Monday, August 27, 2012

Hide-Out

I learned pretty early in life how to hide...
 
Peek-a-boo
Hide and seek
blanket-forts in the living room
play houses out back
Forts in the desert 





Do you have a hide-out?
Somewhere you go to disappear when the going gets rough?

We all have them.

When I was a kid, hiding out was all about fun.
As I got older it was about seeking safety and security on my terms. 

What I found out every time was...
my feelings of "safety" were short lived
they are hard to maintain
hide-outs eventually fall down
others sneak in and intrude when not invited

Although I found these things out while growing up,
as an adult I continued to attempt to create the perfect "Hide-Out".

When I was in college it was our family's camp trailer.
It was parked at the side of the house.
I would plug in to the electricity and stay out there for hours,
studying, journaling, napping.
It was my own little escape from the world.

When I got married, it became a little harder.
I was sharing space with my husband,
who did not understand my version of hiding-out
(I didn't understand his either).
He did not get it and often pursued me,
wondering what I was doing and why.
I could not explain that I needed to create my own safe place.

When I had little ones, the bathroom or my closet was my only hide-out.
Even then, there were knocks on the door from little feet wanting to join my club.
I never gave them the pass-word.

As I have grown older, my "Hide-Outs" have become more subversive. 
Like in my head, if you know what I mean.
I check-out mentally when the going gets tough.
I hibernate at home or at my parents' cabin.
I look the same, but I have retreated to my "Hide-out".

What twisted thinking,
to think I could possibly create a place
that would protect me,
hide me.

The longer I try to do this,
the farther I get from the best hide-out ever created.

There is only one place that could possibly meet
all the specifications for a perfect"Hide-out".

There are blue prints available upon request.
I have to say, I am so glad to have come across them.
Everything I have created on my own turned out to be made of
inferior materials and the plans never quite worked out.

In Exodus 33:18-23, Moses prays to God that He will show him His glory.
God grants his request, with conditions.
God tells Moses that he can not see His face or he would die.
Then God does a wonderful thing.
He creates a "Hide-Out" for Moses.
This is not just any old hide-out,
this is the perfect hide-out.
In verse 21-23 God says,
 "Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock;
and it will come about, while My glory is passing by,
that I will put you in the cleft of the rock
and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 
Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back,
 but My face shall not be seen."

How cool
is that!

Can you even imagine God making a safe place to stand?
In His presence
no less!


It takes my breath away.

There are other examples as well..
Psalm31:1-3
In Thee, O Lord, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed;
In Thy righteousness deliver me. Incline Thine ear to me, rescue me quickly;
Be Thou to me a rock of strength, a stronghold to save me.
For Thou art my rock and my fortress; 
For Thy name's sake Thou wilt lead me and guide me.

Psalm 32:7
Thou art my hiding place; Thou dost preserve me from trouble;
Thou dost surround me with songs of deliverance.

Psalm 71: 1-8
In Thee, O Lord, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed.
In Thy righteousness deliver me, and rescue me; 
Incline Thine ear to me, and save me.
Be Thou to me a rock of habitation, to which I may continually come;
Thou hast given commandment to save me,
For Thou art my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked,
Out of the grasp of the wrongdoer and ruthless man,
 For Thou art my hope; O Lord God, Thou art my confidence from my youth.
By Thee I have been sustained from my birth; 
Thou art He who took me from my mother's womb;
My praise is continually of Thee.
I have become a marvel to many; For Thou art my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with Thy praise, And with Thy glory all day long.

Psalm 119:114
Thou art my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Thy word.

Proverbs 18:10
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.

 So, let me get this straight:
The hide-out created by God is
  • Made from a Rock with a spot in it big enough for me that He will personally cover with His Hand.
  • It is a strong refuge
  • I can live there
  • I am always welcome there
  • It is a fortress against my enemies
  • It is the perfect hiding place
  • It is protected by the best security system around
  • It has a tower!!!
  • It is safe

Most important, the three word pass-code...
forgiven-obedient-forgiver

I have to be righteous to gain entrance to the hide-out

It is the best Hide-Out there is.
Nothing compares.

