Category Archives: Obedience

A quieter faith

Let’s dispense with a few facts about myself:

1. I have very strong opinions about many things.

2. I am not afraid to say what I think in most situations,

3. I will always tell you the truth as lovingly as I can will being true to points 1 and 2.

That being said, I am declaring today that I express my Christianity in a quieter way than I often express my opinions. And I am going to stop apologizing for myself to God, and to others about this quietness. It’s not that I feel shy about my Christianity, it’s quite the opposite. I feel bold and free in my walk with God. It’s just that I choose to be quiet about it for the sake of others. That is, until the time is ripe for honest discussion. In 1 Kings 19 God told Elijah to go to the mountain because He was going to pass by. Then the following happens:

“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.”

I believe sometimes God shakes the earth to get our attention. But I also believe that He mostly calls to us gently and lovingly, wooing us like a lover.

I want you to to know genuinely know me and what I’m like. I want you to trust that I am a woman of her word. So, that when I talk about my faith with you, you will know that I am being honest and true. That what I have to say is real and flows from the deep places of my heart. I want you to know that you are not just a notch on my belt that ups my score in heaven.

I see no advantage to being in your face about Jesus, unless we have that kind of relationship. I don’t have anything to prove to myself or to others about my walk. I keep no tally of those I’ve convinced to follow Christ. I’d much rather sit in stillness with you and let the gentleness of God convince you of your need for God’s love, than to say a thousand of the “right” things that do more harm than good. I’d rather water the garden of your heart with tenderness and care than to stab at it with hoes and pickaxes.

Even if that means someone else gets to witness the moment you meet God face to face.

I am content to sit and wait in quiet prayer in hopes that an opportunity will arise to express why I need God, and why you do too. I am content to let God do the wooing in His time and in His way.

So, all you quieter expressions faith out there, feel no shame in your quiet ways. Just be ready to say what needs to be said at the right time. And it will all be alright.

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5mf- Catch

Catch-

Catch me if you can.

I am running ahead at full speed.

Catch me if you can.

I fly by to fast to see.

Catch me if you can.

I run breathlessly as I wait.

Catch me if you can.

My need is for speed.

Catch me you did.

As you help me slow down.

Catch me you did.

As you teach me to breath

Catch me you did.

As you tell me your plan.

Catch me you did.

As you hold me in your hand.

Milk

I had no ideas about what to write so I asked the Lord for something to write about.  Four words came to mind: milk, honey, plenty, and promise.  These words obviously go together (Promised Land anyone?), but I believe I am supposed to write from heart about them individually.

The word milk automatically makes me think of the Promised Land.  Moses was sent to bring his people to the land “flowing with milk and honey”.  Evidently God sees this as a good thing.  The one thing that speaks to me about the Promised Land was that everything that the Israelites was available to them in this land, if they just did what God told them to do.  The Israelites had a hard time doing this because it took them 40 years to get there.  But they did get there.

I often see myself as one of the wandering Israelites waiting to get to what God has promised me.  In my mind I can just see over the cliff, just enough to know that the promise is there.  I wonder when I will ever get there.  I ask God, “Haven’t I done enough now?”.  I am so ready for the promises.  I am so ready to be there in the Promised Land.  When can I go Lord?

It occurs to me that perhaps I am already there.  I am like a blind beggar sitting in the lush landscape begging for a scrap.  Satan has feed me enough lies that I believe in my blindness as my reality.  I can just smell the flowing milk and honey, but I have yet to taste it.  Perhaps if I stopped believing I was blind and poor, I might be able to partake in the feast before me.

When I accepted Jesus into my heart, I had access to the abundance of God.  Yet, my heart believed that I was not good enough, or clean enough, or whatever enough to take what is rightfully mine.  I could not tap into the infinite and good resources available to me because I believed the darkness more than I believed the light.

Today, I ask you Lord to take the scales from my eyes so that I can see and partake in all that you have given to me.  Amen.

