Bible, Christian, church, death, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, grief, Jesus, loss, love, prayer, retreat, righteousness, sorrow, Spiritual, trials

I have quieted my soul

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I knew before I left the house that the route to my destination would most assuredly include miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic before I reached the other side of Houston.  I set my mind to enjoy my trip no matter what and made sure to leave the house early enough to avoid the late afternoon rush hour.  I must admit there were moments which threatened my deliberate peace, but I was strong and resisted with my mantra “it doesn’t matter….you have plenty of time…enjoy the journey…”  I was prepared for the trip – I knew where I was going, had adequate fuel, snacks and water.  It’s easy to enjoy the journey when you are prepared.

I had been anticipating the retreat for months and with every mile that drew me closer, I could feel the pressures of the every day falling away.  As I drove onto the grounds of my destination an even stronger sense of quiet washed over me.  The kind of peace that you can drink in with every breath. Surrounding stillness that felt as if it were an alternate universe where tight muscles and tense nerves do not exist. Beauty of nature that softly beckons to let go of everything else and simply take it in.  A setting that clearly whispers be still and know that I am God.

I happily unpacked my things in the quaint, cozy room where I would spend the weekend.  There was plenty of time to get settled in and relax before the evening’s events.  I scanned my emails and messages to be sure that nothing important was left without a response and took a moment to review the latest social media posts.  It was there I learned of the attacks in Paris.  I quickly searched the web for more details as the sense of impending doom was knocking at my door.  This is our world and the inability to be prepared for these kinds of horrific acts strikes fear in our hearts.  The threats are bold and fierce and very real and we are at a loss as to what to do.

I gathered the initial facts and put down my phone.  Seeking Him quickly is the only way to turn away the fear of impending doom.  I offered up a familiar prayer of “God, I don’t even know what to pray!”  In times past, that would be the end of a quick “God help them.  God be with them.” prayer, but I have since learned to be still and literally ask God “What do You want me to pray?”  It is not hard to understand and pray for the immediate need for safety and comfort and protection for those who remain in the wake of the horror.  But somehow it still seems lacking.

In this great mystery that is prayer, God, who knows what we need before we ask, has chosen to involve us in a supernatural process.  The more I’ve grown closer to Him and the more I’ve sought understanding, the more it has become evident that I really don’t know very much.  Perhaps He will give me deeper understanding of why He involves us in the process.  Or maybe He won’t.  But He is teaching me more and more how to pray and that with or without understanding, He requires obedience.  If the bible is true and He is God and He knows everything and I cannot do anything (eternal) without Him, then it is very clear that I must learn from Him what to pray.

We can spend much time in worrying and fretting.  We can scream our opinions and blame our politicians, publicly shaming them for what we perceive as their lack of action to keep us safe.  We can cry and moan and fear for our lives, and spread the fear to those around us.  We can beg and plead with God to do something!!  But is that really who we are?  Is that what we are called to??

We must learn to quiet our souls.

Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in matters too great or in things too wonderful for me.  Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me – ceased from fretting.  O Isreal, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.  Psalm 131

Peace I leave with you; My own peace I now give and bequeath to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.  John 14:27

It is clear that He intended for us to participate in this:  “I (David) have calmed…  (You) Do not let…”  We are able to bring our mind, will, and emotions into submission to His Spirit, which is the spirit of Peace. We must find that place of peace so that we can clearly hear His words to us and learn how to act in times of trouble rather than automatically react in our flesh.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have perfect peace and confidence.  In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer – take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted!  For I have overcome the world.  I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.  John 16:33

There are days I ask myself why I am so surprised when trouble comes.  Duh.  Jesus plainly said there would be trouble in this world.  Our ability to quiet our souls and not be afraid comes from the confidence that we are not OF this world.  THIS LIFE IS TEMPORARY.  Perhaps it’s time for us to step back and get a new perspective.  This life has purpose and meaning and is important to God, but it is a wisp, a vapor in time compared to eternity.

What did God tell me to pray when I heard the news of Paris?  He told me to pray that in midst of the pain and chaos and grief people are experiencing that they would find Him as Savior.  He told me that the mission remains the same, Tell others about Me.  I won’t be traveling to Paris to tell others about Jesus.  But I will be putting feet to my prayers for those in my neighborhood.  It’s not just the people of France who are afraid.  It’s our families, our friends, our neighbors.  If we are afraid right along with them, we have no message of hope to share, no comfort to give.

