Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Heart Wants to Remember

"The heart wants to remember. That is why we journal, and take pictures of the events of our lives. Even without the actual pictures and written words, the heart records and remembers every experience, even if at the conscious level we sometimes forget...we need altars to commemorate the special events of our lives, and we need signposts to lead those we are leaving behind. The heart not only wants to remember, it needs to remember where it has gone, in order to move forward."

My friend Lidj (Crown of Beauty) wrote this at a post on her blog and it caught my attention. I feel the same way. The heart wants to remember. And beyond that, the heart wants to be remembered. We want to know our lives count for something; that we are important to others. I think that's why we blog, tweet and Facebook. We not only want to remember the moments of our lives, but we want a way to record them and share them with others.

I'm reminded of a line from one of my favorite movies, "Shall We Dance?", a story about a man (Richard Gere) who takes up ballroom dancing while going through a midlife crisis. In one scene his wife (Susan Sarandon) is explaining to someone why people get married. "Because we need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet. I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage...you're saying 'your life will not go unnoticed, because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed, because I will witness it."

Whether in the context of marriage or simply our existence on this earth, isn't that what we all want to some degree? To be acknowledged and to have our lives witnessed by others? To know our presence has benefited someone else or that we were important to others? Friends and family who love us serve as witnesses to our lives. So does God.

The same God who is my Savior is also the One who knows how many hairs I have on my head (and even how many are white and how many are still brown!), has the sands of the sea numbered, and even takes note when a tiny sparrow dies. He sees me through the filter of Jesus and the cross, redeemed and worthy. His heart remembers. He witnesses my life and lets me know I'm not here by random chance. Not only am I cherished by Him, everything I do for Him is of great importance and He takes note of those moments in my life even if no one else ever finds out.

My heart wants to remember not only the moments and events of my life and those of my family and friends, but also of the ways God was present in them.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Perspective

I thought about where my mindset was last fall. I was dealing a lot with anxiety with all the media drama, predictions of economic collapse, the Presidential election, things slowing down at my husband's job, and so many lay-offs in the area. I have spent the good part of a year in worry and looking back, the worst case scenarios did not happen. In fact, it hasn't even been that inconvenient for us personally other than my anxiety issue as I dwell in "what-if-land".

It is a lesson to me on how futile worry and anxiety is and how little faith I have. As I think about all the things I worry about, I see that the worst I can imagine never happens. In this past year God sustained us, my husband still has his job, our country hasn't fallen off the face of the earth because of Obama, we didn't go into the next Great Depression. It encoruages me to renew my effort to take my thoughts captive and put my faith in the Lord into practice more, to believe he is who he says he is and will do all he promises he will do.

I also found this devotional entry from last year and I feel the same way today:

Dear Lord,

I bring you my shortcomings...because Your Word says that in my weakness you are strong and I feel like such a wimp in these trying times. I have so many shortcomings but when I look closer, I see that they are by your design and behind each one is a strength waiting to develop as I surrender them to you.

I bring you my worship and praise...
because Your Word says you inhabit the praise of your people and when I worship You, I feel your presence. Today I praise your name, Jehovah Jireh, because you are the Lord who provides.

I bring you my prayer...
because Your Word says to tell you what I need so that I'm not anxious about anything. Help me take my anxious thoughts captive and leave them with You, knowing that nothing is happening that isn't passing through Your hands first. You are in control. Thank you for your provision and protection.

You spoke to me...
"I have loved you with an everlasting love."
Jeremiah 31:3
"The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms."
Deuteronomy 33:27


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Finding Hope Through Prayer

There's no doubt we are experiencing trying times on many levels in our country. I don't know if what is happening is God's judgment or if it is a wake-up call to change our ways. I tend to think it is the later. Either way, something is happening that we can't ignore. Thursday, May 7 is the National Day of Prayer and in it believers can find hope for our nation as we seek God's guidance.

God promises in scripture that He will heal our nation but it requires action on our part: "(if) My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

1. We must humble ourselves before God and acknowledge that He is in control. Our way hasn't worked. The Lord never commands us to do anything because he wants to spoil our fun. It is always for our protection. When we go our own way, pridefully thinking we know better or can somehow avoid the consequences, we end up in a pit that we have to be rescued from.

2. We must pray. Pray for help, pray for forgiveness (both for personal sin and our nation's sins), pray for the courage to make the tough choices that others may ridicule us for, pray in acknowledgment of who God is. Pray in a way that doesn't seek our will but His. On Thursday, we have an opportunity to join with other believers in doing this.

3. God says to seek his face but what does that mean? We are told to do that many times in scripture. The obvious meaning would be to simply turn from ourselves to him, but to take it further it would mean to seek his will instead of our own; to seek what is important to Him, where He is leading, to face the same direction He is facing instead of looking back at our own plan. It is to seek his wisdom, his guidance, instead of our own or that of our leaders.

4. The final instruction is probably the hardest: "turn from their wicked ways." This is where it really gets uncomfortable. Outside of the obvious things that we know God has clearly said "thou shall not", we each need to seek his face to know what else we are harboring in our lives that separate us from his blessing and healing. Maybe things like:

What we watch on t.v. or at the movies.
Where we go on the Internet.
How we spend our time and money.
How we treat others.
How we gossip.
Times when we should speak up against what our leaders allow but don't.
Things that we let pass as acceptable that God calls sin because we don't want to offend anyone and instead justify it as being politically correct.

Doing these things aren't easy. Obedience never is. But, look what God promises if we do:

"I will hear from heaven."
"I will forgive their sins."
"I will heal their land."

If we will, He will.

I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." I Timothy 2:1-4

"Don't put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. ... (The Lord) is the one who keeps every promise forever." - Psalm 146:3,6

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." Proverbs 14:34

"The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes." - Proverbs 21:1

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Becoming Grace and Glory

One of my favorite books is "Hind's Feet on High Places" by Hannah Hurnard. It is an allegorical tale of Much-Afraid, the little cripple who is afraid of everything but overcomes her fears and follows the Shepherd to the mountains where she is transformed to Grace and Glory. I think I like the story so much because I can relate to Much-Afraid - always hesitant, second guessing myself and God, fearful of that which I am not in control of - but ever hopeful that as I step out on faith that the Lord who started a good work in me will complete it. Someday I will be like Grace and Glory as I learn to trust that God knows best and will never lead me in harm's way even though it may look pretty scary at the time. It leads me back to that faith issue of believing that God is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do.

At one point in her journey with the Shepherd, Much-Afraid is given the choice of having Sorrow and Suffering as her travelling companions or return to the valley to her Fearing relatives. It is one of my favorite passages from the book:

"Much-Afraid shuddered. The choice seemed terrible. Fear she knew all too well, but Sorrow and Suffering had always seemed to her the two most terrifying things which she could encounter....Then she looked at the Shepherd and suddenly knew she could not doubt him, could not possibly turn back from following him; that if she were unfit and unable to love anyone else in the world, yet in her trembling, miserable little heart, she did love him. Even if he asked the impossible, she could not refuse. She looked at him piteously, then said, 'Do I wish to turn back? O Shepherd, to whom should I go? In all the world I have no one but you. Help me to follow you, even though it seems impossible. Help me to trust you as much as I long to love you.'"

That's my prayer..."Lord, help me to follow you even though it seems impossible. Help me to trust you as much as I long to love you."