Story

November 13, 2012 Leave a comment

– A post that has been in the works for quite some time – 

“If we despise the day of small beginnings, we despise God’s plan for the universe.” – Doug Wilson

 

Stories. They are beautiful things. I love reading stories. I love listening to stories. I know I am part of a story. The hardest part of stories is not knowing the ending when some trouble comes up. When reading, it is easy because you can continue to flip the pages, reading quickly to learn what happens next… to find out what the ending is. But being in the middle of a story and not being able to continue to flip the pages quickly to learn what happens, how the story ends, but to watch the ink as it is put on the page, one line at a time and slowly the page unfurls… that is hard. Someday, being able to read the story will be great… knowing the end or being able to race to it. Today isn’t that day. Today is a day of patience and a day of trust. Today is a day of letting go and a day of submission. Today is a day of peace and a day of joy. Today is a hard day, but, at the same time, an easy day. Somedays it would be nice to be able to race to the end, but then, what would be the point? It would be done with. It would be over. You are living a story and it is beautiful. You won’t know what comes next, but you know the One that is writing the story.

“Wherever Jesus may lead us, He goes before us. If we know not where we go, we know with whom we go…. The journey may be long, but His everlasting arms will carry us to the end.” – C.H. Spurgeon

 

Every story must have its troubles, otherwise it would not be a story. What is past is done. Once it is confessed and forgiven, it is truly past. The only thing you can focus on at this point is what you are to be doing right now. Often at Appleseed events I am telling people what one wise instructor told me. “Leave the last shot, you can’t change it. Make the next shot count. Don’t let the last one psych you out. Focus on taking the next one correctly. You can’t affect the last shot, but you can put the next one right where you want it.” I hadn’t really thought about it except for in Appleseed terms, but it is true of life.

God is the Master Story Writer/Teller. His timing is perfect. Everything he includes in your story has a purpose, it just isn’t always obvious what that purpose is. You are a child of God and He will give you His best for what you need. The story is in his hands. He knows the situations that you will be in long before you were even thought of on earth. God writes amazing stories, full of joy and sorrow, harmony and conflict, light and dark. If there was no sorrow, no pain, no conflict, no dark… there would be no story. There would be no contrast.

“God’s triumphs are cleverly disguised as disasters.” – Doug Wilson

“We wouldn’t choose the story that God tells in our lives, but God knows better. He weaves the dark shadows into our stories so that the light of His grace and mercy shines brighter.” – Toby Sumpter

“Your past does not hold you. Your failures do not imprison you. Your weakness cannot hold you back, because Jesus has made you right with God.” – Toby Sumpter

 

I think one of the hardest things is when you come to the end of a particular chapter. You don’t know where you are going from here. You don’t know if paths crossed for a time or for a lifetime. You don’t know what the conclusion of this chapter will be or the beginning of the next. But you have to trust that God knows the desires of your heart and that if it is His will, in your best interest, those desires will be filled. However, you also have to trust that if your desires are not in accord with His will, your desires will be shaped to His will. They will be changed.

There are some days when I get impatient and others when patience comes a lot easier. I am learning. Each story happens one line at a time and there’s no sense in trying to flip through the pages of life just to see what comes next. It’s short enough as it is! Like Pastor Wilson said in that last week’s sermon, “We have to trust. It’s up to the Lord of the story.” Some days trusting the Master Storywriter is easy, other days it’s hard. Welcome to life. 😉;) One nice thing is that peace follows closely on the heels of trust.

If we say we trust God, then we must trust him. No matter how hard or frustrating it is. We serve the One who sees all ends. His plan is extraordinary. I won’t pretend to understand it all, because I can’t. But I can have confidence that He knows what He’s doing and it will be very good.

“To get where we are going, we have to do a lot more dying, a lot more going into the ground, a lot more giving ourselves away. … Think like a seed. … It is to go in the ground and die, expecting great things to result from it.” – Doug Wilson

 

Philippians 1:6 “… Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…”

1 Peter 1:6 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that parishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope”

 

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Categories: Life

Brave

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment
Categories: Life

Patience

October 26, 2012 Leave a comment

–  Another blast from the past that was hiding out in the draft box… –

Patience is rather illusive at times. However, it does not take long to realize that it is most definitely important to learn and cultivate.

