Sunrise to Sunset

I am the LORD, and there is no other;
   apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
   though you have not acknowledged me,
6 so that from the rising of the sun
   to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
   I am the LORD, and there is no other. –Isaiah 45:5-6
 
This morning, as I do many mornings, I watched the sunrise develop into something exquisite over the frozen lake.  It shone bright orange, purple & blue streaks which each contrasted with the others so vibrantly.  I’m not sure why, but watching a sunrise or sunset like the one this morning always reminds me of God’s faithfulness. It’s like he’s there, trying to remind us that from beginning to end, He is there. He will be faithful.  Though the day might bring hardship, toil & pain, He remains. He draws us towards him, to find beauty within his  creation, to find beauty within the day He has created for us. He wants us to know that He is bigger than whatever is out there, whatever we go through, whatever we face….He is with us.  He is in the dark, in the light, in the wind and in the calm. He is there and will always be pursuing us to bring us towards His loving arms.  The colors of this sunset are like the many facets of God’s character. He is both loving, just, compassionate, holy, gentle & yet we should fear Him.  Oh how all those facets and colors come together to form such a wonderful picture of who God is, and that we can be reminded of it every morning and every evening….that God is faithful.  

Who can I trust?

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You, I will trust in You, I will trust in You. When I am afraid, I will trust in You in God whose word I praise.” (Psalm 56:3-4) This song keeps playing over & over in my head….it’s a child’s memory song that I learned long ago, and thankfully it comes up on days like today, when I just question….who can I trust when I am down & unsure?

The verse goes on to say, “what can mortal man do to me” and….to that, I know there is nothing that they can really do…..but there is still pain from their choices & deeds against us.

“Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8)….but I ask that you “Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in You.” (Psalm 143:7-9)

…I guess I just don’t know who to trust right now…things have been falling apart, people not living up to their word, so much junk around, that it’s in times like these that I need to remember the one thing I know I can trust in is Christ. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man….” (Psalm 118:8) This verse is being proven more and more each day…..just trust in Him….and when I am afraid….of the future, of people, of consequences, of everything….I need to be reminded that God will not fail me. “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:4)

Never stop waiting for God

Well how do I begin to tell you just how amazed I am each day that I am alive, at the miraculous & strange ways in which our God works?  Most days it’s mundane, some days slightly boring. But occasionally, and more often than I would admit to enjoy, I get an unusual & exciting adventure.  The last few days has been an occasion of that sort.

In the middle of a weekend night, I was startled with a call that my home had been broken into. Despite my prayers, my computer & external hard drives were stolen.  To some, this would merely mean a few lost papers, maybe some pictures or your running music.  To me….it was all the photos from my travels, the family pictures of my now lost mother, the memories of clients’ babies & vows. The horror devastated me.  It was ironic in the ways that I had been telling people how my neighborhood was “just fine,” and how I had just read about how in David’s painful or frightened waiting he found ways to praise God.

I sat stunned, lost, robbed & unsure of the future. The Lord reminded me to trust Him & not in the things I had lost. It was an understood message, one I “knew” but didn’t enjoy knowing.  But still, the praise was needed to Him…..so I thanked Him for keeping Lisa & I away from home that night because we were SAFE, I thanked Him for clean robbers because our home wasn’t TRASHED, I thanked Him for grace because my clients were FORGIVING. All these things to be thankful for. Yes, I was angry at what had been done, but thankful for God’s protection….I still had a home to sleep in.

My friends at church prayed for me. I’m sure many people did. For protection still, and also that something would turn up. Monday was the worst. It hit me that I would never see those photos again, that someone had been in my house, taken valuables from me, probably sold them, had probably watched me for a while & might be back. The Bible study I’m in helped to take away those thoughts that evening though…..through prayer & some late night fellowship I celebrated the people who surrounded me & the God who provided them.

Monday evening, my brother came back to my house so I did not have to be alone. He let me log-in online with his computer (since mine obviously was “out of service”). Trying to get online I realized that the thieves had also stolen my router. Dumb. I figured it out though, and went to Facebook to update some folks.  Right away, I saw that I had a friend request & an email from the same person who was unknown to me.  Opening the email, my disbelief was stretched.  A man told me that he had purchased a computer that weekend, and after he opened it up & looked around, he noticed that the “brand new” computer he bought was really some one else’s….mine. He had found my computer! But the best was yet to come–he wanted to GIVE IT BACK!

