Surrounded

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?’ the servant asked.

“‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.

And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.‘”

He doesn’t bring us out into the desert to die! You are NOT abandoned! Ask God what He thinks of your situation. Versus trying to figure it out on your own. You need His peace that passes all understanding. Versus the words of a thousand well-meaning people. Don’t look at the waves. Look at The One who walks on all waters.

You are not alone! No, you are LOVED! To the ends of the earth. Around the galaxy and back. Over and over. Ask for Him to help you see. To help you see Him, yourself, and your place in Him. In His heart.

Your strength is not needed. Perfect love casts out fear. Rest. Be still; He is God. Your God. The same God of old. His love never fails. Ask Him to help you see.

2 Chronicles 20. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. You will not need to fight. “when they began to sing…”

Running Scared

First a photo from yesterday’s sunset.

Again I ran into another brick wall today. I fought and kicked and did my best to break free. Nothing. Just exhaustion. And then tons of encouragement followed just when I was starting to feel abandoned. What gives?

The thought came to me: I feel like God is “breaking” me. That sounds like a bad thing. But hear me out. The picture that came to mind was of a mistreated horse. Overwhelmed by fear. Jumping, kicking, running. How do they train such horses? They put pressure on them in order to help them conquer their fears. They don’t let them run away. They force them to face the situation calmly. And then when they settle down, they are rewarded with a release of pressure.

Here I am, facing many fears. Over and over. Feeling mad at God because I feel like He is being mean to me and punishing me. I bet that’s what the horse that is being broken also thinks. But I picture God gently pressuring me. More pressure the more I fight. Less pressure and even comfort when I relax and rest in Him. When I see Him for who He is.

Quite a beautiful analogy. He’s so patient. He lets me fight as long as I want. He knows eventually I’ll tire out and see He can be trusted. He does not hurt me. He keeps me safe. Knowing eventually I will trust Him more and more. Eventually I will calm down. Eventually I will face Him.

And I have. From where I was in the beginning. But these are deeper and deeper levels of healing. So encouraged.

I see how the horse trainers take the horses that have learned to trust them and use those horses to teach others to trust the trainers. And in that spirit, I post and share. Such a beautiful Genius, our Creator. My God and my Father.

Perfect Order

I decided to sit quietly yesterday for some meditative reflection time. To seek God for direction. But as a driven person, I find the “thunder of silence” to be very discomforting. I needed to find something to do in order to focus my energy while I “rested”. So I opened up some boxes of Legos that I had been meaning to sort, organize, and consolidate. The work was just the right balance of mental focus and repetitiveness.

After sorting some pieces out, I decided to stick them together for storage. I wanted a perfect square cube of pieces. I tried for some time with different combinations to build my “perfect” square. It was not happening. I was feeling frustrated.

Then the still quiet nudge I had been hoping to encounter during this exercise: “This is what you do in life. If things don’t go perfectly according to YOUR plan, you feel very frustrated. There is no perfect anything in this world. Let go, accept imperfection, work with what you have, and do your best. There is beauty in this. Beyond the delusion of sanitized safety.”

This stretches me. This is not what I wanted to hear. The woman with the 4.0 GPA. I wanted the “perfect” job, the “perfect” spouse, the “perfect” church congregation, the “perfect” school, the “perfect” living situation, etc. But that is not real life.

I need to take my own advice that I gave during the graduation ceremony last month. What is it that keeps us so petrified of failure? I feel like maybe our sense of safety, worth, and validation are wrapped up in there somewhere. Seeking to find those things in the external. Versus resting in God.

Easier said than done. There is some chip in me that says if God loves me then He won’t allow me to ever feel any pain, discomfort, etc. So how can I trust You God if I encounter turbulence? We are always screaming, “Where were You, God? Where are You?”

And yet Jesus, The Beloved, is rejected, beaten, whipped, crushed, nailed, abused, tortured, betrayed, murdered, etc. By us. This is not the gospel we want. This is not prosperity preaching. We yell like those when He was giving Himself away: “If You’re who You say You are, get down here and deliver!”

Let’s be honest. We want Him to stop the abusers. We want Him to cure the sickness that takes a child or spouse or other loved one from us. Where do we go when we feel let down? Where do I go?

These days I am more quickly able to settle down, regroup, and change my approach when I go back to the fact that I know from my own experience that God is so good and loves us so much. This assurance is not something that can be postured for very long. It comes through relationship versus religion.

It must be my understanding that is wrong. Otherwise I am saying I know better than God; I am qualified to be God more than Him. It’s easy to criticize when you are watching from the sidelines and the weight isn’t on your shoulders. Not that God is incompetent or lacking in any way.

There is this balance I am trying to find between all His omnis and my “responsibility”. As I say that I remember being told that William Paul Young says the word responsibility is not in the Bible. Only the word respond. A rabbit trail?

The parable of the talents. It always strikes me that the man who did nothing was the one who was disciplined. My views of parables have changed a bit from the old party lines. Might have to revisit this one when I have time one day.

They say don’t take the Bible out of context. That it is written for us but not to us. And I find myself worn out from searching for answers versus trusting.

Yet real life calls. How do we move forward? Resting and trusting while at the same time knowing our choices matter. The Olympian receives awards and benefits but not without effort. Maybe gifting is part of the deal, but not pure luck. Probably very few totally free rides to the top?

I hear Paul say

Experience

God doesn’t seem to allow me to have a purely intellectual theology. He seems way more interested in the slow cook method that gets down into each and every cell. Renewing our minds, not only filling them up with knowledge. I am thankful for this even as I am frustrated inside the process. Head knowledge only goes so far; God untested is God untrusted?

Stubborn

Thought this was a really great video for people who are trying to get creative projects off the ground. Creating will humble you and teach you a lot about yourself. Things that are really helpful to know if you can swallow your pride and eat some humble pie.

You find out first of all that ideas are a dime a dozen. I’ve learned the hard way to trade action for a lot of talking. All the little choices and decisions mean a lot and make a difference. Talent might get you a shot, but hard work and practice keep you on the team. Discipline. All that boring hard stuff that isn’t a lot of fun. That won’t attract a lot of companions until it starts to pay off.

Will you give up when you encounter turbulence? Will I? Get back up. Fine-tune your approach and give it another go. This is living. Do you want to be comfortable or do you want to stop dreaming and start making real life happen? Versus just a cultivated social media image and wishful thinking.

Good news is that our society in the USA is so spoiled right now that a lot of doors are left wide open for those willing to put in the work that others resist. People risk their lives to come to this country and we’re going to sit here and complain? Not a good look.

How hungry are you? Get it together.