Faith

Love Letter

My friend’s throat was tight as she confessed, “God’s Word has come alive to me lately, especially the Old Testament.”

“That’s wonderful!” I was encouraged by her enthusiasm. “It’s like getting a love letter every day, isn’t it?”

“Yes. It’s wonderful.”

My friend lives alone and, though she was a child during WWII, her faith is young. Now, every word in the Bible is like music to her soul and she savors it as if it were given to her by someone who loves her very much. When I talk with her I’m reminded what it was like to discover God’s word for the first time. It seemed all the answers of life were found within the sixty-six books of the Bible. The truth is, God’s Word IS a love letter, but I don’t always treat it like one. When I first read the Bible it was like life to a dying soul. David agreed when he wrote,

Your eternal word, O Lord,

stands firm in heaven.

Your faithfulness extends to every generation,

as enduring as the earth you created.

Your regulations remain true to this day,

for everything serves your plans.

If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, 

I would have died in my misery.

I will never forget your commandments,

for by them you give me life.

I am yours; rescue me! 

For I have worked hard at obeying your commandments.

Though the wicked hide along the way to kill me, 

I will quietly keep my mind on your laws.

Even perfection has its limits, 

but your commands have no limit.

Psalm 119:89-96 NASB

Like David, I want to cherish God’s word, not only when I’m overwhelmed or hurting but all the time. After all, Jesus is the Word of life. The entire Bible is about Jesus. His Spirit in me leaps for joy whenever the Word is activated. Then, a volcano of hope overflows as I trust in Him by faith. It is active, like a sword, cutting away the fat of deception, prejudice and fear. It is also active, like a love letter, melting away shame, regret and lonliness.

The best way for me to describe it is through story.

She sat by the window waiting for the mail while she played with the hangnail on her chapped fingers. She watched through the raindrop teared window and sighed. FInally, the truck whirred as it swung around the corner. Her heart beat fast. "Clank." It was shut. The treasure, if there was one, was inside.
Her feet carried her to the rusted, metal box in her front yard. Water spattered her face as she peered inside. A crisp white envelope rested in the metal tent. She snatched it and held it close to her heart before running back to her little, white house. 
The address was written in black ink, "To: Miss Jenna Mills, 1 Cross Street." The city and state were smeared from a large raindrop.
Slowly, she ripped off the side of the envelope and pulled out a long, white paper folded in three sections. She plopped on the porch swing and slowly unfolded the letter. 
"Dear Jenna, my beloved."
It was from him.

It was from Him. That’s how I felt. The Bible, when I opened it as a new believer, was speaking to me and it was from God. Since then I have logged a lot of hours reading His love letter. I have come to trust His words of correction, guidance, admonishment and love. It is the best way to renew my mind when I am spiritually dry. For example, when I’m lonely and insecure I turn to Isaiah,

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

And, when I need guidance or find myself confused by circumstances I read,

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

In short, God’s love letter is rich with encouragement and truth. Coupled with prayer it has the power to lift you out of the driest desert and fill your heart and mind with the reality of His love. Like Jenna, we should wait expectantly to hear from God , running to Him whenever your daily time with God rolls around. Make it a priority to sit on the porch swing and be loved.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:14

Contentment, Faith, Overwhelmed, Patience, Rest, Righteousness, Sanctification, Submission, Surrender, Trust

What Are You Waiting For?

For we, through the Spirit, by faith are waiting [patiently; with care and perseverance] for the hope of righteousness.

Galatians 5:5
Our property – 2017
Preparing for our 25th Wedding Anniversary
Lorden Photography

Have you ever dropped a seed into the dirt and watched it slowly grow into a plant? If so, you understand waiting. You understand faith. You have experienced the miracle. This kind of waiting (patiently, with care and perseverance) is part of our faith walk. Through it we demonstrate our love for God and exercise our trust in Him. Like the seed, as we wait, we too are changed. The Living Water touches the hard seed of our heart and the root sneaks out for more. Pressed into the dirt, like an umbilical cord, it sucks in the life-giving nutrients.

Likewise, our spiritual roots are made in the waiting.  As we pray, surrender and listen, the Holy Spirit draws life from the divine and bears fruit in our hearts and minds. The changes are minute. So small we cannot see them until the green stem pops above the surface. It may be a flower of kindness or forgiveness or love—a flower that bloomed while we waited.

I am expecting. Four years ago, we purchased three acres of land that sits at the end of a cul-de-sac nestled up to the Cocheco River. We planned to build right away, but we’re still waiting. The stakes are in the ground marking the footprint of the home. The architects and the engineers have finished their work. Still, we wait. We wait because the appraised value of the home does not match the cost to build. In reality, we are waiting on God. You see, this land wasn’t bought on a whim. We prayed for God to provide a home where we could host missionaries who need a place to stay while on furlough. We prayed for a home where pastors and ministry leaders could find rest. We prayed for a place where we could gather with our church family and do life together. Yet, the door remains closed.

