Thursday, August 23, 2012

Positive, Postive, Positive

"in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  1 Thessalonians 5:18

In the last two weeks I have had two recurring themes presented to me over and over.  Whether they are from pulpits, books, facebook statuses, other people, they are clear and concise, and I can tell that God is saying something.  One I will address another day, but the other one is all about watching what you say and think.  It's about staying positive and joyful, and keeping our eyes focused where they need to be focused.

When I think of that, I am reminded of the recent Olympic games.  We watched as much as we possibly could of the Olympics.  We saw so many incredibly talented athletes, and saw feats performed that we watched in complete awe.  And yet, it seemed as if the world around us was looking for the negative.  We would see what (to us) looked like an amazing dive off the platform, full of twists and flips, and the commentator would spend the entire dive pointing out all the flaws.  Now, I realize this was an athletic competition, and the judges are looking for the flaws, but really.  It would have been nice to just watch and enjoy the stunning athleticism and talent we were seeing in front of us.  It would have been nice to appreciate the hard work and dedication that athlete had endured, instead of noting all the flaws and then dismissing them because they wouldn't get a medal.

I think that reality TV has turned us as a people into critics of the worst kind.  Our eyes are constantly scanning for errors and mistakes.  It's gotten to the point where we can't even enjoy an event for what it is, because we're always on alert for errors.  We go to a concert, or watch something on TV and one of the singers isn't quite on their game, and we automatically accuse them of being pitchy or off- like we're some kind of pro in the industry.   We can't even enjoy a good old American football game anymore because we get upset when a play doesn't go as expected and we think we know better than the coaches and we get all upset and start throwing things and accusing coaches or players of not being worth their salary.

And then we take this criticism to church with us.  We listen to the preacher's message with scrutiny- looking for a place for him to say something we don't like so that we can remember that and talk with others about it later.  Instead of listening to the message that God would have us hear, we focus on the negative and miss that glorious nugget of revelation that God had prepared for us that morning.  Instead of participating in the worship we pick apart the worship team and think about how that person doesn't sing the best or how that drummer isn't as good as the other ones, or how the team just doesn't seem to be having a good day. 

You know what this reminds me of? The book of Job. Job and his naughty friends who spent a good deal of the book trying to convince Job that God was the cause of all that was wrong in his life.  Over and over they would point out the negative and tell Job to renounce God because of all the atrocities that had befallen him.   But Job remained steadfast.  He knew his father, and he refused to see anything negative about God.  Despite all his losses and woes, Job held onto his faith in God.  And God saw this- He saw Job's faith and in the end Job was rewarded.

"And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has."  Job 42:7

As I think on this staying positive business, I realize it's more easily said than done.  Why, I've even done it myself recently.   I posted yesterday about tending my garden.  I was so focused on what was going wrong in the garden that I didn't spend any time rejoicing over what was going well.  My tomatoes are doing great, my peppers are doing fabulous, I have a small pile of zucchini on my counter for the first time in five years!  There is so much going well in my garden this year, I have much to be thankful about, and much to rejoice over.  God is so good to us, and I am reminded of my precious son.  This past spring- late spring- he was spending time in his bedroom.  I was doing work in the kitchen, I think, when suddenly he came running into the kitchen and beckoned me outside.  He told me he had spied something wonderful from the window of his bedroom, and he wanted to show it to me.  So I followed him outside and he led me to a lone red tulip sticking up in the middle of nowhere.  It had been there for a few days already, and I'd noticed it, but I certainly didn't stop to appreciate it.

I did right then and there.  Together with my boy, we gazed upon and appreciated this lovely red tulip that was sticking up in the middle of an unsightly weed patch.  I asked God right there to check my attitude and help me to see more moments like this in life.

We need to reject this critical spirit that's trying to work its way into the church today.  We need to stay positive and rejoice in all things! I plan to start doing that immediately, in fact.  Yesterday I spent most of the day canning pears.  Today I get to do the same, and I'm not really looking forward to the work.  But it IS putting a ton of delicious canned pears in our pantry, and in our extended family's pantry.  We've also learned recently that this year's apple harvest is all but gone, which means we probably won't have much applesauce in the pantry.  God knew that, and He prepared this pear tree to produce wonderful fruit for us anyway- so that we would have something healthful and delicious to add to our dinner plates come winter.  So instead of focusing on the lack of apples, I'm going to rejoice in the abundance of pears.  Go God!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Into The Garden

"The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."  Isaiah 58:11

I've decided I like this new method to blogging. It may not be as exciting to have a post every single day, but it feels good to wait until I REALLY have something to post about- something that God's been speaking to me about.  It gives me time to mull it over, dwell on it and try to extract what I can.  And then I come to the blog and get my thoughts down- it allows me to maintain the blog without being stressful, and that's very nice.

