Tag Archives: trust

Heart Condition – a prayer –

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Father,

I’m at a loss. This is such a new thing for me. I can’t remember ever being so cranky and easily frustrated as my baseline. What is this?!? It’s been at least 8 days of constantly feeling put out by whatever happens. All sorts of questions have come up in my mind as to where this is coming from, and so far, no answers. Why am I acting on such a short fuse???? I’ve tried to fix it by purposefully serving, hoping my heart will match up. But it’s not.

But, finally, today I think I heard the Holy Spirit’s soft whisper: maybe this is the end of my honeymoon phase. Maybe the “new and shiny” of my life here in Ohio is starting to wear off. Just look at how I approach my days, just desperate things to fill time. I get my homework done, and then I’m at a loss for what to do. Sometimes I try to distract myself with my favorite drug: social interaction. Or I work on one of the dozen projects we have available in our new place. But, not even a month into this behavior, and I’m already coming up dry. There’s nothing in those wells. They’ve been emptied for me. The places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned…. And now I’m wondering if this heart condition is so much more multifaceted than I’d initially bargained for.

What if I’m desperate for my home, for my friends, for my real family, and I’m not letting myself feel that hole? Why if my conscious attempts at filling the void are failing, so I’m always angry? And what if I’m acting out on that anger with Lauren because she’s the only one here who really knows me, so I trust her? What if this transition isn’t going as smoothly as I’d thought? What if I’m afraid of letting myself hurt? What if I’m afraid of being vulnerable with You? What if I don’t trust that You’re safe enough to carry my weighty pain?

The only thing I do know is that Jesus is enough. Jesus is enough. And you promise that I will bear the right fruit if I abide in you.

I’m sick of this nastiness. I’m sick of the fruit of “out of the heart the mouth speaks”. My own heart tastes filthy inside me. I am not at peace here.

Jesus, heal me. But please use this heart condition as a call to you, not just as a new means of symptom relief. Help me, guide me to the still waters where I can rest in safety under your shadow.

Oh I need You. So deeply. So fully. So complexly.

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God Moves in Mysterious Ways – A Hymn by William Cooper

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I just heard this hymn read in a sermon this afternoon, and I was completely struck (to the point of tears) with the last two lines. For the sake of proper context, I’ve included the whole hymn; I want to remind myself in future seasons of suffering and hardship that my God is sovereign, He is wise and He is holy. I can trust Him.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

prayer

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Lord, I believe you love me. Not because I am lovable; your love for me is the overflow of your nature. You are pure, holy, self-giving love.

Lord, you understand me perfectly. You know my needs, my problems, my potential. You see my circumstances; where I am right now, where I’ve come from, my past and my heritage. You understand my mind, how I think and why I think as I do; the lens and filter through which I interpret reality.

You know the things that are too painful or frightening for me to even consider.

You know my body, my temperament, my hopes, my dreams, my longings, fears and regrets, the constellations of my relationships, past and present. Lord, you understand all these things in perfect, loving clarity.

You see the secrets of my heart, things no one else knows about me. Things I do not even know about myself. All this is uniquely me; you know perfectly and understand completely and lovingly.

But, Lord, your love is not sentimental. It is intentional. You see not only what I am, you see what I could be. You see what I will become without you. You love me too much to leave me on my own.

Lord, you also see the things you want me to do, the people you want me to touch. Left as I am, I could never be an instrument of your grace to others. Left as I am I will be an impending stumbling block. You loved the world too much to leave me as I am.

Lord, you are helping me see why and how you want to work in my life. I need your truth, and your love. I need to know my true condition, and your true character. Your purposes and your provision.

I also need to know, and feel, your steadfast love. Without the assurance of your love, I know I could never face the truth about me. Together, your truth and love prepare me to get honest with myself, and serious with you, so I can start cooperating with your design for my transformation.

Lord, it seems foolish, but I often need to remind myself that you are competent. You really are able to accomplish all you intend for me, and for your whole creation. There is no limit to your wisdom, your strength, or your ability to act. In any context, at any time. You created all this; how can I affirm you as Creator, yet doubt you as Redeemer?

You have already given me everything I need for life and godliness. You are able to save, to the utmost.

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(This prayer was read at the end of a sermon I just listened to. The Pastor referenced that it was from a book, but didn’t say which one, so the author is unknown.)

Wangki Mairin: Everyday In-Between

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As my time in India started to end last summer, I began to reflect on the many things God had taught me thus far. I came to India with a few personal missions of my own, one of which was for God to confirm whether or not long-term missions is His will for my life. I got a resounding, “Yes” from my Lord, which still thrills me to my core, but God also told me something else: I was really young. At the time I couldn’t really explain it, but I had this unmistakable impression that, though I was going to live and work overseas, I wasn’t quite ready yet. Unsure of what exactly He had in mind, I knew that God had some things in store for me before I began my life in a different culture.

Now in Nicaragua, God has been telling me the exact same thing. As my time here is also coming to a close (only 1 month left), I keep sensing that the same thing: God has a special season ahead of me, one of great importance for my growth and maturity. And it’s looking like this “season” is going to be in the States! I’m always amazed at how God prepares me for whatever’s next; He’s given me real anticipation and joy about returning to the US and my life in Alaska.

