Dec 8, 2013

A time to plant and a time to uproot . . .

Time for Everything

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every [a]event under heaven—
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? 10 I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.

God Set Eternity in the Heart of Man

11 He has made everything [b]appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, [c]yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.
 Ecclesiates 3:1-11




Things were sorted, sold, given, packed and moved.  We felt sad, joyful, anxious, sometimes numb but mostly excited.  Animals were given away, and a temporary home was found for another. The "things" became less and less and the echo in the house made of concrete became more and more.  Goodbye letters from classmates and co-laborers were received and cherished, sweet prayers were said.  While the house had been emptied, our hearts had been filled by sweet "last time for nows."  With a blanket of fog as thick as God's love, we watched the house grow smaller in the background and smiled as we passed friends on their porch waving us goodbye as we drove away to greet the new day.


I like to think of myself as the planter . . . you know, the one that has the control over the little seed, but the reality is that I am more the plant, and God can move and transplant as He pleases. The seed is our walk with Christ that beckons us to not remain stationary, comfortable, stagnant but to walk with Jesus, submitted to the word of God, producing fruit, and to grow in our likeness of Him. A time to plant and a time to uproot.

The actual process of being uprooted and  moving across the country in the D.R. is a little more raw than I would say moving in the U.S. would be.  There are no moving companies, just big open bed trucks that have to make as many trips as there is stuff. (P.S. Old tarps worn thin should not be trusted to keep belongings dry. I am pretty sure that upon our return we will be greeted with moldy things. However, everything we need can be summed up in the love of Christ.)



Here is a snapshot of what it looks like to be uprooted and transplanted in the D.R.

HE has made everything appropriate in its time- this we trust! With eternity in our hearts we keep our eyes fixed on Christ as HE uses us for different things now.

Dec 2, 2013

What IT looks like

His countenance calmly matter of fact, he glided the information seamlessly into the middle of conversation  - the casual convo about where we might have lunch.  It. Was. A. Bomb. Yet he never skipped a beat.  Astonished, I studied his expression  – was he joking? No, I think not as it wasn’t a topic one would joke about.  The most devastating of news that a parent could receive had been delivered 6 months prior, the reality of which he and his family were walking through daily, with grim statistics staring them in the face.  Yes, we would eat Mexican, we decided.
 
Have you seen it?  It is so beautifully obvious and strangely contrary to that which seems normal.  It is beyond explanation.  It is astonishing and marvelous.  It is divine.   It allows for one to be hugely upset while serenely restful.  It is the marriage of peace that passes understanding with absolute trust in God’s sovereignty.  It is faith at its finest wrapped in heavenly hope.  It is the aroma of Christ displayed for maximum glory in the context of total brokenness.  It is being defined not by the devastating  nor swayed by the circumstances.

 I long to be clothed in it because it brings such glory to God to wear His peace, yet the very essence of it is that it can only truly be revealed through the context of  grief.  Human grief is the best showcase for divine peace.  I can’t help but think of Job, whose very affliction arose out of God’s total confidence in Job’s character, reverent and righteous, and it was because of this that God allowed Satan to afflict him.  God was confident that circumstances – losing home, livestock, servants, sons and daughters, relationships, health – would not move Job away from Him, and in fact, these situations did not and Job continued to praise and trust.   Dare I desire to wear this garment of peace knowing that truly the only way for it to shine so bright is with the backdrop of loss of some kind?

The thing is . . . when you have seen it face to face, witnessed it on someone else, and rubbed elbows with it, you can’t HELP but want it.

In a later conversation, knowing that it was Christ in him that could only illicit such a fragrant response to a more than difficult situation, but wanting to hear his own words, I asked our friend, “How is it that you are so matter of fact and oddly peaceful? “ He responded, “ I am hugely upset, but I won’t let this define us.  Every day we will do what is right, and in the end it still may not end well, but we will know that we have honored the Lord.”  Yes, indeed.  I want it. How about you? 

