Lent

Giving Up Thinking that God Has Limits

Omnipotent … all-powerful. God has supreme power in the universe, He has power even over water and gravity and physics, etc.  His power is limitless.

Omnipresent… all-present. God is capable of being everywhere at the same time.

Omniscient… all-knowing.  God knows everything there is to know and all that can be known… past present and future.

These are just a few of the things in my head that I “know” about God.  He truly has no limits.  Sometimes it takes a while for my heart and emotions to catch up.

It’s hard for me to think of a specific situation, though I know it often happens that I forget these things about God.  I think about God through my human lens (how else could I think about him?!?) and in doing, so I put unfair mental limits on Him.

I see a challenge before me and say… IMPOSSIBLE.

He replies: NOTHING is impossible with God! (Luke 1:37; Matthew 19:26)

I feel overwhelmed by a situation in my life and feel… alone.

He replies: I am with you ALWAYS! (Matthew 28:20, Joshua 1:9)

I remember something I’ve done and think… He couldn’t still love me, right?

He replies: NOTHING can separate you from my love… NOTHING! (Romans 8:38-39)

I look around the world discouraged and think… this place is out of control!

He replies: In MY hand is the life of EVERY living thing; I’ve gotcha! (Job 12:10)

In our world “always”, “never”, and “every” don’t really work very well.  We let each other down.  We don’t ALWAYS remember.  We can’t promise to NEVER do something.  And very few things apply to EVERY thing.  Yet, our God has NO limits.  He can make promises like these and keep them.

It’s time for me to give up the limits I put on God.  His ways and thoughts are FAR beyond mine and the things He has planned are beyond even my imagination.

You have NO limits, God. That’s hard for me to grasp.  Help me give up the felt need to put limits on you to understand you and instead be able to just be overwhelmed by your indescribable, undeniable, always-and-forever presence!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

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Lent

Giving Up Fear in Loneliness

If you’ve ever taken a Myers Briggs personality test, you know that one of the spectrums that you are rated on is I and E … Introvert and Extrovert.  We often think of extroverts as loud and outgoing and introverts as more isolated.  While that is part of it, this is also measuring how someone gets recharged.  Do you prefer to be alone or have a few close friends?  Or is heading out to a big party where you don’t really know anyone more thrilling to you?  Do you get energy from being around people or does it drain you?  Most of us need both but tend to lean one way or the other.  Over the years I’ve taken this personality test 3-4 times and every time I end up EXACTLY in the middle of “I” and “E”.  I see this as true in my everyday life too.  I NEED both to be with other people as well as to be alone.  Too much of one or the other can be draining to me.

All that to say, even the most introvert of us doesn’t want to be alone ALL the time.  God created us to be in relationship with each other and when we don’t have enough of that (what ever “enough” is for each individual person), we crave it. I might even go so far to say that we perhaps fear that loneliness.  We all love to be alone from time to time, but no one wants to feel lonely.

Just like the other fears I’ve mentioned so far this week, I see this fear creep into my life and lie to me, paralyzing me from things.  When fear and loneliness get together, Satan has a heyday bringing a million “what ifs” to mind and when you’re alone, there’s no one to remind you how ridiculous some of them are?  What if something bad happens to you and no one knows about it?  What if some of the dreams you have for marriage and family never come to fruition?  What if you make the wrong decision about this major purchase because you had to make it on your own?  What if someone breaks into your house?

What if?

What if?

What if?

When I force myself to step back and think about all of these what if questions, I begin to see how unnecessary (and unhelpful) these fears are.  If something bad happened to me, Kathy Figini would know within 5 minutes and have help on the way.  I have friends and family around me to help me make decisions and if I still make a wrong one, they’ll be there to figure out the next steps.  And no matter what any given day or the future in general holds, even if it ends up being bad, it’s not worth my times to live in fear.

No matter what, God’s promise over and over and over in Scripture that He is always with us and we are never alone.  We have no reason to fear when God is on our side.  So, in those moments where fear and loneliness meet, may we give up the fear and cling to these beautiful promises of God:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.(Isaiah 41:10)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”(Joshua 1:9)

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.  (John 14:16-17)

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

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Bekah's Heart, Mission Work, Poetry/Songs

But, God?!?

I’ve been reading through some of my old journals and thought I’d share this prayer/poem from the Summer of 2009 while I was the Site Coordinator at a camp.  May it remind us that we are not fit to serve God, but we are called and he’ll give us all we need to do the tasks he sets before us.

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I sit once again at the end of a day.
Content.
Yet heart burning inside.

God is big.
He does not fail.
I fail.
Often.

Each day, I wake up… by the grace of God.
Each day, I screw up… by my own sinful nature.
Each day… I fail.
Each day… He doesn’t.

