Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gracious Uncertainty

I've been thinking of Abraham today, after having a conversation with a friend, who reminded me of the faith of our forefathers. I've been pondering what it must have been like for him to be called to sacrifice his only son. What an incredible test of faith. (I'm going to have to think about this for awhile... I'll keep you posted)
This story of Isaac brought the last year to my mind. I look back on the last 12 months and think about the things God asked for me to put on the altar. There were many times where He asked me to trust him despite the tears streaming down my face. There were so many days of wandering around, reading passage after passage about the redemption of Christ yet bawling my eyes out and teeter-tottering between doubting and trusting. (Lord, thank you for not giving up on me!) I wondered, "Could He really fix this? Could He really take care of my life like He promised?" These kinds of questions showed me how much I really doubt His timing and His plan. Despite all of my angry outbursts and crazy tantrums, He was (and continues to be!) soooo patient with me! Our call to trust in Him goes far deeper than I could have ever imagined. When we ask questions like, "Really, Lord? You want me to do WHAT? Why?!" He simply says to our hearts, "Trust Me."
I wrote recently about the redemption happening in my life. The Lord blew my concept of repentance wide open- giving me such a precious gift in seeing the beauty of the Gospel extend to my broken heart. I have been led to shouts of joy and praises to God! He really does answer prayers! I smile as I think about the times ahead, what we are really striving for in this life- to push forward knowing He is going to put everything right again.
Paula Rinehart writes in Strong Women, Soft Hearts (I HIGHLY recommend this book!), "If God really does have us in the palm of his hand and your real life is secure in him, then you can venture forth- into the places and relationships, the challenges, the very heart of the storm- and you will be safe there. God is indeed the only agenda that makes any sense at all. It is a posture of 'gracious uncertainty' meaning that we have given up the illusion of being certain of anything but God. In this place of gracious uncertainty, we wait. For the broken pieces to be brought back together. For the meaning of our suffering to be revealed in his. For the righteous reign of a mighty God, whose goodness we will spend all eternity celebrating. We wait- with open, expectant hearts." Amen, sister!
Brothers and sisters, we wait. He is healing all of it... That I am SURE of.

Gracious Heavenly Father, forgive us for walking away and choosing our own ways. Thank you that you welcome us back as your children. Help us to walk through this valley. Hold our hands tightly, Father! Help us embrace the suffering that we are facing and will continue to face. Help us see how big you really are. Lord, help us to run the race you have laid before us and lead us home to you.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Redemption comes in powerful ways

The last few days have been a wonderful testament to the power of God's Word. His promises of restoration touch even the darkest of places. I am forever thankful that He is taking what was broken and torn to shreds and miraculously is knitting it together in an amazing way, always for the better. I have been experiencing profound joy in the wake of suffering and have wept bitterly over the brokenness in my own heart. We sang a hymn today in chapel that touched on the very emotions I have been feeling and the incredible grace that God has bestowed on me and others recently. Tears of joy ran down my face as I remembered the blessings God has bestowed upon me in the midst of the pain. I give all the praise and glory to Him, who really does work in miraculous ways. May it bless you as it did for me... We serve a POWERFUL and MIGHTY God!

Be Still, My Soul

1. Be still, my soul:
the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently
the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God
to order and provide;
In every change,
He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul:
thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways
leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul:
thy God doth undertake
To guide the future,
as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence
let nothing shake;
All now mysterious
shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul:
the waves and winds
still know His voice
Who ruled them
while He dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul:
when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened
in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know
His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe
thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul:
thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness
all He takes away.

4. Be still, my soul:
the hour is hastening on
When we shall be
forever with the Lord.
When disappointment,
grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot,
love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul:
when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed
we shall meet at last.

5. Be still, my soul:
begin the song of praise
On earth, believing,
to thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him
in all thy works and ways,
So shall He view
thee with a well-pleased eye.
Be still, my soul:
the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds
shall but more brightly shine.


Katharina A. von Schlegel

Jane Borthwick
Jean Sibelius

Lead Sheet
Chord Chart
Demo MP3

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Memories from the Shore

Nikki and I had such a love affair with the beach. We could sit out there for hours and just watch the tides come in and out. Some of our greatest moments was out on that beach. Some of our most powerful experiences with God were out there on the water.

I remember great mornings of sunrises at our favorite spot. Our surfboards being waxed in anticipation of braving the waves of the morning. I would come in from the surf to sit on my board (I was never as good as she). I secretly loved to watch her surf the waves. It was the reason I would get up with her and drive to the ocean... My little sister felt so alive when she was out on the water. And I felt great joy seeing her delight in her Maker.

When we were little, I was always a little better at finding shark teeth. I used to go a little in front of her, placing teeth I had found along the way in her path so that she would find them. I remember those days well, as if they were yesterday. I hold these memories close to my heart. I pray that they will remind me of the goodness in those moments and the glory that lies ahead. O Nikki, how I miss you, dear sister.

We used to play in the tide pools for hours, our Mom trying to get the sunscreen on our backs long enough to soak in... but alas, our sandcastles and search for little crabs became our number one priority. What fun we had together!

Our last time at the beach was when she wore a beautiful white dress. She was breathtaking. The sunset cast a dazzling blend of color, as if it looks towards a day when we would all be standing in front of a world that was without any tears, a world that had been healed from all sickness and death. What a privilege it was to stand there next to her, in the place of many memories of joy and peace.

I now stand alone, looking out at the great ocean with only the wind, the sand, and the shells as my companions. I feel the breeze of the seasons changing, of life continuing on. The salty smell enters my nostrils in such a way that I am homesick. I am waiting to go Home, to walk the beaches again with her by my side. We will be laughing and telling stories of great moments experienced together. I will tell her about my time alone after she went to be with the Lord. I will pull out a book I wrote for her, full of tales and adventures we took together. We will look up and see our Great God walking with us, laughing with us, delighting in us. O what a day that will be!

Elisabeth Elliot writes, " 'Who watched over the birth of the sea, when it burst in flood from the womb?' God asked Job in the midst of his great suffering, 'when I wrapped it in a blanket of cloud and cradled it in fog?' A God who can look on the mighty ocean as a tiny newborn- could He overlook one of His lonely people? Job had felt very much overlooked. Yet, after all his questions and accusations, he was shown that not for a moment had he really been forgotten...We are not doomed to meaninglessness. A loving Purpose is behind it all, a great tenderness even in the fierceness."

We live in a beautiful story, one in which all the glories of nature opens the heart of God. Praise the Lord, for He alone takes the sting out of death and gives it life again. I can look towards Heaven and know I matter to Him. My pain matters. Dear brothers and sisters, there is Hope. Nikki points me to Heaven. She points me to the Cross, a place where God opened the door to life again. What an incredible gift her life was to me.