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All posts for the month December, 2013

Distractions

Published December 18, 2013 by Dawn

“LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!!” My mom and my kids stopped their chatter and chores and stared at me like I had lost my mind. I just continued yelling nonsensical things at the top of my lungs, disregarding their stares. I was panicked and didn’t know what else to do: the ice cream man was on our street!

I don’t know what drove me to it. Maybe it was the torture of their puppy-dog eyes pleading with me for overpriced confections. Maybe it was my budget screaming because I’d finally pinched it enough to draw blood. Maybe it was because I knew that I could walk down the street to the store and buy an entire box of assorted frozen yummies for the price of one frozen spongebob-on-a-stick with tiny gumball eyes. Whatever it was, I was filled with dread the moment I heard his familiar jingle in the air. That’s why I started yelling. And from then on, we kept up this routine every time the ice cream man stalked our street, which happened seemingly way too often. Two or three times a week is a bit much, don’t you think?

My kids had no idea why my mom and I would spontaneously begin yelling things at any given hour of the day that summer. Their initial response was confusion, but as time wore on, they responded with joy and giddiness, until finally, they responded with much contempt and irritation. They never got it. They never realized, until a whole year later, when it all started again and they watched him turn past our house, why we were yelling. Then it finally dawned on them: we’d been distracting them from hearing the ice cream man. It was the best trick I’ve ever been the author of!

My recollection of this today was a very sobering thing. There was no joy in it. After all, the remembrance came about when it finally dawned on me why so many things are screaming in my own life. I realized today that just like I had done to my kids, I am being distracted. After all, I had heard it. A soft ring in the air. A faint whisper of His nearness. The voice of God. Not thundering, but gradually growing louder as the distance between us disappeared. There I was, inclining my ear to listen, when all of the sudden, senseless noise drowned it all out and I stood with a confused look on my face wondering what was happening.

Isn’t it just like the devil to steal from us the precious things that make life meaningful? The whispers from God that strengthen us, that fill us with love and joy and gladness and peace. His voice, which is what we live for, drowned out by a louder and more demanding shout. Satan, creating a chaotic noise with lesser things, robs us of the most beautiful experience ever made available to man: communion with our creator.

Under the noise of our biological clocks ticking away and under the commotion of our emotions running frantic, there’s still a gentle whisper. Beneath the loud, paralyzing accusations of our enemy there’s a voice speaking. Do you want to know why your head is splitting from the noise in your life? God is speaking. Still speaking. And Satan and his cronies are doing their best to keep you from hearing it. Why? Well, I could say contempt and be right. I could examine all the motives the devil may have for distracting a child of God, but the one that stands at the forefront of my mind is this: He’s panicked. He knows what will happen when you hear the voice of your Beloved calling you. He knows the joy that will spring up in you, the excitement, the desire. The need you have to be near God that will pulse through you when you hear His voice: Satan knows it well. He knows the satisfaction it will bring you to be intimately close to the Lord, communing with Him. Being liberated by Him. Being loved by Him. Basking in the light of His Shekinah glory. Walking hand in hand with the one who makes your heart soar. Satan can’t stand it. He’s desperate to keep you from God, because away from God, you are more his and less His.

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Are you Esther or Vashti?

Published December 13, 2013 by Dawn

With a quiet confidence, she strolled along the corridor taking in the elaborate beauty of the palace. The golden curtains trimmed in silver and purple hanging along the outer window frames, the long couches that lined the halls. She reached out her hand and ran it along the silk fabric and breathed a sigh of wonder. How had she ever come to be mistress of such elegant, breath-taking splendor? She still shuddered with pure delight at the feel of the silk dresses as her maidservant dressed her every morning. Still closed her eyes and breathed deeply the smells of soap and perfume that surrounded every article of clothing in her dressing room. She still caught her breath at the sight of her hair, lavishly washed and fixed every morning, and still couldn’t help but lose her breath every time she heard the new name: Queen Esther.

It seemed like overnight, she had become someone else completely. She was newly married to the most powerful man in the entire country, and as a result, was adorned in a beauty that defied everything she’d ever wished for herself. She also lived in a palace and there, held an authority she didn’t completely understand. She’d grown up quickly in that year of preparation, from being a young Jewish girl to a lady of mystery and intrigue. She was naturally beautiful, but what Hegai had been able to do in that time to refine her was both wonderful and humbling.

