Thursday, May 24, 2007

Embracing Adversity

"Receive every inward and outward trouble, every disappointment, pain, uneasiness, temptation, darkness, and desolation with both thy hands."

-William Law

If we extricate ourselves from our circumstances when we're in the midst of them, we may end up forfeiting the grace God wanted to give us to walk through those circumstances.

-Nancy Leigh DeMoss

For a wonderful radio series on suffering and hardship, read or listen here! I've been greatly challenged this last week by Nancy Leigh DeMoss's thought-provoking series, 'Enduring Life's Hardships.'


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Life lessons in the fields


After over a weeks absence, I'm going to try to jot down a few thoughts this evening. It's been a full week - a very full week! Working four days a week doesn't leave a whole lot of time for extras! For the most part, the few spare moments I have had have been enjoyed with my family or working outside.

Despite the extreme busyness, I have been thoroughly enjoying working at Everwilde Farms! I've always enjoyed the outdoors, and this time is no different, though I will admit it wasn't too fun getting over the initial sunburn and blistered ears. I'm learning lots, and having a great time at it too!

Amidst the pleasures involved, I won't pretend that it's been all easy. Through some challenging days this last week, and a devotional the Lord's prompted me to pick up again, I feel as if some deeply practical life lessons are being set before me.

Monday was hot...really hot. So hot, that when I took a couple bites of the ice cream bar Steve brought out to me, it plopped right off the stick onto the dusty, hot earth. Hoeing starry campion and lead plant in that heat for seven hours left me aching, blistered, and exhausted. Tuesday was the exact opposite as we planted out 3,000 plugs of spiderwort in the drizzling, bone-chilling rain. Neither of these times were terribly enjoyable - in fact, they provided the perfect opportunity for a nice big ol' pity party.

Tuesday evening, after taking a long hot shower and snuggling under a flannel throw, I picked up "My Utmost For His Highest" by Oswald Chambers. For some reason, I had never been able to get into this devotional until recently. Now every evening there seems to be a hand-picked gem from the Lord. That evening was no different.

[Salvation] is not just a question of being saved from hell, but of being saved so that "the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body." And it is adversity that makes us exhibit His life in our mortal flesh...The only thing that will enable me to enjoy adversity is the acute sense of eagerness of allowing the life of the Son of God to evidence itself in me. No matter how difficult something may be, I must say, "Lord, I am delighted to obey You in this."

"Our circumstances are the means God uses to exhibit just how wonderfully perfect and extraordinarily pure His Son is. Discovering a new way of manifesting the Son of God should make our heart beat with renewed excitement."


Now, in comparing these minor discomforts with the adversities many face, I have no grounds to complain. Everywhere I look, I can find someone who is facing a seemingly insurmountable trial. Yet, I find that if my heart is in tune with the Lord, He often chooses to use these comparatively little things to teach me deep and valuable lessons. Or maybe I should say, reminds me of a truth that He's been trying to teach me for a long time!!! :-)

Joy is not dependent on my circumstances. If I trust in the "good" things that happen in life for my inner well-being, I will constantly be let down. I've been pondering this truth for awhile now, but this time God wanted to bring it a step further. He wanted to change my perspective of those adversities I face, and instead of merely viewing them as something to endure and get through, He wants me to embrace them as an opportunity to show His all-sufficiency. The world can boast of happiness when everything is going well, but what baffles them is true joy coming from the life of one who's life is beset by troubles all around. It's only this perspective that allowed James to exhort, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations..." Viewed correctly, trials and adversities are merely a springboard to manifest the life, joy, and character of Christ.

Anyway, these are simply some of the thoughts I've been pondering - many times during the hours I spend in the fields. I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities to carry this lesson beyond hot and rainy days. God does not ever promise an easy, happy life here on earth, but He does promise the grace to meet every circumstance with joy!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Family

On this Mother's Day, I've been reflecting much on the blessings of family, and the special times we've shared lately. Lilacs, watermelon, picnics, kickball, hotdogs, bonfires, irises, and gardens all spell the beginning of summer. These activities have been very much a part of our last couple weeks, and many happy, precious memories have been made!
At times, I've taken my family for granted far too much, and failed to cherish this awesome treasure God has given me. The blessings of growing up in a godly family are without measure, and I've come to realize that my family are truly some of the best friends and companions I have. They know me better than any others, and yet choose to love in spite of my many shortcomings. Family unity of purpose and heart despite the many obstacles of our humanness is nothing short of a miracle from the Lord!
An accident about three weeks ago pressed this truth deeply upon our hearts. A normal evening turned to a panic stricken race to the emergency room after a sudden flash fire that left my 16-year-old brother seriously burned. He's now the only one of us siblings that can claim an overnight hospital stay and ambulance transfer to a more capable hospital. Though he's now well on the way to complete recovery, each of our hearts still bear the pain and terror of that evening. The accident could have been so much worse, yet it did not fail to produce the strong realization in each of our hearts how brief life can be.

