Monday, February 28, 2011

Father Abraham...

had many sons....and many sons had Father Abraham.  You know the rest, and now I bet you'll be singing it for the rest of the day!  You're welcome!! But seriously, I was reading the story of Abraham and Isaac just a little bit ago.  What a crraaazy story!  The very idea of giving up my son (or daughter), let alone as a burnt sacrifice...I can't get my mind around it.  But some other things jumped out at me too.  First, when God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, we don't see A arguing or trying to bargain for a different task. (Not that I think it was an easy decision to make; in fact, I'm sure he agonized over what he was about to do.)  Just obedience.  And not eventually, or when he finally resigned himself to obey.  No, the Bible says "early the next morning."  Now, in my opinion, early in the morning is not the time for anything, let alone something so difficult.  But A did not waste any time in obeying the Lord.  So many times I am guilty of delayed obedience.  Which is ironic, because in our house we expect immediate obedience from our children.  But when God tells me to do something I don't want to do, am uncomfortable doing, or am afraid to do, I delay.  I make excuses.  I tell myself "God didn't really tell you to do that.  It was your own idea so you don't really have to."  But my sinful nature is not capable of coming up with such ideas as: send an encouraging card to someone; or make dinner for a friend who is in need; or don't blab to your friends about your frustrations before you talk to God about them.  Clearly these things come from God, who lives inside of me by the Holy Spirit.  But still, my obedience is not always willing or immediate.  But Abraham's was.
So "early the next morning" they set out for the designated mountain.  Today I really took notice of four little words: on the third day.  This was not a quick hike in the backyard.  Abraham, Isaac, the servants, and a donkey walked for three days before they reached the right area.  That's a lot of time to think about what you're about to do.  My brain is in overdrive almost all the time.  Especially on days like today when something is bothering me.  I just play the same thoughts and imaginary conversations over and over and over and get the idea.  I can easily drive myself crazy without some purposeful redirection of my thoughts.  I wonder what Abraham thought about all those hours...well, we know from the book of Hebrews that "Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead."  So I bet he spent a good deal of time thinking about God and His power, His faithfulness to Abraham up to that point, and His promise that through Isaac A would become a great nation.  Oh, that I would spend so much time thinking about God, His power, faithfulness, and promises!!  Not to mention His love, mercy, and presence in my life.  Those are worthy things to dwell upon for countless hours! 
And when it came time to do the deed, Abraham did not shrink back, change his mind, or argue with God.  He tied up his son, placed him on the altar, and lifted a knife to kill his beloved son.  In the same way, when it came time to save our souls, Jesus did not shrink back, change his mind, or argue with God.  (He asked if there could be another way, but knowing that there wasn't...) He placed Himself on the cross and sacrificed Himself on our behalf.  God the Father did not withhold His only Son, but gave Him up for me.  For you.
Thank you, Jesus.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

a promise is a promise is a promise

Yes, I am blogging twice in an hour.  This is what I wanted to write about yesterday but did not have the mental capacity or the visual function to coherently communicate.  So here goes. 

Funny story, as told by Jason: (in case you don't know, Jason drives a Pepsi truck.  so this story happened in a roomful of truckers.) I go to work and find out I'm onlight duty and I have to run a truck with Dave.  Of the 3 routes left, one was in my zone and I knew it so I told him to pick that one.  He looked at the routes and the other two had 15 or less stops, and the one I wanted had 20 stops.  He looked at me and asked me, "Are you sure?  That looks like a crappy route."  I said, "I'm very sure.  We'll be back early."  He said, "I have to be back by 4:00...are you really sure?"  I said, "I promise we will be back before 4:00."  And then he hold out his pinky and says, "Pinky swear we'll be back by 4:00!"  And I said, "NO!! MEN DO NOT PINKY SWEAR WITH OTHER MEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Psalm 15:1 Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?

