Even the little concerns
Lent day 2
Today needed a photo, and if I’m honest I’m not sure everyone will get is being said in this one because this understanding of God is something we all struggle with.
God cares. Hang on, don’t roll your eyes, I know we have all heard this term missused and misrepresented. Just (as my new yoga teacher would say) breathe into it for a moment. God cares about you. Every tiny, crazy, dumb problem; every monumental catastrophe, He cares.
My example may sound odd but give me a chance.
You see that guy in the photo below? That’s my horse. He’s been my horse for over a decade. We have had big crazy dreams, big crazy failures and many learning moments. I’ve been worried about him lately. It’s been really cold (though he usually prefers that) and he has been acting odd. Distant. Even a little aggressive. I checked him over and he’s physically fine, so I chalked it up to the cold air and waited. Then it warmed up and nothing changed. Now I’m concerned and on with horse behaivior experts trying to see if something is wrong on the inside. With a little work on a few bad habbits his aggressive attitude faded away, but he was still playing shy with me. It felt like something I should deal with myself, I have trained horses for several years, I should be able to solve this on my own. Yet I was worried about him, and a little sad to see him acting that way toward me who loves him so much. So I prayed. I’ll admit my prayer began along the lines of “sorry to bother you with this God,” because like I said, it didn’t seem like a big thing, just something that was bothering me. Skip to today. I’m out in my yard, my horse comes right up to me, which he hasn’t done for the past several weeks, his ears are pricked but I give him some space and let him do his own thing. His own thing turned out to be following me around the yard, wanting to be close to me even though I had no treats, nuzzling my hair and being his normal self. It was so nice to realize that God wasn’t bothered by my odd, seemingly unimportant request. I know this story was long, and most people probably can’t relate to it, my point here is that no matter how silly your request seems, even if you feel like you should be able to deal with the problem yourself, even if you’re worried that God will see it as too small for his power, He still cares, it’s never too small of a problem for God. We get it into our heads that God likes big flashy miracles, but don’t forget that God was not in the Wind, He was in the whisper. Ask Him. No matter how silly small or unimportant it seems, bring it to God and watch for him to make things better. Like a loving father He’s never ashamed to kiss and bandage our scrapes.
I will follow you anywhere. Even past the realms of death to that which lies beyond.
So says a true friend.
I will go through death alone and move through what lies beyond alone for you. So says the truest friend. Jesus.
No matter where we go we are not alone; and for the places where we cannot go, Jesus goes alone without us to fight our battles for us.
Isn’t that an encouraging thought.
It’s 1:30 in the morning and the hospital just called. It looks like my grandmother could be dying. She is my step grandmother, but still very precious to us. The true heartbreak however is the crushing blow this is delivery to my grandfather. He had lost somebody dear to him before when my nana died and we don’t want to see him suffer like that again. It’s moments like this I feel Foundation shattered. Moments where I see people who are stronger than any of us fall on their knees and say, “God what did I do wrong?”
For something to shatter a strong Foundation it has to be a strong blow. Don’t we all have that happen? When things go so so very wrong we don’t know where to turn? The wave hits so solidly our foundation is shattered and we start to feel ourselves fall into the ocean. We have all had moments where we look up to God and we say, ” dear God where are you right now? Are You still here?”
He is still here. In the midst of us. We just don’t understand, and we can’t understand because we are not God. Is that a good enough answer? No. No we deserve a better answer. Or at least that’s how we feel, but we probably couldn’t handle the full truth and God’s reasoning because we aren’t Him. It might not feel like a good enough answer but it’s the only answer that I have. No matter what happens God is still King that is all I can put my faith in. We Still Believe.
Lately over the past year I have taken up jogging. I say lately because we live in Manitoba and I don’t want to die running on ice. In the beginning I was doing it so my dog would lose weight and my vet could stop giving me ‘that’ look. In the beginning we started slow. About 5 mins.
Then we improved till we could go 10. The other day I set me treadmill at jog speed and started to run while watching TV. 25 mins later my show was over and I still had energy. I then realized that my body had adjusted to going on long jogs.
It’s the same in our prayer lives. We start off wanting to please God but we tire out quickly. Aiming for an half an hour prayer can seem a little much in the beginning. What we needed is persistence. A daily routine and time set. Then little by little, without us even realizing it, our souls stretch and our spiritual cardio expands and we find ourselves enjoying more and more time with God. It may seem like a frustration in the beginning, but once you learn to love it you can’t go back.
