Friday, July 16, 2010

Up, Up, and Away!

Unto You I lift up my eyes,
O You who dwell in the heavens. Psalm 123:1

Up I went...into the clouds of His faithfulness. A scared child reaching out to grasp tightly her Father's hand. As I clung to him, I opened the book  (God A Good Father by Michael Phillips) I had previously tucked in my purse, and read these words -

      Chapter 1: The Instinct To Look Up

          "Deep within every mortal heart lies a created hunger for the heavenly mountains of God's presence. All of us, from our infancy, have silently wondered what lies on the slopes above the mist, hidden from view...up where God dwells."

      How timely those words were that day. God knew I would be on the airplane, even if I hadn't reminded Him a hundred times. He knew I would be afraid, because I don't like to fly, so He gave me a book to comfort remind me that He was with me, and that He was a good Father.

      It was a last minute take a book (but He knew I would think of it), I pulled a few off the shelf the day before my flight and thumbed through them. One had been there for several years. I confess, it was borrowed, and I should have given it back long ago. I would never promote the habit of borrowing books and not returning them, nor do I think it's right to shift the blame to someone else for me keeping the book, but in this particular case I have to say - it was God!

      The reason I know it was Him is because I found His fingerprints all over it. He had been leaving a trail for me to follow that led me straight to it. The touch of His Spirit on my heart during prayer time, and pointing out words of confirmation in scripture, were His ways of sprinkling little snippets of Truth across my path over and over again, leading my thoughts in a certain direction. He was weaving a theme throughout my days - to trust Him and seek a place with Him that goes higher than my look up!

      When I first opened the book I read this introduction, " I would like to invite you on a journey, an inner quest out of the valleys and low places of our spiritual abodes to the high mountains..." As I continued through the introduction, phrases kept jumping out at me like, "gaze upward toward the mountain tops of your faith,...I invite you to join an adventure that will lead to wider vistas and broader outlooks than are possible from the lowlands." Hm, it was sounding a lot like the things God had been teaching me over the weeks leading up to my trip. To leave the lowlands, where I felt comfortable, and seek a higher place with Him, out of my comfort zone.

      That is when it hit me - My spiritual life is similar to the way I plan a trip. There are certain things I'm afraid of doing and they prevent me from experiencing the full reality of who God is. Will I take His hand and move forward if it requires an airplane or will I limit my journey with Him to transportation closer to the ground?  Is He God, or is He not? If I believe He is, then I must also believe that He holds everything - EVERYTHING, in His mighty hands.

      I was finding myself within the metaphors of this book in a very literal way. God was inviting me on an adventure that required me to leave the lowlands of my faith and trust Him. I closed the cover and noticed the clouds on the paper jacket - perfect! I knew without a doubt this was the book I was to take, so I pushed it down in my purse, along with a pack of gum and a granola bar.

     After boarding the plane I sat there like a hostage of fear. I wasn't able to sit with my husband due to
booking our flights at the last minute. Instead I was sandwiched in between two ladies who pretended I wasn't there. I'm sure it was part of God's plan (He wanted me all to Himself). As I sat there alone and apparently invisible, His presence became very real to me. We left the ground, and I gripped His hand tighter as we took turns reminding each other of His faithfulness, then I began reading the book.

      He taught me that sometimes this journey is going to involve trusting Him with areas of fear and moving (or flying) past them, to get beyond the lowlands to a higher place with Him. The airplane, the book...all tools to remind me who He is - God. There are things He wants to teach me about Himself; that He is Faithful, Loving, and All Powerful. If I had a choice, I would have chosen to learn those lessons without flying through a thunderstorm, but my Father always does things with such flair!

"I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness,
and I will hold your hand;..." Isaiah 42:6

Friday, July 9, 2010

Picking the Lock


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding,
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJ)

      You have probably heard the saying- When God closes a door, He opens a window. But have you ever gone through times when you felt like the doors and windows in your life were shut tight, and you were locked in a room getting nowhere? I have experienced this feeling before, and I must admit, I didn't take it very well. At first, I banged on the door with my prayers, thinking if I got louder God would hear me and open the door. Then, when that didn't work, I ran to the window (the one that was supposed to be opening) and tried to look out. I wanted to see what I was missing out there, and then I tried to open the window myself. After all, doesn't God help those who help themselves? - Another popular saying NOT in the bible.

      It didn't take long for panic to set in - "Oh no, I'm locked in this room with no way out!" That's when I took out the feeble tools of my limited understanding and tried to use them to pick the lock on the door, determined to get myself out. - "How could God want me in this room?" I reasoned. "Everything important is going on out there, not in here." I told myself. "Why wouldn't God want me to move forward? My dreams are out there!"

      Finally, realizing I could do nothing to open the door, I gave up and sat down. From that lowly place on the floor I looked up. That's when I saw what I had missed before. The direction God wanted to lead me wasn't out but up, toward Him. As I sought Him and His will for my life, the light of His Word filled the room and revealed what had been there all along; a staircase, and at the top an open door. I hadn't noticed it before - until I looked up.

      I didn't have to pick the lock or beat frantically on the door. I didn't need to desperately search for an open window, because He had already prepared a way out of the room and all it required was for me to sit down and look to Him (to be still and know that He was God). My hopes and dreams were not on the other side of a locked door, they were resting in His hands.

      The time spent in the room taught me things about God I pray I will never forget. That His plans for our lives never lead out until they lead up. If I reach for the handle of a door and find it locked, I need to step back (let go of the knob) and look to Him for direction.

      If you happen to find yourself behind a locked door, don't look for a window, look for God. You might want to have a seat on the floor, lean your head back and look up - God has already planned your way out, and it won't require picking the lock!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Independence or Dependence

  "You, my brothers, were called to be free.
But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature;
 rather serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13

      This weekend we celebrate our nations Independence Day. For all who live in this beautiful land and enjoy it's many blessings, it's a special time of remembrance. A time to remember those brave men who put their lives on the line by signing the Declaration of Independence; declaring our nation free from British rule.

      Most of the men who signed that document had already made another declaration. Not signed on paper with pen and ink, but signed in their hearts. They demonstrated by the way they lived their lives and the way they gave glory to God for their victories, that they were men dependant on God.

      Our country has been through a lot of trials since the Declaration of Independence was signed. Looking back over time with eyes opened by spiritual understanding, we can see God's hand throughout our history - moving on behalf of a country dependant on Him. He holds our future just like He held our past. Will we declare our dependence on Him?

      This July 4th and every other day, let's remember why He set us free - to be a light for Him in a dark world, to live lives free from sin, and serve one another in love. On Independence Day let's recommit ourselves to being wholly dependant on Him.

      Whom the Son has set free, is free indeed!