Thursday, July 25, 2013

What About Me?

My friends have a prodigal son; it’s been more than two years since they last connected. My heart breaks for them. We don’t often talk of him; there isn’t much to say.

I do pray. I implore God to bring him home; I beg God to provide his physical, spiritual, and emotional needs.

Then it dawned on me.

God is provider; He is Jehovah Jireh. Providing is his character. 

But is there an automatic link between his character and receiving the benefit of it?

Perhaps my prayer should be one of thanking God that he is Jehovah Jireh, and asking him to help my friend’s son experience his providing character.

What about me?

Am I aware of how graciously and generously God provides for me? Do I thank him for his generosity and live like it is true? Is Jehovah Jireh a reality for me?

I’m reading Matthew 6:25-34 with new eyes. In those ten short easy-to-understand verses, God feeds (verse 26), and God clothes (verse 30); God knows our needs (verse 32). 

The lynch pin is verse 33. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Perhaps, like me, you memorized these familiar words long ago. They tell me that God is my Jehovah Jireh, my provider.
But do I believe them?

Now is the time to live like I do believe them. 

Now is the time to let this truth inform my prayers. 

Now is the time to experience God as my Jehovah Jireh. 

I’m learning to believe.

“Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished; your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy."
    Psalm 68:9, 10

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Still LIFE

Created by God,
Summer 2012

I wake early in the morning,
            really the middle of the night.
I venture outside our camper;
            the sky flooded with tiny ligthts.

Have I ever seen so many
            of those beautiful far-away stars?
I’m awed; I’m amazed, I’m quieted;
            they invite me to enjoy from afar.

A few hours later again I wake
            the sky a milky white;
I tiptoe from the camper
            to watch the sunrise end the night.

The mountains to the east
            was the ridge over which it climbed.
My front row seat was perfect:
            unobstructed, undisturbed, sublime.

As the sun climbed higher and higher,
            I sat rooted in my chair.
I am awed by the stillness around me
            not a sound from the trees, the birds, the air.

In this forest filled with pine trees
            not a needle moved or stirred.
The critters must still be sleeping.
            No breeze to ruffle my hair.

I listened to the quiet,
            the quiet stillness of the day.
I knew one thing for certain,
            God was inviting me to play.

To play, to walk, to wonder;
            to enjoy all that He has made.
To trust His goodness for me
            whether in sunshine or in shade. 

As morning grew to noon time,
            God’s picture grew as well.
I enjoyed a squirrel chorus,
            and gentle breezes tickling the pines.

The wind picked up its fury,
            pine needles snowed upon the ground.
I watched in quiet amazement
            at the new picture all around.

As day turned into evening
            yet another picture began to form.
Once again the breezes quieted.
            The stillness is profound.

The southwest sky is glorious
            The clouds seem glued in place.
The colors of the sunset,
            a bountiful gift of God’s good grace.

I enjoyed; I soaked; I wondered
            at this many faceted gem.
The glorious picture God created
            would be repeated again and again.

Sue Tell
Summer 2012

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.”
Psalm 19:1 and 2

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Learning to Believe

He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put 
their trust in the Lord.
Psalm 40:3

I love this scripture. It communicates that God gave me a new song—a new story to share; because of this new song, many will grow in trusting the LORD. This is my heart’s desire. 

Birthday flowers

My new song is a long song; it has many verses. Some have yet to be written. A few are hard to share.

Verse 1        Salvation              fall, 1966                                                                Verse 2        Identity                winter, 2000                                                         Verse 3        Self-hatred                    winter, 2004 (I don’t like typing that word.)         Verse 4        Consecrated         summer, 2008                                                
Verse 5        VOW aware          spring, 2012                                                 
Verse 6        Desired                winter, 2013                                                        Verse 7        Believing              summer, 2013 (I title this verse in faith.)

Learning to believe—this is where I am living right now.

You ask, didn’t that happen in the fall of ’66?  Yes and no.

The night, the time, the place, the people are etched in my mind. I knelt in the upstairs bedroom and responded to Jesus’ invitation. My friend Shirley witnessed and rejoiced understanding  more than me the significance of my simple prayer. Later that evening she invited me to participate in my first small group Bible study. Thank you, Shirley.

It made sense; Christianity is more than religion, it is a friendship with God. Those first weeks I floated. Prayer made sense; I was having a conversation with a God who was listening. I wanted to learn more; I found new friends who were also interested in Bible study. Life was good.

But I didn’t leave me behind. My personal baggage—my past, my joys, my sorrows, my experiences, my insecurities—all of my humanity came with me; they defined me. Jesus never promised to transform my flesh. The line of baggage was long; I squinted to see the end.
Unpacking the first bags was encouraging; I liked what I found. The first bag held my heart for God. Church, Sunday school, youth group had always filled my Sundays. This new place seemed natural.

