|What Storms Are Raging Around You? And When They Rage, How Do You Find Your Peace?|
Flake by flake individually does not amount to much, but a non-stop relentless raining down of them can make for seriously hazardous conditions, like the kind that causes the governor to declare a state of emergency, or shuts down companies from opening, such is the case here in Massachusetts today. I think when we choose to compromise in our lives or wrongly prioritize, we get the same stormy affect...
I was talking with someone earlier this week, wishfully saying how I wish that God still spoke to us as He did to Noah or Moses with a big booming "Thus saith the Lord!" kind of voice, you know the kind - and how their faces radiated God's glory for their time spent with Him. For me, more often than not, God's voice has been gentle and quiet and its not until I have taken time to quiet my own self and spend some time meditating on the Word of God, or in prayer, that I am able to hear it. Sometimes the noise of life or my thoughts get in the way of my hearing what God is saying to me and often times I have wished that I could stand up in my boat (of life) and put out a hand in command (like Jesus did) and say to the storms that rage all around me, "be still!" And all would grow quiet... More often than not it is my own thoughts that cause the most noise. My own actions that cause the storms in my life. My mind is always going - non-stop, it takes a lot for me to quiet them down and actually hear what it is that God is saying to me.
Please note that I don't mean this as a slight to sports fans - I am not judging, just making a simple observation, and if it would soothe you, you can think of it as my personal opinion... Last week as I was watching the Patriot's celebration parade take place down the streets of Boston on the news, while I was at lunch; I watched all the excited faces of the people gathered out in the cold to see their favorite team. The excitement and joy on their faces as the duck boats filled with their favorite Patriots players progress down the roads and as much as I respect the love of the sport (one that I just simply don't share because sports are not my cup of tea) - I respect that people have a love for a team or a sport, but as I watched it I thought, wouldn't it be something if people felt that way about the Lord and celebrated the Lord as they do a football team? What if people rejoiced and celebrated and threw confetti when they thought about ALL that God has done for them? I suppose I would have thought the same thing in a lesser degree if it involved something that I was interested in, like maybe if it was Tim McGraw or Miranda Lambert or Blake Shelton or some wonderful country music star that I like to listen to, parading down the street - but still, I found myself thinking... We SHOULD be like that about all that God has done for us. Genuine, true appreciation and love. After all - He DID send His Son to die upon the cross for forgiveness of our sins (John 3:16) that truly is something to get excited about... I myself will try to remember that next time I spend sometime worshiping in Him in prayer.
It actually saddened me... I thought about all the blessings I should count, I thought about all that God has done for me throughout the day - He woke me up this morning! (Some have not been so fortunate...) He has given me another sheet of life to write upon! It is truly beyond me, how anyone could feel "meh" about the Lord. I thought about all the things I should thank Him for - but have taken for granted... I felt ashamed and I asked the Lord to forgive me for all the things that He has done for me that I have taken for granted and not taken time to thank Him for. Imagine being in a personal relationship with someone who takes time to do special things for you, and you don't acknowledge them? I'd be a bit put off, wouldn't you? Yet we do it with God all the time and the only time we think of Him is when things are bad or we are in trouble. What about the good times? The times when we should "rejoice" and thank Him and praise Him as IF we were celebrating our favorite team or country music star? If you feel "meh" about the Lord, why should He feel any different towards you? (Yet He does...)
If someone was to tell me they loved me, but only showed me one day a week (or when they "felt like it"), what type of relationship would that be? God cares about you, He loves you, He wants to know you. He wants to have a relationship with you where you talk to Him and tell Him what is on your mind, what is in your heart, what is troubling you or what makes you happy. He cares! But often times people just approach Him when they want something or when they are hard pressed. I can attest that there is so much joy in coming before Him every day and just talking to Him like you would anybody! I have found Him to have such a sense of humor! He is a personable God. He is not some "God" shaking His finger at you standing on a mountaintop looking foreboding like He wants to strike you down! He is a God of love! Often times I visualize what the Garden of Eden must have been like, with Adam walking around with God. Talking with Him, conversing with Him. How cool must that have been??? That is the same type of relationship God desires to have with us now. But a relationship should be a two way street - and one where you seek God. He won't "make" you have a relationship with Him. He has blessed you with free will. So it's really your choice... But if you haven't made that choice to come to know Him, I have to tell you - you are seriously missing out. Because knowing God is so much cooler than celebrating your favorite team, way cooler than watching your favorite superstar and until you "taste and see that the Lord is good." You cannot possibly know HOW real and HOW good He is... Ironically, this is a thought that most people do not have until they are on their death bed. That is when they think of God the most. When He becomes "front and center." When their life is just about over and all of a sudden God becomes "super" important to them. They want to have someone come and hear a "death" bed confession or to pray over them because they are standing on the brink of eternity and all of a sudden they aren't thinking of their favorite sports team or tomorrow even. They are thinking of the here and now and what will happen to them... God is a good God, He gives people up until their very last breath to come to know them. How do I know this? Because I have witnessed it myself, someone coming to Christ on his death bed. And although it is better that someone come to Christ on their death bed than not at all, it is SO much better to know Jesus in the fullness of living and life. To know His love, His will for you, His desire to bless you and to know you and to have you know Him. There is NO greater joy. It is one that I don't have adequate words to write - because it is a personal relationship with Him, each person's relationship differs with Him. It is personal. But it is amazing and fulfilling and fills you with more peace and joy and love than any adequate words I could possibly write.
