Sunday, July 31, 2016

Are You Like Pinocchio?

Recently, I took my young grandson to see the live play, Pinocchio.  For those who are not familiar with the story, Geppetto was a wood carver who decided one day to carve a wooden puppet boy. Geppetto took great care in carving the boy just right and he named him Pinocchio.  He loved Pinocchio dearly.  His only regret was that Pinocchio was not real; only a wooden puppet.  But the Blue Fairy appeared and promised that if Pinocchio was honest and obedient, she would turn him into a real boy.

Pinocchio was very naughty and rarely told the truth.  Every time he lied his nose would grow longer. One day Pinocchio threw a tantrum.  He questioned why his father made him like he did.  He even questioned why his father made him at all!

One day Pinocchio heard that his father, Geppetto, was out looking for him and had been swallowed up by a giant whale so Pinocchio determined to find the whale and save his father. When he found the whale it swallowed Pinocchio too!  Once inside the whale's belly Geppetto and Pinocchio were very happy to see each other.  Together they devised a plan to tickle the whale's belly and make him sneeze and spit them out.  And the plan worked.

Upon returning home together, the Blue Fairy did as she had promised and turned Pinocchio into a real boy.  From then on Pinocchio was very well behaved and honest.  And Geppetto and Pinocchio lived happily ever after.

Throughout the play I saw many spiritual parallels to our own walk with our Heavenly Father God. Our Heavenly Father took great care in creating us and made each of us just the way he wanted. He loves each of us dearly.  He wants us to be alive and he breaths the breath of life into us.  He requires us to be obedient and to follow the Truth.  Unfortunately, we don't always do it.

Many times in my walk with the Lord I have thrown tantrums.  And many times I have questioned him, "Father, why did you make me like this?"  And at times when I've been really angry and disobedient I have questioned, "why did you even make me at all"?  There have also been times when I have come to my senses and returned to my Father, and he has always delightfully welcomed me into his loving embrace.

Our Heavenly Father is amazing.

He has spoken through a burning bush. (Exodus 3:4-6)

He has spoken through a donkey. (Numbers 22:28)

He has spoken through a live, dramatic production, straight to my heart.

I want to please my Father and trust that he made me just the way he wanted.  I want him to be delighted in me.  I want to be obedient and follow the Truth.

I don't know about you, but I don't look so good with a long nose.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Up Close and Personal

I have a friend who is a wonderful photographer. Each Wednesday on Facebook she posts a "What Is It Wednesday" zoomed in picture of an object. Her viewers try and guess what it is. Since the photos are so close up it is very difficult to guess correctly. When someone does guess correctly, she then posts a picture of the same object at a normal distance. By allowing her viewers to see the whole picture we often shake our heads and say, "Of course. Now I see it. I should have seen it all along. Now it's all so clear!"

And so it is with our spiritual selves. So often we go through circumstances and we can't see where it is all leading. We're too close. We can't see clearly. Nothing makes sense. And when we don't understand we often feel like saying, "What's the use? "Why bother?" "My circumstances are swallowing me up".  How many times have you gone through something and been able to look back on it? You've been able to see the whole picture, right? Suddenly, everything becomes clear. It makes sense. And you say to yourself, "I should have been able to see it".

Moses led the children of Israel through the Red Sea. After they had crossed over they began to dance and sing praises to the Lord. They were safe! Their enemy was conquered! They were right in dancing and singing. They should have been thankful and praising the Lord. But it seems their timing was off a bit.

We know that:

"all things work together for good". (Romans 8:28a) KJV

"The revelation pertains to an appointed time— it speaks truthfully about the end. Though it delays, wait for it, because it will surely come about— it will not be late!" 

(Hab 2:3) ISV

"In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." 
(1 Thessalonians 5:18) AMP

It would have been wonderful if, even though the Israelites couldn't see the end from the beginning, they had chosen to praise God despite their circumstances, instead of waiting to see that the end result was good and then praise him. 

Our family sings this song:

"Will you dance on this side of the sea?
Will you dance before your eyes can see?
Before your eyes can see, before the victory?
Will you dance on this side of the sea?