We live in a fallen world, so tests of faith are not always the result of God lowering His hedge of protection, thrusting us out into the frying pan of faith’s fire- such as it was with Job.  Regardless of the root of life’s circumstances, our response is to be

 “Rejoice always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1Thessalonians 5: 16 -18


This is how those that are confident of His love and have the conviction of His care are able to be clothed in peace, even when the devastating reality is harsh. This is what the peace of Christ looks like.

Nov 27, 2013

The place where stillness stirs . . .

A pen drop could be heard in our hearts, that silent place where stillness stirs like a moment held sacred, a whisper so soft and compelling and yet so loud and inviting. “Come, follow Me.” 

This open invitation, equally as available and personal for you as for us, has rocked our world in the fullest of ways. It is at this point of turning that we want to invite you to journey alongside us as we follow the Lord’s leading to Makarios International, a Christ centered ministry dedicated to sharing the gospel through the avenue of education and community outreach on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. With Makarios, Jon will serve as the Dominican Director, overseeing all facets of the ministry on the ground in the Dominican Republic.

At this moment, we sit (but not for long) stateside on a holy spirit scavenger hunt of sorts, in which we are prayerfully and excitedly looking to gather ministry partners to financially and prayerfully join our support team.  We are keenly aware that this kind of partnership is forged by the Lord and glued by the Holy Spirit, and our deepest desire is to authentically and passionately present the vision and mission of Makarios to those who are interested in making an impact for the kingdom of God on the island of Hispanola . . . specifically for the people who are defined as materially impoverished living in the bateys of Chichigua, Tamarindo and Poncho Mateo (for photos and information about batey life, visit makariosinternational.org). 

We recognize that we are just as broken as those we hope to serve, that apart from Jesus and the gospel of peace, we have nothing to offer, but GOD . . . He has called us to the place where stillness stirs and we are surrendered to His will for us.  If you believe He may be calling you to give in some way and to partner with us, we welcome the opportunity to tell you more!

We will be in the states until February, at which point we hope to be fully funded and return to the Dominican Republic to officially begin on the ground with Makarios International.


Abiding in Him,


Jon and Rachel Sawyer



Oct 4, 2013

Today . . . I will celebrate!



Today I will celebrate.  In God's goodness.  In His sovereignty.  I will sit at His feet and attempt to honor Him.  Today I will not walk in my flesh, but will concentrate on walking in His spirit.  Today I will rejoice.

A year ago today I witnessed for the first time in my life the expression of peace on a friend's face, a friend who had taken her last breath on earth and her first breath in heaven.  I'll be honest in saying that this was a shocking and traumatic event for me, not because I was concerned about her eternity, but because of the rawness and unexpectedness of the event.  There were things about her that I did not know, and frankly had I known, I would have treated her differently - gently, with caution . . . I would have mothered her . . . are you sure you should do this or that?  Maybe you should stay back and rest?  Oh, she would have HATED that.  Because this girl, THIS GIRL . . . she was full of life, full of living, full of vigor, full of passion, full of desire to live out plans that the Lord had placed on her heart (i.e. to be a missionary), full of boldness to share Christ with others.  This girl was unabashedly unashamed of her Savior.  This girl was living for Him, even if it was painful.  This girl was determined.

And there she was, vacated from the earth and whisked away to heaven, where I am certain that she is frolicking with Jesus, shouting praise songs loudly, riding a motorcycle on the streets of gold.  It may seem odd to say, but I was closer to her in her death than I was in her life - not because I didn't want to hang out with her, simply because of life mechanics and she hadn't been here in the D.R. for very long.  But God had plans for me and another friend to be close to her in her death.  And since that moment, I think that both my friend and I have grown in our knowledge of the character of God, through knowing Bethany and even through being with her shortly after her exit from this earth, and from getting to know and love her family, who is so FULL of the love of Christ that it is sweetly overwhelming to be in their presence - the aroma of Christ lingers long after they have left the room.

