I don’t even know how many posts I’ve written here about putting God first, but somehow I’m still learning the most basic of lessons in that art. I know it all with my head. But I have oh so much more to learn with my heart.
The last few months have been exciting ones. I’ve watched God unfold plans for my future... There’s nothing quite like watching dreams for ministry come true after giving them up for years. Not only did my future seem brighter than ever before, but I’d come to love the life I live right now too. Everything seemed so perfect.
But somehow it was in the years of continual surrenders that I had found the deepest peace. When nothing was going the way I wanted, it was much easier to look to heaven as the place where all my treasure was stored. But when I had begun to see earthly dreams coming true my longing for heaven started to dissipate a bit. After all, I had so much here.
I realized that God needed to do something in this heart. I wanted every single iota of affection I had to be His. I just wasn’t sure how to get there.
And then one of those treasured events on my calendar fell through. It wasn’t a huge thing. But it was important to me. I grappled with it as the stars rose outside my window. I continued to battle with it when I woke up with the stars still overhead. In the end I went to the best place I knew— my altar. Somehow I felt like I wasn’t only choosing to give up those few days but every dream that had stolen my heart.
For years I had given up my dreams because He had asked for them. It was hard and there were times I wondered if this would ever end. As I watched His hand at work in my future and saw foggy areas becoming clear I thought the time of surrendering dreams was over and it was the time of receiving. But I missed something fundamental. The time of surrendering my future will never be over because even dreams coming true must still be relinquished to the care of the One who knows best. And you know what? I’m so glad about that. I see now that I’d never want the time of giving up to be over because it produces the most beautiful fruit.
Maybe those dreams will continue to come true. I’m pretty sure some of them will. But it’s not about that anymore. They aren’t what makes life beautiful. They aren’t what makes my heart happy. They aren’t what makes my future bright. The answer to every question is Jesus.
Life is beautiful because He is in it. The future is bright because He will be there. My heart is happy because He loves me. Heaven is my home because He lives there.
When anything but Jesus becomes the dream we invest all of our heart in, we have to know we are headed for disappointment. Nothing is sure but Him. That doesn’t mean we stop dreaming. I still dream big. I’m not sure I can help it. But every single dream, every sign of a dream being fulfilled, every act of Providence, every hope fulfilled can only be enjoyed with a surrendered heart— a heart that keeps everything continually on the alter.
the only One in the world that is truly ours…
the only One that never fails...
the only One that brings ultimate joy...
the only One that deserves every last little iota of our heart…
My earthly dreams may come and go but I smile because really, my dream is Jesus. And He never fails.
And somehow I feel His smile and know I am His dream too.
Sometimes we get into our little routines of day to day life and forget that there is something better. At least I do. Peaceful early mornings give way to the day’s to do list, and before I know it, the sun’s already set. And though I’m blessed beyond what I’ll ever know to spend my days with the best Friend there ever was-- a focus on today alone is a sad mistake.
I often find myself becoming content with the glory of living life with my Jesus and forget that living this life with Him is not the only goal. True love will never be content with anything but being as close as possible.
He reminded me gently the other day when I was praying and thanking Him for all the gifts He’s given. I’d journaled simple… “Good morning Jesus! I’m so happy to get to spend this day with you. I am so excited about all the things we are going to get to do together in the next month. I can’t wait to be in England. I love that place and I’m so very thankful that I get to take you with me. What could be better?
Gentle voice whispers... The moment when I can have you here with Me and you can feel My strong arms around you… the day when we can walk arm in arm along the streets of gold… the wonder on your face as you see it all for the first time… the tears in your eyes as you realize all I left for you and how much more deeply I loved you than you could ever know… a ceaseless eternity, face to face and together with no barriers…
Oh. Deep breath. Yeah. How did I forget? Of course.
It’s easy to get so consumed in the here and now that I forget there is a future. I forget there is more. I forget this is the journey and not my home. I forget that even this sweetness is only a taste of the best that is yet to come.
