Monthly Archives: December 2014

Delight is not found in resignation

An anonymous comment over at E’s blog brought this out…  I hope she reads this.

We are expected, as mature Christians, to be content in whatever circumstances are presented to us.  So often, this is presented as a virtue in … hm… near martyrdom.   “Though He doth slay me, yet I will trust Him”.  And that is *good* and *necessary* – in its place.  When sorrow comes, when tragedy lands on your lawn, it is good to have that attitude.  We give thanks in all times, yes?

But so often I find in my own life that this negative virtue makes it difficult to admit delight in the daily things, because things won’t always be as good as they are today.  Understood.  But I truly do not believe that we are to dwell on the potential sorrow of another day.  I don’t think it does anything useful for our characters.  In fact, as far as I can tell, we’re forbidden to do that…

Matthew 6: 34 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

And we’re not supposed to fear anyone or anything except God.  In my experience, focusing on the potential negative makes me…

  • fear man
  • fear circumstances
  • spoils my joy
  • try to control things that aren’t my business
  • fear conflict

I was very touched by this commenter, because she said she’d walled herself off …. oh, dear anon.  I used to do that.  It saved me pain, and I understand all too well why you’d do that.  Allll too well.  If I could just hold your hand and cry with you a bit… /shakes head.  It may not be time for anon to take the walls down.  But for me, it is.  High time and long past.

It takes great bravery for me to be willing to admit when things hurt, to laugh in delight as the wind makes a flower dance, to show my inner emotions, to be transparent.  To exist without my shields up, to lean only on the Lord my Shield and my Defender, to trust in His provision, mercy and plan.   It is a terrifying dance between the desire to be known, utterly – and the desire to keep the parts of me that will cause discord all to myself.  To keep my ripples small.

But if I look at things from outside my walls, outside my immediate emotional response, I know that I don’t *want* small ripples.  I don’t want to change no one.  I want to bless everyone I speak to, touch, see – and I want them to carry that blessing of God along.  I want to be so tender that I soften hearts, I want to be so true that I shine the light on the darkness.

I can’t do any of that with my own walls, I have to trust that the Lord will shield me.

And the first step, for me, is to learn to rejoice.  To dance.  To delight.

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Choosing Joy

Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Possible goods:

  • My own, temporal, good.  (Possible)
  • My own, eternal, good.  (Likely, if surrendered to Christ)
  • Another human’s temporal good.  (Possible)
  • Another human’s eternal good.  (May it be so, Lord).

Everything in our lives *will be used for good*.  So, in what, then, should we not rejoice?  Logically – nothing.  There is nothing that will not turn to good, somehow.  Even the rotten fruit dropped to the ground serves to nourish other living things.  As Christians – everything is going to be awesome.  There is *no reason* we shouldn’t be joyful, even in the mathematics of the unsaved – we just have a longer view.

1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.

What, then, of happiness?  Happiness is a temporal emotion – it is a response to stimuli.  But we can choose how we respond to many stimuli, and we can choose contentment (or just not worrying about it).  God gives us all things to enjoy – are we enjoying those things we have been given?  If you can “only afford” hamburger, and not steak… do you enjoy your hamburger and thank God for it?  When you see a flower – be it dandelion or peony – do you enjoy it?  Are you thankful?

The world will teach you to never settle for hamburger or dandelions, to dwell in discontentment.  The world will tell you that this is a *good thing*, never to settle.  It’s not.  Contentment is a radical choice!

And that is my “character trait to work on” at this moment.  Not so much a New Year’s resolution – but it’s what I’m doing.

When I open myself to enjoying what I have *now*, I find that my capacity to enjoy grows.  I find that my capacity for joy grows.  It’s so easy to  take the flower or the blue sky or cool breeze for granted… but if you start seeing them for what they are, gifts from God, you’ll have more fun.  You get rid of some of your world-self, flesh-self, and dwell in the eternal.  You grow in gratitude.

I find that I have to push against my worldly wisdom to embrace this simple joy.  I’ve gone through years of “though He doth slay me, yet will I trust Him”.  Expecting, instead, not to be slain but to be set dancing on the hilltops is … interesting.  I have to push back on the “well, you can’t always expect candles and roses”.  No, I can’t.  But when I am given candles and roses, I shouldn’t frown in anticipation of the day without – I should delight in what I have!  Tomorrow it may be cabbage and broth – but those are good too.  They’re good!  It’s *all* good.