5mf- In Real Life

Five minute Friday’s are a stream- of- consciousness exercise hosted by The Gypsy Mama every Friday.  In an effort to get myself writing more frequently, I am going to participate as frequently as I can.  I am also participating in a weekly bible study at Beauty for Ashes onWednesdays, and in “Just Write!” campaign also hosted by Beauty for Ashes.  The 5mf exercise is simple, The Gypsy Mama gives us a word prompt and we write for 5 minutes.  There is no editing and no backtracking.  Just write whatever comes into your mind.  So here goes this week’s edition of 5mf:

In Real Life

In real life, nothing is at it seems.  People smile at you but they are really hiding.  I might smile you at you and be hiding too.  Real life is scary.  If you knew what I was hiding from you, you might not like it, or me, anymore.  Which is why I hide.  God knows my real life.  He knows my sins, my struggles, my wishes and dreams.  I think that we would exhaust one another if everyone knew as much as God knows.  It is just too  much to handle, even with the best of us.  And, we  might easily judge one another and write each other off if we knew what God knows about our real life.  I like to think that I am out living on the edge and being real with others, but am I really?  No.  Maybe more like 60% real, and 40% secretly.  I am thankful  that God knows my real life like the back of his hand and that I don’t have to hide or pretend with Him.  He can handle my bad stuff all by himself.  And, even though he judges my sin as sin, he doesn’t condemn me to eternal torment.  Thank YOU Jesus!  It is your work on the cross that makes this “Real life” possible .

5mf Post- Rest

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Five minute Friday’s are a stream- of- consciousness exercise hosted by The Gypsy Mama every Friday.  In an effort to get myself writing more frequently, I am going to participate as frequently as I can.  I am also participating in a weekly bible study at Beauty for Ashes onWednesdays, and in “Just Write!” campaign also hosted by Beauty for Ashes.  The 5mf exercise is simple, The Gypsy Mama gives us a word prompt and we write for 5 minutes.  There is no editing and no backtracking.  Just write whatever comes into your mind.  So here goes this week’s edition of 5mf:

Rest

I just got up from a  nap.  I was attempting to rest, because I feel so tired.  I just needed a nap.  Instead of actually sleeping, I thought of all the reasons that I don’t have time to sleep, or that keep me awake.  Secrets about my sins, things that stress me out, physical pain, spiritual hunger, needing more God in my life.  It’s easy to look at someone and say, “You need more rest!” without actually understanding what keeps them from resting.  Truly resting is not an experience that involves sleep.  Truly resting involves trusting.  Trusting that everything will be alright.  Trusting that God’s got it covered, that He has my back.  I struggle and struggle to find this place of rest and abandon.  I struggle to just let go, and let things lie where they in my life.  I want to be able to feel the sweetness of utter and complete rest.  Of lack of control.  I mean, if God is big enough, why do I need to worry?  He says he wants my burdens, so why not give them to Him?  Why not let Him fight the good fight on behalf?  The pain, the worry, and the frustration don’t have to be mine.  Here is a prayer hoping to let go and let be.

Thanks for stopping by!

Steph

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Tender (the first day of the “Just Write!” campaign)

Mary Kathryn Tyson, of Beauty for Ashes, decided she needed help getting un-stuck in her blog writing. She decided to start a month long campaign called “Just Write!” (named by moi) in which she will do stream-of-consciousness writing on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Wednesday is a bible study of the book of Romans that we are engaged in until the bitter end. And Friday is devoted to Gypsy Mama’s stream-of-consciousness writing “Five Minute Friday”.

So, I am participating in this campaign because I am reluctant to write. I am sure that God wants me to write. But I just can’t get past myself. I was excited when I read MK’s proposal hoping that this would spark a lifelong habit of blogging. Everyday that she does this she will give us a one-word prompt and we “Just Write!for five minutes without editing (note: editing for grammar errors is okay, just don’t do a total rewrite). We are not trying to craft masterpieces here, we are attempting to “Just Write!” and get the creative juices flowing. MK has offered to allow us to write in her comments section, or to put a link in her comments if we have our own blog to write in.

Day 1: Tender

GO!

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Your love shines gently on my soul.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Your life fills my heart’s hole.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Prompt me with you tenderness.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Touch me with your tender caress.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Bring me into your light.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Help me through to the end of this fight.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Help me understand the mysteries of the deep.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Let me know the sweetness of your sleep.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Bring me into your dwelling place.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Let me know the beauty of your face.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Fill me from my head to my toes.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Lead my heart so my head follows.

STOP!

So there you have it, five minutes of stream-of-consciousness writing.

Feel free to add your own in my comments, to put a link in my comments, or just leave a note letting me know you were here and what you think about my efforts.

Hold on, just a little longer.

