Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lessons Learned From The Ocean

Hey Friend,

Majesty:  I had to catch my breath as I gazed upon the majesty of God's creation.  There is something about the ocean that makes me stop in my tracks and simply gaze upon its large expanse.  It extends as far as the mind can imagine.  Only an infinite God could create the infinite expanse of blue-green water my eyes take in.  Without a second thought my heart and soul are drawn into worship.  How awesome is our God.

O Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth...when I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers... (Psalm 8:1-9)

Constant:  The waters don't ebb and flow just because I'm there.  They've been constant in doing that since God spoke them into existence.  The rhythm of the waves is like a perpetual heartbeat.  The waves crash and mind and heart are drawn into their beating.  So it is with God.

Even when I'm going about my own business, He remains there - constant.  His heart beats out love for me even when I'm sleeping.  Every moment of every day He is there.  The steadiness of the waves reminds me that God was, and is, and always will be.

He never sleeps. He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  (Psalm 121:3-4)

Flow:  As I try to walk into the ocean, the waves pound against me.  With each step forward I sense that I am going against the natural flow of things.  Determined, I keep stepping forward, losing my balance, being tossed from side to side.  Beside me I catch a glimpse of seaweed just gently floating with the flow of things.  It's not toiling and striving and forcing its own agenda; it's going with God's natural flow. 

I'm struck by how often I plow forward, often with futility, trying to force my will instead of relaxing and going with the flow of God's will for my life.  "Go with my flow,"  I hear God saying.  His will for me is good.  I need to relax into the flow of His good plans.

"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."  (Jeremiah 29:11)

Washed:  My fiancĂ© and I walk hand in hand along the beach.  I gaze at the footprints of the people who walked before us.  Their footsteps dug into the sand are all but washed away.  I look behind us and our disturbance of the sand has disappeared - leaving not a trace that we were even there.

So it is with the blood of Christ.  Time and time again I sin...footprint after footprint.  Yet in His mercy He washed my sins away and leaves me pure.  No evidence of sin remains.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.  (Psalm 51:7)

Salt & Light:  As I go to leave - unsure of when I'll see the ocean again, I breath in the salty air and squint my eyes in the light reflecting off the sand and surf.  Like a benediction, I can almost hear God saying, "Go be salt and light in this dark world."

"You are the salt of the are the light of the world."  (Matthew 5:13-14)

I tuck my lessons away in my heart and bid the ocean farewell.  Knowing I've caught a glimpse of God and Heaven, my heart is light.  Till I see you again...



Thursday, June 20, 2013

Away From My Desk

Hey Friend,

If God took a rest on the 7th day and Jesus withdrew from the crowds to rest and pray, then I too should follow their example.  Rest is not only good for the soul, it is necessary!

For the next several days I will be taking a break from writing while resting and relaxing at the beach.  I'm leaving my trusty (somewhat) laptop behind, but taking my writing notebook because nothing inspires me more than God's creation at its finest.

I've written 21 different posts.  Surely you haven't read them all, so I invite you to thumb through the archives and find one that peaks your curiosity.  I pray every morning and evening for those who read my blog.  My prayers will not be taking a vacation.  So know that you are being prayed for and loved by an awesome God!

So, Myrtle Beach or bust as they say...looking forward to being still for a few days.  See you next week for a new post.

In quietness and trust is your strength.  (Isaiah 30:15)

Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him.  (Psalm 37:7)

Till then...



Thursday, June 13, 2013

Listening, Really Listening

Hey Friend,

And God said, "Let there be light"...  (Genesis 1:3)

God spoke and in four simple words he brought forth light in the midst of primeval darkness; light that was necessary for everything He would speak into existence.

God did not go on ad nauseum about what the light would do.  He didn't pontificate about His whole creative process and His reasoning behind it.  He simply created and spoke everything into existence with just the right amount of words.  In one chapter, in one book of the Bible, all of Heaven and Earth were created and spoken into existence.

What can I/we learn from this? That we need to measure our words.  Just because there are thousands of words in the English language, does not mean that we have to use them all.

I had a teacher who once told me, "You have two ears and one mouth.  Use them proportionately."

In other words, I need to listen more and speak less.  Having gone through some very difficult times, the friends and family that helped me the most were the ones who listened - truly listened.

