Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Follow up comments to "Where the Rubber Meets the Road" (on JITM's WEBSITE)

For those who have already read "Where the Rubber Meets the Road" on Joy in the Morning's website and wondered, "How do we find a balance in living and giving without becoming bitter?" -  I pray what I share here will be found beneficial.

First, regardless of where any of us currently are in our relationship with God, it is so important to grasp GROWTH -- God-directed growth -- as an honorable deed. My heart never ceases in its desire to cheer my siblings on to a greater and deeper relationship with God so that they can rest and live in the atmosphere of the abundant life Jesus spoke of.  Abundant what? Abundance of HIS character in us. After all, did not Jesus say, "I am the way, the truth and the LIFE"?  It is that abundance of His character -- of His constitution -- that causes us to rise above and be the head and not the tail.... that same abundance that causes us to grow even in the storms and trials of life because "greater is He that is in you, than he who is in the world!" So before going on, I just want to set the stage and clearly state this is about sharing some insights God showed me in the past that completely altered how I move through my days.

Of vital importance, over and beyond balance, is obedience. Have you ever heard the story of the man who was sent on a journey by his lord? He was to carry an object up over the mountain to a particular destination. When he started out, his load was light, but along the way, he passed "this person and that person" who asked him to carry "this load and that load" as well.  Wanting to help, he said, "Yes."  Well, before long, he found he was in serious doubt of even making it up the mountain, much less finishing the journey. When he finally arrived home, he complained about how exhausted he was and how heavy his load had become. When the lord inquired about the specifics of the journey, he learned that his servant had agreed to carry a number of things he, as the lord, never asked him to carry. "I did not ask you to carry all those things. You took those upon yourself on your own."

I have a precept I have lived by for years and years, and it goes like this, "Noble things done outside of the will of God are wrong."  The bottom line is make sure that what you are doing has been sanctioned by God. If not, drop these "loads." If HE asks you to do something, He will absolutely provide His strength to carry the load. "My yoke is easy, and My burden is light!" 

The second thought parallels the first. While certainly the idea of "balance" appeals to our nature, we must primarily seek to obey.  I have discovered that in obeying God, my "Abba" (meaning "Father"), that perceived balance I may OR may NOT "need" comes, but it did not come from me nor from my making.  No, if left to me, had balance, instead of obedience, remained my top priority, I would have remained weary, fried, and bitter.  (Stay with me here.)

It is not rare that I find people speak of balance often as an ideal when they sense their life is anything but "balanced" with a "self-thought" that such a state "must" be better than their current state. But until a person actually achieves "balance" -- which, to be honest, differs as much from person to person as purpose to purpose -- how can they know nor truly recognize what they seek? What are they to look for to tell them then have obtained the evasive balance they seek?

Understand clearly the signs to balance can be as evasive as balance itself  IF  the path to balance has been forged by human will instead of divine direction.

I have found that to be obedient may not be perceived to be "balanced," per say, but obedience is a place of divine strength and rest... regardless of the storms about me or loads I carry. The inverse I have found to be true, too. When I strive on my own to bring my life in to what I perceive will be a balanced state, I bump around the fog, running into condemnation and guilt as I struggle with anger and bitterness.

To presume we know what a life of balance looks like or feels like is to presume we know the path to the state of  balance, but if we in fact did, why would we find ourselves out of balance to begin with?

There is a Proverb I love: "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Another translation puts it this way, "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." What is this saying? What I believe one of the truths is is that man's hunger -- regardless of the "flavor" of such hunger -- be it for balance, to be healthier, to be more efficient, to be a "better" person, to be a "better" mother or wife, etc (ALL honorable goals!) -- can drive us to plan a path, a BLIND path, that we think will get us to where we need to be, should be, or hunger to be --- BUT, all this effort is for naught if rooted (begun) and walked out in the strength of the natural man.

Hunger, often identified initially by a franticness, is a powerful thing. If left in the vein of the natural man (as opposed to the spiritual man), it drives people to do the craziest things, but generally speaking the ONE thing it will never, by default, drive a person to do is to "Be still" and know that God is God.  Should such a revelation come by His Spirit to the lost soul, and that lost soul surrenders himself  to God's beckoning, salvation then can come through Jesus, His Son.  At such a point, He joyfully makes the "Be still and know that I am God" profoundly  personal and intimate with the revelation that He is not only God of the Universe, but Abba, "Papa," to His beloved child! Glory!

Have you ever seen a truly hungry person?  They appear one of two ways; 1) to be driven almost into a state of madness, willing to "dumpster dive" for any scrap to eat OR 2) to be catatonic-like with a weariness beyond comprehension to the point they lay down to die.  A hungry person begins with the former and will end as the latter if not properly tended to. God desires to scoop us up, look us in the eye, and say, "My child, you are no longer an orphan, but My beloved!  I will take care of you and be with you all the days of your life."  A child of the Most High does not need to beg for bread or dive into dumpsters or succumb to death from lack, but I have witnessed many who do because they struggle with the orphan mentality.

The "still quiet voice" of the Spirit, in contrast, never ceases from beckoning us to do that very thing... "Be still and know that I am God."   Which one we heed is vital to harvesting that PEACE and CHANGE  we desire.  The Proverb says the Lord is the one who determines our steps.... each and every one. Only then can we be assured to stay on the path, secure from falling off the road.

