Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Contemplating

OK, so I am driving to work the other day and the thing I dread most as I pulled out of my subdivision happened ... I got caught waiting for the high school bus to pull in its stop sign and release me from the endless moment of time-loss. Now I know that it is for the safety of the "kids," but these are high school "kids" ... most of them are bigger than me! Anyway, the problem is that they all seem to move so slow. Watching them, I am just about positive that they are actually moving in slow motion. But I am a rule-follower, so I (when I leave late and get caught) simply wait and wait and wait. With that said, let me tell you a little more about the other morning.

The normal mass of "kids" had slow-mo'ed their way to the bus, the stop sign had resended it's order to yield, and the bus had started to mosey on its way ... when out of the corner of my eye I saw a lone "kid" walking ever so slowly towards the now empty location of the bus. When he arrived at the aforementioned site, the bus was about half a block down the street. Now I know that you are thinking he immediately started chasing after the bus with his arms a waving, but you are mistaken. He did raise his hands and did wave them around in a half-hearted way, and then he started to walk down the street in the direction that the bus was still driving. The bus driver did see him, and pulled the bus over extending once again the stop sign capable of bringing traffic to a stand still. Let me interject here that I could have at this point turned right and continued on my way, but I was so intrigued by the building situation that I remained stopped. So now, I am sure you are saying that he must have at that moment decided to run to the bus, which now had its door wide open as an invitation ... beckoning him to come and board, but you are once again mistaken. The boy simply walked at a snail's pace towards the bus that was waiting just for him! Let me just say that I would not make a good bus driver because I would have counted to 10 and then left the young man to think about the benefits of running! Dumbfounded, I decided that I could spend no more time watching, and so I made my turn and left without finding out if the boy ever made it to the bus.

This experience has stayed with me now for many days, and the Lord has been using it to paint a picture for me. You see in this metaphor the bus is God. God pulled over and waiting for us. Waiting for us to get on board. We have all had times that we waved down God, just as the boy did the bus, and have had God signal us and open doors for us ... inviting us to be a part of His will ... And, I would venture to guess that there have been times that all of us have walked, instead of running, towards Him. Thank goodness that he is more like that patient bus driver than like me! I have spent the last few days looking for ways that I am walking, when I should be running and am humbled to say that I too suffer with slow-motionitis.

So, what is it that God is waiting for you for?

To renew your heart towards Him? To forgive someone? To heal your marriage? To turn away from a sin that has consumed you? To spend time with Him? To tell him you deepest fears and surrender them? What is it?

If there is something my friend, run for Him ... run to Him ... and get on the bus.

See you there ...

Lisa

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Speechless

Happy April Fool's Day!

How many of you celebrated today by gifting those you love with a sprinkling of pranks? I know I did! I both received and gave. Being a teacher, I spent the day being caught off guard with statements from my students like: "Mrs. Day, Look at your shirt." "Mrs. Day, There is something on your pants." "Mrs. Day, Look out for the Bee!" (They know that I am allergic and kind of frightened by them.) and all of the other silly little pranks they could think of. Confession, sometimes I was distracted enough with the details of our day that they fooled me, other times I pretended to fall for it just to behold the happy look on their faces as they gleefully announced, "April Fools! I got you!"

Now you might be wondering what this has to do with my Bible memory verse that I am posting today, and there is a connection! As I listened to the rather humorous tales that adults were telling today of trickery, something struck me ... It is so easy to fool people, and to be fooled. It is so easy to simply trust what someone is saying and take it for truth without even thinking about the obvious ... It is April Fool's Day! Here comes the connection ... or rather the disconnection. Why is it then that we have such a difficult time readily believing God's Truths?

I offer the following comparison:

The Liberty Bell Hoax

On April 1, 1996 a full page ad appeared in six major American newspapers (The Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, and USA Today) announcing that the fast food chain Taco Bell had purchased the Liberty Bell. The full text of the ad read:

Taco Bell Buys The Liberty Bell
In an effort to help the national debt, Taco Bell is pleased to announce that we have agreed to purchase the Liberty Bell, one of our country’s most historic treasures. It will now be called the “Taco Liberty Bell” and will still be accessible to the American public for viewing. While some may find this controversial, we hope our move will prompt other corporations to take similar action to do their part to reduce the country’s debt.