Catastrophes have a way of shaking us awake to the future. When I hear of little four-year old Muna Puri from Nepal who was playing outside when the ground began to shake underneath her and the buildings began to sway above her and finally collapse on top of her, I remember that this is not home. No one even knows where her crumpled little lifeless body is right now. Her mother just knows she's somewhere under all the rubble from those buildings… that the house they just took out a loan to build is a mess of stones all over the street… that she has nothing left. Nothing here. And there’s thousands more with such stories… with the death toll over 5,000, at least 8,000 seriously hurt and 8,000,000 heavily affected, the pain has to be unimaginable.
I walk through grassy fields and my heart burns. How could I have thought that this was all I wanted? How can I be so content on this broken little planet? How can I rest until I can throw myself into His arms? How can love be satisfied until it is as close as possible?
Sabbath morning the visiting pastor with greying hair shares how he never thought he would marry or have children before Jesus came and now he is an old man with grandchildren. His elderly friends are passing away, and he wants to go home. That’s when it hit me. I’ve never really thought I’d ever have my own children either. I thought He’d be here by then. What if I grow old and He still hasn’t come?
And sure, that’s not what He wants. He’s more desperate to come than I ever could be to have Him here.
But the truth sinks in… He can’t come until we fulfill His command and shout to every corner of the earth that He is God, and He is good, and His love knows no limits, and He is able to save to the very uttermost boundaries of the earth…
What are we waiting for? If we love Him, why aren’t we doing everything in our power to share that love? Why aren’t we living for the day when we’ll be forever reunited?
Instead of that, we often forget that there even is a heaven to come. We live for today. We do our own tasks and claim to be too busy to do His work.
Wait a minute. What are we even here for if it’s not His work? What is the point of today if it isn’t to love Him and share that love with His people?
It’s not all about living for now. We’re living for a brighter, sweeter, eternity than we can ever grasp here. Sure, I believe in treasuring today, but not at the expense of living for eternity. Today is a tool to bring us closer to home.
I can’t imagine living my whole life and growing old here. I can’t imagine not seeing Him for that long. I can’t be content to always live here on earth with Him in heaven, even if there is a strong connection between. This world is not my home… I don’t want to live like it is.
I can’t ignore those pleading eyes that tell of an even greater desire to be together on His part.
I can’t let my life consume me. It’s not about my to do list-- what I have to get done before the day is over. It’s about Yours… what You have to get done before You can come. I want my generation to see. I want to see myself. I can’t bear thinking that we will sit back and let the years roll by and be consumed with our own tiny stories. Please teach us to live for Your story. Give us a zeal that will be unstoppable to do our part for that day to come. Teach us what it means to love. Then we will know what it means to really live.
We all have gifts we cherish. Precious family and friends, comforts and possession, dreams and plans… They give us countless moments of joy, fill up our days, and quite honestly our hearts too. We feel we have been blessed— and rightly so. This time of year often brings a fresh wave of gratitude from our hearts to the Giver…
That’s what Thanksgiving is about anyway, so we’re on the right track, yeah?
Or maybe not.
I wonder how much gratitude we would give if every gift the Giver has given was stripped away.
Sure, we may be determined that we would not curse God… we would not turn our backs…
But would we be grateful— even joyful?
Because the thing is… God is the One who is supposed to be first and foremost in our hearts. He is the One that should give us the most moments of joy and fill up our days, and our hearts.
And if we were just left with Him… we should find ourselves singing for joy that in loosing all else we can more fully embrace the greatest Gift.
But so often I find my own heart more attached to everything He has given than I am to the ultimate Gift Himself. I shrink from the thought that some of those gifts may not last forever… that seasons come and go… and so do gifts.
I look again at Job’s words— some of my favorite in all Scripture— and this time I begin to grasp a bit more what they really mean… “The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
One can only say such words when Jesus is the One loved more than all else.