And that’s how you develop joy – or how I do.  You look for the good, and you take delight in it, whatever it is.

Christmas

I have spent a long time with the Christmas battle going on in my head…. “Jesus wasn’t really born in December, that holiday was hacked from the solstice observers… His name is Yeshua, not Jesus… all our symbols are lifted off of other religions… but it’s so beautiful.  The gifts, the lights, the song, the worship.  And family.  And tradition.  And…”

As I said, it’s a war.   Or, it was.

Tonight, God won.

Galatians 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

It’s the Saturday before Christmas.  I went to church.  It was our pre-Christmas service.  (We have another on Christmas Eve, but it’s shorter).  An hour and a half of worship – which is a LONG time to sing and listen to people singing.  But… it was BEAUTIFUL.

And I’m sitting there nearly in tears thinking about all the people who were given gifts by their Creator – to sing, to play an instrument, to set up sound, to do special effects, to paint, to preach… and all those people gave their very best *back to God*.   We’re humans, we’re created, we can’t give something not given to us in the first place.  But we can give it back.  We can share.  We can share joy.

And joy has been shared.

And the fruit of the Holy Spirit is LOVE and JOY and PEACE and… that is what was going down in my church tonight.

I still think it’s important to get it right.  And when we can get it right, when they finally figure out when our Savior was born… then we can move the whole shebang.

And until then, I am sharing in the joy given to me by my Savior, my Lord, my Beloved.  I’m sharing that joy with my family, the family of Christ.   it is GOOD thing, Christmas is.  It is a GOOD thing.

The war is over.  The Lord has come!  Let earth sing and rejoice because of her King.   It matters that we rejoice.  It MATTERS that we rejoice.  My family helps me rejoice, so I will rejoice with them.

May you be filled with joy, because we have a Savior, and He gave Himself for you.

Blissed Out on God

Stuff that’s making me really happy lately:

  • letting go, just that much more, and letting myself be a conduit for God rather than worrying about doing it right on my own power.
  • hanging out with other Christians, particularly in fellowship where God is just flowing
  • being more transparent
  • being more courageous
  • noticing and enjoying God’s provision in all areas of life
  • laughing at myself

If I could bottle how blissed out I’ve felt at several spots this week and share it out … dude.

2 Corinthians 3:12 Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, 13 and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. 14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil [e]remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ.15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Can I encourage you to embrace God and get out of His way?  To say, “please knock whatever is in the way between the two of us out of my life and make me utterly yours”?  Because it’s AMAZING.  I’m not saying this like I feel like I’ve achieved, but even this bit is the best feeling ever.  Oh, we need to add, “Knowing that God is going to go deeper and make me more His own for the rest of my life” to that list up top.

A little wears off, after the moment of bliss when you’re fellowshiping and blessing one another and speaking words of grace to one another’s ears… after the time of prayer ends and you go back to ironing the cat… after the high.  Yes.  It does.  But even that can be offered up and make the deeper joy under the happiness richer and more beautiful.

Yeah, I’m blissed out.  And I’m trying to share.  I love y’all, what can I say?

And so does God.  Go deep!!! It’s AWESOME IN HERE!

Different people, different attitudes

I mostly don’t mind if folks “blog in my comment box” and I know that Elspeth doesn’t either… but sometimes you want to go a bit off topic and really GO – and at that point, you need to drag it back to your own blog to do your talkin’.

Post that started me ranting:  http://lovingintheruins.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/random-snippet-of-the-wife-you-dont-want-to-be-after-5-decades/

Perfectly reasonable post.  Observation/avoidance:  don’t be this person.  K.   But the comments (as they do) went berzonkers.

So.  Here’s my take.

If you’re not a Christian, I’m going to explain what I’d do, what’s important to me, why it’s important, and leave you to it.  You don’t play by my rules, you don’t care about my Referee, it’s a total waste of time to do anything but “well, this works – look how well it works when we play by the rules.  And have you met the Ref?”  You don’t want to play by my rules?  Fine, there is *no reason* for me expect you to do so.  Would this world be a better place if you did?  Yes.  Oh well, that’s life.

