06 December 2009

The Tree

Okay, so Beth Moore is amazing... God is even more amazing. I am loving how He is using this study this week to really speak to me. I can't tell you how wonderful it has been to rest in His word the past few days... okay, so new revelation building up from yesterday's devotional time...

Ephesians 3:14-21 (New Living Translation) Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Growth

"When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen."

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT: "Draw a tree planted in soil to represent how rooted you would estimate your life to be in the soil, or assurance, of God's love. Beside the diagram, write an explanation for the depth (or lack of depth) of your roots."

Okay, so I wish I could draw you a picture of my tree, but you will just have to imagine it yourself. It is a tall tree with many roots and branches. Each branch is a different size and has smaller branches coming out of it. There are no leaves on the tree. In the center of the tree is a carving of a heart. The roots appear to be a reflection of the branches: each a different length and depth and smaller roots coming out of larger ones. The roots are named after who God is to me and their depth is comparable to the depth of that characteristic of God evidenced in my life... God as Father, Savior, Comforter, friend, healer, provider, faithful, and unfailing love.

This assignment made me realize how amazing (and accurate!) the image of a tree is as an analogy for the spiritual life. Although some branches and even some smaller roots may break and die in a storm, fire, flood, or drought, there are still many strong roots that are deep and firmly planted that do not allow the tree to be moved or destroyed. Through time and the trials of life, even shallow roots grow deeper and weak roots become stronger and new roots form and grow. God uses the storms and fires of life to trim us so that he can grow us in the way that he sees is best for his plan. Matthew and I have been two tall trees rooted firmly in our own paths and plans for life. We have been through some difficult and dry seasons and many branches have broken, but as new life and branches form, the trees grow closer together and become one tree. This is not an instant process, but a long and sometimes painful one. But it is not the only purpose for the trimming. God cuts back the unhealthy branches so that the tree can grow and live and eventually produce fruit. God is the Master Gardener. As a tree, can I tell him that I do not want to be pruned today? He only works so that I may have an abundant life in Him and that I would produce fruit for His kingdom. If I work against Him and do not allow Him to prune me, I will only suffer more. There is freedom in resting in the Master's hands.

God as the Master Gardener does not only prune, but He waters His creation with His Spirit. Beth Moore said "Through the filling of the Holy Spirit, He desires to permeate every inch of your life and fill up every hollow place with the fullness of His love." (Breaking Free, week 8, day 3).Indeed, this is how I feel today - although there is still sadness at the loss of another child, God has filled the empty place with His love. As I surrender to Him, His love casts out my fears and fills me with His Spirit, peace and love.

Psalm 90:14 "Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."

As Beth Moore says, "If we're not experiencing satisfaction, a hindrance exists and we want to identify it and ask God to remove it. Ordinarily, the primary hindrance to satisfaction in our lives is refusing Him access to our empty places."

I realized today that I have been refusing to let God fill my empty places because my desire for a child overwhelmed me. Even more, I thought my desires (and timing) was in line with His plans and promises for my life, so I denied Him access to those empty places. Now that I have surrendered to Him, He has satisfied me beyond my wildest imaginings!

Not that I do not continue to feel sadness at the loss of life so desired and so precious to us, but that I do not have an insatiable obsession for having a child. That empty place has been filled with the only One who could ever have filled it in the first place - God. There is such freedom in allowing Him to fill this place. Freedom to serve, freedom to live, freedom to be who I am without fear of failure or inadequacy. Freedom to live without shame or fear. Satisfaction in Christ is not like satisfaction of this world. It does not fade away in light of the next thing. It is complete. I feel a wholeness I have never known before. Thank you Jesus for this gift.

A new passion for God's word has been birthed from the last few days' treasures. I am so looking forward to what tomorrow will bring! It truly is an amazing adventure with God... each new day full of truth and life from His word. This is a new season in the journey. One I was not expecting, but one I am so grateful for.

05 December 2009

Lost and Found

Today my devotional reading took me to some amazing scriptures that I just had to share with you! I have been doing a Beth Moore Bible Study the past few weeks. Today's homework led me to Romans 8:38-39. I read it from the New Living Translation and it spoke volumes to me today. Let me read it to you...

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today, nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the power of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The assignment was to replace the fears of Paul with my own fears so that I could confront them and also discover the truth that not even these fears which bind me can keep me from the unfailing Love of God. I have been so bound up by fear this week. With the bleeding during the pregnancy and not having a good OB/GYN and all the other things going on with this pregnancy and my history of miscarriage, I have been so fearful of loosing this child. I have prayed daily for her protection and health out of fear of loosing another child. But it wasn't just fear of loosing her... all my other fears were wrapped up in the birth of this child. The fear that I will never be a good mother... the fear that we will never be able to go to Indonesia and minister effectively... the fear that I am not as much a woman of God if I am not a mother... the list goes on and on...

Yesterday I spent the day with my dear friend Pearcia. This awesome woman of faith is such a blessing to me because she is not afraid to speak truth into my life even when it is uncomfortable. She brought these fears to my attention and told me very plainly that the enemy will only be able to take my child if I let him through my fears. I was beginning to understand a new part of God... that trusting Him means believing that He knows what is best for me and that His ways are higher than my ways. That his love is bigger than my love and His purposes for His children are beyond my understanding. That worrying cannot add one day to my life. This knowledge did not help me to overcome fear in one day, but it helped me to see God's goodness at the end of the long night...

Last night after two days of heavy bleeding and unbearable pain, we went to the emergency room. I knew that I was loosing the baby and there was absolutely nothing I could do but trust that God would get me through the night. As the doctor performed the D&C, peace and a huge sense of relief washed over me. I would no longer have to worry about this little one because she is in the arms of my loving Father God. She is not having to suffer in this world any longer. All my fears of not being able to survive another miscarriage collided with the truth that God is faithful and loving and stronger than any sadness or pain.

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate me from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither grieving nor rejoicing, neither friends nor enemies, neither worries nor contentment, neither riches nor poverty, neither success nor failure will ever be able to separate me from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus my Lord."

As the pain slipped away and sleep came I was able to rest in a peace I have not felt for months. And this morning as I read today's devotional and did the Bible Study homework, God's gentle promises and faithfulness greeted me. My fears were confronted and I was overwhelmed with His love.

Only in death can there be life. This is the beauty and paradox of the Gospel. But it is good news. The promises of God bring new life. This word comes from Isaiah 55:10-11, again from the NLT.

"The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it."

Last night I received a fresh brokenness and burden for the lost of Indonesia. I now see that my purpose is not wrapped up in motherhood or even any performance in ministry. God's love for me is unconditional and unfailing. And nothing in all creation can ever separate me from that love. AMEN!