Tuesday, June 15, 2010

God’s Kind of Care!

"Give Thanks to the Lord, call upon His name;
Make known among the nations what He has done;
And proclaim that His name is exalted. Sing to the Lord,
For He has done glorious things;
Let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
For great is the Holy One of Israel among You."
Isaiah 12:4-6

            When I am struggling with painful circumstances, I find it difficult to believe God is working on my behalf. I wonder if others feel that way, too, or is it only me? One time I was struggling with a painful situation and these verses jumped out at me and grabbed my heart. I was convicted, because I know when God seems to be silent or when He is waiting to answer what I consider an important prayer request, I can get despondent. But I have come to realize when He has me waiting, He answers my smallest prayer request to show me He remains intimately involved in my life. One of the times He did that was right after we had moved to California. God seemed so distant during our transition and even though we prayed for guidance, He didn’t seem to be directing us to any particular church. I asked God half-heartedly one morning to send a cool breeze to the field in which my husband was working. He was not acclimated to the California desert heat, and was coming in exhausted from it. That night I asked my husband how his day had gone. Without knowing anything about my prayer request, he told me it had been a good day, because a cool breeze had come up in the field in which they were working. 
Another time that I was struggling with a long-term trial, it seemed God was silent, refusing to act. At that time my husband was struggling to put an old car back together after he had dismantled it. I could tell he was frustrated, so I asked God to guide his hands so he could put all of the parts back in the right places. That night he told me he had forgotten where all the parts went and all of a sudden he was able to do it. I felt blessed in both situations by such specific answers to such specific prayers for my husband. I don't know why God chose not to make my painful situation end or make His guidance to a new church home more obvious. However, I do know He showed me He cares about the smallest things because he provided a cool breeze on a hot day and gave one frustrated husband the knowledge he needed to put an engine back together. If God is at work in the little situations, surely I can trust Him to work in the bigger more difficult long-term situations. 
I have come to realize I don't see all God does. I can't see the changes He is making in another person's heart. I can’t always see what He is accomplishing by answering one prayer with a yes and one prayer with a no and still another with wait awhile. I also realize I don’t always measure God’s care in the same way He does. There were times in the past that I thought His care was stopping a hard trial. But, now I realize God measures His care differently. He might perceive it is more caring to teach me to trust Him in the midst of a trial like illness, persecution, slander, or financial hardship than it would be to stop it. He might perceive it more caring to teach me to obey Him when I am apathetic, tired, ill, don’t want to, or am afraid to than it is to make my life easier. He might find it more caring to teach me to love like He does, which may include learning to repay evil with good, mercy for meanness, and grace for hurtful words. He might find it more caring to develop in me the ability to cling to the promise of the resurrection in the face of death. He might find it more caring to reveal Himself to me as a provider than taking away our financial stresses. He definitely is more concerned with developing His character in me, than my personal comfort.
"Sing to the Lord." "Shout aloud and sing for joy." Wow those are powerful commands! When I sing do I sing to the Lord? When is the last time I shouted and sang for joy? One night at a football game we sat by the head coach’s wife and we witnessed her passion as she rooted for her husband’s team. Believe me, she shouted and cheered passionately and it was fun to watch. However, as I was sitting there watching her, I thought about a lady I had led to the Lord in Mexico. We sat there smiling and nodding at each other afterward, but inside I wanted to do what this lady was doing at the football game. I wanted to stand up and jump up and down for joy. I wanted to run out the door and shout to the mission team that this mom became a believer. I wanted to scream from a mountain top that this beautiful lady had been translated from a kingdom of darkness to a kingdom of light. But I didn’t, I just sat there smiling at her. I wonder what held me back from being so passionate over this lady’s decision. I also wonder why I don’t shout for joy when we watch someone being baptized, when my children or friends make godly choices, weep for their friends, or share Christ. I’m not sure why I don't, but I do know God deserves more applause and a louder shout than a winning football team. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against giving applause for jobs well done, just against not giving God the applause He deserves. I am the most guilty of this. I know I’ve have been on the verge of shouting for joy and have held back. If I believe God is Holy and great why don’t I shout it? 
When life is hard and I believe God has forgotten me and I am frustrated by His silence, I benefit from spending time in His Word and reviewing what He has done in my own personal life. He has cancelled my sin, paid my debt, and translated me from the Kingdom of Darkness and placed me into His glorious Kingdom of Light. He has made me fit to be partakers of Christ's inheritance and has given me gifts and abilities to use. He has promised to never leave or forsake me! This list doesn't even include the personal things God has given me--godly friends, meeting needs abundantly, the person who shared Christ with me, emotional and physical healing, a new heritage, and a changed heart. Interesting, recounting my blessings returns me to a place the place of joy--the place God desires me to dwell. It also fills my heart with praises…whoa, if I’m not careful…I just might start shouting that God cares!

Prayer: Father, please open our eyes to Your involvement in our lives. Help us to believe the truth of the glorious things Your Word says You have done, are doing, and will do. Free us of all that keeps us from shouting and singing for joy! Fill us with the desire to proclaim Your Holy name among all people, including our families, friends, classmates, co-workers, communities, and nations. You are great and greatly to be praised! Amen.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!