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Archive for April, 2016

Big God

 

The small, golden statue sat immobile on my roommate’s shelf—its eyes boring into me while I studied, laughed with friends, and slept. When Victoria was away for more than a day or two, I spun her statue toward the wall—gratefully tossing a shirt or towel over its broad, grinning face.

I didn’t fault my friend for seeking meaning…for expressing her faith…for her belief in a religious system so unlike my own. But the miniature, man-made deity set my spiritual nerves on edge when we shared the same space.

As a young Christian with limited personal insight, I didn’t realize that I harbored my own set of little gods. Like a modern-day Rachel (Genesis 13), I covertly questioned the power of an unseen and inaudible Almighty God and–in an effort to feel more in control of my seemingly directionless life–I tucked away my personal idols for safekeeping—away from prying eyes.

While my friend proudly displayed her minor god, mine was disguised in the regular, day-to-day of young adult life. The lesser idols—a desire to please family or friends and an inward-facing, struggling self-image—were rarely noticed or, they adopted more acceptable labels. Rather than seeking approval? I was dedicated. Instead of severely limiting the food I ate? I had great self-control.

As the Father began to teach me about the woman I am in Christ, the shackles of unintentional idol worship started dropping off one by one. Slowly, year-by-year, I’ve begun to realize how big God really is.

He has healed miraculously. He has rescued regularly. He has protected inexhaustibly. My God is able!

There are still times I fashion God into my image—the picture of a small God smiling benignly as He sits idly by on a bookcase—and the worries, concerns, or priorities of this world threaten to grow into a something greater than they should be. Then? I return to the promises of scripture…prayer…the counsel of a trusted mentor. And I am reminded that a manufactured idol has never given its life for someone; a self-created god never offers peace.  Only Christ–the  One who left a tomb standing barren–is a big enough God to do these things.

Scripture and Questions for Reflection

Exodus 15:11

Who compares with you among gods, O God?
Who compares with you in power,
in holy majesty,
In awesome praises,
wonder-working God?

 

Complete this sentence.

*Complete this sentence.

“God is too small to take care of my (finances, children, health, ______________”).

*Is there an idol you’ve hidden away? Have you allowed any area of your life to have more value or importance than Jesus?

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His pockets were hanging heavy–pulling at the waistband of the aqua swim shorts. Shells nearly burst through the white netting as his small legs carried him along the water’s edge—taking him first in one direction and then another like the miniature sanderlings sharing the beach.

“Look, mama!” Ben’s tiny hand wrapped itself around another sandy treasure—shells of all shapes and sizes now shining iridescent from the washing of water. Scampering toward the place we’d located bags, towels, and sunscreen Benjamin carefully unloaded the contents of his sagging trunks into a plastic orange bucket.

“Ohhh…aren’t they beautiful?” my little boy whispered. And gently, he added each shell to the growing collection—precious, cared for treasures.

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In recalling this moment, I begin to wonder…what do I treasure? Where do I find joy? Does the beauty of God’s creation thrill my heart?

I have to admit that I’m often so consumed with the day-to-day of managing life that I forget to live. I don’t always notice the small things—that day’s gifts. The sunrise. The smell of rain on a chilly day. My child’s smile.  I overlook some of the things I should notice. A friend’s kind remark. An encouraging comment on Facebook. My husband’s warm embrace.

So today? My prayer is that I will delight in the little things—that I’ll start each day with the intent of gathering and collecting those things that matter eternally. My own precious treasures.

What about you, Friend? Do you need to stop managing and start living? What sort of heart collection will you focus on this moment…this day…this week?

 

Scripture for Reflection

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4

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Six years ago, he stood watch over army operations from behind a wall of sandbags and barbed wire. Launching the drone from the remote desert site, the man noticed something unusual on the monitor. Leaning in close, his pulse quickened as he realized the gravity of the situation. Lives were at stake!

Without hesitating, he made the call.

Don’t fire! Do. Not. Fire. Civilians at risk! For what seemed like an eternal moment, there was no response.

Then, finally, with hesitation another voice answered. Sir? Are you sure?

I’m certain. Do not pull the trigger.

If you say so, Commander.

 That day dozens of lives were rescued—because one soldier responded to the words of someone with a broader vision…more knowledge…a better understanding of the circumstances.

Like the officer following orders have you ever doubted the wisdom behind someone’s request? Do you sometimes whisper internally—this doesn’t make any sense? What is he thinking!?

 

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 I have to admit I sometimes find myself voicing these same words as I pray. I don’t understand, Lord. Why are you asking me to do this…trust in this way…follow you here? And my heart and mind struggle to see the larger picture.

When my little boy was born physically handicapped? The moment my daughter stopped breathing? That time God wanted me to love people who were intentionally hurtful?

Why would Christ ask me to follow Him…trust him…expect more in these situations? Because in both the calm and in the midst of the storm, the Grace Giver will do “abundantly more than you ask or imagine”. (Ephesians 3:20 NIV)

I may not understand life’s landscape. But Jesus? He doesn’t just know the beginning from the end—He is the Beginning and the End.

My fear or worry may threaten to overwhelm a barely-there faith. But the Comforter and Advocate who lives within–a gift from heaven–counsels with the truths I so easily forget.

Can you relate, Friend? Do you hear yourself repeating the same questions I’ve asked? Do you, too, sometimes wonder about the way in which God is directing you to respond to difficult–even painful circumstances?   Are you struggling to understand how He can work through the hard of your situation?

I want to challenge you. Take a chance! Christ makes himself known in the smallest expression of faith and the expectancy of belief. Let’s live what we believe!  Just four words can change your life and mine…if you say so.

Scripture for Reflection

Luke 5:1-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Phil. 4:19-20

John 14:16-17

 

 

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