So I Press On Toward The Goal

This last week I decided to watch the first episode of Downton Abbey. I wondered what all the hype was about and wanted something to pass the time for the evening. I just wanted to watch the first episode, but of course, one led to two which led to five and then eight…they really know how to hook you, don’t they?!

I am so easily addicted to things like this. And starting from episode 1 of season 1 when there are now 3 seasons out there means I could easily spend a lot of time catching up. I could watch it for hours upon hours! And the temptation is there, no doubt! I found myself meditating on it…thinking about it throughout the day, reflecting on what had happened and contemplating what could happen.

By the end of the week, I felt a little duller toward the things of the Lord. Meditating on scripture? Is that nearly as satisfying? Reading and praying and singing songs to the Lord? It just didn’t seem as attractive or fulfilling to me…but I knew in my heart it is even more so.

Please hear me out that I am NOT saying watching TV or flipping through magazines or scrolling through pinterest and the like are evils in themselves. They can be enjoyable pastimes and can prove beneficial sometimes.

But hear this too: if our faith feels a little dry and our joy is dull, maybe it’s because we aren’t spending time in the Lord’s presence…searching to know Him through His Word and prayer, experiencing the fullness of joy that comes in his presence alone.

Maybe it’s because we feed the lesser desires of satisfying these pastime enjoyments instead of feeding the deeper need of knowing Him.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. -Psalm 16:11

Do we believe that in His presence there really is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore? Have we experienced it?

Nothing else satisfies but everything else promises to.

Everything else promises to: it’s a lie from the father of lies. And so often we buy into it – we spend our time and money and thoughts meditating on that which we are sure will satisfy. It slowly steals our joy, dulls our faith, and we become somewhat complacent with a half-hearted faith…just living day-to-day with no real sense of purpose or joy. Not dead, but not on fire for the Lord in quite the same way.

When I think of the woman I hope to become and what I hope my life will amount to, it’s become so clear to me that spending endless hours passing time was not going to get me there. And yet there are so many temptations to fill time to just pass the time.

I have to ask: What do we hope our life will amount to? And is spending time doing _______ going to get us toward that end-goal? Because if not, maybe it isn’t worth our time. Maybe our time should be more purposeful and valuable in seizing opportunities to know the Lord more and finding out that He really is real and in His presence really is complete fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.

It takes discipline. It takes devotion. But let me tell you: it is worth it. When I spend time in the presence of the Lord, learning more about Him and rejoicing in this great God who saved my soul …it is well worth it and I am never left wanting or feeling dull.

So church, press on toward the goal of knowing Him more and making Him known. Resist that which is not beneficial in getting you there. It’s not always a pretty, internal dialogue. Sometimes the temptation is fierce and the flesh seems stronger than the spirit – but stand firm and keep fighting the good fight.

And while there are endless moments to let life pass by, to live for vain pleasures and waste time on unworthy causes, I hope we remain focused, devoted, and disciplined; aflame with a love for the Lord that dims our desire for anything not of Him.

I hope we live a life worthy of the calling which we have received and of the God whom we serve.

We’re Homeowners!

Ever had a moment when stress turned you into a different person? All of the sudden, you go momentarily insane and become somewhat irrational? I’m not proud of these moments, but truth is I’m human…and femaleand pregnant.

My doctor keeps telling us that having a baby is one of four big stressors of life and that we should not pair it with another big stressor, such as buying a home. On measures of stress, it’s good advice. My husband and I are first-time homeowners and it is truly amazing how God worked out these details! We are so excited! Here’s a photo of our little home:

But as for the stress…it’s there. Because along with the great charm of an old house comes the plumbing, and the heating/air, and the electrical wiring, and the kitchen repairs, and the walls, and the floors…so much work to do and to organize on top of working full-time and trying to support my beloved husband as he goes through his second block of medical school. Oh – and on top of being pregnant and not being able to do most of the work myself.  ;)

We are extremely blessed by God’s provision in this home and astounded by His grace and how He worked it all together!! But it is busy. And it is stressful.

You know what I love about seasons like these though? In midst of the decision-making and the budgeting and the multiple gas leaks and the foreign language of loans, plumbing, electrical, and everything-else-home-related, the opportunity exists to cling to God as my helper and refuge, to commit myself to His word, and to experience His peace on a whole new level. It exists just as much as the opportunity to stress out and become momentarily crazy.

And those moments, when I feel the weight of stress overwhelm me, I turn to God and surrender it all to Him. I choose to trust Him. I choose to wait in Him. And the cares of this world grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace…

I hope that as you encounter those opportunities to stress out and worry over life, you instead take the opportunity to trust in Him and submit all to Him – your burdens, your fears, your attitude and emotions. Because, trust me, I get it – in that moment the stress is so real and largely consuming, but we are not to be consumed by the flesh, we are to be consumed by Him. And I can testify that HE turns really stressful situations into peace-filled, God-encountering situations as we turn to Him.

Be blessed in whatever busy season you are in, friends. Take the opportunity to know Him more intimately as your refuge, strength, hope, redeemer, provider, and friend.

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears…The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” Ps. 34: 4, 7-8

Praise the Lord!

“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” – Psalm 146:1-2

Ugh. That is how I’ve felt lately. Not very good. Tired. Kinda moodless. During my devotional time last night and again this morning, I felt the Lord draw me to this verse. Praise the Lord. I had to remind myself of this throughout the day. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

1. It seems as though sometimes we have to TELL our soul – our minds, our beings, our hearts and emotions – to praise the Lord…it doesn’t just “come naturally” to any of us!

2. “Praise” means “to boast of or to shine light on something; to give honor and glory.” How often do we correlate praising God to good accomplishments or situations? You know, you get a raise or take a rested vacation and someone exclaims “Praise God!” While these are both good reasons to praise the Lord, we can boast and bring glory and honor to the Lord in every circumstance, good or bad. I may be feeling not so spirited today, but today is still a day to praise the Lord!

We do not know the hours given us. We cannot wait until tomorrow in hopes of a better day. We cannot wait until this season passes. TODAY is the day to praise the Lord and everyday will be such as long as we live! So, today I will boast of His goodness, even in the difficult moments; I will honor Him for His sovereignty and eternal reign, even amidst the earthly chaos; I will shine light on His glory, even in the darkest of nights. As the psalmist declared, “Praise the Lord!” I too declare to my soul: praise the Lord!

Praising our God with you today…not because it is a good day, but because He is a good God.