Don't you want one?
 



  
 

 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Plant, Water, Grow

Over 15 years ago,
in the basement of a church,
a 6 week marriage workshop was being held.
It was advertised city wide and there were hopes for good attendance.
My husband and I were there to help host the event.
The special speakers were
set, hand-outs were made and tables were set up as we waited for people to arrive.
 One couple came....
Just one

My husband and I had no plans to stay for the whole event.
We were just in charge of setting up and representing the host church.
Once things were under way, we had planned to head home.
But, with only one couple in attendance, we felt obligated to stay and participate.
The speakers had worked so hard to put this together,
it was the least we could do.

So, we spent 6 weeks with a couple we had never met
and the teachers of the workshop.

It was, of course, a God appointment 

This young couple loved God, but knew their marriage was in trouble. 
They had no money for marriage counseling,
but were hopeful that this workshop would help.

God had plans for this couple 

Big plans

Plans that were planted deep in their hearts
that they did not even know were there yet.

After the 6 week workshop,
My husband and I were blessed to be used by God,
to continue to help them begin to get loose
of all the crud that was keeping them from living the life God had for them.
We invested in their family.
We watered what had been planted. 
We spent many weekends together.
Sharing meals,
sharing life
and discussing big and little things.   

For having such a young marriage, they had been through a lot.
Some of their trials were big,
and some were small.

Time passed and we moved away.
But the growing had begun.

The husband decided to go to Seminary.
It was a huge sacrifice.
At first he drove hours to get to class.
All while working full time,
raising a family
and serving in their home church.

Eventually they moved closer to seminary
as he was nearing his last years of school.
He continued to work full time, go to school full time, and help raise a family.
She kept their home, parented the children and took a few classes herself.

They continued to be watered
They continued to grow.

My husband and I were just a part of the process.
A piece of their story.
We continued to stay in touch.

My husband became his mentor during the last year he was in seminary.
They talked on the phone and met for lunch on occasion
 to discuss life and being a leader in church and home.

And then he graduated and became a pastor of a small town church.
They learned a lot
about themselves and church life through that experience.

Fast-forward to today....
My husband and I were out of town and realized we were only a town away from where they were currently serving. He is the pastor of a church in a different small town. We gave him a call to get directions and on Sunday surprised his wife and kids by coming to Sunday service.

We were so proud. He did such a good job with the sermon and we could tell that he loved his sheep. Although they have only been at the church for under 2 years, they consider it their home and the body their family.
We were able to have lunch with them a few days later to hear their hearts.
They love the Lord. Leading a church is hard. Their hearts break for the sheep and they long to lead them to greener pastures. But sheep can be stubborn.
We prayed for one another. It was wonderful.

15 years
Planting
Watering
Growing

Many hands, feet and prayers invested in this family

God did the growing
and continues to do the growing.    

I know we don't always get to see what investing/watering in others leads to.
But every once in a while, God allows us to see....       

Oh how marvelous
Oh how wonderful   

1 Corinthians 3:6 - 9
I (Paul) planted the seed,
and Apollos watered it.
But God is the One who made it grow.
So the one who plants is not important,
and the one who waters is not important.
Only God, who makes things grow, is important.
The one who plants and the one who waters have the same purpose,
and each will be rewarded for his own work.
We are God's workers, working together;
you are like God's farm, God's house.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Marking time

As far as I can tell,
we are the only species
on the planet
that marks time
with the events
that happen in our lives.

"That happened before kids"
"When I was in high school"
"After the summer I will....."
You know what I mean?

As a Christian, 
recognizing particular events in our lives, help us to gain perspective on who God is, how He loves us and His influence on the world.

Unfortunately,
if we let it, marks in our time can freeze us. 
Moments that we can't seem to get past or see God's hand in,
can keep us from growing in our faith.

