Monday, June 1, 2009

Just a thought...

In case you're wondering - I'm ok. Relatively speaking. God is doing stuff in me and I've faced some trials recently that I would have rather run away from than faced... But I've faced them.. and mostly got through relatively unharmed...

On another of the blogs I read daily (the Daniel Fam) I was struck by something her husband told her... this is totally a paraphrase... but when she was stressing about the future and about planning for tomorrow and trying to figure stuff out, he reminded her that the situation they are in (preemie in NICU in D.C.) is not a punishment from God for something they did "wrong".

How often do I feel like GOd is punishing me for bad choices like I would punish my son and that his punishment is x,y, and z hard trial. So then, I was just reminded of the following verse... one of my ALL TIME FAV's...

James 1 vs 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

"Consider it PURE JOY when you face trials". Not just Joy. Pure joy. I think about that like the kind of joy that a small child has when they play with their favorite toy or get their favorite food or see their mommies after being away from them for a week, a day, an hour! He wants us to act like a child w their favorite things when we are in the middle of tough stuff. I haven't felt like a child lately... But I believe His way is best and I believe that He can be trusted (well I dont TOTALLY believe I can trust Him right now... honestly... but I"m trying to.)

He continues saying that the testing of our Faith (in Him, in things we can't see, etc) will lead to perseverance and maturity. He wants us to be MATURE and COMPLETE... lacking NOTHING. Sometimes I wish he'd just let me be incomplete bc maybe it wouldn't be so hard or hurt so bad... but I have to believe His ways are best. And to even be thankful that he cares enough to finish what he started in me... he doesn't want to give up. He doesn't want to have a 1/2 completed masterpiece.

I think about my recent fliers and publications I've done at work... and how I want to complete them... make them into EXACTLY what I had envisioned... even if it takes me 1/2 the morning after I think its "done" to make it "COMPLETE"... resize a font here, add a graphic there, change some colors, etc. Then Finally... finally... its complete. It lacks nothing. I'm satisfied and even proud of the work I finished.. but it doesn't happen instantly. It takes time... and then just when you get it close to what it should look like... there's even more "tweaking".

Why don't I trust him to finish "tweaking" me?

That passage continues with : 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

So if I doubt Him.... if I doubt His word is truth.... if I doubt He wants the best for me... if I doubt His plans... I"m "double minded" and shouldnt' expect to receive ANYTHING from the Lord.


So maybe I'll get to work on this trust thing. Maybe I'll give up my "right to understand" as Lori said below (in Trust #3) and then maybe I'll believe its worth it. Maybe I'll believe I'm not being punished... and that he's holding me when I'm sad and hasn't abandoned me ever... even for a moment... Maybe. It seems so hard right now.

Then I keep reading in James...

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Maybe its worth it... I mean... I'm pretty sure it is. The Crown of Life seems pretty cool.... I want to look back and say I stood the test... I guess only time will tell!


So the end of this made me cry. Maybe one day I'll have my own reflections to post... but for now, I'm pretty sure the Lord is speaking to me through these other people about trusting him, knowing he loves me, and that he hurts with me. - Tiff

From :
Last night Camryn experienced a part of life that hurts and seeing my baby go through that just about killed me. I got a text from her Dad that told me that Cocoa, their dog at her Mamaw's house, died and that Camryn probably saw it. I sent a text to Judy telling her I was sorry to hear Cocoa died and asked if Camryn was ok. She told me that Camryn was fine just puzzled by what happened as they were. When Camryn got to my mom's house she was in good spirits so I was thinking it was smooth sailing. On the way home Camryn said "It's like I have a record playing over and over in my head". I asked her what she had stuck in her head, thinking it was going to be a song, because this happens to her a lot...she's just got the music in her. Her response ripped my heart out and I knew what was coming. She said, "Go get Papaw and tell him Cocoa is dead...go get Papaw and tell him Cocoa is dead...I just keep hearing it over and over". As she was telling me this her little innocent voice got shaky and then the tears came. When we got home we sat down and I just held her as she cried and kept saying "I just want Cocoa alive". It was killing me. I had no comforting or inspirational words, I just rocked her and cried with her and told her it's ok to be sad and to cry. Y'all it was almost more than I could take. I sent her dad a text telling him Camryn was really upset. He called and she talked to him and her brothers and that seemed to help a little bit. She drew a picture and told me she would always remember Cocoa and for me not to worry that she would get over it. She would pull herself together and then it would hit her again and she would start to cry. It made me think about God's love for His children and how it must kill him and rip his heart out when we are hurting and crying. How He must be holding us and crying with us in our times of trouble, telling us it's ok to be sad and that everything will be ok. His love is amazing!
It is a part of life but I'm telling you I would rather hurt a million times than to see my child hurting like that.

