Anticipation

Standing on the precipice of something extraordinary….or maybe just new, I cannot help but feel anticipation and eagerness to move forward, to feel whatever this is that the Lord is moving around in my life. Big pieces are moving, and slowly things are taking shape.  I’ve been praying much the past few months of what does God have for me next.  I am “content” where I am, yet some of the situations that surround me make me uncomfortable, and yes I do realize that uncomfortableness can grow you….however this type of uncomfortable is the kind that can kill you. So. What is it God, what will it be? Where will it be? When will it be?

Looking forward, I cannot help but look back as well…I recently saw this verse at one of the 5 funerals I’ve attended in the last few weeks…”The memory of the righteous will be a blessing….” (Proverbs 10:7a).  What a blessing that I have been given through all of the people in my life & now who have passed on to the next.  One of my favorite kids books, tells the story of an old woman who refuses to name things that she knows she will outlive.  So the puppy that starts to visit her daily goes without a name until at one point he stops coming & she believes she has lost him forever. Through his visits, she has grown to love him…and when the dog pound guy asks what the lost puppy’s name is, she thinks back over all her friends that she had outlived, and realized just how lucky she was, and decided then to name the dog “lucky”.  As I look for what this new thing is that God is stirring, I want to bring the memories of the righteous people in my life with me…they will be in me and their memories will live through me, in whatever place I land.

Eleanor Roosevelt, in my mind one of the greatest inspirational women to ever live, said this…”The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”  That’s what I’m trying to do…..reaching out to find whatever is out there, whatever God has that holds a rich newness to it. His redeeming & loving character will provide that, in his way.  Hm. How are we, am I, living that is tasting His will to the utmost, am I reaching out eagerly & without fear?  Will I remember the past with a blessed feeling?  I will, and I will try to take steps in faith to be one of those women who live without fear of the future, to be confident in the hope I have in Christ, and the boldness to follow wherever He may lead…seeing how He worked so vibrantly in the lives of my loved ones past, and fully trusting that He will do the same in me.

Total Restoration in Progress

This is my new life statement. Total restoration in progress. Think about this with me.  As I walked down the old & classic looking streets of downtown St. Paul, there’s a place called the Coney Island Cafe. It says it opened in 1923, and now there is plastic sheets over the windows & dirt in the doorway. But a tiny little sign tells you that there is a “total restoration in progress”.  When you peek into the windows, you can see the old bar stools, the juke box in the middle of the dining room, old booths made from dark wood…signs of a past that has been lived and worn down.  Signs that at one time this little shop was something…it was made to be something, but has gotten dirty, old, been shut off from the outside & has lost life inside the walls.

As I walked away from the cloudy window, I pictured my own life like that little cafe.  Parts of my life have been dusty, abandoned, been shut off from the outside & lost life.  I thought about how many of us when going through difficult things will grow tired of visiting those places inside of us, and pretty soon they’re closed for business, not something we easily remember, and not something any one would want to go back to.

But Christ, in his ever visioning perspective & will, sees that old place and sees the potential that is still held within.  He comes inside of that place, and puts up a sign “total restoration in progress”.  Total….not one spot untouched, taking everything into the process.  Restoration…..taking all those parts, every single spec & restoring it to the original design, the original intent & vibrant life.  In Progress……an ongoing process, active & not sedentary, forward moving towards a goal, a developing of sorts.

Isn’t our life in Christ a “total restoration in progress”?  Will we ever reach a finished state until Christ says come home?  And how would we be totally restored if we do not allow him into every little nook & cranny of our being?

When you see a place that has been totally restored to it’s original state, is it not a beautiful sight? Something you want to behold, take in, soak up, relish, applaud, appreciate & marvel at?  Are we not usually wanting to give recognition to the hard work that the restorer has accomplished? Do we not look at all the tiny details that the crafter took time to meticulously finish?  Why then would we not recognize the work that Christ would like to do in us, a more than fully capable master who knows the ins & outs of us better than we know ourselves.  Should we not then give him the keys to every part of us and especially the dark & dusty parts so that we can be fully restored to the life that Christ meant for us to live out?

No Parking or Stopping

This afternoon, I found myself hidden, in a small patch of grass, mesmerized by the trees, the breeze, the heat & the deep hurt of a friend….of their deep hurt, and how I hurt because I know they hurt.  As I sat, I looked towards the road, and saw this common sign “No Parking or Stopping.”

