Friday, February 18, 2011

Enjoy the Ride!

In college, I took a camping class for a semester and one of the requirements for the class was a weekend backpacking trip in Northern Michigan. 

We were told that we would do some rafting, as well as climb a tree a 100 feet up and then zip line across the river.  We were also told  that everyone was required to go across the zip line and that if we took too long we would be pushed  off the branch!

Our guide had brought along his 9 year old son and when it came time for him to climb up the tree he made it about half-way up and then began to have a meltdown.  He refused to budge, he was stuck. 

I watched as his father (our rough, tough, “push you off the branch” guide) climbed up the tree to his son.  He talked with him for quite a while before he began to help him step by step climb down to the bottom of the tree.

I remember being quite surprised that he had helped him climb down rather than making him climb up to the top where the zip line was.  I thought, “Wow, this should be interesting to see what he does!  We all have to go across the river.  So how is that gonna happen?”

Our guide proceeded to put his son on his shoulders and carry him across the river.  The river was quite full from the melted snow and was running at a good clip.  We held our breath as he slipped on the rocks and worked against the current to carry his son across.  What I will never forget was the sight of that boy on his daddy’s shoulders.  All the fear was gone from his face, he was smiling and laughing and waving at us as he rode on his father’s strong shoulders across the river.  He had not a care in the world!

As I watched that beautiful picture of a father’s great love for his son and the son’s complete and unwavering trust in his father, I thought, “God, is that the way you want me to live?  To trust You even though the river is rushing and the water is cold.  Even when my situation seems impossible and the future is daunting, do you want me to trust you like that little boy?  Do you want me climb up on your shoulders and enjoy the ride?!”

Look at how the writer of Galatians describes our relationship with God once we are His.

You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, "Abba! Father!" Doesn't that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you're also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.                             Galatians 4:6-7 (The Message)

Do you trust your Abba Father?  Are you enjoying the journey or just enduring?  Do you find yourself running away or refusing to budge?  Or are you just barely staying afloat?

Your Abba Father stands ready and waiting.  Climb up on His shoulders and let Him carry you in whatever “river” you are wading through and most of all enjoy the ride! Because you have nothing to fear when you are on the shoulders of the One who willingly sacrificed His most treasured possession for you!

Blessed be the Lord, who bears our burdens and carries us day by day, even the God who is our salvation! Selah!                                                                         Psalm 68:19 (Amplified Bible)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Firmly Fixed

She shall not be afraid of evil tidings; her heart is firmly fixed, trusting (leaning on and being confident) in the Lord.                     Psalm 112:7 (Amplified Bible)

What does it mean for my heart to be “firmly fixed”?

I confess I have a tendency for fickleness.  I go one way and then another.  I try one thing and if that doesn’t work immediately have to try something else.

My heart has a tendency to live by its feelings.   I hear a scary news broadcast and I immediately begin to worry about the future.  I don’t see God answering my prayers the way I think He should and then doubt that He is Good.   I have a difficult conversation with my husband and immediately go to the long laundry list of things he’s done wrong over the years.  I begin my day with God but then don’t give Him another thought.  I see a beautiful jacket at the store and impulsively buy it even though we don’t have the money.

Why do I live by my feelings?  Why is my heart not “firmly fixed” on God alone?  I want to live that way but find my heart to be capricious.

Could it be that I don’t really trust God like I say I do?  That I’ve taken my eyes off of what is true and put it on my feelings?

In Lamentations 3 the prophet Jeremiah does the same thing.  He’s angry with God.  Listen to what he says in the first part of this chapter.

I am the one who has seen the afflictions
      that come from the rod of the Lord’s anger.
 He has led me into darkness,
      shutting out all light.
 He has turned his hand against me
      again and again, all day long. . .

He has walled me in, and I cannot escape.
      He has bound me in heavy chains.
 And though I cry and shout,
      he has shut out my prayers.
 He has blocked my way with a high stone wall;
      he has made my road crooked. . .

He has made me chew on gravel.
      He has rolled me in the dust.
 Peace has been stripped away,
      and I have forgotten what prosperity is.
 I cry out, “My splendor is gone!
      Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!”