I remember again the story that has been burning this lesson onto my heart of late…
He was a simple preacher, dedicated to giving every ounce of himself for his Maker and the people around him. And communist Russia would test his resolve. While returning from a secret church meeting in the home of a friend, Richard is quickly taken by two police men and shoved in the back of a taxi cab. Blindfold on, he is clueless to where he is being taken, except for the nagging idea in the back of his mind. He had known this day was coming. And as soon at the blindfold is removed and he can see the dull grey concrete walls that surround him he knows he was right. He is left to wonder at the length of his sentence.
Inside his cell, Richard Wurmbrand contemplates his fate. He had given himself to ministry and served with all his strength. But in the flurry of activity, it was easy to miss the depth of experience possible. His mind drifted back to the words of a friend… “there are only two kinds of Christians: those who sincerely believe in God and those who, just as sincerely, believe that they believe.” Now he would know which he was.
Richard later wrote, “Did I believe in God? Now the test had come. I was alone. There was no salary to earn, no golden opinions to consider. God offered me only suffering— would I continue to love Him?”
Years of imprisonment followed. Richard had plenty of time to answer that questions. 14 years in fact.
Over and over he was questioned for his faith, and given every incentive imaginable to give it up. But to Richard it had become more than a faith. It was his best Friend he was being asked to turn his back on. He couldn’t do that.
Torture was the result.
And in the midst of unimaginable suffering Richard was content… even incredibly joyful. He writes, “Words alone have never been able to say what man feels in the nearness of divinity. Sometimes I was so filled with joy that I felt I would burst if i did not give it expression.” Many times during the three years he spent in solitary confinement the guards found him dancing for joy. “I did not mind if my captors thought I was mad, for I had found a beauty in Christ that I had not known before.”
During torture he had a phrase that he would repeat over and over to keep his mind from the pain… “Jesus, dear Bridegroom of my soul, I love You.”
His captors were infuriated at his commitment to God and his fellow men, and arranged for a trial. Richard was quite ill when it took place, and when asked to speak he could only think of three words to say… “I love God.”
After eight years of appalling treatment and suffering Richard was set free… but he couldn’t rest while he thought of the many prisoners who sat in darkness without hope of the Savior he loved. He began to tell God that he was willing to go back to jail if that was His will. And after a few short months he was arrested and taken.
For six more years Richard faced horrible suffering for the God he loved so much. While the men around him crumbled and lost their faith in socialism and other political positions, he stood firm. All the tactics, torture, offers, and physiological methods the communists could employ could not induce him to leave the God he loved so much… the very God who had allowed him to be separated from his wife and son for fourteen years… the God who allowed him to live years without seeing the light of the sun, or eat a square meal, or sleep in a comfortable bed… the God who allowed his dreams to be dashed, and all his possessions to be taken. The God who knew that the real source of happiness is not found in material gifts, but in the incredible gift we have of cherishing Him as our best Friend.
Richard’s words sink into me… “I knew now that I was not play-acting. I believed.”
And I wonder how we have allowed God to become anything less than our all... How we’ve become so consumed with all He gives that we miss Him.
Because so often we are like customers coming to Him and expecting Him to give us what we want.
How often do we come to Him purely for the joy of being in His presence? Just because we love Him?
The words of one of my favorite songs have been engraving themselves on my heart of late…
...What if right at midnight Jesus softly struck a match
Could that change everything, the light one flame could bring?
The deepest dark surrenders when One candle flickers brights
The same flame that in daytime would be lost in worlds of light
The night is not the enemy, for darkness tells this truth
Only One light lasts forever, only One light is truth.
God, if you have to make our world dark so that we can discern the Only One who lasts forever… do it. Our treasures are all yours. We want the true Treasure. We’re willing to face losses, prison walls, loneliness, the loss of all things save You so that the continual motto of our heart will be…
Jesus, dear Bridegroom of our souls, we love You…
...We love God.
This thanksgiving the deepest gratitude of my heart is for You. You are all. You are enough.
High King of heaven… my treasure Thou art.
*Photo credit-- Yours truly :)
MEN WANTED: FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY, SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL. HONOR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS.
-Sir Ernest Shackleton-
Quite a proposal. What would inspire a person to sign on to such a trip? What motive could possibly make a man want to leave his home and family for that? What if he did never come home? Could it be worth it?
