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Archive for September, 2015

As I wrote yesterday about walking with God, I was reminded of Jacob wrestling with an angel. The story is found in Genesis chapter 32, from verse 23 to the end of the chapter.

I re-read the story this morning and am smiling as I take a few notes:

  • “In the course of the night …” My biggest struggles with God have certainly been “in the night,” in the dark times.
  • “Jacob was left there alone.” Again, these struggles come when I feel most alone.
  • “Then some man wrestled with him …” You know, it often feels like my struggle is against “a man” or a person or a situation in my life. But eventually I come to realize that the REAL struggle is spiritual, and with God. He is asking something of me and I wrestle with it, with Him.
  • “But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go until you bless me.'” Perseverance. Seeking blessing. Refusing to give up until you receive what only God can give, even though the pain at the moment is great.
  • “… you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed …” and “Jacob limped along because of his hip.” Jacob wrestled with an angel! This is explicitly stated in Hosea 12:5. The angel told Jacob he had prevailed, but the victory wasn’t without cost. Jacob was left with a limp, a reminder of the struggle.

I am reflecting on all of this. I realized yesterday that I really am willing in my mind and my heart to do anything God asks, but sometimes it takes a while to figure out what … or with Whom … I am struggling. This time it isn’t the “dream” I’m giving up that is difficult. The difficulty is my feelings about the unfairness of this situation and wanting to make a point or “win the argument.”

I suspect that moving forward, I’ll continue to struggle with resentment as I watch things happen I didn’t want. But those “things” are just a limp I’m left with. God has blessed me, and has told me, “Walk with me.”

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Walk With Me

I’ve been in a great struggle. What I want is at great odds with what my husband wants and I feel angry, discouraged, resentful.

And when I pray, God tells me, “Walk with me.”

What does that mean? Does that mean I just give in? Truly and honestly, It isn’t fair.

“Walk with me.”

But I have dreams too, and these are mine. Why do I have to be the one to give up my dreams?

“Walk with me.”

I’ve searched myself with brutal honesty. I can truthfully say that the root of my dreams truly is to be closer to God, to be in a position to grow in my relationship with Him. I want to be nearer my church, my church family; I want to purposefully create a worship space.

I know what I want isn’t “wrong;” what I desire is “good.” And yet … and yet it clearly isn’t God’s will for me right now. I don’t know why; I don’t understand. But I hear Him, and I trust Him.

“Walk with me.”

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening. Yes, I will walk with you. Yes, I will surrender my own dreams. Yes, I trust that you have purpose in this. Yes, I will work to overcome my tangled feelings about all of this, and toward my husband.

Please grant me your strength, your wisdom, your grace. Help me keep my eyes on you.

Teach me how to walk.

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I’m reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan, a pastor at Cornerstone Church in California.

One of the things the author writes about that has resonated with me is how some people focus on, “What is God’s will for my life?” as if it was a single big thing we should set as a goal to achieve.

But in reality, God’s will is to be found (when we seek it) in ordinary everyday moments. It’s a daily seeking, not a one-time revelation or something God gives to us once in a while for big decisions.

It reminded me of my “life scripture:”

“Rejoice always! Pray without ceasing!
In all circumstances give thanks, for this is God’s will
for you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thess 5:16-18)

TODAY I am exactly where God has placed me. TODAY’s circumstances are His will for me, whether blessing or trial.

How do I respond? Am I seeking the Holy Spirit to guide me through it? Or am I caught up in trying to figure out the future, a plan or a goal or a “bigger thing?”

God tells us He has a plan for us … but He doesn’t lay out the plan or explain how it’s going to work. In fact, we learn to trust Him and to walk in faith because we don’t really know.

I think part of the reason I like this, is I catch myself sometimes wondering if I missed something – I haven’t done any big or grand or important thing in service to God. I’m just a very small, ordinary person; not any great saint.

So it is comforting to be reminded that I’m where He has placed me, my quiet little life is His will for me, and as long as I keep seeking Him in the ordinary moments of ordinary days, I’m on the path He’s set out for me.

It’s about the journey, with Him.

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Understand

“But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them
so that they should not understand it …” (Luke 9:45)

We struggle to understand. We are an impatient people and want answers now.

But some things aren’t meant to be grasped immediately; we have to wait for them to unfold before we can really put everything together in a way that makes sense. Sometimes its a matter of maturity and growth before we “get there,” but I think other times it is a blessing given to us. When we finally see and understand, we can remember and be comforted that once again, God knew and prepared us.

How often are we told that Mary pondered things in her heart? The things announced to her by the angel, the report from the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth, the words of Simeon and Anna in the temple. She must have been puzzled, but she seemed to submit herself to what she was given to know at that time. Eventually all of it made sense.

In some ways I am a very patient person. I can wait my turn and wait for things to happen in my life quite easily on a physical level.

But “understanding” is different … there are times I am so anxious to understand and when I don’t “get it” I feel much distress.

I think the LORD is showing me I need to stop struggling. Receive what is given and continue to wait on the LORD. Be watchful as events unfold; recognize His hand in everything going on, and remember.

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33 After this, Nicanor went up to Mount Zion. Some of the priests from the sanctuary and some of the elders of the people came out to greet him peaceably and to show him the burnt offering that was being sacrificed for the king.
34 But he mocked and ridiculed them, defiled them, and spoke arrogantly.
35 In a rage he swore: “If Judas and his army are not delivered to me at once, when I return victorious I will burn this temple down.” He went away in great anger.
36 The priests, however, went in and stood before the altar and the sanctuary. They wept and said:
37 “You have chosen this house to bear your name, to be a house of prayer and supplication for your people.
(1 Maccabees 7:33-37)

This morning as I read this passage, I wept.

What a reflection of today’s world, of its hatred toward the people of God. In large ways (martyrs in the middle east) and smaller ways, “comedians,” “artists,” and “celebrities” mock and ridicule believers; groups disrupt mass and attempt to defile the altar and Eucharist.

And as in this passage, besides the arrogance there is often great anger.

I get it that not all Christians behave very well; I understand people sometimes feel wounded by the church. But I read a passage like this and I feel great sorrow for all involved … both for the people being mistreated, and also for the people who are so filled with anger and rage, arrogance and disgust at other people … even who have received them peaceably.

What an pitiable existence; how empty and without peace. How broken.

These people are not my enemy. I fast and I pray for them, sincerely. What an amazing witness it would be if a Bill Maher, Madonna, or Dan Savage were to be transformed even as Paul was.

For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the
principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness,

with the evil spirits in the heavens.
(Ephesians 6:12)

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