Where Do I Find You?

My father passed away almost a year ago. I have a memory of my father that I cherish now more than ever. There was a fruit and vegetable market not too far from our house. It was an outdoor market where farmers set up their produce for direct sale to customers rather than through big grocery chains. This market is where we would go to find our pumpkins for Halloween, our trees for Christmas, and even fireworks for the 4th of July. I loved it! My memory is a little fuzzy now since it’s been so long ago, but I seem to remember there was a pumpkin patch behind it where families could walk through to find the perfect pumpkin.

Outdoor Market

Outdoor Market (Photo credit: yannsta)

I don’t remember how old I was, only that I was quite young. Maybe three or 4 years old. I can’t remember why we went to the produce market at this particular time, but I recall going with my father to get something from the market for a special holiday coming up. As we were looking, somehow I lost sight of my dad in the crowd of people. Panic struck me. I was all alone, and for a kid as small as I was, the world felt pretty big and scary all of a sudden.

I frantically scanned the crowd looking for a tall man with dark hair with the same build as my father. Thinking I spotted him, I ran to him and slipped my hand into his. The man whose hand I now held looked down at me as I looked up and realized…it was not MY dad. Tears of desperation welled up in my eyes.  The man chuckled and then I heard the voice of my father laughing and saying, “Here I am.” Standing a few people down in the crowd I ran to him and immediately grabbed his hand, gripping it as if he might let go.

My father is gone now. My heavenly Father is not. Though I admit at times it seems like He’s left or is hard to find.

I’ve been doing a fast from t.v. and Facebook the past few weeks and I must admit, it’s been a struggle to find my Father. Too many crowded thoughts pushing this way and that in my mind, keeping me from focusing on Him. The thoughts that make up the crowd in my mind are concerns, insecurities, doubts, and darkness.

I wrote down in my notebook the question: Where do I find You?

I get lost in the crowd of thoughts and begin to panic. Finally, I stand still. I quit running just anywhere and I cry out to God, my Father.

I hear His voice, “I’m still here. I haven’t left you.”

I love Colton Dixon new song, Never Gone. In the lyrics, he sings about how in times of darkness we can’t see God, but like a child scared of the dark we cry out to see him and God speaks to us,

“I’m still standing here. No, I didn’t disappear. Now the lights are on. See I was never gone.”

The dark thoughts and darkness of evil in our world can turn the lights out on us and make it difficult to see our Father. But we can always cry out to Him and He will hear His children.

“For it is You who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.”  ~ Pslam 18:28

How does He do that? How does He turn the lights on? One way I think is by opening our eyes to see Him in the world around us. He opens our eyes to see Him right there with us in the reality of our world. I’m not talking about pantheism where God is everything and everything is God. No, I’m talking about seeing His handiwork and noticing His nature in that creation. Just as you can find out something about an artist by studying his works of art, you can find something about God in His works of art. He turns the spotlight on, as so to speak, and shines it in places where you see the wonder and beauty of who He is in His creation.

Black-chinned Hummingbird -- Moab, Utah, USA

There have been a few times this week when the lights turned on and I could see Him. I saw Him in a hummingbird that came to visit me the other day as I was sitting on the back deck. Just a few feet away this hummingbird buzzed right up in front of me, face to feathered face. He zipped up just another inch and then zipped back. I think he was wondering if I was a flower.  🙂 I was enraptured in the beauty of that moment with this encounter with one of God’s beautiful and most fascinating of creations.

Later this week a friend of mine sent a YouTube video of these two divers out in the ocean with their video cameras. One video shows a school of some kind of fish frantically swimming in one direction all of a sudden. Then the next shot you see is from the video of the guys on the boat. Bursting through the ocean’s surface are two huge whales just inches away from the divers gathering it’s prey of fish. If the divers had been any closer they would’ve had to change their name to Jonah #1 and Jonah #2. Good thing those guys had wet suites on cuz I am sure they wet themselves! haha! 😛

Dallas Willard, in his book The Divine Conspiracy, talks about re-visioning our eyes to see Him in His world. He says,

“Jesus’ good news about the kingdom can be an effective guide for our lives only if we share his view of the world in which we live. To his eyes this is a God-bathed and God-permeated world. It is a world filled with a glorious reality, where every component is within range of God’s direct knowledge and control—though he obviously permits some of it, for good reasons, to be for a while otherwise than as he wishes. It is a world that is inconceivably beautiful and good because of God and because God is always in it. It is a world in which God is continually at play and over which he constantly rejoices. Until our thoughts of God have found every visible thing and event with his presence, the word of Jesus has not yet fully seized us.”

