Not Forgotten

She forgot to pick me up.

I stood on my pink ballet shoe tip-toes squinting through the rain that ran squiggly rivers down the front lobby window. Panic slowly rising up in my chest as tutus and hair-bows disappeared behind car doors and the carpool line shrunk to zero, zilch. And still she wasn’t there.

She forgot me.

And just as my throat squeezed tight and the tears threatened to spill over, that old silvery-blue Mazda pulled to a stop in front of me. And her brown eyes met mine with a huge smile and exaggerated wave.

Mom!

Dance Recital circa 1994

I stand on my grown-up tip-toes. Scanning the path I’m on. Searching through confusion. Sorting through my mind. Wondering at the plan.

Where is He?

I wonder if God’s people in the Old Testament felt the same way. Those 400 years between Old Testament and New Testament. I wonder if they thought, “He forgot us!”

But He hadn’t forgotten. He was still working. Matthew 1 shows the genealogy from Abraham to Jesus, including those 400 years! God was moving the whole time, preparing the way for Christ to come.

Just like my mother hadn’t forgotten. Just like she was moving forward through the storm, coming for me at the exact moment I was sure she was a million miles away. He is not still. He has not abandoned. He’s moving. Working towards making His name great. Working for my good and, if you are in Christ, for yours too. Accomplishing HIS perfect plan that was written before the world ever existed.

And just as I start to panic. His kind compassionate eyes meet mine. His warmth and safety engulf me. I remember His covenant to never leave me. His urge for me to trust Him echoes in my ears. His promise to perfect my weak, weak faith rushes to the forefront of my mind.

Father!


The Wait

by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
And the Master so gently said, “Wait.”

“Wait? you say wait?” my indignant reply.
“Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I’m claiming your Word.

“My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I’m needing a ‘yes’, a go-ahead sign,
Or even a ‘no’ to which I can resign.

“You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I’ve been asking, and this is my cry:
I’m weary of asking! I need a reply.”

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, “Wait.”
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, “So, I’m waiting for what?”

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
and He tenderly said, “I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

“I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You’d have what you want, but you wouldn’t know Me.
You’d not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You’d not know the power that I give to the faint.

“You’d not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there.
You’d not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.

“You’d never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

“The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

“You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I’m doing in you.

“So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait.”

Oh, how this so perfectly describes my anxious heart not wanting to be still! I’ve been praying and asking and seeking. I’ve pleaded with the Lord to show me where He’s leading.  I’ve gotten frustrated that I’m seemingly forgotten. But He hasn’t forgotten. Oh restless, impatient, forgetful heart be still! Knowing the Giver is infinitely greater than knowing the gift.

Gates of Hades

Part 3 in The Austin Stone’s “From Israel” series (see Part 1 here and Part 2 here). Matt Carter delivers a sermon from Caesarea Philippi.

The Gates of Hades at Caesarea Philippi: This was the center of pagan worship in the first century. The pagan gods here were loved and worship and honored. The people of this time dedicated their lives to gods they though would endure forever. Yet, how familiar are you with Echo the Mountain Nymph? or Nemesis? or Pan?

This is the place Jesus took his disciples in Matthew 16 where he asked “Who do people say that I am?”

psst… click the four arrows-facing-out button on the bottom right of the video to make it full screen.

The Gates of Hades from The Austin Stone on Vimeo.

Thankfulness

I’m tired today. Like… soul tired. I’m just not feeling oh so joyful. I’m feeling down and annoyed and frustrated and “leave me alone”-like.

I know, I know…  I’m being a Negative Nancy

Oscar the Grouch…

Ebenezer Scroodge…

{insert other ridiculously negative life-hating characters here}…

And though life is not as easy as pie, though circumstances aren’t helping my crabbiness… it’s still not an excuse to give into the way I feel.

Instead, we {and by we I mean me} are going to take this opportunity to be thankful because really… what is there not to be thankful for when my Savior and the Creator of the universe loves me??? When He loves me so much that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, {nor bad days, nor diminishing bank accounts, nor ungrateful co-workers, nor eating sandwiches for 7 meals in a row, nor headaches, nor loneliness, nor sleepless nights, nor weariness} nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from HIS love?!? {Romans 8:38-39}

His love is enough. It’s MORE than enough. So today I will choose to be thankful. I will choose joy.

