A Time for Sacrifices…

Today my devotional was quite telling…”If you’re finding it difficult to balance your convictions and your job [life], don’t let yourself get frustrated.  Don’t doubt yourself.  Follow the TRUTH, fighting the good fight of faith that you know is right.”

Later I was reading about Abraham – oh how he waited for G_d to fulfill  a dream!  G_d is so faithful – He gave Abraham the son he longed for.  And then G_d asked him to sacrifice the dream – his son – his joy… Abraham didn’t understand why G_d fulfilled a dream and then asked him to give it up – he didn’t need to understand!  Abraham’s willingness goes far beyond obedience – beyond understanding – his willingness came from his complete trust in G_d.

11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
What a great example G_d gave us in Abraham!  Will I trust G_d enough to sacrifice dreams for Him? Enough to allow Him to work wonders through me?  I catch myself thinking, “I do trust Him!” and stop – yes, I trust Him when I can make sense of what He’s asking or when I’m desperate…but not completely – not consistently…  In case you’re wondering, yeah…that’s really hard to write…

I can’t help thinking about the changes happening in my own life.  No, G_d hasn’t asked me to physically sacrifice the precious gifts He’s given me; but He is asking me to let go… willingly give Him the reigns of my life – to move beyond a desire to be obedient – to move even though I lack understanding – to trust Him completely.

Stormy Omartian wrote a prayer that really spoke to my heart today:

“Lord, I know You ask me to surrender everything to You – including the dream in my heart.  And even when that dream is from You, You still ask me to let go of my hold on it.  So I surrender every dream in my heart to You right now.  I don’t want to cling to something You will not bless, or give up on something that is Your will for my life.”

More often than not, I can’t put the puzzle pieces of life together on my own…I can’t hold on to the corner pieces or the few that fit together and wait until it’s convenient or it makes sense to trust Him.  The only way to embrace His plans for me is to fully embrace Him.

I’m reminded life is like a parade…at best I have a retrospective view – I’m at street level seeing only what’s in front of me, fragmented memories of the past, and certainly not what’s ahead.  Only G_d sees the entire parade: beginning, middle, and end.

G_d speaks into my life in so many different ways…Scripture, devotionals, testimonies, family, friends…the list goes on and on…it’s as if He never gives up saying, “See Celeta? You can trust Me! I have great plans for you!  I’ll see you through – I won’t let you down – I never have and I never will – I promise.”

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Drought Conditions

Are you searching????

Last week as my bible study came to a close in prayer, one of the ladies prayed for relief from the drought…my thoughts immediately conjured up images we’ve all seen…lakes dried up…thousands upon thousands of wildlife succumbing to the lack of nutrition…

Then God prompted me to draw a correlation to the spiritual state so many are in…boy, can I relate!  I’ve been in that desert!  Searching and searching for SOMETHING….dying of thirst and no idea what would quench it…it’s as if I was alone in the parched land with no hope of survival….the only thing I knew was that SOMETHING had to change…

And then God stepped in…actually He was there all along…it was as if I was moving Him aside so I could keep searching for a way to fill the void on my own.    

What I have learned is that God will use tools that may seem quite unconventional to bring us closer to Him.  With me? An unexpected acquaintance with someone so bold for Christ I couldn’t dodge him – believe me, I tried!  So often in life I’ve been successful intimidating others – not intentionally mind you – it usually happens when people start to get too close – I push back and generally they stay back.  Not that time…looking back I’m so incredibly thankful! 

We all need motivation to move towards change and that picture looks different for everyone.  Me? I had to first see God move in the life of  the one person on this earth I cherish most – my daughter.  Then He had to bring in a total stranger – talk about opposite ends of a spectrum!  I needed someone bold enough to show me I couldn’t dictate the circumstances of total surrender – and as my friend so succinctly put it, “that would be a peace treaty and God just doesn’t work that way!” 

The only way to survive a drought is by tapping into the true water source… I’m reminded of a sermon a year or so ago entitled  Digging Our Father’s Well   Great message – I’ll try to hit the hightlights…

Basically, we have to clear debris from our “faith well” – the well represents the place where true spiritual life is sustained.  Life has a way of filling the wells of faith with debris such as false religion, abuse, family curses, etc.  Just as Isaac took on the task of re-digging the wells of his father, we have to re-dig our wells if we want true spiritual life. 