Love does away with fear. In this case love of adventure...
Another quote comes to mind... this one from a famous astronaut.
"If we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us, it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life." Virgil (Gus) Grissom
And later he and two friends did give their lives. While testing the Apollo 1, a fire broke out in the capsule and all three men died.
Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chafee before the fire.
What could have motivated them to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice?
Yet again we find love. In this case, not only love of adventure but love for conquest.
And it makes me think... What would motivate us to endure long months of complete darkness? What would give us the courage to live a life of constant danger? What would we deem a worthy cause for which to expend our life?
And the same answer strikes again. Love. This time capitalized.
Because that add was not just something written to inspire men to join an adventure to the South Pole. Someone much greater asks for similar courage.
And if hundreds of men could apply for that because of their love of adventure, shouldn't hundreds of Christians be willing to face the same for love of their Master?
If three men were willing to give their lives for the conquest of space, shouldn't we be willing to give our lives for the conquest of something much greater?
Shouldn't we be willing to face hardship this year?
Sometimes God uses hardship as the very means of our growth. And I say that with more confidence than ever before...
Dec. 31 2012
Lord, I want a year of growth-- if that means a hard year-- let it be a hard year. Take me out of my comfort zone. Send me trials. All I want is the year of greatest growth in you that I've ever had. That will make it my best year so far.
Little did I know what I was asking for...
After various trials and several months of fighting an unknown illness, and then being diagnosed with Lyme disease in August, I have a little more idea.The seven months of sickness and pain have been God's answer to my prayer in the above journal entry. And yet I wouldn't have that prayer unsaid, or those seven months "unlived" for anything. I can truly say that hardship was my greatest blessing.
Fast forward to another journal entry a year later...
Dec 31, 2013
...Though I now know more than ever before the heart definition of pain, I know also the heart definition of upholding Love. I may have known personally what it is like to be utterly weak, but I have also known the amazing power of sustaining grace. I might have known disappointments and confusion but it was only so that I might now truly know trust. I may have experienced darkness, but it was only so that I could now appreciate more the one true Light.
I now see my greatest struggles as my greatest blessings. Hardship is not our enemy. It is a gift the Master allows that we may be strengthened to fight our real enemy.
This year, I'm excited to see what new things He has in store. I know my Jesus doeth all things well. I praise Him that the last few weeks have marked improvements in my health, and the beginning of a slow, but sure, recovery.
And for the record, Lord, I am willing to endure hardship for You this year. I deem You worthy of risking my life.
After all, didn't You deem me worthy of risking Yours?
We all dream. All of us. And I'm not talking about our nighttime dreams.
I believe that in every human heart is a longing for something great. Something big.
It's obvious to see what the unconverted heart has done with this desire. They want something great for themselves. The consuming interest becomes "my clothes, my boyfriend/girlfriend, my friends, my stuff, my career, my money."
The dreams all begin and end with something big for "me."
But God asks us to give those dreams to Him and trade them for something better. Most of us know that. Many of us have done that.
Instead we dream of a life of active service for the One we love. And as we come to love Him more, we come to love His children. And then we dream of a life serving not only Him, but them too. We no longer want something big for us, but we long to do something big for Him and His suffering children.
We make our plans of how we will serve Him, the degrees we'll get, the mission fields we'll run to. The dirty little faces we'll clean. The broken hearts we will comfort. The souls we'll save.
Sounds better, right?
But then sometimes, right when we think we're in reach of our dreams, He asks us to give them up. We think we've misunderstood. We question Him. Wasn't it His will for us to give our life for Him and others?
I'm not just theorizing. I've been here. And recently.
But we forget that He is the dream-Fullfiller. He's not out to smash our cherished hopes, only to enrich them, or give us altogether new and better ones.
We forget too, that He is the dream-Holder. When He asks us to surrender our dreams, He does not ask us to throw them down, but to give them up. Up to Him.
