On Driving…

I was fully equipped to successfully drive from point A to point B.
Full tank of gas? Check.
Fully operational GPS? Check.
Food and drinks? Check.
Reliable car? Check.
And even a paper road map to refer to if the GPS got confusing.
Ready to go!

And at first, the drive was awesome.
Sunshine.
Just-right temperatures.
Great music on the radio.
And even light traffic.
Awesome!

Until it wasn’t.
I could see storm clouds gathering in the distance.
And I really hoped that the road would curve away from them somewhere up ahead.
But it became obvious as I went that I was headed right for them.
And sure enough, the storm hit.
Or rather, I drove directly into the storm.
It was unavoidable on my route.
Dark, dark clouds.
Thunder.
Lightning.
Driving rain.
Even hail.
Really scary stuff.

Made it through that.
But then the night rolled in.
And there was no moon.
Cloudy skies.
And a pitch-black highway.
I couldn’t see light from anywhere.
No cars ahead.
None coming toward me.
Just my headlights trying to pierce the darkness.
And I got scared. Again.
The thoughts started swirling.
What if I get lost?
What if my car breaks down?
What if my GPS fails?
What if I can’t read the map?
What if the road curves and I can’t see it?
What if I crash into someone else?
What if a deer or something else jumps out in front of me?
What if…?
What if…?

So.
Here’s the thing: I just made all of that up.
Sort of.
That was a composite of many driving experiences through the years.
Darkness.
Fog.
Storms.
Icy conditions.
Curvy roads.
Other drivers’ foolishness.
I am sure you have experienced similar conditions.

I prefer sunny, perfect-conditions driving, don’t you?
Radio on.
Windows down.
Clear roads ahead.

But that is (usually) not life.

Life is full of the unexpected.
Sometimes I see the storms coming.
Other times they suddenly seem to come out of nowhere.
The fog can also show up without warning.
One minute the road ahead is clear.
The next it is covered in pea-soup clouds.
All of those hazards are out there.
And may suddenly appear in my life.

When they do, I grip the wheel with white-knuckles.
My stress levels soar.
And my faith plummets.

I completely forget.
I forget who I am.
A beloved daughter of the King of Heaven, a princess of the realm, adopted and cherished.

I forget Whose I am.
That my Daddy is Sovereign, Lord over all, in charge at all times and never, ever unaware of my circumstances.

I forget the equipment He has given me to navigate my life.
A full tank of gas that is continuously replenished from His own supply. Or, as Paul put it in Ephesians 1, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in me.
A fully-functioning, never-wrong, always-connected GPS also known as the Holy Spirit of the Living God dwelling inside of me. He will always guide, always comfort, always correct. I just have to ask.
A full supply of food and drink, always available from the Bread of Life Himself, the Living Water that always satisfies.
And even a paper road map, the Word of God. Always there to give direction. Always there to confirm the GPS, even as the GPS confirms it.

I forget that my Heavenly Dad is the One who started me on this road and asked me to head for this destination.

I forget that He is in charge of the wind and the waves – and fog and ice and thunder and lightning – Sovereign over all of my circumstances, with every event in my life, good or bad, happening only by His permission.

This terrible amnesia of the soul leads me to panic.
So that Fear grips the wheel and begins to make the decisions.
Pride slithers in and urges me to figure out a way out of the storm by myself.
Doubt climbs in the back seat and begins to whisper lies about God’s character in my ear.
“If He loved you, He wouldn’t allow the storms.”
“He’s playing with you. He must not be as good as He says He is.”
“Some plans He has for you, huh? Is this really where you want to be?”

And sometimes I let them play in my car – in my head and my heart – for far too long.
Be inevitably, without fail, my Dad shows up at just the right time.
With His strong right arm He kicks them all to the curb.
And then He takes me in His arms and reminds me of Truth.
That I am His.
And He is mine.
That He has never once failed.
And that He never will.
That He sacrificed His one and only Son in my place.
So that He can come and hold me close.
And get me back on the road.
Even as the storm rages.

And I hope that the next time the fog rolls in or the rain lashes down, I remember sooner Who He is.
And all He has done.
I remember to use the resources He has given me: Himself. His Word. And even other drivers.
That instead of cowering, I courageously praise.
Instead of trembling in fear of the storm, I tremble in awe of Who He is.
Instead of Pride, Fear and Doubt taking over, I humble myself before Him, seeking His help and fully trusting Him to keep His promises.

That way, regardless of the weather, I can safely accomplish all that He has asked me to do.
Remembering it is all His to begin with.
His car.
His driver.
His equipment.
His agenda.

Remembering that this is the only sane way to survive this life.
And the best way to drive through it all.

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Weary.

Are you weary?
I know I am.