Thief

by Third Day

I am a thief, I am a murderer,
Walking up this lonely hill.
What have I done? I don’t remember.
No one knows just how I feel;
And I know that my time is coming soon.

It’s been so long, oh, such a long time,
Since I’ve lived with peace and rest.
Now I am here, in my destination,
I guess things work for the best;
And I know that my time is coming soon.

Who is this man? This man beside me,
That they call the King of the Jews.
No, they don’t believe, that He’s the Messiah,
But, somehow I know that it’s true.

They laugh at Him in mockery,
They beat Him till he bleeds,
They nail Him to the rugged cross,
And they raise Him, yeah, they raise Him up next to me.

My time has come, and I’m slowly fading,
But I deserve what I receive.
Jesus, when You are in Your kingdom,
Could You please, please remember me.
Well He looks at me still holding on,
And the tears fall from His eyes,
And He says I tell the truth,
Today, yeah, you will live with Me in paradise, woah yeah.

And I know that my time, yes my time, is coming soon, woah yeah.
And I know that my time, yes my time, is coming soon, woah yeah, yeah
And I know that paradise, paradise is coming soon.

I was listening to this song the other day while I was driving…somewhere (can’t remember).  I have listened to this song a thousand times and sung along with tears in my eyes all choked up (which makes me singing this song not pretty to listen to).  And usually, I reside in the place of the thief when I dwell in this song for the few minutes that it plays.  From the perspective of the this thief, I feel the weight of my sin and understand the price that I must pay.  And at the end of the song, I feel hope in the redemptive power of Jesus’ death there next to him (me) on the cross.

This is all good.

But that other day (the one where I can’t remember where I was going in my car), when the last verse was being sung I had a waking dream.  A brilliant flash of understanding that I had never experienced before.  It was blinding.

And, I felt like I had been delivered a roundhouse kick to the chest.  I couldn’t breathe because of the depth of what I saw and understood in that brief moment.

Jesus/God was gracious enough to hang on that cross long enough for this one last person to be saved while He was still here on earth.

WOW.  And I cried, hard.

He could have chosen to give in to death a bit sooner and end his suffering.  Who would have blamed him?  From what I  have heard, death on a cross is an agonizingly slow death of suffocation.  If it had been me up there I would have prayed for a swift death.  But Jesus/God chose to go just a little bit farther for that one last person He could touch while he still breathed.

His example has taught me a crucial lesson: When others look at me they are supposed to see Christ in me.  When I am open and there Christ can flow through me.  Being human, I am required again and again to die to myself because I am not God and therefore not perfect, but the thief in the song saw a beacon of hope in Jesus as He hung there dying and I need to be a beacon of hope in my relationships so that others may see Him.  I need to hold on just a little longer.

What are the ways that you and I can hold on just a little longer?

Tower of Babel- The destruction process

Genesis 11

The Tower of Babel

1 At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. 2 As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there.

3 They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) 4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”

5 But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. 6 “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! 7Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”

8 In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.

I wanted to write some prosy thing about this process, but I just don’t have it in me.  Instead, I am going to share the email I sent to someone who is sort of counseling me at the moment.  Here goes:

Phew.  This has been a tough week.  Still reeling from the smashed tower and wondering what to do next, the day after the last image I sent you (which would have been Wednesday) I sat down again and asked the Lord to revel himself to me.  This is what I got:

Part 1- No other Gods before me.
The scripture is Exodus 20:2-17.  The purple squiggly on top is Sovereign God.  The bottom left hand corner spiral is the Holy Spirit.  As the colors spiral inward the Holy Spirit is infusing himself with me.  I am in the center in the red.  I am not sure if the red represents anger/rage, or my heart, maybe both.  If you notice the majority of the spiral is in blue and moves to purple then to red.  All of the words of the scripture are moving inward from the HS into the center.  I felt that God was making clear that I am putting something before him.  But I really did not want to know what.

Part 2- Ouch! That hurts!
I met with someone I look up to on Thursday because I wanted to express some hurt and anger about some things that had happened.  I had something I was holding onto for the past 5 years that was still hurting me.  I wanted to be able to let go, but God wasn’t letting me let go.  So, I finally (after much goading from a friend) met with this person.  She told me she thought I had an attitude problem, an anger problem, and she I was held back from going forward in leadership because of this.  She said that I can have my opinions, and even feel anger, but she said that I am not very honoring in my approach to expressing my anger.  This, of course, hurt me and my ego.  I also felt frustrated because I only really feel anger is when I feel an injustice has been served to  me.  For a couple of days I felt distraught, anger, frustration, and more anger.  And I really did not want to ask God about this because I was sure I wasn’t going to like what I heard.

