The Art of Asking

I resisted the impulse to turn on the car radio. I sat in the car going to work, and I submitted to this beckoning to silence and listening.

My devotion time prior to this was very unfocused. Really, peace eludes me often when I am praying for myself. Then, when I listen to the ache in my spirit for specific people and I press into to prayer for them, my own burden lifts. And it did some this morning.
Still, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me concerning my life circumstances; what I should/shouldn’t do; how I ought to think about all the above. Sometimes, praying for myself (filling space with words) doesn’t help me hear.
 
QUIET YOUR HEART & ASK
I tend to want God to give answers to questions I didn’t ask. In my hurried mind, I don’t have time to ask the question. Give me the answer first, like some sort of Divine Jeopardy game. Now, I know it can work like this sometimes (He gives an answer to a question before we ask). When I haven’t known what to ask (or my questions don’t get to the heart of the issue), God has opened my eyes to truths I didn’t know I needed.
But when, if I took the time to quiet my heart, I would know what to ask, and I don’t, I hinder my own ability to receive. The folly in my impatience is that I refrain from quieting my heart before God to present my concerns in humility, and stubbornly expect to receive with clenched fists.
LISTEN 
Technically, it is still praying, but it’s not speaking so much that helps. Surely, He could speak above the noise of my own excessive pleas and grab my attention, but He knows what I need. I don’t need Him to be louder. I need to be quieter. I need to quiet my mind, intentionally; ask the question and listen for the answer. It seems obvious that in order to hear, I need to listen. But I neglect that essential element, as obvious as it may be.
NO, REALLY, LISTEN
Ask the question. Be silent. Listen for the answer. Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks plainly, and I make it more confusing than it ought to be. I hear an answer I don’t like, and say, “I don’t think I heard You right.” I ask others to pray, I beg God for wisdom, and I refuse to listen. I have refused to listen.
Sitting in the car this morning, I asked a question, and in His kindness, He gave me an answer I didn’t like. He loves me too much to spare me the momentary pain of “No.”
His “No” is like a big hug to me. It stirs up a lament that only He can soothe, and He loves to care for me in this way. He is kind enough to speak exactly what I need to hear without fear of my response. His love is strong enough to lean on. I can put all my weight on His all-knowing goodness.
I can believe and trust Him completely. Even when it hurts. This resting & trusting  in Him began today with a silent car, a quiet heart & asking.

OneThing Recap: Wholeness and Healing

After years of feeling so broken, my Heavenly Father spoke wholeness and healing over me. Restoration. Through a stranger and through a new friend.

A stranger wrote to me: “He knows where all the broken pieces are! He wants His child whole – His mission – His heart’s desire is to gather those pieces – to mend, to make whole His child! … His great desire is to lovingly take each broken piece and restore it – under His grace – as we sit in His presence and allow Him to speak. As we allow ourselves to receive, He will heal. So simple. So hard. To rest and receive. Receive, sweet sister. The world doesn’t understand coming to a conference and crying… They don’t understand our God, our Beloved Savior weeps with us; that the tears are healing! It’s communication with Him. It’s connection with Him. It’s His great desire for tender hearts to come before Him.”

I receive that, sweet sister. Thank you stranger. For all the strangers and friends that have prayed for me this week, thank you! God hears you, and God is healing me.

To the gentleman I did not know who told me that there is purpose in pain, thank you. To the young man called me his sister and prayed for deeper healing than merely physical and shared practical wisdom with me, thank you.

To the woman in the restroom who stood and persisted in prayer over me with my friends until the warmth of healing spread from the top of my head to my toes and peaceful rest filled my soul in sweet communion with the Father, thank you. I think we stood there for 10 minutes.

To my new and old friends who persisted with me this week, giving me a place to stay, transportation, and even going with me to the hospital, thank you. I am so blessed by you all, and I pray God blesses you abundantly beyond your wildest dreams.

To the speakers and singers at the OneThing Conference, thank you. Especially Francis Chan, Matt Maher, and Audrey Assad… I was drawn into worship like I haven’t been in a long time. I am blessed by the love of Christ and His church exhibited. I understand 1 Peter 4 like never before, and I am equipped to go into this new year with the joy to embrace suffering as Christ did for me.