Oh yes I'll dance on this side of the sea.
Oh yes I'll dance before my eyes can see.
Before my eyes can see, before the victory,
Yes, I'll dance on this side of the sea.

And if you'll dance on this side of the sea,
And if you'll dance before your eyes can see,
You'll find new faith in who I am, I'll be the God who really can,
If you'll dance on this side of the sea."

"For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God]."  
1 Corinthians 13:12(AMP)

In the midst of the difficult circumstances you find yourself in today, will you choose to dance on this side of the sea?

Monday, July 11, 2016

1st John 4:19

Many years ago my daughter Shannon left home for the first time.  At only eighteen years old, she had never been far away from us.  Now she was flying nearly 3,000 miles to a christian college located somewhere in "the boondocks", a place I thought at that time only God knew existed.

We took her to a family friend's house who was going to fly with her.  I'll never forget the twisting pain in my stomach or the excruciating ache in my jaws from desperately trying to stifle my wrenching sadness at having to leave her and drive away.   I knew my husband and other twin daughter, Kelly, were feeling the same as I was, and what Shannon was feeling, I couldn't even imagine.

I had written this prayer in the front of Shannon's bible.  It was simple, but powerful. It said, "When you were small I used to cover you with a soft blanket to keep you from the cold. Now that you are grown and sometimes out of reach, I cover you with prayer".  

Four years and many prayers later found us booking three flights for her graduation.  God had not only seen her through, but he protected and provided in ways "exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ask or think".  Somewhere along that four year journey I realized, by Holy Spirit revelation, that our Heavenly Father loved Shannon long before I ever knew her, (Jeremiah 1:5) and therefore, He was trustworthy to take care of her.  She was his.

A couple of years into her college experience Shannon started talking about another young student. His name was Cesar and he was from Colombia, South America.  She would tell us all about his antics and we'd laugh with her.  Eventually I asked her, "Shannon, are you in love with Cesar"? "NO WAY", Shannon exclaimed.  "He's not my type"!

(They've been married 15 years now.)

Six months before Shannon's graduation the Holy Spirit spoke to me.  Not audibly, but he revealed to me that Cesar was going to be my son in-law.  (It's important that you understand that at this point even Shannon and Cesar didn't know this yet!)  I told my husband what the Lord had shown me and we began to pray for Cesar as our son in-law.  We never told another living soul.  I found out later that soon after Shannon and Cesar began to have feelings for each other and got brave enough to admit it, one to the other.

Here's my point.  After praying and viewing Cesar as my son in-law, when I met him six months later I was as comfortable and at home with him as could be.  I didn't feel even a speck of awkwardness as he drove me around the college or our family sat with him and visited. Looking back on it now, it must have appeared strange to some that our family flew in for Shannon's graduation and Cesar just kind of automatically became a part of our family while we were there. Everything we did and everywhere we went included him!  As far as others were concerned Cesar was supposed to be a stranger to us.  But the truth is we had grown to love him deeply through those months of praying and embracing the truth that he would be our son.  And Cesar began to love us.  You see, Cesar loved us because we first loved him.  (1 John 4:19)  He felt our love for him and could see it clearly as we demonstrated it.  We would have given our lives for him, just like we would have for any one of our children. God gave us a son and we love him.

Matthew 7:11 says, "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" 

Can you fathom the vastness of the love our Heavenly Father has for you?  Are you aware that you love him because he first loved you?  That if he didn't love you first and demonstrate that love by sending his son Jesus to die on a cross for you, that you would not love him?

It was perfectly understandable to Jim and me that Cesar needed time to grow in his love for us.  He didn't know us yet.  But we, because we first loved him, already knew him, already loved him, already excepted and embraced him.  It made it that much easier and quicker for Cesar to love us in return.

When we stop long enough to really think about that from our Heavenly Father's point of view we begin to understand better about the true agape love spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13.  Love really is patient and kind.  It really doesn't envy or boast.  It is not proud, nor does it dishonor others.  It is not self-seeking or easily angered.  It keeps no record of wrongs.  Love really does not delight in evil, and it really does rejoice with the truth.  It always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres.  It's true. Love never fails.

When we understand that God loved us first, before we were even formed in our mother's womb, then we can love him.