Please join me in the Room for Meditation, for my latest devotional message, New Life–an Easter Message.
Last week, as I was pondering and praying over the direction that our future visits should take, I heard the Lord speak to me, saying quite clearly: “It is time to rock and roll, little girl (even though I have never been little in any respect, He has always called me that). This is not the time to be timid and pull back (which, as a marshmallow, is something that I tend to do)—this is the time to rock and roll!” And, with that, I knew just what He wanted me to do. This was His way of telling me that the time had come for me to get down to the business that He has called me to; which, in case you haven’t picked up on it by now, is not only teaching people what the Bible has to say, but also teaching them new ways of approaching its study, so that they can better make sense of it on their own.
Now, in case you may be thinking that God wouldn’t speak to anyone in quite this way, let me assure that He has no problem in using any language whatsoever, if it gets His point across to those whose ears are attuned to His voice. In fact, what He said to me last week was really nothing more than a modernized version of what He told the prophet Jeremiah over twenty-five hundred years ago, when He said, “But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.” (Jer. 1:17) Work in this case, for both Jeremiah and for me, was and is to give out the Word of God, whether people want to hear it or not; and for me, in particular, this work is something that I have been preparing or “dressing myself for” for over forty years.
Although I was saved at the relatively young age of eight, my real preparation for all of this rocking and rolling did not begin until much later, when I was about the age of twenty-two. This was the pivotal time in my life when, finding myself stuck in the middle of a disastrous marriage, I rededicated my life to the Lord. It wasn’t long after making this decision, that in the interest of our personal safety, it became necessary for me to take my two young sons and leave my alcoholic husband, and begin a new life on our own—a life which soon turned into an odyssey of faith from which I have yet to recover.
My training for this new life began quickly and simply, for it started with me having nothing but God and His Word upon which to rely. You see, when I left my husband, I had no job, no car, and no health insurance; just two little boys, our clothes, $200.00 in cash, and my sewing machine. For the first year, we were fortunate enough to be able to stay with my parents but after that, we were completely on our own. Now, in hindsight, I can clearly see that God had planned out a comprehensive spiritual training program for me which was designed to accomplish the following:
- Teach me to hear His voice and to trust His Word;
- Teach me how to study His Word and to see the Big Story that it presented;
- Teach me how to present and share what I had learned with others; and,
- Teach me to not fear anyone or anything, other than the Lord.
Of course, time and space will not allow me to go into detail about all of my experiences, so let’s just suffice it to say that:
In order to teach me to hear His voice and to trust His Word, the Lord impressed upon me from the very beginning that I was not to make anyone else aware of my needs, or to ask anyone other than Him for help. Once I brought my needs to Him, He would present me with some relevant promises from His Word and then challenge me to act upon them. In response to those challenges, some of the things that I was required to do were: to ask and believe for a car when I had no money, and later, to drive that car for a week with no gas; to plan and take trips with no money; to trust God to pay all of my hospital and doctor bills with no insurance; to trust God to provide places for us to live as well as ways to pay for them; and, even when little things like loaves of bread or spools of thread were needed, to ask God for them and then wait on Him to provide them. In every circumstance and situation of life, I found myself being tested and stretched beyond anything I had previously thought possible—and yet, all of this was just preparation for the next level of His training.
In order for me to move on to that level, the one which involved teaching me how to study His Word and to see the Big Story that it presented, the Lord first sent me to one of the most academically challenging schools in our state—a place where He knew I would have to learn to study and do research in order to survive; after which, He set me aside for almost a year of intense personal Bible study and prayer. It was during this time that He presented me with a new way (new at least to me) of understanding the Bible; an approach which very quickly became the foundation upon which all my future studies would be based.
Once this foundation was in place, I was able to start building upon it, and to continue adding to it through many more years of additional study. Some years later, in order for me to learn to better present the material that I was putting together, the Lord opened up a new position for me at work—one which required me to learn to use the computer. As I explained in “My Journey to the Land of Blog,” at this point, I didn’t even know how to turn a computer on and off, but as I began taking the computer courses in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint that were being offered by my employer, it wasn’t long before I was using what I had learned to organize and prepare the materials for my Bible studies.