Anyway, I've been challenged as of late to try to find more time to quiet myself, and anyone who knows me and my busy life knows that is a HUGE challenge for me.  I truly have no time to myself, and trying to carve out quiet time is next to impossible.  Yesterday, though, I really felt like I needed to find that time.  So I did the only thing I could think of- I headed for the garden.  I spent well over an hour tending to and working in the garden, and the whole time, God kept dropping little nuggets that spoke to me as I worked. 

One of the things that I did yesterday was tear out perfectly good plants.  I'd planted an over-abundance of cucumbers and green beans in my garden this year, in anticipation of a great harvest.  I didn't get that great harvest.  Our weather was not conducive to these vegetables apparently, because the plants themselves were growing fine, they simply were not bearing fruit. I've had many thoughts over the weeks about removing them and planting something else, but I just kept a hopeful attitude that they would suddenly take off.  Well, yesterday I decided to pull them out.  It was hard work to pull out these established plants, and as I pulled them out of the ground and off the trellis, I was reminded that being pruned by God is definitely hard work.  When you're trying to get something right in your life, it always seems like those are the times the devil works his most mischief and makes it truly difficult to get things right.

I also thought about how the plants I was pulling out WERE good plants, and yet they were being removed to make way for something new. Wow, is that a great parallel for the seasons of life.  Lately I've been thinking about the friends I have on my Facebook account, and how many of them are friends from another time.  Friends who were good, and necessary for that season of life, but now we possibly have little in common.  Just like my plants, which needed to be removed to make way for new, these friends of old needed to be removed to make way for the new friends.  It doesn't make them bad friends at all, it just means that they fulfilled their purpose in my life, and they needed to be removed to make room for the new.

This isn't limited to people and friends.  Maybe for other people there is a season of a job, an activity, or a hobby that needs to come to a close.  It can be a perfectly wonderful thing, but it may be time to put that thing behind you.  I think about how many years ago Andy used to play volleyball one night a week. He did that for many years and enjoyed doing so, but shortly after he became a Daddy, that weekly activity was put aside to make more room for family time, and for the job that also came along.  The volleyball certainly wasn't a bad activity at all, but it was just time to set it aside for something new.

So I was thinking about this as I pulled out these plants yesterday, because I sure was hoping that there wasn't anything that God was about to ask me to put aside.  I don't have much to put aside at this stage in life, to be honest.  But it did make me think about different activities and ministries that I've gone through over the years, and it kind of affirmed to me that it was right to leave those things behind.  Sometimes setting something aside can be painful!  We make connections with friends and the people we do our activities with, and it can hurt to leave those behind and step into something new.

That's when the best part comes though.  Because yesterday,  I worked hard at pulling out those plants, and then I was left with a blank slate to start all over with.  A new season is upon us, as we're creeping up to the threshold of autumn, and it was time to plant the fall garden.  The first step after removing the old, was to fertilize and rejuvenate the soil left behind.  We need to do that too!  Before we plunge headfirst into something new, it's important to take the time to rejuvenate and fertilize- even if it's just a day or two.  We fertilize by digging into God's Word and taking in those words of refreshment and rejuvenation.  When I was working in my garden yesterday, I worked fresh compost into my soil- the best balanced fertilizer there is. Even better, it's completely free because we make compost ourselves.  In the exact same way, when we fill our hearts with God's Word, we know we're putting the best into us- and like my compost, it's absolutely free to all.

Once my garden was properly fertilized, then I took the time to plan what I wanted to plant.  While I could just haphazardly throw seeds, that's not a very effective method of gardening.  Instead, I marked out my soil and planned where each seed would rest.   This was a great reminder to me that God's not just going to throw us into something new without proper planning and preparation.  He's not going to take someone who has been working in the nursery for twenty years and suddenly thrust them into leading a worship service.  Our God is a great God who will help us take the necessary steps to plan and prepare for the new season ahead.  Sometimes, though, we find it difficult to through that stage of planning and preparation- we're so eager to get going with the new!

But then finally, the moment arrives, and we can begin to tackle the new season ahead- the new activity, ministry, job, whatever it is.  Yesterday I finally came to the point where I was able to plant my new seeds.  The hard work I'd gone through in the hours before was coming to fruition as I tucked the new seeds into the soil.

