Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I'm Nobody

I was driving home from Bible study last night, arguing with God in my head about how insufficient I feel for some of the things He’s laid on my heart to do when I was reminded of a situation that occurred a few years ago. As a former student in the gifted program in school and the parent of a gifted student I was asked to serve on the advisory committee for the gifted program. At our first meeting, all of the committee members introduced themselves, and it happened that I was among the last to introduce myself. After hearing introductions from teachers, school board members and others involved in education, what came out of my mouth was “My name is Jeannie, and I’m nobody”. 

Among all those people that had education in education, I felt like a no one. In actuality, because I had a different viewpoint and way of thinking as a former gifted student and parent of a gifted student, I was able to provide an alternative viewpoint to those on the other side of the equation. I wasn’t a nobody. I was an important somebody, just in a different way.

How often do we feel that way in other areas of our life? We look around us and see people that are more successful, make more money, are more patient, more loving, more educated… Whatever area it is we feel we lack in, it’s easy to spot someone that doesn’t and wish that we were them. It’s easy to ask God why He didn’t give us this gift or that gift and overlook the abundance of gifts that He has bestowed upon us. It’s easy to label ourselves a nobody and ignore the masterpiece that our loving Father made of us.

We look at the canvas of our lives and see areas that need retouching, or splotches of paint that don’t make sense. We look at God’s work of art in progress, and fail to see the beauty He’s creating. I used to love watching Bob Ross paint. One of the things I heard him say over and over was that there were no mistakes in painting. Only happy accidents. If he dripped paint on the canvas, he’d turn it into a tree, or a bird or something that in the end looked as if he had planned for it to be there all along. 

God, our master painter, makes no mistakes or accidents. What looks like paint that fell off of a too full brush, be it divorce, death of a loved one, loss of a job or any of a number of things that we think shouldn’t have happened, is in actuality just the beginning of a new part of His masterpiece.
We are a living canvas, and God is at work in us and around us, bringing beauty to life. If we look too long at the paint splotch and fail to see what He’s creating, we lose out on so much peace and joy in life. Yes, life is hard. You will not ever hear me say it’s peachy and life serving Christ is never painful. But our God is the master at taking those moments that seem wrong, and turning them into a beauty beyond what we could ever imagine. Even when the canvas fights back, He lovingly takes His brush and recreates the design He had in mind for us. So, when you feel as if He made a mistake, stop looking at the splotch, and instead look for what He’s going to make out of it.

Don’t be afraid to dream big. And if you feel He’s laid on your heart to do something you feel ill-equipped for, remember that whatever He calls you to, He will equip you for. In my flesh, I look at my desire to be a marriage and family counselor (that I wholeheartedly believe comes straight from God) and wonder who would want advice and encouragement from a divorced woman. A woman that couldn’t help her own marriage survive. I look at my desire to write a book that can help encourage people. Me… an author? Who am I that anyone would buy my book? But then I think of Moses. A man who felt inadequate for the job God called him to. He offered up excuse after excuse, but when it came down to it, he was able to do what God commanded, because God Himself was with him and gave him what was necessary to fulfill his calling. He will do the same with me. He’ll do the same with you. Dream those Godly dreams and then watch as God fulfills them in your life. But never forget where the power came from, and praise His name continually!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Serenaded by the Savior

I heard a song recently that really spoke to me in a way I’m sure the song was never intended. Although country music in and of itself speaks to a multitude of different situations you find yourself in, listening to this song I heard the wooing of my Heavenly Father.

There'll be days your heart don't wanna beat
You pray more than you breathe
And you just wanna fall to pieces
And nights, those 2 AM calls
Where dreams become walls
And you just need a break
Break on me

Shatter like glass
Come apart in my hands
Take as long as it takes, girl
Break on me
Put your head on my chest
Let me help you forget
When your heart needs to break
Just break on me

There'll be times when someone you know
Becomes someone you knew
But you'd do anything to change it
And words you wanna take back
But you know you can't
When the page just won't turn
And it still hurts
Break on me

Oh, when you need somebody
When you need somebody right now
You're where I'll be
Break on me

Maybe as you read those lyrics you thought that it sounded more like Keith Urban than God, and I suppose if I weren’t in the place I’m in, where I truly feel shattered like glass, maybe I would too. But combine the need to find a safe place to break, and knowing that the arms of my Father is the best place to do it, you have a recipe for being serenaded by the Savior.

So what does He do with those pieces? The pieces of you that feel so shattered you can’t imagine ever being the person you once were. The pieces that cut you every time you try to piece yourself back together. The pieces that you know have been lost and can’t be replaced. He picks them up, piece by piece. He doesn’t arrange them into the shape that they once were. Instead, He rearranges them into His own image.

