Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Still waiting...

If you had asked me at the beginning of the year what 2005 was going to look like for me, my answer would have been very different from the reality of my life today. Here's what I thought (in January, that is) the year would hold for me: I would right now be seriously involved with someone in a relationship (that has ended - and I don't want to be involved with anyone right now); working on how to prepare my family, friends and co-workers for the fact I would probably be moving out of state (that still could happen - although not anytime real soon); I would be building a business (that is still in progress - going slower than I expected, but I'm excited about the potential) and God would be doing some incredible things in and through me. Fortunately, that last thing is still happening in spite of me and my ideas!

It's funny how when God starts moving in my life, I just take the first hints of His handiwork and run with it - usually without really stopping to hear what He has to say about it. I wish God would stop me before I get started - you know, with a loud, booming voice that says "Hold on one minute there, Christy..." Unfortunately, God doesn't work that way. Or maybe He does, but with that still, small voice that I don't hear because I'm running off after my own wishes and desires.

You see, I do believe that the desires of my heart (serving God with my whole life, marriage, business - to name a few) are put there because of God's presence in my life, but I mess up, because I haven't fully let go of my idea of how He will bring those things about. I say I have let go of my ideals, but when the rubber meets the road and I have to wait on Him to show me exactly HOW He wants to bring those things into my life, I tend to jump to conclusions and start figuring out how He'll do it. Of course, I'm usually wrong. Oh how I wish I could truly learn to wait on Him. I think I'm getting better.

Right now, God has opened a door for me to be involved with a new ministry. Something I didn't see coming AT ALL but that is very exciting to me. Things are just developing, so there's not much to say, but I can say this - the potential impact of this ministry is incredible. I am so humbled that God would choose to use me to help bring this thing to life. I'm sure I'll be writing more about it. I'm just trying to practice waiting on God and not jump ahead before He gives the "ok!"

Monday, May 23, 2005

About marriage

Today, I was pondering love, relationships and marriage. Having just ended a relationship with a guy, it's been on my mind some. :) As a quick aside, I must say - the ending to this relationship hasn't been nearly as bad as others I've experienced and best of all, I've grown so much (I think) as a person and in my relationship with Christ. There are a lot of good things that have come from the relationship and I'm glad for that.

Nevertheless, back to pondering marriage. I was driving along, thinking about what my expectations of marriage are - you know, a good relationship with God at the center, lots of love, great communication, having fun with each other, being able to enjoy life and work through the hard times, etc. - isn't that what everyone wants? Anyway, I had a thought bounce across my mind: What if God's plan for my life doesn't include that kind of marriage? What if I am supposed to marry someone who isn't all he could be and our relationship suffers because of it? What if God wants to use that to grow something in me (or him) for a greater purpose? What if God asked me to be like Hosea and marry someone who is unfaithful (not necessarily in a sexual way, but in a spiritual sense)? Would God be enough in my life to help me deal with that? Oh dear. It definitely put a new spin on things.

Something I've thought about a lot since the break-up is this: what if we give up on people too quickly? What if the other person is just about to break through to a new level and all they need is someone to hang in there with them? What if that other person needs another chance, or another 3 chances or even another 10 chances to get things right and we give up without even giving them a half-chance? Now, I'm not talking about giving a second chance to someone who is abusive or has serious issues that need dealing with. I'm talking about giving second chances to those who, like all of us, are struggling to find out just what it is God has called them to be or do and in the process of their growth, they really mess up and hurt people.

I don't have an answer. I know that it certainly is easier to just give up and walk away. Sometimes, that is exactly what needs to happen. But I wonder how often it really should happen. We are such a "microwave" generation. We want everything "NOW" and we want it perfect. All of life's problems on tv are fixed in 30 minutes, so when it takes weeks, months or maybe even years to deal with things in the real world, we get so impatient and throw in the towel....and I bet we often give up right on the verge of a major breakthrough or even a miracle.

Like I said, I do not have an answer. All I know is that this kind of thinking assures me that I need Christ at the front of my life so that I will make the right choices. I can't even imagine comtemplating marriage with someone without the benefit of Christ's direction and guidance. I don't know how non-believers make it. It seems hard enough even with God's help! At least I don't have to worry too much about it right now. :) Still waiting on God's man for me!

Friday, May 13, 2005

I wonder...

What would happen if we as believers, instead of asking each other on Sunday, "How are you doing?" started asking "What has God done in your life this week?" or "How did you let God use you to minister to others this week?" or how about this one, "What did God speak to you through His word this week?"

I wonder....

What would happen if, when we went out into the streets to minister to the lowly and downtrodden, those bound by sin, we expected to see the same kind of miracles that happened in the New Testament? You know....people healed, demons cast out, people set free from sin...

I wonder....

What would life be like if we actually started walking in the power given to us by the Holy Spirit?

