Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Feeling Overwhelmed?

Lately, I feel a bit of dread every time I check the news or even my email inbox.  There always seems to be another urgent message informing me that I need to SEND MONEY NOW and save the world from the latest threat to life as we’ve known it.  The worst part is that most of the threats are real!  The thing I have a harder time figuring out is how throwing money at the problem is going to fix it.  Everywhere I turn, I am confronted with the demand to do something to make a difference.  I hear this in the Body of Christ as well.  “How are you changing the world?” has become the new “How are you?”.  In some ways, this is not a bad thing.  For too long, it has been easy to stay self-focused and complacent about the world outside the walls of our homes and churches.  On the other hand, I feel overwhelmed with the huge array of need and the incredible number of claims on my response.  I don’t do well when I’m overwhelmed.  In fact, it usually paralyzes me and I end up doing nothing except beating myself up for doing nothing.  This morning, as I struggled to enter the presence of the Lord and hear His voice above all the noise in my head, I read Psalm 27.  Actually, since I had the house to myself, I sang it aloud.  If you’ve never tried singing the Psalms, I highly recommend it.  Singing those words to the Lord was powerful and my spirit was awakened and energized to respond to God.  I found myself pouring my heart out to Him with tears and yet, feeling a renewal of my courage as well. 

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident. Psalm 27:1-3

What I believe the Lord is telling me is that He will show us what our part is in His plan.  Do not panic or be overwhelmed or leap into action apart from His direction.  He knows exactly where we are and who He has made us to be.  He will show us our place as we wait on Him and find our strength in Him.  

Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart;                       Wait, I say, on the Lord!  Psalm 27: 14

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In the Boat!

“May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble; may the name of the God of Jacob defend you;  May He send you help from the sanctuary, and strengthen you out of Zion.”  Psalm 20:1

Last week, I told you about how the Lord has surprised me recently with the realization that I had a swamp in my heart and how He has uncovered some twisted, stinking thoughts lurking beneath the surface.  I’ve begun to see how I’ve been looking at my relationship with the Lord wrongly.  I’ve been talking about Jesus being the One who makes me right with God, but I’ve continued to slip back into living as if I am still trying to earn rightness with God every day.  Instead of seeing that He came and pulled me out of the murky water where I was drowning and put me safely into His boat, I’m acting as if He has just given me a better motor for mine.  The truth is that apart from Jesus, I don’t have a boat and I’m not a very good swimmer either!  So, that is where I am today.  I’m in His boat.  I didn’t build it.  I’m not steering it.  I am not even sure of where it is headed, but I am in it, and I trust the One who knows all the answers to my questions.  What I hear the Lord saying to me today is this,
“Trust Me.  I have you.  You are safe in me.  Stop treading water.  You really are in the boat!  Yes, there are high winds and storms sometimes, but never think that I have left you helpless.  Call on Me.  Cry out to Me.  Pour out your heart to Me.  I will answer.  I will give you what you need.  I am all you will ever need.  Settle it today in your heart – apart from Me you can do nothing.  Everything good comes from Me.  Don’t fret because of what you see others doing.  Trust Me to show you your path and give you grace to walk it.  I love you with an everlasting love.  Take joy in knowing this.  Everyone is looking for a perfect home.  You have it in Me.”    

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Drain the Swamp!

My husband has been praying an unusual prayer lately.  He has been asking the Lord to “drain the swamp.”   Driving East from New Orleans along Highway 10 you can see swamp land that is very lovely, down in the Louisiana bayous where the tall cypress trees rise up out of the murky water and trail Spanish moss from their limbs.  However, I don’t think that is the mental image my husband has in mind.  His swamp is the kind of place where the water is so stagnant that you smell it before you see it.  The surface is covered with scum and you do not want to know what lurks beneath the surface.   I believe this prayer to drain the swamp came from the Lord.  Who else could tell a man he has a swamp in his heart and enable him to respond with the faith to believe He can and will drain it?  So far, so good, but here’s the weird thing:  my swamp is getting drained, too, and I didn’t even know I had one!  I honestly thought I was doing okay.  I was in a good place.  Then the waters started drying up and things began to appear that I hadn’t known were there:    twisted, stinking thoughts and emotions with big ugly roots going down into my heart.  Just like those massive cypress roots, there are some assumptions and beliefs in my heart that my Abba Father wants to deal with.  He called me to be an oak of righteousness, not a swamp cypress.   So, here’s where I am – facing up to what is being revealed, choosing to believe I am still loved and accepted by my Father God, and trusting Him to complete what He has begun.   I’m realizing once again that most of my yucky stuff stems from still trying to be perfect and in control.  I’m praying for the grace to lay those impossibilities down at the feet of the Lord Jesus and the courage to get up and walk every day in a new life where I trust His righteousness to be all I need.   So far, trying to do everything right and remain in control at all times has only made me a fearful, brittle, frazzled mess.  I believe the life I’ve been called to looks very different and I want to choose that life. 

Abba Father, I can’t change me, but I know You can.  Please enable me to cooperate with all that You are doing.  Please enable me to hear and obey, believe and walk in the freedom in Christ Jesus that is mine.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

He is sure

Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us that “there is a time for every purpose under heaven.”  The next seven verses go on to describe many actions for which there is a time, and each one is listed with an opposite action.  “A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.  A time to tear down and a time to build up.”  There is even “a time to keep and a time to throw away.” 

Clearly the writer has been around long enough to know that in this life things are always changing.  Sometimes it is slow and barely visible, like the opening of a bud or the growth of a child from week to week.  Other times it is a total rearrangement of the furniture of our lives that leaves us feeling tossed about like a little boat on the open sea.  My mental image for this has been the deck of the Titanic tilted to a 45 degree angle.  Everything is sliding, but I don’t think I’m sinking.  It is just really hard to keep my balance.  Nothing seems sure, but I hear my Abba Father saying He is sure.  He is my rock and His love is the ocean beneath me.  His mercy and grace are as high as the puffy white cloud mountains in the sky.  He says, “I have not abandoned you.  I am holding you by the hand.  In fact, I am holding you and your entire world in my hand.  Trust Me to be God.  Trust Me to be good.  Because I AM.” 

Thank You, Lord!  I will trust You.  I choose to embrace this time and all its uncertainty, because I know that it is simply the next step in a journey that ends in Your arms.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.