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Posts Tagged ‘trust’


Decisions

Image by katietower via Flickr

Have you ever really thought about the decisions you make and where they might lead? And, I don’t necessarily mean the lofty great decisions we all make and take our time with.

There’s a scene that I love in the latest installment of the Twilight movies, “Eclipse.” In it the vampires from the ultra elite Volturi are standing looking down from a rooftop at an out of control newborn vampire army. The black caped Volturi are trying to figure out when the best time for action is, with the action being either they destroy the newborn vampire army and save the Cullen family, or they let them attack the Cullen family and possibly kill them, which is what the army was created for.

Jane, who is a petite blond vampire played by Dakota Fanning, tilts her head to one side as she considers her alternatives, then thoughtfully says, “Decisions, decisions.”

One of the reasons why I love that scene is it really shows how difficult and clear-cut some decisions can be. Pick choice A and you get consequence A. Pick choice B and you get consequence B.

There’s an old saying, ‘not to decide is to decide’ and that’s how some of us live, while others make very considered decisions about pretty much everything, while others of us live somewhere in-between those two extremes of letting someone else make our decisions and making every decision ourselves.

But, no matter how we make our decisions, it seems that most of the time in our lives once they have been made, we sort of float along not really thinking about the choices we make until there’s a definite negative consequence to what we decide, and, quite honestly in most cases that’s neither here nor there. We live with our decisions and the paths they lead us on because we really don’t know any different. This seems especially true when it comes to the things of God.

How many times do we decide to do something and not think about how it will affect our relationship with the Lord? Whether or not He would like us to do it? Or, basically even consult Him on anything except what we consider the ‘big stuff”?

I’ve talked to some people, that at some points in their relationships with the Lord, literally asked Him if they should make a left turn at an intersection, or a right. Although that seems a little extreme to most of us, it does make you think about the depth of that person’s closeness with the Lord and how that affects their decision-making.

Most of the time we miss the nexus between the decisions we make in our daily lives and how that affects our relationship with the Lord. Many times our decisions seem trivial, they don’t seem to have much of a consequence either way and the asking is just a way of including the Lord in our daily lives, a way of communicating with Him. While at other times, it’s absolutely amazing the clarity of the choice that we have, either we stay in the will of God, or we don’t.

Either way it’s all about the decisions we make and whether those decisions take us closer to the Lord, or further away.

“Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ He will quickly reply.”

Isaiah 58:9a

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Trust

Image by hcii via Flickr

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5. Such a small sentence in the big scheme of things, but such a powerful indicator of our relationship with the Lord.

I come from a family of natural questioners, and by that I mean if one of us says that something is broken and can’t be fixed, it’s not enough to actually take that person at their word. We have to actually check it out for ourselves, and, many times we come to the same conclusion.

I was pointedly reminded of that when my father came for a visit. I told him my CD player was broken and that I had done everything I knew how to do to fix to no avail. “Well,” he said. “Do you mind if I take a look?”

Of course I didn’t mind because even though I work with DVD and CD players on a pretty regular basis, I don’t know everything. Even though I was almost 100 % sure that it couldn’t be fixed, a second pair of eyes is always a good thing.

As I watched him perusing the player it suddenly hit me how many times I do this myself. If someone says, ‘such and such’, or’ thus and so’, I immediately question the veracity of what they’re saying. Unless I know the person well, and really trust them, I usually need to check it out for myself, especially if it has to do with scripture or some sort of theological teaching.

I had assumed this particular trait came only from my mother who questions everything after the fact, but realized that I actually came by the trait honestly from both sides of the family tree.

And, not only do I have it, but I see it in my son as well. Even though he questions me on a great many things, at the end of the day he trusts what I tell him, something that he doesn’t do with most people. Just recently, his teacher wrote on his report card that he needed to trust her. This may seem like an odd thing to write, but I knew exactly what she meant, because I encounter the same issue with him when he does his homework. He doesn’t really trust that you’re telling him to do a problem correctly unless he can really wrap his head around how to do it himself. The problem is sometimes he just can’t figure it out on his own.

He actually causes himself a lot of undue frustration and stress when he does this. Why? Because basically he’s fighting the very person, or people, who may be able to help him with his schoolwork the most. It’s a battle until he finally gets it all out, listens to what he’s told and believes that he’s being given the correct information. After that, he’s done lickty-split.

After watching my Father over the CD player, my son over his schoolwork and myself in many other situations, I thought how many times do we do this with God? We need to weigh out whether or not He really knows what He’s doing, usually by trying to double-check Him from our own understanding, before we trust that He is more than capable of doing what’s best for us.

And, many times, we do more than try and double-check Him – which is laughable because He has all the facts and we don’t even have a fraction of them – but we actively fight Him until we either give up in exhaustion, or, He’s actually able to get it through our thick skulls that it’s okay to trust Him.

