What Do You See in the Ordinary?

It’s the ordinary days that make it hardest to persevere, sometimes. The day-in, day-out unending of a burden that erodes faith a grain at a time, wears away the edges of what you know and who you are till the least upheaval could topple you right over. Maybe it’s the way we are wired, as humans, to rally in a crisis, and be ready to resolve it quickly– it’s the ongoing little stresses that often get the better of us. It takes focus to keep walking in faith through the mundane, the unresolvable, and every small choice that confounds us.

It reminds me of a saying I heard once that “the devil is in the details,” meaning that the details that you ignore are the ones that will make the whole project go up in flames in the end. True in business and event planning, and true in life as well. Sometimes the most important details are quite small and ordinary, and could escape notice entirely. It is what our Enemy, the devil, is counting on, so that in the end a whole life could blow away like smoke before you realize. Ironically enough, it is also in the everyday wearing-down details that you can find the devil whispering that you are stuck here, that you aren’t good-enough strong-enough smart-enough, that there is no purpose to this endless maze, that you may as well give up because it’s just too hard to keep trying. And so Peter warns in his letter, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

However, the saying is relatively new in society, and for a hundred years before, the original phrase also spoke truth to people’s hearts: “God is in the detail.” Pay attention to the details because there is significance and beauty and meaning there that you won’t want to miss. The God who made the billions of stars and hangs them in their places, calls them by name…the God who made the billions of fish in the sea, all colors and shapes and some of them so deep that they are never seen…the God who knows when every wild animal is about to give birth…the God who weaves together each of us and knows all our days before we are even born….Yes, of course we can see Him in the details, because He made all the details, down to the last atom. And here in the details of my day it makes all the difference to know that He is present and active– nothing too small and mundane for Him  to care about. If I could just keep my eyes on that, how would it transform the ordinary into something More?

Knowing what to look at is truly the secret of persevering. Like the letter writers of the New Testament said over and over again to the early believers suffering persecution: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) Keep looking at the glory to come and keep on walking each day in obedience, not just through times of crisis, but through all the little aggravations of ordinary life and the unresolved burdens we wake up with day after day. Pay attention to the big picture and it changes the way you see the ordinary details. Pay attention to the ordinary details and do them well, and the big picture falls into place. God is in the detail.

And it’s odd, but when you learn to fix your heart’s eyes on what is unseen, you begin to see all kinds of details you never noticed before, in the world around you, as if spiritual sight and physical sight were connected– and maybe it is supposed to be that way. Even the most ordinary details are woven through with threads of glory, glimmers of the One who made them, and an undercurrent of spiritual cause and effect running beneath all we do, the movement of the Spirit affecting the ordinary in remarkable ways that are easy to miss if you are not looking.

So I look for God in the details, ask for opened eyes-of-the-heart to see His face and hear His voice in the ordinary days. Devotional writer Sarah Young expresses it well when she talks about how to keep from falling in a world of fast-changing circumstances: “The only way to keep your balance is to fix your eyes on [Him], the One who never changes. If you gaze too long at your circumstances, you will become dizzy and confused. Look to [Him], refreshing yourself in [His] Presence, and your steps will be steady and sure.” (Jesus Calling) Not only stability is in that focus, but joy, peace, thankfulness, hope– all that overflows from being conscious of His constant presence and help. That’s where strength comes from. That’s how we persevere through another ordinary day.

 

“The dawning of each new day is a gift from Me, not to be taken for granted. The earth is vibrantly alive with My blessings, giving vivid testimony to My Presence. If you slow down your pace of life, you can find Me anywhere.” (Jesus Calling, Sarah Young)

 

“I am thankful for right now. God, I AM is present in this moment, and in His presence is fullness of joy.” (Ann VosKamp)

Keep on Walking

An oil painting hangs in my living room, in a heavy gold frame.  The foreground is dark forest, with tall trees obscuring the sky, but there is a path winding away into distant light that streams through the branches. An older friend who was a painter showed up in my kitchen with it, years ago, and gave it to me, said she called it Walk Toward The Light. The painting has hung on my wall ever since, a visual representation of Hope. It is one of my favorite possessions.