Even though the pain of whiplash did not entirely subside, it is dramatically better now. Even though I will have learn how to get to work without a car, I am encouraged knowing that in Christ I have everything, and I shall not want. If he did not provide one more physical comfort to me, He would still be enough. His sacrifice on the cross is still enough to prove His love.

Thank you for my little brother, who is not so little anymore, who prayed for my  health and drove me home this morning. I don’t know if you know how much that means to me.

“In my darkest hour, in humiliation, I will wait for You. I am not forsaken. Though I lose my life, though my breath be taken, I will wait for You. I am not forsaken. One thing I desire, to see You in Your beauty. You are my delight. You are my glory. You, my sacrifice, oh Your love is all consuming. You are my delight. You are my glory. You’re the lover of my soul. Even unto death, with my every breath, I will love You. Jesus, the very thought of You…”Audrey Assad

After all the good and the bad, after feeling so full and so broken, so needy… It is easy to over-emphasize what I lack. It is easy to focus on how I have disappointed myself and frustrated others… I want to focus instead on the beauty of God’s people, thankfulness, what I have in Christ, wholeness, love…

” Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
James 1:2-4

I am whole. I am loved. There is nothing that I lack. I am laying to rest the past on the bosom of Christ.

 

The Proximity of Love in the Unknown

I don’t have it all together. I’ve been having a real hard time lately. In the midst of all of the not-having-it-togetherness, God has been teaching me some pretty sweet things. For that, I am glad, and blessed. I want to share it with you, not because I am amazingly brilliant with lots to share, but just because these gifts are too sweet to keep to myself. I am sure someone else needs them too.

Jesus loves you.

A whole lot. I know, I don’t always believe it either. Even as I am typing this, I struggle to believe. Jesus loves me. Why don’t I believe? Did He not do enough to prove it to me? Was it not enough that He died to save my life, to have me near? Is it not enough that He makes the sunrise every morning? Could I imagine that my flaws and sins are stronger than the blood He shed to cover them? Could it be that my lack of loveliness is enough to ward off the strength of His immense love? No, this is not so. He is enough. His love is strong enough.

He is near.

Psalm 139:7-12

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

If it were not for His great love, His nearness would be a fearful thing, but in fact, it is wonderful. It is what gives me hope and strength. His loving nearness is the power in my bones when I feel weak.

He is near and loving in the unknown.

So I am basing this section off of Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, August 5th, The Baffling Call of God. It presents the idea that we can be unsuccessful in the eyes of the people around us, and be unaware of the way in which God wants to use our lives, and still fully embrace The Baffling Call of God.

I have felt like a failure many times in my life. So you can imagine my relief when I read from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, “Jesus Christ’s life was an absolute failure from every standpoint but God’s. But what seemed failure from man’s standpoint was tremendous triumph from God’s, because God’s purpose is never man’s purpose.”

So even if my life seems like a total failure from man’s perspective, I am in good company. Better yet, there is hope that God sees it differently.

If it isn’t obvious from the previous paragraph, I am living in the blessed land of “What Am I Doing With My Life?!” Again, I could discuss this further, but that is not my intention for this blog. Suffice it to say, I don’t know. And the unknown is scary. To quote my good ol’ friend Oswald again, “It cannot be stated definitely what the call of God is to, because His call is to be in comradeship with Himself for His own purposes, and the test is to believe that God knows what he is after.”

His purpose for me is to be in relationship with Him. He knows what He is after, and I just have to trust Him. 

“A Christian is one who trusts the wits and the wisdom of God, and not his own wits. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the leisureliness which ought to characterize the children of God.” – Oswald Chambers

Jesus, help me to trust You. To believe in Your love. To believe You are near. And to trust that You know what You are doing with my life. I love You, my Savior. I want to love You more. You are deserving of all of me. Thank You Jesus for who You are. I praise You for You are worthy of all my trust. Your love is beyond what I can comprehend, and it is real. Thank you Jesus. May my life be marked by simplicity and leisure because I trust in You.
-Amen