But, I'm a slow learner.  Now, when I'm trying to help a friend going through a difficult time, I am the first person to get on myself for not being able to come up with something profound to say.  My friend does not want profound, they just want me...silent, attentive, listening.

He who answers before listening - that is his folly and his shame.  (Proverbs 18:13)

Why is this so hard to grasp?  Because we are, by nature, "fixers".  And how better to fix than with advice?  We fill the gap of silence with "oughts", "shoulds" and "musts". - words that drag down instead of lifting up. few words need to be filled with grace and love.

He who loves a pure heart and whose speech in gracious will have the king for his friend.  (Proverbs 22:11)

How often, when I am trying to listen, am I really preparing what I'm going to say next?  Bev, get over yourself and bite the tongue in your brain and truly focus on listening and then, and only then, speak.  But, do not speak in haste.

Do you see a man who speaks in haste?  There is more hope for a fool than for him.  (Proverbs 29:20)

If this sounds like "Remedial Listening 101" is because I need it.  The Proverbs are full of warnings to those, like me, who can tend to run at the mouth.  Proverbs has a word for people who do that..."fools".

Okay, so I'm working on the whole listening thing, But what does God say about what I should say when I do say something?

An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.  (Proverbs 24:26)

Honest can be translated "truthful".  Whose truth...God's truth as based on scripture.  As much as I like my own words, only God's words offer life, healing and hope.

If you know someone facing difficult times will you pray this prayer with me?

Lord, help me first to really listen, to be gracious when I do speak, to not speak in haste and to speak only Your truth.  Amen.



Thursday, June 6, 2013

Joy Layered Over Pain

Hey Friend,

One of my favorite artists was Thomas Kinkade "The Painter of Light".  Most of his paintings featured a scene, often a house, at dusk or dawn.  The background would be hues of dark blues or purples and even black - the colors of night.  And, then in the windows, with a slight stroke of golden white, he would make light appear; a warm, glowing, welcoming light.  The scene would be serene, peaceful and would always bring a smile to my face.

Our lives are somewhat like those paintings.  To say that my life has not been exactly easy these past several years would be an understatement.  For a litany of the "plagues" you can read my post "Church Lady? I Think Not...".  Suffice it to say that I have been through some very painful times...shades of night...dark blue, purple and even black.  But, God in his wonderful mercy has dipped His paintbrush in golden white and layered the warm light of joy over my pain.  Having had the darkness of pain, the light of joy shines out that much more brightly. 

I believe that to experience true joy, you first have to experience pain.

It's like touching velvet after you have felt the cold touch of steel.  The experience is that much richer.  So many times I have wondered why terrible things happen.  We live in a fallen, sinful world.  I don't know about you, but I have been tempted at times to throw in the towel, but God says "Wait".  Hold on and I will bring you joy that is beyond your wildest imagination. 

Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.  (Psalm 30:5)

I believe that when I hold on through the pain and get to experience the joy that comes, I get a tiny glimpse of Heaven.  We may endure many trials in this life, but the Bible promises that the joy of running into our Father's arms in Heaven will far surpass all the pain we have felt in this lifetime.  This is our temporary home; our real home lies in Heaven. 

Ultimately Joy begins with a choice - the choice to establish a genuine relationship with God and His Son.  Joy does not depend on your circumstances, but on your relationship with God.

If I have nothing else in life, but Christ, I can be joyful.  It may not be a laugh out loud kind of joy, but I know that He ultimately holds the paintbrush.  In that I can have joy.  But oh, when he brushes on that golden white hue...the joy makes my heart want to burst.

I have had one of those experiences lately.  I am beyond happy to announce that the most wonderful man in the world has asked me to marry him.  I simply cannot express my joy in words.  That's how happy I am.  I am humbled that God chose me to be the recipient of this man's love.  I am made even so much more joyful because the light has been layered upon a backdrop of darkness.  God has chosen to layer joy over pain in my life and I am forever grateful!!

From the fullness of His grace, we have received one blessing after another.  (John 1:16)

Thank you for letting me ramble on this morning...and for sharing in my joy.  God is weaving a beautiful tapestry with our lives and in it are shades of dark and shades of light, but in the end it makes a beautiful and complete work of art.  If you are in the dark hues right now, I encourage you to hold on because God is not finished painting or weaving yet. Know that you are loved beyond comprehension!  God will not forsake you...he has never forsaken me.  Be encouraged friend!