Finally, and probably the most harrowing part of all this, has been my training in learning to not be afraid of anyone or anything other than the Lord. As an introverted, fearful, and naturally reticent person, I have, throughout my life, tried to avoid having to speak to or in front of groups of people. However, over the course of these many years, the Lord has continued to put me into these kinds of situations just so I could learn to overcome my fears. He has also, on numerous occasions, arranged for me to have to confront people and situations that I would have otherwise preferred to avoid, just so I would learn to “woman up,” and not let anyone intimidate me.
So, why am I sharing all of this with you now? Well, it is to let you know where I have come from so that you will be able to more fully appreciate and participate in where I believe the Lord is taking us next. For what I would like to do in our upcoming visits is to move us both into a new season of rocking and rolling—that is, into a new season of and approach to Bible study. In order to do this, I am proposing to:
- First, do an examination of salvation and the aspects encompassed by it;
- Take a look at the “new birth” so we can more fully understand why it is the pre-requisite to salvation;
- Do a series of discussions on how to prepare for Bible study, some of which will include:
– Understanding what the Bible is and what it isn’t;
– Recognizing the baggage that we each bring to its study;
– Acknowledging the parameters to what we can know; and
– Being open to learning new ways of looking at the Bible.
- And, finally, launch into a study of the Bible, presented as The One Big Story that God Wants Everyone to Know.
I don’t know about you, but I am excited at the prospect of all of this, and I can only hope that you will want to join me as we move on to this whole new level in our relationship. I know for sure that I am, but are you really ready to rock and roll by moving into a deeper study of the Word of God? If you are, then, let’s get going!
Citizen Way rocks out for us in “Where Would I Be Without You?”
Hi, and welcome back from what appears to have been a very busy holiday season for most of us–and let me take this time to offer my sincerest wishes for what I hope will be the best of all New Years! Since we are already well into the month of January, it would appear that we have made the transition from 2013 to 2014 without any serious calamities—except maybe for the weather, which has been brutally cold across so much of the nation this winter. I don’t know how you usually usher in a new year but I suppose that for most of us, one way of marking the occasion is by spending a little time remembering the events of the outgoing year, and reflecting on what we may, or may not, have learned as we attempted to navigate through the uncharted courses so often presented to us by such events.
For me, although I started out 2013 with high hopes and great expectations that a number of long-awaited changes would be taking place in my life and the life of my family during the upcoming year, I am sorry to have to say that none of the ones I had hoped for came to pass. There were, however, two other events, completely unforeseen by me at the time, which did revolutionize our lives during this past year. The first one occurred when our youngest son enlisted in the Navy. He signed up last winter, left for boot camp the day after his twentieth birthday in June, graduated in August and left immediately for training to become a personnel specialist; then, in October, after almost three weeks of leave, he left us for his first duty station in Naples, Italy—the place where he will spend the next three years of his life. Talk about a major change! Here was someone who had never flown on a plane until the day he left for boot camp, and now he is half a world away; well on his way toward becoming, what he would like to think of as, “a well-seasoned man of the world!”
As for the second major event, that one concerned me and it, too, was a major change that took place over the course of several months, and one which ultimately led to my commitment to do this blog. Just like my son who had never flown before, I had had no prior experience with blogging—in fact, when I started out, I didn’t even know what a blog was—and yet, as I explained in “My Journey to the Land of Blog,” I proceeded to do what was previously unthinkable when I launched out in faith in May with the posting of my first “reflection.” Now, seven months and twenty-two reflections later, I would like to believe that I am well on my way toward becoming not only “a well-seasoned blogger” but more importantly, a highly credible one, as well.
When I started out on this journey, there were only two things that I was sure of: the name for the blog (for an explanation of where it came from, see “A Detour Around the Trees”), and that this was something that the Lord wanted me to do. Because of the name, I knew that it was God’s intention for me to take the truth that He has revealed in His Word and use my voice, a literary one in this instance, to explain that truth to others; and, because I knew that He wanted me to do it, I was certain that He would go before me and make plain the path He wanted me to take. Personally, I would have liked to have been able to publish more often than I have, but discerning the Lord’s thoughts and bringing mine into alignment with His isn’t something that happens overnight—especially when family and job responsibilities have a way of diverting my attention from the task. As we all know, life keeps happening and often has a way of coming between us and the very best of our intentions.
