Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Name Change

I’ve talked a lot on this blog about names. How we so often wear a name tag we never were meant to wear. God’s still been working with me on this one, and I want to share something.

I recently read Ruth. There’s a lot of great lessons in that book. But what jumped out at me was how Naomi renamed herself Mara, which means bitterness. Here she had a beautiful name that meant pleasant or delightful, and she allowed her circumstances to rename her. Now God renamed several people in the Bible: Abraham, Sarah, Jacob…but here is an instance of someone renaming themselves.

Maybe just like Naomi, you renamed yourself. Maybe Bitterness, like her. Or maybe it’s Insignificant, Ugly, Worthless…oh, satan is full of names we’re never meant to wear. But, read Ruth. Go on, read it. Naomi renames herself, but no where else in the scripture is that name used. She is still called Naomi through the entire book. See, all scripture is God-breathed (Timothy 3:16), which means that even though Naomi tried hard to call herself by a new name, God never did – because He knew it wasn’t her name. She'd chosen it. He hadn't given it.

Are you wearing a name you’ve given yourself? One you aren’t supposed to have? Rip off that name tag. It’s not yours! God has a name for you, don’t scribble it out and write your own on top. The one He’s given you is much too beautiful to cover.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Psalm

You are the author and perfecter of my faith. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. You know each hair that is on my head and capture each tear that falls from my eye, holding them in a bottle. My days were already in your hand before I breathed my first breath.

You desire to bless me. You clothe me more beautifully than the lilies of the field. You’ve set creation out for my pleasure. You throw open my storehouse and overflow it with your provision. And you’re preparing a place for me, even now, in your presence.

Your words are sweeter than honey on my lips. I seek you, Oh Lord. You ways are higher than my ways, your thoughts far beyond mine. You created a plan for me. You know my comings and goings. You see when I wake and when I lie. My path is made straight by you, the lamp unto my feet.

Peace that surpasses all comprehension flows from your hand and surrounds me. Your joy is my strength. When I am weak, You, Oh Lord, are strong. You will never leave me or forsake me. You hide me in the cleft of the rock, lift me high above my enemies. You deliver me.

Death sought to claim You, yet You were victorious. Though You knew I was still a sinner, You endured the cross, shedding Your blood for me. No greater love is known then shall a man lay down his life for another.

I will praise you, for if I am silent, the rocks will cry out. You are great and mighty, deserving of our praise. You are my God, my King, my Savior, the Rock of my Salvation. You are my Cornerstone.

You transcend time. You are the Beginning and the End. You fulfilled every prophecy. And you are coming again.

Amen! Hosanna in the Highest!! Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Who's Navigating?

So today I was taking my kids to the dentist. My “almost” eleven year old – his birthday is in eight days so that “almost” is very important to him – was sitting behind me watching closely where we were headed. I took a different way then usual and from the back seat I heard, “Um, Mom…I don’t think we’re headed the right way.”

Well, of course, I assured him that we were – indeed – going in the right direction. A few minutes later, after another turn, he spoke back up. “Um, Mom? I’m pretty sure the dentist office is back there.”

I assured him, again, that we were headed in the right direction. Not even thirty seconds later he piped up. “Okay, Mom, but I’m pretty sure that was the dentist office at the last corner.”

By now, I was slightly frustrated and somewhat humored by his complete and utter lack of trust in me. “Corydon, do you really think that I – the person who has lived in this town my entire life and gone to this dentist since before you were born – really doesn’t know where I’m heading? And that you do?”

Now, if I had the time, I would have let him take control. I would have let him tell me what turns to make, when to stop and when to go – simply to prove to him that he didn’t know where he was going, even though he’d convinced himself otherwise. But, he had an appointment to make and it was my responsibility to get him there. And sure enough, when we made that last turn and could see the dentist office in the distance, he laughed. “Ohhh, okay, you did know where you were going.”

How often do we do this with God? How often do we look at the scenery around us and convince ourselves that God has us pointed in the wrong direction, that our destination is back there and He’s taken us past it…missed it all together. All the while, God is just taking a different way, trying to get us to our appointment on time, and taking the road He knows is best. If we’d only sit back and trust Him, rather than fighting him the entire way only to wind up saying…”Ohhh, okay, you did know where you were going.”

Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:4-6

Trust Him. Seek Him. He knows exactly where you’re going and when you need to be there. You won’t be late and you won’ t get lost – not with His navigational skills.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Who's Driving?

Who’s in control of our lives?

Who’s going to drive them?

There have been times in my life that God has broken me over this very issue – control. Who was going to have it? One of those times was in my early relationship with my husband.