TRUST #3??

Hit me again that everything I'm reading is about trust.... so then I realize that I have a big issue with that right now and don't think I can honestly answer yes to either of the questions she poses below. I believe I will get there... but I'm definitely not there now. I hope this encourages you as it did me- Tiff.

From Lori Goode...

In church on Sunday, a good friend of mine, Sandra, spoke on giving up our right to understand God's actions or restraints - when He does something that hurts and is confusing or when He doesn't do something that we've asked. Sandra said that throughout her life, when difficult circumstances arise in both her life and in others, God has asked her these 2 questions:

1. Do you trust Me?
2. Do you give up your right to understand what I am doing?

Whoa...I was immediately thrown back to this month 5 years ago when these very same questions brought me to a turning point in my faith. And although most of you who read this blog know my story, I feel like there might be someone out there who doesn't or who needs to hear it again. Maybe you feel like God failed you, like He didn't come through for you, or maybe that He's denying you something you've asked for over and over again... Whatever it is that you're dealing with, I want to give you hope.

In May of 2004, after praying and waiting and being sure that I knew how things were going to eventually play out in a certain situation, I was blindsided. I did not just feel like the road made a big turn and I went off course, I felt like God told me to go down a certain road that ended with me going off an uncompleted bridge, straight into a freezing river. I asked myself, "How could I have missed this? How could God not tell me when I asked so many times? Can I even hear the voice of God? Why would a God who claims to love me and know what's best for me allow me to be shattered and utterly lost?" Trying to make sense of what had happened, I was overcome by loss and anger. I shouted out loud to God, "I don't believe You! I don't believe that You know what's best for me! How could this possibly be what's best?! I don't believe that You are good or that You love me! But oh, how I want to! Show yourself to me God! Show me that You are true, that the things I've read and been taught about You are true! Prove Yourself to me!"
And by His grace, He did...

I was too angry and hurt to hear His voice for a while, so He used other things to speak - His people to give word pictures; a Watermark song "Mended"; a section from the book The Princess Bride; a line from the movie LOTR: Return of the King; a dead tree trunk that had a sprig of a new and different tree growing from within. God uses all things to show His grace and reveal Himself, if only we are willing to see.

Over time, I was healed from the loss; but greater than the pain from the loss was the pain of not knowing why. Over and over again I asked for understanding, I pleaded with God to show me why...and the only answer I got was that it was not what He had for me. At first, this was not an acceptable answer, but as He proved Himself to me, showing me His good, loving, merciful character, I was able to release my right to understand and to trust His sovereignty.
Back in high school, I remember sitting in my driveway after midnight with my good friend, Alex. He said something that has stuck with me even 11 years later: "In all situations, we have to remember that God is good and that God is sovereign. If we can remember that, then everything will be okay." (Wow...pretty profound for a 17 year old - thanks Al!). And that's true even today...for me and for you - if we can choose to believe that God is good, that God is sovereign, and (I'd like to add) that He loves us, everything will eventually come into line.

It's when we have an experience with God - when we know Him and have seen His character - that we can believe and trust Him; first came the experience, then the belief and trust. This doesn't mean that we don't question, that we don't get angry, that we don't feel sad and loss; it does mean that God is not afraid of those things and He will prove Himself to us if we humbly ask.

So on Sunday during the ministry time after the sermon was over, I sat reflecting on my situation 5 years ago and I was so thankful - thankful that God proved Himself true to me; that in His mercy He drew me close again; that He was not discouraged by my anger, my doubt, my questions, my accusations; and that because of that situation, my faith was refined, hardened and proved genuine. I don't want to be arrogant; I know that my situation is mild compared with some of the true tragedies that others have gone through. But I hope that even if horror comes to me in greater proportions I will still believe Him true; yet even if I am not, He will prove Himself to be.

My encouragement to you is this: if you are angry, hurt or confused by God's actions or restraints, if His character does not seem to line up with your experience, then humbly ask Him to prove Himself true to you, to show you Who He is and how much He loves you. As one who has experienced this for herself, I know He will be faithful to do it.
Posted by Lori at 8:16 PM