Esther though, had something that Vashti did not. Something that kept her in a place in the King’s heart that Vashti had never been. It wasn’t beauty alone that endeared him to her. After all, Vashti was flaunted in the palace because of her beauty. She was famous in the kingdom for it. Although Esther was also very beautiful, there was something else in her. Something that caught the attention of Hegai, that garnered his special favor and ultimately won the heart of the king. It was her humility. Her ability to show an honest respect toward those around her and to exchange her own immediate comfort and desires to submit to the will of others. She is a beautiful example to us today of a godly wife, as well as the Bride of Christ.

Esther knew her place. She knew she was the queen, and therefore entitled. She knew she had authority in the palace. She also knew the value of respecting those in authority too. She didn’t share the same authority as the King, or even his advisors, and she didn’t mistakenly act like it. When she needed to be heard, she didn’t just rush into the throne room, she spent time in preparation. She dressed to please, and she walked humbly into the presence of the King. She received his welcoming smile because she had given him something Vashti had not: acknowledgement of his kingship.

Today, we are taught that we are equals. I guess that sounds nice if you are a woman, but its not exactly biblical. While I do not believe God intended for us to be subservient in any way, He does acknowledge that we are the weaker sex and that we need the guidance as well as the love of our husband. Our husbands are told to love us as Christ loved the church. Don’t miss the fact that the church is not equal to Christ. He is the head of the church; our husbands are likewise the head of the family. I believe our familial relationships would fare much better if we heeded to this. If we respected our husbands and worked diligently to build them up, we would have their favor as a natural byproduct of that respect.

That being said, it’s only half my point. The other is this: the respect of our Heavenly King. I am very guilty lately of being more like Vashti than Esther. I have humbly and confidently accepted the royal position of daughter, but then acted like a spoiled brat. I have questioned the Lord’s purpose in things, I’ve questioned His goodness and His love. I’ve grumbled against things He’s directed me to do, unhappy with the results. I’ve ridiculed things I do not understand. I’ve been a nagging wife, a sourpuss, and He’s probably been living on the corner of the roof for the past two months. What makes me equal to God that I can disrespect His sovereignty? While we are invited to boldly approach the throne of grace, we should do so more like Esther, who trembled, understanding the authority of the King who could destroy her with the turn of his scepter. And although we know that God is a gracious and loving God, we should not take that as a license to disrespect His authority and Kingship. We should submit to Him out of both love and a reverent fear. He is our Lord! Our King! Our Father! His position of authority in our life deserves our regard and respect. Our gentle, trusting submission. Our willingness to follow without complaining. In short, our respect.

Hidden

Published December 12, 2013 by Dawn

“What’s wrong with me?” Surely, if consider yourself “still single,” you’ve wondered this a few times. You happen to notice other couples (let’s face it … some days, it’s ALL couples) and you can’t help but catch their body lingo – her smile, the look in his eye, their hands, all pointing to a happy you dream about but haven’t had in like, forever.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Being single is a ministry of it’s own. It’s just you and Jesus in those quieter moments, a deep sense of comfort and companionship radiating from your communion and worship with Him. But then, as the world turns, you notice there is a colder side. A side that feels, well, lonely. A side in which you wonder what is keeping Him while you wait. And you look to Heaven and ask, “What is wrong with me?”

And maybe in these times, you also feel a fresh twinge of rejection, a frustration at His silence. An anger at His seeming betrayal when you need Him most. But … have you ever just listened for His reply? Like Habakkuk, have you stationed yourself on the ramparts to see what He would say to your complaints? Perhaps He would say to you what I have heard Him say myself, “You, beloved, are hidden. (Psalm 91:1)”

Don’t rush on from that. Linger in His reply. You are hidden. No doubt you are like I was when I first heard this; Holding in a very sarcastic “Really?” Keep silent, there’s more…

“You are my most treasured possession … I love you. (Deuteronomy 7:6, Zechariah 2:8)” Hold it right there. Did you catch that? Does it even resonate in you? Can you just take that in word by word and meditate on who you are to Him? His most treasured possession. You are hidden because you are His most treasured possession. Would a loving God flaunt you? Would He who calls you the apple of His eye let just anyone near you? I can’t even imagine He would. After all, you mean something to Him. A great something. He places a high value in you. You are too precious for Him to leave you unguarded. You are hidden because to Him, you are priceless. He ransomed you with His life and when you asked Him to hold your heart, He took you seriously. It’s a big deal to Him.