This past week was a "Mark in Time" for my son.
When he was younger, he was involved in a program called "Side by Side".
This program used the vehicle of basketball to teach boys
how to grow up to be Christian men. 
I really loved that other men besides my husband were investing in my son.
It was one of the things that God used to grow him into who is he now.
One of the founders of the program, Coach Saunders,
left this earth to dwell in heaven earlier this month.
I am not sure that it can be counted how many young men he influenced and introduced to Jesus. Unfortunately men like this are rare and he will be dearly missed by countless families.

The "Mark in Time" was my son choosing to attend the funeral alone.
I was not sure whether he would decide to go or not,
so when he called and shared with me that he had gone and how it went,
I could not have been more proud.

Experiencing the death of someone that has been instrumental in your life,
is a huge "Mark in Time".

One does not forget.

This year,
this summer,
this month,
that day,
will always be a time
that he will use to calculate things that may have happened
before and after
the time he attended his first funeral,
alone,
for someone he cared about and deeply respected.

Personally,
"Marking Time", helps me to see
where God has worked and is working in my life.
Without Markers in my life I would not have eyes to see His Way.
When I reflect on my "Markers" I think of:
My third grade Sunday school class
My bottom locker in Junior High
My Captain Crunch Jeans
Making the High School "Pom Pom" squad
Student council
My first date
Voice lessons
Changing churches
Meeting my husband
My Grandma Boo Boo's death
Mission trips
Getting married
Graduating College
My first job as a nurse
Having children
and these are just a few....

To you who are reading this, they just look like a list.
But to me, pivitol things happened and those "Markers" help me remember.

I am not afraid to remember and reflect on things in my life that remind me of who I was, where I was and how God used it all to make me who I am today.

As hard as many of those "Markers " were to go through,
I would not change a thing.
For not only do they remind me,
they also give me a place of understanding as I live in this world.
I become an instrument my Heavenly Father can use
when I lay all my "Markers" at His feet.
I long for my whole life to be useful.
Everything from my past, now and whatever is to come.
I hope that when I have left this earth to dwell in Heaven, 
that the "Markers" from my life are still apparent as a reminder
of how big God is and to show what He has done.

There are several places in the Old Testament part of the Bible 
where people left a marker
to remind them and anyone who passes by
of what God did in that place.
One of my favorite stories is in 1 Samuel chapter 7
It was a time when the Israelites were again turning back to God.
Samuel was serving as the judge of Israel (vs6) and he was instructing them
on all they must do to be right with God.
In the midst of that, Israel was attacked by their enemy.
They cried out to God and He saved them.
After that, Samuel took a stone to "Mark" what happened, 
so that no one would forget the events that had occured that day.
He called the stone, Ebenezer.
Which meant the stone of help,
to commemorate God aiding His people in the battle.

It is an interesting story worth reading.
If you have never read 1 Samuel,
in order to really get an understanding of chapter 7,
you really need to read chapter 1 through 7.

So the question today is....
How are you marking time?
Can you say that you see the "Marks" as remembrances 
of times you can reflect on where you were in relationship to God?
Be willing to use it all for His glory....



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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Washing Machine

I am not sure that I really understand it,
but it feels like the more I am willing to serve God,
the greater my faith and trust is stretched. 

I knew when I said "Yes!" to greater service and responsibility for the Lord
that I would be tested, tried and even tempted.

I won't tell you it has all been fun, it hasn't.
But I was not promised fun.
I won't tell you it has all been easy, it hasn't.
But I was not promised easy.
I won't tell you it has all been simple to understand all that is happening, it hasn't.
But I was not promised understanding.   

Here is what I feel:

I feel like I came to God
filthy,
unfit,
unprepared
and unworthy for service.

I feel like over the last 4 or 5 years
He has given me ways to become more fit for service.