If you’re a Christian, and you’re stuck in a hard place, and you’re resolved to obey but daaaang it’s hard and it hurts – you’re going to get compassion.  I’ll pray for you.  I’ll offer helpful tips.  I’ll smile and hold your hand and hug you and help you as much as I can.   I’ve been in some gnarly places, and I know how bad it can be.  It’s cool.  That’s why we’re a *family* of believers, right?  You need a sister?  You’ve got one.

If you’re a Christian, but you don’t want to obey… well, I’ve got no time for that.  Suck it up, buttercup.  You *know* what the Bible says (and if you don’t, I’m happy to give you chapter and verse).  You don’t want to obey God?  Well, that’s between you and Him.

I assume – until proven otherwise – that most of the folks I meet fall into one of the first two categories, and I give my all to be a light and an encouragement.  I *like* encouraging people.  God made me for that, it feels like being a conduit of joy… seriously, I’ve got alllll the time in the world to do this, I love it so much.  If you need a friend, if you need a help, if you need a reminder how to find Home… please.  I’d love to help.

But.  If you’re being a wilful brat, as far as I’m concerned you’re making the whole family look bad.  Get over yourself and call me when you’re done with your tantrum.

Do.  Or do not.  There is no, “but whyyyyyyy”.

The fruit of patience is faith

I’m riding on a euphoric high right now, as I’m watching what the Lord is doing around me and just rejoicing and praising Him… and praying that He keeps ripening this fruit!

So I’m probably not going to be at my very most linear.  Hold on and enjoy the rollercoaster with me.  🙂

I have this awesome lady in my church, and she challenged me to do what all us old-school Christians know never to do – pray for patience.  I took the challenge.  And God has been having the best fun at my expense (which I am totally enjoying and laughing with, because God is cool).  Making me wait and wait for good things that I know are in His will – seriously, people – He’s had me waiting for opportunities to serve Him!  But timing.  Timing.  Guess I need to serve Him by being available for my mom and BFF until… oh.  Until He has me scheduled in to start ministering.  (BFF should be done with the nasty chemo and my mom up and able to run her own errands right about the same *week* that I’ll get a mentee.  Yeah.  Wasn’t on *my* daytimer.  Omniscience.  Gotta love it.)

And I’ve been praying for folks to come to Christ or come on Home … well.  Yesterday I got a call.  One of the folks I have been praying for *and not pestering* decided to join me at church tonight.  Totally out of the blue.  And I have another friend… well.  Fruit’s starting to ripen.  Fruit that I’ve wept over, in some cases.

Totally independent of my pestering.  Just … you know, praying.  And waiting, not especially patiently.

What’s the fruit?  Other than disorganization and the desire to grab y’all and bounce around excitedly in a circle?  (Yes.  I do this.  Yes, I’d do it if you were here.  There would be squealing.  I know I’m 42.  Your point?)  (Yeah, just fruit on the tree gets me this excited.  It comes ripe and I’m going over the moon.)

Faith.  *MY* faith.  Because you know, when you’re praying for folks to come to Christ, you’re never sure what His answer will be?  That pesky free-will stuff?  And then you stress out – did I pray for the right thing?  Did I pray for X when I should have prayed for Y… did I screw it all up?

And I got rolled back and thought – you know… the Holy Spirit prays through us, with words that can’t be spoken.  He takes our pathetic prayers and hears our hearts and translates to God.  And He is God.  And God is good, not evil, and He doesn’t give His kids scorpions when they ask for bread.  And *why* would God let me shed a tear over someone He didn’t want me to pray for?  I’m His, He could distract me.   He shuts me up all the time when I want to pray for stuff I oughtn’t.

And my faith has grown this past week.  Grown so much.  God *has* this.  God has my loved ones.  God loves them more than I do.  And I don’t know why *I* have to pray for them to get saved or come back Home and what part my prayers play or don’t play… and I’m starting to see a tendril of gratitude for that!  Maybe I don’t need to know.  Maybe I just need to pray and rejoice and thank God for what He has done, for what He will do, and have a little faith.

Patience?  Yeah.  It’s a little scary to ask for something that you know will stretch you.  But it’s worth asking.  The growth that comes is all joy.  If I could share this euphoria with you, I would.  And I feel … rooted more deeply.  I’m excited to pray harder, to ask for more souls, to beg for more opportunities to serve.   Being a part of God’s plan is INCREDIBLE.  And I *don’t* need to know how it works, I think I’ll “settle” for euphoric participation.

It’s a good thing.  😉

Can I get a hallelujah?