Be All There

Famed, martyred missionary Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” God has planted each of us in specific places, circumstances, relationships, vocations, and He has appointed for us purposes and assignments. How easy it is to get distracted by self-driven plans, or lesser things, and not to be in the moment where we are, in tune with HIs will. “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Am I ‘all there,’ all in, for Him?

Jump in, Get going, Cape Coast, Ghana

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be self-controlled and sober-minded…Above all, keep on loving one another earnestly. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:7-11

May I never be slothful in zeal, but fervent in spirit, all here to serve You, my Lord. (Romans 12:11)

Undone, Unclean, Unfettered

Isaiah 6:1-8, one of my favorite passages, draws me to the throne of God and undoes me every time I read it.

“I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim… And one called to another and said, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!’ And the foundations of the temple shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said, ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’                                                       

“Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your mouth; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me!’”

Nairobi Church door w crosses

The regal King, seated on His throne, surrounded by living creatures who constantly praise Him, captivates me. I am ushered into God’s presence and fall undone like Isaiah; seeing His resplendent holiness shows up my sin like early light through a window shows up the spots on the glass. And what does He do? He cleanses and forgives, unfettering me from nagging habits and entangling sin. He frees me to desire and to say, “Here am I!” What a Savior!

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Holy God, thank You for opening the way for me to approach Your throne, and for the burning coal, for taking me from ‘Woe!’ to ‘go.’ Because of You, and what You’ve done, here am I.

 

Fear or Faith?

The story in Numbers 13-14 is sad, instructive, and a beautiful display of God’s character. Representatives from the twelve tribes of Israel have just returned from spying out Canaan at God’s command, and reported they had found a rich, fruitful land. “‘However, the people are strong, the cities fortified and very large. The land devours its inhabitants, the people are of great height and we seem to ourselves like grasshoppers.’ But Caleb quieted the people and said, ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.'” What a contrast!

S Africa, fields with mountains, one gold

Then the people cry out, weep, grumble, and complain, full of fear for their safety and a victim-mentality–oh, that they had stayed in Egypt (where they also whined and complained, in slavery)! But Caleb and Joshua, motivated by faith, countered,“The LORD is with us; do not fear them,” and plead with the people to believe He would bring them into the promised land. When God’s righteous anger burns, Moses intercedes for mercy for the sake of God’s reputation, character, and word. God promises both grace, and judgment on the rebellious.

Driven by fear, we are self-consumed, worriers, complainers, victims. We think we know best, but we miss much. Driven by faith, we are God-focused, hopeful, courageous, confident in the One whose “power and steadfast love are great.” We trust His promises and paths, and get to enjoy the fullness of conquering with Him. Which attitude, which living, do I choose?

“[They] have stumbled and fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence.” Isaiah 3:8

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.” Lord, may I, in faith, “go up at once” wherever You bid me, convinced of the call, Your  promises, and Your glorious presence. (Hebrews 11:1).

My Rock

“Blessed be the LORD, who daily bears us up.” Psalm 68:19

We have close friends who are hurting deeply, anguish-of-the-soul deeply, and Psalm 62 is God’s perfect word and balm.

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Our God has spoken; twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.”

My Fortress, Cape Coast, Ghana

Indeed, God is our Rock- immovable; Salvation- assurance; Hope- security; Fortress- strong protector; Refuge- safe hiding place; Glory- promise. No human institution or being is such a One. To trust Him is to be absolutely secure, today and forever. We can wait, be still and silent, and rest on, trust in, pour out our hearts before, Him. He is strong, He is loving. He will not be moved.

On You, Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.

The Bounty in Early

The first thing I saw was the rainbow, surreal color against a thick pallete of oyster grey and pearl blue after the rain. Then there were the starfish–one, several, dozens on the sandbar under shallow, serene water as we paddled out. Dawn offers such a bounty of delights. A dolphin fin, then two; graceful creatures arced and blew, leaving smooth circles near us on the surface when they dipped. Seagulls flashed like Morse code as peeks of rising sun hit their white wings on every stroke, the rainbow’s prism, deepened in hue against the thickening grey, lengthened upward to encircle them. Then we saw the low white splashes, silver flashes, a school of foil-scaled snook energetically scalloping the water’s surface toward and alongside us—a first for our captivated hearts.

“O Lord, how many are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Here is the sea, great and wide, with teems of creatures innumerable, living things both small and great.” Psalm 104:24-25

By the time we turned around, the rainbow was gone, thunder rumbled in the east, and tiny drops ticked down on us. There is nothing like early for the Lord’s prepared feast, and we never know what we miss when we don’t arise.

heart-in-sand-from-a-crab-god-loves-us.jpg

“‘Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day. Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat.’ Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.” Exodus 16:4,16,21

Lord, bid me rise at Your hour that I not miss the bounty You have for me. “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14)

Puzzles and God’s Sovereignty

I have enjoyed doing jigsaw puzzles since I was a little girl, spending hours every summer alongside my father, sister, other family and/or friends at a table by the big picture window overlooking Red Cedar Lake in the Wisconsin north woods, putting together masterpieces. A friend has recently introduced me to a new kind of puzzle (for me), wooden with creative, not-always-straight edge pieces, clever object pieces, an extra piece or two that doesn’t fit in, and usually no picture of the finished product. I recently worked “Yosemite Spring,” a magnificent scene of mountains reflected in a clear lake, graced by deer and a billowy cloud top, that had fun pieces shaped like a hiker, birds, fish, a snowflake, the sun, a stingray, and the always-included jester. I couldn’t help but think how the sovereign God works in our lives.

Puzzle: Stave's Yosemite Spring

He knows the big picture, the whole story beginning to end– He designed it, and has crafted every piece of our individual lives to fit together for His purposes. Each puzzle is unique, an intricate masterpiece of distinct beauty. We don’t know what our life will look like, and often the edges, our plans and course, are not what we expected; they don’t always follow our prescribed or desired pattern. Sometimes God surprises us with delights, or heartaches, that take our breath away. But every part fits together to make the life He ordained and planned from before time, a work of perfection according to His purposes.

When we don’t know the whys, or hows, or whats of the future, we can know Him. That is enough. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” (Colossians 1:17; Psalm 138:8)

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things yet undone, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purposes.’ I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.” Isaiah 46:9-10,11

Sovereign Lord, I am Your workmanship. You are acquainted with all my ways. You who began a good work in me will bring it to completion. I know that You can do all things, and that no purposes of Yours can be thwarted. So be it, amen. (Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 139:3; Philippians 1:6; Job 42:2)

The Folly of Pride

“Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!” Isaiah 10:15

How easy it is to slip words into conversation that make us feel big, important, even superior. It might be subconscious, or unintentional, but still betrays a sense that we have earned, achieved, or experienced something that adds to our value, that we deserve to be esteemed or elevated because of it. Who are we trying to impress?

“What do you have that you did not receive? A person cannot receive even one thing unless it was given him from heaven.” 1 Corinthians 4:7; John 3:27

“Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

Cornwall, England, wired cross on church

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,                                                                                             Save in the death of Christ, my God;                                                                                                 All the vain things that charm me most–                                                                                          I sacrifice them to His blood.”                                                                                                       Isaac Watts (1674-1748)  

O LORD, may my words and actions, even motivations, boast only in You (2 Corinthians 1:31; 10:17).