Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hold on a minute!

This is a blog I posted a few years ago. God brought it to my mind today because I desperately need to take my own advice...!

While sipping coffee from my travel mug, I sit in a long, twisting line of cars all waiting for a train to cross. From my vantage point I can see the end of the train and there are only about 15 or 20 boxcars still to come, so I relax for a minute and begin flipping through a little daily devotional that I keep in the center console of my car. 

A woman in a small SUV several cars ahead of me must have gotten tired of waiting and decided to just turn around. I thought this was rather odd because we hadn’t been waiting very long and, as she drove past glancing at her watch, I watched the end of the train go through the crossing. 

If she would have only waited, she would be moving forward by now heading in the right direction. Instead she will be going several miles out of her way to find another crossing that will get her to the other side of the tracks. All because she couldn’t bear the wait!

I can’t help but think of all the times I’ve been that woman. Instead of holding fast and having faith, I lose my patience and try to find a short cut. All the while I miss out on the blessing that God provides when I wait on Him. By the way…God really dislikes short cuts, it’s not His thing!

Have you ever made more work for yourself because you were impatient? In the end, did it turn out your way or God’s way? You would think by now we would understand that when God says ‘Wait…’ there’s a reason. That means He’s up to something and it is usually for our benefit and His glory.  I know the ‘train’ can seem so long and be painfully slow, but have faith that no matter what you’re going through, the train will pass and the blessing will come! 

Be blessed,

“I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:1-3

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Reign in Me

Big fat raindrops fell on my windshield with a splat. First, there was only a few. Then they came faster and harder until the sky poured them out by the bucket full. I sat in the parking lot and enjoyed the rare July phenomenon. 

The unexpected shower washed away all evidence of the miles of dusty roads I’d traveled down this week. All the grime from every pothole was gone. It even removed the construction tar I’d picked up somewhere along the way.

Lord, I need to be washed clean like that. Please reign in me and remove the filth I seem to accumulate in this world. Please wash it all away.

We may be made new when we give our lives to Christ, but that doesn’t mean that life won’t be messy. It’s so easy to ignore the dirt and grime we collect along the way. But we forget how much better the view is without it! 

Spending time with God every day can be our spiritual car wash. But just pulling up to a car wash is not enough, we have to go through it. Reading a quick morning devotional and giving God our wish list is not what we were made to do. God reigns in us when we stop, give Him our full attention and confess what’s on our heart. When we open our hearts to Him, God will faithfully take up residence and start cleaning up the grime and freeing us to be whom He intends for us to be.  Are you ready to dance in the reign?

Be blessed,

“You, Lord, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation.” Lamentations 5:19

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Are you trying too hard?

The sweltering heat was overwhelming as I sat in rush hour traffic. I just couldn’t seem to cool down. I turned the air conditioner on high and waited a few minutes for the cooler air. It just wouldn’t get cold. Oh great, my AC is going out.

Almost an hour later, I glanced down to notice the temperature control was turned on warm, not cold. I quickly made the correction and was instantly blasted with a rush of artic air. I turned down the blower to avoid freezing my face.

It’s frustrating to know that my drive could have been completely different. Being overly warm made me short tempered and impatient. I didn’t enjoy the scenery around me or sing along with the radio to make the most of some time alone. I trudged through mile after mile, trying only to endure it.

How often do you and I do that in our daily lives? We go through the motions, try our hardest, and yet still feel unfulfilled? We get irritated when things don’t work out the way we plan. We grow tired of the wait. Sometimes we even throw our hands up in the air and give up completely.

Here’s the thing – we aren’t meant to live in our own strength. God is our manufacturer. He designed us to live efficiently for His glory. My AC was blowing out air exactly the way the manufacturer intended. I was the one who misdirected its’ effort. The AC had to work so much harder because I inadvertently put it on the wrong setting. 

When we trust God to direct our lives, we allow Him to use us effectively. Will it take effort on our part? Yes. Will we always like the outcome? Probably not. Will it be what we were designed for? Absolutely! Only when we stop fidgeting with the controls will we truly live by the Manufacturer’s design.

Be blessed,

“The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Staying level

I was engrossed in his process. The bricklayer would plop down some mortar, spread it out in a single stroke, press the brick into it and then lay a leveling tool across that brick and the brick before it to be sure it stayed level.  He scraped off any residual mortar and did the whole thing again for the next brick. Row after row this routine continued. The bricklayer never moved forward until he knew the brick he just placed was completely level. The rows of brick were completely balanced and looked amazing.

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to “eyeball” things. If things look level or balanced to me, my brain tries to convince me that it is. That may work every once in a while, but not consistently. Over time, we begin to see that we’re no longer level. 

What if we lived our lives like the bricklayer? We would step out on faith, apply our skills and talents, check to make sure we still align with God’s word, discard anything that isn’t necessary to move forward, and then do it again. It seems so simple and yet we don’t follow the process. 

Without constantly checking for level, we begin to veer off course. Our lines get uneven and soon we realize that we’re no longer going in the same direction we started in. My own judgment has led me off course more times than I can to admit because I didn’t line my thoughts up with God’s word. 

Sometimes it’s hard to get back on track and we have to repair what we’ve already done. Fortunately, God gives second chances (and thirds, and fourths). When we look to Him as our level, He will make it right again. There’s no mess He can’t repair and no heart He won’t make new. He has a process too – love, equip, forgive, repeat. The good thing is, He is a Master at it!

Be blessed,

“Hear, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them.” Deuteronomy 5:1