So . . .today . . .  I will celebrate in knowing that death does not have victory over the believer, that God knows what each of His children needs, that a life lived for Him has an impact far beyond these few moments on earth, that every breath is a gift from Him, that His children should be a reflection of His image - like Bethany was.  Thank you, Bethany.  Thank you, Brown Family.  Thank you, Jesus. Today, I will celebrate.

Sep 30, 2013

The Lord is close . . . .

Loss wears many hats.  On one hand it can be obvious and  one size fits all: loss is loss, after all.  On the other, its a bit of a chameleon, changing colors and appearance according to the thing it rests on and able to blend like a piece of tree bark in the middle of the forest, inescapable to the casual glance  . . . yet nonetheless real and invasive.  Sometimes the crashing down of an unmet expectation is the loss. Sometimes its the death of a loved one.  Sometimes its the realization of what should have been but wasn't.  Sometimes its a very important opportunity missed. Sometimes its deleting something special that can not be retrieved.  So. Many. Hats.  And we don't get to choose which one to put on necessarily or when we shall wear it.

And what is my response to be when loss climbs my tree?

Oh to have the faith of Job . . . having lost everything, family, relationships, provision . . . having been physically afflicted . . . having had the hedge of God removed from his life for a time (because God was so confident that Job's faith in Him was not based on his circumstances).

"At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.  Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:  "The Lord gave and the Lord taketh away; may the name of the Lord be praised."  In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing."  Job 1:20 - 22

In his grief, he fell down and worshiped.

It is difficult to see clearly when your eyes, puffy, swollen, worn,  have cried a flood of tears.  But sometimes seeing is not the act of looking but the act of discerning the proper response when the things of the world point in the opposite direction. Job was extremely grieved and those close to him offered him fleshly advice that had he followed would have heaped on more misery, yet Job was able to see that the right response was to fall down and worship.

But how do I learn to respond in this way in the face of loss and grief?  By sticking with Jesus, who sticks near when heart ache comes.   The psalmist tells us that  . . .

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  Psalm 34:18

Are you brokenhearted?  Is your spirit crushed?  Take comfort and be encouraged then that you are not alone, but are safe and accompanied by the one that has endured more grief and heart ache than any other.  The Lord is close . . . .

Jul 2, 2013

THE STIR

The comfortable bottom of the pot, the settled bits of life happily having a tea party where they love to hang out - without commotion, undisturbed by the unknown, lounging blissfully unaware and at the same time full of knowledge . . . . a pot unstirred leads to . . . . 

As lovely as it is for the moment, the stillness of the un-stir, is like the calm before the storm.  OH NO.  OH, yes.  I was not meant to sit comfortably, to fall asleep at the wheel, to long for moments undisturbed (do you hear that echo?  It's me typing in the bathroom.) I was not meant to hunger for the mundane.  Here. IT. comes. The spirit of God stirs within me, a tornado of divine purpose stirs those settled bits to flailing specks swirling in the presence of a GREAT FORCE, not the forceful kind of force, but the kind that compels the moving parts to head in the same direction, like synchronized swimming ants caught in the whirlpool of a draining sink.  In this case, to swim against the current, is not an option.  God is the current.  I am the ant.  I long to be carried away by His purposes, even if it means my life is turned upside down and inside out.  The loving God of the universe has the ability to make sense of things that don't make sense. But then again, what sense does an ant have as compared to God? Very. Little.  

THE STIR.  

May 10, 2013

Walking in . . .

Two girls.  Artists of sorts.  Kindred spirits. Friends for a long time, having laughed hard, loved much and having failed the other, forgiveness offered and received.  Separate paths with unanticpated and sweet intersections.



At times, trapped. Each by her own thoughts, made of mental metal bars of iron, one after the other.  A cage they made, each their own.  Struggles ensued.  But what happened?