And, basically, that’s a huge part of why we fight Him. We have a fear of trusting. We’re afraid he’s not who He says He is. We’re afraid He’s not going to do what He said He will do. We’re afraid he won’t come through for us. We’re afraid to trust Him because for many of us our own trust has been so shattered over the years that we can’t conceive of someone who actually is completely trustworthy.

The catch-22 of this is the reality is that He is the only one who is completely and totally trustworthy. Why? Because He is incapable of being anything else.

“But I trust in You LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.'”

Psalm 31:14

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Oh the life of a cat. I have always been a cat person. Dogs, well, I can take them or leave them, but I wouldn’t really want to own one, give me a cat any day of the week.

Our family cat, who just happens to be the love of my son’s life, has been a part of our household for about eight years now. My son was five when we found him online, went to the local animal shelter and just couldn’t leave him there. So, we brought him home and he’s been an integral part of our house ever since.

But, now he’s getting older. Cats age nine years to a human’s one. So, I figure he’s getting up there in years, and all of a sudden, just recently, he looks it. The black spots on his fur are run through with more white than they used to be, he’s a little more testy than he used to be and he has decided that he wants to be a lap cat.

The lap cat part would be all very well and good except he’s a very large cat. And, when I say a very large cat, I mean it. He’s almost three feet from nose to tail and at least 30-pounds, maybe more.

For those of you who have cats, you know that you don’t own them, they own you, which means in my household my hefty cat has no compunction about laying his girth on my lap whenever and wherever I sit down, whether there’s room for him or not. Sometimes he stays for a good long while, and sometimes he doesn’t, but I’ve decided that this relatively recent habit of his has developed for no other reason that he wants to be really close to the people he loves and who love him.

When he’s not angling to get on my son’s lap or mine, he makes sure he lays in a spot that is almost exactly in between where my son and I are, and if either of us moves, he moves too. It seems to be another way for him to keep track of us and know that he is connected to us.

That’s kind of how we seem to get the more we progress in our relationship with God. We always want to know where He is in relation to us, we want to stay as close to Him as we can even if that means trying to plonk ourselves right on His lap. And, even when we get really upset with Him because of something He’s done or gift He’s given us that we might not want because we just don’t understand it, no matter how hard we try to pull away and stay upset with Him, we find we can’t seem to stay way from Him for very long.

Why? Simple, because when you truly love someone and they love you, you just can’t be away from them for very long because nothing seems really right without them.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Mark 12:30

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Twilight (series)

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It seems that the little switch in my son’s brain that says, “I like to read” has finally been turned on. He still likes to do all the other things that boys do, but I have been very pleased to see that he has been reading more and more lately. And, I have to admit the reason why I’m pleased is that I am a reader, and have been since I finally learned to read, even though I was a late-bird.

My son is at the age where he’s reading young adult books that are geared towards boys. Admittedly, there are not a lot of these types of books out there. So, every once in a while he has been trying out the young adult books geared towards girls. Because it was so popular, the first one he tried out was the “Twilight Series”. He didn’t get too far before he lost interest.

I am an unashamed reader of really good young adult books preferring to read them over real “literature” any day of the week, and, even though I’m a believer in the Messiah, I just don’t have an issue with the “Twilight Series”. I have read them all – yes, multiple times – and am always impressed with the characters, the plotting and the seamless writing style of Stephanie Meyer, whose book aimed at adults, “The Host” is just as well written.

I asked my son why he didn’t like “Twilight”, assuming it was because he has had a terrible fear of vampires since he was in the first grade when one of his little friends was particularly graphic in his descriptions of what vampires were and what they did to you. But, that wasn’t it at all, he just said, “No, it’s not the vampires, I’m okay with them now because of Twilight, it’s just that there’s too much about Bella.” Translated from the language of boy, this means there was too much about relationships and not enough action.

His disinterest in the series changed when the Meyer’s novella, “The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner” came out. It is full of action, and my son literally devoured it once he started reading it.

My son is the type of person that if there’s something in a movie, play or book that really bothers him, he has to talk about it and try to figure out why it had to happen that way. There’s a scene in the Bree Tanner book where she has a chance to go off and leave the vampire army ( actually she has two chances to leave in the novella) but chooses to stay. My son really liked her and knowing that she dies in the “Eclipse” novel was a little upset that she didn’t take the chance to leave and live when she had it.

This prompted many days of discussion about her decision and why in the world she would stay when she had the chance to leave. Finally, I told him that “Eclipse” had already been written, that story was set and in that story she arrives with the vampire army to attack the Cullen’s and although Carlisle and Esme Cullen saw the potential in her to be a decent vampire, she ends up dying at the hands of the Volturi.

