Monday, October 31, 2011

“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” Psalm 37:7 NLT

Coming home one evening, we were behind a van as we approached the 4-way stop near our house. The van driver stopped, heading east. There was no one else stopped, so he could have easily started on through the intersection. A semi-truck was approaching from the south. He never even slowed down, blowing through the stop sign. For whatever reason, the van’s driver paused long enough to avoid being t-boned by the truck.

Watching all this from behind the van, I first thanked God for making the van driver hesitate enough to prevent what would have been a devastating accident. Then, I thought, would I have done the same thing?

Probably not.

I have a tendency to slow, but not stop, at the intersections of life.
  • When I’m sick, I want to get better so I can get on with my list.
  • When I’m hurt or upset, I want to move past it quickly so the pain goes away.
  • When the rug is pulled out, I want to jump back up and steady my feet so no one sees me falter.
  • When I have barely enough to get through today, I want to win the lottery, so I won’t have to worry about money ever again.

But just as fast as that semi was rumbling through the stop sign and missing the intersection, I wonder, how much of life do I miss by not stopping? How much of what God is trying to show me is missed because I want to quickly slide through that intersection?

God uses those intersections in life to change us, mold us, teach us, use us. There are people and places in each of those intersections that God intends for us to encounter. If we are too focused on getting through it, we miss much of His teaching and treasure for our lives.

We don’t know what God has planned in those times, but surely, He does. Trusting the intersections of our lives to Him could dramatically impact our lives, if we let them.

I received a text from my church with these words: “Maybe God is intending for you to arrive at an intersection the same time another person is arriving who might need exactly what you can do.”

Will you join me? Will you be like the driver of the van, pausing at the intersection instead of the semi-truck driver, who couldn’t stop long enough to avoid disaster?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

“You’ll never move forward if you keep looking back.” The words pressed on my heart in such a way that I knew it had to be the Holy Spirit revealing a truth to me. 

On a warm fall day, I was part of a team helping a realtor friend deliver pumpkins to the neighborhood she covers. Her marketing technique has been very successful and extremely well-received. A team of us drove around in a rented truck, with some walking door-to-door delivering pumpkins to doorsteps, and some applying stickers and moving the 500-plus pumpkins to the edge of the truck. It was quite a system. 

I was inside the truck, applying stickers and moving pumpkins – and looking at the neighborhood as we passed houses and streets. A neighborhood that is very familiar – when I am looking forward. We jokingly noted that we couldn’t really tell where we were going because we could only see where we had been, looking out the back of the truck. 

That’s when it hit me. That while looking back on life and trying to work through things is fine if it’s needed, perhaps there is unconfessed sin, or forgiveness that needs to happen or some other thing that needs to be dealt with. But dwelling on the past and reliving old hurts – for nothing other than the sake of rehashing them is absolutely not fine. In fact, it’s really against what the Bible teaches us to do. 

When we confess our sins and truly repent, they are cast off – forgiven, forgotten and never to be thought of again. Psalm 103:12 says he has removed our transgressions as far as the east is from the west. East and west can never meet – never. That means our sins are gone. Stop dwelling on them and move forward.

I don’t know if you needed to hear this, but I obviously did! Are you looking in front of you or are you stuck looking out the back of the truck?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

“You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.” Psalm 90:8

It’s fall in Colorado, which means these days, there is a chill in the early morning air. The only source of warmth is coming from the rising sun as it crests over the horizon. As it touches my face, I can’t help but close my eyes and pause.

Like when a door is opened into a dark room, the light floods my heart. It seeks out the dark corners, looking to relinquish them to the daylight – hiding no more in the shadows.
I don’t know when you came to know Christ, but as someone who accepted Him as her savior at a later age, I have a lot of old sins that seem to want to weigh me down. Those sins “from before I was saved.”

Logically and even spiritually, I know they are wiped clean – long forgotten by the God of grace. So why then, do I have such a time forgiving myself? Do I not believe that He really did forgive me? Do I think they are beyond forgiveness? Is accepting that forgiveness going to move me to a place I’m scared about going to – a place unfamiliar because I’ve lived with the baggage for so long?

Honestly, I’m tired.

Tired of beating myself up over poor decisions of the past. Tired of the enemy using my old default feeling of guilt against me. Tired of not accepting what I know is already mine.

I’m working through a couple of Bible studies that have really challenged me to step off the ledge and dive in to the freedom of accepting forgiveness. I believe I am there. In the past couple of weeks I’ve had the opportunity to really be in prayer about this subject.  At Women of Faith last week, the words of one of the speakers washed over me and sunk down into my core. “Forgiveness is not letting our history control our destiny,” Andy Andrews.

Oh, how I needed to hear that statement!

As I have processed and begun letting go, it has helped to write things down that were once hidden in the dark corners of my heart. Somehow, putting them “out in the open” has helped me by releasing the grip they have had in my life. It’s also helped to have a close friend to talk things out with. Friend, if you’re walking this path, I pray you will do these things also.

Further in Psalm 90 is this verse: “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (v. 14)”

Like the sun, that is the source of light and warmth in the cool fall Colorado mornings, I am looking to my source of light for healing, joy and unfailing love.

Monday, October 3, 2011

“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” Colossians 4:2

“Thank you for your interest in _________ (fill-in-the-blank Company name). We are writing to inform you that you are no longer being considered for the position of __________ (fill-in-the-blank title). We wish you the best in your future career endeavors.”


Reading the words again, I closed my eyes and slowly let my breath out. There have been so many over these past 8 months I’ve honestly lost count.

However, this time, when I read them, my response was different. Instead of hearing those internal doubting voices and start to wonder aloud “what’s wrong with me,” I prayed. The exhale of breath calmed me and I prayed because although I am standing on the edge of great uncertainty, God isn’t. He knows exactly where I am and guess what? He’s standing here with me.

Sometimes that’s easy to forget.

Webster’s Dictionary defines devote like this: give entirely to a specific person, activity, or cause. I’m getting better at it. Devoting myself to prayer. Colossians 4:2 popped into my text messages the morning I received the latest “thanks but no thanks” email. It was fresh on my heart because truly, I long to be devoted to prayer. I want my mind alert and heart thankful. I want my prayer life to be worthwhile, not just those short prayers I’ve said before meals and when I’m too tired to think at night.

So, when I’ve been praying lately, I’m working more on being focused and purposeful – and thankful and still. All components of a prayer life that I strive for. God wants to meet us when we pray and I desperately want to meet Him there, also. Frankly, I need it so much more than He does.

And guess what happened?

That day, when I prayed instead of strayed, He answered. He calmed me in the moment and led me to the next step later.

That, my friends, is incredible. That tells me that He cares about me more than I can imagine. That tells me that no circumstance is worth the angst or stress I was allowing it to have in my heart.

Lord, I want to pray with a thankful, grateful heart and an alert, focused mind. Guide my thoughts and actions to be in line with Your will as we process life together. I’m not in this alone – help me to keep that in the front of my mind. When life is hard, lead me gently back to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.