Of Stumps, Decay, and New Life….

Take a look at this treasure that I found.   DSCN0316 I was hiking in the beautiful Pacific Northwest rainforest when I stumbled across this.  The God-picture resonated in my spirit so strongly it almost took my breath away.  Do you see it?

Take closer look.

DSCN0317

A tall, large stump.  Decaying and rotting, beginning to crumble.  And growing out of the top?  A tree.  Two trees, actually.  Their roots are stretching down, down, wrapping around the old stump, drawing nutrients from its decay.  New life springing forth out of death.

And once I saw it once, I started noticing it everywhere.

DSCN0324    It’s showing a pattern, illustrating a principal set by God. Like the seed falling in the ground and dying so that a new plant can shoot forth.  There is death, so that there can also be life.  When there is death (of any kind) God has his processes, his microorganisms that turn the decay into nutrients.  A fertile ground ready for a seed.

And how much better if what dies is our own self!  That opens the way for God’s new growth, giving his plan and purposes for our lives fertile soil, rich with nutrients to shoot up from.

Awakening

In our hearts, Lord, in this nation –

Awakening

Holy Spirit, we desire –

Awakening

 

For You and You alone awake my soul,

Awake my soul and sing.

For the world you love, your will be done, let your will be done in me.

 

In your presence, in your power,

Awakening

For this moment, for this hour,

Awakening

 

For you and you alone, awake my soul, awake my soul and sing.

For the world you love,  Your will be done, let your will be done in me.

 

Like the rising sun that shines, From the darkness comes a light;

I hear your voice and this is my

Awakening

 

– Chris Tomlin

Faithful God?

We have a faithful God.  Do we?  Do we really believe that? Most of the time, we proclaim a resounding “Yes!”  But then stuff happens.  Life happens.  Do we have a faithful God when everything is falling apart?  Do we have a faithful God when our dreams aren’t fulfilled?  Do we?

I’ve had one of those weeks.  I had a miscarriage last week.  I think it should hurt to write it, but it seems this week has been more mind-numbing.  That’s almost worst.  Last week, before we knew for sure, I suspected.  I got into the van one day and turned it on to hear “Blessed Be Your Name” by Matt Redman.  It has a line from Job in it.  “You give and take away.  My heart will choose to say:  Lord blessed be your name.”  It was a clear direct line to my heart as I heard God ask, “Will you?  Will you bless me regardless of what happens?”  I choose yes.  Even “when there’s pain in the offering.”

So is God faithful?  I say yes.  I don’t have answers to why anything happens.  It doesn’t feel good.  But yes, he’s faithful, and he’s good.  That’s all I know.  I’ve been listening to this song by Chris Tomlin on repeat this week:

“I will sing to the maker of heaven and earth

God you reign forever, and your love will endure

Faithful and True is the Name of the Lord

You are faithful God

You are there in every season of my soul

You are there – you’re the anchor that will hold

You are there, in the valley of the shadow

You are faithful God”

I don’t have any answers for why painful things happen.  But I do know from experience that he is good and faithful.  To prove it to myself, I decided to start listing.  Feel free to read along if you like, but these are mostly reminders for me of what He has done.  They are in no particular order, except just the order they entered my mind.

1.  As a kid, we didn’t have enough money for the mortgage one month.  Came home from somewhere to find the exact amount in an envelope tucked into the door.  (Heard this from my parents as a child, and I still think of it every time the issue of God taking care of his children comes up.)

2. My baby had to have emergency surgery when she was 3 weeks old.  Everything went amazingly well, and we had provisions that we needed.

3.  When we moved to Oregon in 2006 we literally moved without the money to do it.  We were simply following what God told us to do.  Somehow, the money was there when we needed it – even though we had several hundred dollars stolen.

4. When I was 17, my parents and sisters and I were traveling by boat to Pikangikum, Ontario.  The rapids were too high, our boat flipped midway through the rapids.  We all came out of an event unscathed that should have been disastrous.

5.  When I was in Jerusalem,  my friend and I were out walking in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City when riots and shooting broke out nearby. (Not a good place for Americans to be.)   Two soldiers grabbed us along with a few others and took us to a safe place to wait until it was safe again.

6.  There are countless times when I’ve had a difficult or challenging day, where I felt His presence, and He simply gave me his peace.

