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.