No, He hasn’t left me in the crowd. Though at times the darkness scares me, He hasn’t left me alone in the dark either. “I will never leave you nor forsake you” is a promise and He will keep it. Comforting words for a child that can get scared out of her wits when her Daddy is no where to be seen.

If you get lost in the dark and in the crowd, stand still and cry out to Him. Quiet your thoughts and listen for His word to you saying, “I’m still here.”

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Who Is The Kingdom?

“Jesus’ good news, then, was that the Kingdom of God had come, and that he, Jesus, was the herald and expounder to men. More than that, in some special, mysterious way, he was the Kingdom.”  ~ Malcolm Muggeridge, Jesus: The Man Who Lives

A True Treasure

Treasure Chest

In my little safe I keep a few of my most prized treasures. The reality of their true value is not much by any standards, but to me they are invaluable. What do I keep in there? Well, I’ll tell you. I have a collection of saki cups from Japan that my brother brought home when he went for a school trip and some chopsticks and a few Japanese coins. Plus, I have some post cards from friends who live far away and birthday cards from friends and family, and then I have a wooden flower I used as decor I set on my desk in my dorm room in college. Nothing of any real value, but like I said, it’s valuable to me.

I think of all other sort of ways we store our personal treasures. In the past people used treasure chest to bury in the ground. Going back in history further we see how people used jars sealed with treasures and buried them with the dead in tombs. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in jars sealed in a cave. A treasure that was only found thousands of years later.

What do you treasure?

We consider something a treasure if it is of supreme importance to us. We’re the ones that decide something’s value. The value of something is based on how much we are willing to pay for it.

In the book of Exodus 33, there is an intriguing story that showcases a dialogue between Moses and God. Before this chapter, Moses had just came down from Mt. Sinai after receiving the Ten Commandments and caught Israel dancing around naked around a golden calf. Can you say, Oy Vey?

In chapter 33 the  dialogue between God and Moses begins. God says, “Well, I can see I’m not wanted. You all can have the Promise Land, but I won’t be going with you.” I’m paraphrasing, of course.

What??!! Not going with us?! I can picture Moses shouting.

God is posing a choice before Moses and Israel. “What is it that you really want? Do you want Me? Or do you just want The Promise Land?”

In verse 15, we see Moses answer:

“If Your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and Your people? Is it not Your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and Your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”

How many of us would say that? How many of us would say, “Yeah God. I want You more than the Promise Land. More than the promises You’ve given me.  I need Your presence more.”

And how many of us would say, “That’s cool, Lord if You don’t want to go with me. I’ll be fine with just the promise.”

A challenging question.

Asking myself this question has lead me to wonder how I really do value the presence of God in my life. Do I realize the treasure I have?

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surprassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corithians 4:7

What an awesome priviledge we carry within us to have the presence of God with us at all times!! We don’t have to go meet Him in a tent or in a tabernacle like the Israelites did. He’s living within us. Those who trust in Christ have become the treasure chest storing the presence of God inside us.

We might have to ask ourselves this question from time to time when some other thing we want or desire to see happen overtakes our true treasure, the presence of God. May we be challenged to prioritize and keep Him as our true treasure.

I also pray that this knowledge of the ever-present God in you be a comfort no matter what you are going through today. If you’re alone or if there are circumstances going on that are beyond your control, know He is with you, undergirding you with His mighty power and strength.

You are never alone.

Blessings,

🙂

 

 

 

A Prayer For True Desire

 

 

A. W. Tozer

A. W. Tozer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up My love, My fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.” ~ A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Living Unfulfilled

Once upon a time when I was a little girl, I had this dream of a white knight on a white steed. I dreamed he would come galloping toward me on his white steed and hoist me up and we would ride on into the sunset to live a life of marital bliss.

Nederlands: The Knight

Nederlands: The Knight (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve looked for this white knight all my life (dating life at least) and I haven’t found him yet. The big 4-0 is swiftly approaching and here I am knight-less.