7.   He gave me a new name: Hephzibah – which means “my delight is in her.”

8.  While in Jerusalem, I kept waking up automatically around 5:30AM – which was a little annoying.  Then one morning, read Isaiah 50:4 – “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.  He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.”  I thought that was interesting… maybe that’s why I’ve been waking up early?  That same day, I received a letter from my mom (which had been sent over a week before) that included a statement that “Daddy told me to give you this verse” – Isiah 50:4.  God is waking me up to listen to Him?  Now that will make you pay attention!

9.  When I pay attention, he will give me His words in my mouth, for any situation.

10.  He has provided me with a good husband and 4 beautiful children.

11.  He speaks.  Sometimes loudly, most of the time whispering.  But his voice is always there when I take time to listen.

12.  He gives wisdom and insight into difficult situations.

I could go on… but my laptop is about to die.  One other song that’s been playing on repeat this week:

And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?  And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?

Faithful God

Faithful… forever you are faithful

Father to the fatherless

You uphold the one who feels forsaken

You are Faithful God

 

Faithful… forever you are faithful

Lover of the wounded heart

You defend the poor and the forgotten

You are faithful God

 

And I will sing to the maker of heaven and earth

God you reign forever and your love will endure

Faithful and True is the name of the Lord

You are Faithful God

 

Faithful… forever you are faithful

Shelter for the fragile soul

You lift us up; you hold us all together,

You are Faithful God

 

And I will sing to the maker of heaven and earth

God you reign forever and your love will endure

Faithful and True is the name of the Lord

You are Faithful God

 

You are there in every season of my soul

You are there – you’re the anchor that will hold

You are there in the valley of the shadows

You are Faithful God

 

And I will sing to the maker of heaven and earth

God you reign forever and your love will endure

Faithful and True is the name of the Lord

You are Faithful God

 

– Chris Tomlin

 

 

Working Hard at Creating Fruit … and Other Pointless Tasks

Think of the most pointless thing you have ever done.  You work so hard, spent time, sweat, maybe money and tears… just to realize in the end it was futile.  Frustrating, eh?  Okay, so I’m not going to talk about all of those pointless tasks. I just have one more to add to the list.  One that I’ve been working especially hard at lately.  Yes, you got it right.  Working especially hard at a pointless task.  Brilliant, isn’t it?

There are certain things that have not been as prevalent in my life in recent months as they should be (and as they have been in the past).  Joy.  Patience.  Persistence.  Demonstrating love to others (the love is there, but I’m not always good at letting it show).  So I’ve been working hard to get them back.  Life just isn’t the same without them.  Actually, it’s just plain miserable.  For example, I do things like trying really hard to keep the house clean – because I get upset and frustrated A LOT when it’s not.  It’s a way of trying to control my attitude.  But you know what?  It doesn’t really work for long – at least it hasn’t been for me.  There’s are certain things that somehow are always out-of-place, a child that decides to complain constantly, a baby who doesn’t want to be put down, meetings at work to go to, feeling just plain tired… the list of things that mess up my plans goes on and on.

It hit me the other day while reading Galatians that it’s not as difficult as I’m making it.  Maybe you noticed that some of the things mentioned above that I’m lacking are also listed in Galatians as “fruits of the Spirit.”  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  So, having self-control isn’t something I have to work hard at.  All I have to do is “walk in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25), and a natural by-product is… ta da!  Fruit.  Self control.  Joy.  Patience.

According to John 15, we are just branches.  Jesus is our tree from which we draw life from.  Branches don’t have to work very hard, it seems.  They just live in the tree.  They’re a conduit through which sap and nutrients flow, and, like magic, an orange will appear.  Or a peach.  Jesus called it (again in John 15) “abiding with Him.”  Really?  That’s it?  All I have to do is abide in Him.  Live in the Spirit.  As I do that faithfully, maybe, just maybe, the fruit will start popping out everywhere!

And If Our God Is For Us….

Water You turned into wine,

Opened the eyes of the blind;

There’s no one like You; none like You.

 

Into the darkness You shine,

Out of the ashes we rise;

There’s no one like You; none like You.

 

Our God is greater, our God is stronger;

God, You are higher than any other.

Our God is healer; awesome in power –

Our God, our God.

 

And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?

And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?

 

– Chris Tomlin