’m a slow learner. However, I’m learning. My walk is not perfected, yet I see my Father smiling. I see His delight in my willingness to keep trying. He encourages me… “You’re getting the hang of it, girl!”

“Getting the hang of what?”, you might wonder.

Getting the hang of trusting God’s goodness. Getting the hang of taking Jesus at His word because He IS The Word. Getting the hang of taking every complaint directly to my Counselor and my Advocate – Holy Spirit and  Jesus.

Believing. Seeing. Speaking. Trusting. Choosing… Calm and quiet like a weaned daughter at the feet of my Father. Psalm 131.

Come. Join me. There’s plenty of room here at His feet. This is a glorious place in which to dwell.

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa


#eyesonjesusandshine
#calmandquiet #weaned #trust #takeyouatyourword #jesus #shepherd #counselor #advocate

Saturday Share with Brad Milford – A Rested Soul

Some of you have followed along with my nephew, Brad, and his blog – Dear Elias – written to his toddler son, Eli.  Brad’s growing faith through painful young life circumstances is just too precious and inspirational not to share.Brad and Elias

Brad, I love you, and I am cheering you from the great cloud of witnesses.  We see you, and we are cheering.  Jesus has you by the hand, son, and He won’t ever let you go.  I pray you won’t make Him chase you in the far off land…  You’ve experienced, as I have, what it feels like to have Him break a leg and carry you back on His shoulders – lovingly healing you back to obedience.

Be blessed, Brad, to follow Jesus and lead your family.  Be blessed, precious reader, to know God’s arm is not too short, and His faithfulness and grace have no end…

Welcome, Bradley, to Saturday Share ~

Dear Elias,

It’s Thanksgiving night, 2017. You and your mother are both right beside me in bed sound asleep, I should be asleep right now considering it’s 3am. I guess you could say I’m a bit stunned. my mind has been doing circles for the past few hours so I finally decided to get what words I could out of my head.

Just a few months ago I was laying here, in this exact spot. I had felt shipwrecked, lost, and even forgot about. This room is stained in some way with a constant reminder of loneliness. while in the same exact place, a few short months later, I feel at home. I feel at peace, the kind that makes those bad memory’s feel not so bad after all. I prayed for this. Long hard hours, sometimes I would stay up till the sunlight broke through the window or my eyes finally refused to stay open. I prayed for my family, and now I’m laying next to you and mommy.eliandmomma

I’m not sure how God will reveal his existence to you, bug. I’m not sure how many times he will call you by name before you even start to believe that he is. But if I do know anything right now, it’s that he’s good. He really is good.

Now bug, don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way certain that God is good just because he answers prayers in our selfish favors. Often times he doesn’t do it in a way we want, but sometimes, special moments in life capture this deep feeling of awe, deep deep down in your heart. It’s a let out a long slow breath kinda deep. It’s the best, and it will reassure you of his goodness, I promise you that.

When you experience these moments, be grateful, soak it in. let God restore and redirect your heart. The best is yet to come.

I love you so much Elias, always have and I always will.

Love,

Dad

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Some sage advice from King David on how to best live out our days on this earth:

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity.  Psalm 37:3-11

Book Review: Walking on Water by Jennifer A. Miskov, Ph.D.

The title intrigued me first – Walking on Water – in reference to Peter’s bold request to walk out on the stormy sea to meet Jesus in the darkness. The subtitle also caught my attention – experiencing a life of miracles, courageous faith, and union with God – because this is where I’m walking in my real life. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need a miracle or courageous faith or union with God. Certainly, I need all of the above.

Jennifer A. Miskov did not disappoint as she boldly and honestly shares her journey with Jesus into deeper water and stormy seas resulting in a more intimate trusting and productive walk of faith.Matthew 14.28

In addition to the power of scripture combined with Jennifer’s real-life testimony, she offers activation exercises at the end of each chapter. These life applications of scripture caused me to pause and ask Holy Spirit for deeper application of God’s word in my life. 

I don’t want to give too much away, so I will simply highlight a couple of my big takeaways from Walking on Water.

The Art of Letting Go (pp. 51-61) – “Just because others are not stepping out of a boat you feel  you are supposed to step out of does not mean that you cannot or should not.”  Obviously, Peter was the only disciple to climb overboard to walk out toward Jesus, but I’m not sure I’ve ever thought through the practical truth of the scenario.

