Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What I Deserve...

He walked from the arena, the sides of his horse heaving like bellows from the exertion, and we looked at eachother in anticipation. It was a great run... Dare we hope? The speakers crackled ever so slightly and the annoucer began his reiteration of the stallion's name and rider. He did not do the signature inflection of the winning score and so for a moment we all deflated just a bit on our metal bleacher seats. Then, with a smile barely perceptable in his voice, as if he knew what he was doing to announce it so blandly, the voice dropped upon our waiting ears the winning score! We were ahead!!! The owner let out a whoop and a holler that belied the surprise and excitement only she could feel at that moment. She spun in place, waving her arms in elation as she giggled like a school girl with delight. What an amazing moment in time... Truly amazing.

As I walked with her back to the excercise arena to meet up with her horse, I was flooded with a rush of gratitude to God for giving her this moment. It was exactly what this woman needed at exactly the right time. This woman who had lost so much, who was dealing with such deep seated regret and anguish in her life, was being graced by God in a way she could hold and understand. As she burst into tears and sobbed, we exchanged a look between us that said much more than words could ever encompass. She knew she had been gifted this blessing not because she deserved it or had a ringer in the bag. God was reaching out and touching her, blessing her beyond measure for His pleasure alone. It is humblng to watch and even more humbling to receive.

You know the moment I speak of. Those times when something has landed in your lap, completely unexpected and undeserved. Those times when you would almost rather not be in the bright spotlight of God's amazing blessing and love. It is almost unbearable, that searing love He pours out upon you with delight in His heart. I have had experiences like that where the blessing seems to keep coming, running over the rim of my outstretched hands for its abundance. It is overwhelming and a little frightening, first because it comes mostly when we least expect it and secondly because when God gives it tends to be much more than we could have ever asked for. Details we never thought to ask for pour forth with perfection in every aspect. Like watching a baby's birth or a brilliant sunrise, we are distinctly reminded that God has it all under control.

We are tempted in that moment occasionally to reject the gift because we are aware in those humbling stretches that we are definitely not worthy of such unconditional, all encompassing love. It is then that we need be reminded, we are never worthy of His love or His gifts, He gives for His pleasure and His glory alone. We can never deserve it, never earn it, never expect it out of our own riteousness, we can only accept that when God gives us His gifts it is at His discretion. Don't expect to ever understand how this works, my friends. He will never make earthly sense to us in this. Just accept that at times, you are the recipient and praise Him for His generosity. Afterall, He could give us exactly what we deserve - And no one wants that!

Waiting on God can be exhausting. It reminds me of having a newborn baby. You are up all times of the day and night, feeding, changing, rocking and caring for this little child. You may have waited years to have kids and you inevitably feel a pang of guilt when you realize you are beginning to resent this tiny bundle of joy who never seems to quit demanding things of you. Just about the time that you think you might crack up and be found wadded up in a heap at the bottom of your closet with the door closed, that precious little child smiles. They begin looking in your eyes with recognition and joy and you realize that you have now been rejuvenated to keep on going. 

God is growing us, stretching us and conditioning us to be His. That can be a painful process, but it isn't without its rewards. Just when you are ready to throw in the towel and call it quits, God is there too. It may not come in a package that you expect, or with such drama as I have described above, but God is waiting to invigorate you as well. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Just Enough Is More Than I Had Before...

I am in awe that God is so patient with me. More than once I have had aha! moments that I am sure He is rolling his eyes over my utter lack of understanding. This morning was one of those moments.

I read devotionals after I have taken the kids to the bus stop and the house is quieted down from the morning fervor. It is my way of centering my head and getting my day started on (hopefully) the right path. Right now, the two I am most consistent with are "Jesus Calling" and "Jesus Lives" by Sarah Young. (I like her stuff, obviously.) Today, she knocked me back on my heels with an observation that still has tendrils of smoke emanating from my ears.

I think all of us who have experienced Christian-ese are familiar with the term and concept that God gives us "strength for the day." I had heard that many times, right along with, "God won't give you more than you can handle," and "God will equip you for what He asks of you." All very true and you can get into a mantra mind-set with these concepts. Telling yourself over and over, "God is right here with me in this..." but sometimes I realize for me, they are just words. Like a saying given to me as child to calm my fears and panic, I recount these facts in my mind, but never really assimilate what they truly mean.

This morning, I stepped into understanding with Sarah Young's help. Not only does God care about where I am in my life and what is going on, He cares enough to send me just the right amount of holy aid for each individual situation. When I need ALOT he sends ALOT. When I need just a smidge, he sends just a smidge. I know it sounds very pedestrian of me not to have gotten this before now, but I hadn't. God tailors the amount of Holy Help He sends my way depending on the looming need of the task itself... When things are sooo very bad and I am sure I cannot handle it at all, much less alone, God amps up the aid accordingly! I am given differing amounts of God's empowerment correlating directly to how much help I need and how willing I am to depend on Him.

yeah... That last sentence got me too. I am empowered depending on how much I am willing to look to Him for the help. Hmphf! Could it be that those places I want to question God about how much He is helping out are actually pointing to the fact that I am not depending on His abilities, but my own? Very revealing, don't you think? I sure do! I am sure that Peter found it revealing as well when he started to sink in the water after he realized the magnitude of stepping out of that boat to greet his Savior... Peter, suddenly bold, said, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come ahead." But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, "Master, save me!" Jesus didn't hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, "Faint-heart, what got into you?" (Matthew 14:28-31 MSG)

The next time hard days darken my door, I hope that I can remember the words of Sara Young and realize that God is completely in control of my life. He will empower me with the perfect amount of His abilities to tackle whatever I am facing, as long as I am looking to Him - not my own abilities to overcome. Just don't look down....