Living a “Yes, Lord” Life

A middle of the night phone call wakes me ~wrong number~ and I take it as God calling and get up to hear what He has to say.

“Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in His ways and revering Him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land…” Deut 8:6

It was next in my Bible reading plan, and I know it is Him speaking, so I pick up pen and paper and list three specific paths He is guiding me in right now, 3 ways He wants me to “observe.”

It’s the middle one that strikes me most. He’s been kneading it into my heart over the past several months, ever painting a clearer picture of what it looks like: Live a “Yes, Lord” Life.

And I jot this beside it: Practice replacing fear, stress, anger, feelings of being overwhelmed, irritation with interruptions, etc with “Yes, Lord. And thank You.” Allow all of those little things to be triggers for submission to and reverence for Him.

You see, I can sure be a Naaman. You know the story… Naaman had leprosy and Elisha sent a message to him and told him, “Go wash in the Jordan River seven times” and Naaman said, “That just sounds like foolishness! How in the world can that dirty water make me whole?”  (see II Kings 5)

And I do the same thing, say when I’m preparing dinner and a child interrupts for the 13th time and it is back and forth between the dinner and the children (sound familiar to anyone else???) and I start wondering how in the world this kind of halting life- where I can’t even finish a thought- can add any spiritual character to my roots because it sure isn’t conducive to praise and worship and peace and calm and happy feelings.

But then that is the Naaman in me telling God how to best clean me up. {i.e. The long quiet time with the emphasis on quiet. Ahem.}

But God gives me the day as it comes and yes, it’s the dirty Jordan and not at all like what I think should do the trick, but it is the foolishness of the cross, after all, that is the power of God unto salvation.

So He says, “Live a ‘Yes, Lord’ life.”

Do I really think that submission and obedience to God is primarily in the big things, like teaching a class or going overseas or adopting a child or giving financially…or in the “spiritual” things like reading the Bible and memorizing scripture and praying and fasting?

It is bit by bit that a life is lived, little by little that character is forged.

It is primarily the small things, then,  that make me the most like Christ.

Like when the quiet time gets cut short (as it inevitably does) by a child waking up before sunrise and I respond with a “Yes, Lord. And thank You.”

And when the phone call takes twenty minutes I don’t have to give and I say “Yes, Lord. And thank You.”

When the dinner burns and the children screech and Little Bit rebels and I’m not sure how to parent and the pitcher breaks and the bills pile up…”Yes, Lord. And thank You.”

Bit by bit, piece by piece, forging a life of Christ like character.

It’s what God wants of me. Sure, I’ve done some “big” things…but He’s shown me that genuine maturity isn’t in those, it is in the small, seemingly insignificant ones. He who is faithful in little will be faithful with much.

He is telling me to trust Him. He will orchestrate my day and test me to see if I’ll say “Yes, Lord,” moment by moment, again and again.

He wants me to live a “Yes, Lord” life.

It’s the way a wise woman, a noble woman, a woman of character,  builds her house. Bit by bit.

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Rich or Impoverished? I wonder.

Dear Journal,

The kids had ice cream cones for the first time today.

That’s the thing about living overseas and coming back home: there is so much to discover and learn. When we first arrived back, Husband went to Walmart to purchase an atlas.

“Why are you buying this; you don’t have a TomTom?” the cashier asked.

Husband didn’t have the heart to ask what on earth a TomTom was. We had to learn about GPS’s and RedBox movies and what in the world American Idol was and about credit cards accepted at drive through’s.

A lot changes in a few years and today the kids learned about ice cream cones.

It was fun to see them discover something yummy and happy. And yet…

A piece of me wondered if we trade real riches for little yummy happies, impoverishing ourselves in the name of “treats” and “affluence.”

We do it with trips to the nail salon and trips through Starbucks drive through and shopping sprees and little meaningless purchases and pill popping and seeing what others are doing and following suit. Ever mimicking those around us.

We even specialize in being consumers of all things “christian.” It is just the way we do life in the west.

And in so doing, are we fancy looking “empty calorie” Christians, instead of being nourished and rich rooted ones?

