Friday, February 26, 2010

To run or not to run? That is the question

I think it is the human condition for us to cringe whenever trouble occurs. If the trouble is big enough, then we want the pain of it to be over, and over now. When the painful waiting begins we run to anything, including God, to fix “it” so the pain will stop---just stop. When the pain of our trouble nags at us 24/7, we cry out to God for Him to fix it, solve it, stop it….please, LORD, now!

“How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day. How long will my enemies be exulted over me?” Psalm 13:1-2

The reality is that our cries to Him, for our troubles to be over, are probably legitimate. The LORD knows how it hurts us and grieves us. He understands our sadnesses and our agonies. Often His answer to our cries is----Wait. Wait for His time.

Wait. Waiting. How frustrating it is to wait. In life we wait for everything. And then, when the waiting is over, there are another ten things to wait for. We have grown up in our society learning to not be patient.

I am a new creation, though, and so I must learn His way. When waiting in the LORD we need to think Biblically. It is a new and different way compared to the way the world waits. We are blessed to have a Father in heaven who understands our waiting, our frustrations, our deep agonies. We can call on Him any time. We can lean on Him and live in His strength. In our weakness we can be strong. As we allow ourselves to grow strong in Him, it will produce endurance in us so that we may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Waiting on Him during our pain is the way to live.

In James 1:2-4 it says, “Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

In the LORD our waiting is not passive; it is very active. We may worry as we actively wait on Him, but waiting on the LORD is not worrying. Waiting in Him is praying and trusting in Him. In our weakness we want a solution, and we can very vividly explain to Him many times how we want Him to solve our troubles. Waiting on the LORD, though, means we must lay our solutions and all the pain at His feet as often as we need to do this. We need to TRUST in His timing and know His solution will be the best.

“I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim , I dissolve my couch with my tears. My eye has wasted away with grief; It has become old because of all my adversaries. Depart from me, all you who do iniquity, for the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping. The LORD has heard my supplication, the LORD receives my prayer. All of my enemies will be ashamed and greatly dismayed; They shall turn back, they will suddenly be ashamed.” Psalm 7:6-10

Yeah! :oD Let’s get busy actively waiting, trusting in the One who is able to do far more than we can ever imagine.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Talking to Your Tears

This devotion is from John Piper’s A Godward Life. May it encourage you as it has encouraged me many times.

Talking to Your Tears

“May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy! He that goes forth weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6

There is nothing sad about sowing seed. It takes no more work than reaping. The days can be beautiful. There can be great hope of harvest. Yet Psalm 126 speaks of “sowing in tears” It says that someone “goes forth weeping, bearing the seed for sowing.” Why is he weeping?

I think the reason is not that sowing is sad or that sowing is hard. I think the reason has nothing to do with sowing. Sowing is simply the work that has to be done, even when there are things in life that makes us cry. The crops won’t wait while we finish our grief or solve all our problems. If we are going to eat next winter, we must get out in the field and sow the seed whether we are crying or not.

This psalm teaches the tough truth that there is work to be done whether I am emotionally up for it or not, and it is good for me to do it. Suppose you are in a season of heartache and discouragement, and it is time to sow seed. Do you say, “I can’t sow the field this spring, because I am brokenhearted and discouraged”? If you do that, you will not eat in the winter.

Suppose you say instead, “I am heartsick and discouraged. I cry if the milk spills at breakfast. I cry if the phone and doorbell ring at the same time. I cry for no reason at all, but the field needs to be sowed. That is the way life is. I do not feel like it, but I will take my bag of seeds and go out in the fields and do my crying while I do my duty. I will sow in tears.

If you do that, the promise of this psalm is that you will “reap with shouts of joy.” You will “come home with shouts of joy, bringing your sheaves with you,” not because the tears of sowing produce the joy of reaping, but because the sheer sowing produces the reaping. We need to remember this even when our tears tempt us to give up sowing.

George MacDonald counseled the troubled soul, “Bethink thee of something that thou oughtest to do, and go to do it, if it be but the sweeping of a room, or the preparing of a meal, or a visit to a friend. Heed not thy feelings: Do thy work.”

So here’s the lesson: When there are simple, straightforward jobs to be done, and you are full of sadness and the tears are flowing easily, go ahead and do the jobs with tears. Be realistic. Say to your tears: “Tears, I feel you. You make me want to quit life, but there is a field to be sown (dishes to be washed, a car to be fixed, a sermon to be written). I know you will wet my face several times today, but I have work to do and you will just have to go with me. I intend to take the bag of seeds and sow. If you come along, then you will just have to wet the rows.”

Then say, by faith in future grace, on the basis of God’s Word, “Tears, I know that you will not stay forever. The very fact that I just do my work (tears and all) will in the end bring a harvest of blessing. God has promised. I trust Him. So go ahead and flow if you must. I believe ( I do not yet see it or feel it fully)---I believe that the simple work of my sowing will bring sheaves of harvest, and your tears will be turned to joy.”

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Garland that graces my head: my mother, Bobbie (1928-1996)

“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” Proverbs 1:8-9

My mother has been gone for 14 years this week. Although I certainly know the years that have flown by, it still feels like just a year or so has passed. I dearly miss her still. I was 40 when she left to be with the LORD, which seems too young to lose a precious mother.

After we were all grown, I feel that she was the glue that held my family together. In my own adulthood, though, she was my friend as well as my mother, and I regret not loving her more than I did.

After my marriage, we lived far away when phone calls were expensive and travels occurred only about once a year. I wrote her long letters every week and called about once a month. She wrote long letters and called me about every week. It meant so much to me, but I don’t remember if I ever told her so.

She was already gone when our own family tragedy happened. I still think of her concerning this situation - “if only she was here, would this have happened?” Silly------ I know that “if onlys” should be avoided but I still find myself wondering.

On the other end of the spectrum, I know a mother whose adult children have cut her away from their lives. She is very hurt by their decisions but carries on by mostly pretending she doesn’t care.

The Word says, “Honor your father and mother” ----Which is the first commandment with a promise----”that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2 (see Exodus 20:12)

I know that, as mothers, we can do beautiful things while we raise our children into adulthood. We can also make huge mistakes during and after we have raised them. We are humans, as well as mothers, who have unbreakable heart-strings to our children, even if they are wayward.

What was your mother like and how was your relationship with her? If she was a wonderful mother, let her know and tell her again and again.

If you feel that your mother left things to be desired, you are angry or hurt by her, or something is just wrong between you two, then you should try to find a way to bridge the gaps and bind the wounds to have a relationship with her. I know that with the LORD all things are possible. Perhaps you can see her in a new light through His eyes.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1John 4:7-10