But of course, my work isn't done yet.  Just because we've arrived a the new doesn't mean that I can just walk away and forget what's been done.  I need to keep an eye on those planted seeds.  I need to water (hello, Holy Spirit) my seeds occasionally, and keep an eye out for pests and critters who would like to steal my hard work and rob me of my joy.   We need to also water our new season by staying connected with the Holy Spirit- by staying in our Word and maintaining that relationship with God, our Father. 

For our Father is a master gardener.  He knows exactly when it's time for something to be pruned- and He does it with such love.  Sometimes it can be painful, but He always uses gentle hands and helps to carry us while we go through the painful parts.  He also knows exactly the perfect time to plant something new and cultivate its growth.  He is the vine, and we are the branches- I would not choose to abide anywhere else.

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."  John 15:5

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thankful For The Small Things

"The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove
Is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree puts forth her green figs,
And the vines with the tender grapes
Give a good smell."  Song of Solomon 2:12-13

There are too many Christians out there waiting for God to do some big thing for them.  I know, because I think I've been guilty of that myself.  Now, don't get me wrong, God surely can and does do big things in the lives of his children.  But I think when we get distracted, we forget about the small things that He does for us every single day.  I like these verses above because they do remind me of the small things.  The flowers, for example, surely can be such small things.  But boy, are they a blessing when they open in the spring after a long winter. 

 The voice of a bird is also a small thing, but it is such a lovely thing to wake up to in the morning.  The kids and I always try and track down a bird when we hear a new voice in the yard.  Right now, in fact, we have a morning dove who has decided to nest above our garage.  She sits day in and day out, patiently waiting for her babies to be hatched.  I've never seen such dedication!  She doesn't move when we go in and out with our vehicles, and doesn't move when we go in and out the front door- which is literally three feet from her nest.  We can watch her from our bathroom window too- so we can observe without bothering her.  We're enjoying the simple act of watching a bird nest.  A simple thing, but a really cool thing that God caused to happen.

Then we move on to the fig tree putting forth her figs.  Change those figs to tomatoes, and you have my small thing.  Everyday I walk out to the garden and bring tomatoes back into the house with me.  It's such a blessing after several years of hardly any tomatoes!  I've already put up two batches of salsa from my garden, and that totally delights me and my family.  Last night I decided to see if I could find some pickling cucumbers at a local farm stand.  When I asked about them, you'd have thought I'd asked for real treasure.  The lady working the stand lit up and went to work gathering my pickling cucumbers.  When she'd measured out the quantity I'd asked for, she then went above and beyond and heaped the cucumbers.  She gave me quite a bit more than the half-bushel I'd asked about.  And then last night I was able to enjoy making pickles- it totally delighted Andy to walk in after work and see the pickle factory in progress.  We delighted in the small things last night!  Which, actually, seem like big things at the moment to me.

Ah, the vines with the tender grapes.  I think that's our key verse this morning, because of the word tender.  Grapes and grapevines are small things, but they need to be tended with care.  You need to be careful, one wrong move and you've squished your grapes before their time and ruined your crop.  In the same way, we need to take care with the small blessings that God gives us.  If we're not going to take care of the small things, why would He give us the big things.  When I think on it, I can think of a dozen small, trivial things that to an outsider would seem incredibly small, but to me, they're huge.  Why, I have the perfect example sitting right here next to me.  Over the last year, I've signed up for a program where I take surveys online.  Just one company, but they send me surveys, I complete them, and then they credit my account with a dollar value.  When that dollar value gets so high, I can trade it in for gift cards to various stores.  For the third time since January, I've massed enough value to trade in my points for a Gamestop gift card.  I am very excited about this, because I have a not-so-little girl who has a birthday on Monday, and I'm very excited to be able to tuck this gift card into her birthday gift.  It's unexpected, and it was perfectly timed to be able to bless her with it.

Another small thing.  We went on our crazy camp out this past weekend.  We basically took enough food stuff to prepare our group meal and then our lunches.  We pretty much brought it all back home with us, so I didn't have to go grocery shopping when we came back home.  To many people, this wouldn't seem like anything special at all.  But it's been awfully nice eating our group meal leftovers in different ways all week, and the lunch things have padded Andy's lunchbox this week with no additional expense necessary.  

The thing is, the Bible tells us to be thankful IN ALL THINGS!