I can see how that particular theme of perseverance and following the light has threaded its way through the years, become part of me and shaped my perspectives. At the time, my friend was struggling with a difficult marriage to an unbelieving husband… I was struggling with the pressures of ministry and preschoolers, fighting depression…together we leaned on Jesus and encouraged one another to keep on going. And that one thought took up residence through the years, an anchor for the heart: Don’t focus on the dark trees of despair, but on the light of His love….You don’t need to understand these circumstances, just walk in the light of His guidance, one step at a time…. In the midst of pain hold onto the strength of the One who is Mighty to save….Wait for the Lord, wait for Him to act, and put your hope in Him, because He is faithful….When other voices confuse and batter at your heart, look for God’s Truth shining clear. Keep walking toward the Light.

We talked about persevering last night in small group, about the constant need to trust and keep walking– every time we meet pain or difficulty or disappointment it is a crossroads of decision, an opportunity to choose faith, to choose hope, to choose obedience. To keep walking into the Light of God, out of the-darkness-all-around and into new life, into a deeper relationship with Him. Every situation is a question: Can you trust Me with this? Do you believe that I AM WHO I AM and that I am the same yesterday and today and forever? Do you truly believe that I am Goodness itself and have your best interests in mind? Because you can’t keep walking in this life if you can’t plant your feet on something that solid– and until you take the first baby steps you can’t learn to run strong and proclaim to the watching world that your faith is real and there is a God who deserves all the glory. So start with the step in front of you and then keep on going.

One of my favorite old hymns is Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus (Helen Lemmel)– in a way it is the musical version of my painting: “O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, and life more abundant and free.” That’s what enables us to find the lighted path through the forest: We focus on Jesus who persevered through this world and finished well, who promises to never leave us or forsake us, and tells us to lean on Him for strength. This is the one important lesson to learn if we are going to keep our faith strong through the upheavals and stresses of living.

It is no accident that the New Testament writers made perseverance a recurring theme, encouraged their readers to keep walking into the Light of Christ. They knew exactly how hard this world gets and how our minds and hearts can get turned around and overwhelmed in the dark, how easy it is to lose sight of Hope. And I read their letters and think again of the old refrain…“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”  Keep walking toward His light, dear sisters, for in His presence there is joy, and hope that will not disappoint.

 

 

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

 

“Child of My love, lean hard,
And let Me feel the pressure of thy care;
I know thy burden, child. I shaped it;
Poised it in Mine Own hand; made no proportion
In its weight to thine unaided strength
For even as I laid it on, I said,
‘I shall be near, and while she leans on Me,
This burden shall be Mine, not hers;
So shall I keep My child within the circling arms
Of My Own love.’ Here lay it down, nor fear
To impose it on a shoulder which upholds
The government of worlds. Yet closer come;
Thou art not near enough. I would embrace thy care; 
So I might feel My child reposing on My breast.
Thou lovest Me? I knew it. Doubt not then;
But loving Me, lean hard.”

(Streams In the Desert, September 12th devotion)

Approaching Sunday

Here I am on Your doorstep,
With all my earthly belongings–
Nothing more than daily graces;
All I have is Yours,
And this my only home.
I’d rather stand on Your porch
Than go build a palace of stone:
I am dust to dust, clay to clay,
So I will stand before You,
Clutching grace
With both hands,
And be satisfied with Your presence.

 

 

“A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.” (Psalm 84:10 NLT)

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

“Thank you, thank you for saying that! God sent you to me today!” she said with the intensity of a proclamation, and stopped in the middle of her work-out to give me a tearful hug. I was dumbfounded. Really? The music picked us up again and we kept pounding out the beat while my mind wondered over our conversation, looking for the words that meant so much to her, and all I could think of was what a humble blessing when God uses you unaware.

