Monthly Archives: October 2017

Homeschooling

When I’m struggling God often speaks to me using analogies. (If you read many of my old blog post you may have picked up that I absolutely love analogies.) For the past several months I’ve had one specific battle that keeps coming back again and again…a lesson I can’t seem to master, apparently. Recently the battle came up again and I was in the middle of praying about it when God suddenly gave me an image of the situation that gave me a whole new perspective.

He took me back to my days as a little kid who was just learning to read. This particular memory was of a day when I was not doing well at my lesson. I was getting very frustrated and weepy because it was “too hard” and I couldn’t figure it out, but my Mom was too smart to let me quit just because I wasn’t making any headway. So she kept pushing me, telling me to sound the words out until I got them right. When I finally did get them right, she let me be done with my lesson for that day.

God used that memory to remind me that while my mother was my teacher then, my heavenly Father is my teacher now. (Long story, and one which I explained a couple years ago.) Funny enough, it kinda means I’m still getting homeschooled to this day. šŸ˜‰ Anyhow. God reminded me that as my heavenly Father, He teaches me in much the same way that my mom did that day so many years ago. He doesn’t let me quit a lesson just because it’s “too hard”. He keeps pushing me to practice (you, know, like how you have to do twenty long-division problems in a row until you can get them right every time). He loves me far too much to let me take the easy way out, but once I start to get it right He lets me rest and have a break from the lesson.

And so, in the middle of struggling with my ongoing battle, that picture was just what I needed to keep me plugging away at my lesson. My heavenly Daddy-Teacher knows what He’s doing by pushing me. I choose to trust His wisdom. If He says I’m big enough to take this lesson then I know He’s right and IĀ will get it. I just need to keep practicing faithfully.

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A Divided Heart

At my church here in Sterling we’ve been working through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and this Sunday the portion we looked at was Matthew 6:25-34. You know, the whole segment about not being anxious. I went into the sermon not expecting to be too surprised by anything the pastor said about it; after all, I’ve heard those verses a million times and I even memorized them as a kid.

But as I was listening and reading along, something new struck me. It was the first word of the first verse we read.

“Therefore…”

Wait a minute. When you see a therefore in Scripture you’re supposed to look back and figure out what the therefore is there for. (Don’t think I’m good at making plays on words. I heard that one a long time ago – I just don’t remember when or where I heard it.) So I looked back up at verse 24.

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Then verse 25 follows up immediately:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

I like to write notes and thoughts in all the blank spaces in my Bible, and at the end of verse 24 I have written that referring to serving money is really materialism, which is idolatry and despises God. Well, this Sunday as I was pondering the connection between the section on serving two masters and the section on worrying, I realized – the “therefore” is there because worrying is materialism. It is valuing your material circumstances so highly that it affects the way you live and view life. Valuing anything to the point that it controls you is idolatry.

Let me say it again: Anxiety is idolatry.

As I was considering that, the pastor gave a definition of anxiety as “to be distracted or divided”. There it is again. Divided between two masters – God, and the thing that is consuming your mind and keeping you up at night. By devoting your thoughts and energies to worrying, you in turn despise the Lord, because you can’t serve both at the same time.

It’s funny, because everything I’ve been studying and listening to recently is tying together. If you remember, on Saturday I wrapped up my ramble by sharing Psalm 86:10-11. Here it is again for your reference.

For You are great and do wondrous things; You alone are God. Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.

In addition, I’m currently readingĀ Loving God with All Your Mind by Elizabeth George and it has been talking about how instead of worrying we need to consistently and intentionally think about what is right and true rather than what is imagined. The pieces all go together. Anxiety is dividedness. Dwelling on truth is the proper alternative to anxiety, one that unites a once-divided heart to be able to reverence God as He deserves. We cannot serve God and our worries. We must choose truth and a unity of heart so that we can fully serve Him as our one God.

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Loved

My God loves me so much! He knows that I struggle to be able to sense Him speaking directly to me, so sometimes He sends me the sweetest reminders through my friends. Earlier this semester one of my roommates told me about a very intimate time she had with God. It was a really neat story and it encouraged me greatly – but what blew me away was what she shared at the end. She told me that as she was wrapping up her time with God, He directed her – no, enthusiastically prodded her! – to tell me all about it. Why? Just because He knows that I need stories like that to encourage me and to help me to grow closer to the God I struggle to sense on my own.

Yesterday a completely different friend who I have only known since August did it again. We’ve talked about writing and art and cooking and photography and furnishing apartments (she recently got her own place and I’m looking into getting an apartment this summer), but we’ve never really gone into anything much deeper than that. Until yesterday, that is. She shared with me about a bunch of deep things that God has been teaching her in the past couple months and how she has been growing closer to God, and we had a really wonderful, deep conversation – the kind of amazing conversations I crave and get frustrated when people aren’t willing to have. And then at the end…you can maybe guess what’s coming…she told me that God had been telling her to talk with me. *Really* talk with me. Why? Just because He knew that her stories about God and her deep conversation would be a huge blessing and an encouragement to me.

You can’t convince me that God does not love His children dearly. To see that He loves me enough, not just to give me little blessings all over the place – and He does, constantly – but even more to specifically tell people, “You should tell Calista about that; she will love to hear about it!” — I can’t even comprehend it anymore. My God continually opens my eyes to just how very much He loves me, and my mortal being can’t even handle the thought of it. My own love, even were it to attain impossible, complete perfection, is far, far too poor a response to offer my Maker for this wonderful, overwhelming love He gives. I am bankrupt, over my head in a marvelous debt that I can never ever repay in a million lifetimes.

And this…this is the God we serve. This is the God whom we strive to know and love for the few years we have on this tiny planet. I – you – we are loved by the most powerful, awesome, perfect, and overwhelming Being in all of eternity. How can you beat that??

“For You are great and do wondrous things; You alone are God. Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.” ~ Psalm 86:10-11

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