All the disciples were in the boat.  They were all afraid.  Peter was the only one who asked to walk out to Jesus and meet Him in the water.  What Peter didn’t do is even more compelling – He didn’t turn around to recruit anyone else to go with him.  He wasn’t clinging to anyone else or even the boat for security.  Peter just went.

I tend to look around to see who will go with me.  This is a tendency if which I want to be free.  I believe Jesus calls me out alone and expects me to obey whether anyone else comes along or not.

Resilience (pp. 118-129) – “If you can learn to navigate through disappointment, get back up, learn from the experience and move forward, you will grow in faith and be better prepared to step into the impossible in the future.”  In this chapter, Jennifer introduced the idea of ‘falling forward’.  We will all fall down on our journey of following Jesus as His disciples.  The critical point is that we fall toward Jesus as Peter did in the water.  Yes, Peter looked down to the waves and doubted, but when Peter fell, he fell moving toward Jesus – not running away.

I recognize my tendency to run and hide when life, ministry, and in general, simply following Jesus gets really challenging.  I have a fear of failure and so I tend to want to play it safe rather than risk falling at all.  This picture of Peter falling toward Jesus out in the open water is one I will carry with me as I seek to venture into unchartered faith territory.  Yes, Peter fell, but he fell doing the miraculous and Jesus was there to catch him.  I think I want to try too.

silence martha martha

There’s so much more wonderful, life-giving and challenging teaching packed into Walking on Water.  Jennifer’s style is conversational and so it’s easy to read one chapter after another.  However, the activation exercises at the end of each chapter are so thought-provoking and transformational I found myself spending a day or two on each chapter.  In my experience, it was helpful to marinate in the activations over a day or two in order to fully experience truth.

My journey through Jennifer’s book has been interactive, encouraging and life-changing. I can’t wait to pass this book to a friend and have already recommended it to several others. Most likely, Walking on Water will be a Christmas present or birthday gift for family and friends in the near future.

I pray you will jump out of your boat and enjoy Walking on Water.  Thank you, Jennifer A. Miskov, Ph.D. for blessing my life and enriching my journey with Jesus.

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

~Lisa

Day 5 – Who will help me {trust} when my cup is empty?

I will trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding.  In all my ways I will acknowledge You, Lord, and You will make my path straight.   Proverbs 3:5 & 6

As a young career woman, God placed many believers in my path – mostly in my workplace.  A manager bought me a Bible and invited me to a weekly Bible study before work.  A young woman, my peer, much more mature in her faith, prayed with me.  And a young man challenged me to memorize Scripture.{trust}.png

I look back on those days and see myself much like Ruth.  A foreigner in a strange land.  I eagerly followed others who looked like they were following God.  I {trust}ed their leading and as they spoke the word of God, prayed and left truth on the ground behind them… I gathered all that I could possibly hold.  {5 minutes}

The young man who challenged me to memorize Scripture handed me Proverbs 3:5 & 6 and told me I would need this truth.  I received it as if he had given me the key to a secret door.

I memorized the popular proverbs passage as a commitment prayer to God, making it a personal vow to Him.

In turn, I have offered this same scripture to many who have come alongside me on the journey of faith seeking to follow Jesus.  I believe these words or else I wouldn’t offer them as an anchor to another.

I do {trust} You God.  With all my heart.  I lean not on my own understanding.  I acknowledge You.  In all my ways (I’m looking for Your way).  And I know You will make my path straight.

But then sometimes when all around me is extremely disorienting and unfamiliar, the pathway tangled with briars, and the scenery all brown, white and grey with no clear landmarks…  I wonder if I really {trust} God.proverbs 3.5.png

And then suddenly in the driest place, a cup of cold water encouragement is lavished on me from someone I’ve had the pleasure to encourage in the past.

This is the amazingly beautiful picture of discipleship I am gleaning from Ruth 2:11-12 today.  We are given in this passage an onlooker’s view of God’s work in Ruth and Naomi.  Boaz speaking to Ruth…

“But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers.  May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”

Ponders:

In Naomi’s driest place of her faith journey, Ruth was offering the cup of cold water to her mother in law.  Ruth was trusting in the Lord as she had been taught by Naomi.  Ruth was acknowledging God and holding Naomi’s hand while God was making their path straight.

