Friday, December 30, 2011

speaking of joy...

"There is no such thing as mere coincidence. God's sovereignty over men's affairs is not comprised even by the reality of sin and evil in the world. It is not limited to the good acts of men or the pleasant events of nature. The wind belongs to God whether it comforts or whether it kills (Psalm 135:5-7).

In the end, one must finally come to see that if there is a God in heaven, there is no such thing as mere coincidence, not even in the small affairs of life: "the lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord" (Proverbs 16:33). Not one sparrow "will fall to the ground without your Father's will" (Matthew 10:29)." Desiring God, John Piper.

a small part of me wishes i could say that coincidence happens all the time, that certain occurrences are nothing more than luck (or lack thereof), misdirected signs, meaningless dreams or happenstance. if this were the case, then i can easily write off "destiny" or "fate" or even phrases like, "meant to be" as terms only eternal optimists or naive dreamers would use. sigh. this was me once upon a time...okay, maybe that's still me :) as a girl who could very well make a career (not a very successful one) out of a lifetime of reading into signs, some that aren't even there, i'm afraid i've become slightly cynical and jaded- as much as i'd hate to admit this. my fragile heart would rather have me believe that i simply made it all up, it was just imaginary. "it" being whatever my heart hopes for. given my past and history of upsets, failures and broken hearts, my initial gut reaction is to go ahead and assume that i'll end up right where i started- unfulfilled with diminishing hope. wait, am i being punked again? but the point here isn't whether i believe in coincidence or or not. the heart of the matter is, do i trust in the power of God that He is in control of my life and ultimately, of the universe? yes. does His goodness and light outweigh all of my dark seasons? yes. do i really have faith that He works things out for the good of those who love Him? yes. am i secure in that i've already given my whole heart and life to Jesus, therefore i have nothing to fear? yes. i would love to claim that i never waver from these truths but when i notice anxiety and doubts creeping up again, i know i still have a long way to go. thank God His mercies are new every morning. thank God He hasn't forgotten about me and He's transforming me. i am not that insecure little girl anymore. i'm reminded of a particularly fine day in july when i gave Him everything. with my voice trembling, nonetheless assertive, i died to deepest longings of my heart that were threatening to become idols. now i reflect on those dreams and desires. there is no pulse. they are dead. the only thing remaining is faith in a completely loving God who is not only able but willing to resurrect our sacrifices and give them back full of His power. with faith like this, how can i not be joyful? how can i keep from singing His praise? as running has always had all the right elements to bring moments of clarity for me, during my jog yesterday i thought about if i had absolutely nothing, i would still have my voice. if everything was stripped away, i could still sing and offer up my thanksgiving and worship Him in a way that only i can. no matter what, i can proclaim with my lips hope and testify of all the amazing things He's done in my life. i believe this is what He's calling me to do now. with our tongue, we have the power and authority to speak life! so i say it's nonsense to believe that the random guest at mom's company's holiday party last night who happens to be a m______ in ** was just a funny coincidence. it's foolish to think that all the visions and confirmations i received this year were all wishful thinking. i will speak of His faithfulness that brings hope and joy. aaaahhhhh. my heart is full :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

love & sacrifice.

for those finding it difficult to die to certain desires and yearnings or lay down and deny bad habits and strongholds, i've heard on numerous occasions that we ought to pray to God that He simply take them away from us. i acknowledge that this advice is dished out with the best intentions and on the surface, it sounds wise and like something i might encourage for others. i confess i've even prayed this prayer recently, for God to take away the longings in my heart and if He doesn't, i'll take it as a sign that it's from Him and therefore it's good, meaning it's a keeper. what in the world? i missed the point entirely. i'm finding that i'm always so quick to give up all the bad things- my heavy burdens, my past failures, the junk inside my head, my faults, my fears and worries, etc. on the flip side, it's a struggle to sacrifice and loosen my grip on all the good & fun things- marriage, future, money, security, time. the Lord has been convicting me to lay down the best parts of me, the things i treasure, the first fruits. and the delightfully strange thing is, i want to. i want my sacrifice and worship to cost something, especially when it's to the Lord. and if that's the case, then it should be expected to cause some degree of pain and discomfort. i'm supposing the world would call this borderline masochistic or foolish, but that doesn't really concern me. each time i choose to gaze at Him instead of myself and my "needs", i feel His immense pleasure and delight over me. plus, i have enough promises from His word and history with God to know that He won't ask me to lay down the deepest desires of my heart so that i would be left barren to suffer in vain. i know i'm trading up.
for the joy set before us...
and again, how true it is that all roads lead to the cross.

Trading anything for more of God really is the greatest deal ever offered to mankind. What could I possibly have that would equal His value? - Bill Johnson

If the yearnings went away, what would we have to offer up to the Lord? Aren't they given to us to offer? It is the control of passion, not its eradication, that is needed. How would we learn to submit to the authority of Christ if we had nothing to submit?

It is easy to make a mistake here. "If God gave it to me," we say, "it's mine. I can do what I want with it." No. The truth is that it is ours to thank Him for and ours to offer back to Him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of- if we want to find our true selves, if we want real Life, if our hearts are set on glory. - Passion and Purity, Elizabeth Elliot.