Monday, June 13, 2011

Brokenness Made Whole

Becoming a Woman of Prayer. I always thought that I was where I needed to be in my prayer life until recently. I have been very convicted lately about this area of my walk--or lack there of. When I think about how rich the Word is reguarding prayer I think of a few key verses...

"Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:5-7

"In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears." -Psalm 18:6

"If you believe you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." -Matthew 21:22

But after meditating on such verses I think about how often I do this... Is my gentleness evident to all? Am I free from anxiousness? In my distress do I CRY out to the Lord (first)? Do I believe I will receive whatever I ask for in prayer? And the reoccurring answer for each question is... NO!

This morning I read about Hannah in 1 Samuel. Hannah was barren and yearned for a child. Unlike me, she did praise God despite her pain. Unlike me, she continued to pray the same prayer believing that the Lord would hear her cries and answer her. Unlike me, she did find comfort completely in the Lord and His presence in he life. She didn't allow certain circumstances to determine whether she approached the throne or not. She was seeking God in the good times and in the bad times... in the times of strength and in the times of weakness.... in her joy and in her bitterness. Instead of getting mad or complaining about the hand she was dealt, she took it before the Lord. And in verse 18 it tells us what happened..."Her face was no longer downcast!" Simply by taking her troubles to her Father, her misery was released from her. Now this doesn't always happen. Sometimes the Lord allows us to go through these difficult situations and uses them to teach us perseverance (James 1:2-5) and how to draw closer to Him.

In my study today it said "What do you typically do when faced with difficulties? Take them to God or complain to friends, get angry or upset, say things you shouldn't, etc." Dang. I felt convicted with that one. A situation that occurred just a few weeks ago came to my mind. I heard something that really hurt my feelings. I felt embarrassed, rejected, angry and sad. And instead of going to the Father with my hurt and disappointment I let that person know EXACTLY what I was thinking. It was immature and hurtful to him. It was not prayerfully considered. It was not edifying to him. It did not build him up, encourage him and it was disresepctful. It was directly said to make him feel as bad as I did-- and it worked. And I felt like crud afterwards. I didn't want to hurt him-- but I listened to Satan whispering "an eye for an eye..." in my ear instead of Jesus saying "come to me and I will give you peace". Thankfully, I swallowed my pride and was forgiven. But if I were to just automatically think to go to the Lord in prayer in every situation first then I would have never been in that position.

Unfortunately I don't think I truly believe that praying will help. I mean I constantly communicate with the Lord but I think sometimes I half heartily do it and don't fully believe in His power. I love Him so much and I know that He has my best interest at heart--so why don't I run to Him with my trials? Why don't I sprint to His side, crawl up in His lap and pour out my feelings? Why don't I take my heart ache or confusion to the author of my love story instead of complaining to my friends? I desire to be a woman of prayer. I yearn to be a Proverbs 31 woman who RADIATES Him in all situations... one that shows gentleness, isn't anxious and cries out to the Lord!

It is a process and I am so blessed that the Lord hasn't given up on me yet....

Friday, June 10, 2011

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" -Isaiah 6:8

It is 5:26 on a summer Friday morning... and I am awake. Not only awake-- but awake with thousands of things swimming through my head. Summer is a teacher's friend. This is the first day that I DO NOT HAVE to be awake by 5:30 (or even 10 for that case) and can actually sleep in. But as you can see-- that isn't happening.

The Lord has been so sweet to me lately and has allowed me to be pursued by Him in multiple ways. However, His ways and my ways don't always match up and His timing and my timing NEVER match up. So this has been a beautiful, yet humbling time in my life.

I leave for Uganda, Africa in 15 It has been such a long journey to get here. I remember beginning to feel a stir in my heart for Africa. I remember the day I felt compelled to begin painting and the end product was a piece that sits catty cornered in my room that reads PRAY FOR AFRICA with a huge picture of that lovely continent in the middle! I remember the process of supporting a child through World Vision but realizing that the pull I had towards this people group went deeper. I remember looking at trips, organizations, opportunities....anything and everything to get me over there. Prices were high. Trips were not what I desired (as a teacher I felt drawn to work with and love on orphans). Dates were inconvenient. Nothing seemed to work... so I thought I had misread the Lord's will. I must have heard His calling for me incorrectly because everything fell through and nothing worked out. But just like the Lord...when I completely gave it over to Him and convinced myself it must just be later on in life that I would get that opportunity... He provided. My roommate worked with a lady whose sister had just returned from Africa on a short term mission trip working with orphans. She went through an organization called Visiting Orphans, whose main goal was to love on these babies and share Jesus with them. Sold.

From then on the process has been absolutely unreal. The Lord blessed me with a love for painting (which if you remember started this desire) and He allowed me to paint my way to Africa as well. I have painted and painted and PAINTED... I have sold my canvases to friends, family members, at auctions, to teachers and even to some of my student's parents. My paintings have allowed me to share my story, and where I am going, and the Lord has received glory in all of it! And as of yesterday that painting has paid off and my trip cost is completely covered! Gosh the Lord is just so magnificent and yet so intricate in the way He pays attention to every small detail.

During the process the Lord has also allowed alot of needed sifting to occur in my life! Things that were needing to get pulled out of my life for my ultimate refinement were taken from me-- no matter how much it hurt tearing them from my hands. My sweet Beloved has allowed insecurities to be destroyed, desires to be met and some situations to be dealt with. In this time of the Lord pushing GO there is also alot of NO...and even harder... WAIT! I know that my Daddy has my absolute best interest at hand. Sometimes--scratch that--the majority of the time I am so self absorbed that I miss that and play the victim of "woe is me. woe is me". But lately I have seen the fruit of passionately pursuing our ultimate pursuer and the goodness He can do with a messy sinner like myself!

We often hear... God is good, all the time. Followed by... All the time, God is good! For the first time in my life, I think I am truly begin to understand and whole heartily believe it. And THAT is exciting!