One definition of the word “patience” is as follows: an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness; quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence

Sounds like something really good, right?

In 2 Peter 1 there is a list of things that we should be sure to work on. Faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity. In. That. Order. If we have those things, we will not be unfruitful, but if we lack them, we will be blind and “cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”

Obviously, this thing… This patience… is important.

I think patience is tied closely with trust and contentment. Generally, it seems like the times I’m most patient are the times when I let go understanding that God has everything under control, trust Him with the outcome, and am content with where I am at right now. In Jeremiah 29, there is a promise that the Lord has plans for me that are not of evil, but of peace, to give me a future and a hope. So why is it hard to be patient, trust, and be content?

It seems like a lot of the places in the Bible where patience is mentioned, it is with a promise attached. Check out Hebrews 10:36, Psalm 37:7-9, Galatians 6:9, James 5:7-8 (really like this one), Isaiah 40:31, Romans 2:6-7, and Romans 8:24-25 for examples.

Patience is one of the fruit of the Spirit. Patience is to be done with joyfulness – see Colossians 1:10-12

Nobody says patience is easy… Nobody says it comes to us naturally… Nobody really says what patience IS, what it looks like, how you know if you “have” it. Maybe it’s the peace that comes after letting go of something you really want and trust God with it. Maybe it’s the process of waiting, but not just sitting around doing nothing. Maybe it’s something like being content.

Sometimes I look up synonyms to get a bigger picture of a word that I’m thinking of. So, here are some of the synonyms for patience are: calmness, composure, constancy, diligence, endurance, equanimity, even temper, forbearance, fortitude, grit, humility, long-suffering, moderation, perseverance, persistence, poise, self-control, serenity, submission, yielding…

Seems to me the times to be patient are the times when it’s hardest to be. During times of waiting, strain, provocation, danger, stress, excitement…

I don’t go for the idea that patience is a passive (I’m-just-waiting) kind of thing. It seems like it’s actually pretty active. Suppressing restlessness? Steady perseverance? Diligence? You can’t really do those things with the twiddling of thumbs and staring at the ceiling. Ok, so maybe you can be diligent to stare at the ceiling, persevere in the twiddling of thumbs as they ache from the repetition of such an activity, and suppress the restlessness that will no doubt be present in that situation…

According to Elisabeth Elliot, it seems like patience would be “keep faith and wait quietly”:

“Few of us enjoy having to wait for something we want. It is human nature to desire instant gratification, and it is divine nature to do many things very, very slowly. Growth is always imperceptible. But the farmer exercises long patience in waiting for his crop. He has done his work and is assured of the result, hence he waits quietly. He is at rest because the outcome (barring disastrous “acts of God”) is certain. If we could simply remember that this is true of everything–that God’s purposes are slowly being worked out for his glory and our good–we would, like the farmer, keep faith and wait quietly.

Lord, take from us all fretting and hurrying and teach us to rest our hearts in the “ultimate certainty” (Jas 5:7 JBP).” – Elisabeth Elliot

And since I like to be somewhat random:

“Cast not away your confidence because God defers his performances. That which does not come in your time, will be hastened in his time, which is always the more convenient season. God will work when he pleases, how he pleases, and by what means he pleases. He is not bound to keep our time, but he will perform his word, honour our faith, and reward them that diligently seek him.” ~ Matthew Henry

Categories: Life, Writing Tags: , , ,

To Feel Again

October 4, 2012 1 comment

– A post from quite some time ago that was just discovered in the draft box… –

“We wouldn’t choose the story that God tells in our lives, but God knows better. He weaves the dark shadows into our stories so that the light of His grace and mercy shines brighter.” – Pastor Toby Sumpter

It would seem that I can think best when I have to write something out and even if the end result doesn’t really seem to make sense (most of the time), it still helps me figure things out.

This is going to be about many threads of a story, but the main reason this has been going through my head is because of a great talk with an older brother and one, little, five letter word: “Trust”.

