The Effects Of You

Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statues.  Psalm 119:135

When lovers who haven’t seen each other in a a long time walk into the same room, there is a pregnant moment when their faces light up.  Eyes widen, wordless exclamations pour out, and then arms are opened wide to embrace without any thought of restraint.  Sheer happiness causes their faces to shine.

One of the meanings of ‘shine’ in this text is what happens when the sun arises at daybreak.  The dark begins to abate with the glorious entrance of light on the horizon.  It is not just any light; it is a bit orange and golden.  Nothing resembles a sunrise because it has characteristics all its own.  Perhaps David is trying to convey that God is so warmed by His children that His countenance is transformed when He sees us.  It is like the dawning of a sunrise upon the heart.  What a beautiful picture.

To feel the warmth of His smile is to have the best of all gifts today. I can stand in any storm if I know His face is turned toward me.  I can find endless reserves of strength if I know that His face is traced with tenderness.  David did not ask for more power, more wealth, or even more peace.  He asked for God’s smile.  In the radiance of God’s favor, David wants to be taught.  The love of instruction is never greater than when one worships the Teacher.  David  is the star pupil in a class of one.  God is not a distant professor but a warm, engaging, and storytelling Father.

Bring to me the sunrise of your smile, Father.  Then let my face be radiant with all the effects of You.  Amen

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Pitching My Tent Toward Home

Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Psalm 119:36

To ‘incline my heart’ means I’ve pitched my tent in His direction.

I’ve chosen to pack a few belongings, leave my home country, and go to the perfect camping spot where I can see the kingdom.  Every morning, the dawn of His love and faithfulness is in view.  I’ve detached myself from the world I’ve left behind.  It no longer consumes me.  I’m a sojourner with minimal stuff.  My focal point has become the  joy of His company.

I am in awe that He longs for a relationship with me.  I am surprised that He doesn’t tire of me after so much time together.  His desire for me only grows, not wanes.  I don’t really understand it because I know that if you spend enough time with just one person here on earth, eventually there’s a rub.  You want your freedom.  You crave alone time.  Not so with God.  When He’s my home, there are no quirks and habits to repel me. I want more of Him, not less.  He wants more of me, not less.

What inspirational thoughts but here’s the catch.  I can’t drive down the stakes of my tent in two worlds and expect to live at peace.  My heart can only have one home.  Unlike those who enjoy a winter home and summer home and divide their time between the two, God says that I must choose or risk being unstable. The two kingdoms, and those who rule them, are incompatible.  How can I be intimate with both rulers, live like a traitor, and enjoy well-being?

So I’ve made my choice.  I’ve pitched my tent toward glory and I realize that I’m on a journey to a new address.  My home will be wherever He is and while I make my way there, His Spirit is with me – guiding me through the minefields of battle – comforting me and healing the wounds I’ve sustained in the many skirmishes.  I know the final victory that is to come but in the heat of battle, His company is enough.  I accept that life will be imperfect until I experience the glory of perfection.

 I drive down the stakes of my tent deeper into the soil of You. Amen

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Impatience and Acting Out

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us. Psalm 123:2

Ok, here goes. I don’t function well in disorder. I thrive on order. I don’t like mental cobwebs. I like clarity and persevere until I have it. I don’t like an array of papers on my desk. My goal is to start my weekend with my work finished. How bad is this condition?

My husband, Ron, got up one morning to get a drink and when he got back to the bed, I had made it. He laughed and said, “Guess I’m getting up.” Numerous times, too numerous to count, he left his coffee cup to go do something and when he returned, it was emptied and in the dishwasher. There have been jokes told (mostly true) that when we move into a new home, I want the pictures up by bedtime. My love for order, and closure, is over the top and I’m sure I’m OCD.