I wonder.

I wonder at Grace that allowed me to live in a place where these things are not possible. Where all we had was each other. Where toys and treats and gadgets were replaced with people and serving others and pouring yourself out.

Where there were blistered feet after walking miles in sandals, humping a back pack with precious truth inside….not a trip to the pedicure place.

Where I got the haircut of my life for 55 cents …lordamercy…but got to share the Precious Name with a woman with scissors, someone who had never ever heard it before.

Where workbooks and second hand bible studies were unheard of but the pure milk of the Word was in abundant supply. At least in our home and on our walls and written in our hearts.

Where every morning I was wakened by street vendors and hawkers and school children running from mice and I thought I’d go crazy with the smells and the noise and the fact that floor cleaner was simply not available….but where I looked out and saw through God eyes and heard with God ears and touched with God hands.

Where we were targeted and pickpocketed and cheated and taken advantage of and spit on….and considered worthy by God for such an assignment??!

Where instead of internet and ipod was the Breath and Whisper of God.

Rich.

So as I watch children eat ice cream cone and ask for seconds with a bit of a pout when I say “no”…. I crack a little on the inside. I want to go back.

I want the shirt on my back to soak through again with sweat from the effort.

I want the chance to have blistered feet again.

I want my children to pray for others when they look in a shop and see idols.

If it comes down to it, I want them to know about the man without legs who sits begging in front of the noodle shop, not about ice cream cones.

Truth be known, journal, I’m scared. Because I’m not sure I know how to live in this affluence. I’m not sure how to raise my children here. I’m not sure I’m strong enough to stand the tsunami of consumerism and me-ism and have-it-all-now-you-deserve-it-ism.

God. How do I do this? Help me!

“I am your portion,” He reminds me. “And your very great reward. Keep your eyes on Me.”

There will surely be chances to try to make a name for one’s self. There will be opportunities to better one’s financial standing. There will be pursuits and little compromises that come knocking and the gang will all say “join in the ride!”

It’s just the way we do life in the West.

But El Elyon says, “Make yourself empty so that I can make you rich.”   “I am giving you a good land.”   “You shall have no inheritance in their land nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance.” (Numbers 18:20)

Have we given up our rich, goldy inheritance for worldly possessions and lifestyles of ease? Oh Lord, have I?

Let us not, O Sovereign Lord, let us not!

As I ponder the riches of Him, my appetite for the treats and treasures of the world turns to repulsion. Lord, my sweet Jesus, who have I in heaven but You? You are my Lord; I have no good besides You. (Ps. 16:2)

May it ever be, Lord, till my dying day, may it ever be.

Send me and spend me, Lord. Send and spend.


Are You A Mirror Kind Of Mom?

A RECENT CHILD CORRECTION SESSION in our home went something like this:

Mom: “Please don’t talk to your sister like that.”

Child: “Okay.”

A few minutes later:

Child: “That puzzle piece doesn’t go there! DUH!”

Mom: “I asked you not to speak to your sister like that. Please stop.”

Child: “Okay.”

A few minutes later:

Child: “You never get it right! You’re no good at puzzles.”

Mom, growing frustrated, in the middle of something and not wanting to stop: “Step away from the puzzle and go play with something else. I’ve told you and told you to stop speaking to her in that way.”

A mirror kind of mom does what I did: She brings the child’s attention to his waywardness.

{This is like holding a mirror to the child’s face and letting him see that he’s got lettuce between his teeth.}

I haven’t had much success with “mirror mom” parenting. It produces much frustration in me (and problaby in my kids too) and breeds escalated emotions. 

So I prayed for help. I needed some divine help in getting back to some basics of effective parenting.

God brought James 1:23-25 to mind. “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.”

I thought, “BINGO! That is how I’m parenting! I am holding the mirror to my children to show them what their “natural man” looks like.”

{Turns out, I am very good at showing my children their moral failures. The child, in turn, acknowledges their error and then goes right back to it.}

But as James points out, it is not “hearing” that causes us to be “blessed in all we do.” (see vs 25)

The word of God acts like a mirror. It tells us what is right and what is wrong, and when we train our children to see themselves according to Scripture, they are able to see themselves as sinners and separated from God.

