Soaked

It wasn’t pretty, but it was delightful.

Just a few days ago I wrote a blog post about deserts and dry spells and how we were having our driest season in 80 years.    I wrote about how we needed a good soaking.  And I wrote about how sometimes in the dry seasons of our lives we need a good soaking as well and how I was going to be thankful for the desert because I knew the rain was coming.

I got what I asked for.  In the grocery parking lot.

It wasn’t raining when I came out of the store with my full cart.  Halfway to my car, the heavens opened up.  Literally.  Huge, splashing raindrops pelted me – and my groceries.  Within seconds I was soaked.  Not just a little wet.  Soaked.

I had no option but to stand in the rain and put my bags in the car.  By the time I got myself in and took a look in the rearview mirror, I was a mess.  Hair dripping, make-up running, clothes plastered to my body.   And  I found myself laughing out loud. 

God was reminding me about my blog post.  He was reminding me that indeed, His showers of blessing come  – sometimes when we least expect them.   I didn’t mind the deluge and I didn’t really mind getting drenched.  

The rain came – and will come.  Just as He promised.

How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out. He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams;  the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind.          Job 36: 26-28

For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.  Isaiah 44:3

Rain down, you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together.  I, the LORD, have created it.  Isaiah 45:8

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.  Malachi 3:10

Search

I’ve been on a search. 

Searching for discernment and guidance and knowledge and assurance about decisions.  I’ve been on a search for…wisdom.

My “go-to” passage for these kinds of searches has always been Proverbs 2, as evidenced by the fact that I just counted 24 different dates written next to that passage in my Bible. Wow – even I’m impressed.  I’m running out of room.  I hope it’s just that I’ve learned to seek God about the daily decisions in life rather than my life being that complicated!

But in both the common daily quandaries and the Big, Complicated Decisions, God has always been faithful to give me the wisdom I need.  This morning I decided to look up the passage in some different scripture translations.  Here is the paraphrase from The Message

Good words.  Good visuals.  A good God.

Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you; collect my counsels and guard them with your life.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
   set your heart on a life of Understanding.
That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
   and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
   like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;
   you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God.

 And here’s why: God gives out Wisdom free,
   is plainspoken in Knowledge and Understanding.
He’s a rich mine of Common Sense for those who live well,
   a personal bodyguard to the candid and sincere.
He keeps his eye on all who live honestly,
   and pays special attention to his loyally committed ones.

 So now you can pick out what’s true and fair,
   find all the good trails!
Lady Wisdom will be your close friend,
   and Brother Knowledge your pleasant companion.
Good Sense will scout ahead for danger,
   Insight will keep an eye out for you.
They’ll keep you from making wrong turns,
   or following the bad directions
Of those who are lost themselves
   and can’t tell a trail from a tumbleweed.

Proverbs 2: 1-13  The Message 

Desert

It’s dry. 

Our local newspaper said today that we’re experiencing our driest season in 80 years.  It’s been a long time since we had a good, soaking rain.  And while brown grass and low water levels in the lakes and canals haven’t exactly turned tropical South Florida into a desert, it’s still pretty dry.

Imagine if we had personal headlines that announced our dry spells.  “Sharon Experiencing Driest Season in 10 years”.  We get pretty good at hiding our deserts, those times when we feel like we’re in a barren, unproductive, forsaken wasteland.  Nothing happening.  No relief in sight.  Wandering from sand dune to sand dune in search of something refreshing and new on the horizon.

Sometimes, we just need a good soaking.

There are a whole lot of stories in the Bible about God’s people and deserts.  And I don’t believe it’s a coincidence.  He allowed them – and us – to wander into those dry seasons for a reason.  He wants to show us how much we need what only He can provide.  Showers of blessing don’t seem like that big of a deal when you aren’t desperate for them.   A glass of water isn’t treasured when you’ve had your fill already. 

God delights in turning deserts into gardens, and dry land into rivers and streams and fountains.  And He knows that I won’t appreciate the complete joy of splashing around barefoot in the puddles of a delightful, unexpected rainfall if I don’t experience the dry times first.

I’m going to be thankful for the desert.  I know the rain is coming.

O GOD, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.  Psalm 63:1

Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  Isaiah 43:19

For the LORD will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.  Isaiah 51:3

I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing.       Ezekiel 34:26

Fearless

It’s been quite a week. 

Hearing the word “Japan” will never be the same for us.  Instead of images of the bright neon lights of Tokyo and memories of Olympic games, we’ll immediately remember the images of that massive black wave bearing down on cities and roads and bridges and fields…and people.

There’s talk of worldwide radiation threats and more earthquakes to come.  There’s talk of this as a sign of the coming end of the world.  There’s talk of death, destruction and disease.

There is fear.

But there doesn’t need to be.  No matter how tragic, how devastating and how horrific things appear to be, God has never left His place on the throne.  He is still in control.

And that’s why He gave us such extreme examples of situations where fear is overcome.  When mountains fall into the sea (Ps. 46:2-3).  When the valley of the shadow of death looms large (Ps 23:4).  When the storm prevails and our little boats are covered with huge, angry waves (Matthew 8:24-26).

God is our refuge, our strength and our fortress.  And because of that, we can be…fearless.

Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;  Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah  Psalm 46:2-3

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:24-26

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.          Psalm 18:2

Cut

It pained me to do it.

I had to chop down the rubber tree plant I had on my porch for the last 15 years.  I had first bought it as a little houseplant, small enough to be on my desk.  But it had grown out of control, and then it got spindly and the leaves were yellow and there was no new growth and it was an embarrassment to the other porch plants.

I felt bad.  It had been on my porch for so long. I felt an odd connection to it even though it was just a plant. But one day I knew the time had come and I cut it back almost to the dirt level, leaving just a little bit of trunk.  I knew I had to haul the big pot of dirt out to the trash at some point, but I pushed it to the back of the porch until then.

Imagine my surprise when I looked out there the other day and saw new leaves sprouting all over that “dead” trunk.  Bright, shiny, excited little leaves.

It needed to be cut back to nothing in order for it to start growing again.  And I immediately thought about how God does that in our lives sometimes.  Sometimes He shocks us with the severity of His pruning, taking away things that had been in our lives for so long, cutting the familiar but stagnant parts of our life away.

It hurts. And we think we won’t recover.  We think life is over.  We’re quite sure nothing good can come of the pruning.  And then one day, we notice that there is growth.  We have survived, and we’re better than we were before the cutting.

The Master Gardener knew what He was doing all along.

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;  and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2

For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease.  Job 14:7

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  2 Corinthians 4:17 

Clutter

A recent rummage sale sponsored by the youth group at my church gave me a new perspective on the clutter in my house, and the clutter in my life.

I thought I might find a few things lying around the house to contribute to the sale.  That was an understatement.  A tennis racket, sofa pillows, stuffed animals, a bowling ball, CD racks, a wicker tray, VHS tapes,  glasses, bowls, water bottles and bagfuls of clothes were just a few of the items that made it into the trunk of my car and down to church.

I hadn’t realized how much clutter I had.  Things that were just taking up space in my home, things that were useless- at least to me.  

And it felt so good to get rid of them.

It made me wonder if there are things in my life like that, too.  Things that are cluttering my head and my heart.  Things I need to just get rid of.  Instead of a tennis racket, it might be a bad habit.  Instead of a bagful of clothes, it might be an activity that wastes my time.  Instead of stuffed animals, it might be something  that I’m holding on to that  I think will give me comfort.

It’s almost Spring, and it may be time for a spring cleaning of my heart and not just my home. 

And I have a sense that  it’s going to feel so good.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare.  Before they spring forth I tell you of them.  Isaiah 42:9

Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Ezekiel 18:31

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

Need

“All I have needed, Thy hand has provided”.

It’s a line from a favorite hymn of so many people.  I found myself listening to it in the car one night last week, feeling particularly blessed and happy and tempted to sing it at the top of my lungs.  It was just one of those nights.

And then I found myself wondering if it was really true. 

It’s easy to sing songs like that at the top of your lungs when you are feeling particularly blessed and happy.  But what happens when you don’t feel like God provided what you needed?  What happens when you know you needed_______________, and God “didn’t come through”?

And then I realized something.  There is a big difference between “all I have needed”, and “all I have thought I needed”.   There’s a big difference between my perceived needs, and what God knows I need.

God has always come through.  Even in the disappointments and the frustrations and seemingly unanswered prayers, He has provided exactly what I needed.  He has provided what HE knew I needed.

And that makes me feel particularly blessed and happy.  I may just break out into song.

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.  Psalm 84:11

But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Luke 12:31

 

 

Crazy

In celebration of my 100th blog post, I’d like to make an announcement.  Drumroll please.  My blog will now also be translated into Spanish!

So here’s the crazy thing.  I don’t speak Spanish. 

I’m trying.  Really.  Bought the whole Rosetta Stone program.  Try to watch the Spanish TV station. Live in South Florida.  But I think the memories of getting the worst grades of my life in French in high school are coming back to me.   Not sure I have an affinity for foreign languages.

So why would I attempt to publish a blog in Spanish?  Because as crazy as it sounds, God wants me to.  And as crazy as it sounds, I’m going to do it. 

A few years after my book, “Anticipatience” came out, the publisher sold the foreign rights to a wonderful organization called Christian Literature Crusade.  Their mission is to make Christian books available in other languages.  And they published mine in Spanish.  And it seems that it doesn’t matter where you live or what language you speak, our struggles and challenges in faith and waiting are all the same.  I began to hear from women all over Latin America – and even Spain !  And through that, I met a wonderful woman named Marisol from Chile, and she encouraged me to have this blog available in Spanish.  So with her help, we’re going to do it.

It’s crazy.  But when God tells you to do something, crazy doesn’t matter.   I have all sorts of fears and questions about how this is going to work, but fortunately for me, my God is bigger than the fears and the questions and the improbability of a woman who doesn’t speak Spanish writing a Spanish blog. 

Sometimes God asks us to do things that don’t make sense.  Sometimes God asks us to take these enormous leaps of faith into the unknown.  He waits for our obedience, and then provides everything we need to accomplish the task.

You know what?  I think I like crazy sometimes.

http://elartedeesperar.wordpress.com/

He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.  1 Thessalonians 5:24

For with God nothing will be impossible.  Luke 1:37

Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. Jeremiah 32:17

Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God. Ps. 146:5