In my head,
this is the exchange and the mental picture
between me and God:
Me: "Father, I love you. I love to be and serve where you are working.
I want to learn to be a better servant and citizen for your kingdom."
God: "Great! I would love that!! So here is the way this works....
Just step up here, that's right. Now let me open the lid."
Me: "You want me to step in here? How is that going to help me?"
God: "Trust me, it is going to be great. You are going to love the results.
This is one of my many methods that I use to train and mold my children
so that I can use them better."
Me: "Well, okay. I do trust you."
God: "So now what you need to do is step right into this tub."
Me: "Like this?"
God: "Yes, feet first. Now I am going to add some water."
Me: "Water!!!"
God: "Absolutely.
Although I will pour it over your head, you will not drown.
I promise.
This is the best way to begin to soften
those crusty places that need to come off.
Just sit and soak a while.
You will see what I mean."
Me: " Oh Yeah, this is not too bad.
It's kinda relaxing, soothing.
Okay, I can stay here."
God: "Alright, now that we have that step down,
I am going to add some powdered soap.
I am just going to sprinkle it around in the water.
This will help to clean up all those little crevasses, dirt, grime
and really anything that may be attached to you that should not be there."
Me: "Soap!
Won't that get in my eyes?
Won't that irritate my skin?
How much soap are you going to use?"
God: "As much as it takes to do the job"
Me: "Hmm, I think I liked the water soaking better.
Won't that eventually work?"
God: "No, it is just the beginning.
If I left you to just soak,
you would become too soft, bloated and unusable."
Me: "Well, I definitely want to be usable.
So how long do I have to stay in this soapy water?"
God: "I don't think it will be too long.
My timing is perfect."
Me: "Great! I am already getting comfortable with the soapy water.
It's not too bad.
A little irritating, but I can handle it.
Anything to help me become someone you can use."
God: "Of course.
Now that we have those two steps in place,
I am just going to push this little red button. Are you ready?"
Me: "Ready for what!"
God: "For what I have for you next."
Me: "What is it?
What is going to happen?
What do I need to do? 
How long will this take?
What is it going to feel like?
When will it be over?"
God: "Trust me, it is going to be great.
I have it all under control.
You just need to stay in the water."
Me: " Oh, okay."
God: "Here it goes,
I am pushing the button now.
Just stay in the water.
No jumping out until it is complete." 
Me: "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"
God: "You can do it!
I am still right here.
See me?
I am not going anywhere.
I plan to stay here until it is complete."
Me: "I am so dizzy!
I keep loosing sight of you when I spin this way and that way!"
God: "Just listen to my voice when you can not see me.
I am still here."
Me: "Okay! But this is harder than I imagined.
Are you sure this is the only way?"
God: "This is the only way, for you my dear child.
When this cycle is over, you will be fit to do what I have in mind for you."
Me: "I will try to keep trusting in your ways,
even when I don't understand. 
Please give me the strength to endure this process."
God: "I am all you need.
Focus on Me and My ways and you will be strengthened." 


So, I have a bit
of an imagination.
I tend to
think in pictures.
Silly I know,
but it helps me
to make sense of things sometimes.


 Right now, I am in the spin cycle. 

Here is what I know:
Our Heavenly Father gives us what we need for the work He has for us to do.
Check out the Gospels, it does not matter which one.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.
They all tell stories of men who had no experience that were called
to follow God's son as He went about His Fathers business.
They learned on the job, so to speak.
Jesus was constantly teaching them, coaching them, admonishing them
and preparing them for the work that they would have.
Work while He was with them physically
and work they would be totally equipped to do when He departed.
He did not leave them all alone.
He sent the Holy Spirit to guide them, remind them
and encourage them to press on and
continue to tell a dying world about Jesus' saving faith. 

So what does this have to do with my current spin cycle?
It has everything to do with it.
Others have been here before
I am not alone
I have Gods word
I have the Holy Spirit
I have my sister's in the faith
I have my community

All this to help me to stay in the water.
as I am washed, shaped and made useful.