2018 has been a hard, hard year in my life in so many ways.
Struggles
Trials
Unexpected circumstances.
And the ongoing issues that never seem to go away.
Prayers that seem to be unanswered.
Needs that feel like Black Holes in the Universe, draining away every resource.
Infighting.
Out-fighting.
And the war within myself against sin, a bad attitude, complaining, worry, temptation – the list is long.
And I am tired of fighting.
Worn out by the never-ending struggles.

I am exhausted.

I went into my time with God this morning feeling the weight of all of this.
So very, very tired.
Physically
Emotionally
Spiritually

But then He showed up.
And He reminded me that is not my job to fix even one issue in my life, let alone all of them.

I am weary because of the struggles.
But more so, I am weary because I keep trying to fix them.
Be all that I need to be.
Do all that I need to do.
Change all that needs to be changed.

Like it all depends on me.
Which it never does.

Like this all must get fixed through my efforts.
Which is never my job.
It is His.

My job is to abide.
Stay connected to Him.
Walk in close fellowship.
Treat prayer as breathing – inhaling and exhaling my needs but also my thankfulness.
Hanging out with Him.
Inviting Him into every area.
Every thought.
Every circumstance.
Finding out what He thinks by staying in His Word.
Filling my life with the people, books, music, and media that exalt Him.
Walking arm in arm with my Savior
Being led by His Spirit and not my own wisdom.
Trusting Him with ALL of my heart and never – not even once – leaning on my own understanding.
Acknowledging Him in everything I do. And say. And think.
Resting in the promise that HE is the guide.
The Good Shepherd
The Light
My Shield
My Fortress
My Strong Tower
My Deliverer

And that HE will be the One to guide me in the best pathways for my life.
Clearing obstacles.
Giving me the strength for my day.
Giving me wisdom when I ask for it.
Protecting me.
Comforting me.
Cherishing me as His beloved daughter.
Delighting in me simply because I am His.
And He is mine.

What have I done to deserve such lavish love?
Nothing.
All of my righteousness, all the good I bring to the table, is nothing by disgusting, vile, filthiness compared to the goodness and Who He is.
And yet, He still wants me.
He wants to spend time with me.
He wants to speak to me through His Word.
By His Spirit.
Through the voice of brothers and sisters in Christ.
Through music.
Through the wonder of His creation.

I am weary.
But He never is.
I am weak.
But He is not.
I am blind in so many ways.
He sight is perfect.
I am helpless in the face of the messes, the problems, the circumstances.
But He is all powerful.
I am clueless about so many things.
But He is all knowing.
I regret the past and fear the future.
But He is the Alpha and Omega of all things, the beginning and the end. Neither of my past or my future are surprises to Him.
I fail so often. Him. Others. Myself.
And yet His mercies are new every single morning. There is always grace, always forgiveness, always a fresh start.

The world says, “God helps those who help themselves.”
He says, “Humble yourself before Me. Acknowledge that I am God and you are not. Then throw all of your cares, concerns, and struggles on Me. Because I love you. And then watch what I will do.” (I Peter 5)

The world says, “Fight for what you believe in!”
He says, “Let Me fight for you. Through you. With My armor on and My Spirit in you, you cannot be defeated.” (Exodus 14, Ephesians 6)

The world says, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”
He says, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing. In Me, you can do all things.” (John 15, Philippians 4)

Are you weary, too?
Let me encourage you to lay it ALL down.
Run to God.
Pour it all out.
Be brutally honest.
He can take it.
And then throw yourself into His everlasting arms.
You don’t have to do it alone.
You don’t have to do the work, period.

You have to be available.
Willing.
Surrendered.

And then you have to abide.
Reading the Word.
Praying.
Praising.

But none of the issues – problems, trials, temptations – rest on your shoulders to solve.

And letting go of them – that is where real rest is found.
In the arms of the One Who died for You.
In the embrace of the One who spoke through Isaiah, saying,
“He (God) gives strength to the weary,
And to him who has no might He increases power.
Even youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him]
Will gain new strength and renew their power;
They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun];
They will run and not become weary,
They will walk and not grow tired.” (Isaiah 40:29-31, Amplified)

May you run to the One Who promises to renew your strength.
May you find new rest, renewed energy and unending endurance by letting go.
And may you be able to keep running, keep walking, keep being faithful.

It’s worth it.
Because He is worth it.

¿Quiero o Necesito?

I want.
In Spanish, “Yo quiero.”

I need.
In Spanish, “Yo necesito.”

I keep mixing them up.
I am using a great app to learn Spanish. As part of the instruction, it gives me sentences to translate into English.
And almost inevitably, I sub in “need” for “want”.

I know the difference.
I can even see the word “necessary” in “necesito”.
But I still mix them up!