Years ago, I experienced what it was like to trust someone and have that trust broken, again and again and again. I learned how much I can hurt, so I built a wall. I would do my best to never let what I was feeling show. I didn’t want people to know and it would appear that I was rather successful. I seem to have convinced myself that if I don’t feel, I can’t hurt like that again. But you can’t live through life without feeling. Believe me, I’ve tried. Convincing yourself that it doesn’t matter, that you don’t care? That’s totally not true and, most likely, it’s affecting you. a. lot.

In the past year, those unhealthy walls that I built have been coming down. Slowly, painfully, one piece at a time, God is pulling those barriers down and healing. I couldn’t tell you exactly when it started, but I think it was probably about the time I began to stop looking at the pain and started looking to God to help me through it. To give me the strength I needed, because there is no way I could/can do it by myself. Probably about the time I really started to learn to be thankful.

To feel again. It’s strange to have to *learn* how to feel. It’s frightening. It’s hard. Once you have felt that pain, you don’t want to feel it again, but you miss out on so much if you don’t learn to feel again. Yes, it will hurt, but the blessings will outweigh the pain.

Perhaps someday, I will learn to know what I am feeling and how to put that into words to explain to someone else. But I think I will first have to learn how to identify what exactly I am feeling to myself… Most of the time I don’t even realize that something is affecting me (or at least not how much), or if I do, I don’t know *what* it is. The times when I know that something is affecting me and what it is, I generally don’t know how to explain my reaction, my feelings… Not even to myself. My feelings aren’t logical. I can’t always sort them out. Maybe part of the explaining is to not be ashamed of what you are feeling or why. To not feel silly when you talk about it. I think I generally express my feelings in non-verbal ways rather than trying to put it all into words that are confusing even to myself.

You might be wondering what any of this has to do with the word “trust”. To be honest, I think that’s the next bit that God is working on teaching me. Trust is a scary thing when you really think about it. That little word mean so much. It can be defined as the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence. God has been teaching me to trust Him. Now He’s taking that wall down and teaching me to trust the people that he has put into my life again. Yes, it will hurt. Yes, I know how much it can hurt. Yes, it is worth it, because it hurts more to not. I wasn’t built to hold it all in. I wasn’t built to hide. I wasn’t built to be that strong.

Categories: Life, Writing Tags: , , ,

Sunday Encouragement

September 24, 2012 Leave a comment

From Pastor Wilson:

Like Being Waterboarded (09.16.12)
“… God knows our frame, and He knows how to test and grow us in a way that does not truly overwhelm. It is like being waterboarded—you are not drowning, but you can feel like it.”
 
Elms and Olives (09.23.12)
“What is more impressive—a small grape vine, or a stately elm? What is more striking—two rows of grape vines, or two rows of majestic oaks? Well, the trees are more impressive, but the vines are more fruitful.
And compare the great trees with the olive trees. The olive trees are much smaller, and more gnarly-looking. But they are also more fruitful.
God delights in bring fruit out of small vines. He delights in the olive shoots around His table, and it should delight us to gather there in that capacity. That is what we are, and we must not chafe at what we are.”

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge

August 17, 2012 1 comment

Categories: Pictures Tags: ,

“Why Me?”

August 17, 2012 2 comments

So often, the question of “Why?” is negative. “Why do I have to go through this? Why is everything so hard for me? Why… why… why? Why me?” We don’t understand why everything is “going wrong” for us. However, we are to be thankful in all things… and sometimes it should just hit you to ask “why?” Why am I this blessed? Why not someone else? Why is God so good to me when there are others who deserve it more? Why did God make that sunrise so beautiful? Why is there that tiny, detailed, beautiful flower that most often would be overlooked? Why is there peace in the quiet of an evening? Why is it that my Dad can reassure me in a very few minutes that I’m doing ok and what is right? Why do I have such wonderful and true friends? Why are all these promises for me? Why am I this blessed? Why me? And then marvel in God’s grace and goodness, and be thankful. God is not stingy. He does not want to hold back in blessing us. Sometimes we go through hardship, but that is how we view it with our limited view. Someday it will all make sense, but today is not that day and we just have to trust God. Believe that our God is a giving and gracious God. One who loves to bless. Our minds should be blown away when we ask “why me?” by all of the blessings we are given and how good our God truly is…