Jeremiah goes on for 20 verses this way, wallowing in his bitterness and pain.  His thoughts are spinning around in his head and are sending him spiraling downward into a pit of self-pity.

Ever been there?

But in verse 21 things change.  It’s as if a light shines out from the words on the page, cutting through the darkness.  Listen to what he says.

Yet I still dare to hope
      when I remember this:

He stops the spiral downwards and chooses to remember . . .

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
      His mercies never cease.
 Great is his faithfulness;
      his mercies begin afresh each morning.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
      therefore, I will hope in him!”
The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
      to those who search for him.
 So it is good to wait quietly
      for salvation from the Lord.

What is Jeremiah doing here?  He is choosing to take his eyes off his feelings and circumstances and to put it on the TRUTH.  The truth that in spite of the way he feels God IS Good, His love never ends and His mercies are new each day.

I don’t know where you’re at, if you are struggling in the pit of despair, or if you’re living every day with a seemingly impossible situation.  Whatever it is, God’s desire for you is that you trust Him and that your heart is firmly fixed on Him.  He wants you to know that His love never ends and His mercies never cease.  Rest in that today, my friend, give Him your anxious thoughts, your fears, your anger and your bitterness.  He’s big enough to handle it and then fix your eyes on Him.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of this earth with grow strangely dim
In the Light of His glory and grace.
                                                                          (Helen H. Lemmel)

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Kitchen Aid Mixer

Soon after we were married, I developed a burning desire to have a Kitchen Aid Mixer.  I loved making homemade bread and cinnamon rolls but hated kneading the dough and just knew that a Kitchen Aid Mixer was the answer to all my problems!

Unfortunately, my husband didn’t share that same conviction.  (At least I didn’t think so and they were pretty expensive for our one salary income.)  So as the years went by with no mixer in sight my burning desire became a blazing inferno.

I love my husband dearly but God bless him, he wasn’t very good with follow through in those first years of our married life.  He started many projects in our house but it was a long time before any were finished.

During this time a young couple moved in next door.  Our houses were extremely close and I could look through my kitchen window right into their dining room and on into their kitchen.

They were a really nice couple and we began to develop a friendship.  They weren’t married at the time they moved in and began fixing up their house.  About a year later they got married and then a little time after that she became pregnant.  In one of our conversations she told me that she was really excited because they only had one room left to finish in their house.  And I thought, “Wow, I’d just like to have one room done!”

I went back to my house angry with God.  They were not following the “rules” and look how they are being blessed.  And here we were, Harold and I, following the “rules” and look where it got us – nowhere!  (Could I be any more self-righteous?!)

The final straw came one day when I was happily cooking away in my kitchen and looked into their dining room and on into their kitchen . . .   What was that sitting on her kitchen counter?  Was that
a . . .?  No it couldn’t be?!!!  It was a KITCHEN AID MIXER!   And right then and there (I’m sorry to say) standing in my kitchen I through a full blown hissy fit!

“Why did she have that?  She never cooks!  She’s too busy working; she doesn’t have time to use a kitchen aid mixer!  I could go over there and “borrow” her mixer and just never give it back and I bet she would never even miss it.”

A few days later I went over to her house and she told me that she was going to have to work full-time and that she needed daycare for her child.  I felt God whisper, “So Kristi, are you willing to give up the privilege of being with your children for a Kitchen Aid mixer?” 

Well, when you put it like that I guess a Kitchen Aid Mixer isn’t all that vital to my happiness. . .

The more important thing that I needed to look at was what was I really saying about God?  God you’re not good enough.  You aren’t big enough, strong enough or great enough for me.

Proverbs 14:30 says, “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones”.

That’s what jealousy was for me a cancer eating away at the happiness and joy that God had desired for me.  I was choosing to settle for a Kitchen Aid Mixer when God had so much more to give me.  What about you?  Are you settling for something less?    

In the words of Stephen Curtis Chapman are you playing Gameboy standing in the middle of the Grand Canyon, are you eating candy sitting at a gourmet feast, or are you wading in a puddle when you could be swimming in the ocean?