Ron once owned a navy blue plaid bathrobe. He had it many years and I thought it was time for a new one. I suggested ditching it. He protested and said it wasn’t time. A few more years went by and I felt it was surely time by then. Too ratty and faded for even charity, it went in the garbage. On the next garbage pick-up day, the bathrobe was at the curb. Little did I know that this would be a morning Ron would lift the lid on the garbage can for some reason. (Probably to check on what I had thrown out.) There was his bathrobe. I happened to look outside to see him walking up the driveway and, you guessed it, wearing his bathrobe. He rolled his eyes and I was hysterical. Now, when anything is missing, I tell him it’s probably with his bathrobe.

Most people have storage in their basement or garage. We have no storage because we have nothing to store.   I’ve organized and weeded out. If I don’t use something in two years, it’s gone. The only things in our basement are several bins of Christmas decorations.

I think it’s time to look at David’s words. God is not impulsive. God is patient and waits until the perfect time to act in holiness. He is content to let us wait in our messes until we sort them out spiritually. Much of my life has been learning to wait in God’s waiting room. Decades have passed before God has brought salvation to a situation. And I have to say that when it came ~ I knew it was the right time.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, Ron no longer has the bathrobe. He wanted me to tell you.

Lord, Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for teaching me to wait. Help me to feel gratitude in the midst of waiting. For that, I need Your grace. Amen

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It’s Not Just Me

Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered.   Psalm 60:5

One of the ways God saves us is through the hands of His servants.  We look up and cry out – but should then look to the left or the right for His answer.  That is why fellowship is so important. I’m not talking about idle chatter that too often happens around a pot-luck supper. This is a cheap substitute for what God had in mind.  We call it ‘fellowship’ but I’m certain that every time we think we’re doing it, God winces and draws in His breath.  People often leave a crowd and feel more alone than ever.

I love to watch movies, especially those that portray the best of the human spirit.  Long drawn out sagas are my favorite, even though they are often the target of much teasing by my husband, Ron.  He swears that it’s more fun to watch grass grow.  Nonetheless, I am encouraged to see a few of the main characters work through their challenges and deepen their relationships.  Why?  Because it reminds me that I’m not alone.

That is why the church is so important.  Those who would live isolated are encouraged to live within a community.  In so doing, they rub shoulders with others who face cancer, harassment in the workplace, the pain of wayward children, and even a history of spiritual abuse within the home.  In telling our stories, there is strength.

Solomon described this phenomenon in Ecclesiastes.  He said that “Two are better than one.  If either of them falls, the other will lift him up.  If one is overpowered by an intruder, two can resist.” I will add another example from personal experience.  If one falls into disbelief, the other will restore his trust in God.

Whatever breaks our heart today is not unique to us.  There are others who walk similar paths.  If we are committed to be a part of a thriving church, we will link arms with those who remind us that it is better to walk in pairs.  Better, because it is God’s prescription for a blessed life.

Today, I am an imitator of those who have gone on before.  You sent out your disciples two by two.  I am not a lone ranger and thank you for my Spirit-companions.  Amen

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Steady In The Fire

The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts.  Psalm 119:69

David’s enemies were jealous of his reputation.  They were proud and felt that they deserved the attention and prestige.  They didn’t even blink when they conceived lies that would bring him to a place of contempt in the public’s eye.  They justified their sin because it would get them what they wanted – center stage.

Their plot didn’t cause him to sway off course.  He did not engage in name calling nor defend himself.  With his whole heart, he honored God’s precepts, namely – not taking revenge on those who deserved punishment.  He left such things to God.

Sooner or later, every child of God will experience a smear campaign.  It may be a coup d’etat over a place in the church; a position of leadership coveted by one who feels overlooked.  A carnal agenda can run rampant to discredit a godly leader by concocting untrue or exaggerated stories that will cast the good man in a bad light.  All in the name of self-advancement and entitlement.

If we have lost money, position, and places of leadership because of a smear campaign the likes of what David suffered, and if we have borne it patiently as he did, we must take courage.  We remember Joseph.  The time in the dungeon was temporary.  In it, God taught him wisdom, and while he was in his underground school, God was preparing all of Egypt for a new kind of leader.  God takes up the cause of His servants, whether now or later.  His redemptive purposes are never off course.  Though it may look like it, hindsight will reveal that even betrayal was part of heaven’s timetable.  The ticking of the clock is steady and under sovereign control.