Draw away with me.  Quiet your soul.  Pray whatever the Father tells you to pray.  Do whatever the Father tells you to do.  Find supernatural Peace in troubled times.  He is waiting…

“I have quieted my soul” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photograph by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, God, grace, Jesus, love, righteousness, Spiritual, Uncategorized

You had ONE job…

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I had a visit with my sister last night and we talked of many things.  But we talked the most about our faith and how it has grown and evolved through the years, both of us having spent our lives very actively engaged in the church.  We’ve heard multitudes of sermons, attended countless bible studies, taught an abundance of classes, and written thousands of notes on all that we have learned.  We’ve gotten some of it right and some of it wrong and have no intentions of ever relenting in our pursuit of more of Him.  But as we talk and share where we are right now and where He is leading us, we are finding that many things we think we’ve learned have become less and less important.

Perhaps important isn’t the best word.  Perhaps it is better said that much of the knowledge we possess (or think we possess) is no longer at the top of the list of what fuels our desire for Him.  This life as a Jesus-follower is becoming clearer every day and with that clarity an uncomfortable simplicity.  No matter which way our discussion took us last night, we continually came back to the same place.  We have been given one job:  LOVE.  It is to be the root and foundation of every thought and action of our lives.

If our “one job” were visible in picture form, what would it look like??

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This last one would be funny no matter what the fortune turned out to be, but really…?  While the cookie is intact and the little slip of paper is very neatly packaged with it, it is in truth not a job well done.  Does it matter?  You still get a cookie and a fortune, right?  Ask the manufacturer.  It matters.

Are we so busy in the work of Christianity that we’ve missed the point? Does it matter if we dole out our brand of compromised Christian love, giving it only to those who are willing to be neatly packaged with us conforming to our ideas of right and wrong?  Does it matter if we rail (publicly or privately) against the sinner through our fears that their lifestyle will taint our comfortable world?  Does it matter that we drive by the homeless without a thought, much less an action?  Does it matter what we say and do toward those who are unrepentant and even antagonistic toward us, His children?  Let’s ask our Maker…

But I say to you who are listening now to Me:  make it a practice to love your enemies, treat well – do good to, act nobly toward – those who detest you and pursue you with hatred.  Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God’s blessing and favor upon those who abuse you – who revile, reproach, disparage, and high-handedly misuse you.  To the one who strikes you on the jaw or cheek, offer the other jaw or cheek also; and from him who takes away your outer garment, do not withhold your undergarment as well.  Give away to everyone who begs of you…

If you merely love those who love you, what quality of credit and thanks is that to you?…But love your enemies and be kind and do good – doing favors so that someone derives benefit from them – and lend, expecting and hoping for nothing in return but considering nothing as lost and despairing of no one; and then your recompense will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind and charitable and good to the ungrateful and the selfish and wicked.  So be merciful – sympathetic, tender, responsive and compassionate – even as your Father is all of these.

Make no mistake:  simple and easy are not the same thing.  The command is simple:  lacking complexity, not hard to understand, and not having many parts.  Love God, love others like He does.  This simple instruction, however, is hard in the “doing”.  It is not easy.  It is not comfortable.  It is not without difficulty or pain. To fulfill this command is to put our own opinions and feelings to death.  It is to allow ourselves to be emptied of ourselves and filled with Him.  Loving as He loved.  Unconditionally.  Extravagantly.  To the extreme.

It is the evidence to the world that He exists, that we are His, and that His extravagant love can bring to them healing and hope and forgiveness and eternal life.

He who does not love has not become acquainted with God – does not and never did know Him – for God is love.

We have been given one job.  Let’s do it well.  The greatest blessings come in doing life His way.  In the end it will not be the hours we’ve sat through sermons or the volumes of study notes we’ve accumulated that matter.  What will stand for all eternity is that we accepted the lavish love He has given and allowed ourselves to be vessels that spilled that love onto everyone we encountered.

“You had one job.”  It will be worth it all to hear Him say “Well done.”

Matthew 5 & 25, Luke 6, and 1 John 4

You had ONE job…” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, God, grace, Jesus, love, new creation, righteousness, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Slow drivers in the left lane

Grrrrr….

It is commonly accepted as a standard driving courtesy, and on some highways a traffic law, that slower drivers take the right lane, not the left.  I once referred to this particular annoyance as one of my pet peeves but have decided that I do not want to have peeves for pets, so now I call it an occasional irritation.  One that reeeaaaalllyyy irritates me.

I don’t think of myself as a fast driver yet that is exactly how my granddaughter describes me:  “Momma, Granny always drives fast!”  I choose to view myself as a driver with purpose.  I have a plan and a schedule and I would appreciate it if all the other drivers on the road would accommodate me.  I suppose they have their own plans and schedules but can they possibly be as important as mine?