This is necessary… but incomplete. James teaches that we can train ourselves and our children to move beyond fault finding, navel gazing and introspection to laying hold of the freedom found in the pages of scripture…because looking at ourselves in a mirror can never change us, whether we are 5 or 55!

We must actually do it…we must pick the lettuce out from between our teeth. We must guide our children to look at the Word in such a way that they are motivated to abide by and be transformed by it…and James tells us step by step how:

“But the one who looks intently”

 The word for “looks intently” (parakupto) means “to bend over and carefully examine something from the clearest possible vantage point.” This indicates a deliberate and conscious choice to get down and dirty if necessary in order to learn.

A parent who corrects her children this way stops what she’s doing instead of just throwing out commands. She makes a choice to stoop down, look carefully at the core issues, and deal with them according to…

“…the perfect law, the law of liberty”

The word here translated “liberty” is elsewhere always translated as “freedom.” It is essential that we see the laws and the precepts of God not as a task master but as our very freedom! {See Psalm 19:7-11}

A mirror only kind of mom exposes the error in her children but never moves to the freedom part.

One commentator says, “The law that gives freedom seems like a paradox. Law seems to imply restraint and therefore a lack of freedom. Not so with God’s law. His perfect law provides tree freedom. ‘Hold to My teaching’, Christ said, ‘then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” John 8:31-32

Are you a mom who portrays God’s law as positive and beneficial or as negative and punitive? Use God’s law to bring liberating life.

“And abides by it…becoming an effectual doer”

The last phrase indicates process. It is a long term commitment to incorporating any given principle into one’s life and character.

We are not talking about perfection here but about perseverance.  The mom who parents this way uses the tool of “re-do,” where the “crime scene” is re-inacted. But this time, with Mom’s coaching using the law of liberty, the child does the right thing; he makes a good choice; he speaks kind and edifying words.

Putting it all together, it looked like this for me: I made a commitment to STOP, LOOK, and ABIDE, in accordance with James 1:23-25.

I committed to STOP what I was doing when I heard my child speaking unkind words.

I then directed my child to LOOK at I Thessalonians 5:11. Together we discussed the Bible taught they had the power to encourage and build up their sister! Wow! And they did such a great job of doing this when they tried. This is the perfect law of liberty at work. It nourishes the soul.

Then I committed to ABIDE, to keep doing this each time it was needed, re-inacting the crime scene, only this time with good coaching and support from Mom for a better outcome.

We can be mothers who train our children to build lifestyles of transformation around the perfecting precepts of God.

James says this mother, and her children, “will be blessed in all she does.”

So…STOP, LOOK, ABIDE


Will the Levee Hold?

THE CAULDRON OF HOME LIFE BOILED OVER and I spilled too, making a mess and scalding little hearts and I wondered when I will ever get it right.

Evening came and so did the storms again, one right after another. We huddled together on the couch, listening to the sirens screech their warning and sang “Your Name is a strong and mighty tower….”

When the kids could stay up no longer, we put them to bed and risked turning on the computer to check the news.

“There’s been nothing like this,” they said, “one system after the other, with no breaks, no rest, no relief.”

From Mississippi to Ohio, the question’s on everyone’s mind:  “Will the levee’s hold?”

We can sandbag and pitch water with a pail, but we need those levees. We can minimize the loss, we can replace broken windows and clean up debris, but we need those levees to hold.

I finally fall into bed, storm tossed from the inside out, teary eyed and worn. I wonder how much more I can take of these storms that have been stretching one after another. These storms our family has been weathering going on four years now.

“Can You hear me, God?” I ask, and laugh at the absurdity of it. “Really hear me? Because I don’t know up from down anymore. I don’t know right from wrong, I have no idea what to do.”

Lightning flashes bright through the wood blinds and thunder shakes the light bulbs in the vanity. I beg a few hours sleep before my shift starts again.

In the morning I drive oldest to school. He is strangely quiet, except to ask, “Why is it so dark, Mom?”

“The storm clouds are so thick son, it blocks the sun. The beams can hardly get through.”

We pass by ponds swollen to overflowing, trees knocked down, see broken car windows.

Storms do their damage. Boiling cauldrons burn over.

We drive by the lake with the overflow tanks, the tanks that have been pumping water under the road to the back up pond for weeks. Even the overflow is backed up, unable to handle anymore. The water laps the edge of the road, hungry to devour pavement.

“Much more rain and this road is going to flood. They’re gonna have to close this road down.” I mutter it to myself. I feel my own backup tanks overflowing. I feel the flood waters lapping at the edges, the panic of being swept completely away.

I feel the maxed overflows and the stressed levees and the storms that won’t stop coming and the sirens that won’t stop screeching.

I wonder how much more I can take. I wonder if the levees will hold.

I drive home, back over the road that gets closed an hour later. I think of the white picket fence Christianity I had for so long. Oh, it looked good, girl. It looked good.

Then the storms started and pushed that thing clean over. There is nothing cute about me anymore, and maybe I’d mourn the loss except losing that version of Christianity wasn’t a bad thing…just shocking for others who looked at me and expected to see the white picket fence, perhaps.

As I ponder these things, open and bare before God, hidden no longer behind cute facades, I hear His voice, a rumble deep within, quite unexpectedly.

Your levee’s gonna hold, my girl. Your levee’s gonna hold.”

And He opens my eyes and I see so clearly the storms of testing, the tearing away of all worthless, the strengthening of the Foundation.

The Levee’s gonna hold.

The storm may leave some tossed trees. The overflow may max out, the boiling cauldron may spill over every now and then. The living room may flood and the roof get torn sheer off.

But the Levee’s gonna hold.

They call at 10am, saying roads are impassable and schools are closing. It was inevitable.

But the Levee’s gonna hold.

Right there in the middle of the storm, mingled with torrent of rain on a few inches of soaked soil on a planet spinning in perfect orbit, a few salty, grateful tears.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house, and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the Rock.” Matthew 7:24-25


Faces to Son

The storms move in and camp out and all week long the kids and I press faces to the window, looking for rainbows.

“The conditions are right,” I tell them.

And when the rain pauses, we run outside and search the skies like we’re on a treasure hunt.

We are.

We see billowing dark and low moving gray and patterns in the clouds. Every now and then, we see the majesty of the sun, faithful and steady, peeking through the dark.

We never do see our rainbow.

But what we see is that when our side of the world faces the sun, it’s always day. Even when the skies are dark and there are no rainbows.

“I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness…” John 8:12

Today I’ll turn face to the Son. With Him, it’s always day.


Waiting for Clothes

I drive oldest to school and wonder at the line of trees, stark naked, twigs bare, arms lifted to heaven.

I wonder if they feel it too, the ache for clothing.

There is a beauty to the unsheathed truth… the stripped foliage… the removal of leaves and berries and that which we measure output ~worth?~ by.

I’m like those trees, waiting for God to re-birth and re-bud and re-make and re-clothe.

And like those trees, I will not hide my starkness. I’ll not pretend to be something I’m not. I will not rush to be Spring when I am Winter yet. And I will stand tall, branches outstretched reaching in dark beauty for Heaven.

I will let Him strip me…of all our silly ideas about what beauty is. I will let Him de-leaf me…of all the worldly definitions of worth and value.

I will let Him take from me output and produce so that I can see that even without it, I stand. Grounded in Love.

I will let Him whisper that I ~ bare and unproductive ~ I, am what He is crazy about. Not what fluff I can come up with, not what I can do for Him, just me.

So as I wait for clothes, I will lift arms and rejoice in Creator who loves crazy and makes beautiful and imparts no shame.

I too, will be Winter unashamed.


Spiritual Habits for a New Day, A New Year

The old “me” wakes up anew every morning. She is always there, never on vacation and never out sick. She is full of insecurities, doubt, self-reliance, pride, anger, laziness, impure desires, selfishness. She would make me give up completely…if my hope was in her, but it isn’t.

My hope is in Christ, and in Christ, there is a new me. The old things are gone and I am a new creation and every morning when the old wakes up, I must lay it aside because I have learned from Christ that I can.

It starts in the mind. This is good, for that means it is not based on how I feel. It also means that it is a conscious choice I can either do or fail to do, and as I choose to do it, God can divinely help me in my weakness and can accomplish more than I ask or think (Eph 3:20-21)

{I’ve spent many years of my Christian life trying to clean up “me” and keep “me” trained and acting right… Until life squeezed more and more and I saw that I just could not keep “me” under control and I had to give up on me entirely and that was so scary, but that is when I discovered the truth, that there is a new me altogether, an identity and person in Christ that cannot be found at all in the old me. So every day when the old me wakes up strong…and she does… I must find the path back to Christ where the new me lives and that path is becoming more and more familiar, more and more worn, and –hopefully- is becoming my daily habit. }

This is a special path in that it can only be walked by faith, for the just shall live by faith. Walking it without faith will not take me to my new identity. In that case it becomes merely a checklist, a set of Christian “works” that have the appearance of godliness but deny the power thereof. That is not what I’m after.

To walk this path by faith, I must not rush through or hurry along, thinking I’m familiar enough with it to not need it again. I will never spiritually outgrow this. Each day I must savor. Sense. Believe afresh.

The path begins with being rooted and grounded in God’s love (Eph 3:17) for this is the key to being filled up to all the fullness of God (Eph 3:19). God’s love tells me that I can have Him anyway…even though I’m not good at this and I’m a sinner, a flop, a mess…I can have Him anyway. If the sun came up today, then I can count on His love because the sun is the sign of His covenant with us. It means that His mercies are new and His covenant still stands.

He is love and we are the loved.

The path then takes me to understanding the will of the Lord. He wants me to stand fully assured in all His will for me. Whatever difficult things are in my life today, I must stand fully assured in them, confident that His intentions are good towards me in these things, that his favor and blessing are upon me in them, though they be painful or hard. I must grasp that His provisions are grace and peace and I can stand fully assured.

Finally, the path takes me to the place of laying hold. He’s got a hold of me and won’t let go and it is my part to make every effort to lay hold of that for which I was laid hold of. Not to earn or to boast in self effort, but as a result of faith in all His bountiful goodness directed, daily and continually at me! WONDER!

From these 3 practices, I see 3 postures that can aid in beginning my day. I need all the help I can get and starting my day with routine, spiritual habits, helps keep me on the right track, helps keep me focused on the one thing.

3 Postures that Aid in Developing 3 Spiritual habits:

KNEEL– Kneeling symbolizes “Being rooted and grounded in God’s love.” Only the humble see their need for God’s love and present their dry roots to His soil for Life. Kneel before Love to humbly accept His love in spite of unworthiness, for love is not based on worth.

STAND– Stand fully assured. Speak aloud the confidence God desires me to have in my “today.” Pray aloud, “Lord, I stand fully assured of Your will for me in …. Today.” “I know the plans You have for me are good, for my wellbeing.” “I know I am not appointed for stumbling.” “Help me today to stand fully assured.”

REACH UP– Outstretched hands represent Laying Hold. This communicates my intentions to grasp ahold of all God’s grace and provisions that He has granted us (II Peter 1:3, II Cor 9:8) according to the power that works within. This is the humble declaration of desire not to fall short of the grace of God but to live and walk as beloved children, worthy of our calling, to keep our mind set on the things above where our life is hidden with Christ. It symbolizes diligence in exercising our spiritual senses.

“The root of all virtue and grace, of all faith and acceptable worship, is that we know that we have nothing but what we receive, and bow in deepest humility to wait upon God for it.” Andrew Murray

Click here for a printable bookmark to use all year long. Just print, cut to desired size, laminate, and grow all year: 3 Postures for 3 Habits

This post is linked to Ann’s Walk with Him Wednesday. Please check out the others who are posting on this topic. Also, join me here for an ongoing series this year in training our spiritual senses. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking here.