Last year is the first year that I have ever listened to the entire famous speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember how it stirred my soul to hear the passion behind each and every word. Today I’ve provided you a link that has both a video recording as well as the text of the speech. I urge you to spend the 20 minutes it would take to either watch or read through the speech.
Archives for August 2013
Life is messy.
My life is messy. Your life is messy.
I’m sitting here, looking at the week ahead and, like I’m sure some of you are, feeling overwhelmed. The work, the to-do lists, the problems that have to be solved–all of it from this end looks insurmountable. And yet I know God gives us the grace and the mercy we need to do the things we are called to do in any given week.
But life is messy.
I read a blog post today at The Gospel Coalition that centered around the messiness of life, highlighting a prayer found in 1 Peter 1:3-7:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
I’ve read this verse before, but I don’t think I’ve ever really “read” it until today. Since this morning, I’ve been pondering verses 6 and 7 in particular.
I rejoice. I do rejoice–that my God has granted me salvation. Sometimes it is hard to believe that He has done so. What I mean by that is that when I look at my life, both past and present, I don’t always see a life worth saving. In fact, I don’t see a life worth saving. But thank God, He does. He does! It’s unfathomable at times. Today is one of those times.
I do rejoice, but I also understand verse six. For a little while, I have been grieved by various trials. You have been grieved by various trials. But what does Peter mean when he says “if necessary”? Why is it necessary? Why is it that the messiness of this life, which includes the various trials we are haunted by, be necessary?
We’re tired. I am tired of the messiness. I like my life to be ordered and disciplined. I like my life to run smoothly. Don’t you? I’m tired.
But then we find the answer in verse seven. These very trials, this very messiness, is a testing of our genuine faith. And then it goes on to say something I’ve never thought of before. My genuine faith is more precious to Jesus than gold. How can that be? Who am I, that God would find my faith in Him as precious? I am nobody; I am nobody and yet the God of the universe thinks me as worthy to be tested for genuine faith, that to Him is precious. Whew.
Another side to this is that ministry with people and to people is messy. It is. It is just messy. It’s wonderful and beautiful and heart-breaking and soul-aching and messy. And yet Jesus delved into the midst of the people. He touched their wounds–both the physical and those that could not be seen. He dwelt in the messiness of life.
The book I’m reading right now is what I consider a must-read for every minister, and even for those not formally in ministry. Because it focuses on the messiness of life, and how to allow God to minister through us to the deepest needs of people’s lives. And it also forces examination of our own messiness in the context of ministry. I wrote more about the book in a post the other day, which you can read here. The name of the book is Sensing Jesus.
O, my friends, my life is messy. So many of you speak of how strong I am. I assure you, I am not. Blessed, yes. Granted mercy and grace, yes. But I promise you my life is so unbelievably messy. Good grief, the mistakes that I make!! And tonight I am sitting amongst the mess, asking God once again for the strength to wade into the mess in the days to come–where ever He might lead me. Because I’m tired. And I can’t take another step without Him.
But I know that I have an inheritance that is “imperishable, undefiled and unfading kept in heaven for” me. And I pray that my life–and yours will result in “praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
My girl, Keli Belle, turns 20 tomorrow.
That doesn’t seem possible.
20 years ago today, I was in labor. All day. All night. All the next day. She was not one to be hurried. She finally made her appearance at around 2:15 pm on August 25th–not without giving us a scare or two during labor. But she was a healthy, beautiful baby girl.
My blonde curly haired, blue-eyed girl has been a tremendous gift to me. It seems so cliche’ and trite to try to put it into words, but my love for her knows no bounds.
She’s not had an easy life. I wish with all my heart that she would have not had to bear some of the things she has had to. And yet, I know that those things have helped to shape her into the beautiful woman that she is today–strong, resilient, calm, God-loving, amazing. She’s had to work hard and has not had many of the things that I, as her mother, would have loved to have given her. But that’s what makes her even more special. She is a hard worker—she knows the importance of hard work. And she has a wonderful future ahead of her.