And while you may be hidden to the world, you are very much noticed by Him. Did we say earlier something along the lines of “just you and Jesus?” What happened in you when you read that? I was very condemned by my heart attitude, to be honest. Just Jesus? Come on! We are talking about the Son of God! As a single person, you have the opportunity of a lifetime, according to 1 Corinthians 7:32-34! All that time you sit wistfully thinking of someone else, He’s wooing you. He wants your attention. He desires your affection. No one else even notices you, yet He sits patiently looking at you waiting for your eyes to meet His. Your smile makes His heart soar. Your affection is what He longs for. This ministry is wonderful, because although we see service to God as doing, He originally intended for us to simply be. To be with Him and to worship Him (Colossians 1:16, John 4:23-23). This life, hidden in Christ, is a time of devotion to Him. The work He calls you to is a ministry that flows naturally from your union with Him. If  you are pushing and straining to do something for the kingdom, you are not working with Him, but against Him.

And let’s talk about those feelings for a sec … I’ll just be straight up with you: feelings are deceiving. Satan can manipulate your feelings. Think about it: how many times have you avoided something for a really long time because you dreaded it, then eventually, when you were confronted with it, you found it to be way more enjoyable than you originally thought? Or at the least, bearable when you considered it to be awful? How many times have you found joy in something you hesitated to do? Satan will steal anything from you that you let him, and we sure do give him a lot just based on our feelings. I’ve lost hours of fun playing with my kids because I didn’t feel like going outside. I’ve missed out on pleasant conversation and the opportunity to make new friends and deepen older friendships because I didn’t feel like being around people. This list is endless: in short, I’ve been driven by my feelings and robbed blind in the process. Feelings are deceptive, and a great tool for the enemy if we aren’t careful. Especially those feelings that cause you to wallow in misery. Feelings of loneliness, rejection, depression, frustration, anger, bitterness. I’m not deluded; I know we can’t avoid these feelings. But you know what we can do? Take our thoughts into captivity, exercise a little self-control, look at Jesus and be liberated (2 Corinthians 10:5, Galatians 5:22-23). Be refreshed and renewed in Him. Bask in His love for us. And if He’s silent, we can appreciate His promise to never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We can draw near to Him knowing that we are simply irresistible: He said He’d draw near to us, and He cannot lie (James 4:8, Hebrews 6:18). We can pursue Him and know that eventually, we will catch His special attention. While your feelings may vacillate, His love will not (Hebrews 13:8). Neither will His nature. And He’s Jesus! The lover of our souls!

And one more thing … don’t sweat the people who walk away. Remember, love, you are hidden in the secret place. Those who don’t recognize your worth simply cannot see you. Your Father has called you His treasure. He’s saving you for someone who will recognize your value and not treat you lightly. He would not part with you for less, unless you willfully choose less. If you trust Him enough to allow Him to hold your heart, you will not be disappointed with what He does. Until He approves and unveils you, stay hidden.

Making Love

Published December 7, 2013 by Dawn

Snow days are good for a few things. Killing the bugs outside, bringing the family (dangerously) close together, and lots of snuggle time. Thursday, while the sleet changed to giant snow flakes outside, I was sitting on the couch sharing the coziest blanket in the house with my Bible and my computer, snuggling up with the Lord. The kids, miraculously, were snuggling close by with each other and the kindle. It was quiet, and while gentle worship songs played from my computer, I surrendered myself at the feet of the Lord to adore Him. It had been a long time since we had had a moment like this.

I don’t know how long it went on, this worship time. I wasn’t counting the minutes because there was no need for it. There was no place to be and nothing around here that needed to be done. But eventually, the kids got louder by intervals, the peace in the room broke, and I began to put my things away when I heard His voice speak: “This is making love.” Immediately, I was ridiculous and embarrassed. I knew it was the Lord speaking to me, and I knew that I was so satisfied with our time together, feeling both emptied and fulfilled all at the same time, but I thought, “Lord, the only thing I’ve ever known making love to be is crude and I would never use that term to describe this time with you.” He didn’t argue. He didn’t respond at all. But I knew He’d spoken.

