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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Are you hoping in God or for God?

 Be the change you want to see in the world.--Mahatma Ghandi

Reading the Christmas story, reminds me of secret longings kept in my heart. I imagine Mary's secret longings. And Elizabeth's. Surely they longed for their boys to be given special treatment. The chosen ones’ proper places. For God’s favor to be evident to the Jewish nation. For abundance and blessing and ease to blanket parts of their lives. They were regular women. Chosen by God. Praying like mothers and wives and daughters and friends. Like me. Like you.

I just told a group of friends that I’m not sure if I’m hoping in God anymore. Lately I find myself hoping for God to do something as evidence of His answer. Which translates to placing my hope in man, I think. Anywho, the truth is if I look anywhere but to God, at God--even if it’s for God, it’s putting my hope somewhere else.

So do I quit praying for lives I want to look like Jesus? Do I  quit asking for Him to save the lost and capture the gaze of the broken? No. Not at all. 

I pray. I seek God. I long for His face. His presence. His touch to my heart.

This way I will never be disappointed. Scripture says, “Those who hope in God will never be disappointed.” (Isaiah 49:23)

Hoping in God requires faith, which by its very definition is believing that which is unseen. Like, Mary who stores God’s messages and evidences in her heart to ponder until her Son is crowned King of Kings. What a proud day that will be! Yes, I said will be. Read Hebrews 11:39-40 (I'll talk about this more later.) says the great men and women of faith died without seeing their blessings, God’s promises fulfilled. Because they waited. They lived. They learned.

Like Mary, I’m learning in hard situations. I’m living happy and whole in places that have never and may never change. 

I’m learning the blessing has less to do with things around me and more to do with things in me. (Tweet that)

In the Living Bible Mary thanks God for what He has done to her. Not for her. To her. "Oh how I praise the Lord...For he has done great things to me."(Luke 1:46&49)

I’ll just be honest. It’s painful and disappointing and faith-assaulting to pray the same prayer and get the same results (ie none) day after day, year after year.

I’m tired of crying. Tired of hurting. Tired of being disappointed.

I pray with hope keeping eyes fixed on His Word, His presence, His touch and all He does to me. I pray longing for God yet hoping in God. I take refuge in His presence and under His touch. 

I find peace and joy watching not what God does for me but to me. 

I can be the change I wish to see in others.



Thursday, December 20, 2012

God, do you really?

Do you have a standing request? You know, the “thing” you’e asked God for--forever. Maybe it’s the salvation of a loved one, the return of a prodigal, a baby in your belly or a  husband to hold you at night. Maybe it’s beginning to seem impossible it will ever happen. Have you prayed, believing for so long that you’re ready to stop? Stop wanting, stop praying. Stop believing. Stop hurting.

The stories of the wife who prayed for her daddy for 47 years to see him finally accept Christ at the end of his life are heartwarming, powerful and encouraging. But, for those of us who are praying like crazy a big question niggles at the back of our mind and bottom of our heart.

God, do you love me enough to _______? 

The question mark has been in my heart’s dungeon for years. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I read this by Liz Curtis Higgs. It’s a question that left Sarah laughing, Balaam's donkey and Naomi bitter. This question left Zacharias mute, Paul blind and Jesus’ friend grieving.

As we meet these friends and share their tragedies, we are tempted to think like the world--things will get easier with time.

But read on and you'll see that God saw fit to give the barren children, restore the lost and replace death with life.

Maybe you read these stories complete with endings and think, what about me. Girlfriend, God hasn’t forgotten you. Even if you feel like He has. 

The Christmas story urges: Don’t stop believing because things get better with Jesus. He still answers big prayers. (Tweet this now)

God took a teenage girl and made her mother of the world’s Savior. She wasn’t yet married and it seemed much too soon to be with child. He gave her a reputation and I wonder if she lived with the honorable legacy she leaves us now. God’s Word assures us she knew Yahweh loved her and yet I wonder if she ever asked her Abba did he love her enough to silence the whispers as she walked through town to draw water with a bulging belly and no wedding ring.

God also took a woman more fit to be a grandmother than a mother and gave a baby life in her belly too. Although the baby growing in her was proof of God’s remembrance of Elizabeth, I wonder if she asked God to let her live long enough to enjoy her son’s ministry, to strengthen her feeble, aged body enough to lift her child high into the air long after he’d walk on his own.

Never too early to too late, God’d timing is always perfect and He never forgets those whose hearts are His. Into a family the world calls too soon to be practical and convenient the King of Kings was born to give hope to the hopeless and change the world. Into an aging family the world calls over the hill and too old to enjoy, God paved a pathway to Jesus and pointed the world to peace through the birth of John the Baptist.
So if you’re waiting for what feels like forever, take heart. God may be paving a pathway to change the world through your yes. Just keep waiting. Keep hoping. And remember, God loves you enough, sister. He does.

“Humanly speaking it is impossible. But with God all things are possible...The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Matthew 19:26 & James 5:16b

How long have you been asking God for the impossible?