Saturday, April 13, 2013

Blessing: The place for grace, to learn to trust!

“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.” 
            ― Elizabeth Gilbert

   20 years ago, at a camp for people with disabilities in northern Minnesota, my camper David, brought me to meet God in a new way, and showed me my need for more of Him and less of me. That night in the camp chapel, alone with David and God, my life was changed forever. It was the beginning of the journey of understanding just what it means to have more of God and less of me, this gift is His Blessing. 
   To learn to be accepting of Gods provision to teach me to be humble and to depend on His way of molding and shaping me, has been a fight to say the least. One of the hardest fought lessons has been to trust. Trusting God for real, is hard, trusting people feels almost impossible at times, and trusting my self has been practically impossible for most of my life. But even with the struggle, God has been faithful to drag me through, sometimes kicking and screaming. One thing that has helped has been that God poured out a blessing on me while I stood in His presence with David. He showed me things I needed to know would come, in order to keep me moving forward. Things He knew would keep me alert to His purpose , and help me relentlessly move towards His voice, though most of the time I cannot see at all.
   I believe with all of my heart that God has destined each of us with a purpose. He has given us gifts, strengths and weaknesses, that He uses to help us move towards Him and His plans for our lives. Gods blessings to us are typically to help us to have the strength and courage to carry out His purpose in our lives. Over the last few years God has been teaching me much about His blessing. He has taken me down paths I would never journey down on my own, he has shown me mountain peaks that have proven His leading and valleys that have allowed me to prove that I would be led. 20 years ago God showed me things He wanted me to see, and it was a blessing, because it pointed me in the direction He wanted me to go, and showed me I could not go on the journey alone. Through the years He has consistently reminded me He has many more blessings ahead and that He would prepare me for those. 
   So I have thought, prayed and studied blessing. I have asked for blessings, I have even grabbed on to Him and demanded blessing like Jacob did. In the end God seemed to laugh and say, "OK , you want these blessings, than you need to be prepared for them". So, as I have moved through life I have encountered many things that have seemed to be negative, but proved to be positive by their end. Last week many of you walked through some scary days with us, as Karol's health came into question. For many days it seemed that cancer may be looming and that we may be in for a long battle. In the end God showed us that He loved us and had lined up hundreds of His people to love us to. In the process I was once again brought to my knees, not willingly, as in bowing to pray to the king, but doubled over in fear and pain, unable to stand on my own. Eventually, through His mercy, I was able to be on my knees in prayer, asking for direction, asking for courage, and in thanks for His outpouring of love and the plain sight of it. 
   As this period of fear has come to an end, He reminded me once again, that he was providing the perspective needed for the coming journey...from my knees! He is preparing me again for His blessing. He reminded me that in His old testament, a blessing was received while on ones knees. One of the Hebrew roots for the word blessing is literally, knee. Our knees are actually one of weakest point in our bodies, as I found out firsthand only months ago as the doctor repaired the tendon in my knee that was torn off and I was unable to stand or walk. You have heard the term "weak in the knees" referring to being overcome with emotion, shook, feeling like you could fall down to your knees. I felt like this many times in the last week as the prospect of a major health issues threatened Karol. So I move ahead from this time looking back with thanks for the answer to hundreds of prayers Karol received.  God has showed us again He has a purpose in everything, He has brought us to our knees to receive that blessing, a blessing that is the very gift of Hs power to do what is impossible to us, but possible because of Him. He has shown His love to us through so many of His people, that is empowerment, that is His plan, that is His blessing, love is ultimate weapon in the war on sin, against flesh and the devil himself.
   God I thank you for the painful situations that knock us to our knees and for being right there to scoop  us up into your arms from that humble place. I am sorry for my lack of trust in you and your purpose. I again ask for your grace, to trust you more.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Loving Flow

My whole community has been sick since Christmas. Like many, the flu has battered us all, knocking us down and putting us in bed for days upon days. During my own time being sick and in bed, I have thinking much of my brother Dan, and how for so much time during his life, he spent it in a bed, sick, weak, and unable to do to much. I remember the last months of his life and how he became weaker and weaker, and the physical life was leaving him, and how hard at times it was to witness. His suffering was great at times, his pain was evident, his desire to leave it all was sure. But what I also remember was how there was a steady parade of people who came into his room in those months, and then would leave changed. People where saved, ministries began, lives turned around, and focus was brought to Jesus in his room. Where God had brought Dan was to a place of brokenness, a place where he became mostly focused on heaven, a place where there was nothing left to hide, no need to judge others, no way to hide anything. Dan enjoyed others coming in and sharing words when possible, but mostly sharing love for each other and God. It was a powerful time, it changed my life. I left that year changed, but also scared and having a deep desire for the intimacy with God than came in the form of togetherness that I experienced in that time. I have experienced over 2 decades of "Spiritual discontent" to quote author and pastor Bill Hybels. The experience of church, togetherness, His family, or spiritual community, whatever you call it, has been disappointing for me in many ways. I know that sounds so horribly arrogant, but I beg you to hear my heart that it is not. I dare not blame the church, leaders, or anything or one. I believe God has given me this discontent in order to move deeper into Him to fill the hole I feel so deeply.  I yearn for a deeper closeness to God and people. I cry for the opportunity to be in better communication with Him. I ache on the inside to be free of the my torments of the mind and the flesh that bind me and enslave me. Yes, I know this all sounds a little dramatic, but it is the daily wrestling match that goes on in me, my mind whirls and heart is troubled, and I have again sought out counseling to move towards some point of decision that would help me be better focused on the path God is leading me. So I begin this new year not resolving to change anything, but rather to figure out what it is I am searching for, find where I am on the map so I can begin the journey to the destination God desires, and then be able to take part in the loving fellowship with others and Him to full extent that He has called me to. 

So I begin by sharing what I want, a vision of where I believe God wants me to be. This will sound selfish and probably will elicit questions as to my mental stability, but I am sharing it anyway...     I desire to be in spiritual community with people who want to be honest about where they are. I want to hate my garbage and my flesh more than I hate the same of others. I want my moral failures to be not so easy to hide. I want to be free of the slavery that the church I grew up in, bound me with, in the idea that my sins will get found out, so I better stop them on my own. I want a community or at least a few people where I am able to admit who I am at my worst, without leaving out anything. I want to have integrity. I want loving response to my admission of depravity and sinfulness. I want the festering, left over garbage, inside of me, that has been given a less than loving response, so I held it back from my confessions,  to be released. I want to love and build relationships with other broken, battered people, who grab on to each other because they know they cannot make it alone on this sinking ship of a world we live in. I want to be relentlessly honest about whats in me, and ok with that I am broken beyond recognition. I want move forward with others who have failed,  been rejected, and been let down.  I want to approach others knowing in my heart we all have been  hurt so deeply we made the decision to never let it happen again. I want to be with people like me who have been so criticized that we have felt useless and not willing to get involved, and understand that is why we live life so defensively. I want to stop the lie that "I can protect myself by preserving my wounds" as a famous pastor once said. 

Where I am at today, I feel like I am in a log jam, or stuck in a dam that is holding back the water, the living water, that God has for me and for others. I want to flow in Gods spirit from one person to another and join together in little creeks, streams, and rivers and then pour into a raging torrent of a river that finally dumps into the giant sea of Gods love. My good friend Jill named her blog, "Rivers of Joy". I think of those words often. Thats what I want, to live my life in a river of joy knowing I am flowing with others in Gods purpose, moving closer to him on the current of the living water He provides.

If you read this, I ask for your prayer, I love you, Happy New Year.