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And so it is in our union with God, a person both loving and beloved. He does not delight in having to always explain what His will is; He enjoys it when we understand and act upon His will. Our highest calling and opportunity in life is to love Him with all our being. ~ Dallas Willard in Hearing God
And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever. I Chronicles 28.9
We must know before we can love. In order to know God, we must often think of Him. And when we come to love Him, we shall then also think of Him often, for our heart will be with our treasure.
You need not cry very loud. He is nearer to us than we are aware. Every one is capable of such familiar conversation with God; some more, some less. He knows what we can do. Let us begin then. Perhaps He expects but one generous resolution on our part. Have courage.
“Young people tend to be activists, dedicated supporters of a cause, though without always inquiring too closely either whether their cause is a good end to pursue or whether this action is the best means by which to pursue it.” ~ Rev. John R. W. Stott in an address at the Inter-Varsity Fellowship Annual Conference
We are often closer to God in our doubts than in our certainties…it is all right to be like the small child who constantly asks: Why? Why? Why? ~Madeleine L’Engle
And have mercy on those who doubt…Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
If we begin with certainties, we will end in doubt. But if we begin with doubts and bear them patiently, we may end in certainty. ~ Francis Bacon
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
Love, which trusts God so implicitly despite the cloud, that it is brave enough to ask questions, no matter how fearful. ~L’Engle
And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
To come to a doubt, and to a debatement of any religious duty, is the voice of God in our conscience: Would you know the truth? Doubt, and then you will inquire. ~ John Donne
To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
This (the faithfulness of doubt) is often assumed by the judgmental to be faithlessness, but it is not; it is a prerequisite for a living faith. ~ L’Engle
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.
If my religion is true, it will stand up to all my questioning; there is no need to fear. But if it is not true, if it is man imposing strictures on God…, then I want to be open to God, not to what man says about God. ~ L’Engle
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy…
This essay is, in part, for my brothers who kept searching for God at different times, in very different ways, and under very different circumstances, yet both found and were found by Him.
I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
Our family has been learning over the past few years as we experienced some truly ugly things. We’ve learned about who God is and what He asks of us even when we don’t understand or like what is happening.
My learning will never be complete (for which I am grateful…I’m one of those odd ones who loves to study and learn!) and I recently was struck by yet another lesson as our church studied through the book of Ruth.
As I studied Ruth and as I thought about this book as compared with other books in the Bible, I noticed that God seems to work in two very different ways.
God sometimes uses His visible hand of miracle to accomplish His purpose. Think about the parting of the Red Sea and the manna provided from heaven. Think about the healing of Jairus’ daughter and the feeding of the 5,000.
God also sometimes uses His invisible hand of Providence to accomplish His purpose. This is what happens in Ruth. Israel is in the period of the judges which means that they are bouncing around between brief periods of stability and long periods of rebellion, being conquered by foreign armies, and experiencing severe famines.
Here are Naomi and Ruth: they are widows, they are childless, they are in a foreign land, they are going home to Israel not knowing what they will find.
Naomi, especially, knew the traditions of her God. Perhaps Ruth had heard the stories. The miracle stories of Noah saved from the flood, of Israel rescued from Egypt. I imagine they may have wished for that visible hand of miracle.
Instead, they got hard work gleaning in a field, an owner of that field who just happened to stop by and act with kindness, the surprise of that very owner being a close relative, a desperate and courageous request from Ruth. The result? A marriage, a baby, perhaps a bit of stability. Several small blessings along the way, but certainly no miraculous raising of the dead.
From that marriage and that child came the greatest king that Israel would ever know, bringing wealth and stability and godliness to the nation.
From that marriage and that child came the greatest King that our world would ever know, bringing rescue and mercy and grace to all the nations.
My honest confession? I want the miracle. I don’t want the invisible hand of Providence. When Kristina was fighting for her life, we begged for miraculous healing. That’s not what we got.
Even though the miracle is what I wanted, I can still trust in God’s unseen hand. I can know that God is still working, even though we, like Naomi and Ruth, may not see the end of the story.
Even though I am now pleading for another miracle, I am so grateful to be assured that while I pray out my sadness, my anger, and my bitterness, God is right now at work healing hurts not even felt yet and creating answers to problems I haven’t even yet encountered.
Abba. Thank You.
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art credit: Whither Thou Goest painting used with gracious permission by artist Sandy Freckleton Gagon
That’s how long I’ve been here at this space, writing about life and culture, things in our daily lives and in the world around us, pain and death and ugliness, life and hope and beauty, and how God resides in all of these things and fills them up with Himself.
Here is what I wrote in my very first post:
Writing is a difficult thing. It requires one to be vulnerable, to trust the world with a piece of oneself while knowing that the world can be a cruel place.
Perhaps this is why I have declined to join the world of blogging until now.
Perhaps, too, it seems as though everyone is a blogger. Everyone has something to say and not many wish to listen. Perhaps no one will wish to listen to me.
Yet I still feel that God is asking me to write. Not to write and hide but also to share.
I have resisted this for quite a while now. Why? Partly due to the work involved.
Even now, I am only agreeing to write once a week.
A large part, however, is that I don’t feel that I have anything new to say. To add to the over-quoting of Solomon, “There is nothing new under the sun”. (Ecc. 1.9) Who am I to think that I could say something new or even to say something old in an improved way?
Perhaps God is simply asking me to restate old things for a single reader.
Perhaps God is even more simply asking me to write so that I can grow to be more like Him as I think through various ideas aloud.
Whatever the reason, here I am. Obeying, even though afraid. I will write. God will listen. I pray He will be pleased.
There is not much about these thoughts that I would change, even after a year. It is still difficult to send out my thoughts and ideas, my hurts and my hopes. I still feel almost silly telling anyone that I have a blog.
And I still feel that God is still asking me to keep writing.
There is a lot that I have learned this year.
I have discovered that there is a huge world out there called the blogosphere. It is, mostly, a world that I don’t interact with very often. Partly because I only write once a week and haven’t yet made the space for interacting with other blogs. Partly, too, because many in this world have begun their blogs to make money, mostly for very beautiful reasons, yet I have decided that I don’t want to clutter up my space with advertisements and buttons. Not that there is anything at all wrong with any of that. I simply want something different, something more simple for this place.
I have discovered that the more I write, the better I am at this art. The more I write, the more my heart craves to create. The more I write, the more ideas that flood into my mind.
I have discovered that I love the art of writing in this sort of a place, love how I am able to craft and mold my words together with other arts. Photographs, paintings, sculptures, music…it fills something inside of me to bring them together to make words even more beautiful than before.
One of the most beautiful things I have discovered is how my love for God has grown with my writing. When I committed to writing once a week, I was also, inadvertently, committing to continue reading, studying, listening, pursuing God and the things of God. This has expanded my heart and mind and caused my view and knowledge of God to hugely grow.
Perhaps this is why God asked me to write.
I still wish to have others read what I write. I still have a dream of being published.
Yet if all that happens through my writing is that I become more like Christ, I am satisfied.
So. I will close this first year as I began:
Whatever the reason for my writing, here am I in this space. I will continue to obey, even though it is hard and often causes my heart to feel fear. I will write. God will listen. I pray He will continue to be pleased.
(By the way, I will be changing things around here fairly soon and moving to my truly very own space. I’ll let you know when that time comes, but I pray and hope that you will continue to join me on my journey.)