 "in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  1 Thessalonians 5:18

And you know what?  When we open our hearts, eyes, and minds to being thankful for the small blessings around us, the world sure does appear a lot more rosy.  I mean, when you're walking around being thankful for flowers and birdsong, and deals at the grocery store, life has a rosy tint to it, and it sure feels good!  I just remembered I have one more example where God totally blessed me with something small in recent weeks.

Last week was one of those tight money weeks.  I literally had $5 in my purse, and no other funding options.  Food-wise we were fine, we have food in the house, but the kids had eaten the last bit of fresh fruit we had on hand.  I have frozen fruit, but I really wanted some fresh fruit to go with our pancake dinner that we were planning that night.  While the kids were at dance, I'd decided to stop in at Wal-Mart (a place I don't shop at often) and see if they had any good deals to be had in the fruit department.  I wanted to make the most of my five bucks.  So right at the front I see cherries on sale for less than two dollars a pound, and then peaches next to that for less than two dollars a pound.  There's a scale nearby, so I weigh up a pound each (or so I thought) of cherries and peaches and head to the checkout. 

So I get to the checkout, and it's one of those long waits.  I have no where else to be, so I don't really mind, but I am thinking that this is a rather long wait for a few bits of fruit.   Well, I get to the checkout and it turns out I mis-read the scale and I actually had two pounds each of the cherries and peaches, which would come to just under eight dollars for both of them.  I was thinking that I had to put one of them back when the cashier did a little magic for me.  Wal-Mart has a price matching policy- they will match any advertised price at any store on any thing.  No questions asked.  Well, this particular cashier knew that another store had put out a flyer that week with cherries and peaches both on sale for less than ONE dollar.  So she pushed a few buttons, and for four dollars and some change, I got both bags of fruit to take home to my kids.  I was floored, I really was.  God totally knew that I wanted this fruit for my kids, and he put this specific cashier who knew about this other store's sale right in my path to make sure that I got that fruit to bless my kids with.

We enjoyed every single one of those cherries and peaches, let me tell you.  And it just showed me completely that God knows me inside and out.  I mean, think of all the steps that had to happen for me to get all that fruit.  First the one store had to have the crazy sale in the first place.  Then, I had to go shopping at a store I never go to in order to get the price matching policy.  THEN I had to have the cashier who already knew about this sale flyer, because I certainly didn't, and didn't have one with me.  And when all was said and done to have the exact amount of money needed in my wallet to make the purchase... God surely does good things.

And so this morning I am reminded to be thankful for the small things.  As I gaze toward my dining room I see twenty quarts of freshly made pickles, and I am so, so thankful.  My kids love pickles, and those will be very welcome in the weeks and months to come.  I am thankful this morning for the great love that God continues to shower on my family.  I daresay He loves my kids more than I do, and He proves it almost every single day.  And for that, I am eternally thankful and amazed.  For they are the tender grapes in my life, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Box Breaking and Dreams

 "For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come."  1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

This past weekend, our family went on a little camping getaway.  We usually go camping once a year, so taking a second trip- albeit a short one- was a little treat for our family.  We were going with some friends of ours in an attempt to really get to know one another better. Andy has spent more time with this family than I have, to be honest, and more than once I wondered over the weeks whether this weekend away was a good idea.  I mean, while we considered ourselves friends with this family, we're not super close or anything, and a camping excursion can become so personal!  I mean, you're out in the middle of the woods with not much to do, so a lot of conversation takes place...

So this was one of those box breaking weekends for me, because even right up to the day we packed up and drove off, a part of me was hoping that someone would call to cancel the weekend.  It was just a touch out of my comfort zone, and I couldn't decide if I was looking forward to it or dreading it.  But my husband was excited about it, and my kids were beyond excited about it, so off we went. Of course, it ended up being a wonderful weekend. It really was, and of course I soon discovered that I'd worried about absolutely nothing, but our first night there, as I crawled into bed, I casually kind of asked God why this weekend came about.  Why were we being thrust into the midst of this group of people?  I wondered if there was a greater purpose, or if it was simply about friendship.

Sometimes God takes advantage of these questions we ask.  Sometimes when we ask, He gives us the answers, and not necessarily in a way we were looking for.  Because I had a horrifying dream that night.  I can't even recall many of the details, I tried to block them out of my mind immediately.