If you've ever watched a careful parent guiding their little child up the stairs, you might notice that they ask their child to hand them their toys so that the child can hold the parent's hand instead of trying to climb with hands full. When they reach the top of the stairs, the parent will give the toys back.
Our Father does the same. He asks us to give our dreams up to Him, so that we can grasp His hand instead. He carefully holds them for us as He leads us up the ascent. Then, when He sees we have learned to hold His hand and climb with Him, He gives us the dreams back.
He is the dream-Giver, the dream-Holder, and the dream-Fullfiller.
If He asks for your tightly prized dreams, and you find yourself with empty hands, reach up and grasp His. He will lead you safely up the ascent. And when you reach the top of this little "staircase" you will be stronger.
When He sees that you are just as content to walk with nothing in your hands but His touch, He will give you your dreams back. They may not be quite the same as when you gave them to Him, but only changed for the better.
Because everything His hand touches is transformed and made perfect. That's just the way my Jesus is.
It was a simple thought, but one packed with power. My brother was telling me that he had been contemplating the other morning how water can only produce an accurate reflection when perfectly still-- how we can only produce an accurate reflection when perfectly still.
That thought really struck a cord with me. The depth of it's meaning is something I'm still trying to get my mind around. Just as the restless water produces a distorted reflection, we produce a distorted reflection of our Maker when we allow the storms of life to shake our trust, or when we become so frazzled by the business of life that we lose sight of Him. It's no accident we are told to "be still" and know that He is God.
A complete reflection of our Jesus can only shine from the heart that is perfectly still.
That rules out anxiety, which is really just a lack of trust.
It rules out the all-consuming business that leaves no time for Him.
It completely dispenses with frustration of any kind.
Instead this reflection requires trust. The kind that believes in the heart of it's Savior, even when it doesn't understand.
It asks us to be willing to accept His plans instead of our own, without having a "grown up tantrum." We've all seen the little child's version, but do we ever consider that sometimes we throw grown up "internal" tantrums when God says no? This summer has given me plenty of opportunity for them (like even this afternoon when I found out there are only four more GED testing dates this year at the "local" college before the new GED comes out, and two of them are on Sabbath, and one we are likely traveling, and the other will probably be booked by the time I get the necessary papers. :)) But I'm learning that real peace is found in giving Him the pen. I had definite aims and deadlines, ones that I'd prayed about and thought were right for the last few months. But sometimes He knows we need the gentle push towards deeper surrender and reliance on Him that disappointed plans will bring. And then, we can either struggle or surrender. But the restless water caused by the struggle reflects the Image poorly.
This reflecting Him... It calls for time daily to come apart and learn of His heart. Only the individual who knows the Master can reflect Him...
It asks us to be still. So still that not only the world-- but also our Maker-- can see His face perfectly reflected in us. It's the kind of stillness that only comes through trust.
*Be all at rest and let not your heart be rippled,
For tiny wavelets mar the image fair,
Which the still pool reflects of heaven's glory.
And thus the image He would have you bear.
*Streams in the Desert
Photos taken at NJFC
Credits: father :)
It was only a week ago. I lay on my hammock outside (my summer sleeping spot J) gazing up at the stars. Inside I knew my Jesus had something to say to me. Something deep. I’ll be honest, I’d been resisting it because I was worried He would ask me to do something I didn’t feel I could do. Now under the blanket of the starry sky I was ready to listen.
Child, are you willing to give up your dreams, plans, and yourself and be used up for the good of others? Are you willing to live your life only for the good of others? Will you let me use you to make a mark on this world?
Silence. Of course I had told Him before that I wanted to live my life for others, but somehow this time was different. It was if He was asking for something deeper.
And I knew He was asking for action. I am far too good at talking and dreaming, yet never doing much about it. Just a few days ago we were talking with some friends about what it is that stops us from acting on our talk. Fear of the unknown and lack of commitment. Ouch. I knew that He was asking for my answer to be more than words—He wanted a “yes” in actions. And I paused. Was I ready for this?
