Thursday, July 22, 2010

Grace and Peace...

That's what I need.  And lots of it.  Every. Single. Day.  And that's what God promises to supply me.  When I remember to rest in Him and when I forget, His grace is unfailingly strong.  Strong enough to hold me and my family together even when He's turning our lives inside out and upside down, as a matter of fact!  In case you haven't heard already through some grapevine or other, our family is embarking on an adventure that to some might seem ordinary, but to me (and I think most people) is anything but normal.

Last Spring we applied and have been accepted to go into training as long-term missionaries with our church family's (yes, I mean denomination if you know what that means) missions organization.  There is obviously a story to be told with this great big move we're making and you can read more about our journey over at our family's shiny-new blog: (I'll probably mention it here whenever I post something new over there.)  That's where I'll update people about what's going on with our family, but this blog will still be the place for my random thoughts ranging from muddy water to laundry to moving (aaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!)...

Oh.  Sorry.  Did you hear that?  I was just screaming a little inside.  : )  Leave it to God to invite us to go on this amazing adventure with Him--but make me clean out my house first.  : )  Well, I can't complain, really, because I'm so, so, so, SO incredibly excited and grateful for this opportunity of a lifetime He's giving us AND He's promised to help me every step of the way.  Even with the yard sale on Saturday.  Even with the packing and the tiring days and the happy days, too.  But to be honest with you, I just sort of wish I could skip this part.  But God knows I need it for some reason. Maybe to prove to me that nothing is impossible with Him.... even ME and my family moving out of this house in time.

I wrote a little song a few weeks ago on one of my challenging days (like today) remembering and proclaiming that it's not by my might or by my power, strength or wisdom but by His Spirit and His grace that I stand...  Crying out Lord, I BELIEVE!  HELP MY UNBELIEF!  In my weakness, show me Your power!  He's brought me once again to a place where I have to rely on His strength because there's just no other way.  Not even my super-husband can rescue me on his own.  But God can.  And He will.  It's going to take every ounce of my strength to resist the enemy's discouragement and to hold unswervingly to the truth, but God will give me all the strength I need.  (Hmmm...  He gives me the strength, but I have to use it.  Must remember that!)  And he's walking with me.  And singing to me.  And reminding me to be still and know He is God.  Nothing is impossible with Him and He loves me very much.

And that's enough.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Dirt & Water (More than Mud)

Play a little word association game with me…  What are the first things that come to your mind when you read the word “WATER”? (Waiting… waiting…)  Since I can’t hear you, I’ll tell you what I think of… Oceans.  Lakes.  Rivers.  Thirst.  Cleansing.  Cooking.  Drinking.  Refreshing.  LIFE…

OK.  Next word:  “DIRT”  Hmmm…  Dirty.  Cleaning.  Kids.  Stains.  Laundry.  Dusting.  Washing.  Sweeping.  Getting tracked in all over my house.  (Can you tell I’m a mom?) DESERT.  (Death.)

A couple of months ago, I woke in the middle of the night pondering the significance of water and dirt.  At first I was thinking about water being representative of the Spirit of God and true spiritual life and I thought dirt was connected with sin.  I still think water can represent God’s life and power—in both positive and negative ways.  It’s possible to die in water or die for lack of it, just like we can die if we refuse to accept Jesus’ gift of life.  It’s nothing new, really, to think of water as a spiritual symbol.  I think probably every religion in the world recognizes its significance.  Even scientists who don’t believe in “religion” or God at all practically worship water with all of their searching for it on other planets as proof that there might have been life there once.  And the Bible is full of water…  floods, droughts, seas being parted, water flowing out of rocks, Jesus the living water, baptism, being washed by the Word…  just to name a few.

But I’ve decided that dirt (for me) isn’t really about sin.  It’s just humanity.   Again, that’s not a new concept, I know.  After all…  God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground and God remembers we are “but dust.”   And dirt is just part of life.  When you go camping, you have to surrender to it or be frustrated the whole time.  When you have kids or live on a farm, you have to surrender to its existence and learn to live with it to a certain extent as well.  (We surrender to its existence...  not its lordship!)   AND dirt was part of life BEFORE the tree/serpent/fruit incident in the Garden of Eden, so that means (ahem…) it is (or was at that point) good.  I, for one, have had to accept that there will always be more of it – no matter how many times I sweep.  Just like there will always be more of my humanity for God to deal with in my heart as long as I’m on this big spinning ball of dirt.

(I know the earth is not really just a big spinning ball of dirt.  But I liked the way it sounded.  Forgive me.)

But do you know what gets me excited?  I get excited about what happens when you put dirt and water together.  J

You get a planet like earth – with magnificent snow-capped mountains, river-worn canyons, dry ground filled up and turned into lakes, places where oceans meet land.
You get Jesus using mud made out of dirt and spit to heal a blind man.
You get something plants can grow in that farmers can feed and clothe you with.
You get something irrestable to little boys and little girls.
You get to experience going from dirty to clean.
You get to go from hard and barren ground to soft, workable, life-giving ground.
You get the Word made flesh and the Spirit of the Living God dwelling in us.


(I even found an article online that talked about how soil in nature holds on super tightly to the first rain water of the season so that rain that comes later doesn’t mix with the first water b/c the soil won’t let go of it.  I’m not going to try to overanalyze the spiritual lesson in that…  but I think it’s fascinating.  Dirt was made to hold water.  We were made to hold God.)

You also get mudslides and floods and quicksand and places for weeds to grow.  Reminders that God’s ways are not our ways and that we can’t leave our hearts unattended or sin will take root quickly and grow like crazy.  (“Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life!”  See?)  There are also so many contaminants that can poison water.  People die ALL OVER THE WORLD EVERY SINGLE DAY for lack of clean water.  So many, also, die spiritually because they are drinking the poisoned water their false gods and idols offer them every day.

And isn’t it interesting that we bury stuff in the dirt?  Most often, when people die they are buried.  Sometimes when people commit crimes, they try to bury the evidence.  Sometimes people even bury treasure so others don’t steal or find it.  (Remember the parable of the talents?)  Yet, when dirt is properly tended and watered and fertilized, a simple seed can grow and bear fruit a thousand times over. 


You know what else?  When I don’t drink enough water, I get headaches.  I’ve known that for a few years now.  And yet, over and over again, I will let myself get dehydrated to the point of a headache when the solution is as simple as drinking more water.  Sadly, I too often do the same thing spiritually.  I’ll go for a while doing well--staying hydrated spiritually by spending time with the Lord, drinking His Word and His presence and love.  But eventually, I’ll slack off a bit (even if it’s just for a few days) and get a spiritual headache.  Or heartache.  And I’m discovering that during seasons like the one I’m in right now, I need to drink more than ever from Him because the temperature around me is hotter than ever and I really do need more time with Him than ever before.  (I’ll explain more next week…)

Lord, wash me and I will be clean.  Keep my soft heart so good things can grow in it and keep my spirit free from weeds so that sin doesn’t choke out the fruit.  You are the potter and I’m the clay.  Don’t let me bury the treasure You’ve given me.  I want You to keep unearthing everything that needs to be dug up, rooted out and removed from my heart so that it can be fertile soil for your Word to grow in.  I want to bear fruit for You.  Fruit that will last!  My soul really does thirst for You in this dry and weary land…  Keep me coming to You to drink of Your unfailing love.  What an amazing thing that You choose to work through us…  through me…  this fragile jar of clay.  Oh, how I love You.