I feel certain that there have been times when it seemed like I was wandering aimlessly—in the trees mostly—however, during this past week, as I paused to remember and reflect on where we’ve been and all that we have talked about since last May, I was pleased to discover that much of what may have seemed to be a lot meandering on my part was actually a progressive line of thought covering many of the basics of our faith, with one or two of the more controversial and possibly misunderstood ones thrown in as a bonus!
As a way of reviewing what we have done so far, I listed the titles of the reflections in the order in which they were published, and this is the way that they lined up:
- The Prophet is In, Just Bring Your own Snacks
- [For There Ever to Have Been a “Me,” There First Had to be a “She”]
- My Journey to the Land of Blog
- Life is Simple…
- …But No One Said It Was Going to Be Easy
- Welcome to the Overcomer’s Club
- [A Pop-Sized Picture of the Father]
- A Pause, and a Cause, for Worship
- The Way We Are Isn’t the Way We Were…
- …But Why Couldn’t We Stay the Way We Were?
- And Now, The Drama Begins…
- EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!
- [Predestined to Be a Child of God]
- Loose Threads…
- …And More Loose Threads
- Loose Threads Require Redemption…
- Redemption, A Story Told by Trees
- [A Detour Around the Trees]
- Treasures of Truth…
- …Truth Hidden in the Trees
- Tree Treasures, Part II
- Of Trees and Tapestries
The ones that are bracketed are the reflections that are somewhat parenthetical to the subjects dealt with by the rest: numbers 2 and 7 were Mother’s Day and Father’s Day tributes to my parents, number 13 was a reflection that dealt with the often problematic issue of predestination and election, and number 18 was a long overdue explanation for the naming of this blog.
The remaining reflections, then, followed a very logical progression of thought:
– In numbers 1 and 3, I introduced myself and explained how I came to undertake this blog;
– Then, in numbers 4, 5, 6, and 8, we moved on to address the fundamental question that everyone must face at some point in their lives—which is, what is the meaning of life?;
– In numbers 9-12, in order to further expound on life’s meaning, we launched into a discussion of the human dilemma and its origins;
– While in numbers 14-17, we learned about the solution to that dilemma, which is nothing less than the redemption that God has provided for us through Christ;
– Finally, in numbers 19-22, we were introduced to a slightly different presentation of the story of redemption—a presentation of the story as told by trees—and to two of the ways that the Lord revealed Himself to us through the story.
As you can see, in the relatively short time that we have been meeting together, we have covered quite a few of the basic, yet most important, issues of life, along with a few extras—but where does that leave us now; where, then, are we supposed to go to from here? Of course, I am always full of ideas on that subject; however, I thought that since we have gotten to know one another a little and seem to be at a relatively good point in our relationship, this might be a good time to ask you for your ideas as to what course you would like our discussions to take during the coming year. I mean, I hope by now you feel comfortable enough to tell me:
– What you consider to be the greatest challenges that you face in your Christian walk;
– If you have any problems reading and understanding the Bible; and,
– If so, which parts give you the most difficulty?
– Is there a particular subject in the Bible that you would like to see addressed?
– If you could have one question about spiritual things answered, what would it be?
In providing me with some feedback as to where you are and what your needs may be, it is my hope that we can make our visits together far more interactive and productive. Toward that end, you can post your suggestions or questions at the end of this reflection, or you can address them to me more privately through the “Contact Me” page on the website.
I hope that during this season of remembrance and reflection you will set aside a little time to think about where you are now and where you would like to be spiritually one year from now, when we make yet another transition from this year to the next. It is my prayer that we will each be able to say that we are more like Jesus than we are now; and nothing would give me greater pleasure than knowing that I was able to help you along, in whatever way I can, in that process.
In “We Remember,” the Newsboys remind us of the things we should keep calling to mind, in this or any other season.