They BROKE FREE, each one.  Lies exposed  for what they are.  A path to freedom, beautiful.  The truth is . . . powerful.  Out of the lost and found, lifted by a SAVIOR that said  “I am the way and the truth and the life."  John 14:6



One girl believed lies.  The other was entrapped by the cubby holes of the world in which she did not fit.

But God . . . . 
saves,
makes plans,
is the giver of every perfect gift,
is a craftsman specializing in uniqueness (as opposed to the world's counterfit  of manufactured difference, which is lifeless sameness),
selects special talents and gifts for each one.
His purposes will not be thwarted.
He invites us to be extension rods of His power, so much as we are yielded,
and sometimes, even when we are not.
He makes some NOT to fit, giving magnetic magnificense to His work.  We are His marketing strategy - not that He needs one (and not that He needs us).  Why?  

Because when we live according to how He made us, in line with His word, without comparing, without folding ourselves up to fit in a box we don't belong in, without bars and chains of our own making, apart from lies, with His word as our roadmap, we are walking in HIS truth and His freedom.

How much more does shattered glass reflect light as opposed to a solid piece?  Our nuances have been customized to take in and reflect His light.  His grace makes our rough edges as silk, allowing us to rub up against others with love, rathering than causing gashes that we would carve in others apart from Him.  He meant us for communion with Him and with others.

Back to the girls . . .

One girl was a believer of lies.   Mentally convinced to settle for falsehood, paralized and written off as "no threat" by the father of lies, whom she allowed to feed her a steady diet of untruth, wispering in her ear subtle shifts from rightness, playing off of her insecurities.

Until . . . having soaked in the real truth of God's word to the point of saturation, eyes were opened.  She refuses to be an easy target, written off as ineffective, because she has a SAVIOR who promises to never leave her or forsake her (Deuteronomy 31:6), who gifts her a spirit of truth that dwells within her (John 14:17),  who equips her with the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14) as well as other armor.


To believe the truth, one must know what it is, and one must wear it like a garment.  We were born out of the truth (James 1:18), but sometimes we forget our origin.

The other, she WAS caged. Past tense. But the truth is the gateway to freedom.
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 
Freedom from lies,
freedom from worldly cubbies,
freedom to live for His glory,
freedom to live without fear of man,
freedom to speak the truth boldly and with love,
freedom to create without the confines of only what can be comprehended.



To walk in freedom, one has to open the door locked from the inside and take one step and then another, clothed in the word of truth.  (For to take steps, not out of truth, is to walk backwards willingly yet unaware  into a mind-made cage.)  Choosing to unlock the door from the inside is a daily exercise, not a one time action.  It's a matter of surrender and trust.

I am SHE.  The truth is Christ. Freedom is walking in His promises.


How will you walk?

Apr 16, 2013

Ditching the best laid plans . . . . .

The clamouring ruckus under the hood of our moving vehicle, pointed in the direction of home, interrupted our hands -behind- the- head mental posture.  We were coming off of a relaxing weekend.  We had been to Paradise (island, that is) and back.  We had been smooched with vigor by the sun to the point of crispiness.


We had collected shells, played snorkel monster, eaten Dominican fried fish on the beach.  Now, we had pumped our kids and ourselves up with visions of Wendy's in Santiago and promises of playing with wild abandon on the "monkey playground,"  a playground attached to a pet store with animals in habitats around the awesome Noah's ark ship of a playground.  It WAS such a good plan.



Feelings of refreshment turned to feelings of uneasiness as we sat in the middle of no where, D.R. and wondered what to do.  Brief cell phone service allowed us to have a quick convo with a mechanic friend and then broken connection.  Jon started the car back up and it sounded like moving parts and metal dying, clanking and cranking.  Not good.  We decided that we needed to move our van to where people were - just a few miles away.  No doubt they heard us coming before we appeared before them, lots of men shooting the breeze on the side of the road.  It is so nice here that you can stop and ask people for help, and that there is no fear of harm or foul play.  The culture is genuinely helpful.