I knew her only casually, as another mom-of-young-adults, a bond that made us look for one another through the crowd at the gym, and ask about our fledglings occasionally. Today we happened to be the only two there in a lull of activity and before I knew it a question about who would be home over Easter turned into a heart-spilling of anxious concern for decisions being made, and all I did was share what I am learning: that the burden isn’t ours to carry any more, that God is faithful to work in our daughters’ lives as He has always done for us. Truth that bolsters my heart, and shouldn’t His goodness be shared? Such a small thing to offer, multiplied to abundance received by His Spirit.

It never ceases to amaze me how God puts the puzzle pieces together, and how He turns His making of us into blessing for others, so that the struggles of one heart can encourage another, all of us woven together in unexpected ways, and His Resurrection life still flowing outward from the Cross. It is the mysterious way the Body of Christ works when each part is fitted together as He chooses, each part different but necessary, and Him the Head. It is how we share the Good News with others– just living in His grace and telling what He is doing in our own hearts, because other hearts are hungry in ways we don’t even know.

We sing that old song with the children upstairs on Sunday mornings, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine” and maybe we need to bring it downstairs to the men and women too. Who knows how God might use each willing part of the Body to pour out this Resurrection Life everywhere?

 

 

“My future hangs on this: You make preciousness from dust,
Please don’t stop creating me…
Oh, Your cross, it changes everything…”
(Second Chance, Rend Collective Experiment)

 

 

‘Tis the Season

There’s something about Spring that makes us want to shake off the old and paint everything bright and new. It’s a cyclical thing, this restless itch to take down the curtains and vacuum into corners and redecorate the bedroom. Fortunately, just noticing the recurrence of that effect keeps me from spending boatloads of money on re-doing the house every year. I really do like my home and feel comfortable in it, so I can content myself with a thorough cleaning and rearranging, knowing it is just the change of seasons at work.  But that inner energy is worth harnessing, can be useful elsewhere if I am not afraid to let it root into dark closets and throw up the shades on musty rooms of the soul.

A youth pastor from the UK wrote in his devotional this week that the seasons of our life are valuable, even purposeful– orchestrated by God to do much-needed housecleaning in our minds and hearts. He pointed out that when circumstances change radically in the everyday, it forces us out of the mind-numbing routine, jolts us out of the ruts we tend to wear down into life. New seasons “awaken our spiritual values…challenge us with the realities of life and death…help us to look at our Christian commitment and connection…help us look at what God would have us do with our lives.” An energizing opportunity, if we can accept it for that.

The One who set the sun and stars in space and decreed that seasons change; the One who keeps the world turning in its place, and the miracle chain of life and death at work in sea and earth and sky– He is the One who holds my days and knows every one of them. Dare I believe that He marks this season of my life with just as much purpose and design? King David wrote it down: “How precious to me are your thoughts,God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.” (Psalm 139:17-18) 

What if the season of life we are going through right now is God’s opportunity to speak to us, shake out the curtains and open up the closets of our hearts, set some issues of life and death before us? What is here for me to learn, in the busyness…or the solitude…or the seeking…or the pain? What do I need to grieve and let go of, so that something else can live? And what if all the painful digging up is only loosening the soil of my heart for something new to grow, shifting the boundaries of my little world to stretch it bigger? If I could open up the eyes of my spirit to see the Wind of change blowing through, could I catch a glimpse of His purposes for me, of what He wants to accomplish in me?

We rest in the faith that You are at work through every long Winter, and it will again pass into Spring; we hold on to the hope that Spring will come and new life will sprout under life-giving rain. “You, God, are my God,earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1) Stir up our souls till we long for You to make everything new, in this season of life that comes from Your hand.

 

“Peace be still, You are near;
There’s nowhere we can go
That You won’t shine redemption’s light,
Our guilt withdrawn.

