Friday, June 25, 2010

Rough Roads...Reality and Refinement

"The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth."  Luke 3:5b (NIV)

The tripod on the roadside held a neon orange, diamond-shaped sign that displayed the words ROUGH ROAD AHEAD.  It was right.  Our vehicle jiggled, jolted, bumped and did the passengers we rode through the construction zone.  Then we reached the place where brand new pavement began...the transformation of that section complete...aaahh, so smooth.

I couldn't help but think, as we passed that way, how the variations in that asphalt compare to the course of our lives.

You know how you go over that section where the workers have ripped off the former covering of the road and gotten down to the layer that looks all squiggly, with wavy ridges that can make your tires skid a little?  Don't you feel that some days you are "living" in that zone?  You feel slightly out of control, unable to get firm footing.  You waver in the uncomfortableness.

Then there are those big bumps...often complete with their own  warning signs...yes, another tripod bearing neon-blazing beacon that simply screams, "BUMP"!  You better take note!  You've been forewarned. The blow feels like it could surely flatten your tire...and rearrange your vertebrae!  That happens in life that knock the wind right out of us...feel as if they could "take us out"!

Next comes that steamy, tar-y stench that surrounds you, with heat that rises and penetrates right into your vehicle.  And the gravel that flicks up all over your car's undersides and fenders...leaving traces that will remain until you scrub them off.  Ever feel like you've been poured right into the heat of that asphalt producing incinerator??  Or covered with the debris from the fallout of life taking place around you?

You are not alone.  We have all been down that avenue.  It's not easy.  But take heart.  There will be smooth roads ahead.  And our perseverance is not in vain.

In James 1:12, we read, "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him."  Earlier in that passage, James said, "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (v.4)  And remember that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  Philippians 1:6

As I said before, you are not alone.  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."  Hebrews 12:1-3

"May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance."  2 Thessalonians 3:3

Father God, please help us!  We understand that this journey called life is wrought with difficult passages...and cool resting places.  We know that You are the God of them both.  Lord, we are yielding ourselves to Your refinement, believing that You will also provide times of refreshing and rejuvenation.  Help us to persevere.  We trust You to make the rough places complete the work that You began in us.  We love you, Lord!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pursued...By the Lover of My Soul

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness."  Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)

Last night I said it right out loud.  I had a husband.  I said that I needed to get on a better schedule.  With the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, I've fallen into a pattern of staying up late (so not me!) and sleeping late (mmmm, liked that part).  The problem was that so much of my most productive part of the day...mornings for me...was being wasted.  One of the things that I love so much about summer is leisurely morning time in the Word.  I was missing some of the best of that...quiet time before anyone else is up...time when it's just me and God...well and my faithful companion, Cocoa, my little daschund.  Yeah, so I said those words, and obviously my hubby wasn't the only one to hear them.  God did.  And I think He considered it to be a prayer...and He answered!  I woke up around 4:30, laid in bed, so nice and cozy...prayed for my family, my pastor, my friends...then I knew I had to do it.  I had to get up!  God had some things to show me, some things to tell me.  I'm so glad I didn't miss the rising of the sun, the songs of praise that the birds raised, the breeze that enveloped me as if it was the arms of God Himself.  And  then as I opened His Word, he the lover of my soul...His whispers of love for me.

I went first to my daily reading in my One Year Chronological Bible, (Yes!  I finally caught up!) which I enjoy with my sister of the heart, Wendy, my sweet Mama, and my dear friend, Gloria.  At first I was a little disappointed when I saw that the reading would be from The Song of Songs...not what I usually consider to be my favorite manna from the Word.  The book of The Song of Songs (or The Song of Solomon) is often preached as a human love story, a romantic encounter...yet sometimes comical to me, when expressing his sentiments about his lover's beauty by comparing her hair to a flock of goats and her teeth to a flock of sheep just shorn.  But, as I read in my Disciple's Study Bible introduction, "Later traditions of Judaism and Christianity have used allegorical and typological methods of interpretation to extend the meaning of the Song of Songs to God's love with His people and Christ's love for the church."  I read it fresh and with a new perspective...and experienced a love that filled my soul!

This morning "I slept, but my heart was awake, when I heard [the lover of my soul] knocking and calling." (v. 5:2)  He said, "Rise up, my darling!  Come away with me, my fair one!  Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone.  The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.  The fig trees are forming young fruit, and the fragrant grapevines are blossoming.  Rise up, my darling!  Come away with me, my fair one!"  (vs.2:10-13)   He reminded me that "[I] have captured [His] heart..."  I am His "treasure, [His] bride." (v. 4:9)  He loves me.  He loves you.  He pursues us...passionately...morning by morning.  Let's hear His call and Arise!

Lord, Your love is beyond our comprehension.  Help us to not only catch a glimpse of the heights and depths of your love, but to see it boldly and clearly and believe it with all of our hearts!

My blogger friends, this morning, I felt that God was also calling me to begin something...that I approach with some fear and trembling, afraid that I won't do it justice...or complete the tasks...but I obeyed today...before this blog post.  I started yet another for brief daily devotions.  Pray for me to continue the obedience, to be consistent, to yield to Him.  I hope to be much more committed to that daily nugget than I am to this more lengthy writing.  Take a peek at Grace for Today-Daily Devotional!!