"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells." (2nd Peter 3:9-13)
I'll be the first to say that worldly blessings are nice... I work hard for the things that I have, nothing has come easy for me - and I don't begrudge those that have had it easy. But there is one thing I'm very much aware of. You cannot take it with you and you don't know when in life your last day will be. Jesus told this parable:
"The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' "This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God." Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you--you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well." (Luke 12:16-31)
Which type of person are you? One who trusts in things? Or one who puts his trust in God? I can attest that God has always provided for me. I may not always have what it is I've wanted, but I've had what I needed. My Father provides for me. And to be honest, maybe the things that I have wanted that He hasn't given me is because He knows what is best for me, better than I do! I only see in part - but God sees in full. I trust Him, I depend upon Him and I love Him. I know He knows better than I do what it is I need and what it is I don't. I'm not saying that I don't have a child like temper tantrum from time to time over those things I wish He would give me, but in the 28 years that I have known Him personally as my Lord and Savior, I have found Him to be gracious, and loving and kind and caring and oh so tolerant of my impatient ways! (I'm laughing as I write this). Do you think what I'm writing is too heavy? Perhaps you should consider WHY you think it is too heavy? Because somewhere inside of you it is hitting a cord... Your spirit is in agreement with I am writing, yet accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior changes you. It does, for the better. I'm not saying it is easy, I'm not saying at times I haven't felt that "ouch" of God convicting me of something that I need to change inside - I have, I do and it's not easy. But when you trust in someone, when you love them - truly love them and know that they TRULY love you - the difference is truly worth it!
"As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions." (Mark 10:17-31)
Jesus indicated this to that gentleman because He knew that the man's heart was in his possessions. There is nothing wrong with having nice things! But there is something wrong when you put those things ahead of your having a relationship with God. I have heard people say, "Yes, if I get to know Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior as you say, I will have to give up so many things..." Actually, first I would ask you, how do you know that? If you haven't made Jesus your personal Lord and Savior, you are assuming. Because I will tell you that of the things God has asked me to give up (things inside of me that needed changing) He has blessed me with SO much more than the things I have had to change. And the things that He has asked me to change (or changed within me) are things that have been for my good! Just as if you are a parent, and you have raised a child (or are raising a child/children) there are things you have had them do that they perhaps have not liked or even been mad about that you have made them do. But you as a grown up and a parent see the whole picture - while your child is young and has only seen in part - from a child's point of view. God is your Father, and is the same way. It's all about trusting Him to know what is best for you. Sometimes God allows situations to occur in your life to draw you closer to Him. To make you aware of the need you have for Him. I know this personally, because He did the same thing to bring my attention to Him, when otherwise I would not have taken time out to know Him. Is He doing the same thing with you? Maybe there are situations occurring in your life that are painful, that are hard for you to accept? Maybe you are feeling totally alone. Lonely, like there is no one there for you. God is - you just have to turn to Him. You don't have to take my words for it. After all, you don't know me, why should you? But if in the quiet of wherever you are, you take the time to pray this prayer, I can promise you that God will make a difference in your life. What do you have to lose? If it is just a bunch of meaningless words, nothing will change for you - but if you truly want to see if God will make a difference - take the time to pray it. And see what God does for you. He is real, He is alive, He is so much EVEN better than your favorite sports team or superstar. He will be there for you when no one else is. IF YOU ALLOW HIM TO BE. You have nothing to lose if the words that I write are not true or do not make a difference. But I can promise you, that if you read them and say them out loud and truly want a difference to occur in your life - God will honor your praying them. I speak from personal experience because He did with me and He has no favorites. What He has done in my life - He will do in yours. If you are at a point where everything else has failed and you feel empty and unfulfilled than pray this prayer and see what God will do.
"Father God, I need you. I confess that I am a sinner. I pray that You would enter into my life. I willingly make You Lord over my life & my Savior. I believe that you were born of the virgin Mary, that you died on the cross for forgiveness of my sins and you rose again. That you are seated at right hand of the Father and that one day, you will come again. I thank you Lord, for coming into my life. I choose YOU. Thank you Lord, In Jesus precious name I pray. Amen"
That's ALL it takes! Seems too simple doesn't it - but it is not, and it is the most important decision you will ever make in your life. It's a heart thing! You may not realize it now, but you will... And when you do, it would be great if you dropped me a message to let me know, just so that I can rejoice with you - in a way that is even MORE celebratory than a parade on the street for a favorite team! Because the Bible says:
"I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." (Luke 15:8)
Yep, right about now, if you prayed that above prayer - they are having the biggest celebration you ever did see up in Heaven. In YOUR honor! Rejoicing bigger than any parade celebration over your decision. Now watch and see how your life changes... Oh it will... Sure as that snow that is storming outside my window, the peace that passes all understanding should be filling your soul. The best is yet to come. Just you watch and see...