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Friday, January 27, 2012

What does faith look like?!?

"Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

"Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me - to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He as said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:7-10

I am not going to be going to Blizzard with the youth this weekend. It took me a long time to reach that decision, there were many tears shed, and many questions asked, but I was given peace this morning as the Lord led me to the verses above. For most, the phrases of "Do not fear" and "Be strong and courageous" and "God is with you wherever you go" would lead to movement, but today, for me, Jesus is asking me to stay. To trust Him that He can take care of things without me being at blizzard in person. But He has given me a part of the weekend for my times on the couch and in bed...prayer. Pray for everyone of our kids that are going, pray for open eyes and open hearts, pray for relationships built, and for conviction, forgiveness, love. Pray. That is my charge for the weekend, my way of still being a part, but letting God get the the glory rather than myself, that is what He as asked of me, and that is what I will give.

I really struggled over the decision because I didn't know what direction faith would take. Is faith going on a trip to build relationship, in the freezing cold, and throwing myself into loving the people that I would be going with through my sickness. Or is faith staying home, on the couch, and wondering what people are going to say about why I didn't go? What does faith look like here?!? But faith is God centered, not self centered. Faith is God getting the glory and not me. Faith is trusting God to handle everything. So again I ask, what does faith look like?!? Do I go, trusting that His will will be done, or do I stay, trusting that His will will be done? Through some direction from a friend, and remembering what I have been learning through the study Experiencing God, I was challenged to give over to God all my guilt about possibly leaving the girls on their own, shame and fear about what others might think about my staying home, to really empty myself of me and to fill myself with Him. And that's exactly what I did. I emptied, I poured myself out at the feet of my LORD and just opened myself to Him. I was quiet, I spoke, I sang, I listened. He gave me the verses above, the word pray, and the peace to stay home. Because honestly my faith would be put more to the test by staying than by going...why? Because I am afraid of the judgment and disappointment of others. But I believe that God can and will work in my absence, and that He will use me in my weaknesses to pray for the whole weekend, and that He is bigger and stronger than the judgment and disappointments that may come. It is not about my glory but His. I was created to give Him glory, that His name might become greater, that His name would be displayed. 

"My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." This is my go to verse when I'm struggling with Lyme, it gives me great encouragement, and helps me to get the focus off of myself and back on God. I have always seen Lyme as a gift, maybe not 24/7 but I have definitely seen the Lord use it over and over again to teach me and mold me. In my weakest and hardest times in dealing with Lyme, I have experienced God in real and powerful ways. I learn more about my Savior and my faith during my struggles with Lyme than at any other time in my life. Because Lyme breaks down all my defenses, I am physically weak, and I physically need the Lord to help me stand up and walk to the kitchen. Physically needing Him always puts me in a very humble place because I realize how much I cannot do on my own, though really this is how I should live every day, in absolute total dependence on Christ. The Lord uses Lyme to open my eyes to areas that I have taken back into my control, or areas I've never really given up at all. Lyme humbles me by giving me the opportunity to accept help and compassion from others, which often hurts my pride (obvious area that needs to be given over, again!), but I am learning. I'm learning to give up, and accept the love that people want to offer. I like to be the one helping people, not the other way around, but I am being broken and emptied in order to learn dependence on the Lord, and He often uses His community that He has surrounded me with. He empties me of myself, my expectations, my desires, so that He might fill me with Himself. The emptying isn't always a fun process, really it hardly ever is, but the place I am after He has emptied me to prepare me for His fullness, is wholeness. It is Proverbs 23:1 in the flesh "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want." That is where His fullness leads, to peace, to contentment, to joy, to love, to thankfulness, to grace, to I shall not want.

Jesus I thank you for this morning, for the time that we have spent in communion together. I thank you for Your provision. I lift up the kids who are going to Blizzard in just a few hours. I ask that You give them safe travels that they would see You in a new and fresh way. That they would experience You, that they would see You, that they would love You this weekend. I thank you for Your love for every person who will be at that retreat, and I thank you that Your will is good, acceptable, and perfect. Thank you for being with each individual as they experience this weekend, and that You have a purpose for every person that will be on that campus. Rain down Your love Father God, and let their cups overflow! 

Jesus I thank You for revelation.
For time spent in song, in silence, in prayer.
For Your voice that is so loving.
For the love letter that you wrote for everyone on this earth, Your living word.
For opened eyes and filled hearts.
For Your glory displayed and not my own.
For a change of heart focus.
For music that speaks and stills the soul.
For renewal.
For peace.
For I shall not want.