Perplexed, I did a little research on the term. The internet can definitely be a scary place sometimes, but I shied away from anything that didn’t look like an academic article, and so I managed to avoid most of the dirt. What I did come up with was a shocking surprise. The term making love has gone through quite an evolution. While today, I think we all know that it’s just a nicer way of saying things, it used to mean something less physical and more innocent. The phrase “making love” was originally used to describe the wooing process. “To pay amorous attention to” was the way it was described on several of the more prestigious websites out there, although when I went back to compile the researched sites, I could only find one (not-so-prestigious, but it mirrored the ones I originally found, so I used it). People used the phrase when referring to two people who were literally stirring up affection by purposefully seeing each other with a sole purpose: making love happen between them. Couples sitting together on a park bench, speaking in soft whispers were said to be “making love.” They were creating a heart connection, out in the open, in front of everyone. They were attending to something we’ve all but forgotten in exchange for the new idea that love is something you fall in to or out of – they were creating it.

I can see why the Lord would use the term to describe our worship of Him. Our worship and adoration of Him is a way that we pursue Him. And we are told “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)”  If we turn to Him and pay amorous attention to Him, He will do the same. He’s the Lover of our Souls, after all. He is romantic at His very core, calling us over and over in scripture His “bride.” He desires to woo us, the evidence woven throughout the scriptures. The symbolic wooing in Hosea, the persistent wooing in Jeremiah, the wooing from distress in Job, the fiery wooing of Solomon and his Shulamite; these are just a few of the many places the Lord talks about wooing His people until finally, we see Him taking the boldest step for Love: Jesus giving His life to save His bride. He’s madly in love with us! And He’s all about the love making.

Our adoration and worship of Him ignites the fiercest passion in Him, and He can’t contain Himself. He gives Himself over to us. He looks into our hearts and lavishes His intense love until we can’t bear any more of Him. We become overwhelmed by God in this time. His glory falls upon us and penetrates us, and we find that we have given ourselves completely over to Him. And He accepts us. In the truest sense of the word, this is making love, and it is the most precious love making of all!

*Research can be safely attributed to http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2012/12/making-love.html

Joined in Love and War

Published December 2, 2013 by Dawn

This weekend, one of the most memorable moments of my life took place. My heart was overwhelmed with emotion as I watched my two babies, who aren’t really babies anymore, profess publicly their commitment to the Lord. They were baptized Sunday.

Prior to their baptism, we had a family meeting over dinner to discuss what baptism was for a Christian believer. A public statement of faith, in which one is completely submerged under water and then raised up, signifying a death to self and their new life in Jesus. How at baptism, a person is committing to live unto the Lord rather than selfishly or fleshly. It was a great time of prayer and discussion, and afterward, they both knew without a doubt that baptism was their next step in their walk with the Lord. So Sunday, after the service, they were baptized.

Shortly after lunch, the battle began, as I feared it would. I know Satan well enough to know he does not like such victory in a Christian’s life. He came at us from all sides, and they argued all afternoon with each other and myself. Finally, in the evening, when the living room got really quiet because I was done arguing and they were out of complaints, my daughter looked at me and said, “I’m sorry Mom, it seems like the devil is working hard already to bring me into war.”

The war. Every Christian’s daily struggle with Satan and self, things of the world and flesh. The epic battle against principalities and powers of darkness. The war you enter at birth and leave only in death. The war you choose sides in every day, whether you realize it or not. With fascinating spiritual insight, she recognized the battle. And at that moment, I realized that I had gained another ally in the daily battle. My daughter had joined me on the front lines. Not only have we been joined in our intense love and adoration of Jesus, we have also now been unified as soldiers in Christ. And with that the reality that there is strength in numbers, spiritually speaking, and the growth is exponential! Leviticus talks about five putting one hundred to flight, and Deuteronomy speaks of one putting a thousand to flight. But two can put ten thousand to flight! Satan was shaking when my babies were baptized! There are three of us! Three of us going hard after Christ, and we recognize the war, and we know we are in it, and we aren’t backing down! Hallelujah!!

Thank you, Lord, for allies in battle. Help me to direct them to you always, and may we fight the good fight every moment of every day. I bless your name!