Shaken But Not Broken

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

My kindred spirit Helena and I were recently together discussing similar situations we were in. We were both seeking wisdom for how in the process to protect our hearts yet still bless and love others, trusting God with His plans. We were reminded of a situation many years back when God told our pastor it was time for him to move on. This man of God was very loved and respected but it was quite shocking to a lot of people. Our hearts were exposed through our reactions and in our flesh we desired to follow where our shepherd was going. God said no.

In the aftermath, God’s healing and years following, we learned some very valuable lessons.

  1. God’s plans are Always the best.
  2. Prayer is vital.
  3. Sometimes our loyalties need to be exposed.
  4. If we hold onto something or someone too tightly, God will, in His infinite wisdom, shake it loose somehow.
  5. Shaking of white knuckle grips are painful.
  6. No matter how something is executed there will always be critics.
  7. We are way too quick to judge something we don’t understand.
  8. We may never see the whole picture of someone’s obedience.
  9. It is ok to grieve change.
  10. As we submit our hearts to God He shows us how to walk through, to forgive and heal and move forward.
  11. Obedience can be painful at first but the outcome is God’s best for you.
  12. We are only responsible for own heart response.
  13. The church body is not one congregation.
  14. We are the church, not just the pastor, nor any leader, nor the building. We Are.
  15. It can be just as painful for the one God gave the revelation to, change is challenging.
  16. God desires all of our heart and devotion.
  17. Imagining yourself in someone else’s position goes a long way.
  18. Being right is Highly overrated.
  19. Keeping your mouth shut sometimes is not.
  20. If you must speak, encourage.
  21. Our unrealistic expectations of people have to potential to wound us.
  22. Hold the things and ones you love lightly.
  23. Be careful what you speak, bless and do not curse.
  24. Love, love and love some more.
  25. Trust God.

I am sure these are not the only valuable lessons we gleaned from our circumstances and similar ones over the years but it’s a start. The older I get the less I speak (another valuable lesson) and the more I listen. We miss people’s hearts so often when we are so busy explaining our own. As in the verse above ultimately God commands us to love Him first and out of that we can love others. When we are full of His love we can adjust better to changes whether they are expected or not.

I love what Ann Voskamp said when things happen that aren’t the way we expected, “Grieving how plans change – is part of the plan to change us.” Enough said. Go God.

 

 

 

Everything but Ordinary

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13

Ordinary – with no special or distinctive features, normal. Commonplace or standard. 

I have recently discovered that right now we are in what is called Ordinary Time according to the church or liturgical calendar. If we defined this by our worldly standards it would not be very significant. The reason it is called Ordinary Time is quite the opposite of our understanding. It is a reflection of the quality of God as the Divine Orderer of Creation. It is meant to be a fruitful time.

January has become a time that people set new goals and recommit to old ones and it is to be a time of hope and new beginnings. Often though, people are blue after the holidays or feeling lost without all the busyness and people and celebrations. Ordinary Time is a time to reflect on how God intervenes in the world and brings His divine presence into the chaos of our life. It is an invitation to practice our faith and relationship with God in the quiet. This made me reflect and think that God is everything but ordinary yet He often works through people who are.

In the verse in Acts above Peter and John had been arrested and were being questioned by the chief priests and elders after they had healed a lame man. The council recognized them as ordinary men which in those days would mean not educated in some way. Kris Vallotton said,” Until you have done the ordinary, you don’t have a place to do the extraordinary.” God called Peter and John strategically to show His glory in their weakness.

Sometimes we only think things count if we have a story to tell. I believe that it is in these Ordinary Times that God is creating your story, it is in the seemingly ordinary things that you are training. Kris also said, that Jesus is going to look for you at your place of responsibility. He called Peter and John while they were fishermen, not after they got an education or became extraordinary, it was God in them that made them extraordinary. What has He given you responsibility for? Faith, family, job, school, ministry? He is waiting for you at that place.

My story today is a stomach bug and so my place has been bed, computer, bathroom x 50 and podcasts are my friend today. So I was challenged by this question in my ordinary time of being confined at home to what has God given me responsibility for. Top 3, my relationship with Him, my family and my ministry of encouragement. Today He met me in the middle of my bug and I could still write, still send notes to encourage as I learned more about Him and checked on my family. In and of themselves none of these things may seem extraordinary but God is in all of it so He adds that dimension.

I encourage you to let Ordinary Time open your heart to His dreams and desires for you this season. The world will be astonished that an ordinary person had been with Jesus and is doing extraordinary things.

Finding Delight

“I delight greatly in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness. As a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

As I am emerging from the fog of too many holiday treats and one too many late nights, I am overwhelmed with gratitude about all of the ‘moments’ that made up our time of celebrating the birth of Jesus with family and friends. One of the highlights was being able to spend 10 days with our daughter and grandson who turned 6 months while he was here. This was punctuated by having the whole family together for a late Christmas at the start of the New Year.

About 3 years ago, our family started a New Year tradition called OneWord. It was a movement through the church to choose a word at the beginning of the year that you felt would represent who you want to be or how you want to live. This was to replace resolutions which is probably a good thing as I just read a statistic that 92% of people do not complete their new years resolutions. OneWord allows you to focus in one place for the whole year and see how God will move in that. We also choose a bible verse that corresponds to the word God has chosen.

This year we all chose one personally and we sought God for a family word, one we could look toward together. Why do I share all of this with you? I encourage you to try it and I am already seeing fruit to why my word is delight.

Delight – as a verb means please (someone) greatly and as a noun means great pleasure or satisfaction

My heart for this word was as it says in the verse above from Isaiah, “I delight greatly in the Lord” I have a fresh hunger for more of God and less of me, to encounter Him and live less in worldly ways and more in His ways. A New Year brings fresh hope, excitement and new possibilities. I had a revelation that as I delighted in our grandson, our children, my husband and our family and friends that I was delighting in the Lord because they are all His creations. When I delight from this perspective it brings great pleasure and all of a sudden Psalm 37:4 came to life in a new way for me. “Delight yourselves in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I realize again with delight from this angle He has given me the desires of my heart. It is a full circle thing as my desires are for healthy love, relationship, to walk in His will, to help others and to know Him better which happens through loving Him and the ones around me.

In the last couple of days God expanded my idea of why this word was chosen for me. As I shared it with my friend Lee, she said that is a perfect word for you because you are delightful. That one never occurred to me but I smile at how God speaks to us through others. On the same note, my friend Kari said God delights in you and maybe that is what He wants to show you. Of course! Why wouldn’t He want to show how His heart does that? Another favorite verse came to mind, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you;in his love he will no longer rebuke you,but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Louie Giglio said, “He chose you when you were dead in sin and couldn’t even present yourself to Him as a worthy choice. God chose you because He saw His own image in you, the divine stamp woven into the fabric of your being when He uniquely knitted your frame in secret. And He decided that you were worth a rescue mission of love that would require the death of His own Son.” Now, that is Delight.

My prayer is that 2016 will bring a greater understanding of this truth and His love to your hearts, so that you can move through all circumstances with this perspective and know Him better. May you find delight in surprising places!

Share your word and verse in the comments.

YouVersion – Passion: The Bright Light Of Glory, Louie Giglio