Ruth would {trust} God until Naomi would be restored to {trust} the Lord’s goodness again on her own.

  • Do you have a relationship like the one portrayed between Ruth and Naomi?
  • Are you in the Ruth role currently or the Naomi role?
  • How have you seen the Lord bring a discipleship relationship around full circle?
  • If you haven’t been encouraged by this type of mentoring relationship and would like to pursue discipleship, will you ask the Lord to place someone in your life to live the journey with you?  God is faithful.  He doesn’t want us to walk alone.
  • As you ponder {trust} in God’s word, what is Holy Spirit teaching you?  Do you trust the Lord with all your heart?  Will you make Proverbs 3:5 & 6 your personal prayer?

 

Self, you’re not really going to admit you’re afraid? – The Answer

Review to remember

Previously in my post,  Self, you’re not really going to admit you’re afraid? , we pondered a question, which begged another question.  The initial hurdle I faced was finally overcome by my obedience to sit still and tune my spiritual ears to the invitation of Holy Spirit.  His invitation is always to freedom.  He sees the bonds entangling me while I fritter about trying to manage on my own.

Gently, firmly and without condemnation, Holy Spirit called me to stop, sit still…

First, as He illuminated the dark closet of my soul with His presence, I was able to admit; “Yes, there is a fear dangling there in the dark.”  As soon as I confessed it, the first bonds were loosed.

Second, Holy Spirit led me to the truth of God’s Word in 1 Kings 17:8-12 – the story of Elijah and the widow who lived in Zarephath.

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I read her story and I felt her pain.  Her fear of using her last oil and flour, which would ultimately result in their death seemed reasonable to me.  But, that’s not my fear.  I can’t even imagine her circumstances.  I spoke it from that deep place in my heart as Holy Spirit continuously increased the light…

I know, dear one, you’re not there.  You’re not physically walking in her shoes.  These are not your physical circumstances.  Look again, with spiritual eyes.  Listen to Elijah’s requests of the widow.  I’m here with you, lavishly loved one, look at the question.  

Of what are you afraid?

As I sat quietly pondering, the light of God’s presence filled me with wonder and awe.  My trepidation turned to a desire to know, and I pressed in toward the truth to make an agreement with Him.

lightbulb
The Light of Truth illuminates this dark place of my soul.

 

Yes, Lord, what is it?  What is at the root of this fear?

Again, looking at the widow’s real life predicament, I wonder if the answer is found in Elijah’s unequal equation.   To have plenty of food to last us through the remainder of the drought and live, use everything you have left to make a meal, and feed me first.

Elijah was confident.  He had the solution and assured the woman she should not be afraid.  He offered a miracle.

And again, Holy Spirit whispered above the noise of Self-chatter:

Yes, and she would have to believe.  To see the miracle fulfilled, she would have to physically pour out what she believed to be her last.  What does that look like for you, dear one? 

As you look at your life and your circumstances, what do you see contained in that jar you hold?  What is it you feel is dwindling to the last?  Do you see? 

For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lordsends rain on the land.’”  1 Kings 17:14 niv

Self, now you see it.  You see the question and the answer.  What is it you fear, Self?

I see the vessel containing, what appears to me, to be the last drops of faith-oil.  My life circumstances feel like a drought with no end in sight.  Without a trace of a rain cloud, the lack of opportunity threatens to last beyond what I feel sure I will be able to endure.

oil jar

I fear running out of faith.

I know intuitively I will obey.  I will, out of obedience, continue to pour out faith-oil.   I will pour out what seems to be my very last drops, as a worshipful thank offering to my Lord.

And as I do, I am afraid I will be left with an empty jar… no faith left… no hope.  And if  I were to be left with an empty vessel, I am afraid I will die – at least a spiritual death.  For who can live without faith-oil?  Who can live without hope-bread?

Further exposed, as Holy Spirit light fills the no longer dark closet of my soul, I see the ugly shadow lurking behind the fear.  The spotlight uncovers the shadow’s identity – PRIDE.

  • Self, it’s pride – to think somehow you’ve stored up your own reservoir of faith.
  • It’s pride – to think you’ve worked and produced this faith-oil in your vessel.
  • It’s pride – to think you’ve done a good job of saving as if it were a bank account.
  • Self, it’s pride – to think you’re spiritual well-being is dependent on you.

