Faith & Snowstorms & Trust

A famous quote by Martin Luther King Jr was on repeat in my head Friday night as we drove home from seeing a comedian 1 1/2 hours away from our home. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”Last night was a lot like that only the staircase was an interstate!

Imagine driving on the interstate. Now imagine driving and not being able to see the lanes. There were a number of times last night where it crossed my mind, “my 16 year old son who is totally blind could probably be doing just as good a job as any of us out here right now.”

snowcoveredcar2I had a lot of time to sit and think about trust and faith as my hands clenched the steering wheel. I couldn’t see any of the lines on the pavement and didn’t know what lane I was driving in for most of the drive. There were times when I followed the break lights of the vehicles in front of me and prayed they kept it on the road because I was just following their tracks. Then there were times when I was alone on the road with no tracks to follow and wondering why the inside median doesn’t have more stakes or road markers like the outside shoulder and ditch because I could imagine the width of the shoulder and aim for staying out of the ditch better. It was strange how many similarities I found to my faith journey as I did with this treacherous drive home.

First of all, I need to be following after God with the same or even more trust than those drivers last night because He can guarantee we won’t be ending up in the ditch. He is THE WAY! Second, scripture is much like those highway signs, road markers, & stakes along the side of the road were last night. God’s Word gives us boundaries to live by to keep us safe, on the path, & heading in the right direction. Third, scripture tells us to let the children come to Him. We are supposed to have faith like a child. As my son sat in the same car as me traveling down the same treacherous highway we both had very different experiences. He tuned out the world around him and was never really concerned for our safety or whether we were going to make it home or not. There were times he was even giggling to whatever it was that he was listening to. I on the other hand was contemplating interrupting his sweet bliss to ask if he remembered how to call 911 if we ended up in a ditch and I was unable to call for some reason. While I did let him know at one point that the roads were very bad and I needed to concentrate I chose not to cause him further concern. I did this for 2 reasons really…1) he tends to think the worst possible scenario naturally & 2) I was not going to speak about ditches out loud when I was trusting God to get us home safely with car and the both of us unharmed in anyway. I was not going to speak out anything against what I was praying for. I refused to allow the enemy any loopholes to try to sneak in.

The gift I received from this adventure was peace. Yes, my hands went numb after the first hour of clenching the steering wheel and the drive took everything out of me physically, but there were glimpses of scripture coming to light right before my eyes. My son’s cheer reminded me of Jesus sleeping on that boat in that treacherous storm out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, keeping my eyes on the break lights ahead of me trusting they were staying on the road reminded me about how hard I need to focus on Jesus in this journey of life, the posts & road markers along the side of the road reminded me of scripture and how I need it to help guide me. In these moments I felt secure. I praise God today for this clarity! So often I get caught up in the world that is spinning so fast around me and I miss out on the smells of spring or God’s beauty in nature or that inner peace of a fellow believer. I’m so thankful that on this night I was connected with God in a way that I saw Him everywhere I looked.

Even in the chaos of driving through a snowstorm I’m reminded of Ps 46:10 where He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” There was something about having to slow down physically that allowed me to really tune in and I’m so very grateful for this special time with Him. Much like He met me with His peace in this snowstorm, He meets us all in the variety of storms life throws at us when we are in relationship with Him. Thank you Lord for these very tangible lessons on trust and trusting YOU!

 

Fasting

What do you think of when you think of fasting? The first thing that comes to my mind is STARVING! A few years ago I never would have thought I’d ever be able to fast, but as learned more about it and my perception of WHAT it was changed I’ve changed and today I find it an important discipline in my faith journey.

Scripture is FILLED with information about fasting and I’ll get to some of that, but a quick search of the internet brings up this explanation:
fast2
fast/
verb
gerund or present participle: fasting
  1. abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink, especially as a religious observance.
    synonyms: eat nothing, abstain from food, refrain from eating, go without food, go hungry, starve oneself;

    go on a hunger strike;
    crash-diet
    “we must fast and pray”

This is on my mind this week as I fast to prepare for weekend full of worship. Each time I’ve fasted I’ve had different experiences and this week’s journey is what has prompted this post.

A few years ago I never would have attempted fasting. I had put too much time, energy, effort…and money into my recovery from eating disorders that I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that. Over the years God has walked with me through the process. I kept things simple to begin with by fasting from just one thing like soda or sugar or something like that. One year I was led to fast from all of the technology that was getting in the way of my relationship with Christ. I work in IT so I only allowed myself to use technology to do my job. I put auto responders on my email/text explaining I was unavailable and would respond the next month and if they really needed to reach me to pick up the phone and call me. Yes, a phone could be considered technology I know, but I had lost touch with those around me so picking up a phone to reconnect with people was allowed. Understand that each time I’ve been led to fast it has been me being obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading and not my own ideas.

