Breath of Heaven

For many months, our church has been struggling. The hows and the wheres and the whys are not relevant to this story; suffice it to say the church has been slowly dying and those of us who remain have been grieving our once-vibrant Spiritual community. I was ready to jump ship at the end of last year. But as DH and I talked and prayed, we realized God was telling us to stay put.

I didn’t want to hear that. I cried. I would have argued long and hard with Him, but I knew even before I began that it wasn’t worth the breath or time to go on; God would win. God always wins. I felt He was asking us to be a part of His plan for new life, health, and growth. So I went back to church, and a tiny part of me deep inside started to feel a whisper of excitement in anticipation of God doing one of His God-things.

Since that night, I have seen His plan just begin to unfold. Change is slow and painful. More friends have left the church. The lessons God has for us are hard. And yet, He is with us. God has the power of life and Life is stronger than death. Even when hope seems to be dying, we can put our hope in the One who conquered death and lives forever.

These are the words of God to the dry bones, “My Spirit will bring you back to life. I will connect you with muscles and tendons; I will regrow organs and blood vessels and cover you with skin. I will breathe My own breath into you and you will live. Being alive, you will know Me as the Lord your God.” (Ezekiel 37:5-6, paraphrase)

No matter how dead, how beyond repair, how hopeless it seems, God can breathe His life into us, and doing so, He brings us back to life (John 11:21-27). Even when we have walked away from Him, He desires us; He pursues us (Romans 5:6). He calls us His own family (1 John 4:7-10). He offers life more abundant than anything we can picture (Ephesians 3:14-20) and promises to be with us always (Deuteronomy 31:8).

God,

I find it so easy to see hopelessness and desperation as the end. When I can’t imagine a way through, I don’t believe there can be a way. Yet You are beyond all I can imagine. You work beyond my wildest dreams. You are so much greater than I can even begin to understand. Let me rest in the Mystery, Lord. Let me be at peace knowing You ARE.

Where Credit Is Due

My daughter is at an age where she demands a certain exactness from everyone around her. It is not acceptable to tell her it’s 3:00, when it’s actually 2:57. She also feels she deserves credit for any part of a project she’s helped complete, no matter how small. If DH thanks me for making dinner, for instance, DD will make sure everyone knows that she participated in cooking, even if all she did was shred a carrot. To my chagrin, I’ve noticed I share in this latter tendency.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV)

I don’t think of myself as a boastful person. In fact, I usually focus more on the negative things about me than the positive. But, that doesn’t keep me from craving accolades for my efforts, no matter how insignificant they are in the scheme of things. When the people around me don’t step up and acknowledge what I’ve done, I get cranky. And when time passes and still no one remarks on my contribution, I start getting angry. The silly thing is, often, my family and friends appreciate whatever I did, they just didn’t make the big deal out of it I was hoping for.

God,

You saw this coming from miles away and stopped it all in its tracks. You shower Your grace on us when we have done nothing to deserve it. Not only that, but You provide the faith we need to believe Your promises and receive Your blessings. You made sure there was no doubt, no possible way I could imagine that I’m doing this on my own.

My first response, honestly, is annoyance. God, I want to do it! Why don’t You let me? Why is it always all about You? And yet, when I stop to consider, I realize: this is not Your way to thwart my abilities and talent, but to provide for me what I could never manage on my own.

Your desire is to give me these gifts that I could never earn for myself, not if I spent my whole life trying. You have better dreams for me than to spend my days trying to curry favor. You have already given it to me, more than I would ever have dared ask.

Thank You for this incredible generosity, for Your grace and faith and favor. Thank You for not letting anything, even me, get in the way of Your incredible plans. Help me to remember that even though You don’t need me, You want me. You invite me to participate in Your adventure.

And thanks for giving me all I need to complete the work You call me to do. Even when I forget to acknowledge You.

Sufficient

I like to be able to plan and organize things. Not only am I good at it–I’ve spent a number of years as a professional planner and organizer–but I like the predictability of knowing what’s coming next. It feels comfortable and safe.

Over the past few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that God isn’t very interested in my feeling comfortable or safe, at least not because of my own plans. He wants me to trust Him and His plans, which He mostly doesn’t tell me about in advance. He wants me to stay right with Him so that He can lead me wherever I’m going.

And I’m right back to that trust thing again. If I can’t see where I’m headed and I don’t know the way, I have to put my trust in the One who does, even if He won’t tell me what I think I need to know. My problem is, I want to feel prepared for what’s coming next.

When I don’t know something, I try to figure it out. In general, that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s what we teach our kids: What do you think the answer is? Unfortunately, working out what will happen tomorrow just isn’t something we’re made to do. So, when I can’t figure it out, I start to worry that I won’t be ready. I can’t put everything together and make sure I’ll have what I need.

Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:32b-34, NLT)

God,

You know what I need today, and tomorrow, and next week Thursday, and whatever other days I have here on earth. Help me to remember I don’t have to worry about tomorrow, because I can trust that You are with me, no matter what happens. I don’t have to imagine every possible outcome because You already know what will be and You are ready with everything I’ll need. It’s not my job to prepare and plan it all out, just to follow You. Thank You for leading me through today and through all my tomorrows. Help me as I continue to learn to trust in Your timing and provision.