Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Strength For the Moment, Trust For What's Ahead

"God does not give us overcoming life - He gives us life as we overcome. The strain of life is what builds our strength. If there is no strain, there will be no strength. Once you face the strain, you will immediately get the strength. If you completely give of yourself physically, you become exhausted. But when you give of yourself spiritually, you get more strength. God never gives us strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the moment."
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

This is probably the hardest lesson for me in my faith walk. I forget that God works best in my trials, giving what I need for the moment. Often all I can see is how impossible the situation is and wonder why He isn't doing anything or why I’m not making progress. I want to fast-forward to the end even if means I learn nothing along the way. I end up exhausted because I try to work it all out in my own power, lacking the patience to let Him lead me through it one step at a time so I emerge from the valley spiritually stronger and wiser. Often my short-cuts end up being the most difficult route to the destination.

A scripture I often meditate on to help keep God in my moments is Psalm 119:105: "Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." The lesson in that verse is that God lights each step for me, one step at a time, no matter what the situation. It's like walking along a dark path with a flashlight. It doesn't do any good to shine the light too far ahead because I might miss something right in front of me that may cause me to stumble. Or, by looking too far ahead I may see things I don’t understand or fear and be tempted to turn the other way, going right back to where I started. Instead, I keep the flashlight shining closer to my feet and the next few steps so I can see what is there.

That's what God wants to do in my walk with Him. He wants to light my path one step at a time, one strain or trial at a time, and trust Him for what I can't see further down the road. I can have confidence that He is a trustworthy guide because He has already been there.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Homesick

"Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you've never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground." - Judith Thurman

Sometimes it is hard to draw the balance of living between the anticipation of heaven and the reality of life on earth when one has a strong faith in God. I do find myself homesick for heaven even though I have not been there and don't know what it really is like other than what scripture tells me. All I know for certain is that being in heaven means being with the Lord and that is enough of a reason for longing for it.

Until that time, I need to live fully engaged here on earth even though my real home is elsewhere. That means living in a way that glorifies God and reflects His love to those I encounter whether it be my own family or random strangers. It means living with anticipation of the joy to come while dealing with the things on earth that maybe aren't so pleasant, knowing that it is through pain, hardship and disappointment that I am refined and my faith is made stronger. But I also know that amidst the negatives of life there is a lot of joy to be found. God is glorified when I seek those tokens of love from Him from the awesome wonders to the smallest things that almost go unnoticed but are no less awesome.

The Bible has much to say about the question "how should we then live?" but the verses that speak to where I am today are:

Deuteronomy 6:5 - "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."

Micah 6:8 - "And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?"

I Thessalonians 4:11 - "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands."

Colossians 3:23-24 - "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men."

Ephesians 4:29 - "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear."