Quiet Time

It is 4AM on a Monday.  It is a crisp, cool October morning and I am up. I could be snuggled up beside my son and husband in bed.  I could also take advantage of the silence and get some house cleaning done. Or, I could get a head start on my to-do list for the day ( pay bills, pump breast milk, do my hair, grocery shop, etc.).  But this morning, I’m choosing to spend it with God.

What I should say is that God chose me.  Ever since I was in college, I’ve been waking up some mornings between the hours of 3AM and 5AM. At first, I didn’t know why it was happening.  I was angry because either I had gone out the night before and had an early class, or I had just ended an all-nighter trying to finish a paper, or I was too exhausted from the day-to-day extracurriculars that I would appreciate a solid night of sleep.  Then, I don’t know how it happened, but I started to write. I may have been listening to some worship music to help get me through a paper, when the inspiration to write hit me. The only way I can describe it is that I felt as though if I didn’t get these words on the computer or piece of paper that I was going to explode.  The Lord gave me words of encouragement.  I was hesitant to share it with others, but I soon found out that these words are not just meant for myself.  Other people could be inspired by this as well.  God was using me to encourage others through a gift of writing that I didn’t even believe that I had.

On the mornings when I try to ignore this overwhelming feeling, I cannot go back to sleep and end up more tired than when I began. 

When we are too busy, but God wants to speak with us, God will interrupt our routine. Sometimes we are too enthralled in our own lives, that we forget to make time for Him.  But when He has a purpose for your life, there is no getting around it. Yesterday at church, we learned how God used dreams and visions throughout the Bible to speak to people. God desires intimacy with us. Nothing is more intimate than one-on-one, uninterrupted conversation with the Lord.  Sometimes this is done through dreams and visions, and other times it is done in the wee hours of the morning/during the night.

The Word says,

Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
    you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
    bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
    always in blossom.”

Psalm 1: 2-3 MSG

And also, “And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” Joshua 1:8-9 MSG

When I am moved by the Holy Spirit and in the presence of God, it is undeniable.  The weight of His glory is so heavy and the urgency of this task is so great.  I have to write then and there.

Today, I desire a good night’s rest even more than I did in college, especially since becoming a mother to an almost 5 month old. But, I have learned to value this time with God.  I actually look forward to our time of intimacy, and I learn something about myself and about the Lord every time.  After it is all done, I have a sense of peace and I feel spiritually full.  Without this one-on-one time, I feel off, like something is missing. I only post these words as instruction from Him. I have always prayed to be privileged enough that the Lord use me.  I can’t be picky. So, when I’m awakened suddenly and the Lord speaks to me, I pop up and get right to work, no matter how tired I am.

How has the Lord been trying to create intimate time with you lately? How willing are you to be used by Him, whatever hour that He decides to call you?

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Rich Simplicity

“A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God.  Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough.” 1 Timothy 6: 6-8

One day, while talking with my coworkers, I casually mentioned that my husband gave a sermon the previous Sunday.  There had been a bad snow storm and all of those attending that Sunday could fit on one church pew.  One coworker said, “That’s ok. One day he’ll have lots of church members and drive around in a Mercedes”. I immediately replied, “That would be nice, but we don’t NEED all that”.

I’m thankful that I’m at a place in my walk where I can be satisfied knowing that most of my treasures are being stored up in heaven.  I’m still tempted to look left and right and desire things that I do not have.  However, as a believer, I know that nothing here on Earth will satisfy any desire I might have.

I know not to reject anything that God chooses to bless me with.  These are great opportunities for God to get the glory.  But, we can’t bring any of these material things with us when we die.  It’s better to store up our treasures in heaven for eternity, rather than store up earthly treasures that can be stolen, rusted, burned, molded and destroyed (Matt 6:20).

God promises devout believers a type a wealth without expiration date or chance of depreciation.  The Bible doesn’t explicitly say what these treasures will be, but we can learn how to obtain them.  Every time we do something selfless with God in mind we are building up His kingdom and our treasures in Heaven.  Our “treasures” on Earth pale in comparison to those in heaven.  He will give us exactly what we need and nothing more in order to make us fully rely on Him.  Bread to eat and shoes for travel are all we need to fulfill our purposes here on Earth. Anything else is an added bonus.

It’s really hard to believe in this type of message if you are struggling.  When we struggle, we often build up a wall against God, blaming Him for our misfortune.  It’s important to let that wall down and let God in.

Think of any relationship you’ve had with a friend or significant other.  Remember how freeing it was to finally trust that person and let them in to every intimate detail of your life?  Remember discovering the true worth of that relationship when you could be yourself and not worry about judgement or abandonment?  God wants this type of intimacy, but on a much deeper level.  He wants us to trust Him with every aspect of our lives.  Humans have limited perception and require details and tangible evidence before trusting anything.  It will be hard to trust God at first because He is impossible to see on a physical level.  Once you start to read His Word and be in constant conversation with Him through prayer, bit by bit you’ll start to see that He is more real than anything else.  His presence will become so big, that He’ll fill any void that we might have.

Creative Survival

“Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.” Luke 16:8-9

The show Survivor forces contestants out of their comfort zone.  It is interesting to witness people who were once plump and well groomed become rail thin after being subjected to the elements.  The lack of food and everyday conveniences push people to desperation. Those determined to survive get creative.

God wants us to do the same.  Life in America gives us plenty of comforts.  Most of us can drive to get food, we have shelter, and a support system.  We read the Bible and have difficulty relating to stories of persecution and martyrdom.  Therefore, it is tempting to water-down the Gospel to “do good things and you will be ok”.  How does God get any glory in that?

When we do face adversity, it is easier to curse God because we fail to recognize His hand in the little things. Our privilege sometime prevents opportunities for God to show Himself strong.

“And then he prayed, “God, I’m asking for two things before I die; don’t refuse me…Give me enough food to live on, neither too much nor too little.  If I’m too full, I might get independent, saying, ‘God? Who needs him?’ If I’m poor, I might steal and dishonor the name of my God’.” Proverbs 30:8-9

Jesus instructs us to get creative with our survival.  We should stop relying on worldly ideas of security (wealth, education, and employment) and creatively use our gifts to know Him more intimately and bring others to the kingdom.  John the Baptist only had camel skin for clothing and honey and locusts for food while preparing others for the coming of the Messiah (Matt 3:4).

I’m not telling you to quit your job and sell all your belongings (unless you hear God telling you to do so). But, we should anticipate trials (i.e job loss) as opportunities to creatively seek God and use our talents in a manner that doesn’t glorify ourselves.  Just like the corrupt manager in the parable found ways to support himself, we should use our God-given talents to reach others.  None of this life experience is about us.  Our lives, our gifts, and our trials and triumphs should all be used to glorify God.

Tiny trophies, Magnificent love

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I came across this post on Instagram this morning and giggled to myself. This is SO me! My phone has threatened to shutdown several times in order to free up the space it needs to run properly. Can anyone else relate? Maybe it’s the fact that we realize how fast our kids are growing that we hope to pause time with our photos. I’m a sentimental person, so I love reminiscing about the old days and finding forgotten treasures or letters from the past. But, I’m also incredibly proud of every single accomplishment Coltrane achieves. These photos are like tiny trophies for each milestone.

When I think about this aspect of my relationship with my son, I think about my relationship with the Father. I imagine Him being immensely proud of every hurdle that we jump with His help. Seeing a child struggle is never easy,  but witnessing an increase in his or her endurance and strength is worth the discomfort. If we’re able to take pride in our children and love them immensely while only being able to forsee a small part of their lives at a time, imagine the full love of our Father who sees us as we were created to be! Thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. I get overwhelmed sometimes thinking about my love for Coltrane, but it is only a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the LOVE Christ has for us. Romans 8:38-39 MSG says, “None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”

We are not worthy of this love, but He loves us anyway. That alone is worthy of praise!

I thank God for the opportunity to make memories with my son. I also thank Him for using this relationship to further understand my relationship with the Father. What a magnificent love!

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