I see these signs all the time, we all do & are often frustrated with the thoughts of “why not,” or “it’ll just be a second,” or “someone else is parked there….maybe I can get away with it too.”  But today, as I looked at the sign, and thought about this woman, friend, co-worker…..I thought of how God often tells us that earth itself is a “No Parking or Stopping” zone.

Stay with me….it says in Philippians 3:20 that “…our citizenship is in heaven.” Does this mean we’re not made for this earth?  We’re made for something else, right?  Heaven? To glorify God ultimately…but that earth, where our God has placed us, is just temporary, right?  We’re not supposed to just stay here.  This isn’t our end point.  We can’t just stop, or park here on earth….we need to keep moving…especially when times get bad.  

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  SO we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
  
I do not appreciate the knowledge that the troubles we endure here, is “achieving an eternal glory”….I want the beauty now…I want to stop, enjoy the roses, whatever. Yet the truth is, that God is and will use these times to make His glory seem even more beautiful to us once we are united with Him.  What we experience here, is temporary….it’s something that will pass away, that we need to not stop at. We cannot allow these things to stop us….though we may want to…we need to remember the “No Parking” sign.  This is not the end.  There is more….Philippians 3:20 goes on to say “And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”

These bodies, the ones we are wasting away in….the old, the fat, the frail, the weak, the worn down bodies that we are in…are only traveling clothes.  There is more to hope for, though right now it is hard to see.  It is painful to look for. But don’t stop….keep going.


Heights

Just some thoughts as I prepare to head out….”As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1)….through my searching, I ask…”Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” (Jeremiah 1:6)…today, this is how I’m feeling.  Where will the Lord meet me on this trip, where will he be silent & teach me to wait? I feel & know that I have so much to learn, and each day offers plenty of opportunity…..yet I am only a child, I do not always know where to seek, or where to find.

I find promise in Psalms 18:33 where it says “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.” Heights can be conquered by hard work. I’ve never known anyone (except one of the native Everest peoples) to be able to climb a mountain easily.  It takes steadfastness, determination, skill & vulnerability. But here, David talks about God as the giver of feet like a deer, easily able to climb & reach the heights from the depths.

This next week, hiking up mountains, kayaking through rivers, I will try to remember this….that though the rains pour, the storms come, there are heights to be reached again, and God is the one who gives us the ability to reach them.

Let’s journey together, to see what heights are set before us!

Opening the Way to Walk with God

“The way to God is by the Savior’s death. The way to walk with God is to be set apart by the Savior’s life.” Leviticus is a book about holiness. To some, the book of Leviticus is known as a priest’s manual, the intricate how-to’s of sacrifices, offerings and prayers. The point of these rituals however, was to allow people to remain close to God. These sacrifices were a way to set themselves apart from others, and to recognize the holiness of the God we serve.

For our cry to reach God, however; there needed to be a sacrifice…a holy sacrifice. Once a year, a high priest would enter the Holy of Holies to offer a sacrifice on behalf of him and the nation. This was a special honor that was only for one called by God. God himself would choose a high priest, the one to go between Him and the people. In Hebrews, it tells how God did this with Jesus…”The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’ Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

“Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

“Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” (Hebrews 7:21b-28)

Our Savior’s life was truly perfect and holy in the sight of God…”Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:13-15)

Holiness as a characteristic would be someone who is recognized or declared sacred by religious use or authority…someone devoted to or set apart for the service of God. In Leviticus, the sacrifices of the priests were not to be the redeeming power bringing someone to God, but served as the outward and humbling act of a life committed to being set apart for the worship and service of God.

Now, as we seek to live a life that is set apart for God, one that is distinctly covered by the sacrificial blood of Christ, we can trust that God hears our prayers. There is now an avenue to call on our Father to hear us and guide us. We know that He will be with us forever, and will walk with us forever in an open relationship made possible by the priestly sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Some days however, we still do not know how to call out to the Father for help. It is then, as always, the Holy Spirit is present to intercede on our behalf. As Romans 8:25-27 says, “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”

When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, He carries our prayers and petitions before our God. He enters the Holy of Holies on our behalf and pleads for us. Through this is the redemption of our sin, and the way to stay in a close relationship to our Heavenly Father.

Being confident in this, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:19-20)

Praise God for sending us a perfect and holy sacrifice, one who can serve as a High Priest that brings us into an open relationship with the God of the universe. He is worthy to be praised.