I began to see fasting as a way of connecting through my giving up something sacrificially that may be standing in the way of my relationship with Christ. Sometimes my fasting has led to life changes that once I gave something up I didn’t go back to it. My intention was to become more personally connected to Jesus through the process and it has led to living an overall healthier life in some cases.

I’ve chosen fasting as a way that I physically empty me of me in order that I would be filled up with all that God would have for me. Sometimes it has been a way of confession while other times a way of renewal. Each time it seems to be for a little bit different reason and each time I have a little bit different experience.

As I mentioned at the beginning, it has been this week’s experience that has led me to writing today. Today is day 5, the last day, of a fast I’ve chosen to partake in as a part of an amazing worship event I attend every year. Each year I know that I’m fasting with other sisters in Christ around the area before we come together at the feet of Jesus for powerful worship all weekend. We spend the week emptying ourselves so that we would be filled up with power of the Holy Spirit to go and do the work God would have us do.

Here are the guidelines I followed:

Fast Guidelines:

Each year prior to the event, we spend several days fasting and praying in order to prepare ourselves for Women in Worship. If you would like to join us, you are encouraged and welcomed to do so. This is a progression fast; each day you will remove items from your diet and keep them out until the fast has concluded on the evening of Women in Worship

Be sure to drink plenty of non-chlorinated water the entire week. If you are under physician care or taking medication, please consult with your physician prior to undertaking this fast.

Fast Schedule:
Monday May 18- Friday May 22, 2015

Monday – Remove all processed sugars from your diet, i.e., sodas, candy, snack and junk foods
Tuesday – Remove all red meats, shell fish, crab, shrimp, lobster, cat fish
Wednesday – Remove all meats
Thursday – Remove all breads
Friday – Eat fruits and vegetables only until 3:00 p.m. Fast ends at 3:00 p.m.

What I began to notice right away Tuesday was that I found myself indulging in the things I would be giving up the next day. God and I spent time chatting about this throughout the week as I continued to notice it each day. I don’t remember that being much of an issue in previous times I’ve fasted. It made me think about how I live my life though, indulging in things that may not be good for me along the way. The Holy Spirit has opened my eyes to some of these indulgences through this process that I would turn from those ways and live differently…starting NOW…because I’m no longer blind to them.

Another thing I noticed right now after looking at the guidelines again, as I posted them above, is I didn’t do it EXACTLY like that. Yep, you got it…I messed up. The gift of God’s grace played out right here in front of me. There was a time that my perfectionism would’ve gotten the best of me right here and I would’ve thrown in the towel, not gone to worship, and dug myself into a hole so deep with pity the rest of the night. Today I praise God for ability to notice I messed up and be able to shrug it off knowing that I did it just the way I was supposed to do it for ME, following how I was led to do it, and knowing that my life has been changed because of it. Now I can’t wait to get to worship to see what else it is that God has in store for me today & this weekend!

Honesty

I started my day yesterday reading another post in a series my friend, Sarah Knepper, had posted about walking her children through trauma. Each post I read nudges me to write, but I’ve never taken the time to share what God is doing in my life. The posts remind me of my trauma and reminds me of how I parent my son because of that trauma…in complete honesty.

Today’s post was all too real though to NOT sit down and write…http://redemptiondiary.com/2014/11/26/help-child-thrive-trauma-honesty/

I am reminded today of a day this past July when I heard my son processing out loud in the other room. I overheard him talking to himself , telling himself that having sex outside of marriage is a sin. After his 5 min conversation with himself about this he came barreling down the hallway into my room and exclaimed “MOM! Did you know that when you had me you weren’t married and that’s a sin?”

I responded, “YUP!”

I asked him where he’d learned this as we’d never talked about it that I could recall and he responded “The Bible,” to which I was happy to not only hear he had read it, but also that he was applying God’s Word in his life.

He asked how it happened and I explained without holding back. I was raised in the church and knew what God’s Word said about it, but I didn’t plan my life accordingly and got into situations where the biology of my body took over the knowledge in my mind because I didn’t prepare a plan ahead of time. With him heading into high school I explained it in terms of him making choices not to put himself in places where he’d be alone with girls and make plans accordingly so that would not happen because as soon as we place ourselves alone with another we are already placing ourselves in danger of biology taking over our knowledge. It’s just not wise.

He took this conversation further though and asked me if I was ashamed of my sin. I explained I HAD been, but because God sent His Son to die on the cross to forgive us our sins I didn’t need to remain ashamed because I am set free.

He had gotten mad about something earlier that day and called me a bunch of names right before I was leaving the house for an appointment. When I returned I explained to him that I cried the whole way over to my appointment because he’d hurt my feelings. He’d apologized and I’d accepted the apology so I interjected that here and reminded him how bad he felt earlier about having made me cry and asked if he still felt bad about it. When he responded “No” I explained that’s the freedom of forgiveness.