Part 3- The dream
Right before I woke up Saturday morning I had a most vivid dream.  Usually there are 3 signs that the dream was from God: 1. It was vivid, 2. It stays with me all day, 3. I can still remember it the next day.  Here is how the dream went: My husband was carrying our child because I could not after a certain part of the pregnancy.  We were in a hotel room that was more like an apartment.  It was time to deliver the baby, but it had to be done by c-section and I was the only one there to do the procedure.  I felt a little panicked, rushed, but confident that I could handle a dangerous procedure on my own.  I was rushing around to get the room ready putting out towels to soak the inevitable flow of blood and for the baby.  I was also changing my clothes into something more appropriate for handling surgery.  As I was removing my stockings, my husband said that he was waiting for someone to arrive.  He had called on another nurse, someone more qualified to handle the surgery.  I was very upset with him and threw a little temper tantrum.  I said, “I can’t believe you called someone else!!”  He said that someone who was qualified for this needed to be there to handle “multiple points of infection”.  I immediately awoke from this dream in a panic.  I knew almost immediately this was from God.

Part 4- The Revelation
Yesterday, I sat down and wrote out some thoughts I was having because I felt like the faith issue that you talked with me about, and the anger issue were related.  The dream was key to making that connection, but I still didn’t know why.  And, I was feeling angry with God.  So I wrote out a few things that I was feeling including the dream.  The first question I posed to myself was “What are the correlations?” between the anger issue and the faith issue.  Then I wrote out the possibilities which are:
  • I feel angry that I cannot just “handle” things myself.
  • God is saying he is “qualified” to handle things, and I am not.
  • I feel angry at injustices
  • Sometimes the lack of blessing feels like an injustice, especially when I feel that I have done what is required of me.
  • I feel angry at God.
  • I feel mistrustful of others.
  • I feel misunderstood.
  • What is the root of this?
  • I have an “I can (and now I think “must” is part of this) take care of myself” attitude.  That doesn’t jive with God.  I feel I have, and continue to be, treated unfairly, and unjustly by others.
  • Am I my own God (in this area)?
Then I wrote: Why do I care about injustice and fairness towards myself?  To the point of expressing anger?  Why do I feel God has treated my unjustly?  I feel I don’t deserve what has happened to me and angry at God for not stopping it.   Which is ridiculous since a deep understanding of pain makes me more sympathetic (and empathetic) toward others pain.  I believe this but find it difficult to accept.  Is this where “be the exclamation point, not the question mark” comes in?

So, yesterday afternoon, I sat down with my sister and we talked about why we want so badly to be heard.  We agreed it was because we weren’t heard as children, or as adults in our younger years.  I am driven to keep making my point until I feel I have been heard, which leads others to believe that I am trying to “get my way”, which is not my usual intention.  Then I began to wonder if, as Christians, we have a “right’ to be heard.  Meaning: Do others really need to hear my thoughts and opinions?  My sister felt that in some situations it was important to be understood.  But, perhaps in most situations it was not so important to be heard by others.  Then she came up with this scripture, “Let no evil talk come out of your mouth, but only what is good for giving necessary teaching, and for grace to those who give ear.” Ephesians 4:29.  Then I found the rest of that chapter “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:30, 31.

Part 5- The Conclusion
Obviously, I need to rely solely on the Holy Spirit to guide my words when I feel strongly about something, which, somewhere deep inside of me, makes me unhappy.  So I am coming to grips the full meaning of this revelation.  I expect that I will be fully on board with this soon enough.  So here is my conclusions on this matter:
  • It takes faith to trust that God is fully capable of handling whatever comes my way.
  • I need to rely on Him for revelation on how to handle a situation
  • I am not God in my life.  Only He must be.
  • My words must be tempered with love, honoring, cherishing, encouraging, full of grace.
  • Since I am woman of strong opinion and passion, I must go to Him EVERY SINGLE TIME I have a struggle to temper my reactions before I speak or do anything.

So there you have it.  Like I said: Phew!