As You rise, we come alive;
The grave has lost, the old is gone,
And You’re making all things new…” 
(All Things New,Elevation Worship)

Seize My Heart

Now that we are talking about strength it jumps out at me everywhere. A devotional I read this week contained a line from one of the Shepherd-King’s songs: “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14 (NLT)

Maybe it is the season, but I keep thinking about people waiting, and the strength it takes. Not to do the waiting itself, but to keep the heart whole and not despair. To abide–set up a tent– in the presence of God and stay there for the duration, stay focused on His plans and purposes by faith while the days drag on with no resolution. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

When I look at these women waiting in faith for husbands to turn to Jesus… for children to make wise decisions… for babies they haven’t met yet in faraway countries but already counted as belonging… for answers to “what comes next in life?”…I see focused faith that holds on to God with all their might, because Who else is out there who listens and helps those who wait for Him? It is a kind of desperation of the heart, perhaps, but really when it comes to the deep heart-cries, all that matters is that Someone is listening and Someone has the ability to do something about it.

And when the time drags long and hope falters, and even the fiercest faith burns low, it is His own voice that whispers inside that we are not forgotten: “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait….” Let your heart take courage– the word is hazaq, and in its root form it means to seize, to fasten upon, to make strong. It’s what women do with the strength of desperation. It’s what God does for us when we can’t hold on ourselves– fastens onto us so we won’t fall, can’t slip away into despair– His own strength that circles all around when you could just drop right there and not try any more: “The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)

I keep reading on down the list of definitions… to heal, repair, make whole… and somehow it is all tying back into Easter. For Christ has come, not just to be with us, but to save us: to repair these sin-bent hearts, to heal these wounds that run so deep, and make us new people that can believe and hope and live in Resurrection strength.

So we will pray for our sisters-in-waiting. We will live in His presence and let our hearts be repaired day by day by the One who makes us strong. And we will keep on waiting, until we see His power at work in our lives. “For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like You, who works for those who wait for Him!” (Isaiah 64:4 NLT)

 

 

 

“Hope is found: You are here.
Our hearts forever sealed
By this love that came for us–
Now we are Yours.

As You rise, we come alive;
The grave has lost, the old is gone,
And You’re making all things new…”
(All Things New, Elevation Worship)

 

Standing Still

The one line from John Milton that has stayed with me since college is the last line of the sonnet On His Blindness. The famous poet scholar wondered what God would require of his life, in light of his disability, and the patience he has learned reminds him that God doesn’t need his labor or his abilities, but is served best by surrendered hearts…“They also serve who only stand and wait.” And he kept on writing, producing by dictation the poetic works that would be his literary legacy to the world. To a young adult studying literature with high hopes and a suitcase full of goals, it slowed and stilled the air like a prayer; although I could not fully appreciate Milton’s wisdom till much later in life, it planted a seed of Truth in my spirit. Weakness bowing down before God, building an altar of worship from the broken pieces of a heart– this was all that was required, and everything He wanted from a man.

I looked up wait as I was studying this week,and wrote it down: “stay stationary in readiness or expectation”… and I remembered Milton. Because when I am waiting on God’s answers, usually staying right here is the last thing I want to do– that is the very reason I am calling out to Him, and I would rather move anywhere than here. But then I would not be ready for Him to move, would not be here to see what He will do for me in this place. Trusting God means knowing when it is time for me to stop trying, being willing to wait and accept where I am, knowing He is present and powerful in any circumstance.

Webster’s goes on: “Remain temporarily neglected…” and that catches me off guard completely. That small phrase captures all kinds of meaning. Again the staying put in a difficult place, a hard choice to do the hard thing. Neglected calls up Milton again, and his lonely descent into blindness before he turned sixty. But it is the word in between that says it all, the reason for the remaining and the answer to the thing left unused: temporarily. Because when you are waiting on an eternal God, all these earthly things are temporary, only a flash in the face of Forever, and the waiting does not seem so very long any more. The Apostle Paul breathed it this way: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

And Webster finishes with the best one yet: “to serve someone” and it almost makes me laugh aloud at the delicious irony. Webster was thinking of waiting on someone’s needs, a servant or a waiter at a table. John Milton saw it too, only he was looking deeper. To wait upon God is to serve Him, but not by meeting physical needs. To wait upon God is to show Him complete and utter trust, to surrender my wishes to His, my timetable to His eternal plans. And if He wills for me to stand and wait, then I serve Him by doing just that with a peaceful heart, no matter what the hindrances are that force me to a standstill. “He also serves who only stands and waits.”

