i am continually awed by God’s Word and how the way in which He worked over 2,000 years ago still applies to my life today. these ancient words are what hit me afresh this morning.
moses answered the people, “do not be afraid. stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. the egyptians you see today you will never see again. the Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” exodus 14:13-14
the Israelites were being set free, but in front of them stood yet another obstacle – the red sea. after countless miracles and mercies through the plagues, the Israelites reached yet another point where their actions could not rescue them. God brought them to this place so He could bring about great deliverance and receive all the glory.
we have all been at a place where we feel bound, confused, and unable to control the outcome. when i am there, my first reaction is to flee, fight, or put one foot in front of the other just trying to make a way. so many times i believe my faith is proven through “doing.” truth is, in my strength, i bring no more to my hemmed-in circumstances than the Israelites brought to the edge of the red sea.
sometimes my biggest “step” of faith is one to stand firm, be still, and allow God to do what i simply cannot.
just as the Israelites couldn’t imagine the scene of the red sea parting before them, we can’t imagine the details of what God is working out for our good and ultimately His glory. so i am going to quit trying to figure things out. moment by moment i long to stand firm, be still, and look to the Lord who fights for me. through surrender and rest in Him, may i catch a glimpse of His worth as He receives all the glory.
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here is part two of my friend stephanie’s guest blog post. you can first part one here.
At the end of last year God quietly spoke to my heart again, as I felt He did the year before. He challenged me, since I was able (in His strength) to make a daily decision to run and practice the exertion of my will over my what I feel like doing for an entire year (one day at a time). He challenged me to commit 20 minutes a day to Him (roughly how long it takes to run 2 miles) for a year. So this is what I set out to do this year. I set a timer so it’s measurable. I write in my journal to record everything God teaches me. I get on my knees and on my face, I daily offer myself to the Lord, throwing off all opinions, excuses, expectations and plans about me, about Him, and about that time. He made it clear I was to practice being still and knowing He is God. I was to learn to stop and just BE STILL, to just BE me (without masks, without hiding), to BE exposed, to listen to His Voice, listen for His opinion, to let Him teach me the Word — to just BE in His presence and acknowledge Him as God. This felt up-side-down and backwards for days. This was different than my usual definition of a “quiet time” where I get all my devotionals out, put them in a pile and read through each one at a time to see, what “speaks” to me and then I do my Bible study or read a book or listen to a song etc. and then I would go on about my day after checking that off my list, feeling good about myself. This kind of “quiet time” was based on me being in control, sometimes it felt forced, I was attempting to experience God through other peoples experiences. Not that these things are bad, we are meant to encourage one another with our experiences with God. I just can’t sustain my soul on these things, I must personally BE in His presence have His first hand fresh manna, His daily bread, His living water, His Word revealed in the clarity of His light. I did not realize it but I was so thin and shallow spiritually because I was trying to fulfill my spirit with things & pleasures of the world, (possessions, people’s approval, good works, food, pleasure) and when I did meet with God it often tended to be processed, filtered down, experiences with God. It’s like the difference between reading a book about someone or being in personal, connected, raptured relationship with a Jesus, to feel His touch and hear His voice. Something was missing in my walk with God. I was missing Him, starving for Him, His presence, His voice, His revelation. Yes, I’ve had those times of “revelation” and experience with Him but that would be here and there. I am designed to BE in His life-changing presence every single day – my spirit is so desperately hungry for it. This 20-time was to be careful, sacred, open, in His agenda, under His control, His timing, His teaching. Some days, not much happens, but that is ok. He assures me the process is slow and steady like a endurance running, but other days He moves mountains. Either day is progress. Either day is being with the Creator of the Universe (what a privilege).
So back to my family, when I made this cautious commitment to meet with the Lord everyday, I had the fear of failure staring me in the face (again), but God proved to me that my commitment, my will, could overcome my feelings (I practiced that every day the year before). A miraculous thing happened for me. The commitment shut down the conversation I had with myself of whether or not I would do it or had time for it or would run from God or shut Him out. I was going to do it no matter what – just like the running. And even if I did fail, I live in a relationship of grace with God What did I have to loose? And it’s interesting cause the running commitment started with unity with my husband – to do something for him (complete his year of running) and now my husband has joined me with his own
commitment to meet with the Lord each day and it is transforming his life. My oldest son Josh who is 7 years old said, “I wanna do it too momma”. Each time I meet with God, he meets with God… he has met with God every day of the year so far. Before long, my other son Jayden (6) decided he was missing out and wanted also to take part in this time. So we all, every day, set the timer and our whole house stops and acknowledges God (for 20 minutes). Sometimes we meet God in our closets, sometimes we meet with God outside, and sometimes we just find a spot on the floor we can each be alone with God (together). It’s a humbling thing to see my home stop and honor God, to see my boys learning how to have a posture of praying, of being still and laying face down, of drawing pictures in their journal of what a verse means to them, seeing the prayers they write thanking God for helping them eat a vegetable or praise Him for making dogs or for healing their brother after he had been sick.