Hmmm…

Maybe God is trying to tell me something.
Maybe that is a spotlight shining on my heart.

I mix up wants and needs all the time.

I want a new outfit.
Do I need one?
Absolutely not.
I have a closet full of clothes.
And I have friends across the world who have only one outfit, or perhaps two.
Why do I need so many more?

I want the newest gizmo, gadget or device that is guaranteed to make my life easier.
Do I need it?
Absolutely not.
I have learned that gizmos break, gadgets fail and devices wear out – and that “easier” isn’t usually all that great – it is just different.

I want to have a different body, one without flaws, illnesses or things I dislike.
Do I need one?
Not really.
I have one waiting for me in heaven. That should be good enough.
I can work towards the best health possible for me here on earth.
But reaching some ideal “want” keeps my gaze firmly fixed on me.
While the frailties of this body keep my gaze focused on my Heavenly Father.

I want perfect relationships, across the board.
Do I need them?
Maybe.
But they aren’t going to happen in this life because I am one of the parties involved.
And I am a sinner. Just like them. Just like you.
Under construction.
Imperfect.
And yet dearly loved by my Creator.

Wants vs. Needs
The great tug at my soul.
Probably at yours as well.

So what’s a girl (or a guy) to do?

I have found it is about perspective.

First, the eternal one.
Choosing to remember that this life is brief. Fleeting. Fragile.
And that my real life will begin when I meet Jesus face to face.
When I keep that in the forefront, it is easier to keep wants in check as I focus on what the Father declares to be needs.

I want to be comfortable.
The world NEEDS to hear about Jesus.

I want to follow my own agenda.
I NEED to be a part of what God is doing in this world because, long before I knew Him, He designed good works for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

I want to lean on my own understanding of the world, how it works and what it needs.
But because God is at work in the world and somehow wants me to be a part of it, I NEED to “study and do (my) best to present (myself) to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15, AMP)

I want to run ahead, lag behind or generally wander.
But I NEED to be faithful to the One Who is The Faithful and True, standing firm in the trials, clinging to His hand, walking in step with the Good Shepherd.

Those are my needs.
And He has promised to supply the physical ones when I make the spiritual ones my priority.
Jesus put it this way: “But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.” (Matthew 6:33, AMP)
What are all the “things” he mentions?
Food. Clothing. Shelter.
The stuff of life.
The things I need.
The things I keep mixing up.

Keeping the eternal perspective puts the “quiero” and “necesito” in their proper places.

But there is another perspective as well.
It is the global one.

When my wants rise up to drown out all other voices, I only have to call to mind what I have seen with my own two eyes around the world.
My friend in PNG who walks miles to work each day, crossing a river with no bridge to come and cheerfully serve.
And my other friends in PNG who gave up life here with all its comforts so they could bring the Word of Life to her there.
My friends in Guatemala who live without electricity, hot water, indoor plumbing – and yet proudly show me their home when we come to visit.
And another friend in Guatemala who gave up her retirement plans to provide education, food and help to hundreds of women and children.
My friend in Southeast Asia who cheerfully lives in a foreign land, among dangerous people, in a dangerous time simply so she can translate the Word of God into the heart language of the people who do not yet have it.

And those are just a few of my friends around the world.
Friends who have a very different definition of “want” vs. “need”.
Some because of where they were born.
And some because they have chosen to lay down what we call “needs” – things that are really simply comforts – in order to spread the love of God to ALL people.

They have taken to heart Jim Elliot’s words:
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
I cannot keep the things I so desperately want to have.
One day, everything is going to burn.
This body is going to rot.
And all my possessions will be dust as well.

But the people?
The people are eternal.
They will live forever with God.
Or without Him.
And to some extent, their eternal destination depends on my faithfulness to God’s command to “Go into all the world.” (Matthew 28)
If you are a Christ-follower, it also depends on you.

On us figuring out the “quiero” and “necesito” of life.
We have been called to share what we have.
What we know.
The grace we have experienced.
We in the U.S. have been given MUCH.
And much is required.

It is required for me to keep my “quiero” and my “necesito” aligned with the Word of God.

Keeping the eternal perspective.
About myself.
But also about “them”.
All the “thems” across the globe who need to hear the life-saving message of grace.

If you have never done it, consider visiting a place outside of our soil to get a taste of life in another world.
But even if you can’t visit PNG, Southeast Asia or Guatemala (or a host of other places), ask God to help you to redefine “want” and “need” for yourself. Ask Him to show you. He promises to give you wisdom when you ask for it. (James 1:5)

And when you apply that wisdom, you can then give of your time, talent and treasure to what He is accomplishing across the world.
Starting with what He wants to accomplish in you. And through you.