A dude hopped on his moto and said he'd be right back with a mechanic.  And he was.  The hood was up and every Dominican male poked his head under it to see what the matter was.  Expressions told a story of a major repair to be made.  We followed the mechanic one street over to his home, where he and another mechanic began the 9 hour process of disassembling and reassembling the inards of the engine and such.  Pieces came out and were lined up along a wall.




Movies were watched until batteries died. Remaining snacks and water was consumed.  Dramamine administered only 15 minutes earlier was slept off.  The sun moved across the sky, Jon paced and walked about trying to stand in a spot for cell phone service, kids sat on neighbors porches, Annabelle pee'ed in a gulley.





 Little ones chattered about still being able to go to the playground.  Parents prayed.  We had very little cash.  The mechanics worked diligently.  Men and boys came and went, poking heads under the hood to see progress and insert opinions. The English speaking neighbor across the street, came and went and came and went.   Jon watched. Allie played in the dirt and ate guayabas from the neighbor's tree.





We played slaps.  The neighbor's sunflowers beckoned us.  The ditch became a racing lane, then a home for all kinds of creatures.  More praying.




While all of this was going on, our Dominican friend and mechanic drove all the way to the city where we sat (but we didn't know this b/c we had no cell phone service. ) He scoured the highways between here and there searching for us.  What a sweet thing that was.  But he did not find us.  At about 5 pm, pieces were going back in and we prayed and held our breath.  At 6 pm, the key was turned - the clanking was louder than before and then a chain broke.  A taxi was called and  our last $3000 RD was given to fill up his tank.  Disappointed, ditch- playing children closed their eyes against the maximized volume of bachata music blaring to a point of uncomfortableness despite plush seats and air conditioning.  Dreams of cheeseburgers and monkeys and Noah's ark gave them sweet, sleeping expressions.  Jon and I, smooshed between worn out kids, watched the dimming lights on the horizon as we toodled towards home.



A few miles down the road, at last, we had cell service.  People had been worried.  We had been worried.  We made a connection at the Santiago airport, learning that people from the school were there picking up a new student, and   discovered that said people had just enough money to cover us for the taxi ride.  Wheew.  Sigh of relief and prayers answered.  At 10:30 p.m. we fed our children and put them in their beds, ourselves flopping thankfully onto our pillows.  We fell asleep thanking the Lord for his provision for us, for safety and beautiful weather, for a mechanic who also had otherwise plans for his day before we came along,  and content children, even in the midst of disappointment.



We will hit up Wendy's and the monkey playground another day.  But today we will remember that there will be days that the best laid plans end up in a ditch . . . with beanie boos and plastic dinosaurs, and that we are to go on praising and praying and relying on Him.



And we will smile at not just the adventure of it all, but at the story of the Lord's faithulness and love for us.

Apr 15, 2013

What you see when driving in darkness in the D.R.

A long awaited escape to the beach, family in tow, I found myself pointing my camera into the darkness as we wound and swerved, straining to see, who and what was before us . . .





People on the streets, motos without lights, children running to and from colmados (a.k.a. little tiny neighborhood convenience stores), pockets of people gathered around domino tables, clammering on the sidewalks, a collision of senses, the flicker of a candle, power out, plastic chairs lined up side by side, the prisms shattered of a disco ball spinning every once in a while.    The slam of the dominos on the table, the fusion of competing music - was it a speaker truck or two houses "sharing" music?  The Dominican community - something to be marveled at, I thought.  Neighbors being truly neighborly. Passing slow enough to see them and smile and fast enough to blur them.







