Light, Dandelions & Sin

Yesterday I had a moment in talking with a friend where I felt God shine a spotlight on an area in my life that needs to change.

Have you experienced that? It’s extremely uncomfortable. You’re going along doing the instinctual, trusting that what’s natural is what’s right, and then suddenly you’re blinded by a floodlight piercing your eyes. As I wrote that last sentence I am struck by the similarity to Paul’s story. You know, when he was still Saul. And killing Christians.

He was living his life the way he’d been raised, and doing it very well. He had clout.

Listen to him brag about himself…

“…circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.” {Philippians 3:5-6}

Paul was the man. He was doing what was natural. Then, God beamed His spotlight on him and Paul was blind. Maybe that’s what Jesus meant when He said He was the light of the world.

::

So, I {like Paul} was making my way through my day — although, to be clear, I was not pursuing and killing Christians — when all of a sudden God lasered in on an area of my mind that is wrong.

And instantly I felt guilt. Well, maybe guilty isn’t the right word

exposed

ashamed

remorseful

Before you begin imagining all of the awful things that I could have been doing, I’ll tell you.

My priorities were off. I was selfish. I thought of my own needs before the needs of others.

Even that makes it sound worse than what I intended, but isn’t that how those little sin areas in our life always are? We justify, or even overlook, them because they float like dandelion puffs through our mind. The problem that I’ve discovered with dandelion puffs is that as innocent as it looks when my kids are blowing “wishes” around the yard, those seeds take root and now we have a bunch of weeds.

Courtesy of photobucket

As the evening progressed that moment replayed in my mind, and I allowed the shame and guilt to settle in. It tucked itself in with me last night and drug itself out of bed with me this morning.

I need to be different. That has to change. Lord, help me to change,” looped in my brain.

Most mornings I don’t have the time {make the time} to soak in the Word. The chaos of four kids dressing, brushing, fighting, tying, and rushing takes over; I let it. This morning I took the ten minutes necessary to read and journal.

And God spoke.

The verse isn’t necessary, because the words weren’t important to the epiphany. Well, it was to me, because my reading illustrated someone doing right what I had done wrong the day before. It felt like the floodlight was now trained on that portion of scripture, which reflected right back onto the sin in my life.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” {Isaiah 6:5}

But…

before more guilt could set in, God said, “I’m showing you this so intentionally because I am changing this in you. It is not to make you feel ashamed, but rather so you have a milestone to look back on.”

We all feel exposed, ashamed, remorseful and guilty when the Holy Spirit’s light shines into those dark places. Rather than run and hide like Adam & Eve, we must welcome the burning coal to our lips.
He will do the work to change us, He shows us so we can see how we’ve changed.

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When the Cupboard Seems Bare

I had no idea what to make for dinner. A run to the grocery store had been at the top of my to do list for at least two days. I had forgotten to pull meat out of the freezer and here it was four o’clock already.

In the next hour Josh would be home from work. I felt bad that once again dinner would not be hot and ready for him on the table. Not that he insists upon that, but it’s been cold here and I wanted that for him.

Peering into the too vacant pantry once again I prayed that my culinary imagination would come to my rescue.

We had tortilla chips…

and that was a can of black beans back in the corner…

Maybe if I combined some canned chicken with that barbecue sauce in the fridge…hmm…

Slowly a meal began to take shape. I’d never heard of barbecue nachos, but I was betting on them tasting good.

Pulling out a baking sheet, I combined all the ingredients, shoved them in the oven, and set the timer for ten minutes.

At the ding, I peeked in the oven and thought, “Well, they look good.” Hoping the kids would eat them, I called everyone to the table.

They were delicious!

Some of my favorite meals have come from the desperation found in pantry fatigue. Those concoctions that find the way to your table solely because you had nothing else to cook.

As I stacked the empty plates in the sink I felt God whisper to me:

“Sometimes the bare times preceded the best feasts.”

Those moments in life where you feel like you have nothing left within you to use.

Empty.

No where left to turn.

Depleted.

In that moment, the overlooked components can come together and create something new and unforeseen.

Sometimes we need a bare cupboard to find our best.

