Encouraged . . .

Since Christmas Eve, where we shared a wonderful evening with friends focused on the ‘stars’ God has used in our lives, I have been encouraged in my spiritual journey. I am in the process of completely my degree in psychology at Grand Canyon University (GCU) and these last two classes (taken together) have been a challenge and a drain on my ability to function well. I understand why this process is discouraged at GCU, never the less, I can say, I have almost done it, but at great cost. What this has taught me is the idea of balance and how being out of balance is harmful both to myself and my relationships. I am an ‘isolater’ and when I’m overwhelmed, I reach hermit status very quickly. My house falls apart, my work is challenged and in general, I’m unhappy, angry and self-destructive. You would think I would know this about myself by now but apparently any wisdom I have in this area is over run by my need for achievement. (Perhaps that’s a topic for another time.) I often think of this place as a desert experience because my relationship with the Lord is affected in this process as well. Though I think I have been in a desert place in 2014, this ‘desert’ was my own creation. The constant in this created space was God’s faithfulness to expose areas that need his tender care (or in some cases his bulldozer) and to finish the work He has begun in me. That does not mean I have any more answers than before but the result was a paradigm shift for me on Christmas Eve.

December 26th I began reading the book of Matthew, slowly, chunk by chunk. Impressed by the lengths God took to bring his gift of redemption, his son into this world, I was in awe of the movement of God in the processes of time and the stage of characters surrounding Christ’s birth. I began to see how time was and is in God’s control and He is not rushed but strategic in it’s application. James McDonald said this at a conference I attended years ago, “God rules the world with his feet up and does not break a sweat.” I could see God’s hand both globally and personally in the circumstances and relationships involved. This gave me a sense of peace, a spiritual deep breath, as it were, for the circumstance of my own life. It helped me sit back and see that though God is deeply concerned about me personally, I am not the center of his universe. There is much more going on in God’s purview than my life circumstance. That gave me perspective and patience. For neither Mary, Joseph, the shepherds or wise men were ignored in the events surrounding Christ’s birth. All were effected personally and eternally. Finally, because of this wider perspective, I was able to reflect on the guiding ‘stars’ God has used to bring me to this point in my spiritual journey and be grateful. It gave me hope and encouragement as I anticipate more guiding stars in 2015.

So I ask you, as my friend asked me on Christmas eve, What ‘stars’ has God given you to bring you to this point in your walk with Him? Have you thanked Him for his provision? Have you thanked him for his faithfulness to keep His promises to you personally?
Maybe you are just beginning to get a glimpse of a star in your life. What might God be saying to you or where might He be leading? Wait in awe for the star to stand over the place God has for you as it did over the place of Christ’s birth.

Psalm 54 . . . David’s not so secret secret.

Question . . .

Have you ever been devoured by your enemies when you looked to God for help?

When I look back over my life at the places of my greatest failures, there are places  where I was run over, knocked down and in some areas destroyed. Was I really? Did I really cry out to God?  For what was I crying?  Being truly honest I cryed out when all I had tried on my own had failed. This cry was a last resort, the last possible option that seemed available under the circumstances.

When I did cry out, I was expecting genie-in-a magic-bottle God to deliver me from the consequences of my self created circumstances. Often I felt God had abandoned me, forgotten about me, did not love me. God, however, simply allowed me to expereince the full weight of my choices, made without Him. My cry for deliverance were for relief not repentance. There was pain I was trying to avoid, but there was no surrender, turning towards him in repentance, willingness to accept the responsiblity for my choices. These were all missing from my cries.

In Psalm 54:7 David says (and he would know), “For He has delivered me from every trouble and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemy.” This is his final statement. Look at the process that proceeds this pronouncement.

Verse 1 – He cries out to God recognizing he is powerless over his circumstances and his life.

Verse 2 – He prays  – conversation with God beyond and above his cry.

Verse 3 – He recognizes his enemy – fully seeing an identifying who or what is the enemy and what they seek.

Verse 4 – BUT GOD, my two favorite words in scripture – transitional in every instance. There is a shift in David’s reality. His vision moves beyond his circumstances to his helper.

Verse 6- He praises God – He offers a sacrifice of praise, thankgiving in the midst of the situation. NOTHING HAS CHANGED!

Verse 7- He looks back and remembers that God has always been faithful to deliver him. He can be trusting in these circumstances as well  because of his/God’s proven character.

To look at this passage and not evaluated your or my current circumstance would be tragic. Help is available and is just a surrendered, thankful heart cry away. It is bathed in praise for that is the transition from living under circumstance and living inspite of them.

Where are you crying out?