Proving a Point

Still sharing from past personal journal entries…this entry is from mid-December 2011:

I’ve often heard from friends and acquaintances how God had to “strip” them of things taking priority in their lives….jobs…possessions…lifestyles…

The story of Joseph shows us many things and one aspect speaking to me are relationships.  In my last blog, I wrote about refuge…willingly leaning on God through the storms of life and recognizing one area of testing would be relationships.  What a great example Joseph gives us!  His family was stripped away – not that they were taken from him – Joseph was cast out; his siblings turned on him and sold him into slavery.  Throughout his trials…no matter how stormy life looked, Joseph pulled on a strength only God can provide.

Scripture shows us throughout Genesis 39, in spite of his circumstance, Joseph held fast to God and it was evident to all the LORD was with him:

“The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant.” Genesis 39:2-4 (NIV)

“But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. ”  Genesis 39:21-23 (NIV)

During all of his trials, Joseph knew was never alone!  He knew AND believed God was with him – he knew AND believed God had everything under control – no matter the circumstance.  Joseph held firmly to the belief that no matter what, God would never leave him or forsake him.

The enemy loves to challenge our belief that the same God who was with Joseph during his most trying times is the same God who is with us today and we all have Joseph opportunities in our walk…

People will fail us – we will fail others…God’s love NEVER fails – His mercy endures FOREVER!!!!  In spite of the best intentions, no human can fulfill all our needs – we can’t do it ourselves and others can’t either…. fleeting moments of faithfulness will occur, but we cannot endure on our own.  Often we need God to show us when we’re attempting to go it alone…

Towards the end of 2011, I went on a trip… I was so focused on what I wanted from God…I wanted a future husband who was committed to serving Him…a man who wasn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd… a man willing to challenge me and simultaneously nuture my walk.

I have no doubt God will give me the desires of my heart and more, but in hindsight I was trying to help God by forcing puzzle pieces together that weren’t a part of His picture….of course, all the while clueless it’s what I was doing!  Back to the trip…I wouldn’t trade that week for anything…even moments that weren’t “easy” and moments that left me “empty” – the following is directly from my journal:

I have to admit, there is still a big part of me that wants the wordly “romance” of a relationship – I have such a longing to feel loved that when I don’t receive the physical affection I so desire, I do one of three things: I invite myself to a pity party of one OR I pull away OR both –  yes even with those I love dearly!

But like every other lesson God seems to have to show me time after time (circling that mountain again!), I’m looking for fulfillment in the wrong place! Until I give up (surrender) trying to fill the void in my heart with anything other than God’s love – my deepest needs will not be met.

Crazy as it may sound, I’m thankful (today) I wasn’t shown the affection I wanted: holding my hand, putting his arms around me, telling me he missed me….the list goes on and on…I’m thankful because, you see, I have to fully receive God ‘s love first.

It’s hard writing this – it’s hard admitting how self-centered I can be: the last day of my trip, we parted mid-afternoon…AND HE DIDN’T COME BACK!!! I was crushed! I spent the next TEN HOURS crying over lost expectations – consumed by what I didn’t get – crying over a void I wanted filled….but my focus was misplaced – it wasn’t on God filling the void.

In my pity party I was thinking, “Well, I’m being stripped of other relationships, so it shouldn’t surprise me I can’t have the affection I so desperately want from the man I love either… for Pete’s sake, he introduces me as his friend! Does he really even see me as his future wife????”

Yeah….not exaggerating about the self-centered comment! Maybe it’s my skewed perception, but doesn’t my response prove the point????  Any efforts I attempt to fill the void are futile.  On the other hand, God will never leave me nor forsake me; His love truly endures FOREVER.

All these feelings??? This emotional roller coaster I seem to ride time and again???? I only find myself on board when I’m looking to myself or others to fulfill needs reserved for God! Will I ever consistently get my priorities straight?

“Come unto me
Open up your heart and worship
I am drawing you to Me
Don’t hesitate
And you won’t be disappointed
I am everything you need…”

These may only be lyrics to a song, but they surely speak Truth!

“Come unto Me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28

God didn’t treat Joseph any differently than He will treat me – but He won’t violate my free will either. God will see me through whatever trials come my way – He’s calling me and He’s calling you into a more intimate relationship with Him.

What’s Your Temperature?

In today’s society, it’s easy to find ourselves trying to “fit in” to whatever social norm seems acceptable, which ultimately means we’re motivated externally vs. internally.

15“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
– Revelation 3:15-16

Do you ever wonder why it is perfectly acceptable and encouraged to go “all out” for things like a favorite sports team, our children’s activities, our careers, hobbies, politics, etc? We wear t-shirts pledging our loyalty to one thing or another, we go to conventions and parties, paint our vehicles and some even paint their faces. We spend substantial amounts of time with others talking about accomplishments, stats, strengths and weaknesses, strategies, and the list goes on. We invite friends into our homes to watch movies or sports on television; we play card games and attend other social gatherings. We invest time and money and more time and more money….

From a social perspective, spending time on those types of things is perfectly acceptable, isn’t it? And yet, striving to live full-throttle for God is often viewed as fanatical or radical behavior….and not in a positive way – why is that????

Granted, feathers may be ruffled or even bristled right about now and that’s OK. I’m not saying those activities are right or wrong – the point is, do we believe God desires, let alone deserves, that kind of attention and more???? Does God want us living for Him in the “normal” temperature range? Or does He desire to see a burning passion? According to Scripture, He’d rather we live our lives for Him or against Him…in other words, lukewarm complacency is not the desired result, folks.

How would we feel if God’s level of interest in our daily lives was less than 100 percent? It’s not as if He takes an interest only when we’re obedient and focused on Him. He is fully invested 24/7 – and it’s usually when we seek Him that we start to catch on to the finer details…

Here’s a personal example: One of the biggest challenges I struggle with is believing God’s call on my life. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? My desire to understand what He’s calling me towards so I can come up with a game plan is crippling me; as a result I’m left feeling overwhelmed and frazzled because I don’t understand the future. Being so wrapped up in getting from point A to point B is blocking Him from showing up and showing off in my life!

The thing is, the desire to control circumstances is like putting God on hold – it’s hovers us in the “normal” temperature range. It’s not as if He doesn’t care about our struggles – He does! He is so interested in helping us move forward, what does He do???? In addition to His Word, He provides examples in ways we can relate!

When I was really struggling, He sent me three separate examples of how others face the same struggles…in a message from Joyce Meyer, Family Life interview with Priscilla Shirer, and through a blog…and that’s just in one day!

So the real challenge we all face every single day is to move beyond circumstances of life and live for God versus self. It’s not about what we can do. It’s about what He can do. And it’s always about someone else’s story.

How do we move beyond circumstances? Joseph is a great example. It didn’t matter if he was a slave, a personal servant, a prisoner, or second in command; he lived each and every day for God – no complaining, no whining about circumstances. The choice is ours…are we in or are we out? I say let’s choose to seek Him daily by digging into His Word and live to exhibit a genuine level of passion for Him far exceeding any worldly interest. In other words – let’s get serious, look beyond circumstance, move out of the social “normal” range, and get radical!