Oh Lord, I see.  I confess.  I agree with You.  This is a deeper entanglement.  And I want to live free of pride – of fear.  I want to live in the Light of Truth, Holy Spirit.

Dear one, now you see in truth.  Surely, I am the One who continually fills your vessel with faith-oil enough and beyond to take you, dear one, through the drought.  Do you trust me?  Do you believe I will never leave you just as I have always promised?

Come, follow Me.  Trust Me on this adventure into greater intimacy and maturity.

She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.  For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.  1 Kings 17: 15-16 niv

I want to… Help me, hold my hand.  Help me trust You.  Help me believe.  Help me follow.

And with that, pride slinks away, defeated in this battle.

light in the room

And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

Ponders:

This two-part post, Self, you’re not really going to admit you’re afraid?, is my awkward attempt to relate my devotional experience with God, in the fullness of His Trinity, through prayerful interaction with the God-breathed Scripture of the Bible.  This is also a very concise presentation as I’ve been reading, marinating in and chewing on the words of 1 Kings 17 for several weeks.

I included the very true to life conversations I have with myself.  In italics, I tried to convey the words, many times delving questions, lovingly spoken to me by Holy Spirit. Honestly, these are deeply intimate moments I share with my Lord.  His presence is so real saturating the room where we meet.  I never want to leave for earthly duties…

  1. Do you desire this intimate interactive relationship with the One Triune God?  Will you speak out your desire for this relationship with your Lord?
  2. If you haven’t lately, will you begin this week reading the God-breathed Scriptures, asking Holy Spirit to teach you and listening for His response?
  3. If you already have this interactive time with the Lord regularly, is there something He’s stirring in you?  Is there a question He’s asking?  Perhaps a Scripture Holy Spirit has highlighted for you to chew on?  Will you take whatever time it takes to pursue this conversation?
  4. Let’s give thanks to God together for He is good and His steadfast love for us endures forever.  Thank You for being a Good Good Father, and for patiently teaching us as we grow up to be more and more like Jesus.  Amen.

FMF: {guide}

It’s Friday!  Kate Motaung had a surprise announcement along with her word prompt of the week.  Check out her upcoming release of an online writer’s e-course coming by clicking fmf logohere.  And by clicking there you will also find the five minute friday link-up for this week.

The word prompt is {guide}

As usual, I dreamt of the word in the night hours and woke up with inspiration.  So, now I am ready to set the timer to 5, and GO!

{guide}

I woke up thinking… He will guide me into all truth.  Yes, Holy Spirit is my guide and He will guide me into all truth.  John 16:13

Holy Spirit guides me into all truth, yes, when I know…  experientially know… the truth as trustworthy and good… I am set free.

Thinking of the blind children new to our giant school and the tender women who come to teach them to use their walking cane to find their way through the building (which has 3 floors and is full of 2100 children + adults).  The learning has to be daunting.  Aren’t they afraid?  The task of the adults – it causes me to watch in awe.  Because I can’t relate – it all seems impossible and yet the guide guides every day and the children learn and in the daily guiding – these children are set free to walk the building.

I am daily amazed!  I watch and interact with one young girl (Hope, is her name) as she comes through the front door.  I’ve wondered a time or two if she might be an angel in disguise.

I just want to be friendly so I call out to her – “Hello, Hope!  How are you today?”

I didn’t even realize my voice is a marker for her – a landmark of sorts.  Just like I look for landmarks to guide me as I travel about, she uses sounds and her walking cane – actually she is using every one of her other senses to develop landmarks – to guide her steps.guide-FMF-Square

Her guide is always asking questions.  What do you smell?  Yes, food.  You’re right, we’re by the cafeteria.  Did you hear Ms. Brittain say hello? Yes, you’re right, we’re at the front door.

Hope (her name, can you believe it?) is guided without sight.  And then it hits me – you probably got there first – that’s the definition of faith.  Hebrews 11:1

 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith is walking (like Hope, but in a spiritual sense) trusting my guide to teach me without being able to see where I am going.  Yes, I need a guide.  I want to be set free.  To walk free in faith without seeing.

It is in trusting my guide, Holy Spirit, my faith roots grow deep into the rich soil of my redeemed heart.  My guide sees what I cannot.  He sees the beautiful garden and desires for me to walk freely in it.  Soon faith-blossoms burst open and eventually bear abundant fruit of joy, peace, love, endurance, kindness…without sight, but with a guide…

Stop.