No matter what happened in the Bree Tanner story, no matter how much the reader liked her and wanted her to get away, her actions had to lead her to that clearing in “Eclipse” because that’s where she was supposed to be at that time, and not only that, she was an integral part of that story at that moment.

So many times in life our path seems so twisted, turning this way and that, even turning back on itself  – or so it seems – but it’s all for a reason, to get us to where we’re supposed to be. Sometimes, where we end up is in a horrible spot, just like Bree Tanner, but the reality is that’s where we’re supposed to be for that time, because there’s a larger story that we’re all a part of.

We all have a part to play. We’re all intertwined, whether we like it or not, and sometimes we’re where we are, not for ourselves, but because it’s necessary for us to be there for someone else’s story, whatever reason that may be. The reality is that we  have a God who is the master of it all, who knows all the in’s and out’s of everyone’s storyline, and what the big picture is. He knows who needs to be where and when, how to get each and every one of us to that certain spot where we need to be and not violate our freedom to choose in the process.

No matter what happens or what it looks like, all we need to do is trust Him as we make our way in our little storyline, which is much easier said than done.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

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Joshua commanding the sun to stand still

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I don’t know about you, but, I’m always so surprised when something happens that can really only be explained as God working and letting me see His hand. I don’t why I’m so surprised when this happens, but it just always strikes me.

Just recently I was teaching Sunday School and had four girls, fifth and sixth graders, in my class. That was it, no boys, just girls, and believe me, for a person who has one son and one cat, who also happens to be a male, this was like walking into an unfamiliar land. Admittedly I have very little experience with girls, and because of this I’m not very good with them. I always feel like I’m on shifting ground with them, always trying to find a point of commonality that will interest them that I can build from when trying to communicate with them.

We were studying Joshua 10, a passage that showed how the Gibeonites called on a treaty they had just made with the Israelites, to get the Israelites led by Joshua, to help them fight five Amorite kings who had declared war on them. The Lord told Joshua that He would give the Amorite’s over into the Israelites hands. During the battle, He did this in a huge way. He rained hailstones down on the Amorite’s, and, at Joshua’s request He made the moon and the sun stand still so the Israelites could finish the job.

Now, I love stories like these, because they’re huge and they’re amazing and they show us how  mighty God is. It’s just the type of God we want to have in our little pea brained worlds,  isn’t it? The one who comes down off his throne and goes to battle for us in a huge way that no one can ever deny. If it were a movie, it would be blockbuster full of action and no one would ever doubt that this amazingly huge God exists and will get the job done,  along with a huge amount of special effects too.

Of course, when I was explaining this to the girls, I was explaining it like I would to boys. I told them about Joshua being a great general, how the Israelites and Gibeonites were probably outnumbered by these powerful Amorite kings and how the battle was won by God.

As I looked at their faces as I told them these amazing things, I realized that they could have cared less. They were so not impressed by these amazing things that boys, and quite frankly me too, would have been over the moon about.

I was at a loss, so I decided to ask them a question to try to engage them. The lesson was all about God doing the impossible, so I asked them if they could think of anything they had either experienced, or heard of, where God did the impossible.

The room was really quite as they sat thinking about the question, trying to come up with an answer, when one of them piped up. She said that the Sunday School teacher from last week had told them an amazing story where God protected her. Apparently when the teacher was young, about the sixth or seventh grade, she always sat in the same spot at the kitchen table with the front window behind her to get her homework done. Day after day she sat there, until one day, out of the blue she decided to sit on the other side of the table. It was that day, that a car careened out of control and came through the window hitting the table where she usually sat. If she had been sitting in her usual spot, she surely would have died.

An interesting story that they should all remember (it gained in the layering after all the girls had added their two cents). It wasn’t filled with the flash of battle and the showing of a mighty God who could wipe out anybody. It was much quieter, but just as reveling about a mighty God who for His own reasons can protect anybody, anytime, anywhere, even if it looks like something that’s just out of the blue. He moved her to the other side of the table, just as surely as He rained hailstones down on the Amorites.

No matter how God reveals Himself in our lives, how He comes to our sides, whether it’s through hailstones or a soft inclination to move, there’s no doubt that He is very active in each of His children’s worlds. Very often He shows up in unexpected ways that shock us to our core because when He moves, no matter how He moves, it’s an awesome thing.

“Remember what happened long ago, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and no one is like me.”

Isaiah 46:9

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It’s funny what sticks with you through the years. I received a flip calendar with quotes from Dr. James Dobson’s books and correspondence accompanied by daily scripture as a wedding gift many years ago.

