Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The More We Seek Him

The more I discover about God, the more I realize how little I truly know. Not because my access to Him is limited (because it's not). Not because He hides Himself (because He doesn't.) But because of how absolutely amazing and great He is. We can't even scratch the surface of how big our God is, and yet, the mystery of all mysteries is that we can still have a relationship that is personal and intimate. He is near.

The last few weeks, I have been taking a course through Bethel Church on worship. I have had such an eye-opening experience through that- and not even so much because of what they are directly teaching, but more from my own desire to deepen my relationship with the Lord and what He is teaching me as a result.

One concept that keeps coming up through my courses is how every person has the potential to be a carrier of the presence of God. Think about that- we are designed to be a vessel to carry His presence to the world around us. And not just on a stage when singing and leading people in worship- but in every part of our day and in every situation. This is not a new concept for me, but the idea of it is really resonating with me as I am learning more about what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit and what it means to bring about His Kingdom on the earth. 

Being in God's presence is where we find our rest. But it's also where we receive direction for life. It's where we can bring our questions, but also get some answers and clarity. It's where we can stand in awe of how much we don't know, but also where we can sit at His feet and learn and just be loved. 

Imagine if every person in your church realized the potential God has placed in them- to be a partner with Him to carry His love, grace, and power to world? If every one of them would seek after God and ask Him to fill them up until they were overflowing with His presence, it would be incredible. It is in the presence of God that we are healed, changed, and loved- my prayer is that we all would seek more of Him and make every effort to get in to His presence, both individually and corporately. Not for a "feeling" or an "experience", but so that we can truly know Him and make Him known. It's all about Him and it's all for His glory! 

"But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul." Deuteronomy 4:29

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Standing In The Wind

I am a big fan of gardening. Correction- I am a big fan of the product of gardening. All of the work that goes in to harvesting those big, ripe tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, green beans, and herbs is time-consuming. But oh so worth it! The last few years, I have tried to grow my plants from seed. The first year was a massive success. I had all kinds of time to baby the seedlings and get them growing really well. Last year, I had a newborn baby (not nearly enough time to take care of the seeds, but I did manage somehow) and then our stinking cat sat on the seedlings that I had half-attempted to nurture and killed them. This year, my carefully planted seedlings did really well for a couple weeks and then one night, somehow, the door the tomatoes were placed near came open overnight. The cold air crept in and made them wilt to the point where they were not salvageable. I was ticked (and our house was freezing cold!) Thankfully, there is a local grower who has the most productive, beautiful plants around for sale. It's just a bummer to have to pay more cash for your plants and not feel the victory of growing from seed. But life goes on (and tomato sandwiches are still had.) 

In my research over the last years of gardening, I came across something that was so interesting. If you have tomato seedlings and don't "toughen them up", sometimes when you plant them outside, at the first sign of wind, they will break and bend and be useless. So some master gardeners suggest, when the seedlings reach a certain height, to get a household fan and turn it on low for a few hours, pointed at the seedlings. Then you put the fan on the opposite side of the plants and do the same thing. For a couple days, you keep the speed on low. Then you turn it up to medium. Then you crank that fan up all the way! What this does is puts stress on the plants so that they learn to handle the wind they will face outside in the real world of the garden. 

As I read about that- I thought about my Christian walk. I know- strange to compare tomatoes to people. But trust me, there is a great correlation here. As a growing Christian, sometimes it seems like we are faced with all kinds of turmoil, both externally and internally. God knows about all of this turmoil. He even allows it to happen. And you know what happens to us if we can take the low, medium, and high speed wind that life throws our way? When we're placed into the really tough life situations, we will not break. We will not bend. We will stand firm and tall in Christ and His redemption of us. I know a lot of people right now are going through some terribly difficult things. This world is just ridiculous. It seriously is. But the truth is, that God loves us so much. He wants us to be strong. He wants us to grow. I do not believe that He is turning the fan up a couple notches and watching us get pummeled and taking some kind of sick satisfaction in it. On the contrary, I think He feels our pain. He mourns with us. But in the end, He knows we will come out of all of our temporary trials stronger and more fruitful. He simply wants us to still ourselves, be in His presence to get perspective, and to press in to His loving embrace as we weather life's storms. 

I'm working on writing a song right now based on Psalm 73:26 ("My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever".)that I think captures this concept. So far, it goes like this:

In this life, there is pain
But You give us hope that heals
In our hearts, there is peace
That drives out the doubt we feel

When the wind and waves come
When the storm is raging over me
I hear You saying, "Peace, be still"

Though my heart breaks
Though my flesh fails
You are my portion forever
You are the strength of my life

So friends, whether it feels like the fan is barely on low, or if you're getting blasted by strong winds, God is Your source of strength. Let Him love you, Let Him comfort You. He wants You to grow into the person He designed You to be- a person with a colorful story who can help others out along the way because of your many experiences of His faithfulness. We've just got to dig in-hold on-and know that He is our God. He loves you and knows every detail of every situation you have ever faced or will ever face. As you consider your current life situations, ask Him to be very close to you- so close that He will shelter You and carry you through. And trust Him! He really does know what is best and can see the bigger picture that we can't even start to understand.