"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Sheep with Claws??

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It is a funny or odd picture, I will admit.  But, God used it none-the-less.

A little white lamb with sharp, long fangs pointing out from it's mouth.  In place of hooves, it had claws like an eagle.   A strange image, to be sure.  A "fangy" sheep?  But, this is the picture I saw in my head when I ask the Lord about my worry.

When I asked Him what He thought about my worry... what was His Truth about the state of my heart, I saw this picture in my mind's eye.

A sheep with fangs...  ugly, grotesque and malformed...  a lamb with claws.  Not as it should be.  Something is definitely not right here.

I knew when I saw this picture in my mind's eye that God's Spirit was saying something profound to my spirit.   This is what you look like when you don't trust me and you try to take care of yourself with worry.  

Humans aren't born with armor.  We don't have fangs and we don't have claws.  We are soft and vulnerable.   When we go to war we must create armor.  When we are hurt we also must, and do, create armor to protect.  When we want to attack with strength, we have to have made a weapon.  Our fists are the best we have.  That is it.  We aren't made to protect ourselves or to attack others.  Protection is what God does for us... if we let Him.

But, we don't.  Or, I should say, I don't.  I try to protect myself and have since before I can remember.  I protect myself from this pain or that pain.  Psychologists call these "protections" our "coping mechanisms".  Worry, fear, overeating, pleasure, escape, planning, "doing", cleaning, self righteousness, judgment and analysis... all mechanisms to help us cope---to help me cope.

Some coping mechanisms are more destructive than others, certainly.  And, some are temporary gifts of survival;  but, all mechanisms--- in the end--- if solely relied upon can become our god.    They become places we go.  They become the avenue for our okay-ness, our rest, our care, and our security.  They tend and "care" for us---usually quite poorly, I might add.  They can become our shepherd.

God reminded me of this picture today.  When I came to Him again, today, with my worry, He reminded me that it isn't my job to protect myself or to protect others.  He is my good, kind, loving Shepherd.  I can trust Him and His protection.  "I myself will tend my sheep, says the Sovereign Lord" (Ezekiel 34:15)  

In fact, when I run to these others things--- when I try to protect myself---I just look (and act) like a scared little white lamb with fangs and claws.  Something is not quite right here.

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone!"  Psalm 62:5-8

Thursday, January 10, 2013

High and Low...Near and Far at the very same time...

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His Word brings such fullness to my life.  Meditating on the fact that God reigns over all the earth was very encouraging to my heart this morning.  I find it very calming to remember that He is from all eternity:  He has always been and always will be.  (Psalm 93:2)

In my world and in my life sometimes the smallest things can take on a life of their own... and they truly become too big and too overwhelming.   A mole-hill circumstance can feel a mountain in my heart.  Does this ever happen to you?

I can feel the heavy of this "to-do" or that situation.  I can feel the bubbling of worry, the tug at my heart to plan more---fix more---and control it all...

But, this morning as I read from God's word, I found the fact of His always-ness to be deeply comforting.  How many centuries of time has He seen?  How many wars, rumors of wars, and mountains has He witnessed? He has seen them all and He was before them!  ...none has shaken Him.  ...none of these have moved His eternal being.  He has always been and will always be seated secure on His throne.

I am blessed by this Truth...

And, yet, even as I reveled in this Truth this morning, I had this inkling that His Spirit wanted to say more to me on this subject...

Yes, I am high and lifted up, Stephanie.

Yes, I have always been.  Yes, I am firmly secure on my throne.  And, yet...  

I am the God-Who-Sees.  I am your El Roi.

I was reminded that God saw Hagar in the desert... (Genesis 16:13)
He saw one lonely, discarded, de-valued woman in the desert...  What a beautiful thought.

I was reminded this morning that God heard the cry of the boy in the desert... (Genesis 21:17)
He saw and He heard one lonely, dying boy.  What a thought!

He is the Almighty, robed in majesty and secure on His throne from the ancient of days... and, He is the God who sees.    This is, indeed, power and love living simultaneously in our One God.  Two truths are one united Truth:  He is powerful and loving.... He is both/and.  (Psalm 62:11-12)

My God reigns over all the earth.  And, my God sees me.  Today.  And, He sees you...

Meditating on this fact brings sweet encouragement to my heart.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sometimes it is just a bit dark...

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It was dark this morning.  And it felt cold.  I felt cold.

Sometimes morning just brings haze.  And, darkness.  I don't know why...

I woke up this morning to the dark.  Literally and emotionally.

Dark and cold, inside and out,  I dragged myself out of bed... awake, but desperate for my cup of coffee.

Coffee in hand, I plopped hard into my quiet time chair. Wordless feelings just sat with me in the morning gloom.  I just feel yuck...  and cold hearted.  And, tired.

As my mind lingered in that hazy space, I mechanically picked up one of my devotional books.  I guess I'll start here...  

Half heartedly, I began to read a verse in my book:  "Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you...  to rejoice in Your name all day long."  (Psalm 89:15)

...to rejoice in Your name...

Rejoice in My name...    

The words seemed to come alive just a bit, dancing to-and-fro from the page into my mind.  With slight hope  and the face-of-my heart upturned slightly, I thought... Okay... yes! this is where I will start today.

I began to write in my journal...

I simply wrote Truth.  In that moment, I made a choice to rejoice in His name, to acclaim Him.   Do you ever just have to choose Light?

Father, you are Almighty.  You are the Alpha and Omega.  You have always been and You will always be.  You are beautiful and majestic.  All You do is good...  

On and on I wrote... filling the page with Truth.

By the second or third sentence, although the physical darkness of the morning was still heavy, the haze over my heart had lifted and the darkness had faded.

I was made to worship.  Worship was my pathway back to joy this morning.    Praise was a light for my darkened mind.  Happy is he that has learned to acclaim You, to rejoice in Your name all day long!

I am learning.  Father, please keep teaching me, leading me, lighting my way!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

One Word

I can't remember when I started the tradition... was it in college?  I don't know.  But, for years now, I have always picked one word to focus on... or to pray, really... and ask the Lord to grow me in the coming year.  There have been years where it took a while to listen, to pray, and to seek this "one word".   This year my word was as clear as day.  I knew it the moment I thought to ask God...


When I sat for even a few minutes asking, Father what would You have me ask from You this year?  

I knew.  Freedom, Stephanie.  More freedom...  

I believe that God is inviting me to be more freely me:  that "me" He intends, He purposed and He created.  I believe He is inviting me to live more freely in who I am, what I think and what I feel.  ...to say what I think.  To feel what I feel.  And, to be who I am.

For so long the opinions of others, the fear of man and the many "voices" and expectations have informed the "me" and shaped who I am.  I want more freedom from these things... these other voices.  I am asking God that I might know more of who He says I am, who He created me to be!  

Freedom to be me.

And, freedom from... 

Freedom from worry and fear and control and perfection and angst.   I believe that God is inviting me to walk fully free from these things... as I grow in trust and peace and rest in Him alone.  I actually never again have to be worried.  What a thought!  I am free from this.  I can walk in full freedom from fear and worry.

Freedom to...

and freedom from...

This is my prayer for 2013.    Teach me Father, I ask!  

What would you ask God for this year?

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