Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Come to the Well

Yesterday morning I woke up to these words, “Come to the well.”  Isn’t that a wonderful wake-up call?  Are you thirsty?  Is your heart dry?  Do you need some living water?  “Come to the well.” 

Jesus once met a woman at a well.  He told her, “Whoever drinks this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”  (John 4:13-14) 

Have you ever forgotten to water your house plants?  For years I refused to have any because I didn’t want one more living thing that needed me!  Now that all my kids are housebroken, I have a few and fairly often I will walk by and notice one looking a little droopy because I’ve forgotten to water it.  It’s always a little miracle to see the change that takes place as the water is soaked in and the little plant perks back up.  Our spirits are just like that.  We need to be watered by the refreshing water of the Word and the Spirit.  Both of these are life to our souls.  I confessed to you recently that spending time with the Lord has often been more of a duty than a delight.  That’s because I was looking at it as if it was something I was doing for a grade.  “Is this an A quiet time, God?  Just a B minus?  Well, I’ll try harder tomorrow.”  Isn’t that sad?  I am beginning to get a clue that taking time to spend with the Father is for my benefit much more than His.  I’m the one with the dusty, harried soul that needs to sit with my feet in the river and soak in His presence.  He loves me and He wants to be with me.  How hard it is to let that sentence sit there and not add another word to it.  Our Father loves us.  Jesus loves us.  The Holy Spirit loves us.  We are His treasure.  To stop and let ourselves rest in His presence is a gift – an invitation to pull away from the trivial and the terrifying, and savor a small taste of the wonderful, eternal, altogether good God. 

Dear Abba, please grant us grace to run to Your presence and stay there.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Glad To Be A Sister!

Yesterday, I got to enjoy a little taste of heaven right here on earth.  I spent the morning with a group of sisters in Christ who have made the choice to be real with each other.  We’ve shared our stories – the bad and the good.  We’ve shared our struggles.  We’ve shared the lessons we’ve learned – most of them the hard way.  Today, we heard a new song when one of our sisters shared the gift that God has planted in her heart.  Most of us were wiping tears away as our dear friend courageously sang her song.  Wow!  That is all I can say about how amazing God is in the lives of these women.  He has redeemed mistakes, bound up broken hearts, and given grace to carry loads that would crush most people.  He has shown Himself faithful to provide for every need.  He has birthed joy and creativity.  He has comforted those who mourn and touched those who hurt with comfort and healing.  He has imparted confidence, acceptance, and sisterhood to a group that really couldn’t be more diverse if we’d tried to be.  Our Abba Father has given us a taste of the unity we were meant to share as the Body of Christ.  We don’t all see things the same way.  How could we when we come from so many different places?  But we love the Lord with all our hearts, and we are blessed to be sisters with the same wonderful Father.  So, what do I believe the Father is saying to us today?  Be real.  Share your story.  Sing the song He puts in your heart.  Somebody nearby really needs to hear it.   

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.  In Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.         
                                                                Ephesians 2:13, 18, 22
Abba Father, thank you for making us one in You.  Thank you for giving us friends for this journey.  Thank you for the wonderful truth that though we may not walk the whole way together, one day there is going to be a glorious reunion!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Celebrate Tiny Triumphs!

It happens almost as soon as we are born.  Someone takes us away from loving arms to weigh and measure us.  For the rest of our lives, we are continually assessed in one way or another.  We must endure years of academic testing which give way to annual physicals, performance reviews, credit reports and of course the dreaded woman with the tape measure lurking in the lingerie department certain that you’re wearing the wrong size bra!  All of this however is nothing compared to the way we constantly weigh and measure ourselves.  Whether it’s climbing on the bathroom scale for a daily dose of torture or feeling guilty for not being a good enough whatever, it is so easy to live in judgment of ourselves.  This week, I’ve been wrestling with what it means to live in grace.  Our pastor preached this week on breaking free from the trap of performance.  I loved what he said about God’s standard of acceptance being based on relationship, not performance.  Monday morning, I was bracing myself to step on the scale when I heard the Holy Spirit so clearly say, “Stop measuring yourself.”  As I went on about my day, I realized how often I do just that.  Then the Lord spoke to me again, bringing to mind words I read from Sarah Young last week, “Rejoice in tiny triumphs.”  I believe the Lord wants us to stop looking for opportunities to grade ourselves and start looking for opportunities to celebrate every step our hearts take in grace.  I struggle with getting my kitchen floor mopped.  For some reason it is the hardest thing in the world to get it done.  This morning, by the grace of God, I mopped my kitchen!  I didn’t do it to earn a gold star on my internal performance chart, I just did it to bless my house and I celebrated it being clean – at least until school got out.  When it comes to my relationship with the Lord, I’m trying to learn to rejoice in it.  Instead of having a quiet time because it is the right thing to do, I want to take the time to spend with the Lord because He loves me and I love Him.  Wow.  What a difference maker.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this is all still a struggle for me, but I’m also excited because my Abba Father has brought me so much freedom and joy and I know this is just another step in that journey. 
Sisters, I pray that you hear the Lord speaking to you today – Stop measuring.  Start celebrating.  Keep believing.  You are loved with an everlasting love.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Facing Down Failure

Yesterday was quite a day at my house. From the 6 a.m. alarm until the parent meeting at the high school that took longer than I was hoping it would, there was too much to do and not enough time to do it. However, in the midst of the whirlwind of activity, there were a few moments where the Lord met with me that made all the difference. The first of those moments happened during prayer at Ladies Bible study. As Elaine prayed, the presence of the Holy Spirit lifted the lid on a box I had been shoving aside and ignoring for days. Inside that box was an overwhelming sense of failure. I've been telling myself I'm fine, but I've been lying. I've been talking to the Lord on behalf of others, but refusing to come to Him for myself. In those few quiet moments, I was able to face the truth about the box. Dealing with it would have to come later, but spending those next couple of hours with the wonderful ladies in our Tuesday gathering really encouraged me and strengthened me for coming home and taking the lid off again. Coming together with other believers in a group where you can share your life and your heart makes all the difference.  

So, in the afternoon, after settling my sick little girl on the sofa for a nap, I slipped outside to sit on my deck and talk to the Lord, hoping that He had something to say to me. I've been running from the Lord. Why? Mostly fear - fear of rejection, fear of hearing nothing, fear of seeing His back turned against me because I still think it's about what I'm doing. I had twenty minutes before the oven timer was going to go off. I brought my Jesus Calling, silently daring God to speak to me through it. Here's what the day's entry said, "Don't be discouraged. I know your heart. Don't let feelings of failure weigh you down." About this time I had to laugh because not only does God totally have my number, He has arranged for me to read exactly what I need to hear. One of the scripture references at the bottom was Hebrews 4:14 -16. On my way there, verse 4:2 - the second part jumped out at me, "But the message they heard was of no value to them because those who heard did not combine it with faith." I have to choose to believe what God says about me. Here's what He tells me I need to do - this is Hebrews 4:16 - in my words, "We need to run to God's ruling seat of mercy full of confidence that He will receive us and give us the mercy and grace we so desperately need." That is what I intend to do. Run to His mercy. Believe that the blood of Jesus has covered all my failures once and for all. It is done. I choose to enter His rest.  I choose to quit believing that His love for me varies with how well I'm doing my job, how much I weigh, or how clean my floors are. 

Father God, please help us believe the wonderful truth that You receive us and our performance has no bearing on Your love for us. Help us get this Lord, because I'm still not sure we really do. In Jesus' Name. Amen.