Now as our lives are returning a bit more to normal, (by the way, if anyone ever figures out what normal is supposed to be, please let me know!) we're making it a point to just relax and be together. I'm treasuring these times and soaking up every minute of them! Though the busyness of life wants to constantly pull this family unit apart, I'm so grateful for the grace of God that keeps us pressing and striving after something higher!

Though this Mother's Day is nearly past, be sure to take time to cherish not only that special mom in your life, but the family she has helped give you!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Summer Busyness

This seems to be a common thread running through blogsphere these days....increased busyness due to summer activities. I'm going to have to jump on this bandwagon as well, and regretfully say I won't be having nearly the time this summer to post like I normally do.

God has opened some amazing doors for a nearly full-time summer job with Everwilde Farms - a native wildflower seed company owned by some very dear friends and fellow church members of mine. My recent interest and time spent in greenhouse work this Spring on our own land has unearthed a great interest in further learning. This opportunity is a direct answer to prayer, and I'm already enjoying it way more than seems right for a job! :-) Granted, my lobster-red sunburn doesn't feel so great now, but the knowledge I'm gaining and the fellowship shared is well worth it!! Hardly a greenhouse day goes by where the 70,000 seedlings aren't serenaded by our enthusiastic singing and lively conversation! :-) I feel so very blessed to not only have this income opportunity, but also such a wholehearted, encouraging Christian environment to work in! God is so good!

So, I'm not disappearing completely, and am hoping I'll be able to update at least once a week. That's my goal at this point, anyway!! Be prepared for some growing/gardening lessons learned along the way! One of my favorite things about digging in the dirt in the spiritual parallels that are everywhere!

God bless you all as you follow His will and leading for your lives during these summer months!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Walking With God


Walking With God
Reflections from my quiet times, life's experiences,
and the writings of Oswald Chambers

"And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that sayeth he abideth in him ought himself to walk, even as He walked." 1 John 2:3,6

Walking with God is unconsciously living forth His standards and character in our day to day life. Our heart is not obsessed with the duties of Christian living, but is rather set on Christ Himself. Walking in this frame of mind brings the lowest forms of work, duty, and service up to the highest planes of worship and consecration.

"We don't deliberately set the statements of Jesus before us as our standard, but when His Spirit is having His way with us, we live according to His standards without even realizing it...The evidence of our love for him is the absolute spontaneity of our love, which flows naturally from His nature within us."

Walking with God is not evidenced by a life lived continually on the "feel-good" plane of emotional experiences. This outlook only brings discouragement and defeat when faced with trials, temptations, and seasons of dryness. Walking with God during these times that come to every Christian requires a steadfast faith that is not anchored in our feelings and outward circumstances, but in the trustworthiness of the One who has allowed them to come into our life. If our focus is continually seeking after those times of illumination and heightened feelings of spirituality, it is a sure proof that it is these "blessings" that we are seeking after rather than God Himself.

"A self-assured saint is of no value to God. He is abnormal, unfit for daily life, and completely unlike God. We are here, not as immature angels, but as men and women, to do the work of this world. And we are to do it with an infinitely greater power to withstand the struggle because we have been born from above."

Walking with God is knowing how to flourish through those struggles. Unlike the concepts of some, a mature Christian life is not one that has risen above struggles, difficulty, and temptation. If this were the case, our Lord's time here on earth was a complete failure. Walking with God is evidenced by a patient steadfastness when faced with these obstacles, and not bowing under the many pressures exerted upon us. Patience is not a frame of indifference, or ignorance, but rather this term refers to the quality that does not surrender to circumstances, or succumb under trial.

"...we glory in tribulation also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience:" Rom. 5:3

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations: Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:2-4

Finally, walking with God is a continual reaching forth after higher ground. It is a heart which ever feels it's need of more of God. Sanctification is not a feeling of attainment, it is learning to humbly walk in the grace of God for the needed faith to claim the provisions he's made. The moment we feel that we've arrived, we set our feet on the beginning of the pathway that leads to spiritual ruin.

"Our reach must exceed our grasp."

"Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God is Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:12-14

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Excerpts From " A Pilgrim's Wants"

I want a sweet sense of Thy pardoning love,
That my manifold sins are forgiven;
That Christ, as my advocate, pleadeth above,
That my name is recorded in heaven.

I want every moment to feel
That Thy Spirit resides in my heart,
That His power is present to cleanse and to heal
And newness of life to impart.

I want-Oh! I want to attain
Some likeness, my Saviour, to Thee!
That longed-for resemblance once more to regain,
Thy comeliness put upon me.

I want so in Thee to abide
As to bring forth some fruit to Thy praise;
The branch which Thou pruneth, though feeble and dried,
May languish, but never decays.

I want Thine own hand to unbind
Each tie to terrestial things,
Too tenderly cherished, too closely entwined,
Where my heart too tenaciously clings.

I want by my aspect serene,
My actions and words to declare
That my treasure is placed in a country unseen
That my heart’s best affections are there.

I want-and this sums up my prayer-
To glorify Thee till I die;
Then calmly to yield up my soul to Thy care,
And breathe out in faith my last sigh.
-Author Unknown