Friday, June 29, 2012

Wholeheartedly

My mind has been playing the wholehearted theme over and over again to me, since I wrote this post on my friend's blog a week ago.   Wholehearted involvement, pressing into Jesus with my whole heart, not holding anything back, not letting anything get between.

And then, while lying in my bed waiting for sleep to come, pondering the status of my current relationship with Jesus and listening to my sisters make plans for the weekend in the kitchen I was hit with tears.  I wish they were tears of joy, or tears of awe, but, honestly, I started crying for what I was missing.  For where I had been a year ago, totally on fire for Jesus, seeing His hand in every detail, riding on top of the world.  For all the family events that I couldn't participate in.  For being not a part of my little sisters' lives as they were growing up incredibly fast.

My sister came in about that time, and of course, challenged me.  "You can't look back.  Life is going to have ups and downs, I guarantee.  But you never go back.  You have to keep pressing forward.  And sometimes its being in the valleys that allows you to see Him the best.  God has you at your job for a reason. You're doing a different work there, encouraging your co-workers, witnessing to that lady, being a bright light to your customers.  Just because it's not where you were doesn't mean it's not where you're supposed to be."

(Okay, those weren't her exact words, but that's the basic idea).

This morning while driving to work a phrase from Luke 9 randomly popped into my head, and since pulling out my bible to look it up while cruising down the freeway didn't seem prudent, I looked it up when I got to work.  


The whole passage was reinforcing my conviction that the Lord wants me to pursue Him with my whole heart. And not look back.

As they were walking along the road, a man said to Him, "I will follow you wherever you go."  


Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head." 

Wholehearted involvement.


He said to another man, "Follow me." 


But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."  


And Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 


Nothing between.


Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family." 


 Jesus replied, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

Holding nothing back.   

Friday, June 22, 2012

Subtle promptings ignored...

It started while I was driving home from work yesterday and noticed a man walking up the hill with a gas can in his hand.

I should offer him a lift

But he's already halfway to the gas station, and it would be really awkward to get across the center divider and back through this traffic.  He'd probably be faster on foot.  And it would be weird, because I don't know him, and I'm a girl...........

By the time I merged onto the freeway I was really kicking myself for not helping out.

"Lord, that guy is your child.  He's somebody's brother and son.  I think I'd want someone to help my brother or son, even if they were a random stranger.  You've put a burden on my heart to love the average Joe, and I've ignored it too many times!  Please give me grace to be attentive to your promptings.  And give me the courage to follow through!"

The next prompting I remember was the one I had while going to bed last night.

I should set my alarm for a little bit earlier than normal so I can spend some extra time in the Word.

Yeah, that one doesn't usually get obeyed.  Especially not for me.  I snoozed my alarm as many times as possible before running out the door.

Oh, it's okay.. I still have some extra time.  I can stop for coffee and read the Word at the coffee shop for three and a half minutes.

As I neared the coffee shop, my car started doing this weird shaking thing.  I disengaged the transmission, and the shaking continued.   I checked the gauges and everything seemed normal, but when I saw the smoke (or steam) coming out from under the hood, I decided to pull over.   The engine died while I backed it into a parking spot at a gas station.

Pulling out my cell phone, I was greeted by the blinking battery light.  Yep.  Almost dead.   I had time for a quick phone call to my brother, who recommended I didn't pour water or anything in until it cooled down, and a quick text to my uncle, letting him know I'd be late for work.

As I walked up the street to the coffee shop I was reminded of the guy I had ignored yesterday.  As I sat out on the patio, with a cup of coffee (hey, why not?) and my bible, I was reminded of the quiet time that I had slept through.  With 40 minutes to wait, I couldn't help but be thankful that God had answered my prayer of yesterday, and not allowed me to miss His prompting.

Sometimes when subtle promptings are ignored, they are followed by not-so-subtle directions.  I just wish it didn't have to be so expensive.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A day in the life...

The activity level had risen to a frenzy, and it had been hours since I'd actually seen my desk, buried as it was under papers, all of which were urgently seeking my attention.

The phone was ringing off the hook and in all honesty, I wondered about unplugging it.

"Onyx Shutters, this is Merrie..."

"Merrie, did you get that order I faxed in?  I need it to be emailed to me right away, so I can confirm it."

"Okay, let me see..." I shuffled through the stack of orders off the fax machine, "Yep, it's here!  I haven't gotten a chance to input it, but will get it done as soon as I can."

I promise you it wasn't two minutes later that they called back.

"Merrie, have you sent the email yet?"