Situations come.
“You’re in charge! Make a decision”
I don’t want to.

My final decision: Pray for wisdom.

Wisdom like Solomon.
Great insight.
A breadth of understanding.

Like Solomon, I too pray…
“I am only a little child, and do not know how to carry out my duties.” (1 Kings 3:7)

Lord,
“… give your servant a discerning heart.” (1 Kings 3:9)

I don’t understand why you’ve picked me, but here I am… called to serve… SEND ME!

Equip me! Strengthen me! Use me!

I am Yours!

Amen.

Bekah's Heart, Life Lessons Learned in the Kitchen

It’s Kinda Like Making Bread…

Upon returning home from work today, I decided I would NOT try to go out to volleyball tonight.  The roads weren’t too bad but after almost getting stuck 3 times going in/out of the church parking lot today, I decided not to press my luck (for lack of a better phrase).  Instead, seeing multiple unused yeast packets in my fridge, I decided to make some bread. 

 

As this process has gone on this evening, I’ve realized that sometimes what God is doing in our life is kind of a lot like making bread, especially the process of kneading the dough. 

 

There seem to be a rhythm to it… a process… repeated… necessary … for the bread to turn out.  

 

Knead.  Rest.  Rise.  Knead.  Rest.  Rise.

 

I feel like we’re constantly somewhere in this process as God shapes us into who he wants us to be.  As I look back over the past few months, I see God working in my life like a baker works with dough.  There have been some areas of my life where God has come and said, “Let me knead some Truth into that, Bekah.”

 

DSCF9213But kneading it’s not always a pleasant process.  Some descriptors in the kneading section of the recipe I used tonight were “punch,”  “squeeze,”  “stretch,” “pound,” “twist”.  When we think about the possibility of God doing these things in our lives… to our hearts, it does not sound like a very fun process.  

 

Oh, but God understands the need to knead. 

 

He’s got to work that yeast, His Truth, through our whole lives.  Sometimes that truth comes like a punch to the gut.  Other times he needs to stretch us out of our comfort zone.  Sometimes it comes as a pound on the door of our heart simply saying, “Something’s not right here. Let me fix it.” 

 

As God continues to knead our lives, it hurts, but it’s good.  It also takes time.  Those 10 minutes (or 10 hours, or 10 months, or 10 years) seem like forever, but God knows the perfect amount of time needed to knead. 

 

I also realized that the process isn’t exactly the most exciting for the Kneader as well… the punching, the squeezing, the stretching, the pounding, the twisting… it’s hard work.  And maybe that’s what it means to know that we are His “workmanship”. 

 

DSCF9214 And then, in the perfect time, the kneading ends, at least for a while, and the dough is shaped and placed in a ball in a bowl, covered with a towel and left alone. 

 

Sometimes when God’s been working on us for so long… for those 10 days or weeks or months or years, it kind of seems weird for the kneading to stop.  I mean it seems in my life that just when I get used to the kneading, and finally believe the Baker for its necessity, that’s when He says, “Okay, now it’s time to rest.”  Sometimes it even feels as if I’ve simply been beat up and left alone.  But God does not leave, he only knows our need to rest and let His Truth do its work… to rise up in our hearts and bring healing to the areas where he’s punched, squeezed, and stretched us.

 

But again, that’s often not the end of the process.  After the certain time… known by the Baker alone, the process begins again…. the punching, the pounding, the twisting, the shaping.  Again, it’s crucial, it has to happen.  There is a need for our lives to be kneaded… shaped again and again by the Master Baker.

DSCF9215 

And then He tells us to rest once more, letting Truth rise up in our hearts.

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Again and again this process takes place.

 

Knead.  Rest.  Rise.  Knead.  Rest.  Rise.

 

Through the process we just have to trust that He knows what He’s doing.  The dough doesn’t knead itself… the dough doesn’t know how long to wait in the resting period… the dough doesn’t know how many times it needs to be kneaded before going to the oven.  But the Baker does. 

 

Lord, teach me to give in to Your kneading… Your pounding, Your twisting, Your stretching and squeezing… and help me to rest when I just need to let your Truth rise up in my soul.

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Bekah's Heart, Blessing, Joy

Vacations are for Detours

I come ‘round the last curve in the road.  A smile grows on my face as contentment grows in my soul.   If I wasn’t sure before, I’m now convinced that this impromptu detour down “J-Hill” road was a great idea.

I can’t wait to get down the drive and park the car, quick turning off the radio allowing for the silence this place demands. 

I look around for a rock to carry up. Unsuccessful, but decide the rocks don’t have to be literal, my figurative ones will work just fine for today.

The ascent begins and I ponder… Was it really nearly 10 years ago that I made this climb for the first time?  I also recall some of the “rocks” I laid down here nearly a decade ago… some of the same burdens I’ve come here to lay down again today. 