She’s a tremendous big sister. When she is home, the whole tone of our house changes. Her siblings adore her–they crave her attention and she lovingly gives it, creating much laughter in our small little house. Her smile brightens every dark corner. We love having her home when she is able to be.
As a mom, there is so much I wish for her. But my most fervent wish is that she will always know that she is loved by the God of this universe. That she will walk in the path He has for her. That she will worship Him, trust Him and love Him with all of her heart, soul and mind.
My life is blessed because of the gift she is to me. My life is better because of the friend she has become to me. My life is joy-filled because of the woman I am watching her become.
I love my girl.
As I have shared on here before, I’ve suffered from nightmares a very long time. Real, vivid, terrifying dreams that often rob me of my sleep.
I’ve searched scripture and books for answers as to how to get rid of them. It’s not a topic that is often discussed. In fact, it’s a strange subject that many writer’s shy away from, or rather it is rare enough that it doesn’t come up.
But I’m reading a book right now that is messing with me in a good way. I don’t think I’ve read anything this influential since reading the writings of C.S. Lewis.
The title is Sensing Jesus, by Zack Eswine. It’s a book written by a pastor for other pastor’s. However I read a review that said everyone should read it, so I picked it up. Eswine writes honestly and from his soul. I don’t know if it resonates with me in particular because I was a minister’s wife for so long, or just because God is using it to open my eyes and provide balm for my own soul. Whatever the case may be, it’s shaking my thinking up–not a bad thing.
Eswine addresses the four “portions” of a day: Morning, Afternoon, Evening, and Night. It’s the night writings that have made a real impression on my mind.
This post will mostly be made of quotes about dreams and nightmares. I share them with you, in case you, too, suffer as I do. And it is suffering, because it penetrates some of the darkest places in my being.
Some of us dream in the night of our sleeping. Dreams can trouble or bless us….Dreams come from one of three places, just as our thoughts do when we are awake. They originate with us, they are set upon us by our enemy the Devil, or they are whispered to us by God. Either way, dreams are providential; that is, they too are one of the circumstances in our lives that God governs and through which he holds us for his glory and our true good. (Job 33:15-18)
This is the best explanation I have found for the phenomenon we call dreams and nightmares, and believe me, I’ve looked everywhere. Knowing that God governs even in the darkness of night is of a huge comfort to me. I hope that will be to you, as well.
But what do we do with these dreams and nightmares? And where do nightmares come from, particularly nightmares of past things we have experienced that come and haunt us years later? They linger the next day, sometimes blessing us, but often (in my case) disturbing us throughout the next day. Eswine addresses that as well:
Whatever foul or marvelous thoughts or feelings that linger with us, we take them as they are to God, just as we do when we are awake. Generally dreams of strange images of ordinary things in our lives arise from us. Dark, murderous, treacherous, adulterous, slanderous, brutal terrors arise from our enemy who either solely suggests them to us or seizes our own experiences and makes an exaggerated haunting or scandal out of them.
Even though helpful, these words did not give me much comfort. I continued reading on, until my soul did find words that pierced me through:
Whatever our dream, we take its contents and resulting thoughts and emotions to God. With Him we can rest their poetic business and our frame of heart in Jesus….The Lord who keeps you does not slumber but attends you. (Psalm 121:4)
Whew, my soul. Here is the answer that I miss so often. Yes, I take my dreams and nightmares to God, but I do not entrust Him with them. The idea that I can rest them and my heart in Jesus is almost too much grace to bear. And to be reminded that my Lord does not sleep or slumber, but watches over me as I sleep is also almost too much grace and gift to bear. Yet it is scriptural. It is biblical. It is truth.
I despise my nightmares. I am so weary of them. So very weary. But I find comfort in these words that God impressed upon Zack Eswine to write, along with many other subjects that he addresses in his book. I want to rest my nightmares and my heart in my Jesus.
I hope that you’ll find comfort in them as well.