4 Those who ... keep their promises even when it hurts.
Over the last few days, for different reasons, I have been thinking about the word "commitment."  And a few thoughts have surfaced out of the frustration and disappointments of commitments not kept.
1. I am not always good at keeping my commitments.  Sometimes I say I will do something, mostly something Jason asks me to do, but I "forget."  Really, I just get distracted and start doing other things.  Or I'm not really thinking about what I'm agreeing to do, and I really do forget as soon as the conversation ends.  Or I don't really want to do it, but I agree because it's what is expected of me.  Other times I make a personal commitment that no one else knows about, except the Lord of course, since He knows everything.  Or the commitment is actually between He and I.  But still no one else knows about it. 
It's very easy to back out of commitments that are not public or involving anyone else.  But those commitments are no less important than those that are.  And I need to work harder at making less excuses and actually doing what I commit to doing, even if it's not convenient or comfortable.
2. Our culture doesn't value commitment.  This is clearly seen in the staggering divorce rate, even among Christians.  If a couple "isn't happy" or is no longer "in love," divorce is the natural and accepted option.  Instead of trying to work it out or *gasp* sacrificing your desires for someone else, one or both people simply opt out, like it's a cell phone contract or something.  But it's also seen on a smaller scale.  For instance, punctuality seems to be impossible for some people.  But if you make a commitment to be somewhere at 3:00, but you don't arrive until 3:15 or 3:30, with no valid reason, you have essentially said that your time is more valuable than someone else's.  Or that you are simply not responsible enough to manage your time properly.  Regardless, some people have no qualms about being late on a regular basis. (Please understand that I know things happen that are beyond our control at times, like illness, or traffic, or car trouble, or blizzards.  But that's not what I'm talking about.)  Our lack of commitment is also shown in the way people think it's ok to quit something they have committed to because "it's hard," or because they have since made other committments and now find themselves overwhelmed or out of time.  And at that time the more fun or convenient commitment is honored, instead of the one made first. 
Maybe I'm just being overly sensitive, but I really believe that if we make a commitment to something, to someone, or just to ourselves, we need to keep that commitment, even if it hurts.  Because everything we do, or don't do, shows our character and integrity.  I don't know about you, but I want to be known as someone who is trustworthy to do what I say I will do.  Because if I am not trustworthy, who will believe me when I say that God is trustworthy too??

Saturday, February 26, 2011

coming soon...

As usual, I have a blog rolling around in my head that started out of frustration.  And since I don't like to write when I am frustrated, because I don't want to sound preachy or critical, I was waiting for a cooler head and cleare thoughts.  Only now I'm too tired, so it will have to wait until some daylight hour.  Hopefully tomorrow.  But for now, I'll leave you with a little preview...

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
Those who...keep their promises, even when it hurts. 
Psalm 15:1, 4

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

decisions decisions

I have recently learned something about myself...I am very indecisive.  Now, if you ask Jason, he would tell you this is no great revelation.  In fact, it drives him crazy that I don't like to decide on anything, even simple things like where to go out for dinner on our rarely occurring dates.  This is not because I don't know what I like or because we have an overwhelming number of choices.  I am simply afraid of making the wrong decision.  And in the last two months, we have faced some important decisions.  Grown up decisions.  Decisions that affect more than just me and my appetite.  And I am terrified that I will choose the wrong thing and something catastrophic will happen.  Yes, I pray for wisdom and God's direction, because I truly want to live in obedience.  But I suppose the bigger fear is that I will miss God's will for my life and the lives of my husband and children.  And how do you really know if something is God's will, anyway?  I don't know about you, but I haven't seen any burning bushes, and no angels have visited me lately to tell me God's plan for my life.  So I started searching the Word for times when God revealed His will to someone.  Many times in the Old Testament it says that "the Lord said..." or "the Lord appeared ... and said..." or "the word of the Lord came to..."  God also appeared in dreams to different people, giving them instructions, or sent an angel to do the instructing.  Now, these were before the OT was written, so I guess God really had no other way to communicate with people other than to simply speak to them.  And the crazy and comforting part of it all  is the people who have those physical and visible encounters with God or his messengers and still they ask, "But how will I know...?"  Are you kidding me??  God or his angel is standing in front of you telling you what to do or what will happen, and you want MORE PROOF???  Jesus had the same experience with the Jews.  He had already performed dozens of miracles, yet the Jews still wanted a "sign to prove his authority to do all this."  I mean, weren't the miracles themselves the proof of his authority?  So I am not alone in my desire for absolute certainty before acting.  Unfortunately, God is not in the habit of appearing in my living room or speaking out loud in my bedroom.  But I do have the Bible, and I have prayer.  And I have to stop second guessing when I sense Him leading and start walking in obedience in the little things He asks me to do.  Because being afraid to make any decision is essentially making the wrong decision.  And now we all know I don't want to do that!