Wednesday, March 28, 2012

When there still isn't a plan...

Be present. Be still.

But I don't want to.

On almost a daily basis, I hear the question, "So what is next for you, Christy?"

I have no clue. And I hate it.

But I guess, I should be more concerned about the day people stop asking me this question. So why should that concern me? 
Pride. My reputation. 

No, I don't want people thinking I am done trying to figure it out, giving up on big things to come, closing up shop. Just because I don't have a specific dream to pursue in the moment, does not mean there isn't a story to tell, or a goal to achieve.

What is that goal? Well, in the moment "being present and being still." And it is tougher than one would think...going against everything this girl is used to. 

Stop gabbing, quit whining, and soaking in a bath of self pity (I am only speaking to myself).  I am terrified that I have been wasting the present relationships and opportunities I am facing today, by focusing so hard on making a plan...setting a goal...finding a purpose, just so I can feel better about the chaos of things right now. I know what the desires of my heart are, and where I see myself, but the timing and structure of what God wants has to be the primary factors encouraging me to take that step. I have to be "ready", meaning,  several things must line up. No I don't mean that I am waiting for perfect details to line up, all set in flawless place. And no, my restlessness doesn't count as a factor giving me the thumbs up to move forward. My pride being squashed in this place of "rest" has a purpose too, whether I want to admit it or not.

Be present...it's what I keep telling myself. Don't disconnect...don't put up walls...don't overlook those faces He has set in my path. There's a reason I am amongst them. 

Stop focusing so intensely on the horizon...today is only here once.  
Be still. Stop. Slow those legs down from carelessly flailing about...cause with no where to run, they are just using up energy, and losing steam.

Listen.

And wait. God hasn't forgotten. 


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This morning was rough. I awoke in a total funk, frustrated at myself for the way I was feeling, struggling with being thankful amongst life's storms...longing for Heaven, thankful for the hope it provides.

The Spirit continued in grace when it pointed me to this entry from Streams in the Desert. 

So encouraged, I had to post it...

 March 22 Entry

After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near mount Sinai… Then the Lord said to him,”… I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.” (Acts 7:30, 33-34)
 

Forty years was a long time to wait in preparation for a great mission. Yet when God delays, he is not inactive. This is when he prepares his instruments and matures our strength. Then at the appointed time we will rise up and be equal to our task. Even Jesus of Nazareth had thirty years of privacy, growing in wisdom before he began his work.  John Henry Jowett

God is never in a hurry. He spends years preparing those he plans to greatly use, and never thinks of the days of preparation as being too long or boring.

The most difficult ingredient of suffering is often time. A short, sharp pain is easily endured, but when a sorrow drags on its long and weary way year after monotonous year, returning day after day with the same dull routine of hopeless agony, the heart loses its strength. Without the grace of God, the heart is sure to sink into dismal despair.

Joseph endured a long trial, and God often has to burn the lessons he learnt into the depths of our being, using the fires of prolonged pain. “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” 
(Mal 3:3), yet he knows the specific amount of time that will be needed. Like a true goldsmith, God stops the fire the moment he sees his image in the glowing metal.

Today we may be unable to see the final outcome of the beautiful plan that God has hidden “in the shadow of his hand” (Isa. 49:2). It may be concealed for a very long time, but our faith may rest in the assurance that God is still seated on his throne. Because of this assurance, we can calmly await the time when, in heavenly delight, we will say, ”All things [have] work[ed] together for good” (Rom 8:28).

As Joseph did, we should be more careful to focus on learning all the lessons in the school of sorrow than to focus anxious eyes toward the time of our deliverance. There is a reason behind every lesson, and when we are ready, our deliverance will definitely come. Then we will know we could never have served in our place of higher service without having been taught the very things we learned during our ordeal. God is in the process of educating us for future service and greater blessings. And if we have gained the qualities that make us ready for a throne, nothing will keep us from it once his timing is right.

Don’t steal tomorrow from God’s hands. Give him time to speak to you and reveal his will. He is never late – learn to wait.

He never shows up late; he knows just what is best;
Fret not yourself in vain; until he comes just REST.

Never run impulsively ahead of the Lord. Learn to await his timing – the second, minute and hour hand must all point to the precise moment for action.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Prayer confuses me...

Prayer confuses me, but that doesn't give me permission not to do it. There are so many perspectives, opinions, interpretations, and all round talk about the tool and power of prayer. I find myself pretty skeptical and uneasy of books written about prayer. Maybe this is wrong on my part...or maybe I'm right on. I don't really know.
Some of my insecurities and/or questions about prayer are:

Should we pray even when we don't feel like it?
Or skip it when our hearts aren't "feeling it?" 
Does prayer make a difference in what the outcome will be?
How?... if God already knows and/or determined that outcome?
Does it matter how often we pray?
Should we pray specifically?
Should we pray generally?
Should we pray more for others?
Should we pray more for ourselves?
Does God get frustrated when our "lists" are longer than our praises?
Does He want us to keep asking for the desires of our hearts?
How do we know when to stop?
How much does prayer "influence" what God does, because it's not like we are
"trying to convince Him to see our side?"

I know of individuals who are obsessive about covering EVERYTHING in prayer: every meeting, every conversation, every morning begins with prayer, every evening ends in prayer, every meal is surrounded by prayer, etc...almost like they are terrified to skip a prayer. I found myself annoyed at this by thinking, do they really not expect God's blessing unless they ask for it in each specific encounter? If that's the case, then I would be paranoid running around like a total psycho, terrified that I forgot to lift something up. I honestly don't think God works that way. He calls us to pray, so I do. And I trust that as I lay my requests, my praises, my fears, my desires, and my days before Him, He will act. I am not worried that if I miss an opportunity of prayer that He "won't act"...but that doesn't mean I don't pray. I trust Him to do His will, and to guide my prayers accordingly.

If I allow myself to over think prayer, my heart rate begins to climb. He wants me in communication with Him regularly, trusting His sovereignty, no matter how my prayers play into the larger plan. I do believe not praying is forfeiting blessings...of that I am confident.

I don't think I believe in strategic praying. I don't believe it's up to me and my prayers to change people or circumstances. But I do know that He will place a call on me to pray about specific circumstances, letting me contribute to what He is already doing.  I believe I should lay it all before Him, and allow Him to act, using me as part of it, if He chooses. The faith test comes in the form of praying and releasing the control we want to have. I struggle with this because I wonder if He does withhold certain blessings because we don't ask or lay certain things before Him in prayer.

God doesn't need me in order to to do what He wants. But He does ask me to join Him in what He is doing by praying. And He does require an obedient prayerful spirit. He calls me to lift up things to Him, and to let go...He does what He wants for His glory.  Yes, I am commanded to pray and to be active in my prayer life...but how those prayers and His purposes work in partnership really isn't my business.

I think it's okay to be confused by prayer, how it works, and why we do it. The point is that we do "do it" regardless of whether we understand it or not. Even as I am writing this I find myself struggling through some of these statements, confused by my own opinions.  But that's okay.  I don't have to know...but I do need to pray. The mystery of prayer requires an immense amount of faith...because it reminds me to rely completely on His sovereignty...taking it out of my hands.