Some days….most days, I wish that God would make things easy. You know? Today I drove into an unassuming ditch. It looked like I would skim the edge of a very small divot leading to a field. The divot was a ditch so deep and so full of snow that suddenly not all four wheels were on the ground anymore. Worse it wasn’t my property. Worse still I was in the middle of no where so CAA would be a pain to try to get out to my trouble spot. So I prayed. Of course. Then tried for about 15mins to get out. Now, in my mind I would pray and walk my truck right out of the hole. Nope. I prayed and then tried and tried and tried until finally my little Holy Spirit nudge said, “call your DAD!” Dad face timed with me. We prayed together and he helped me figure out how to get the truck out. It took almost an hour. A lot of shoving bear claws under tires, backing up as far as it would go and repeating. A bit of shoveling, more prayer, and a 3 point basket cheer when we finally got out.
Was God not there as I struggled? Of course He was.
Why wasn’t He making it easy?
I think that sometimes God gives us things that He helps us through. Instead of fixing the problem for us, He helps us fix the problem ourselves, then we learn and grow from our issues and mistakes.
Kind of like my Poppa. I can do so many things that most people probably can’t simply because instead of doing it for me my Poppa always showed me how to do it and had me do it myself. Actually so does my dad. He hands me the skill saw and says ‘cut here, follow this line.’ Saw gets pinched. ‘Here, this is how you get it unstuck without breaking the blade, now you do it.’ That’s how I know how to do things. I believe that God does that too.
“Here, listen to what I am saying and try it this way. Okay, good job, now try again.”
That way, we learn.
Thank God for teaching me, even if that sometimes means making me do things the hard way.
Setting your mind
In one of my favorite movies the main character loves the song ‘country roads’ and rewrites the lyrics to it. The new version has a line that says:
Determined to live alone but fearless, my constant longing is to be courageous. Loneliness is bottled up inside, going down this path that I must try.
It’s a beautiful description of who she is. She knows herself and is willing to allow that to be enough for her. She knows her path is lonely but she takes it anyway with determination to contain that feeling and not allow it to control her. She is fearless and longs for even greater courage. These simple lyrics could apply to many of us. We all have a path to travel and we all have struggles along the way; some we can foresee others we can not, it’s how we handle these struggles that define us. Will we take them on like a ship breaking through a squall, heading for the light? Or will we shrink back inside our cabin and hope that it all goes away? Maybe we try to run from the storm, but we know that that never works out, just ask Jonah. However we face our troubles, however we take on our paths, God knows what He’s doing. He saw these squalls even before you were born, and He also saw a way through them. Some people fear asking for courage because they think that it will add turmoil to their lives, but lives will have turmoil whether you ask for courage or not. Isn’t it better to have already built up your courage before the big struggles come? If you haven’t then those times when you feel you’ve hit rock bottom will be harder to overcome. It’s not easy to look down the road ahead, feel the wind grab your hair, feel the hard path beneath your feet and take off your fear like a cloak throwing it over your shoulder, stepping off the threshold of your comfort zone at a run and smiling about it. Those who have done so have had the chance to touch their stars, yours are still waiting for you. When you look at those who have left their fear behind and taken hold of their path you will see a person scarred. Their cloths may seem torn and their skin marred by the hard falls, but you will also see a brilliant smile of triumph on their faces and when they walk by they drip of starlight, because they have touched the heavens. Why? Because they trusted God would lead them and never doubted His perfect, guiding hand. Do you see starlight in your future? Your future as an accountant, a plumber, a teacher, a doctor, an electrician? You don’t have to be an artist to gleam, you just have to give what you are meant to do everything you’ve got and trust that every time you fall a nail pierced hand will be there to help you back up.
If Jesus proposed to you, would you say ‘yes’?
Are you ready to spend your life with this man from Nazareth? This carpenter’s son, hated and despised by the world. Are you ready to give up everything to follow Him and His dreams for your future? Yes? To say ‘yes’ would mean He is master over your mind, body and soul, are you ready for that?
I’m not always sure I am. Does He have my soul? Oh yes! Does He have my heart? Definitely! Though, sometimes I admit He gets a little lost in all the other ones, things, activities I love; but in the end my heart is focused on Him. Does He have my body? Okay. Harder question. Do I always help the needy? Do I always step in for the little guy? No. If I feel the Holy Spirit say ‘GO!’ Do I go? Sometimes. And here is the big one. Does He have my mind? My mind goes through so many thoughts a day/ a minute/ 1/100th of a second, that it is hard to see what or whom my mind is centered on. There are times when I should pray but I watch Netflix instead. There are times when I am not up to reading my Bible. There are times when I just can’t. Oh I could if I tried, but I feel I just can’t. Does that mean my mind isn’t centered on God?
I like to put it into a less ginormous perspective. My dog is my life. And my horse. Most days they are why I smile and feel I can push through whatever it is that is happening. Sometimes I come home and don’t play with my dog because I feel I just can’t that day. Too worn out. Sometimes I ignore him and watch Netflix, sometimes we don’t walk because it is too cold. He is the center of my world, but sometimes I don’t give him my whole attention. That doesn’t mean he is out of my focus, just not my whole focus for that time. Believe me, he will make it known if he feels ignored.