Snap. Snap. Snap as the sound of the shutter stimulates more scenes and more thoughts.  How this place has changed me.  Scripture references bombard my thoughts - darkness and light, and I snap some more.  Such a dark place.  No, not the Dominican.  Me.  But I came to share what I do not possess in and of myself, but here I am.  I am willing, but useless, apart from Him.  Yet, what is so striking about the darkness, is not the darkness at all, but how it is defined by the presence or absense of light.  Darkness is not capable of defining itself, neither am I, though the world may tell me so.


The glow of that glowy orb draws my attention - so vibrant and warm and inviting.  Isn't the light alluring?

The roads here are so dark and unpredictable.  There are potholes unforseen. Can't help but notice the cow crossing signs every 50 feet in those parts.  Add to list - watch for kids, motos w/o lights, cows and donkeys.  I'll take "What is eye strain?" for 100, Alex.  Yet, I can't stop watching, looking, seeking.



No street lights, no car lights and/or too bright of lights on the occasional car blinding you from the other direction makes it a treacherous stretch.  Yet the stars reach out so brightly, faces of children with the noses pressed against car windows sending their curious thoughts towards the sparkling diamonds in the sky, and then . . . . there they were . . .


Never seen 'em here in the D.R.  Not even on major highways, let alone in cow crossing, no cell service, darkness lit up by stars part of the country.  Not once.  R.E.F.L.E.C.T.O.R.S.   Crazy, beautiful, well spaced out and OH SO HELPFUL.  Snap. Snap. Snap. Love the streaky streaks snaking so alive like.


Jesus is the light in the dark place, and I am the reflector.  Or am I?  Depends on the moment and my heart condition, but OH how I want to be.

Mar 13, 2013

Pebble in a pond, ripples of glory

Back to my girl, Bethany Brown.  You can read posts about her significance to me here and here.  The Lord gave me this blog title shortly after her death as I was digesting all that had happened, what  the Lord was revealing to me, etc.  As I have learned to tune into the Lord and His voice, it is really cool that often when I feel Him speaking to me, it is through a visual picture - HE knows I understand visuals better than anything else  . . . . He's sweet like that.  But I digress.

Here is the visual He gave me in regards to Bethany:  a pebble in a pond with ripples of His glory.  Bethany's life of a quarter of a century was not long, but it was FULL.  While I only knew her a short time and not very well, the lessons that I have learned from her life and her death are ones that I hold close to my heart, and have God's glory stamped all over them.  Even the ripples of a tiny pebble are far reaching.  But when God's heart, love and will are the substance of that pebble, the ripples of His glory reach all kinds of hidden nooks and crannies.  I hope my pebble is as packed as Bethany's was.  Thank you, Jesus, for reminding me via Bethany of how YOUR love in someone makes them a mighty tool for YOU.  I wanna be used like that.


Mar 10, 2013

Quietly Behind Someone & The God that SEES

In the J & R Sawyer fam, there are THREE loud, dramatic, energetic, flamboyant little girls and ONE quiet but quirky boy.  The THREE are verbally gifted  . . . in TWO languages.  The ONE struggles with his native language (due to a speech articulation disorder.)  TWO of the THREE girls are either 1) extremely loud or 2) asleep.  They are either on or off - there is no in between (I continue to pray for the Lord to take a hold of their hearts in a mighty way because whatever they do, they do it WITH ALL THAT THEY ARE!)  The FOUR of them have extremely unique personalities, but the ONE is almost always in the backgroud, quietly behind someone.

Exhibit A:


Do you ever feel that way . . . quietly behind someone?  I do sometimes, and while I generally like to be in the background and not on center stage (or anywhere near "the stage"), every once in a while I begin to feel like my unseen efforts are invisible.  Tattooed on my mind is the reminder that I should do everything for the Lord, and not get caught up in pleasing man (Col 3:23), as is my tendency.  However, sometimes when I feel missed by humans, I equate that to being missed by God, which is not an accurate comparison.  It's not that I want the applause of man for my efforts, although a little credit is nice every once in a while, it's more that I begin to believe the lie that what I do, because it is what I perceive as "unseen", doesn't matter.