Funny the lessons that stick with you through the years, and how they grow as you do. I have a much greater appreciation for Milton’s words now than I did thirty-some years ago, understand more of what it cost him to make that declaration of surrender as an aging and impoverished writer, depending on others for the outlet of his brilliant mind. But I am still learning to listen and do what is mine to do; still learning to trust Him to weave His plans together, still learning to wait patiently for His timing. Learning to be still and know that He is God.

 

 

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.” (Psalm 130:5-6)

 

“When God brings a blank space, see that you do not fill it in, but wait.” (Oswald Chambers)

 

Hope Rises

It goes against everything we know, to treasure our broken places. From the time we are born we are told to try harder, do better, and we admire the capable, the beautiful, the successful, especially the ones who are strong where we are not. So we build on our strengths and work on our weaknesses and repeat to each other that “you can accomplish anything if you set your mind to it”…and “if you can dream it, you can do it.”

But what exactly are we working towards anyway, and what is the prize? This dusty whirlwind we are caught in could run us ragged and weary, and we could all howl long through the ages with Wise King Solomon: “Everything is meaningless…completely meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Would it be so horrible to just let go, to admit that we are only Dust and Breath and falling far short of perfect? Stop the pretense and sit quietly awhile before God, just as we are and empty-handed? Despair and hope are sometimes two sides of a coin, and can flip just about as quickly.

We talked about God’s strength in our small group, how it comes to us in our weakness, not just to supply our need but because of our need.  How when we use up all our own resources, and clear away the clutter of anxious trying, then there is space for Him– His very Presence utterly enough for every need, making up for what is lacking, and His glory spills out everywhere. The word is episkenoo…dwell in, make a home in. The weak place in my life I do not want becomes His own dwelling place and grace is poured out on empty hands and we become rich in His strength. Ordinary pots of earthenware, rough-shaped and cracked through everyday use, but brimful with Heaven’s light.

No wonder Jesus said we look at all the wrong things and Paul, seeing far with his eyes fixed on eternity, could say “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9)….make a home in me. God isn’t interested in being a convenience store clerk to dutifully trot out whatever we may need for the moment, and then go about His own business and stay out of our way until we need Him again. He is looking for living temples to inhabit and make His own. “So let hope rise, and darkness tremble in His holy light, and every eye will see Jesus, our God, great and mighty to be praised.” (With Everything, Hillsong United)

 

 

“Because God exchanges dust and ashes for beauty and miracles and He cares so much that He doesn’t care that it’s not fair…. God raises whole people out of ashes and He writes mysterious grace in dust, and with Him, dust and spit and muddied things can still help us see.”  Ann VosKamp

 

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary;   His understanding is unsearchable.” (Isaiah 40:28)

In All These Hard Ways

I’ve been wrestling with this for a few weeks now…how can I fix it, change it, see it a new way, make it work somehow…and what parts of this equation am I even capable of affecting? Good to think through, but that is the crux of the matter: what I can and cannot control. Overwhelming, what all is out there at the mercy of others’ whims, and the waves of circumstance. It scares me and a whole army of emotions rise up to defend such weakness, and what wouldn’t I give to be strong enough to take charge and change the shape of what is? It seems counter-intuitive to say with the Apostle Paul, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” (2 Corinthians 11:30) But I am trying, doing the few small things that are within my circle of responsibility, and reminding myself to be okay with the rest of the tangle and my helplessness, to patiently follow and await God’s resolution.

My nephew is riding his bike across the country again, this time with a flock coming along behind, young adults searching for who they are becoming, on the backroads of America. The week he set off I remarked that leading small groups is at times rather like herding butterflies, and he laughed, and then shared his trepidation– this twenty-something wondering if he had what it took to lead others in such an undertaking. I thought of telling him that it was doubtful. That God has a way of calling the apparently unsuitable (ask any of the shepherds, crooked accountants, fishermen, and religiously uptight in the gospel narratives), that God delights in displaying His abundant resources when we run dry, that in following where God calls he will be shaped into the man who could lead others….but somehow the timing didn’t seem right for any of that. Instead, I told him I would pray for him as he goes.

