Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
I was spending some time pouring my heart out to God this morning when I looked over and saw this pillow. It says "Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see". I have been sleeping in this room for several nights and somehow just noticed it today in the middle of my prayer.
Monday, December 22, 2008
"Abba, Father," He said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." (Mark 14:36)
Monday, December 15, 2008
Someone looked me in the eye and said,
"Lean on your friends."
"Time will fix this. Time will heal."
"Just keep yourself busy."
"Now you can focus on your career for a little while."
"This is time to make taking care of you a priority."
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
though its waters roar and foam,
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
1.) The scene in the show where Mary is pregnant and Joseph thinks she has been unfaithful prompts Mary to say to him, "Why is your faith shaken by that which you cannot comprehend?"
Which led me to:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. " - Proverbs 3:5-6
How often am I leaning on my own understanding of a situation? My own, 25 year old, Kentucky born, New York University educated understanding of a situation? And let's be serious. How limited is that? Yikes.
Like Kathy Keller said, all suffering and hurt is weighing God's character against my own wisdom. And trusting in the Lord with all my heart goes hand and hand with LEANING NOT ON MY OWN UNDERSTANDING.
So, Lauren, quit leaning on something as rickety as a one legged table.
2.) There is a scene where Elizabeth, Mary's significantly older cousin, who is miraculously pregnant with John the Baptist discusses how after years of being unable to conceive a child, "In my greatest hour of despair, God did His best work."
I am constantly floored by the nature of God and the way He makes great things out of nothingness. It must be because once we are emptied of all our junk, that is the hour that we are most dependent on Him. We have been emptied of all the worldly desires, hang-ups and habits and are clinging to nothing but the knowledge that Jesus loves us because that is all we have left. And NOW, God can begin to do His best work.
Also this week, Susan threw this one at me when I was upset about my own stupid sins:
3.) "You never have anything to fear about being imperfect, Lauren. Until we see Jesus face to face, our imperfection is an unchangeable fact."
I'll admit when she hit me up with that one, I started crying immediately. It never ceases to amaze me how countercultural Jesus is. The idea that nothing about being loved by Him has anything to do with my performance as a human or even as a Christian is something I am constantly relearning.
So, as I sit between Thanskgiving and Christmas, I'm thankful for three things:
1.) That my God is bigger than the shakiness of my faith. A faith that is often shaken by things I can't comprehend.
2.) That God makes great things not out of good things but out of nothingness. He often does His best work in my greatest hours of despair.
3.) That I am completely and totally imperfect. And yet completely and totally loved.
Hope your Christmas is getting off to a good start.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
"Then Jesus went with his disciples to a a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, 'Sit here while I go over there and pray.' He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, 'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.'" -Matthew 26:36-38
I feel like there could not be a more incredible example of how necessary it is to press into the Lord to get through tough times. Even Christ had to do it. Knowing the end was near, He pressed into His father. Knowing His soul was "overwhelmed with sorrow", He asked His friends to keep watch so He can go to God in prayer. Even though He confessed to them He was hurting, He took His hurt to God.
Pressing on through the hurt means pressing in to the Lord.
I realize this is almost exactly what I said when I talked about Hannah. But I keep getting smacked in the face with it because I realize that I can never do it enough. I can never press into the Lord enough.
I've always really struggled with "pouring my heart out to God" the way that Hannah did. I'll pray for you, your Grandma, my future, your future, etc. I'll pray for healing. Generically. But I don't pray for God to reveal to me the things in me that need to be changed so that I can heal.
"Hey God, if you could fix it, that would be great. But I'm not really going to put any effort in."
But to pray is to change.
It's like counseling. I remember talking to someone once about their counseling experience. They said that after going once or twice they weren't going back because they left the counselor's office more upset than "if they had never gone in the first place." Um, well, yeah. Counseling hurts. It's like surgery. We are going to pull up all your junk and crap that you have been avoiding, take a look at what is destructive and cut it out with a scalpel. But you'll be healthier once we get it out of you. We have to get rid of the cancer.
Prayer is the same way. Just with God. And surgery scares me.
At 3 o'clock in the morning the other night, (and um, I was up at 3 o'clock because I am newly obsessed with "The West Wing"; thanks a lot Blum) I went from discussing something rationally with my roommate to being a gross, crying mess in her lap. And I realized that my hurts were overflowing out of me because I was not pressing into the Lord enough. I had not been leaving prayer changed because I was asking God to fix it but then I did not do my part.
He's saying, "I'll show you the cancer and you go get it cut out."
And I'm saying, "Um, I'd rather you divinely remove it with a miracle so that it doesn't hurt, actually. Oh... and could you also make sure it doesn't leave a scar? That would be great. Thanks."
Do I trust God enough to believe that the surgery that is being performed in my life is for my best? If I am not really pressing into the Lord and asking what I can do then do I really believe that His Character outweighs my own wisdom? If I did then wouldn't I be pouring everything in my heart out before Him to show me what to get rid of?
Thursday, November 13, 2008
"In her novel Wise Blood, Flannery O' Connor says of her character Hazel Motes that 'there was a deep, black wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin.' This is a profound insight. You can avoid Jesus as Savior by keeping all the moral laws. If you do that, then you have "rights". God owes you answered prayers, and a good life, and a ticket to heaven when you die. You don't need a Savior who pardons you by free grace, for you are your own Savior." -The Prodigal God by Tim Keller
Thursday, November 6, 2008
As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her....Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, "How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine."
"Not so, my lord," Hannah replied, "I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief."
Eli answered, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him."
She said, "May your servant find favor in your eyes." Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. "-1st Samuel 1:10-18
This was one of the passages that Paige Benton Brown (PBB) discussed at the conference I attended. Hannah was a desperate heart. She desperately wanted a son. And what did she do with that? She went desperately to the Lord. So desperately that the priest, Eli, thought she was drunk. It was so rare to see someone that passionate in prayer, that broken before the Lord that the priest thought this woman was drunk. She doesn't show up all big and strong and composed asking for her hearts desire. She is a mess.
And I just love the transition that takes place between these three moments:
1) Hannah begins "in bitterness of soul" weeping and praying to the Lord
2) Hannah "pours out her soul" to the Lord
3) Hannah goes her way and "her face is no longer downcast"
How do I go from "bitterness of soul" to "no longer downcast"? By pouring out my soul to the Lord. And, as PBB points out she leaves a different person "not because the prayer was answered but because the prayer was offered". She still did not have a son when she left nor the assurance that she would ever have one. But she knew that God was Sovereign, Consistent and Loved her. She had handed over her request to the one who knows better than she does what is truly best for her.
Kathy Keller said our sorrows, our sufferings, our conflicts are all weighing God's character against our own wisdom. That is the only conflict that ever has to be decided when we are suffering.
Hannah knew that whether she had a child or not, God's character was greater than her knowledge of the situation.
I'm working on trying to rest in that knowledge as well.
And I hope, whatever you are going through, that you can too.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Which reminds me of the quote: "God loves us the way we are, but too much to leave us that way."
Here's to being a work in progress even when the progress feels slow.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
46.) Friends (aka Your Peeps)
39.) Caramel Lattes
38.) A Beautiful Dress
34.) France and French
32.) Old School China
30.) The Play or Movie that Changes the Way You Think
25.) Choir Music
18.) An Old Country Church17.)Van Gogh Paintings
12.) Italy and Italian
10.) Big, Fluffy Pillows
7.) Any Song by Sara Groves
4.) Unexpected Phone Calls to Check on You3.) Fireplaces
Feel free to add to the list and by doing so, as our good friend Sara Groves says, you'll also "Add to the Beauty".