I think we would see some incredible things...the towns and cities in which we live would be turned upside down...people would call us fanatics...we would certainly face ridicule and persecution - you start seeing people healed and set free from addictions there are businesses that would suffer - some folks would lose a lot of money.

It would be interesting - no doubt about it. It would be exciting. It would be a challenge.

It would be awesome!

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father." John 14:12

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Memorial stones

We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future, your children will ask, 'What do these stones mean to you?' Joshua 4:6

Are there certain smells or sounds that take you back to a good memory from your past? Or maybe even a bad memory? Perhaps a song on the radio or a phrase from a movie reminds you of a time and place that have special meaning to you. I don't think it is an accident that we have these triggers or memorial stones in our lives. God, in His divine wisdom, knew that we would have short-term memory...that we would get so caught up in our current situations and forget those good memories unless there was a way to be taken back to those times and places of special meaning.

Sometimes these memorial stones show up unexpectedly and bring a little sunshine to our day. Sometimes, we have to dig and search to find those memorial stones so that we can be reminded of the things God has done in our lives. Recently, my pastor shared about how something in his spirit he thought was lost to him was restored simply by going back and reading through passages in the King James Version of the Bible. He said it was like coming home. For him, reading those passages reminded him of a time in his life where God had moved in some powerful ways - it was a memorial stone that brought him back to God and refreshed him. It's been fun to watch the difference in him.

Over the past couple of days, I, too, have had a similar experience.

Music has always been the way I most worship God. It speaks to that deep part of my spirit that allows me to communicate with God in a way I just don't experience in prayer. Usually, when I'm having a hard time or just feel separated from God, I'll keep the praise and worship music going. The other day, I was discussing something with my friend, when she mentioned a song from a particular cd. The song is "Take Up Your Cross" and it was from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir cd, "Live...We Come Rejoicing". I got that cd somewhere in the mid 90's and it was during a time of my life where I was growing in the Lord and really learning about Him. It was a good time. So when she mentioned the song, I immediately pulled out the cd and set it with my stuff so that I could listen to it at work the next day.

I listened to that cd (actually, I have two of their cd's so I listened to both of them) all day long. Immersing myself in that music reminded me of a time where God showed Himself faithful to me and helped me to finally let go of something that has been holding me back. I feel refreshed and energized in a way I haven't felt for quite some time.

I've learned a valuable lesson. I think it is great when we are reminded of God's faithfulness when we least expect it, but it is also very important to go back and find those memorial stones, or mile markers, from our journey of faith that force us to remember what God has done. I had forgotten some things...but by going back to this memorial stone from my life, I now remember. And now I feel like I'm going to break through to that next level that I've been unable to reach.

What memorial stones have been left on your journey of faith? Do you need to go back and visit them and be reminded of what God has done in your life? Don't get so caught up in the here and now and the destination you are killing yourself to get to, that you forget to reflect on where you've been. Those memorial stones are there for a reason.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Walkin' streets of gold...

The last of my great aunts and uncles (on my dad's side of the family) died last night. Aunt Claudia was a remarkable woman and lived a very interesting life. I will always and forever remember her because of one scripture: Numbers 6:24-26
The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.'

Aunt Claudia put that scripture on every piece of correspondence she ever mailed me. I think I learned that scripture right after John 3:16. :) It holds a special place in my heart, because I always knew she was praying for me.

Over the past few years, she would always ask if I had met anyone special and was planning on getting married anytime soon. Of course, that hasn't happened yet, but I'm hoping that she'll put in a good word for me up there in heaven. (Just kidding!) I'm sure she's too busy loving on the One who gave her hope and peace throughout her life.

Aunt Claudia had a big impact on my spiritual life. When I was a young teenager, her granddaughter, Heather, and I, would spend the night with her in her cute two-bedroom apartment. We thought we were the stuff! :) I loved to go there, because we would sit up later than my usual bedtime, talking about life and Jesus and living for Him. She would tell stories of her life and how the only way she had made it was depending on her Savior. From stories I would hear later in life, it turns out she was, at times, a bit wild in her younger years and so had experienced some hard times in her life. But one thing that always stood out to me, from all the stories she told and the stories I heard later on - once she gave her life to Christ, she never looked back. Her faith in the Creator of the universe never faltered - oh, I'm sure she had struggles just like the rest of us - but she always knew that God was in control and He would take care of her and her family.

I will definitely miss that lady. I'm glad I got to spend some time with her last year - although I wish I had made more time for her. I knew that I would regret not getting to see her more, yet I still didn't make the time. But - I'm kind of glad. I can remember her as that spunky lady who didn't mince words and would love on you with everything within her. She was and still is an awesome testament to God's faithfulness. I only hope my life will reflect God in the same way.

I love you, Aunt Claudia! Hope you're having a blast with Jesus right now!