 But what I do remember was that I was in a strange land.  It was almost like a video game landscape, to be honest.  What made it video game like was that over time, patches of the world around us were turning into a fire world.  So one day a tree would be a tree, and the next it would be a ball of fire.  One day a stream would be water, and the next it would turn into a stream of lava.  Slowly, everything was turning from a piece of a green world into a piece of this fire world, and then suddenly it began accelerating. People suddenly realized that they needed to flee this fire world, and some began leaving.  There was a clear path- a clear way out, but for some reason, the majority would not take this path, they just kept hoping and praying that this change into fire would stop and reverse back into the green world.  By the very end, there was a rather large crowd of people crowded around the mouth of this path out of the fire world, but no one was taking the steps toward it, and then, to every one's horror, the path began to change into the fire world.  People were dying all around as the fire world overtook them- there was no place to even put feet, because the ground was turning into fire or lava or hot embers.  It really was awful.  The last thing I remember was seeing a park bench that was still not changed into a part of the fire world, and I leaped toward it myself.  As I was leaping, I realized I wouldn't make it, and then the scene that I was seeing began to spiral and disappear- JUST like the end of a video game sequence when your character dies and you have to start over.

I woke immediately, and the first thing I thought was that my legs really and truly felt like they were on fire.  They were so hot, I couldn't get them out of the blankets fast enough.  As I tried to get these horrifying images and feelings out of my mind and body, a very distinct thought came to my mind "The people will perish".  And then I heard that phrase again- several times in fact.  As I tried to settle myself and clear my mind of pictures of dying people, I thought long and hard on "The people will perish".

The thing is, the people we were gathering with this weekend, while they are not a part of our church family, they are families of faith.  They see God's touch in their lives and they are constantly amazed by it. And yet, I really felt like that dream was giving me the answer to my questions to God that night- we were put into this group of people for a very specific reason.  I'm certainly not going to question any of the hearts of our friends, but someone in this group of people needs the love of God in their lives.  It could be all of them- it could be one of them.  It could be one of their children.  It could be someone we have not even met yet- someone who is to come in the times ahead of us.  I have no idea.  But God has put my family into this circle of people for a very big reason- because someone will perish if they don't find Jesus.

So I looked up this idea of people perishing, and found a few verses in the Bible, but interestingly enough, the one that I find most appropriate doesn't even use the word perish in any translation I've found.  Here it is in Hosea 4:6, in the Amplified version.

" My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you that you shall be no priest to Me; seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children."  Hosea 4:6

Basically, that verse is saying that the people will perish because they don't know any better.  They have a lack of knowledge- of understanding of the laws of God, and I think it's because no one ever told it to them.  They have forgotten their faith and have become so distracted by the world around them they that even forget to seek out God and his wisdom.

The facts are, that we are to bring the light of the world to the dark places.  When we surround ourselves with our Godly bubbles, we aren't able to be that light.  We do have a tendency to keep our social lives to our family and our church families.  A big part of that is because of our children, they've driven us to surround ourselves with Godly people, and yet, God is calling us out of this bubble we've created- to take His light to where it is needed most.  Jesus died for all mankind- not just a select few- ALL.  And there are too many people out there who simply don't know any better.  They don't know that there is a living and loving God and a living and loving Jesus.  They just don't know, and it is our job, our calling, to gently share the knowledge that we have with those who need to know.

"For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."  2 Corinthians 4:6

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

God-Given Dreams and Visions

“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions."   Joel 2:28

I've been thinking on these verses the last few days. Thinking on the fact that God gives us dreams and visions in the first place- because then what do we do with them?  We think on these dreams and visions and we sometimes look at them as if they are unattainable.  And at face-value, perhaps they are. Think about someone who has been given a dream to begin a ministry, but all they can see is the financial aspects- and it appears to be such an impossibility.

But you know what I've been thinking about these dreams and visions?  That God wouldn't give them to us if He didn't have a plan to get us there.  God knows absolutely every step that must be taken to attain that dream.  He's a loving and good-natured God, he's not going to give His children impossible dreams with no chance of reaching them.

Just think about that for a minute.  Think about the potential for a God given idea!  Oh, make no mistake, the devil will certainly try to rob you of that dream, but golly, God wins every time. Every. Single. Time.  Why, just this past weekend I had one of those such moments.  Abigail was singled out and given a word from God that filled this mama's heart with such pride and joy.  But I'll tell you, not ten minutes later I found myself questioning what she was told.  Questioning as in, maybe the speaker had Abigail mixed up with the boy next to her.  What if he was meant to receive that word, and she got it by mistake?  That quickly, the devil tried to swoop in and rob my daughter of this precious gift.  And I have no doubt that as time passes, that there will be other obstacles thrown up, but as children of God, we are totally over comers, and the dream will become a reality.

