Quote for October
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen!
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I had asked Christ to be my Savior as a child and grew in knowledge about the Lord as I kept attending church. Later I rededicated myself to the Lord several times as a teenager and young adult. Lately I have been wondering why I never made this commitment to be close to God earlier. Just today I figured it out--with God's help in my worship time.
There has been a change in the sermons preached from the pulpit over the last fifteen years. Perhaps it began earlier. I was looking at my sermon notes from the past, and I can see in the notes from New Hope Church that there has been a definite emphasis on individual Christians having a close relationship with God for several years. Relationships are what has been emphasized. Our relationships with each other as Christians; relationship with the community around us, and others. Most supremely, our relationship with God.
The only name I can give what for happened to me is totally surrendering my life to God. I can remember learning about this as a young woman about to leave college. The youth pastor at my church spoke to a small group of us about giving up our plans and surrendering to what God wanted us to do. I could not do it then: I was afraid. I was uncertain about who I was, and I wasn't sure I could do what God wanted me to do. I feared I would fail in my weakness. I also didn't want to go far away to some uncomfortable place. How sad that I didn't know that God would be beside me and He would develop the strength in me that I needed.
It's also sad that there was no one around I could talk to about this. The youth pastor was about to return home to Texas because his wife was very ill with an as-yet-undiagnosed illness. And I was on my way home to stay with my parents for the summer. When I came back I was in grad school and attending the Singles Sunday School class.
A huge factor in turning my life over to God was alternative Christian music. "I Want a Faith Like That" by Jonah 33 scared me to death, but fascinated me at the same time. I wanted a faith like that, but I wasn't ready for it yet. I knew better than to pray that song as I sang it.
Many other songs that we sang on Sunday by Matt Redmon or Chris Tomlin or Robert Ruiz and others promoted an intimate relationship with God. When I went to New Hope it was my first exposure to contemporary Christian music. LOL: I wondered where I could find these songs, and my then 11-year-old daughter told me to listen to Air1 radio. All the kids knew that; I just had to catch up.
Also, I have to credit the books I read. On the front page of this blog you see books listed by Larry Crabb (The Pressure's Off). He was the first influence leading me to understand that God really does have a plan for us, and it's not the one we wanted. But it will be the best plan to grow us into the person He wants us to be. Larry teaches us that God doesn't guarantee us that only good things will happen to us because we do "the right things". Life isn't like an equation, where if you do A plus B, you get C. God's ways are not our ways. Another helpful writer is John Piper.
This month I found a way to express how my life has changed in Jeremy Camp's song Capture Me.
"You took this life that once was frail
and gave it strength where hopelessness won't prevail,
and life more abundantly!"
"You opened up my heart and made a home in me.
You lifted up the weight the world has placed on me.
You capture me, O Lord, You capture me! "
"Your beauty, Lord, I know it captures me.
Your sweet embrace it brings me to my knees.
You capture me, O Lord, You capture me!"
Now as they travelled along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.
And she had a sister named Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord's word, seated at His feet.
But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me."
But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;
but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
I can remember the first time I heard this story in Sunday School. The teacher had a picture of Mary sitting at Jesus' feet listening to Him. I identified with Mary. I wanted to sit by Jesus, too, and listen to Him.
When the teacher told us that Mary's big sister came in and asked Him to tell Mary to go help in the kitchen, I was wary. I expected the big sister would get her way, and Mary wouldn't get to sit my Jesus anymore. I was sad for Mary.
But then the teacher said Mary didn't have to go and help. She could keep sitting by Jesus! Jesus said sitting by Him was a good thing to do! I was happy. Mary got to keep listening to Jesus; then I could sit by Jesus and listen to Him, too.
I still get tears in my eyes thinking about that. I think it was liberating. Sometimes little sisters got to have their way. Women didn't always have to go work in the kitchen. They weren't second class citizens. Jesus invited everyone to listen.