And the gaps between the pieces of who we used to be and the pieces that are becoming more like Him? Those are the places His light shines through. Those are the places that let other people know you’re more than just a listening ear. You’re a fellow battered warrior that has been pieced back together by the One that created you. The One who knows what the finished product will look like. See, although He created us, we weren’t created a finished product. We’re steadily being made and remade in His image. We will not reach the stage of completion until we join Him in Heaven, but daily He is working on us to create a masterpiece.

The places we find ourselves that we never wanted to be in? That’s the fire that melts us down to make us more malleable. When you want nothing more than to get out of the heat, just remember the beauty that can be made from the process. And the times that we shatter? He catches the pieces and forms us into a new creation. So, when you need to break, break on Him.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Broken Girl

The tears spill from her eyes and slide down her cheek.
She tries so hard to pray but can't find the words to speak.
She's trusting in You, but doesn't see how you'll make a way,
And if she could hear you, here's what I think you would say.

I made you to fulfill a very specific purpose for me.
That plan you created for yourself? Just let it be.
What I have for you is beyond all you hope and dream.
Don't get tripped up by the small stuff. It's not what it seems.

Trust in me, know that I love you more than you can understand,
And no matter how hard the journey, cling tightly to my hand,
I promise to bring beauty from the ashes of your life,
I'm always here, even when the pain cuts deeper than a knife.

You mean so much more to me than you can comprehend,
And with the price of my son's life, your heart I will mend.
Though this life hurts and you feel yourself grow weak,
Just know that I'm here for you, you just have to seek.

You will find me when you seek with your whole heart,
And the only way you'll do that is if it all falls apart.
Come to me my weary child, rest in my embrace,
And allow me to shower you with my amazing gift of grace.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Word

In following many different bloggers, and just reading Christian writings across the internet in general, I was introduced to “the word”. One word that a person would focus on throughout the year, and allow God to speak to them through. Words like compassion, trust, grace, less, follow, etc. The word served as an inspiration and a reminder to them of whatever particular concept they chose to focus on.

A couple of weeks into the year, I decided I needed a word of my own. I needed a concept to focus on, an aspect of relationship with God that I wanted to delve deeper into. There were many to choose from, such as faith, love, hope, vision, patience or redemption. The possibilities seemed infinite, so I sought the advice of God. I asked Him for a word that I could focus on this year and grow through.

As I tossed words around in my head, rejecting each one, my word came to me. It wasn’t through an audible voice, but yet I heard it clear as day. “Wait” It wasn’t the word I was expecting, although if you asked me what I was expecting I wouldn’t be able to tell you. Yet, it’s very much the perfect word.  But, why wouldn’t it be? My Father gave it to me.

Closely tied into the concept of waiting is trust and patience. Both of these are areas that I truly struggle in. While I say that I trust God when He says He is in control and that He works all things out for my benefit, my actions don’t always back that up. While I can appreciate the big picture in terms of Him working everything out, that gets lost in the pain of the day to day. Thus begins the problem with patience. When it doesn’t seem He is moving things in the direction I feel they should be going, at the speed it should be going, I tend to take things into my own hands.

I don’t even have to tell you how disastrous that is, because you likely shook your head while reading that. You already know. And I’ve done it time and again. So God is teaching me to wait. While waiting seems like a passive action, it’s not designed to be done by itself. It follows giving something to God. A problem, a desire, a question… Seek His will in prayer, seek His direction in prayer, seek Him… but then wait. It might take minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or even years. But wait on Him to act, to fix what’s broken, to heal what’s hurting, to show what’s missing… Whatever it is He needs you to wait on.

I’ve always loved acrostics, because they can often give a deeper meaning to a word. For instance, JOY – Jesus, Others, Yourself – that is the path to joy. So I began pondering what wait could be broken down into, and this is what I came up with.

Watch (look at or observe attentively, typically over a period of time)
Implicitly (without qualification: absolutely)
Trust (firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something)

It denotes a watchfulness, because you know God will move in the situation. And it requires trust. Implicit trust that He knows what He is doing, He knows what is best for you, and He knows what will bring about the desired result of becoming more like Jesus every day. Because life isn’t always smiles and rainbows. We don’t become more like the Man of Sorrows by sailing through life without a care in the world. We become more like Christ when we walk through our deepest valleys fully dependent upon God and not ourselves.

I will fail. I will still allow the here and now to overshadow the big picture. But, every day as I focus on the word “wait” and allow God to speak to me, I will get a little better, a little stronger, a little more trusting and a little more patient.

The day that I heard my word from God, I was in the bathroom washing my hands and looked up into the mirror to realize that I was wearing a shirt with two eagles on it. “But those who wait on the Lord
shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31. I love moments like that! And I love that He loves me with an everlasting love that will never faint or grow weary.