I can remember the night God showed me I was going to marry Doug. I was in college, still living at home. I’d known him for years at this point. We went to junior high together and became friends. We attended high school - class trips, Senior Prom, graduation – together. We even picked the same college and joined Campus Ministry there. We perfected the phrase “just friends” whenever anyone asked about our relationship. Until mid-way through my sophomore year when God gave me a very clear picture that Doug would one day be my husband.

Well, we remained friends for some time after that. I worked up the courage to tell him I liked him as more than “just friends”, and then decided I’d wait patiently for God to do whatever he was doing. I didn’t think I’d have to wait through a year and a half of him dating other girls before finally, we decided to date. But when that day came, I knew what lay ahead: a diamond ring and trip down the aisle with the man I loved! Yes, finally!

Hmmm…so imagine my surprise when, two months into dating, God made it clear that I was supposed to break up with the Love of My Life. Ummm, hello…where was that in the plan? How did that fit into my trip down the aisle? I’d already waited, and now He wanted me to break up? Walk away? Crazy. Not the road to the diamond ring and Happily Ever After he’d shown me. It made no earthly sense.

I was struggling over who was driving my life.

See, God - in all his infinite wisdom - sometimes gives us pictures of our future. I love that God does this. It’s encouraging. It helps us through the rough times while we’re waiting for that promise. It gives us something to pray over and a peace in the storms we sometimes encounter on our path. Unfortunately, that’s not always what we do.

It starts to take longer than we think it should. It doesn’t go in the direction we plotted when we got a peek at it. There are stops we never anticipated. So what do we do? We begin to take control. Worse than a backseat driver, we grab the wheel and slam our foot on the gas. I mean, he showed us where we were going, didn’t he? Do we really need him to get us there?

Uh yeah, we do. Here’s what his word tells us in Isaiah 55: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

People listen, just because God parts the clouds and allows us a glimpse of our future does not mean we know the route to get us there. It was a glimpse, not a road map. And if we think our way is going to get us there faster or more efficiently, remember…our ways are not his ways.

I had to learn this the hard way. When I rose from my prayer time I had a choice to make. Hold tight to my path or release it to God’s? My speed, my direction, or his? I’d like to tell you I chose trusting God and let him have control, but I didn’t. I stood up, grabbed my Bible and flat out ignored what he told me. I reasoned that I must have heard incorrectly. Isn’t that funny? When it’s something wonderful, we KNOW we heard him right. Yet when it’s something that we don’t like, well then our ears must need a good cleaning. But does our ignoring him, our wrestling the steering wheel from him, change God’ plan? Nope. Does he let us stubbornly navigate our own path for awhile? Yep. And in doing so, we all too often experience hurt we needn’t have. See, it hurts to have our fingers pried open to release something we could have easily let go of in our own obedience.

We still broke up. Only it was a lot more painful than if I had stayed on the path God prepared for me. God had growth that needed to occur in both my husband and I. Growth he needed to do in us separately. Part of that growth, I am sure, was my ability to walk in obedience even when I didn’t understand it. I failed miserably, and I remember the pain from that failure. I also remember God’s grace and unfailing love. His faithfulness to still bring me where he wanted me. Even over the own boulders I placed in my path.

Doug and I had a rocky relationship for the next couple of years. Some obstacles were ones God allowed for our growth. Some were ones I threw up…and some were ones Doug tossed out there. But at one point I finally realized I needed to take my hands completely off this relationship. Trust that God was going to bring us together, even if it took until I was eighty. I began to pray over the relationship I knew God had ordained and concentrate on my relationship with him, not my relationship with Doug. I scooched over and let him sit in the driver’s seat.

And eventually we arrived at the place God had for us. In his timing. And it was perfect.

Here’s the thing (see, there’s always a ‘thing’), God has a plan for you – says so right in Jeremiah 29:11. I’ve talked about this before because it is so important to get into your soul. He knows the plan, and he may even give you a glimpse of it. But don’t grab that glimpse and take off without him. Don’t take control. I know it’s hard when you know where you’re going and you desperately want to get there. But what he wants to show you is not simply in the destination, it’s in the journey. He’s picked this trip, he’s excited to take you on it, and where he’s bringing you will be amazing…but you need to let him drive! And when you do, when you realize his ways are higher than our ways, here’s what your trip will look like: “You will go out with joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands…”(Isaiah 55:12). Going with joy? Being led in peace? Oh and let's not even start with the clapping trees and singing mountains. Now that’s a trip I don’t want to miss! You?