So, in short, it is not our perception of what we need that matters most. It is the surrender of such perceptions, such thoughts, to the One who is truly able to direct our steps and keep us on the path. Again, it spins itself back to obedience.  The Word says, "
In all your ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct your paths."  How many ways?  ALL of them!   Do you believe this promise is for YOU?  Well, IT  IS!

In all I do, I can testify that He keeps me organized, at rest, and on task, even on the seemingly smaller issues of life. My personal habit is to get up each day and consult Him about what I am to do for that day. I do not presume to know what my tasks are nor plan my day out. He is my Lord -- and as such -- I look to Him and lean on Him for direction.

Let me give you a lighthearted example. One time, I had a brooding sense about sitting down to plan our family's vacation.  I confess I was hoping to fit it in before school began, but I hadn't been prompted to take the time to sit and "plan" during my brooding. I confess, as the days ticked off, I recall thinking, "Is this going to happen at all?"(ie: Was a vacation on His "docket" for our family because time was short and most all vacation places are booked well in advance during the summer months?) Shortly after this brooding period (a period where the thoughts would pass in and out of my mind, but no action was taken), I was standing in my closet one morning, talking to God about our day and what He had planned for me. He said, "Let's talk about that vacation." That morning I sat down with Him, not even with a clear destination in mind. Within a short period of time, He had led me to "the place"... not a general location, mind you, but the exact place. It was "shockingly" available!  The price was HALF of all other lodging opportunities in that area, but (to such a thrill for my family) it was the BEST lodging in that area --- including a king size suite and three additional bedrooms, all with queen size beds (again --- HALF off every other SMALLER lodging in the area). I was totally excited!  Now certainly I realize that I could have sat down on my own and figured out a place according to our budget and our calendar, but I know (because of my experiences in the past of striving to make things happen) that even if I had really tried to work a plan devised by "yours truly,"  it would have failed.  Lodging most likely would not have been found, and if it had been found, it would have been the "bottom of barrel" in picks, instead of the BEST!  What did transpire is an example of what we tend to call a "God-thing" --- as if such a thing was an anomaly instead of a normal occurrence that happens when we determine and dedicate our days to Him, as Father, for HIM to order. I could elaborate on other fine points of God's orchestration concerning that vacation, such as all of our busy schedules laid out to have this one particular week available, the only viable week at the lodging, and all I had to change was one orthodontic appointment.  That was it!  Boom.  God made the way and provide the way down to every last detail.  When we go with God, we become partakers of His character and His provision.  I'll take that every day of the week to striving in my own efforts and dumpster diving for provision.  Does this mean a "life of leisure"?  Absolutely not.  The word "obedience" indicates action, directed action from Abba Himself!

I have found that when I pass through storms, He is even more "on task" to lead me through than on sunny days IF I am careful to acknowledge and consult Him.  Make no mistake, His leadership is always up to the task of the need!  And not only does He possess the necessary leadership, but the complete provision we seek.  GLORY!

I truly believe many times God waits to see if we are going to plot our path, a symptom of what I call the "orphan mentality."  OR are we going to wait and listen for Him to reveal the steps we are to take WHEN we are to take them? After all -- HE is our FATHER and truly longs to lift both our burdens and our heads. What I have found He does for me, I know without any doubt He longs to do for all His children.

While such a habit of consulting Father BEFORE we start our day, as to what His docket is for us for that day, is indeed foreign to the lost soul, it should NOT be foreign to us, His child, but instead a developing habit that breeds peace, security, and strength.  Regardless if you work in or out of the home, understand that He longs to help you organize and prioritize the demands of the day!

I hope this helps a bit. Our first step should be to consult Abba to make clear to us what loads we have agreed to carry, but He has not sanctioned. Second, I challenge each reader reading this to honestly assess how much of their days do they plan and set into motion based on "human thought" rather than "divine direction." Only then can we have a hope of "course correction" by Abba Himself.

We all desire to know and taste the ease of His yoke, but rarely do we truly lay down our agendas - our orphan thoughts of  living -  giving Him opportunity to be Father to us, His beloved children. If we determine to grow in wisdom and in our trust of Him, then we can keep our "banks" open -- knowing with full assurance He is the one funding the endeavor, carrying the load to love and serve as Christ.

Remember, do not fall into the "quick sand" emotions of defeat, guilt, or condemnation. Understand God wants to be Father in every sense of the word. Think for a moment about the hurdles an adoptive father faces.  He longs to demonstrate his ability to provide, to discipline, to lead, and to nurture.. Abba is no different!  An orphan has to work with his adoptive father to break old habits of self-reliance, self-planning, self-seeking, and self-preservation. None of those things happen overnight. That same loving adoptive father does not berate his child when he sees them falter, but will seek opportunities to reveal more of himself.  Those reveals, if you will, develop within the adoptive child an increase of love, security and trust. 

Wise is the child who has their face to their Father, rather than their back!  

The more their relationship is fostered with deliberation, the lighter the child feels, even as the realm of responsibility increases because the child knows, believes, and rests in the promise that Abba will never place on them more than they can carry IN His power and IN His strength.

I pray this helps those of you out there struggling to keep your "bank" open.  (See:  "Where the Rubber Meets the Road.")

Loving you, your sister in Christ,


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