But oh contrar, mofrar.

Enter stage right: Hagar maid servant of Sarah, Abraham's wife
Hagar was given the job of bearing Abraham a son by Sarah, who had not been able to conceive and felt the need to take matters into her own hands.  It seemed  like God was NOT going to come through with His promise to Abraham for an heir (Gen 15: 4).   You see, God had promised Abraham  to give him as many descendents as there were stars in the sky (Gen 15: 5), but this seemed unlikely as Sarah and Abraham were elderly, past the age of child bearing.  Even though for God nothing is impossible (Matt 19:26),  Sarah decided to grab the steering wheel from God and come up with her own plan B, suggesting that Abraham take Hagar the maid servant as his wife and conceive a child with her. (Why she thought that this was a good idea is puzzling. Really? You KNOW this can't end well.)

Hagar did, in fact, become not just pregnant but haughtily pregnant , making Sarah REALLY mad.  The short of it is this: Sarah, despite the fact that SHE had come up with her own plan B for making babies rather than waiting on the Lord to deliver His promise,  sent Hagar packing.  That's right.  Genesis tells it like this: "Sarah treated her harshly, and she feld from her presence." (Gen 16:6)

Now Hagar, homeless and dejected was found by an angel of the Lord. (Gen. 16:7)  After an interesting exchange with the angel, Hagar called upon the name of the Lord who spoke to her. (Gen 16:13) And out of this meeting came the first reference to El Roi, " Thou art a God who sees;" proclaimed Hagar.

The point of the story is not whether Hagar was blameless in all of this (because she wasn't!)  but that in her distress, the Lord not just sent an angel to find her and talk with her, but that He revealed that the God of the universe is one that sees everything!   As Kay Arthur puts it in her book Lord, I want to Know You, "The ominipresent God is there, and His eyes are not shut.  He isn't asleep, unaware of all the circumstances.  He sees. " God is El Roi, the God who sees.  You or I are not out of His frame, wether we are doing good or bad.  And if we are hurt in a situation, mistreated, misunderstood, used up by someone else, He is not caught off guard or surprised.

In His exchange with Hagar, the angel of the Lord tells her to return home to Sarah and Abraham and to submit to their authority. (Gen 16: 9)  What does this mean for you and me?  Why would he tell her to return to a bad situation?  There are things in life that have to be dealt with and for healing to take a seat at the table, we have to confront what happened, not run from it. The God who sees, El Roi, is also the sovereign God, who permits various things to happen.  However, God is more than capable to use bad things for His holy purposes (Romans 8:28) and His plans for us are for good and not for calamity (Jer 29:11).

 Have you ever been in a situation where you want to hide the details from God? But HE was there.  Have you ever felt cast out, rejected, useless?  He knows your situation, and He sees you.  He offers healing for you and for me.

I want to encourage you that if there is a dark corner in your past that you have not let the light of God shine on, to remember that He already knows about it and He wants you to let Him walk through it with you.  All you have to do is ask :)  (i.e. Dear God, I've been keeping something from you even though I know you already know about it because you are El Roi, the God who sees.  It is big and scarey for me, and I don't want to deal with it, but I do want healing from it. Would you please give me the strength to go back to this situation, the courage to address, and to help me see that you were there with me then and are with me now? Amen.) 

AND, in the course of letting Him shine light on a dark corner, it is likely that He will use your story to shed His light onto someone else's dark corner.  How cool is that?

With three center stage sisters, God still sees the one in the back - just like He sees the three in the front.  And He sees me. And He sees you.

Psalm 139: 7-12
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

Mar 8, 2013

The Beauty of the Fire

What is it about that dancing glow of flickering flames that captures the gaze of onlookers?  That crackling heat that consumes all it touches.  With the ability to mesmerize children and men, being both powerful and beautiful, from afar it draws us in.  Captured by the rapture of things changing form.  Trash burns, in an environmentally unfriendly way.  Everything burns, but not all is trash.  From afar it is majestic and captiviating, but upclose, its heat grows uncomfortably unbearable and all at once I am thick into fire's center.  Finding myself at fire's middle, I WANT OUT, but all that surrounds me is heat's hotness and God's grace in the midst of it.  I am not alone.