It’s yet another paradox of the Christian faith-journey that learning to lead requires learning to follow, and both require strength. Both require giving up control and being content there. Both require a Source of strength that is not your own.

It’s been over a month on the road now, and my nephew wrote this week about learning to face unwelcome emotions and letting God meet him there, instead of trying to outrun the misery or fix it any way he can. He said how it seemed like doing nothing about the situation, but really it was doing Something most important: meeting God, and building relationship with the One who knows him best inside. I thought again of Paul writing, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” 2 Corinthians 4:9-10) Our weakness, if we can name it and accept it, opens the door for God to apply His strength to the equation, shape what exists to His reality and make it something new. “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

It is as clear as day, repeated over and over again, that when I can admit my utter need and ask for God’s help, His abundance is ready to be poured out for me. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) It is as clear as day that the First Sin runs deep and strong through us, still trying to order the world to our liking by our own efforts, as if we were the Creator rather than the created, and trying to shed our weakness by whatever means possible. Very slowly I am learning to be at peace under the mighty hand of God, to rest under His wings like a chick and let Him care for me. All of us children, finding out who we are becoming in the backroads and community centers and dialogues of America, learning to lead and learning to follow.

 

“Are you mourning over your weakness? Take courage! You must be conscious of weakness before the Lord gives you the victory. Your emptiness is the preparation for being filled wih God’s strength. Being cast down is the making ready for your lfiting up.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“You don’t have to have the strength to go on. You just need Him.” (Ann VosKamp)

The Strength to Obey

One of the devotionals I read this week talked about the importance of peace-making as Christ-followers who have been charged with carrying on the Savior’s restoration work. Forgiveness, conflict-resolution, trying to understand where others are coming from– all non-optional for an Ambassador of Peace, of course, but it struck me how difficult these are to actually carry out in everyday life with any consistency. My head agrees that this is how Christ acts, what Christ values, but when a situation arises where such skills are needed, my heart is usually a casualty and everything inside arms up for battle. The real war is not between me and others, but between my heart and my will, and why did no one ever warn me that this may be the hardest battle I will ever fight?

Whoever painted Christians as weak-willed goody-two-shoes clearly never tried to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. Up the hill with the cross-beam burden on His back, bent with the pain of someone else’s sin, and willing to let it pierce Him right through to death: this is the “how- to” model for the restoration team in this Extreme Makeover: World Edition. Something my heart does not want to hear when it has been attacked, or ignored, or let down yet again.

It takes strength to turn and shoulder the burden of someone else’s pain and sin, and obeying Jesus is the hardest thing you will do in life, because the fight with Self is to the death, and only you can choose to drive the nails through. “But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.” (Romans 8:13) It is a command that somehow doesn’t seem as dire as it really is, until you are in the heat of the moment and everything you want and feel screams to be heard.

But there is strength here too, mysterious and unfathomable: “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” (Romans 6:4) Our wills choosing what is right, our wills choosing to submit to the King, laying down the whole bundle of emotions and needs and desires that drive us and make us human…just taking that first step of even wanting to obey, and then allowing Him to make it happen, re-make us. Restoration begins here first, in the confines of my own heart, making peace between my will and His. “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” (Philippians 2:13)

God, I need the strength to do what is right today. And tomorrow I will need it all over again. Help me to keep on wanting to obey– help me to keep asking for strength– so I can follow You as a peacemaker in this world and not give up.

 

 

“Am I prepared to let God grip me by His power and do a work in me that is worthy of Himself?” (Oswald Chambers)

 

“Break down our pride
And all the walls we’ve built up inside
Our earthly crowns and all our desires
We lay at Your feet

Let hope rise
And darkness tremble
In Your holy light
That every eye will see
Jesus our God
Great and mighty to be praised” (With Everything– Hillsong)