I looked up at the stars again. And then a thought flashed through my mind…
This little world that you call home, it is the only world that hast fallen. And yet all the riches of the universe have been poured out on it. The Maker of the Universe has trod here. Angels have poured themselves out for your little world. Do you count your life too much to be given?
My answer comes. No Jesus. No cost is too much. I give you my everything. Just pour me out for the good of others and I will be satisfied.
And this last week I have really experienced it, and it has been thrilling. He has changed my desires so that I really desire the good of others above my own good. That’s a miracle.
Sometimes we tend to think that pouring ourselves out for others can only be done in some desert Africa, but that can be a subtle deception. Sure I’d run all the way to Africa to pour myself out for all those starving people if I could. But I’m learning that there are starving people here too.
Even if the only place we can pour ourselves out is our own homes it is worth it. It is necessary. Every heart longs for love. We can fill that longing.
We can never touch the hearts far away until we touch the ones closest.
By His grace, I’ll love every individual He places in my pathway. And maybe one day it will be a starving African. But for right now I’ll be content with serving the people around me.
This Sabbath finds me lying on my bed, head pounding, stomach churning, back aching, and throat sore. But I’m not giving way to feelings of frustration. If my miniscule suffering can help me relate to the greater suffering of others just a little more, then it’s all worth it.
I turn on one of my favorite songs and let the words sink in. They mean more than ever before…
There is a candle in every soul,
Some brightly burning, some dark and cold.
There is a Spirit
Which lights a fire,
Ignites a candle and makes His home.
Carry your candle!
Run to the darkness.
Seek out the lonely, the tired and worn.
Hold out your candle!
For all to see it.
Take your candle,
Go light your world.
Frustrated brother, see how he’s tried to
Light his own candle, some other way.
See now your sister.
She’s been robbed and lied to.
Still holds a candle without a flame.
We are a family whose hearts are blazing
So lets raise our candles, light up the sky.
Pray to our Father
In the name of Jesus,
Make us a beacon in darkest night!
Quiet. It’s not something I crave naturally. Actually, it’s something I can tend to shy away from because it throws me way out of my comfort zone. But I’m discovering—it’s vital if we really want to serve.
It was only a week ago that I found myself on a plane headed home, leaving the country and all the beautiful people I’d come to love so quickly. The flight was none too long for me to process the last week, and fill up the pages of my journal. And I found myself wondering why God sometimes brings us to the quiet when there is a world starving for service. Now a week later, I don’t have to wonder.
Our first, full day home found me up on a ridge on our property taking time to think and pray. It’s amazing how that spot has become special after only four days. And it’s been in that time of communion that the answer to the question I battled with on the flight home has become obvious.
Quiet is preparation for service.
David lived out his youth in a quiet valley before he was qualified to be the king of Israel. Enoch spent many quiet weeks in the hills before going down to speak to the people. Moses raised sheep for forty years in the wilderness before he could lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. John the Baptist spent his childhood in the wilderness before giving the message for which he was born. And our dear Jesus lived in a little village for thirty years before his three years of ministry. The disciple John never received the Revelation until on the lonely island of Patmos. Paul spent several years in the wilderness before going out on his missionary journeys that shook the world.
The pattern strikes me. Could it be that quiet always comes before we can do something great for God?
On my little rock overlooking the valley I’ve been doing some deep thinking. I came across a quote that says it should be the mission of the youth to give the gospel to the world in this generation. And that left me pondering… what is it going to take to make us give the gospel to the world in our generation. The answer that came really hit home. Before we can share the gospel, we need to be living the gospel. I mean, really living it—not just talking about it. We can’t share it’s changing power until it’s changed us.
And so I’m seeking to remove all obstacles. I want to be totally changed—completely revolutionized. I’m seeking to treasure the quiet, and really learn the lessons it provides. And quiet is more than just living in the hills. Because with our phones, iPods, and tablets we can bring the clamor of the city to the hills, can’t we?
We’re headed out again… but my iPhone is still in my closet at home. (I’m still blogging from my old computer, but limiting myself to using it very little). J My phone is one of those distractions that is watering down the quiet, and taking it away almost completely when we’re on the road. And it’s shocked me how even the few hours I've been without it have shown me how dependent on it I was! Far too dependent. That’s going to change. It seemed like every five minutes I would find myself reaching for it.