God, having taken the form of fire when He spoke to Moses, uses the fire to speak to me.  His word tells me to persevere joyfully when I find myself in the fire. (James 1:2) He tells me that when I have stood upon Him and up under heat's hotness, having clung to Him and having resisted my lying feet, that I will be blessed.  (James 1:12) He tells me that when I am approved, my faith in Him unwavering in the midst of the heat, that He will award me the crown of life, promised to me because I love Him - not just when the sun is out and the sky is blue, but more so when my insides are burning because of the searing pain of the heat of a trial, and yet I praise Him, knowing that He uses the heat to bring me to more completeness in Him.  God has a purpose for the fire, and this is what makes it beautiful.

He tells me that He will not allow the heat to be hotter than what I can bear (1Cor 10:13).  Like the silversmith melting His precious metal to draw out the impurities, He watches over me while the yuk is drawn out of me through the heat of the fire.  The more trash that is sluffed off, the more clearly His reflection shines.  My needy flesh makes me want to run, causing more oxygen to fan the flames, making the heat even hotter, but my flesh is a liar.  Liar liar pants on fire.  His spirit in me is the truth, and the truth cloaks me like a drenched towel's wetness, and I am neither seared nor soiled when I am wrapped in truth.  I put my flesh in it's place, because He gives me the strength to do so.  I emerge from the trial having changed form, from someone caged by the flames to a woman freed by God's truth in the midst of the heat, one firey trial closer to the image of my CREATOR.  The beauty of the fire IS breathtaking.

Feb 28, 2013

SO MUCH

*Imagine witty opening here*

For months now I have experienced blog blankness.  It's not for lack of material, but partially lack of time and mostly being tongue tied.  There is SO MUCH to be said for what the Lord is teaching me in this odd season, and yet I seem to suffer from mental constipation (please excuse the feces reference - this is just what comes to mind . . . and it's not that I think what is going to come up is crap, either :) because I know that what He is teaching me right now is beautiful in His sight.  Perseverance.  Endurance (hopeful waiting).  Steadfastness.

I really used to despise these words - mostly because in my ignorance I didn't fully understand what His word says the outcome will be . . .

"And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:4

Perfection will obviously not be achieved this side of heaven, but with every opportunity to endure, there is the opportunity to become more spiritually mature and closer to the image of Christ.  There is also the opportunity to BAIL. Flee. Run. Escape.  To NOT endure but to accept a counterfit way out that does not lead to maturity or Christ-likeness.

My flesh is quick to try and deceive me that there is way out by running through the open door, but the Lord, in His sweetness, has pressed the weight of His love on me like a warm, secure, cozy blanket on a chilly night.  I have confessed to Him on many occassions how my flesh screams lies at me and how I sometimes have yeilded to that loud voice, rather than His still, quiet voice.  BUT, in endurance, I am learning to be still, to sit on my hands that want to wave dramatically in the air about unfairness or this and  that, to cross my legs that are quick to want to carry me away and separate me from what the Lord has for me - I am learning to yield to Him, to surrender to Him.  I am learning to bend my knee and confess that I know so very little and am a broken vessel.  I am learning to cling with all that I have - TO HIM.  There is just SO MUCH.

Perhaps I have been tongue tied because my tendency is to talk about myself, rather than who HE is, to talk about the fun stuff (*insert image of peanut butter faced child here*) rather than the difficult.  The truth is, there is nothing more relevant than who God is in the midst of the difficult.  God is SO MUCH more than we can wrap our tiny little minds around.  SO MUCH more loving and gracious and just than we can comprehend.  So MUCH MORE.