At this point, I started mentally composing a Facebook status.  It read something like this:  Dear sir.  You are a pain in the neck.  And calling me every two minutes does not allow me to work any faster, neither does it inspire me to give you better service than the 5 other customers who want my immediate attention.   Sincerely, 'not your slave'.

"I'll have it done in just a couple minutes!" I replied sweetly instead, and hung up the phone.  (After saying the proper goodbyes of course.)

Being a representative of somebody else's company, my actions and attitudes are always on the alert, knowing that it's not my name on the line, but the name of my employer.  It just struck me though - why only at work?  Why not all the time, seeing as I'm a representative of Jesus Christ?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Some things are more important...

Working full time and attending a week-long seminar hasn't allowed for a lot of extra time, especially when that said seminar is encouraging me to establish godly disciplines in my life such as rising early, daily bible reading and those sorts of things.  Getting enough sleep is already hard for me, (even though I make it a huge priority) so when I was in bed by 10:30 last night, there was a smile on my face.

I was fading into the blissful land of sleep very quickly when I heard faint whispering coming from the bunk below me.

"Girls are you both in the same bed?"

There was a pause and then a quiet, "yeah."

"Get back in your bed, and go to sleep."

"We'll stop whispering, I promise!" the youngest interceded.

"She makes me sleep in her bed every night because she's afraid of having nightmares!" the older one announced.  "I never get to sleep in my own bed."  And then to her little sister, "You'll be fine, 'cause we didn't watch any movies tonight."

Twenty minutes later our older sister came in to hear the tail end of the discussion.

"I really think God wants us to obey Him just because we love Him, not even expecting or thinking about the blessings that come from obedience."  (This was from the 12 year old.)

"What are you guys talking about?"  the older sister asked.

"Oh, theology, philosophy and doctrine.  You know... all that stuff."

Twenty more minutes of sleep versus twenty more minutes of deep discussions fueled by my baby sisters?

Somethings are more important.  Yeah, even more important than sleep.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Where it's at

I've been listening to an audio-book on fasting in my car lately while driving to and from work.  While the author had some good points about God being the rewarder of those who are diligently seeking Him, I'm not quite sure he was hitting the nail on the head when he claimed that God has all these great things He wants to do for us, but we're hindering Him by not fasting.

Maybe it's my reticular activating system, but the subject of fasting keeps popping up in the randomest places, and last night, the speaker at a seminar cited Isaiah 58 as a support of fasting.

So this morning, finding a few extra minutes, I decided to check it out - to see what the hype is all about.

"You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.  Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves?  Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?  Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?

But this is the kind of fast that I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke.

To share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe them and not turn away from your own flesh and blood.



Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;  then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard."

This is where it's at, folks.  God doesn't want us to refrain from eating and drinking, necessarily.  He wants our hearts to be turned toward Him to the extent that we want what He wants.  He wants us to pursue justice and mercy, to be His hands and feet, dealing out compassion and love.   That's the act of commitment and dedication he wants to see.

"Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say, 'Here am I'." 

P.S.  I do believe fasting is beneficial in many areas, and don't throw out the concept at all - but I also believe that God would rather our hearts than our hunger.  (Or something like that)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

At the Random Expresso Cafe

We gathered in the front office for a trial run on the new commercial espresso machine, sitting on overturned buckets, a couple of office chairs and the floor.  Eight people from three different families, giggling, catching up with each other and with what God has been doing in our lives.  

"Morality dictates something or other"  Somebody tried to quote.   We were talking about walking the talk, and how in our head we might know all the right answers, but when push comes to shove, what we do reflects what we believe in our heart.

The quote was supposed to say that a mans theology dictates his morality.  How I believe God to be, that's how I act.  If I believe Him to be all good and all love, then I'll end up treating even my enemies with kindness.

If I believe Him to be all powerful with my best interests at heart, then I'll end up not fretting the small stuff or the big stuff.

If I believe Him to be in control, then I'll kick back and enjoy the ride.

If I believe Him to be watching then I won't be doing that thing I know I shouldn't.

If I believe Him to be all knowing, then I'll trust Him with my future.

If I believe that He will provide, then I'll trust Him with my today.

It got me thinking this morning, even before I got out of bed, about what I believe.  If the things I do reflect on what I believe, then do the things I don't do also reflect on what I don't believe?   The burden I didn't carry, the person I didn't reach out to, the extra mile I didn't walk, does that reflect on my unbelief?

Perhaps staying up past eleven on a week night for coffee wasn't the brightest idea we've hatched yet, but the food for thought that stemmed from the discussion was well worth it.  For me, anyways.