I pass the crossbar and continue the hike, thankful that the frozen ground makes this journey a little easier than the typical summer day with shifting dirt and sliding rocks.  Near the top, I finally turn around.  The awe-inspiring view steals my breath once again.  

As if there were an automatic recording, the familiar tune and words begin to come out of my mouth…. “Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary…”

I ponder again… how many times have I climbed this hill?  How many times have I sung that song?  How many rocks have I laid here… my sins, my burdens, my hurts, my joys.

I linger for a while but eventually begin the hike down to the car… hearing in my head the instructions that for many years came out of my mouth… “If you turn your feet sideways it makes it easier to get down without slipping.”  (As this thought passes through my head, I also slightly regret not changing into the gym shoes that were in the trunk.)

On my way down I pay specially attention to the names that remain on weather-worn rocks.

Luke.

Kylie.

Trina.

Julius.   I pause a little longer here.   

I wonder… What burdens or pains or hurts or sins might he have left there with his rock only weeks before he left every burden behind forever and went to the place of no more tears. 

Luke.

Anneka.

The names and rocks continue, some more familiar than others.  Each name representing the same thing…  a life changed in this place.  Each rock carries a story… one often known by God alone.   Each rock left there together forms a certain shape reminding… We are free.  Over the last decade, hundreds have made that same climb leaving behind their “junk.” And now, collectively, that “junk” is somehow able to point to our risen Lord.  To God Alone be the Glory!

Thanks God for today… for that spontaneous voice in my head that prompted my journey to 7821 Lyons Creek Road… one of the places in this world that has the label “home” in my heart … a place that gives a little glimpse into what our forever home will be like.

Bekah's Heart, Internship Highlights

‘Tis Good, Lord, To Be Here

Today was a beautiful day.  I’m currently back at school in Nebraska for a Mid-Year Conference with all of the DCE interns from all over the world. These few days back on campus are hard to describe.  Most of us interns have used the word “weird” in that description more times than we probably can count.  It’s this interesting dynamic of loving this place but not really fitting in… at least not in the way we have in the past.  Our roles have shifted, and that’s okay.  In the midst of this awkward, indescribable, mid-way check point, it has been such a blessing to just see God presence everywhere I turn.  Here are just a few examples of where that was found today alone:

  •  A conversation with a beautiful woman with whom I’ve literally had one prior face to face conversation with before, yet somehow our hearts just know each other.  I don’t get it, but was so thankful for our time together this morning and God’s presence there.
  • Chapel.  I miss chapel.  What a wonderful REST was found in the very SIMPLE yet profound proclamation of the Gospel today as it was describe as a song, a melody that can, in a way, be the “background” music to our life.
  • Lunch (at Dragon Palace) with fellow interns, talking about anything and everything and nothing.
  • A chance to share with other DCE students our experiences and where we’ve seen God at work through our internships.
  • Being able to “pick up” friendships where they left off and just get straight to what really matters… to know and be known.  

As corny as it may sound, I really felt like the last verse of a hymn we sang in chapel today encapsulates this trip back to Concordia for me.

’Tis good, Lord, to be here.
Yet we may not remain;
But since Thou bidst us leave the mount,
Come with us to the plain.

It is so wonderful to be able to reflect and see all the many ways God has blessed my life through Concordia… to be able to come back and be overwhelmed in a good way… to realize the number of people through whom God has blessed me and made me who I am.  But now, as good as it is to be here, it’s obvious that this is not where I belong right now… and God comes with me to what’s next.

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Lord, ’tis truly good to be here… to behold Your beauty… to see You at work in my life and the lives of others… to hear and remember your gospel melody that accompanies my life.  And now, as I prepare to wrap this time here up, may You remind me of your promise to go with me and continue to open my heart and ears to that beautiful melody of Your love.  ‘Tis good Lord, to be Your child.  Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Blessing

Unable To Count That High

The leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and more fills the fridge.

Pies and cookies line the buffet table ready to be eaten as soon as our stomachs can hold another bit of food.

Bodies of friends lay asleep in the living room buried under blankets, pillows, and other remnants of last night’s sleepover.

 

I sit at my kitchen table…

overwhelmed…

in awe…

humbled…

grateful…

 

How gracious is our God!

 

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Awesome God, I can’t help but pause and bring you thanks and praise for this day. 

For a new day to be alive and live in you. 

For an amazing time of worship this morning with Your Family, focusing us as we began this day of giving thanks.

For beautiful friends to spend time with and celebrate with this week. 

For big meals… and small meals… reminders of your provision.

For a house and food and family.

For grace… freedom… life.

For the fact that as I begin to “count my blessings,” even just in today,… I suddenly realize, I can’t count that high!

I give you thanks.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.