Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Ants Go Marching

Have you ever studied a group of ants? They look as if they are scurrying around aimlessly, hurrying from one place to the next with no real agenda and no marked out path for them. If you watch long enough, you can begin to recognize a reason for the 'wandering' and a purpose for the hurrying that's been done. A path may never be established and the specific direction may not be realized, but the direction is not important and the detours, no many how many they face are accepted and overcome with no mountain (or shoeprint) too big to stop them and no monster (or child) too big to slow them down!

Although I don't have a lot of free time to sit and study the employment pattern of ants, I do have a sweet little guy who loves to watch ants, bugs and any other little crawly thing that will let him. Try as he might, those ants just keep moving forward to accomplish their goal and complete their task. My little Grady stomps into their little world and spreads the ants apart and away from their duties leaving the anthill looking like the beaches of Normandy, but give them time and the troops are back on their paths and pushing forward to complete their job.

What the heck does this have to do with anything? We are like these ants in many ways. We get caught up in what we are going through and the hurt in our lives. We focus on the path we have in mind and no many how many times our path is changed or the obstacles grow in front of us we march back to our own agenda. On the other hand, God may put us on a path and His desire for us is to enjoy the journey we are on, but all we can do is press forward and not take our eyes off the path. We wander through the desert, missing the blessing and the portion He has placed in our lives, only to whine about the distance we have left to go. Do we stop and look around? Nope, just keep pushing through with the blinders on and don't stop to see what's around, rather than awakening the eyes to the beauty and majesty of the land.

So, now that I have compared all of humanity to ants where does that lead? Exodus 15:13 tells us "In Your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In Your strength You will guide them to Your holy dwelling." I am a redeemed child of the King and though I am as ill-focused as the next redhead, I am trusting in the unfailing love of my Father to lead me. And, in the depths of my pain and the throws of my lupus ravaged body, it is His strength that is shining through my weakness to guide me into His arms. Why do I waiver? Like the ant, I focus on my own duty and lose sight of those around me. Conversely, I wander forward unaware of the surroundings and the blessings God has placed by my side. When I push, I should pull. When I wait, I should go forth. My intentions are good, but my focus is off. I get so caught up in the job I need to do, I forget who my Employer is. I get so determined to finish, I lose sight of the joy in the journey. People are the purpose and saving grace is my security. So, why do I get so caught up in the details and forget the relationship? I am a sinner, saved by the unfailing love and strength of my Father. God has given me a job to do and I cannot help but desire to complete His task for my life. My Lord has given me grace beyond measure and I can grasp a glimpse of His face in my family. Jesus has given His very life and I deserve death. What can I do, but honor Him with my life?

You have given me life. I can give nothing and do nothing to begin to compare the love and loyalty radiating from Your Word. God You gave everything in the gift of Your Son. Not only did He save my life, He completed the justice needed for You to remain holy. Words are weak and weary in comparison to You. I deserve death, yet You chose life. Thank you for choosing life for me. Be magnified in my life Lord. Allow those who walk beside me to recognize You. Use me Lord Jesus. Use me. Somehow, somewhere. Move me, Lord. As the ant moves on his mission, move me on Your path. Without you, I am nothing. With you, there are no limits, not even the sky!
In the majestic name of Jesus Christ,

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Broken and Beautiful

I have been through things that have broken my life. And I trust Him to never leave me there. He is the Father who will pick me up when I am fallen, broken, hurt, tired. And He is the Father who fixes me in those broken places. He fixes my spirit, my heart, my sadness, my loneliness. He brings joy and peace and refuge so I am stronger now than before I was broken.

He watched the pieces fall apart, but only so He could put me back together the right way. When life happens and I feel like things are falling apart, breaking into pieces, I just remind myself that He can’t fix what isn’t broken and He often breaks me in order to shape me into the woman He created me to be. Those places that are broken may not have been broken by Jesus, but each and every time a part of me is broken He comes to restore me and renew me. He comes not to glue the pieces back together, but to use the pieces to build a masterpiece created my Father and known to Jesus before the beginning of time. Some things are broken due to the residual effects of sin in another person's life. Maybe we are the recipient of sin's consequences that we didn't commit. That hurts, and it's hard. It stings and the pain will pour forth, yet He is building on the foundation of the Lord and the promises of His Word.

The props have been pulled out from under me this week. Not the seen ones, like relationship, finances, my home. But the unseen ones, the false ones I've made with my own hands. Fear has come to visit, sneaking through the cracked back door rather than knocking at the front. And he secretly tried to steal away Truth before I even knew he was in the house. He is so crafty, that I take him on as my very identity: I am Afraid, I hear myself say. And in the saying, I practice the presence of Fear, rather than rest in the safety of God. Jesus says His spirit within me is one of power, love and a sound mind. But He whispers, while Fear screams. Fear screams for me to run away. But God beckons me, Come. Fear pushes me to perfectionism.

But God whispers I have already overcome.

And so I stand on the Rock and watch as the sand sinks swiftly down. To be love-led rather than fear-driven is to stand on the rock. Where are my feet today?

I am reminded of the saying, 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' and I wonder aloud as I make my way through the toys and the clothes of my workplace, "who is my beholder?" Am I letting Christ hold me or am I struggling to hold myself up knowing my strength is fleeting. Contrary to what our media/culture has to say, my Lord loves me and made me the way He desired. The pain and brokenness of my life and of my past are details in His painting and the Lord has made everything good. He has fulfilled His promise to bring beauty out of ashes and release from darkness for prisoners! I am free and I pray that each day I am becoming more like my savior, beautiful!

~We all fall short. We all have sinned. But when you let God's grace break in... It's beautiful, Beautiful. Come as you are, surrender your heart. Broken and Beautiful. ~Mark Schultz