Just because my mind is 1000% off 60, and I haven’t yet taken time to focus on God, doesn’t mean my mind is off of Him. He could draw all my attention to Him in a millisecond if He wanted to, because I love Him. So does He have my mind? Yes.
If Jesus proposed to you today, what would you say? I say to say ‘yes’ and hang on, because it is going to be a wild ride.
I’ve been there too
So, I caught a cold this past Monday. I have an old family rule that I live by that says, ‘if you don’t have a fever you aren’t sick enough to stay home.’ I hate this rule; but once something becomes engraved in your mind it’s hard to change. So I plowed through and made it to Saturday where I almost died on the couch. Not literally. Then my mom asks me to bring a meal over to my grandparents. Up I get and off I go to carry the food across the yard, (we live on an acreage). On the way back my dog wants to play. It’s so warm and sunny that we play for about half an hour. Then I see him. My horse with his head over the fence. Guess what? He too has a cold. I walk over and rub his neck and he presses his forehead against mine. I have had my horse for nearly 10 years, I knew he was saying he didn’t feel great. I also felt the sense that we were sharing a moment of understanding. He was sick and so was I, he needed a hug and so did I. We understood each other’s suffering. Then I got to work filling his water, because he was low and giving him extra mineral to combat the virus, and feed to keep his strength up and then more hugs.
I have two points here. One is that no matter how you feel there is always someone who needs something and true love is doing that something no matter what. My mom is really great at this. Complain your way through if you must, but Christ’s spirit of carrying one another’s burdens makes us keep giving. Point two. No matter what you are going through there is always someone somewhere who has been through the same and wants to help. You are NEVER alone. With 7 billion people in the world there is zero chance that you are the only one who is suffering this particular way. Others get it and even if they don’t, Jesus gets it and He has always got your back! He will Always help you through the tough times. Even if that though time is pushing through with a cold.
God arms me with strength. And He makes my path perfect. Psalms 18:32
Where faith may fail
Do you ever feel as though your faith has failed?
Ya, me too.
You build yourself up with courageous words and scripture verses to make your heart feel okay, but deep down you still feel faithless. A nagging voice says, ‘you know God doesn’t operate like that anymore! You know that those kinds of miracles ended before the 20th century began. So why pray for it? Why run after something that you will never catch? You’ll just end up looking silly for trying so hard. Give up. Faith has no ground.’
Wow. Say ‘hello Devil, when did you get here?’ because that’s the voice I hear when I hear such words. It is clearly the Devil saying such things; eating away at your Faith like a monster devouring flesh, but that doesn’t stop us from believing such wicked and common lies. We hit a wall where our Faith feels powerless and we just can’t fight through. I realized something the other day. Why do we fight with our Faith? Faith isn’t a weapon. It’s a shield. The Holy Spirit is the weapon! Our Faith feels battered because we are using it to beat down our enemy. We drop our sword, take our shield in both hands and smack our enemy with it with all our strength! And we get knocked back on our belt of hard truth. The truth is that with our own strength we can’t do anything. But if we attack our enemy with the sword of the Spirit the enemy will fall! Because we are using God’s strength to win! Our Faith gets battered because we wield it as a weapon. Which it isn’t. But as a shield, as our defense, our Faith is unmatched in power because our Faith is in the unmatched, powerful God. Whose name is Jesus.
So then, put on the full armor of God-Ephesians 6:10
Do you ever get ‘prayer’s-block’? Me too.
It’s hard isn’t it? To have your mind over taken by every-single-possible-thing you could think of and the one thing you can’t think of is your praying. When that happens to me I whine at God about not being able to concentrate and say things like, ‘if only you were easier to focus on.’ And, ‘if your presence was more clear right now I could do this better.’ Guess what? That never helps me focus. Sometimes I try God meditation. I put on soothing instrumental music and sit on the floor so my brain isn’t telling me to go to sleep like it does when I am on the couch trying to concentrate, and sometimes that helps. Sometimes lighting a candle or starting a fire, (in a pit preferably outside) helps. Or watching my horse graze. Or staring at the sky. Something that doesn’t take much effort but reminds me of how awesome God is. When none of the above works I switch tactics and I worship. Because I can always put on music and listen to the words about how awesome God is. I even found a radio station that plays worship time. It is literally a musician who is doing a guided worship for those of us struggling to concentrate. It’s called ‘power of worship radio’ for those of you who would like to try it.
Just remember. God loves you for your trying. Even if you are struggling to see Him and focus on Him, He sees your attempt and it makes Him happy.