Rapunzel

What a chore.  Day after day, I drag this hair around.  Why do I bother?  Hair this long is burdensome and gets in the way.  Constantly having to step over my hair, brushing and binding it up into a manageable bundle, and the constant washing is, well, a chore.  Yet, there is something about this hair that I just can’t let go.  Maybe it’s the way the sunlight glints off of it with hints of gold.  Maybe it’s the way the slightest rustle releases the scent of lilac.  A blessing and curse, my hair is to me.

The other day, I thought I heard a voice.  I thought I heard someone call my name “Rapunzel”.  The voice was soft and alluring.  Perhaps it was just a dream.  My captor came again to visit me here in my tower.  She had put me here a while ago when I stumbled and lost my way in the woods.  My hair was shorter then, just to my waist.  After my captor had put me in the tower, she tried to cut my hair to make it more manageable.  But, it always grew back.  Eventually she just gave up, and it grew and grew.  Now, I struggle day in and day out with this hair.  But, back to the voice.

The voice came calling again today. Confident and strong, “Rapunzel” it said.  This time I felt compelled to take a look outside.  After I had stumbled  my way over to the window, tripping on my hair (yet again) I peeked over the sill to the ground below.  And there he was, a prince.  He looked especially dashing in his emerald blue tunic reflecting gently off of his blonde hair. “Rapunzel”, he said with a smile on his face.  With that smile a memory comes rushing in from the dark corners of  my mind.  Years ago a man, with this same smile, came to me in my days before the tower.  He told me that my strength would be tested in days to come and that I feel alone.  He also told me that I would not be alone, his spirit would be with me.  His spirit would give me strength to get through the dark time, but there was a requirement.  When the dark time came, I needed to let my hair grow no matter how long it got.

And now, here he was at the foot of my captivity with a smile on his face, calling my name.  “Rapunzel” he said, “Let down your hair”.  Now, how in the world was I going to do that?  The hair was everywhere!  “Rapunzel, Rapunzel.  Let down your hair”.  I looked over the side of my tower, hesitating.  And there he stood with a kind smile on his face.  “Rapunzel, sweet Rapunzel.  Let down your hair.”  With a sigh, I begin the onerous task of gathering my hair to throw it over the side, down to the prince.  After a moment, the prince took a solid grip on hair and started to climb.  Hand over hand, step by step, he made his way slowly to the top until he reached my window.

I looked at him for a moment, wondering what this was all about.  “Why are you here?”, I asked the prince.  “To rescue you, of course.”, said he.  His answer caused me some concern since there was no way out of here.  No locked door that could be broken, or stairs that came after to lead the way out.  How would he accomplish such a task?  From somewhere in his cloak the prince produced a sharp blade.  With a slight twinkle in his eyes, he reached around to the nape of my neck and sliced my hair clean from my head.  Needless to say, I was more than a little shocked and bewildered.  So many questions ran through my head.  He had asked me to grow my hair so long ago, and now he cuts it off?  And how is this going to help me get out of this place?

The prince set about braiding the hair into a rope.  He then tied it around a study pole and threw the hair-rope over the side.  He proceeded to climb down.  Dumbfounded, I couldn’t move.  It was that easy.  Throw the hair over the side like a rope, and climb down.  Then I would be free from my captivity.  “Rapunzel”, said the prince, “Don’t just stand there.  Climb down with me.”  Happy to comply, I ran over and grabbed a hold of that hair that I had hated so much, blessing it as I climbed down.

This little fable I have spun off of the real story of Rapunzel, bring into focus the need for obedience, even when we don’t understand.  At the beginning of my walk with the Lord, He asked me to grow my hair long.  I really didn’t understand the need for this.  Over time the Lord revealed to me that the length of my hair would serve as a symbol to me of my need for obedience, much like Samson.  Surely, there have been times when I wished to be free of this burden and wanted to rebel.  Perversely, this caused me to want to cut off all of my hair.  Thankfully I have not.  Obedience is difficult in the face other people’s opinions, circumstances, our own pain and lack of understanding.  Yet, obedience to God’s plan brings life, fruit, and rescue in our dark times.  The bible is full of scriptures about obedience such as:

Genesis 22:18
and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.

Deuteronomy 5:33
Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.

1 Kings 2:3
and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.

1 Peter 1:22
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.

2 John 1:6
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

Has there ever been a time when  you were called to obedience, even when you didn’t understand why?