Perhaps someone has been called to medical school to become a doctor.  God has given this dream, and if that person were me, I would do my hardest to trust that God would provide to meet the needs.  He will meet the financial needs for all that medical school.  He will meet my physical needs to be able to study hard and stay healthy.  He would meet my needs as far as getting into the right medical schools, and so on.  

God always knows!  He gave those dreams in the first place, so it stands to reason that He will help guide the steps to make those dreams realities.

God is good, all the time.  He never wavers, and His dreams for us are absolute perfection- if only we will allow Him to do the work in us that will get us to where He wants us to be.  Think on Joseph.  

"Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.”  Genesis 37:5-7

Joseph had that dream as a child- a mere teenager, perhaps, and it wasn't until years and years later that the dream came to fruition.  There may have been difficulties and troubles and hindrances along the way, but God would see that dream fulfilled- and for good reason.  God had a purpose for that dream, and God had a great purpose for Joseph.   He used Joseph to save an entire nation- His beloved people of Israel.  What might your dreams do? What plans does God have for that dream He gave you.  Take heart, and know that God does not give a dream without the plan to fulfill that dream.  

"Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt."  Genesis 45:3-8

Monday, August 06, 2012

Thinking About Mary Again

"But when she saw him,she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” "  Luke 1:29-33

I was thinking about Mary last night.  I was thinking about how she carried this little boy in her womb that she knew to be the son of God.  She gave birth to this son who would be the Messiah, and yet I wonder just how much Mary knew about this boy that she raised.  

When she became pregnant with Jesus, it was a difficult time for the Jewish people- they'd been persecuted, and every single person knew the prophecies, and they waited with anticipation for the King of the Jews to save them from a life of persecution.  I wonder if Mary expected that the boy she was given was to be the Messiah to ALL people, or did she have a vision of an earthly king, leading the people and dispensing justice from an earthly throne.  I have a craving to know what Mary knew!  Did she know that her son would pay the ultimate price?  Did she know that His path to become the Messiah for all mankind led to the cross? Did she know how He would be rejected by everyone- even those closest to him?  

When you read the gospels there is something that we see mentioned more than once when it comes to Mary's thoughts about Jesus. 

"But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart."  Luke 2:19

Mary treasured her son and every experience he had, but she held them close to her.  I do wonder if God gave her revelation as to some of the life He would come to lead.  If God did let her know, she certainly never let on to anyone.  

I think of Mary as a kindred spirit.  Because I can look at my children and I can see so much amazing potential in them.  I see such hearts for the Lord- for the lost- and while I may have ideas at times where these hearts may lead them, I don't want my thoughts or my words to sway them in any one direction.  I want them to follow their own hearts- to follow the thoughts and desires that God has placed inside of them.

I think that's what Mary did.  She may very well of had a vision of her son leading the Jews as an earthly King, but she never gave voice to that vision.  Or if she did, we certainly never read about it in our Bibles.  Had she placed a desire in Jesus to be an earthly king, instead of the Heavenly one He is,  who knows what disastrous things could have happened.

This weekend God blessed me incredibly with a glimpse into my daughter's future.  I don't want to go into any more details than that, but it was one of those moments where I was literally jumping up and down with joy.  It just... it was such a confirmation, if you will.  It totally confirmed that we've been heading in the right direction for some time now.  Even the little things- right down to the specific curriculum we've been using for school is just the one to help guide her down the path that God has placed before her.  It's absolutely amazing, and I've already been talking to God earnestly about helping me make the right decisions and choices for her in the weeks, months and years to come.  I can't wait to see God's plans come to fruition for her.  

And yet, while I have this glimpse in my heart and my head, like Mary, I will hold it in my heart and ponder it there.  I am so blessed to have this glimpse, and now I know a direction for my prayers. But I don't want anything that I may say or do to be able to be twisted by the enemy to try and distract my daughter from her course.  And I think that's ultimately why Mary treasured everything in her heart and did not speak of it.  Whether she had an understanding of the future of Jesus, or she had her own vision of the earthly king, either way, she did not want anything she said or did to come back to bite her.  She was very wise, actually, and I totally see that as a parent.  I am certain that she prayed a lot for this child of hers.

Mary treasured everything about her son in her heart.  She kept what she knew about  him safe and secret, and as he grew and changed, she added more to the reservoir of her heart.   

"Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart."  Luke 2:51

Mary was quite the example to us, and as the mother of Jesus, I think she's a great example to follow.