How do you do that you ask?  Here’s a start:

  • Prioritize – our very survival depends upon digging deep for living water.
  • Recognize – life has a way of filling our well with debris that keeps us from the sweet waters of life.
  • Persist – dig past family dysfunction and cultural expectations to tap into the living water.
  • Persevere – never give up and don’t get sidetracked by others who don’t want to see you succeed.

Also, PRAY for God to send you a mentor – someone to help show you His truths. 

The great thing is, regardless of how well we know Him, God is ALWAYS by our side – especially in drought conditions.

Dig Deep!

January 1, 2011

 

Not so long ago, I recognized the fundamental need in my life – to have a personal relationship with God.  It wasn’t enough to just believe in God – I needed to know His Will for my life! Oh wait…and just how could that be accomplished? As a friend put it so succinctly, “To know God’s Will, you must know God; to know God, you must know His Word.”

 

What have I discovered? God is The Authority.  He longs to be our closest friend, our confidant, our mentor all rolled into one – He alone hears the whispers of our hearts, completely understands our needs, and provides us with a perfect love perspective.  He’s ready and willing – He will never fail to meet us right where we are.  Just like any parent, nothing gives Him more joy than when His children come to him with EVERYTHING – He wants to be on the front burner – the one fueling our lives!

 

It doesn’t matter what’s going on around me…as long as my focus is centered on God, whatever circumstance (pleasant or a bit more challenging) crosses my path, I can work through it…with Him.  And when I view circumstances of others, if I take a moment to try and see it through God’s perspective, I just might see we have so much in common…

 

God made us so beautifully imperfect and unique; but at the same time, our threads of human nature are so tightly interwoven, we are very much alike – I don’t buy the theory of men and women being from different planets – a cute idea, but at our core, I believe we all want the same thing: to love and be loved – we just have to tap into the source…

 

A sermon a few months back painted a picture of what this past year has been for me.  I can’t say it any clearer, so I’ve copied some of the sermon, Digging Our Father’s Well

 

Basically, I’ve been clearing debris from my “faith well” this year.  The well represents the place where true spiritual life is sustained.  History has a way of filling the wells of faith with debris such as false religion, abuse, family curses, etc.  Just as Isaac took on the task of re-digging the wells of his father, I too have to re-dig my well if I want true spiritual life.

 

  • Prioritize – our very survival depends upon digging deep for living water.
  • Recognize – life has a way of filling our well with debris that keeps us from the sweet waters of life.
  • Persist – dig past family dysfunction and cultural expectations to tap into the living water.
  • Persevere – never give up and don’t get sidetracked by others who don’t want to see you succeed.

 

Want to see what digging looks like?  Here are some excerpts from my writings this past year:

 

…What am I so afraid of? Revealing my doubts? My mistakes? Oh, my life? Hmmmm….it seems – no scratch that – I AM most afraid when I’m depending on meCeleta – to work through whatever challenge (big or small) lies in front of me, rather than putting my faith, my confidence for success (whatever that picture looks like) where it belongs – in GOD!

 

…it’s when I start putting the “I” in things is when life gets mucky… that’s my nature…to want to help – yes, even God!  It’s funny, right? But I do it…

 

…If God really is to reign over my life, I have to look beyond all the things I allow to get in the way (worldly expectations, fear, doubt, rejection, guilt, etc.). It’s not complicated…it’s ridiculously simple and I make it complicated…. Just let go. Let God.

 

…how will the messy picture I’ve been trying to fix turn out? I find comfort in knowing it’s going to be a masterpiece because it’s God’s painting, not mine – maybe the when and how depends on how willing I am to move out of the way.

 

…when will I believe the trick to overcoming whatever obstacle (perceived or otherwise) that lies in front of me only has to do with my willingness to believe God has a plan, He’s got it covered, and wants me to succeed?  Will I stay where I am out of fear? Or will I choose to be like Peter and step out of the boat moving forward in faith?

 

…as I gradually give up the pieces of my life I’ve held on to so stubbornly, my heart is lighter and it feels AMAZING!  It’s kind of like when you try to hold your breath and you can’t hold it any longer…that next breath?  It’s incredible – such a relief, right?  Well it’s the same thing when you completely give something to God …His breath fills your life and propels you forward in a way you could never imagine.

 


Each day we have a choice and 2011 will be no different – we can ‘one-cheek’ God and see how well we do on our own…OR we can embrace His abundant blessings – in whatever shapes and sizes He presents them.  I’m choosing to declare His favor over my life, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”