If it takes three weeks to make a habit… I’m going for three weeks without my phone. And if I succumb to the temptation to use it within that time… I’ll start the three weeks again. So far, it’s challenging me, but I’m loving it. I've had so much more time to think—really think.
And so on this trip I’m choosing to take some quiet with me. Jesus, you can have my phone, and all the other things that distract me from you. I’ll find my joy in some little mountain spot of communion with you.
Quiet is preparation for service.
I would never have thought it was possible to learn such a deep spiritual lesson from the top of a castle in England—a lesson that has had my mind spinning ever since.
As we climbed up the spiraling stone stairs, my mind flashed back to the Apostle’s day. I could almost see them climbing stairs just like these, maybe to a prison cell. I’ve long dreamed of being thrown into a prison cell for my faith. I long to know the experience Corrie Ten Boom had… “You never know all you need is Jesus until all you have is Jesus.” And I’ve always thought I would be faithful even if they should ask for my life.
But I didn’t know what awaited me when we reached the top of the castle. I walked to the edge and stared. The distance to the ground just took my breath away.
And then the familiar inaudible voice…
Would you be willing to be thrown from the top of this castle to the ground far below if you were told it was renounce your faith in me or be thrown over the edge?
Silence. I could see in my minds eye those faithful soldiers—the Waldenses—being tossed over a cliff face because of their faith in Him. I gazed again over the edge…An answer was forming in my heart, but it was not the answer I wanted to give.
I don’t know Jesus—I don’t know.
How could I be saying this? I had always been determined to stand. I had even dreamed being a martyr for Him. And here I was, and all I could mumble was-- I don’t know.
That really bothered me. If I couldn’t say yes now, how could I ever say it then? Why was I suddenly fearful? Staring over the edge the answer seemed clear. It’s one thing to imagine giving my life when I’m at home in my comfortable room… it’s another thing in reality.
But I couldn’t be content with my answer. What would it take to give a whole hearted “yes” if the moment ever came? Another glance to the ground far below and I knew. Love for Him was the only way—deeper love than I had ever experienced. Perfect love casts out all fear.
All day that question spun around in my head. And all of a sudden I found another answer forming in my heart.
Yes Jesus. Anything to be faithful to you. But you’re going to have to help me. I realize how powerless I am. Please do whatever it takes.
And He has been teaching me far more than I could dream since that moment. Driving back to my grandmother’s that day He reminded me that it’s only by resisting every dart of the devil, now, that I will resist, then.
Ouch. That’s a weak point of mine.
But He has amazed me again in the last couple of days. It’s been awhile since He’s seemed so close that I feel like I can hear His heartbeat if I listen long enough. And it’s a experience like nothing I can explain. He’s teaching me… and I know if I am willing to learn He will help me be able to look over the edge and give a firm, unwavering, yes.
I was listening to a favorite song yesterday and one of the lines popped out at me in a new way.
If from His side we fall we’ve lost it all—for in Him all things are found.
We loose nothing if we are tossed over the face of a cliff because we will not leave Him. We loose everything by giving up on Him. So often we think we give up more being faithful, but could it be that we give up more by not being faithful?
Jesus, I plead earnestly that you will do whatever it takes in me so that I can give you an unflinching “yes” if it ever comes to it. And I ask for more than the courage to say yes to you then-- I ask that you would help me say yes to you every time now. And I plead that you would not work in my heart alone…
He's asking you too... What's your answer?
The car hums quietly as the sights of home drift behind us. I pull my old computer out, well aware of my great need of Him. The journey has begun! Not just the journey to OK Family Camp, but the beginning of the 2013 camp meeting season, and for me the journey of writing book number two. Excitement is hanging in the air.
Ear buds in, I start typing. But not for long. I haven’t even finished the first paragraph before the car slowly glides to the side of the interstate. I pull my ear buds out. I don’t hardly need to ask what’s going wrong. We all know.