He finished up this quick, maybe 15 min, conversation by explaining “well I wasn’t sure if you knew it was a sin or not and I didn’t want you getting into the same predicament”

As he left my room I looked around wondering what had just happened and questioning that he is only 14. God has used him repeatedly in ways like this from the beginning to remind me of His grace & love & forgiveness & joy. I never imagined myself ever being a mother and today I actually asked a friend if I could quit, but she told me I am stuck with him. It’s sometimes funny to look back and see God’s hand on things all along. He’s the joy of my life.

Once saved, always saved, or not?

I had a great conversation this week with a friend and this question came up. Let me preface this post with saying that I seriously do not know what the right answer is or if there is a right or wrong answer. I’m writing out my thought process here and letting you in on it.

As I started out last week, I’m spending some time in Psalms 139 this month. Reading, meditating, and letting God open up my eyes to new things or encourage me with things I’ve already known. Last week I got stuck in the first 2 verses of this scripture and this week I found myself fast forwarding to verse 7 in the New Living Translation.

I can never escape from your Spirit!
 I can never get away from your presence!

This brings me back to my conversation with a friend this week where we discussed if someone accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior and later rebels against the Lord are they still saved? The Bible is filled with stories of prodigals…where someone is part of Christ’s body and then walks away and is welcomed back with open arms, but what about those who walk away and do not turn back? Are they still saved? Can we escape salvation once we already have it? Let me reiterate that I do not know what the right answer is. This week God has opened up scripture in front of me that leads me to believe that I can’t escape. As I read on…

If I go up to heaven, you are there;
 if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.

If I ride the wings of the morning,
 if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
 and your strength will support me.

11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
 and the light around me to become night—

12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
 To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

I’ve found comfort in God’s Word that no matter how much I want to run and hide from everything I cannot find a place where HE is not present.

1 Kings 8:57 (NLT)

57 May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us or abandon us.

And yet sin causes us to live separated from God and speaking for myself I sin daily, which means I live separated, but this verse tells me He will never leave me.

So, just when I think I’ve come to the conclusion that we can’t lose our salvation I’m reminded how Satan and the demons are fallen angels or how the pharaohs heart was hardened and I find myself ending here in the same place that I started…not really knowing once saved, always saved, or not?

God Understands His People

I’m gonna spend some time this month in Psalm 139 and see what God does with that. I’m inviting you along for the ride.

(New Life Version) 139 O Lord, You have looked through me and have known me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You understand my thoughts from far away.

I started the week with the intention of reading through the whole Psalm and I had to stop after the first two verses. They really messed me up…in a good way. My heart was moved in such a deep way I had to put it down, but I’ve meditated on just these two verses throughout this week.

To think that God knows me strikes some fear initially, kind of like a guilty child, but quickly turns to a deep amazement that He cares about lil’ o me. He sees everything in me and knows me and understands me. How many of us spend so much time trying to be understood? GOD UNDERSTANDS!

I love looking at scripture in different translations or paraphrases for the purpose of something new coming to light for me.

(The Message)

139 1-6 God, investigate my life;
get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.

In reading this I felt even more guilty. I mean don’t you get investigated for doing something wrong? But I found hope that He’d get all of the facts firsthand. He’s not gathering SOME facts, but ALL of them. I know that with all of the facts I’m still guilty. I’m sinful. But all of the facts include how Christ died on the cross for my sin which leaves me forgiven. Praise the Lord!

My last thought is on “open book”. How many of us live our lives as an “open book”? Does the society we live in require us to live behind masks? What are we hiding behind pristine houses and well manicured yards? When is it time for us to start sharing what we are thinking or maybe even going through. God already knows it. His Word tells us in Genesis 50:20 “20 You planned to do a bad thing to me. But God planned it for good, to make it happen that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” God uses our tough stuff to save others when we can get out of our own way and allow Him to shine through our brokenness.

Can I pray for you?

O Lord, You have looked through us and have known us. You know when we sit down and when we get up. You understand our thoughts from far away. Forgive us for getting stuck in fear of what others will think. Forgive us for pride and not serving You with humility. Give us Your strength to share Your story through our broken and imperfect places that others would find you amidst the chaos of this world. Thank you for loving us so much that you gave up Your son to die that we might live. We praise Your Holy Name! Amen.

God will make a way

This song had a major part in my walk with God in the past and I see Him making a new way in the wilderness. I pray it can minister to you where you’re at.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Praying God will make a way in all of this. Be on the lookout for more regular posting throughout this year. God’s got work to do…in me…in you…in others.

Scripture Memory Work Week 42

Psalm 136

The Message (MSG)

Psalm 136:23

23 God remembered us when we were down, His love never quits.

Psalm 136

New Living Translation (NLT)

Psalm 136:23

23 He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 136

New Life Version (NLV)

Psalm 136:23

A Song of Thanks

23 Give thanks to Him Who remembered us when we had nothing, for His loving-kindness lasts forever.