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“Those who wait for perfect weather will never plant seeds; those who look at every cloud will never harvest crops.” — Ecclesiastes 11:4

i love the wisdom in this verse–and it’s call to step out in faith. just because things aren’t perfect, doesn’t mean we should act. God may not open that door for us now, but by the time we get right up to it, if it’s His will, we must have faith that he will.

this verse speaks volumes to me, time and time again, season after season. the first time i read it and journaled about it was september 16, and i hadn’t lived here in Grand Rapids for a week even. i’d just started my new job the day before–and my world was feeling ever topsy-turvy. so this revelation, not to let worries or “not-so-great circumstances” hold me back from sowing and trust God for the reaping, was so of-the-moment. it was also early into my relationship with michael, and we’d been doing the long-distance thing for over a month. in so many ways i looked at my life and the incumbrances that seemed to loom all around me and this verse caused me to whisper over and over again: “keep sowing. keep trusting. persevere.”

and here i am, more than 6 months later. both of those situations still get to me: i have my hard, feeling-all-alone and desperate times here up in Michigan and i still miss Michael and wish we lived closer. but i’m glad i’ve stuck it out. God has done such great things in both of them. i’ve learned so much about Him and grown in such a relationship with Him through my starting-over process up here. it’s been a great catalyst for drawing me near. and i’ve learned so much about humility and selflessness in my relationship with Michael, which has had to mostly take place over the phone as we sort through issues and hardships and dreams and everything else.

so for now, i don’t know what the future holds. i’m trying to let go of that. i went for a walk today (it’s finally getting warm enough to make that bearable up here) and that was the thought pervading me: “i don’t care what happens next. i don’t want to rush God with this. i’m OK with whatever he’s got up his sleeve.” because I know Him, and i know that whatever he’s having me wait for is totally going to be worth it. there is going to be a harvest!

i’ve heard various ways of relating to the Scripture and how to make it cling to our hearts and in our lives, from singing verses over ourselves to replacing the “you’s” with “me’s” and inserting your own name into the promises. both of those examples are great ideas, but didn’t really seem to work for me–they didn’t seem to strike a nerve in my faith.

but in january, we started the Beth Moore “Psalms of Ascent” Bible study, where we’re studying Psalms 120-134. (i’ve learned a lot through this study and would totally recommend it, and am sure i’ll share more of that at another time.) one of the things i especially like about this study is that upon studying each of these psalms and ruminating on them, she has us rewrite them in regards to what they mean to us and regarding the emotions and circumstances of our own life currently. even that might sound boring to you, but i’ve found it to be so amazing.

though there are some Psalms that I definitely identify with and will pray, word-for-word,  there are others that I just think, “that doesn’t apply to me,” whether it’s times when David’s talking about his enemies hunting him down or fleeing and hiding and near-death misses or being righteous and unblameworthy. i don’t ever really feel that way, so often i’d just breeze past and dismiss those Psalms.

as i started rewriting the select ones for this study, though, i started seeing that, well, if i truly took the time to reflect on them, i know that it will relate to something in my life or in my prayers, even if that’s not the exact way i’d pen it. and there’s the beauty of this exercise–making the Bible personal. much of the Bible is God’s Word to us, but the Psalms reflect humans’ words to God. so it’s beautiful to take another person’s prayers, draw from them, and make them your own.

here i’ll give you an example (in hopes that you might consider this exercise for yourself):

BIBLE VERSION

Psalm 10
Lord, why are you so far away?
Why do you hide when there is trouble?
Proudly the wicked chase down those who suffer.
Let them be caught in their own traps.
They brag about the things they want.
They bless the greedy but hate the Lord.
The wicked people are too proud.
They do not look for God; there is no room for God in their thoughts.
They always succeed.
They are far from keeping your laws; they make fun of their enemies.
They say to themselves, “Nothing bad will ever happen to me;
I will never be ruined.”
Their mouths are full of curses, lies, and threats; they use their tongues for sin and evil.
They hide near the villages.
They look for innocent people to kill; they watch in secret for the helpless.
They wait in hiding like a lion.
They wait to catch poor people; they catch the poor in nets.
The poor are thrown down and crushed; they are defeated because the others are stronger.
The wicked think, “God has forgotten us.
He doesn’t see what is happening.”
Lord, rise up and punish the wicked.
Don’t forget those who need help.
Why do wicked people hate God?
They say to themselves, “God won’t punish us.”
Lord, surely you see these cruel and evil things; look at them and do something.
People in trouble look to you for help.
You are the one who helps the orphans.
Break the power of wicked people.
Punish them for the evil they have done.
The Lord is King forever and ever.
Destroy from your land those nations that do not worship you.
Lord, you have heard what the poor people want.
Do what they ask, and listen to them.
Protect the orphans and put an end to suffering so they will no longer be afraid of evil people.