Those who know me very well no longer take offense at the fact that I never see them when we meet on the road.  Never.  Once I enter the confines of my vehicle, I am in my own little world.  My focus is on where I am going and what I have to do.  I must admit, however, that I occasionally get so caught up in this little world of mine that I lose focus as I zone out, becoming oblivious to my own driving speed.  Yes, it’s true, sometimes I AM that slow driver in the left lane. Thinking only of myself, I can become completely inconsiderate of the person who is riding my back bumper in the hopes that I will notice their grill in my rear view mirror and from a few, the inappropriate hand gestures they’ve been making for the last five miles.  I’ve often thought I need a small, hand-held sign that could quickly be displayed in the window directed at the one I have just offended that simply read “Sorry!!”  Surely that would make all their anger dissipate if they simply knew it was an oops on my part and I was sorry…

This morning as I was impatiently stuck in the left lane behind yet another pesky slow driver, God says “This is what you do spiritually, too, you know.”  Ugh.  Yes, Lord, I do.  I get impatient with those who are not moving at the same speed as I am.  I zone out, thinking only of myself, and pass them as soon as I can.  I give no thought to the road they are on and what their destination may be, acting as if mine is more important.  I often move through entire weeks without even noticing there are others on this road.  Different speeds, different destinations, different needs, same God.

…keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints…  Ephesians 6:18

Pretty hard to offer any intercession for my sisters and brothers in Christ if I am not paying attention to them…

Unlike driving behind a slow driver on the highway, when we encounter those who are traveling this spiritual life at a different pace than ourselves, it is an opportunity to enjoy their pace and learn from it.  We may have to slow down to see what they see and hear what they hear.  We may need to speed up to join them in the next revelation of our God.  Our unwillingness to move at their speed very often is shown in our impatience.  We want to offer a quick “Sorry!” with the expectation that they will surely understand we have no time to stop….

But if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is brought to completion – to its full maturity, runs its full course, and is perfected – in us!  1 John 4:12

This love He’s poured into us can only be perfected as we share it with one another.  Even those who are driving slow in the left lane.

 

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, grace, Jesus, loss, love, new creation, praise, righteousness, Spiritual, trials, worship

Chiseled by trial

After weeks of rain, last week produced wonderfully mild temperatures and gorgeous days!  Now settled into the new home and rested from the intensity of the move, it was time to embark on the adventure of mapping out my new route to walk, and eventually run.  Thank goodness for maps on my phone – this subdivision is quite large and with my inability to naturally navigate, I could have been lost for days without it!  I decided on an easy loop that will provide enough distance to begin again, slowly getting back to a regular routine after months of sporadic efforts.

I was a bit over-zealous on day one of this new course, but having given my legs quite the workout during our move I fell into a familiar rhythm and delighted in the beauty of the day.  Day two was even better, cutting a couple of minutes from my finished time.  By day three, I imagined with every move of my slightly sore muscles that they were quickly becoming very toned underneath this layer I hope to shed.  It felt good to move and good to be sore, indications that my muscles are becoming stronger even if unseen by the human eye.

As I dreamed of a fit body with muscles clearly defined, the word “chiseled” came to mind.  I laughed at the thought of that particular word every being applied to my appearance again, but it had come up in Tuesday morning bible study as we’ve been looking at wisdom:

When swelling and pride come, then emptiness and shame come also, but with the humble – those who are lowly, who have been pruned or chiseled by trial, and renounce self – are skillful and godly Wisdom and soundness.  Proverbs 11:2

Trials come to us all.  How we respond to them is our choice.  But no matter what we choose – whether we seek to find the good and embrace the hardships with hope, or we rebel and resist and fight – the chisel is at work.  It is chipping and carving and cutting and will reveal a finished work.  For those who fight, this tool of trials carves the hardship into the soul as if it can never be forgotten, a constant reminder of pain.  But for those who yield to the chisel in the Master’s hand, their form changes with every cut, the details and definition of His likeness lovingly revealed in the masterpiece He had in mind.  Wisdom is humbling ourselves before a God Who is so much more than we can comprehend.  A God so good that we can trust Him with the difficulties of this life, confident that He is working something beautiful that is yet to be seen.

While I cannot see all the muscles that are shaping up, gaining strength and definition, I am confident this work is taking place every time I work out.  In the same way, I take confidence in the fact that God is working even in the trials, or perhaps especially in the trials.  You may not be able to see it yet, but with every faith step I take His chisel at work making me what I ought to be.

 

The post “Chiseled by trial” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com