In a separate press release, Taco Bell explained that the Liberty Bell would divide its time between Philadelphia and the Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine. It compared the purchase to the adoption of highways by corporations. Taco Bell argued that it was simply “going one step further by purchasing one of the country’s greatest historic treasures.” The company boasted, “Taco Bell’s heritage and imagery have revolved around the symbolism of the bell. Now we’ve got the crown jewel of bells.”

Do you remember that? It happened in 1996, and the public outcry was enormous! People readily believed that Taco Bell could actually buy the Liberty Bell. Looking back, I am sure those fooled are a little embarrassed at their gullibility!

Let's compare that with a common response we seem to have when things are not going well or we are scared, and what God has to say.

Us: I am so scared. These problems are bigger than me. What am I going to do?
God: I am your refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore you will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging."
Us: I am so alone.
God: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6
Us:
Where is God? Why is this happening to me?

Or what about when we are wrestling with forgiving ourselves of something that we feel guilt over...

Us: I am such a loser. How could I have done that? How can God forgive me and love me after what I have done?
God:
If you confess your sins, I am faithful and just and will forgive you your sins and purify you
from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9)
Us: How can I face God after this? I know that He forgives me, but I am so ashamed.
God: As far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your transgressions from you.
Us: I just don't know what to do.


I am sure that many of us have had moments that were fairly close to the one (or both) of the above conversations. Moments where we believed in the circumstances of our life and the rawness of our emotions even more fervently than the truths that God has written for us. I know I have, and I will honestly say that sometimes it is really difficult to believe the TRUTH (His promises to me) instead of the circumstances that seem to loom over me or the emotions that feel so real. How about you?

That brings me to today's verse. It comes from Zephaniah 3:17 and says:

"The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."

Pretty amazing truths, huh? If you said AMEN, then hold on to your hats, because it is even more amazing when you personalize it and change it to first person. Read the following and then close your eyes and imagine God speaking these words to you. Take time to let them sink in.

I, the LORD your God, am with you,
I am mighty to save.
I will take delight in you,
I will quiet you with my love,
I will rejoice over you with singing.

Now if that was not enough, let's take a little look at it line by line in the Amplified Version.

17The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]!

God is with us. He is mighty. He is a warrior. He is a Savior that saves! He is our protector and defender. He is our shield, and He is purposed to save.

He will rejoice over you with love;

God is our Father and he not only rejoices over us, but does so with joy. I know that any parent knows this feeling. Just think back to the feeling the moment your child was handed to you swaddled in a blanket for the very first time. That overwhelming, quiet, wordless, rejoicing that took place in your heart as it swelled with unspeakable joy! That is the way God our Father looks at us, how He feels about us as His children. In the words of my pastor ... He loves us perfectly. It is the way that He has loved each of us from the beginning.

He will rest [in silent satisfaction]

God looks at us and rests in silent satisfaction. Not because of what or who we are now to be sure, but because he sees what we will one day become when we are finally at His feet.

and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them];

This verse does not say that our sins will make His love for us silent, as our transgressions can sometimes make the love of people that love us grow silent. (Thank goodness!) Instead, it says that God's love for us is never fails, despite our failings. It is because of this love, that He makes "No Mention" of our sins and even goes as far as to choose to not even recall them. The God that remembers every star's name, chooses not to recall our forgiven sins. If only we could do the same for each other!

He will exult over you with singing.

Exult means to rejoice greatly or to be jubilant. God rejoices over us with singing in a way that is jubilant. We bring him Joy. His heart is full when He looks at us through the eyes of His Son's saving sacrifice, and He sings over us! How amazing is it to imagine the creator of everything, no matter how small or how grand, sing over imperfect us!

How can read all this and not know the other part of what my pastor said to be true ... "We need Him desperately."


I am left speechless ... no fooling!