 In betrayal and injustice, you have a plan for Your child and the tormentors are on your leash and on your time clock.  Help us take comfort in that.  Amen

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Confrontations and Results

Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Psalm 25:5

People can suffer from choices they made in their youth over the course of a lifetime.  Only some will review their past sins and connect the dots between wrongdoing and consequences.  Why doesn’t everyone?  Shouldn’t people, with age, grow wiser and own their mistakes?

I’ve talked with more than a few people who decided, after many decades, to confront an abuser from childhood. They possessed magical thinking and believed that someone in their senior years would certainly admit the truth. They counted on the fact that godly guilt had set in but hopes for fairness and justice were smashed when the confrontation went poorly. In despair, they voiced the next inevitable question.  “How could he, at 67 years old, still deny that he did anything wrong?!”  But he did, and we will too if we’ve not bent our heart to the Teacher over the years. Truth can be shunned at any age and only a truth seeker will own his mistakes.

One of the hardest parts of growing up is seeing the adults of our lives; teachers, pastors, lawmakers, etc. with adult eyes.  As childhood vision begins to clear, with it comes the painful realization that people have sinned against us. Thoughts of confrontation soon follow and when anger drives the timing of it instead of the Holy Spirit’s prompting, the results are disastrous.

 Is there a way to tell ahead of time whether someone will be receptive when confronted? While not entirely ironclad, I believe there is. Does that person have a track record of owning truth?  Is the person humble? Have there been smaller things this person has been willing to own and apologize for?

The sad truth about people in general, even the elderly, is that ‘men love darkness rather than light’. And, ‘the way is narrow and few there be that find it’.  In spite of this reality, you and I can pray for the Spirit of God to open blind eyes. God is powerful and prayer can till up the hardened soil of unbelief. One last thing ~ confrontation should always occur on the other side of forgiveness When the heart is hot ~ keep silent.

Older doesn’t always mean wiser. Keep us from cynicism. Amen

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Shun The Love-Killer

Judgment will again be founded on righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it. Psalm 94:15

Love and trust are the foundations of any relationship.  If either one is destroyed, a deep fracture threatens the future of that bond.

Now, our enemy knows how relationships work.  He knows that if I’m secure in my Father’s love, I am dangerous to his evil enterprise.  He knows that I will burn brightly for the advancement of God’s kingdom. He knows that I will give my life without much thought. How can he win against such undying loyalty?  He devises a smear campaign. He invents schemes that breed distrust and splinter security.  He levels accusations that make perfect sense to me if I rely on logic and circumstantial evidence to determine my perspective.

There have been times in my life when God ‘appeared’ to be guilty. Satan had rallied his troops. Venomous thoughts came at me like arrows and tormented me.  Instead of shunning them, I fed them. They lodged in my heart for a long season and distrust grew from seeds to weeds. They overtook the landscape of my heart and choked out all remnants of my faith.

Without truth, faithlessness was irreparable.  I had to be willing to stand in the truth of God’s character when it didn’t appear to be genuine.  When prayers weren’t answered the way I thought they should be, I had to be willing to stand in the truth that whatever God’s reason, He was still trustworthy.  In a climate of disappointment and against the backdrop of perceived damning evidence, everything human in me protested. But the Spirit in me, the One who fans the winds of faith across the panorama of my faithlessness, rose up to inspire belief instead of doubt. He offered me the grace to believe in God and furnished me with the courage to walk toward Him.

My love for God is in tact and I’ve learned that love is more than feelings.  Love has an iron will that is fueled by faith.  I trust God even though I live in the middle of my story and His glorious resolution is out of my range of vision. Today, I shun the love-killer and rise up to renounce every lie that threatens my security.

Lord, the foundation of my faith rests upon the pillars of Your righteousness. Amen

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