Our much-loved car has developed an annoying trait of not starting some of the time, which has been turning into half the time lately. Normally father or Caleb can fix it and we’re fine in five minutes.
But it’s never stopped while running before. We conclude that it happened because we were driving up a hill. (I’m thinking, this won’t be the only hill between here and OKFC). Praise God it starts first time and we’re back on the road… for about a minute. This time as we drift to the side of the interstate, we know something is really wrong. That becomes even clearer after we try and start it ten times without success. Many prayers go up. But the points clear—the car won’t start, the battery is dead, and we’re on the interstate 30 minutes from home, and over an hour from the nearest reasonable size town.
After about an hour, a wrecker is on the way to take the car to the auto repair for the week, meanwhile father calls every rental company he can think of in Flagstaff. They all answer the same way. "We can give you a full size car, but not an SUV." Just try putting four personal suitcases, a lever harp, a full size cello, and all the sound and video equipment in a little car! It didn’t even fit in our Tahoe without a pod and rack on the back. J
I try to ignore the battle in my mind. I want to get to camp so much. I don’t want this to interfere with our plans. I don’t want to be stranded in Flagstaff with no way to leave.
But another voice penetrates my thoughts… Trust me. You have been praying for trials to help you grow.. Now you need to trust that I will work this out.
I put my computer away and forget about book writing at this point. I have the distinct thought to go read my daily devotional for the day. I almost know before I get there that it will be just for me. But I never dreamed how much.
Let the words sink in. They weren’t just for me…
“That ye may know what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Thou knowest what is best; And who but Thee, O God, hath power to know? In Thy great will my trusting heart shall rest; beneath that will my humble head shall bow.
To those who are His, all things are not only easy to be born, but even to be gladly chosen. Their will is united to that will which moves heaven and earth, (thinking… then He can move our car if He wants to, right?) which gives laws to angels, and rules the courses of the world. It is a wonderful gift of God to man…To be at the center of that motion, where is everlasting rest; to be sheltered in the peace of God; even now to dwell in heaven, where all hearts are stayed, and all hopes fulfilled. ‘Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace because his mind is stayed on Thee.”
Study to follow His will in all, to have no will but His. This is thy duty, and thy wisdom. Nothing is gained by spurning and struggling but to hurt and vex thyself; (that one really hits me hard) but by complying all is gained—sweet peace. It is the very secret, the mystery of solid peace within, to resign all to His will, to be disposed of at His pleasure, without the least contrary thought.
Oh Jesus, You are so good.
I read that over and over. I have full confidence that His heart understands the desires of my heart, and will do what is best. The peace I find on the side of the interstate is even sweeter than the peace I have when we’re breezing along at seventy. Peace in the storm is always sweeter than peace in the calm.
After trying almost every imaginable option, father finds a Suburban in Flagstaff, and as soon as the car is dropped off at the auto repair, father and I head to the airport in the cab of the wrecker to pick up the car.
“We’ve come to pick up the Suburban we booked through the 800 number.”
“I’m sorry sir, we don’t have a Suburban here. The 800 number doesn’t really know what we have here. I can give you a full sized car.”
Sigh. We rent a compact, go pick up the rest of the clan, and head to the hotel for the night.
Before we go to bed father has another Suburban booked from another rental company. We’re a little dubious.
Another phone call Monday morning reveals the same answer as night before. No Suburban.
Oh Jesus, help me trust. I've read that devotional again and again in the last few hours.
Finally, father found a car that will fit our stuff—hopefully. After an hour of moving everything between cars, we’re on the road.
We’re a bit behind schedule, but I’m grateful. He knew I needed that wake up call to trust Him with my plans. The devil is not happy about this year of family camps, or the beginning of another writing journey for me. But if God be for us, who can be against us?
Jesus, thank You for being trustworthy. Thank You for teaching me to trust, even if it’s on the side of interstate 40.
20. Lover of Jesus. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Servant. Fan of the kitchen. Graduate of Masters of Biblical Counseling.
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