In the second bag I found my friendliness. Recruiting my first Bible study was also natural. God was encouraging me to be who He created me to be.

As I continued to unpack, God began entrusting me with some of the harder stuff—like my insecurities. Often I felt not good enough. That ugly untruth plagued me for many years.

As I journeyed, I needed to peer into more and more of the bags. The truth packed in those bags always seemed to relate to the previous lessons and confronted me with deeper wisdom—if only I would believe.  

Some of the bags brought ah-ha moments; others led to tears. Accepting and believing their story was always a step forward on my journey.

Some could be unpacked quickly; most could not. The heavy truths needed pondering, explanation and understanding. I persevered.

What I’m learning:
1.   I need to give everything to God for Him to use as He chooses. Sometimes His choice is that I share it. I need to obey.
2.   I need to trust God with the bags He wants me to unpack…even the order in which I unpack them.
3.   With each unpacked bag, I need to rest; breathe; thank God for entrusting me with this truth; I need to smile.

Roses are more fragrant as they open.

I wonder, have you identified the verses of your new song?

Many of the posts I will write this summer can be captured under the theme, Learning to Believe. I’ll be vulnerable. Will you join me?

“…because I have heard of your faith …I do not cease to give thanks for you remembering you in my prayers, that …God…may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation…having the eyes of your hearts enlightened…and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe,…”           
 Ephesians 1:15-19

“Because of the LORD’s great love, we are not consumed,”              
 Lamentations 3:22

Friday, July 5, 2013

New Life

Our cul-de-sac is home to eleven families; two homes are reduced to ashes; severe smoke damage in a third keeps the family away. I drive more slowly these days saddened by the charred landscape. I pray more in the car.
Three and a half weeks have passed. Our lives, our friends’ lives changed forever and daily impacted by the Black Forest fire.
But besides the sad picture and the ever-present aroma of smoke, something is different. Life is different—in a good way.

Green poking through

Green is stubbornly pushing through the blackened charcoal earth. A gift causing my breath to catch each time I notice.
Determined green

All eleven of us who call Piedra Vista home are relating. E-mails fly through cyber space; we keep each other posted. Neighbors stop cars and visit more often; hugs and real emotions are entrusted. Lawnmowers are borrowed; food is shared. Get-togethers are in the works; invitations given on a new level. Several created a thank you care package for our local firefighters. 
Brownies for firefighters

Neighbors help neighbors sift. (Before the Waldo Canyon fire a year ago, I didn't know this definition of sift.)There is a new togetherness.

One neighbor landscaped for another.

We’ve always known each other by name; we haven’t always related.
I wonder where all this will lead.
I am learning to believe.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flames shall not consume you.”                                            
Isaiah 43: 2

I heard laughter while neighbors sifted.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The 4th of July

Living in Colorado, Independence Day falls in the middle of the summer; growing up it heralded the beginning of summer and freedom from school for 2 ½ whole months.
As a child, The 4th of July meant traditions, connections, and celebrations. One of the traditions started several days before the 4th when Dad would gather our lawn chairs and stake out our family spot on the towns parade route. We needed the best place to catch the candy thrown from the floats as well as the rays from the morning sun.
The morning of the fourth arrived; our flag flew proudly from our front porch. My sisters and I could hardly wait to pack into our car and head downtown for the first of the day’s festivities, the parade. It snaked through town from our church (Westside Pres), under the railroad tracks, turned right, and then left onto Ridgewood Ave, down the center of town ending at Veterans Field. And that was only the beginning of the fun filled day.
There was little time after the parade before the bar-b-que that brought extended family and neighbors together. I don’t remember Dad grilling a lot in the summer; but he always did on the 4th.
As the sun descended, the whole town—it seemed—descended on Veterans Field for the concert and fireworks display. It was wonderful to lie on blankets on soft grass and ohhh and ahhh as each firework was shot into the night sky. There was always a bit of sadness as the last series of booms and lights quickly shot up and floated down one after the other. The contented smiles washed across our faces spoke of the joy of the 4th.
There is a special energy that flows through a town that embraces celebration. I’m glad I grew up in one of them.  
I knew why we celebrated July 4th; I didn’t know our activities were first suggested by John Adams in 1776. I found these words penned to his wife Abigail revealing. Traditions, connections, and celebrations have a long history.
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
Now I am a grown up child and live in a town with 5 military installations. Some of our best friends are retired military. It’s been a joy to establish new traditions, connections, and celebrations with these friends.
As a grown up child, not only do I enjoy the realities of the freedom that the 4th of July represents, I also live in the reality of the freedom I enjoy as a child of God.
What about you? How do you celebrate this mid-summer day of Independence?
You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32