Disclaimer:  I have found that my thoughts flow steadily when I write on paper with a pen.  And so I have written out my FMF thoughts in my journal.  Afterward, I set my timer for five and typed out of my journal for this FMF: {guide}

 

Self, when you’re tempted to think God doesn’t know your location…

…simply stop and remember the miraculous unveiling which took place in your very own living room this week.

How other than God’s very present and real interaction in our lives could you explain two men meeting for the first time subsequently walking out of your house three hours later as distant cousins?

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Ahhh yes, God is good.  He is interactive. God, as our Good Father, takes delight in revealing details formerly unknown to us.  I believe God loves to watch His children’s faces as the cover of mystery is pulled back and we squeal with JOY over revelation!

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.   Psalm 139:16 niv

Let’s take a moment to reflect back on the chain of events:

This past Saturday night, suntanned feet man and I participated with Family Promise (a wonderfully hopeful homeless ministry in which our church has the privilege to participate).  We were to be the overnight hosts.  Being our first experience, we were anxious to meet our Family Promise coordinators, our beautiful guest families, and receive instruction.

While getting acquainted, I met another volunteer, Becky.  We hit it off right away, and the more we talked the more people we found we knew in common.

Becky, we discovered, previously visited a Sunday School class for which suntanned feet man was the substitute teacher.  She mentioned she enjoyed the lesson and his teaching style.

 

 

Finally, enjoying all the connections between us, I invited my new friend and Mike, her husband, to our Tuesday night home group for Bible study.  I gave her my phone number and just left it open-ended.  No pressure.

On Tuesday afternoon, Becky called me to say they would like to come – just to visit.  Wonderful, I thought to myself.  I love to make new connections with people.

Our home group regulars, Phil and Theresa, arrived first and then our guests, Becky and Mike.  We enjoyed lively discussion getting to know one another and then carried the fun into the fascinating Bible lesson – Jesus feeding the 5,000.  At the end of our time together, as is his way, suntanned feet man invited everyone to stay as long as they like for more life- sharing.

Before anyone could pack up to leave, I asked if everyone would share a bit about their roots.  “Where are you from?” we often ask here in the Atlanta area knowing hardly anyone is a native. Becky spoke up and mentioned she was born and raised in Georgia. Aha, our native southerner!

Mike mentioned casually that he is a transplanted northerner.  Suntanned feet man (a transplant from the north) perked up and asked, “Where abouts?” To which came the reply Pennsylvania. And then came from Theresa an excited, “So, is Phil”.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?  Psalm 139:7 niv

Amazingly, for the next hour, we watched as the men zoomed in on their similar origins. Mike began to text his older sister, researcher of her family’s genealogy, with Phil’s grandfather’s names going back four generations.  We laughed and waited while sister looked up the names commenting how absolutely incredible it would be if these two men would turn out to be related.

And then… Yes!  The answer was yes.  The two men were related by their great, great, great grandfather from Pennsylvania.

 

 

In my very vivid imagination, I see a picture.  This whole scenario looks like a place on a map – a crossroads – a rest stop, in which 6 people sat down together to share God’s Word and ended up connecting branches on a family tree back to a great, great, great grandfather from Pennsylvania. Of course, God has always known all the details which would be orchestrated to converge our paths – for this specific moment in time. He’s always seen the truth behind the veil where we see dimly.  To get to participate in this unveiling was exhilarating!

Self, having been a part of this glorious set of events, what of all the unknowns in your life could you believe is unknown to your Good, Good Father? Remember, Self, nothing is unknown to God.  He knows exactly where you’re located, where you’ve been and where you’re going!

Ponders:

  1. Does this story speak hope into the shadowed, mysterious places on your life path?
  2. What does it do for your faith, your heart to know there is nowhere you will ever go, no one you will ever meet, and nothing your Good Father will ever plan for you to do in which He has not already been, seen and known fully the exact details?
  3. Does it provide strength for perseverance to know in Him there is no dark shadow of mystery, but full revelation and Light for your next step?
  4. Do you think to yourself, “Well that’s really fun for them, but I don’t know that God is that involved in my life?”  Will you ask Father, “What do You want me to know about Your interaction in my life?  Are You divinely interactive in my life?”
  5. Finally, will you watch on tiptoes, expectant to experience God’s answer to your questions?  I’ll stand on tiptoes expectant with you.