REWRITTEN VERSION

Psalm 10 from my eyes
“Lord, why are you so far away” when I’m facing trouble? Why do you seem to be hiding? Lord, now is the time when I need you to rescue me–rescue my heart from this evil world. Our society is filled with evil, everywhere I turn: suffering of the innocent, the greedy prosper, the wicked brag openly about their misdeeds–they no longer fear the Lord. “They do not look for God; there is no room for God in their thoughts.” Lord, I am being affected by this–my heart is in turmoil and I look all around me at the assault that lies are having on Your people. Save us from this raging wickedness that is eating at our souls, at our values, at our identity. Restore us to our initial beauty, as we were originally made in Your image. Use me in this fight. Dress me with your armor and make me hate sin as you do. Lord, I know you will act–you will not “forget those who need help.” You see all these things so you will do something. You are our help, you are the One we look to in need. Lord, this world is yours, we are yours, I am yours. Redeem us all, restore us all, protect us and put an end to the suffering this world knows.

though it draws from the themes of the first, now it’s a message that i can relate to, that is relevant to my world and my season right now and the desires of my heart. i’m sure that in another year or even a month, i’d be inclined to write something different. but that’s another beauty about God and His Word–He is always meeting us right where we are, providing us just what we need, and taking us along to that next step.

one of the ways I’ve seen God’s provision most is absolutely, positively through the relationships He’s placed throughout my entire life. I can look back and see how there was special purpose to so many of the friendships i had and even bad dating relationships that i had. as i’ve become a christian, that reality has only grown and shown itself to be even more true. such was the case when I moved up here to Grand Rapids and barely knew a soul–but instantly had a new best friend.

essentially, when Mallory and I had visited, we went to Mars Hill for church and were going to go grab pizza and play games with the one guy I knew in this entire city. as we were gearing up to go do that, a girl walks up and she decides to come join us. end of story. we got along great and when she found out I was moving up here, she called me and we made plans to hang out when I moved up, she invited me to join her Bible study, to go to Mars Hill with her–the whole shebang. and that friendship, which started off so briefly, has been so amazing for me, growing my faith and encouraging me and opening a ton of doors for me.

one of which is the aforementioned Bible study she invited me to join. it’s been phenomenal. i have to say, that is the one thing I look forward to most every week. I’d done small groups before, but what I absolutely love about this one is how diverse it is. it’s all women, but women of all ages. in my group, i’m the youngest and there are moms with teenagers, younger single women, older single women, grandmothers. and it’s beautiful to see how they can all minister to one another and be an encouragement for one another. like when i was sad and just flat-out admitted that i missed Michael and wasn’t enjoying the whole “long-distance” aspect of our relationship. i expected them to pooh-pooh me and shove it off because dating is not marriage and you don’t know love until you’re married. but they didn’t. they looked me square in the eyes and said, “yes, that has to be hard. i understand. i remember. that’s hard.” to feel understood and to realize, “you mean, i’m not crazy for feeling this way? i’m not acting like a cheesy middle school girl? it’s ok to feel this way and still be a grown-up?” it was so touching.

it’s also here that i’ve started meeting with a woman who is giving me some insights into what i trust God has for my future, which is marriage. i’m stepping out in faith and trusting that that desire that is on my heart is one He is going to fulfill. so, while I wait,  I wait in faith and begin preparing, even now though that hasn’t come to pass yet. when God promised Abraham that He’d give him so many descendents that he wouldn’t be able to count them, Abraham had to shake his head and say, “Well I have no idea how that’s going to happen because from my vantage point it seems impossible…but…i trust you LORD. I know in you all things are possible.” (well of course he didn’t actually say those things, but essentially that’s the circumstance he found himself in and that’s how I relate to it.) i want to, when i see the seemingly impossible before me, KNOW that it’s not too big for God and step out in faith, waiting expectantly and excitedly for God to provide it. and I’ve seen the firstfruits of that promise already, in an amazing boyfriend who has already defied so many of my expectations. God has done an amazing work in him and, though i often forget and somehow manage to take his heart for granted, he still is someone that i just simply have an awe for–because of how I can see him live out Christ and chase after God and humble himself and just love. it’s not that i’m putting him on a pedestal, but it’s recognizing the amazing treasure that’s before me.

that epitomizes many of my relationships right now: both with the new freinds in my multi-generational Bible study and with Michael and with Him.

“Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty,  “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” — Malachi 3:10

“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” — Eph. 5:14

it seems as though i’ve been sleeping, everything here has lain dormant for so long. but, just as with the winter, though things look dead and untouched on the surface, deep below there’s a great explosion of life going on!

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?” — Isaiah 43:18-19 (The Message)

yes, God has been doing a great work in me during this season that’s planted me, for the past 6 months, in a new place called Michigan. sometimes i feel like everything is stagnant and nothing at all has really happened. but then i stop and actually consider my heart and where it was before i moved up here, and i know that that’s a complete lie. i am a new song.

and that’s what’s pushed me back to this little corner of the blog-o-sphere. because i have seen God do such great works in my life and i want to share those with whomever i can–favorite friends or online passersby. one of the things i’ve been learning during my time up here is the importance of testimony and the spiritual power it has, as stated in Revelation about how Satan is overcome:

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. — Rev. 12:11

our words have tremendous power, and all we do ought to be to bring glory to He who gives us all that. so here i return to take the gifts of wisdom and insight and revelation that He’s been granting me and instilling and inscribing on my heart, and putting them back out into the world, in hopes that what has blessed me will bless many others. and if anything i say can bless you, then share it!–it’s that whole power of testimony thing. when we band together and share what God’s doing, powerful things can happen. so let’s step out in faith and watch that happen.

welcome back!

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