Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Work misfits

I've been working in the communications department of my church for about a month now.  Part of my role there has been updating staff bios for our website.  As I sit with coworkers and hear their stories, I'm amazed by the theme that appears: for so many of them, this is not the path that they envisioned.  They pursued other educational focuses, or feel unqualified for the position they've been entrusted with, and yet here they are.  Here they stand, trusting God to be the strength in their weakness, to do what they can't.  Here they stand, obediently saying yes to God when it means saying no to their own plans.  Here we stand, united by Christ alone.  As one who also feels like a misfit trusting God's leading, it's nice to know I'm in good company.

For the Long Haul

It appears that my blog has become evidence of my training schedule, or at least how God likes to speak to me through one of my favorite ventures.  Regardless, here's my latest running lesson.

Recently, I had a bit of a health scare.  Awaiting my results and pondering different possibilities, I began to pray.  I prayed for peace and focus, for wisdom and hope.  And as I prayed, I was reminded of who my God is.

My God is the God who turns the impossible into the incredible.  He is my Healer and Sustainer.  As I listened, I was reminded that God isn't bound by our choices or science or the medical community; He can and does bring miraculous healing.  I could be sick at that very moment, yet my God is big enough to heal me.

And even if He did not.  Even if He did not, I would still trust Him.  He's already gotten me through so much in my young life; why would I doubt that He could get me through this too?  He's greater!  Still uncertain of what my test results would say, I found perfect rest in Him. Trudging through 16 miles, I was reminded of my God's faithfulness, both in my personal life and throughout history.  He will not fail. His plan is perfect.

PS I got my results back today.  Everything is healthy.  Praise God!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Seagulls

 When raking in the miles, one does strange things to keep entertained.  Personally, I try to take in my surrounds, noticing things that I've past a hundred times but never really seen.  Yesterday morning as I ran past a baseball field, I noticed that it was filled with seagulls.  Here's a glimpse of my inner dialogue:

"Whoa!  Look at all of those seagulls!  That's actually kind of cool looking.  Wait, aren't seagulls the rats of the bird world?  No no, that's pigeons!  But still, seagulls are pretty close.  Wait, should I talk about God's creation like that?  Seems kind of disrespectful.  I mean, they have to have some sort of good purpose, cause God made them.  But what about mosquitos?  Are they good for anything?  I wonder what God originally created them for.  Hmmm... Maybe it's not so much a diss on God's creation, but a proper grieving of the Fall.  Maybe honestly looking at the peskiness of some creatures allow us to truly express the brokenness that sin, mine included, brought into the world.  So maybe it's a healthy balance of both, of seeing God's beauty and also grieving what has been lost.  And more so, maybe it's hoping for what He's promised, waiting in jubilant anticipation for the renewed world where there will be not death, pain, or bug bites.  What a glorious hope!"

Sinking Sand

 A few weeks ago, we went camping with a group of friends.  Energized by the new surroundings, I decided to take a run down the beach.  My feet graced the packed sand as waves rushed over, stride after stride, until suddenly, slurp!  Out of the blue I was calf deep in sinking sand.

Sinking sand.  What a beautiful illustration of the dangers of putting our hope in worldly things.  What a glorious picture of pulling ourselves out of the muck onto the solid Rock.  What a perfect reminder that our hope is found in Christ alone, that the foundations of our lives must be Christ, and Christ alone.  Sinking sand.

Everyone then who hears these words of Mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.  Matthew 7:24-27







Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Nehemiah: Pray and act

I just finished reading through the book of Nehemiah.  What have I learned?  Pray and act.  This is the pattern of Nehemiah's leadership: first, he prays, asking for God's wisdom and leading.  Then, he acts.  He doesn't sit around waiting for God but steps forward in faith as God guides Him.  He doesn't pompously act on his own accord but each time asks for God to direct Him.  Pray and act.  Not one or the other, but both.  Pray and act.  Pray, surrendering your plans fully to God and asking for His direction and provision, then act on what He's given you.  Pray and act.

Encouragement from a Sinus Infection

For the past month, I've been struggling with a sinus infection. Stubborn as I am, I kept trying to ignore it, pushing it off as a cold that just kept holding on.  Becoming frustrated by not being able to breath out of my nose, I finally went in to see a doctor on Monday.

The appointment started out fairly ordinary: describing my symptoms, taking my blood pressure and weight, then waiting on the doctor.  After describing my ailments to her, God opened the door to a much deeper conversation.

What began with a simple question of her asking if I had to return to work after the appointment led to a conversation about Tucker and I's hopes to serve families and children in Africa long term, and her sharing about her family's own considerations about moving to Guatemala to share Christ's love and the skills He's equipped them with with those in need.  I left the office so encouraged, not only because I had a diagnosis and meds to quickly get me on the mend, but more so because of this connection with a perfect stranger through the bond we share in Christ.  What encouragement to know the brokenness of the world and also the hope the comes through Christ alone, and to hear of another passionate about sharing that hope with the world.

Encouragement, too, in Christ's faithfulness as He teaches me boldness.  Bold is not a word that I would use to describe myself.  Timid, shy, quiet, those words often feel like a better fit.  Yet Christ is teaching me to be bold, to be confident in who He has created me to be and to openly share that with those around me, to step out of my comfort zone and fear and step out in faith in where He's leading me, to say yes to Him the first time.  And in doing so, I get to see the blessing of surprising things, like encouragement through a sinus infection.  =)

F-words

Last week I had the privilege of catching up with a dear friend over a steaming cup of chai.  This friend is preparing to move permanently to Southeast Asia as a missionary, and as she prepares, she's been dealing with her own humanity, her fears and grieving and excitement and hope.  As she shared with me, I was so encouraged by her perspective on fear and faith.  She was really open with me as she spoke of her upcoming changes, of leaving family, friends, and a familiar culture.  Then something she said stood out to me:

"Sharon, when I start to become afraid, I know what my problem is: my problem is that I'm not trusting God but rather relying on myself, on my own strength and knowledge."

Wow!  So often when we as Christians are afraid, we get this backwards.  I don't know how many friends I've spoken  of who are contemplating a change in their lives but are afraid to step out in faith because they are fearful of the unknown.  We say we're afraid because God hasn't done xyz, or we're not sure that He will make this next step.  We blame God for a fear when, if we're honest, our own lack of faith is to blame.  We want to be in control; we want to know the what the next 10 years hold rather than trusting God to lead us in just the next step.  We let fear win over faith.

I'm so thankful for my friend's perspective, for giving me a clear view of the reality of fear and faith.  Faith: For all I trust Him.  We trust God because we know His character; we know His faithfulness, goodness, love, grace, justice, perfection, sovereignty, wisdom.  We know that we are His beloved children, and His plans for us are good.  We know He is greater than all of Creation, that none compare with Him.

Just like Peter, when we fear, it is not because our God has failed us or become too small; we fear because we take our eyes off of Him and focus on ourselves.  We fear when we fail to trust God and instead put our faith in ourselves.

 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.  Hebrews 11