 

Saturday Share: Brad Milford – the miracle of a captive set free

So, who is Brad?  Brad is my nephew – third son of my brother, Jeff.  Brad is coming into his middle twenties and writing with the wisdom of a forty year old.

By way of various detours along his short journey through life, Brad is father to precious son, Elias!

Brad's Bible

Brad and Elias do not currently live in the same household much to the sadness and frustration of his father.  However, it may be that God has most precisely used these circumstances for Brad’s ultimate good and God’s glory.

 

For this nephew, as well as his three brothers and my own two sons, I have prayed. Specifically for these young men a prayer found in Psalm 103:1-5 has been a prayer on my lips and settled in my heart.

Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—  who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  Psalm 103:1-5

I am delighted to read these precious words written by Brad – a testament to God’s grace and great LOVE and Brad’s surrender.  My faith soars with these direct answers to my  prayers for Brad. (I know many other people have been praying too)

I want you to be encouraged to trust God in a new way, and emboldened in your prayers. This is why I have chosen Brad’s blog post in Dear Elias – Getting out of God’s way as this week’s Saturday Share.  I pray you will be set free as well as you read Brad’s unpolished words – just straight from his gut through fingers on a keyboard – raw honesty!

Welcome Brad… I love you and continue to cheer you on in Christ.  Keep picking up your cross and following right on Jesus’ heels…wait on the Lord and trust Him more.

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Brad and EliasDear Elias,

Your dads a control freak in recovery. I say this because the first step to recovery is recognizing that you have a problem right? All jokes aside, God has really opened my eyes to this problem.

For such a long time I thought the opposite, I thought that everyone else had this problem. That everyone else were the ones trying to control everything. I pointed fingers, I tried “helping” others by telling them to let God handle it, and to trust him. But I was telling them what they needed to do without removing the big ol plank out of my own eye.

Many recognized a cycle I was in. It goes like this, I want something from God, I pray for it, I tell God I trust him, I believe he’s going to give me what I’m asking for, then I get upset when it doesn’t happen. I shake my fist at him as if he doesn’t care because I haven’t seen instant change, and I try to make things happen on my own. I take ahold of the wheel after a period of time as if…  click here to continue with Dear Elias – Getting out of God’s way

Trust is the anchor holding me in the boat

 

I imagine a crusty white-bearded fisherman searching the horizon from high above the deck, and suddenly he yells comforting words:

Two years out and all’s well!

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With the new year, my husband and I embarked on our third year of his involuntary retirement.  I have no words to describe how grateful I am (still) for his discipline to store away savings in times of abundance.  Without his ‘Joseph-like’ dedication to prepare ahead for a coming famine, I don’t know where we would be right now.

God, by His grace, had prepared our hearts for a lean time.  Through prayerful listening I felt it would be at least two years before we would experience a breakthrough. We’ve several times before traveled this road of job change and loss through buy-outs and acquisitions.  This fork in the road, however, has some additional obstacles otherwise known as age and health.

Truly though, as we look full circle around our current circumstances, God’s faithfulness from the past shines brightly like a beacon of  hope before us.  And nothing, not aging or health challenges, are too hard for God!

When I focus my eyes on Jesus, I do feel calm.  I do feel secure in His presence.  As I spend time with Jesus, in His Word and in our conversations, He assures me that we (my husband and I) are right where we are supposed to be.

Truly though, as we look full circle around our current circumstances, God’s faithfulness from the past shines brightly like a beacon of hope before us.

Yet, one moment out in the world, with all the voices and choices and recommendations from all well meaning people who care about us, and I can easily find myself – well, honestly, bothered!  Then I find myself wanting to know, “How much longer, Lord?”.

Maybe people are right. Maybe I need to do something more.  Maybe I should look for more professional employment.  Maybe I should… What if…  And the wrestling begins all over again.

I wonder… have you ever been here?  Are you now?  Well, here’s what I did…

Jesus, where are You?

I grew weary of the wrestling and spinning and the voices and the questions and doubts. Honestly, I love that place of surrender!  As difficult as it is for me to get there sometimes, it is the best feeling to drop all the baggage I’ve agreed to carry and crumple at the feet of Jesus.

Finally, submitted deep in my soul, I asked Jesus to give me His perspective – as much as my finite mind can comprehend.  I asked Him to draw me a picture of how He sees our current circumstances.

