What a beautiful summer morning today. I took the dogs out on the front porch with me for quiet time. It was warm with a breeze that gave the swallows room to glide. I could hardly wait to sit down and be with God. But, before I could begin, Murphy (our middle dog), saw something threatening in our neighbor's field. A large machine had appeared, and it was producing a big noise. To Murphy, this machine and its noise must have seemed like a prowling monster.
I could hear a growl rumbling in his throat. I tried comforting him, but he didn’t back down. He was sure this was a dire situation, and he must bark! So, I thought I’d try a different tact. I told him, “Go get it!” Which he did - bounding off the front porch and running all the way to the fence line with hackles up and tail spiked. He looked frantic. That’s when I realized he wasn’t defending, he was scared. That meant he needed my help.
I found a lead, and with him at my knee, we headed down the driveway. We crossed the road and walked along the neighbor's fence line approaching his monster in the field. He was growling quietly, but at least he wasn't barking. It seemed we had defused the anxiety. We walked back quietly and settled onto the front porch. ‘Ahhh,’ I thought. ‘Peace at last.’
Still, a minute later Murphy was again focused on the monster and barking like crazy. His fear was back. Down the driveway we went a second, and then a third time hoping more close-ups with his monster would help defuse his worry.
However, in a little while, I noticed Murphy was calm. I could tell he was still concerned, yet there seemed to be a new-found degree of peace in my little buddy. He was willing to trust me, and he was willing to grow.
This week Lysa’s words challenge us. She writes, “I am a woman who wants to make a difference for Christ in the world…” [Pg 38] Growing in our trust of God and our faith becomes what we need most to accomplish those God-given goals.
When we see monsters, we can remember that monsters are often more scary from a distance. When we walk with our Daddy right up to our monster -- we realize it has no power over us and that with Him we are always safe.
"Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger,
for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me." Psalm 23.4
“… But hearing Him clearly? I think that might require my soul to acknowledge what all my rushing causes me to miss.” [Pg 37]
Last week we talked about hearing God ’s direction more clearly. We discovered God not only speaks directly to us, but He also guides us through the words of others, and can even use events to direct our path. Today we are talking about a different element of hearing God - the part that involves our ability to understand.
Do you remember the commercial slogan, “Can you hear me now?” We’ve all experienced the frustration of a poor internet connection that leaves us guessing what the other person has said. Likewise, when our connectivity with God goes in-and-out, we miss valuable information that might leave us guessing what God has said.
Life can be full of stuff that gobbles up our time and energy. That loss of connection can cause our understanding to become intermittent -- or even absent. Our devices are designed to work best when the connection is good. Our ability to hear God's leading is no different. When our connection is strong we can clearly hear the wisdom He has for all our questions and concerns.
How do we grow that connectivity - spend time connecting with our Father. Don't cause Him to ask: Can you hear me now?
"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." James 1:5
"… this would be the year she would finally get intentional about pursuing the ministry to women God had placed on her heart. As I read those words, I felt Jesus’ invitation,“Follow Me,” and didn’t hesitate to say yes." [pg 32]
There are times in our hurried life when we vividly remember Who is at our right hand, times when we understand why we fell so deeply in love with Him. Today is such a day for me.
As I read Lysa’s words, I felt a sense of encouragement for the ministry dreams I have. It's difficult sometimes to continue to pray for something when you don't see any movement toward that goal, isn't it? But when God gives us such a personal affirmation it leaves us assured our heart is lined up with His, and it will come to pass if we persevere.
How does that affirmation look in our life? A friend once told me, ‘Pay attention to what is happening around you, is it lining up with the desire in your heart?’ When you see opportunities that point you - once again - toward a specific path, isn't that God endorsing that desire? Sometimes confirmation shows up in the words of others, some specifically given, others not.
Have you been given such confirmation? Do you feel ready to move? If you're like me, maybe the answer is 'Not.' You may be waiting for Him to give you a specific declaration. Something like, "Go now!" Isn’t that how it's supposed to work? We want to be sure, right? How does 'waiting to be sure' line up with God giving us a goal and affirmation at the same time?
Gideon comes to mind for me. He was a man who needed assurance. In the Old Testament book, Judges, Chapter 6, we read how uncertain Gideon was about what God wanted him to do.
"Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew."
Continuing into Chapter 7 Gideon finally gets it-and goes to work to complete his mission for God.
Our God is not discouraged with hesitation. He knows -HE KNOWS our heart is filled with desire, we just need that last little word of encouragement, just like Gideon.
Allow Him to reassure you. Whatever the form allow it to encourage you. Take the power He is giving and step up!
This weeks reading certainly affirmed a desire in my heart! Has it given you encouragement too?
Today Lysa is talking about the confusion we can
have in prayer when we don't know if we're asking
Gods will for ourselves or another? Then she
adds, "Prayer opens my spiritual eyes to see things
I can’t see on my own." [Pg 30]
We often think of prayer as those petitions, the
humble requests, the cries of our heart to an able
God when we need something fixed. But prayer is
more, varied, simple and yet complex.
In a foundational book on prayer, Prayer, by
Richard J Foster, 21 types of prayer are defined.
All we experience in our prayer with God
(although doubtful that we categorize them into
various types) still fall into one, or more of these different categories. Yet, prayer is more.
In the book, Prayer, Foster writes, "None of us will keep up a life of prayer unless we are prepared to change. We will either give it up or turn it into a little system that maintains the form of godliness but denies the power of it-- ..."
Does that sound like petitionary prayer to you? It seems more like a relationship to me, a real one, the kind where you are confronted by a loving, holy, and all-knowing God who gives opportunity to do the right thing, say the right thing, admit a wrong or to be surprised with an uncomfortable chance to G-R-O-W. Can prayer be that too?
Lysa seems to understand completely that prayer is all of this. It's talking. It's crying out. It's asking, and even begging. It's relationship. And mostly, it's change. Because more than anything else God desires to lead your heart nearer and nearer to him, where he becomes that Source we already know. Amen?
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