A few days ago, I wrote an email to my best friend (God knew what He was doing when He put Kelsey and I together as roommates), rejoicing with her over what God’s been doing in/through her and sharing what He’s doing inside of me:

Believe it or not, I’m seriously considering abandoning nursing (my current major at University of Alaska Anchorage) and going ‘all out’. Can you picture me as Dr. Countryman? I’m thinking about becoming a Pediatrician! I’ve got a few reservations, however, one of which is the crazy amount of time it will take. I wouldn’t be done with school till I am 26 or 27, and those would be years of practically-no-life-I’m-so-crazy-busy. Add on to that however many years it will take to pay off those last years of med school. I’m not so found of the idea that I won’t be overseas till I’m 30+…” So I poured out my concerns to my awesome sister in Christ.

Just after sending off the email I set about some household chores, popping in my lone-working ear bud to listen to my iPod. I’m slowly working my way through Pastor Mark Driskoll’s sermon series in Luke (from Mars Hill Church in Seattle), and I was about halfway through a sermon I’d started earlier. Like only He can, God used a sermon on the genealogy in Luke 5 to touch me exactly where I needed. Take just a few minutes and listen to it for yourself, starting around 19:55 and ending around 23:45.

I was amazed; God was using this preaching to address one of my biggest concerns: I don’t want to waste time. I want to get started wherever God wants me ASAP; I don’t want to be sitting around, watching my 20’s pass by. But then again, maybe I wouldn’t be wasting them after all.

I’ve just restarted Corrie ten Boom’s autobiography, The Hiding Place and I’ve been struck by something: the book starts when Corrie’s already 40 years old. I am used to reading biographies telling people’s stories of salvation and spiritual growth, documenting the journey from the very beginning. But this is different. The reader enters the world of the ten Booms, vibrant believers who live every moment in step with Jesus.

As I read stories like The Hiding Place it’s easy for me to become discouraged. These stories are filled with people of incredible faith, people deeply rooted in God’s Word who know Him so intimately. It’s hard for me not to compare myself with them, and I’m always found lacking. How could I ever come to the point where such incredible faith flows through my veins in such a natural, everyday way? I know it’s not impossible for God (to do in someone else), but  it sure seems impossible for a nineteen-year-old girl from small-town Alaska.

But the more I think on this dilemma, God gently reminds me of one comforting truth: He uses the everyday in-between. Corrie didn’t start that way. She started just like I did, a simple young woman who gave every day over to the God she loved with her whole heart.

And this is where India, Nicaragua, Seattle and Corrie ten Boom unite. God has made it unmistakably clear: He has a plan for this next season of my life, whatever this season holds. The story we all associate with Corrie ten Boom didn’t start till much farther down the road than I’d like to see for myself, but it’s very evident that God used every day of those 40 years. He used them to teach her about Himself, to mold her into a better image of Christ, and to prepare her for the incredible journey he had in store for her. Her faithfulness in everyday produced that mature foundation I noticed from the beginning.

The frustrating thing is that it skips over how she grew that foundation. But perhaps it’s better that way. Now I’m not tempted to adopt her exact method as a legalistic check-list guaranteed for spiritual growth. Instead, I must spend every day at the feet of Jesus, drinking in His every word, letting Him guide me every step of the way. Trusting that each of those steps, whether on American or foreign soil, is never wasted.

Thank You, Almighty Father, that You are a God who loves to use “the in-between”, those awkward seasons that don’t always make sense. In those times when I’m looking ahead to the next great thing, You are in fact working in the “right now”. Help me to walk in step with You, my Author and Perfector, and trust Your perfect timing. You know exactly what You’re doing!

With “C” comes “G”

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I prayed a scary prayer last night…. I prayed that God would use this year to teach me how to handle conflict, His way. Not my way, not my family’s way, not the easy way or the culturally appropriate way. His way. Have you ever had one of those moments? That quiet, shaking-in-your-boots moment when you realize that you could either keep on keeping on the way you always have, or you could take a deep breath and just let go. Jump off. Hand over the keys. Welcome the unknown. Scary, isn’t it? Terrifying, really.
But there’s another side to reliquishing control, the exhilirating side. I love rollercoasters (and, for those of you who know me, you know that when I “love” something, I LOVE it.) My fellow coaster junkies would tell you that a coaster’s appeal is the very feeling of having no control. You don’t know what’s coming, you don’t know if you can handle it, but you know that other’s have done it before you and made it out alive, and so you gotta do it. That’s the same concept. I don’t know what’s coming, what kind of conflict I’ve let slip into my life. I don’t know how I’ll handle it (the scariest part). But I also know that countless thousands have encountered conflict before me, and they’ve done so in a Godly way. If God could empower them to respond His way, why wouldn’t He with me? I just gotta stay on my knees and plant myself at His feet. With conflict comes growth.

So here I sit. I’m buckled in, the bar is pulled down tight. All I have left is that prayer we all pray in such situations… “Oh, God. I’m in for one heck of a ride. Just keep me alive, ok?”  And here we go…