Friday, January 31, 2014

Subtle Deception

I finally started reading my first C.S. Lewis book – The Screwtape Letters. I’ve often wanted to read his classic works about Christianity and haven’t had the chance. I’m only a few chapters into this tale of a senior demon mentoring a junior demon and am struck with the simple deceptions used against humans.
This (just a few short pages into the book) made a huge impression on me: “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” Wow, yes, it is the things we forget that often are our downfall. It is God’s truths kept from our minds or replaced with deliberate lies that take us down the wrong path.
How many lies have we believed in this life?
  1. I’m ugly, stupid, no one could love me.
  2. I’m afraid of _____.
  3. This will never work.
  4. I could never do ______.
  5. I will just get sick like everyone else.
Several years back, I started keeping a notebook with two columns in it. The first column listed the lies and the second column listed God’s truths and what he desires for my life. The second column to the above lies looks something like this:
  1. I am a beautiful, intelligent child of God loved by God and by my husband and family.
  2. There is no fear in love for perfect love casts out fear. (rough paraphrase of 1 John 4:18)
  3. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
  4. I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me. (rough paraphrase of Philippians 4:13)
  5. I am healthy and strong and my body works the way God intends.
Reading The Screwtape Letters reminds me that when the enemy is keeping the good, right, honest, and true thoughts from our heads, we must bring God’s truths back into the equation.
What truths do you believe are kept from your mind?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What a Bird Taught Me About Complaining

Winter in southeast Michigan brutally assaulted us this year. A constant barrage of snow storms, extremely cold temperatures combined with repeatedly negative windchills have left us housebound and generally at a loss for what to do next. Plans constantly changing, roads icy and impassable, cancellations and structure thrown about. Everywhere I look or listen, I hear whining, complaining, and general disgruntlement.
I’ve been doing my best to be quiet and accept each day for what it is, but this is not an easy task. This morning, I woke before dawn as I typically do. I peeked out the back window to the stone frozen quiet, stars glittering, silver, sliver moon above.
As I started getting ready, I looked outside again, dawning day in blue and yellow and I heard a rabble - quiet but steady. One bird - chirping, tweeting, singing. A single, solitary greeting to the day. I looked earnestly for that bird. Every few minutes listening intently as the tweeting continued - a full 45 minutes of uninterrupted singing, praising in this bitter cold - that still, small voice.
This unprecedented weather - it has stopped us, stilled us, slowed us down, turned us, slipped our focus, dulled our senses by the shear repetitive nonsense of it all. But this bird got up and sang anyway. This bird knows his purpose - to glorify his God - to sing his praises, to fulfill his calling - to sing. And isn’t that what we need to do? Why complain about something we can’t change?
If the sun rose this morning and you have breath, health and your family around you, aren’t you compelled by gratitude to your creator? Even if you don’t have those things, God isn’t finished with you yet and isn’t that enough to know that you - a work in progress - can humbly, quietly continue in the purpose you were given?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Not Safe

Three years ago, I witnessed a horrible tragedy that caused the death of a friend.  The incident replayed over and over in my head in those dark days afterwards and I pleaded to God saying, “If this is how life is – ending in a twisted moment where one human attacks another and it is over in an instant, I don’t want to live safe anymore.  I don’t want to make decisions that are predictable or expected.  I want to live a different life – a life where I’m stepping out into what you want, God.  Into what I cannot see or understand – a dangerous, jumping off a cliff kind of life for you.”  I was terrified of what I had just seen, but this prayer was definitely the most dangerous prayer I had ever prayed. 

It was a prayer of despair and I didn’t fully realize it then, but it changed my mind – how I thought about everything; transformed how I wanted to live.  I remember later that day at home feeling frozen, unsure of how to move forward, what direction to take. 
I remember praying again, “God, I am terrified to pray this, but please take this life and this fear and I will do whatever you ask.  I don’t know how and why and when, but I will do it.”  I didn’t know if I could follow through, but I knew that God was with me.

Months later, I left my job under circumstances I never could have predicted without financial plans to make that reality work.  For the first time, I was living that “unsafe” life.  I wrote here about free falling.

As I look back three years later, I see that God has allowed me to “jump off my cliff”.  I have a new, calm rhythm to my life.  While from the outside, it looks ordinary, quiet, and predictable.  Back then, today’s reality was unthinkable, scary, undoable. 
I’m grateful for that “unsafe” prayer that I prayed.  I believe it opened a door for God to work in my life in ways I never imagined possible.  I am humbled and honored that God brought me to this place. 
What “dangerous” prayer have you prayed and how did God change your life because of it?