And although we meet for only 20 minutes, I have to confess there is a secret to this 20-time. It is a time that starts but it does not stop. God has used this time as an opening of the door to Him each day, acknowledging and seeking Him first and from there everything else is added. God has been using this time to speak to me, quiet my heart, fill me up so that His love spills over into the rest of my day and ultimately into others lives. It’s a natural overflow. And I have discovered that me getting myself in His presence and out of the way, I am actually seeing consistent traction in my walk with Him, because I’m no longer running from Him, hiding from Him, each day, not matter what my mood, no matter my failures, I come back to Him again. My main job is to show up, offer my body as a living sacrifice for this is my spiritual act of worship. Seek Him first, love Him most, and listen to His voice only. Then, I am able to love my family and others as an overflow of how much I love God first. This is a year commitment that I’m now convinced will be a lifetime commitment for me to not let a day go by (if it’s within my power) that I do not get on my knees and face and acknowledge Jesus as Lord.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33),
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37)
i couldn’t be more excited that the first person to guest blog on dWELL is my dear friend stephanie. what God has been doing in her life and the lives of all the men (little and big) in her family for the past couple of years has inspired, convicted, and challenged me. we go all the way back to high school and even though i am a year older, i want to be more like stephanie when i grow up. enjoy part one, and don’t forget to come back for part two.
I am a mother of three young boys (ages 3, 6, 7). Needless to say my house is loud and chaotic and full of sound effects and many unsettling noises. I never quite know whether they are sounds of play, of mischief or sounds of disaster. I love being a mom, here is no doubt, on any day, that I am so thankful for my boys whom I prayed for and longed for years and years. God blessed us with three wonderful and precious boys through the beautiful yet challenging calling of fostering & adoption. I say that to let you know that I do not wish away one minute of these years. But if you know me, you know I am a quiet person (although some of my close friends would beg to differ). I like quiet places and I like order and peace and predictability. When life becomes too busy and chaotic and distracted and noisy, I become thin and frazzled and shallow and impatient. And life happens, laundry, dishes, bills, dinner, dishes again, shuttling kids from here to there (and back again), my job, character building and correcting with my kids, keeping up with my bible study. Oh and I do have a husband to take care of, and I can’t leave out all the times i HAVE to check facebook, my email, or have watch that favorite show of mine, or two. It seems, if I’m not intentional, my default is that I get up in the morning and I set my head to the ground and go, go, go till my head hits the pillow again. Then repeat.
Business. Noise. Aimlessness = me tired, uninspired, lethargic and shutting down – barely hanging on, living a half-life, knowing deep down that there must be more than this. I don’t have time to stop, to deal with personal stuff, to take care of myself, to make a meal for myself, it’s not about me anyways, right? I’ve got others to take care of first.
I wanted to share what God has been teaching me over the past few years. I am not a disciplined person by nature. I tend to be lazy & distracted with my mind and I can talk myself into and out of just about anything if given enough time to think it through. I admit this gets me into trouble more times than not. Several years ago now, I have slowly developed the discipline of running. I like how running makes me feel and how it makes me feel physically AFTER I run – it’s a sense of well-being and personal accomplishment and I can eat more! But I realize that I run because I have concluded it is what is best for my health and quality of life (a greater goal), so I do it. After all how much is it worth to be able to play soccer in the back yard with my kids (without becoming winded & tired) or go to a play area with blowups and race your kid through the obstacle course or run with them down the street talking about our days together – this is quality of life to me (worth the hard work – worth fighting for).
I run every day. Let me share with you why on earth I do this and how this all started. A few years ago, both my husband and I had started running a few times a week to attempt to be more healthy & fight off the aging process & slowing metabolism. Inspired by a friend who ran 2 miles every day for a year, Wayne, my husband, decided 2011 would be his year. He ran and ran and ran every day all year until December came around and he developed a shoulder injury that required surgery. We had to get the procedure done by the end of the year. That means he could not finish his year of running.
I felt sad for him that he had worked all year on this goal and was unable to reach it (he got to 358 of 365). I remember sitting in church on Sunday the week of his surgery (scheduled for Christmas eve) and I felt this impression as I sat there that God had suggested to my heart that since we are married and my husband and I are ONE, that I should finish his year for him as a gift. I felt the suggestion was a strong one and it felt heavy on my heart for a day or two but I did not mention it to wayne and here is why… FEAR of failure… it would have required me to run every day for a week and I thought that sounded impossible. What if i didn’t feel like running every day, Christmas was coming up, we were going out of town – after all I had never done this before how did I know I could or would do it. I have also had a pile of unfulfilled goals, made with great intentions, mounted up in my past and felt pretty inept to do such a thing. I did not want to let him down.
So, I eventually gathered up courage to announce to him I felt I should do this FOR him, in his place. And while he was down from surgery, I ran the remaining days of the year for him. I did it one day at a time for a week – this was a HUGE victory for me to be able to follow through. I ran that week, 2 miles every day, and then something curious happened, I kept running and running and did not stop running and ran the entire year of 2012 – every day, at least 2 miles a day (typically 20 minutes of my day 24 hour day) for 366 days. How did i do it? I still ask myself that. Looking back I am amazed it even happened. Something unexpected happened that year, this daily discipline became a daily battle of my will (my commitment) verse my feelings coming head to head. I just made a choice EACH day to do it even though I hardly EVER felt like doing it, even though some days I was so busy or sick or tired or fill in the blank with an excuse. But I did it because I knew it was what was best for me (to be healthy, to fight for a quality of life), I had a greater goal, a greater commitment in mind. I learned one day at a time what it meant to be disciplined, to follow through – something with which I have always struggled. I also learned that I don’t have to have that conversation with myself about why I can’t do it, it just did it. This commitment of the will shut down that self-defeating self talk. This discipline of learning, by God’s guidance and strength, to control my mind and body is changing my life. Because it was not about the running, God had a greater goal in mind that even that…
be sure to check back in a couple of days for part two!