Although the marriage has long since gone the way of the dodo, the flip calendar with its pertinent words still sits next to my kitchen sink. Its pages  are a little worse for the wear having been splashed by its fair share of soapy water through the years, but they are still flipped everyday.

When my son was small there was one page that struck me. In it Dobson wrote something to the effect that you need to  instill as much reverence and respect for you in your children when they are small which will build an attitude of love and respect in them towards you, because you will need to call on every ounce of that reservoir when they get older.

I have never forgotten that page or its corresponding scripture, “For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.” Psalm 48:14.

My son hasn’t quite hit the teenage years, but looking around at others and the relationships they’re in, no matter what form they take, I can see how a foundation of love and respect well laid over the years can help any relationship make it. It’s not something that happens over night, the building of this foundation, even if you have a really good start with someone it takes a while to establish a solidity to it.

This is a very much how God is in building our faith in Him. Scripture says that He gives each of us a measure of faith. I imagine that’s because all of us do have different roles in the kingdom and those different roles require a different measure of faith.

Let’s face it, the measure of faith needed to exist in the U.S. as a believer where it is still tolerated to be so, is very different from the measure of faith required to be a believer in other parts of the world where they are dying for their faith.

Even so, because we are all different and our relationships with Him are different, the faith needed by each one of us to cling to Him is very different, whether it involves making life decisions that will separate you out from others around you in a  tolerant country, or cost you your physical life.

That faith is built through the experience of knowing Him, going through experiences where we have to rely on Him no matter what and making the choice to do so. These are not easy times in our lives, usually they involve a lot of unexpected twists, turns and upheavals so we don’t know which end is up or which end is down, we only know we either cling to Him or are lost.

Yet, there are those people who will do just that, stop clinging to him and be lost because the experiences that God uses to lay our foundation in Him and build our faith in Him seem to be too much for them, so they let go.

No matter how painful, uncomfortable or grievous  situation’s are to us in the here and now, sometimes they are  just a matter of Him building our measure of faith because we’re going to need every ounce of it in the future.

“Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.”

1 Timothy 1:19

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There’s a song that’s just been released by Third Day that I just can’t seem to get away from. It seems like every time I turn the radio on – which isn’t very often – I keep hearing the same line of lyrics, “salvation is coming.”

Finally, after about a week of not hearing the full song I decided to YouTube it. I found out it’s not called “salvation is coming” like I thought it was, because of course that was the only line of the lyrics I ever seem to hear, but it’s actually called “Lift Up Your Face”. I also figured out that the line of lyrics I was listening to was actually “salvation is calling” instead of “salvation is coming”. Go figure.

It’s  amazing what you learn on YouTube, but, be that as it may, it’s a great song and worth a listen.

Because I’ve heard this song so much, it got me thinking about salvation. Part of the Christian culture in the U.S. is a focus on the time and date that we got “saved”, meaning when did each of us first accept Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and enter into a relationship with Him.

Sometimes I think we focus on this so much that we forget that salvation is a daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes even by the minute process. We are always in the desperate need of being saved, maybe not from the jaws of death which is a life lived without God like we were before we first believed, but from ourselves and all we still drag around that hinders us in our relationship with Him.

Part of that daily salvation is lifting up our eyes to the only one who can help us in our times of need, and has the ability to forgive us when we repent and return to Him sometimes for the millionth time.

In scripture there are many references to lifting up our eyes and how God uses that action to give us life. This action of lifting up our eyes helps to show us where we stand and from Whom our help comes.

The Israelites who chose to looked up at the bronze snake that Moses made as God commanded and recovered from poisonous snake bites in Numbers 21. King Nebuchadnezzar looked up to the Lord and regained his sanity after living like an animal for seven years as a punishment for his pride and arrogance in Daniel 4. And, these are just a couple of instances of this concept of people lifting up their eyes that we see in scripture.

In the Psalms, King David, a man after God’s own heart, questioned where his help came from. He looked to the hills and probably saw the Ashera poles set there as places of worship to other gods and realized his help did not come from those things. He had to look higher than the hills, up to the heavens themselves, where his God, the only one, lives.

David’s life is a study in the need to be saved. The continual need for salvation. He always seemed to have something he needed to be saved from, whether it was enemies from outside his house or inside of it, or from his own decisions that led to less than desirable consequences.

Just like us. Sometimes the things we need to be saved from have more to do with others, their decisions and how those decisions impact our lived than ourselves. Yet, there are other times when we need to be saved from ourselves, our own decisions and where they’ve led us.

Our God is a saving God. He doesn’t just save us once when we accept Christ as our Messiah, then leave us alone to fend for ourselves. He is constantly saving us. Salvation is here and it is coming from the only one who loves us enough to stand by us and has the power and authority to make that salvation a reality.

“I raise my eyes towards the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:1-2

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