Wait….what? Give it back? No questions asked?  He said he understood what it felt like to have things taken, and that he wanted me to have it back.  Tonight….I sit here, writing this story, as I sit in front of my previously stolen computer.

The last few months, the ponderings of what God requires of us….of me….has been on my mind.  And this story cannot hide the fact that this is God’s love lived out in action.  This guy, innocently bought a computer, discovered there was something wrong and gave it back, without expecting anything in return, trusting God that this is what He would require of him. I think this is SUCH an awesome example.  Trusting in God, waiting on Him to provide, to protect, to restore & to renew a hope in His awesome love.

My life never ceases to amaze me….and neither does my God.

Wait & Trust

Our faith has to be in the Lord, not in a desired outcome.

This can sometimes be a hard one for me to comprehend. Our faith has to be in the LORD, not in a desired OUTCOME.  Our faith cannot be in the thing we desire to gain, do or receive…our faith must be in the Lord himself: the Giver, the Teacher, the Ruler of our life.

I’m reading this book called “Sacred Waiting”….read it. In the second chapter, it talks about Abraham, and how throughout Abraham’s story, he was spoken to by God.  God spoke directly to Abraham, and told him to leave his home, that his barren wife would have a child, that he would be the father of many nations & then one day God told Abraham that he would have to sacrifice the promised son.  These are all difficult things to comprehend. How do you know when it’s the right time to leave home?  How long do you wait for a child?  How can you give up the dream you’ve held onto for years?  None of these things are easy, and none of these things should be done without God directing you. And if your faith is in the object of these questions….faith in your home, faith in your fertility, faith in a dream….then I believe our faith is misplaced.

When you drive a car, or wear a watch.  You trust that that machine will work.  Ultimately, you trust in the manufacturer of that machine. You trust that all the pieces were put together just right, even though you don’t understand how valves, cranks, levers or batteries work together, you understand that the manufacturer & designer knows, and that according to them, if you turn on the watch, or drive the car, it should work.  Your faith is in the creator, not really the car itself.  In the same way….like Abraham, who left his home without knowing where God was calling him, but just left in faith that God would direct, we should allow our faith to only focus on God & to watch for His direction.  To jump into the water & keep our eyes on Him….not sitting around waiting for Him to move, but moving & allowing him to direct our movements.   

We may not know where God is leading us, but we still should follow.  We may believe that He is guiding us one way, but He may direct us somewhere different. Yet if in the change of direction we are following Christ, then how will we go astray?

Deserving?

In a conversation this week, talking about the horrible happenings weaved throughout this persons life, the question was posed “what did I do to deserve this life?”  The thought was chilling, and unsettling. I don’t know that we really deserve any of it….any of the good or any of the bad.  For what really could we do to deserve anything good in this life, and what could we do that would warrant such hard events? I know that if we really get spiritual here, there are probably very legitimate answers for these questions…..sin in the world causes us bad things in our life…or doing good for others often will allow us to reap plentiful benefits.
But in the simplicity of this question, ….I remembered a story in my past.  I once had a wonderful band teacher. He always chose great music & taught us well.  One particular choice of song, had a particularly difficult timpani piece.  This he chose to give to me. The other parts he let the other percussionists choose for themselves, but for the timpani, he chose me to play.  Just looking at the piece someone would understand this was not going to be easy.  It had multiple tone changes, varying degrees of intensity within short measures, odd rhythms, parts where I was the only player amidst the entire band, & so on.  I questioned his choice, pleading that I was not able to do this piece and that he should choose someone more capable.  He insisted, and would hear none of my protest.

So I practiced, and I practiced, and I practiced, I screwed up & I practiced some more. Finally I was OK with the piece….just OK. And when it came to the concert, I stood & played…I was not perfect, but I was alright. I did better than I thought I would, that’s for sure.  Later, I asked my instructor once more….why did you choose to give me such a difficult piece? Surely someone else could have done it better. To this he replied, “I knew you would have to work at it, but I wanted to see you try…” (this next part is what really got me) “…I chose it for you not because you were the best, but because I wanted you to see what you were capable of.”

In many ways, I see this situation as something similar if I now asked God why I deserved this life & the situations that fall into my way….He allows them to come not because I’ve done something to deserve them necessarily, but because he wants me to understand what I’m capable of overcoming when I trust Him.