Monday, November 23, 2015

Sunday Scribbles - Sacrifice November 2015

During the month of November our pastor challenges us to "sacrifice" something that would be difficult to let go of. Some sacrifice coffee. Some sacrifice social media. Some sacrifice TV or going out to eat. Whatever is sacrificed is designed to help draw us closer to the Father and to focus on Him, His goodness, His greatness, and His ultimate sacrifice for the the souls of all people of which our sacrifices can never compare.

As I sat Sunday listening to testimonies of God's incredible goodness in the lives of people in our local body of believers, I thought about my lack of sacrifice during November. I felt a little guilty because I had not specifically given up anything.

Last year I gave up Facebook for a month and it was well worth it. The time I usually spent posting or scrolling was put to much better use of things like being in the Word more, writing more, praying more, etc...

But this year, what had I to show for November sacrifice? Nothing.

Then I realized that the sacrifice God had allowed me to make had not been scheduled or pre-planned. It just happened and much earlier than expected.

During September and October I had given up something very difficult to let go of, precious time with my husband, so he could care for his mom. I didn't realize what a sacrifice it truly was until it was all over and my precious mother-in-law was gone from us. Not only did I sacrifice, but Rick did even more.

Life as we knew it, the life we take for granted every day, was placed on hold while our focus turned to caring for our last living parent on earth. For 40 days and 40 nights my husband, his mother's only child, spent all of his time with her. Now I know there are many wives who would balk at this, and I had my moments, but God allowed me to watch something beautiful during those eight weeks that I already knew existed between this son and his mother. As I was totally engaged with my husband in assisting with her care, God pulled back the curtain so I could witness this scene of pure, selfless LOVE of a son giving back to the one who loves him like no one else can.

As each night approached, when possible, I would give Rick a break so he could go home and shower, eat a bite, and maybe spend a few quiet moments alone. Then I would return home to an empty house. Nights were the hardest.

Rick put his life on hold to love his mother with everything he had in him through those horrific eight weeks, including two very difficult weeks in the hospital. Her darkest hours of need were where he and I had to sacrifice the most. Tough? You bet.

But so worth it.

These brief moments of sacrifice have given me a renewed, grateful heart for my better half. It has reminded me of the priceless gift Rick is to me and our family, one I far too often take for granted. A beautiful gift of a godly husband, given to me through answered prayer, who has loved me purely and sacrificially, every single day of our 30 years of marriage. Blessed indeed!

After two months plus of watching our children's Mimi suffer, and sacrificing time away from one another, on the afternoon of October 31, 2015, God's ordained time for her on earth ended. With Rick by her side, she breathed her last breath. Peacefully, Jesus welcomed her home.

On the eve of our church family's challenge to sacrifice, God began honoring ours by bringing my husband back home, having answered our prayers for mercy on his mom. We've hugged a lot, whispered, "I love you" more often, and continue to reflect on the fact that we can never out sacrifice our amazing God.

God is faithful in all things. God is good in all things...

and all is grace!

My Pleasure,

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"You'll Go Down In HIStory"

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)

Ephesians 3:20-21 is a doxology, verses of praise, adoration and affirmation as to who Jesus is. It proves that our divine purpose, our immeasurably more, has absolutely nothing to do with who we are in our finite human flesh, but it's all about who He is in His glorious, infinite power which lives in us and works through us, through the Holy Spirit.

That's a mouth full, but it's true!

We have been intricately crafted by the Master Creator to be and do immeasurably more - to go down in HIStory.

Remember the last line from the popular children's Christmas song, Rudolph, the Red Nose Reindeer? Sing it with me. "You'll go down in hi-sto-ry."

This may sound crazy, but this song lyric got me thinking about how our stories are really brief chapters in the telling of God's grand story of redemption. So, I used this idea to kick-off the HABC Women's retreat weekend in Charleston, SC.  I used what I called The Red Nose Navigation Technique to help them grasp their immeasurably more in HIStory.

Here's how it worked:

I challenged each lady as we watched the famous children's animated movie to answer some questions specifically designed to navigate through the life of a fictional reindeer character with a very special gift. Through this fun-filled evening (and yes, we wore Christmas PJs for Friday evening's session) we learned how to navigate and discover Rudolph's ultimate purpose, his immeasurably more...

- to save Christmas using his gift, to meet the needs of the misfit toys by finding them homes, and modeling forgiveness and showing kindness to those who had mistreated him. Rudolph's difficult circumstances led him to discover his purpose. He went down in history because he unwrapped and used his special gifting for the ultimate good of others.

Saturday's session was getting down to business and digging into the Word of God, but using the same navigation technique from the night before. We asked the same probing questions to navigate through the life of Joseph in Genesis 37-45, unwrapping his special gift of dream interpretation which eventually, through difficult circumstances, helped him discover his ultimate purpose, his immeasurably more...

- to save the world, including his family, from starvation, forgiving those who had mistreated him, and using his gifts for the ultimate good of others. We saw how through his faith and obedience to God he was placed in positions of leadership. Joseph knew that the difficult circumstances he found himself in were how God worked out Joseph's immeasurably more in HIStory. The parallels were amazing and it was such a fun way to help the ladies uncover layers of Scripture. Lots of "Ah-ha" moments!

The final session on Sunday morning was the unwrapping of our own stories and sharing them with each other. Using the Red Nose Navigation Technique, we asked ourselves the same navigation questions and traced God's hand through our own personal journeys so far. Many shared their difficult circumstances and began to see how God is orchestrating them for their good and His glory.

Specifically designed by God (Psalm 139), each of us has been gifted with talents that only we can use in our sphere of influence in this time in HIStory. As we unwrap our talents and spiritual gifts, we begin to see how obedience and faith are the key ingredients to impacting our generation for God's glory now and into eternity.

  • Faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, is the qualifier that puts us in HIStory.

  • Obedience is action that proves our faith to the world. 

Jesus is the Author of our salvation and the Finisher of our faith. He knows our life stories from beginning to end. He compels us to move forward through our salvation journeys, trusting Him even when we can't see what's up ahead - in the difficult trials of life. It's like flying an airplane into complete darkness, or a thick fog. As Joeli Mulligan so beautifully described through her drama, our vision is hindered by circumstances out of our control. The only way to come through the dark places is to trust the voice in our ear from the tower - the one who sees the whole picture, and rely on the instruments to guide us to safety.

The voice in the believer's ear is the Holy Spirit and our instrument is His Word that gives us valuable information in directing our course. God sees the bigger picture and we must trust Him to bring us through.

As our faith grows stronger and we take more and more steps of obedience, we will overflow with His immeasurably more, radiating His glory to all around us.

Happy Navigating!

My Pleasure,