“So why are you still single?” is a question I get often by people I just met.

I wage a battle of avoiding those type of marital status questions from well-meaning people. These are the questions that are only posed to those over the age of 25 and still not married. “So, why aren’t you married yet?” Or, “What’s a pretty girl like you doing not married?” Ugh. I hate those questions. I feel as if the follow-up question is, “What’s wrong with you?”

Living in a culture that places a high premium on coupling makes anyone not coupled-up with someone seem odd. A misfit. Out of place. There are two fronts I’m up against as a single woman. First the church folk who think everyone ought to be married. The second would be the world who thinks if you’re not out dating and having sex then you’re not human.

Once a upon a time, I believed the world when it told me that my identity is somehow tied to whether or not someone loves me. (Thanks, Dean Martin.) I was also told that my identity is also wrapped up in my ability to attract men and be the object of their desire. (Thanks, Victoria Secrets. If I had a sarcasm sign, I’d hold it up right here. 🙂 ) And if I’m not having sex then I’m not being who I am as a sexual being.

Church folk don’t make it easy to be single either. Let’s face it. Some married folk seem to want everyone else married and as happy as they are. I get that! Share the blessing. I feel a shove by the happily married church folk to date every available bachelor that walks through our little church. “Look! He’s single and he’s breathing!” 😛  However, this mentality creates a problem where the wrong emphasis is being put on the wrong syllable. You know what I mean? Like marriage is the end all be all in the human experience.

From the time I was 12 or 13 I believed I needed to have a boyfriend to have an identity. After a few broken hearts and a long dating drought, the Lord showed me something different. My identity is in Him.

The wedding vows are complete - you may now ki...

Now, I’m not going to lie and say that God took away my desire for marriage.  I still want to be able to share my life completely with someone. And for the sake of honesty, I still have a desire for sex. Unlike some stories I’ve heard of single missionaries from the past who seemed to have their desire for marriage removed, I’ve not been one of those people blessed with that grace. No, ma’am.

God never guaranteed me the right to get married. He never told me that I would. He just assured me that He knows my heart’s desires and He will do what is right for me. HE would fulfill my deepest longings because He is enough. Instead of removing the desire, He teaches me how to live with it.

This is a tough. Why? Because for one, I know what sex is like. Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I’m perfect and never sinned. Can I get a witness? I have failed in the area of sexual purity so I know that sex can be pleasurable. And I know if I was married it would be even better because it would be honored by God. Do I want that? Heck, yeah!!

How do I live with unfulfilled desires?  I’ve learned that it’s not “getting” that’s important, but giving. I learned how to give love to those around me. I’ve also learned my deepest longing is not getting a husband, but connecting with a God that knows me and loves me so purely and completely, better than any man could.

Can I live a joyful life and still have unmet desires? Can I live life with joy and have my desires for a husband unmet? What about my desire for sex? Having kids? A fulfilling career?

I think the answer is yes, but it depends on what day it is. If you were to ask me that question on a bad day, I might answer differently. I might say NO! I have days still when I deal with loneliness. I see couples and look enviously upon their public displays of affection. Holding hands, a lingering kiss, a loving look. In my heart I then question God, why can’t I have that? The only answer I seem to get is, Trust Me.

My life doesn’t have to begin when I get married. IF I get married. My life is meant to be lived NOW. My feelings and desires do not make me who I am. I go to God and find out who He created me to be and how He wants to use me today. I don’t know about tomorrow.

What I do know is this: it is because of these unmet desires that has revealed the deeper longing of my heart which is to know God and experience His presence.

“As a deer pants for the flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…” Psalm 42: 1-2a

The words of Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” paints an exquisite picture of longing for the One who is the source of all life.

Jesu, joy of man’s desiring
Holy wisdom, love most bright

Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light

Word of God, our flesh that fashioned
With the fire of life impassioned
Striving still to truth unknown
Soaring, dying round Thy throne

Through the way where hope is guiding
Hark, what peaceful music rings
Where the flock, in Thee confiding
Drink of joy from deathless springs
Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure
Theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure
Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of joys unknown

Let our deepest desire be revealed as a desire for the living presence of Christ whenever we find unfulfilled desires frustrating our plans. Let us also spend our lives giving love instead of worrying about what we’re not getting. This is how I think God wants us to live life with unfulfilled desires.