Jesus answered this request almost immediately.  I began to see, in my mind’s eye, a boat bobbing on the water.  There was no storm, no daunting waves or howling wind, and in the back of the boat I sat.  My husband was seated at the front of the boat.  We were just bobbing on the calm water.

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Yes, that’s it!  That is exactly what my life feels like right now!

However, the longer I pondered this picture in my mind, the frustration welled up inside me again.  That bothered feeling came welling up from deep within even as I sat with Jesus and His picture.  Soon I heard myself asking, “How long, O Lord, are we going to bob on this water not really going anywhere?”

This was it.  This was my life in a picture – feelings and all.  After a few days of thinking on this picture I began to see water splashing about my feet inside the boat.

Again, I picked up my conversation with Jesus.  Anxiety, fear, and frustration began to increase as I talked with Him…

Jesus there’s water coming in the bottom of the boat.  Doesn’t my husband know there’s water coming in the boat?  Are we going to sink?  Is he just going to sit in the front of the boat and let us go under?

I felt anger rising from that deep place in my soul.  I recognized the symptoms; that old ouchy place that’s been torn open once again by current circumstances.  So, I went to visit my flesh and blood Dad for advice.

“Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.” Proverbs 16:20

St Augustine fort

Godly sorrow…

As I sat with my Dad over lunch recounting this vision of my husband and I in the boat, my dad responded with truth; “You don’t trust him to take care of you.”  The words to match the emotion had been eluding me, but when my Dad spoke it, I knew it was true.

I was ashamed to admit it.  I was afraid our boat was sinking and I didn’t trust my husband to save me.  There it was – the response I learned as a young child – fight for myself.

I confessed to my Dad (as if he didn’t know), “I’m not very good at sitting on my hands. I’m a fighter!”  My Dad grinned ear to ear and proudly confirmed, “And you’re a good one too.”  Beyond that my Dad hugged me and assured me, “God’s got this.  You’re going to be OK – eventually!”

Sunset Key LargoAs I drove home from my parents’ house I once again took the picture back to Jesus.  I told Him it was true what my Dad said, and I was sorry.  I didn’t want to feel that way about my husband.  In my spirit I felt a nudge, “Look again at the boat, Lisa.”

Oh yes!  There You are Jesus; You’re in the boat!  You’re standing right up there next to my man.  We’re not alone!

It was an amazing revelation.  And then again, in my spirit, this quiet voice – His voice coaxing me to listen and obey.  “Sit in the boat, Lisa.  Be still and watch.  Watch Me teach My man how to sail this boat.”

 An anchor can look like a cross with two arrows on the end pointing up.  It is my trust in Jesus…which anchors me in the boat.

I wish I had the words to describe the incredible peace of that moment.  The presence of Jesus in the midst of our trial is priceless.  He knows us.  He is with us.  He is good and He knows what He is doing.  Jesus has a good plan for us, and He is not worried.  In fact, every once in awhile I remind Jesus,

You know water is coming in the boat still?

Jesus reminds me to look at the picture; He’s in the boat.  Jesus reminds me my trust is rightly placed in Him, and not on my husband to be my savior.  He also reminds me He’s given me a cup (my little job with my little pay), with which I am able to scoop water and throw it over the side.  Otherwise I am to be still, stay in the boat and watch.

I’m watching You; eyes on You, Jesus, as You teach my man how to sail.

anchor

Today I saw something, looking at pictures of anchors, that I’ve never recognized before.  An anchor can look like a cross with two arrows on the end pointing up.  Catching this visual I hold fast to this truth:

It is my trust in Jesus (because of all the times in my life when I have experienced His faithfulness) which anchors me in the boat.

…(Jesus said)“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  Mark 8:34

Ponders:

  1. How about you, friend?  Are you facing an uncertain situation?
  2. Are you able to identify any controlling emotions?
  3. Would you be willing to enter an ongoing conversation with Jesus about the inward wrestling match?
  4. Would you ask Jesus to paint a picture?  Sing you a song? Write you a poem?  What other form of communication might Jesus use to make His truth more clear to you?
  5. Proverbs 16:20 reminds us: “Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.”  Do you have a safe person who will offer Godly instruction?  Perhaps you will seek them out today. 
  6. Will you allow trust to be your anchor to help you obey the Lord?