Five Minute Friday: Joy

What a week! Life is moving so fast for us right now, and I know I’ve promised an update…

Like the proverbial dieter, I will make this promise: Monday.

Today, I’m taking five minutes to join up with others in Lisa-Jo’s community to write about joy. This week’s prompt is a tribute to Sara, and her commitment to choose joy whatever the circumstances.

Ready, set…

GO

A few years ago I started running. It was part of this boot camp thing I was doing. Before the sun peeped through the smog, a bunch of Orange County housewives would meet at a local elementary school to be beaten into swimsuit readiness. It was grueling.

Part of the routine was our weekly run. Each Wednesday we would head to a park, instead of the school. and there we would have five miles ahead of us. Some, who had been doing the boot camp for much longer than me, ran the entire way. I was lucky if I could jog for more than a minute or two.

Then somewhere around week three, I noticed a change. I was enjoying it, this running thing (or what I called running).

Much of my morning exercise was spent on my own. With earbuds plugged in, Queen serenading me with rock ballads, and a steady rhythm under my feet…I found joy.

Months earlier, if someone had told me that I could have found pleasure in running through a park at 5:30 AM, I would have laughed at them. Even today, I laugh at the idea. It seems ludicrous

Which is exactly how I feel when James tells me to consider it a bonus when I encounter trials. Joy…in trial?! Someone drank a little too much of the kool-aid.

I don’t think it’s the trial that we’re supposed to find joy in. Rather, I think it’s the endurance we build up, the strength we didn’t know we had, the toning of our spiritual muscles.

It’s been awhile since I ran regularly. My muscles have returned to their non-toned status and once again the idea of running for fun seems absurd. Maybe it’s time for me to push myself again, to find joy in the trial.

STOP

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When Daily Bread Goes Stale

Each morning they picked up their bread from the ground, for forty years.

On a journey they weren’t expecting, impatient with God’s misdirection and seeming neglect, the Israelites harvested the honey-flavored wafers that fell like snow each morning with the dew.

{source}

They’d never seen anything like it, which is how it got its name:

manna,

“what is it.”

It’s humbling to rely on God for our daily provision. Our pride and self-confidence can squirm under the knowledge that despite our best attempts He is our sole source of nourishment and refuge. Resentment and ingratitude can rise in response to our dependent position.

 Why is that?

Is it because we begin to worry that we can’t control Him? That if He chooses not to come through for us there’s nothing we can do?

Or, is it because we know He’s watching to see how we make use of His provision? Every part of our life becomes scrutinized to discover if we’re good stewards.

“Should I be setting some manna aside? Are we gathering too much? Do other’s have enough?”

I wonder: 

After a while did the Israelites stop asking what it was?

Did they become blasé about the daily collection of this miracle provision?

Was it a chore instead of a blessing?

There are days, weeks even, where the thought of cracking open my Bible, sitting in His presence, going to church or raising my hands in song seem exhausting.

Dry

Dead

Stale

My “daily bread” from God no longer satisfies my hunger. The delicate wafer doesn’t look to be enough and my desire is for more.

What has changed? 

God’s provision is what is always has been, perfectly designed to fit my every need.

My perception has changed. Instead of coming to Him with wonder, awe, gratitude, I view Him as a slave driver demanding subjection and genuflection

His word no longer tastes like honey, but sawdust. His presence feels foreboding, rather than reassuring.

Why does this happen? 

We forget that God’s nature is not like ours.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. {John 15:13}

Our inability to pay back our debt; our total reliance on His provision, direction and wisdom can result in fear when we twist it with the knowledge of human nature.

Man would demand something for such a gift. If nothing else, we humans want to be recognized for our good deeds and to make sure that the recipients of those good deeds never forget what we’ve done for them.

God gives that gift freely.

Because if we could earn it, it loses all its value.

It is a gift of God, freely given, so that no man may boast.

What can we do?

Say thank you. When my children receive a gift, my constant chant is, “What do you say?

Gratitude.

It’s the one weapon I’ve discovered that is able to combat entitlement and resentment. It can restore us to a place of wonder and awe at the daily provision of God.

To an awareness of the nourishment, guidance, refuge and strength to be found in Him as we travel through the wilderness.

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