Just two things in my life I'm beyond thankful for: My great-grandparents. These two amazing people in my life have poured themselves into me: encoured, loved, hugged, baked cookies, made carboard box castles, supported me, taught me to swim, and breathed scripture by the way they've lived their lives. Thank you Lord for using these two incredible people to show me what it is to be your hands and feet.

Garden of Gethsemane

Part 2 in The Austin Stone’s “From Israel” series. Matt Carter delivers a sermon from The Garden of Gethsemane.

Holy cow… if you like the first video (seen here) you will be BLOWN away by this one. Garden of Gethsemane: the place Jesus prayed hours before he was crucified. He was right there! Right there! Can you even comprehend that?!? This is where our Savior spent his remaining time before dying for the sins of the entire world! I’m blown away.

psst… click the four arrows-facing-out button on the bottom right of the video to make it full screen

The Garden of Gethsemane from The Austin Stone on Vimeo.

Sermon on the Mount

Austin Stone is doing a 4 week video series, “From Israel” All of the videos are shot entirely on site from Israel. It’s incredible to see the words of scripture come to life in the places they happened 2000 years ago!

Here is part one. Matt Carter reads the words of Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. Take a few minutes to watch this video. I promise it will bless you.

psst… click the four arrows-facing-out button on the bottom right of the video to make it full screen 

Sermon on the Mount from The Austin Stone on Vimeo.

New

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. “

Isaiah 43:18

So encouraged by this today. So humbled that MY God makes things new. So amazed that HE can make water spring up in the desert. He can make a path where there was none before.

Keep looking forward, keep pressing on.

HE makes all things new!

This Moment

This moment is painful. This speck of time I want so desperately to escape. Go backwards. Go forwards… any moment but this one. Any time but now.

The enemy is whispering. . .  Failure. Unloved. Weak. Alone. Hopeless. Broken. Unwanted. Forgotten.

His lies. . . Run. Escape. Don’t press into Him. He has no plan for you. Run. Escape the pain. Run. Run. Run. . .

I want to be there, last summer, laughing on the beach and so full I thought I might burst. Two years ago… basking in the Iraqi sun with my Kurdish friends singing Happy Birthday. That college night  surrounded by the family I chose, up until 3AM and laughing so hard I cried. At that gymnastics meet I won, grasping the plastic “gold” medal, my most treasured possession. I want to be 5 years old again, when scraping my knee was devastating, yet all I needed was to be wrapped in their arms to know my world was perfect again.

I don’t want to be in this second. I want it to be next year, my heart more mended, my pain more forgotten. Want it to be that moment when all the puzzle pieces fit and He says look daughter, this is why I created you to be you – this is why I brought you through. I want it to be my wedding day. Want it to be the day I become a mom. I want it to be tomorrow. Next week. Next month. But now? This now I just want to escape. This now-ness is a heavy blanket crushing me – I want to be out from under it.

But now is what I have. This moment is where I grow. Here is where He loves and shapes me. This second is where He picks me up, draws me closer, and urges me to trust.

This moment I choose to give up control. This second I choose to take comfort in El Roi,  my God that sees. This moment is where He has me and so this is the moment I will take shelter under His wings.

Blessings

Blessings – Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching(s) of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Help me to choose to trust You. Your plan. Your promises. Your guidance. Your love. Your portion.

You, Lord. . . You are enough.

Nothing?

The idea of missions has always excited me.

This idea of being GREAT for the Lord.

I hear stories about Billy Graham and the thousands and thousands of people he’s led to Christ. Mother Theresa and the millions of lives she touched. The young Katie Davis who is devoting her life to the people of Uganda and changing the lives of hundreds and hundreds. She has thousands who read her blog.

All of that is exciting! It’s exhilarating. How great the Lord has used these people. I would commit my life to that in a second. ‘Here am I; send me”!!!

But what if His calling for me is to be nothing for Him. What if my purpose in life is to serve and love and pour myself out but never to see the fruit this side of heaven? What if no one remembers my name? What if no books about me are written? No movie drafted in my honor? What then? What if God calls me to some remote place to spend all of my days loving on people and not one of them becomes a believer in my lifetime? What if he calls me to have a 9 – 5 job for the rest of my life and serve my co-workers but not harvest the fruit?

Doesn’t sound very glamorous. It’s sounds excruciatingly hard.

But what if that were my calling? It very well could be…

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Col 3:23-24

Am I willing to be nothing for Him?