Admittedly, there are times when I get discouraged. I lean toward skepticism and sometimes think, maybe it wasn’t a vision from God. Maybe it’s just what we want. I contemplate selling the property and giving up. Other times I want to push ahead without God’s leading, giving time a little shove. But maybe the gift isn’t the house at all. Maybe the gift is found in the waiting.

Don’t get me wrong. As of today, Marty and I still expect God to provide a way for us to build this home. But it’s in the joyful expectation that we see beyond this life. We not only wait for a forever home here in New Hampshire, we also wait for Heaven—A place where Jesus is building us a forever home. Every day He works at it, bit by bit, removing walls and letting more light into our living-heart. This waiting defines our faith journey. Like Abraham, we walk with God, believing His promises, expecting God to deliver. But, sometimes, like Abraham, we take things into our own hands and end up with Hagars and Ishmaels. Fortunately, none of that deters God. His promises are certain, like they’ve already happened. We will, for certain, have our Isaac. It may not be a house on the river, but we will have eternal life with Him.

—————

Marty and I drive to the property often to pray. Yes, we pray for the house but, more so, we pray for God to be glorified in the waiting. He is the Master Builder, after all. There is a joyful expectation. The waiting is a gift. I imagine living in this house the same way I try to imagine living in Heaven. The doors are open for those looking for a place to rest, only, He is waiting.

God took an oath in his own name, saying: “I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.” Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.

Hebrews 6:13-15 NLT
Contentment, Faith, Freedom, grace, Hope, Jesus, Joy, Love, Trust, Victory

Skip to My Lou

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

Psalm 28:7
Cheerleading – 1973

Skipping. That’s what came to mind while reading A Standard of Grace by Emily Ley. It was an answer to the question, “What would it take to bring back the type of heart-bursting joy you may have felt as a child?” Why skipping? Because, when I skipped I was completely oblivious to others’ opinions and my own negative self-talk. But skipping wasn’t the only thing that made me forget. I would also run for no reason, had pretend-tea-parties at the bottom of the pool, rolled down grassy hills, swung till my toes touched the sky and cheered for Pee Wee football. “First in ten, do it again! Alright! Uh-huh!” All of these things brought me heart-bursting joy because I wasn’t self-conscious. I was free!

That is until I wasn’t. Somewhere between eleven and twelve, I stopped being free–at least free enough to skip in public! Of course, in my defense, most adults don’t do these things. Instead, they opt to walk politely across the parking lot, push the swing for others or stay on the surface of the water to protect their hair (You know what I’m saying, ladies). Sometimes, though, when I walk from the grocery store to my car, I’m tempted to hoist myself up onto the shopping cart and ride across the lot! But I don’t. Why? Because of self-awareness. Most adults have it. It keeps us confined to ourselves, reserved and fearful of what others might think.

On the other hand, have you ever met an adult that seemed free of self-consciousness? Most likely they were full of joy and grace, loved others without hesitation and freely gave of themselves. They probably jumped into the deep end of the pool, hair and all, skipped to the swing set and pushed and pulled till their toes touched the sky. I want to be that kind of person — that kind of adult. I want to forget myself to the point of experiencing heart-bursting joy in the LORD…like David.

When David wrote Psalm 28 he was beyond stressed, but he chose to worship God and his heart was bursting with joy! David set an example by dancing for God without shame, and he didn’t stop when his wife rolled her eyes (2 Samuel 6:16). David was as free as a child. Perhaps, as adults, we forget God. We forget we are His joy; He delights in us. Or perhaps, Instead of Jesus’ love for us, we think of our failures, those humbling times when we’ve blown it and others saw, or worse, were hurt by us. These kinds of thoughts steal joy. But, If we did remember, would we would be transformed into “child-like” adults, free of self-consciousness? Would we be full of joy and grace, loving others without hesitation and freely giving? I want to be that kind of person — that kind of Christian. I want to forget myself to the point of experiencing heart-bursting joy in the Lord.

This year, I am determined to express joy without fear of disapproval. I want to be a cheerleader for others who are struggling. I want to dance before the LORD with all my might, no matter who sees. I want to be free–free to love and be loved, forgive and accept forgiveness, show grace and receive it. The only way to do this, however, is to forget “me” and focus on the LORD. Like David, I need to be so consumed with God’s love that I just don’t care if others think I’m crazy or stupid or delusional. God’s Word says, “The joy of the LORD is my strength” Nehemiah 8:10. This gives me the courage to run the race of life without fear, rolling down the hills when I trip and skipping all the way home.

And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment.So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns.

2 Samuel 6:14-15

What about you? What brings you joy?