What exactly does it mean? This word came up in a conversation today and it seems important to explore the concept. It is the 4th basic doctrine in Calvinism.. but that does not exactly shed light on its true meaning.. does it? Calvin used that term to communicate the way that the Holy Spirit works on the hearts of those who hear the gospel. It refers to the inner working of the spirit.. in places we cannot see.. that draws us into a relationship with God. What that means for us is that we cannot take credit for having responded to the Lord since He was always pursuing us..even when we did not pay any attention to Him or His people. It is very reassuring to know that God takes the initiative with us and desires to be in relationship with us when we think we are fine without Him. He works through circumstances, books, movies.. music.. relationships..nature.. He uses everything to seek us out.. to draw us closer to Him so He can pour out His love into our broken hearts.
I love the fact that nothing is too hard for Him.. that He seeks us out.. that His love is so large that we only get glimpses of it… God is at work in our world.. He never tires of revealing things to us.. pursuing us and healing us. One of the worst things we can do as believers is make Him too small.. if we make it all about us and our abilities we have missed the point.. He is able to do more than our human minds can comprehend. Ephesians 3:20 says:
“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.”
Read that again slowly and allow it to sink in. How is He able to do more than we can ask or think? ( some translations say imagine) Through His mighty power! Are you making Him smaller and less powerful than He is? If you are you are not alone.. in our insecurities we often think we make our roles more important than they are. God is the one who finds us.. His grace is irresistible.. that means He finds the keys to our hearts and unlocks them so we run out to meet Him. I remember when I realized the sovereignty of God at a much deeper level in theology class and I was amazed.. God was so much more involved in everything and I could trust Him in a much greater way than ever before because of this new revelation of His goodness. It was life changing!
My prayer for you is that you will be set free from any bondage that is keeping you away from the Lord.. any condemnation that causes you to believe that someone’s eternal destiny rests on your shoulders. Your God is huge and He will never stop pursuing you and those you love.. He is at work in mysterious ways fulfilling every plan that He has put into place!
I am following up on my last post. This is a season of growth for me.. particularly since I wrote my last post.. God is revealing things that I really need to see. I am reading things geared to people in my age range.. written by believers who are struggling with the same issues I am facing. After lots of prayer and confession, God is helping me realize the beauty of this season. Instead of being negative about my age, I am feeling thankful that He has allowed me to stay on the earth.. in this life for 66 years.
My life over the last 15 years has been richer and more challenging than anything that I could have imagined. I am grateful for this season.. so many of my dreams have come true.. there have been surprises that I never expected. As I battled with the temptation to judge myself and my accomplishments.. the voice of God spoke to me ” Be grateful and remember how I have protected you and provided for you for all these years. Expect more. Look ahead prayerfully and with anticipation.” He is also cautioning me to drop my disappointments and embrace my failures. He warns me to stop cynicism, anger, unforgiveness, and bitterness at the door of my heart and turn to Him for cleansing and renewal.
I am so excited about this next year and I hope you are too. God is good.. trustworthy and faithful. If we remember that.. we have all that we need in every situation and at any age. He will not abandon us!
Happy New Year and God’s blessings on you!!!
“Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.” ( from psalm 27)
I’m focusing again on my word for this year ” Rest.” It is elusive.. hard to truly find in this world. When I think about resting, I envision a place where there is no pressure.. or stress and lots of time that is not filled with responsibilities. Definitely not life on earth, is it? No, while we are here we will have trouble.. that is what the Lord has said and He said it for a reason. We cannot escape the pressures of this life.. when one lets up another seems to take its place.
For me, I just want a season where it is less intense..some space to recover from all the changes of the last decade. I am asking God for this and hoping that He agrees. Meanwhile I am taking a couple of weeks to reflect on my life.. a practice that I totally believe in. It is helpful to look back and see what has happened..especially when you are weary. Instead of feeling condemned for feeling tired and worn out.. I can have grace for myself. It is absolutely OK to need ” rest.” I know this is counter intuitive when it comes to our busy culture. but God invented rest and rested Himself. It must be important.
So I am learning to ” rest” outwardly and inwardly. To trust God when I am too exhausted to accomplish anything.. to contribute..to make a difference. He understands my limitations and all the pressure comes from my own expectations.. not from His heart.
“And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.”
That is what I experienced in the last couple days..God’s unchanging grace. We are going through an unexpected trial right now ( are they ever expected!) and I had a very bad day yesterday. I felt like the grace of God was not to be found..I was left with my own raw emotions. It was not a pretty picture. Old angry feelings emerged..scenes from the past haunted me..I could not find God. I felt so alone.
Thankfully I had the presence of mind to cry out and ask God for faith and encouragement..even though I was angry at Him for allowing these circumstances. Of course He was right there and even before I went to sleep I began to sense the grace again..the encouragement and the hope that I thought was lost.
This small experience was enough to remind me that I need Him every single moment and that there is no place to go during the trial except straight to Him..even with all the anger and unbelief. He does not change. His heart is the same and He is not at the mercy of His feelings..because His love for us is much deeper than anything we understand.
I woke up this morning with a scripture that God has given me over and over again..He gave it to us at our wedding and it is a promise that I hold on to with all my heart. I hope it brings encouragement to you today.. He is our redeemer and His promises are forever.
Here it is:
“The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you. Once again you will have all the food you want, and you will praise the Lord your God, who does these miracles for you. Never again will my people be disgraced. Then you will know that I am among my people Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and there is no other. Never again will my people be disgraced.”
We are celebrating this weekend. My husband and I have our anniversary on March 30th and this year it is the day before Easter. We met on the day before Easter 12 years ago and we got married a year later on the day before Easter..that year the date was March 30th. We actually picked our wedding date because we wanted it to be on the day before Easter. I love this time of year and I feel like we must be deeply connected to it. Even our last name, Feaster, has Easter in it:) God does have a great sense of humor!
We will celebrate our marriage tomorrow and then on Sunday we will celebrate the event that enables us to have this wonderful life that God has given us. We have so much to be grateful for. My life was in shambles 14 years ago and now it is overflowing with blessings that I could never have anticipated. This great God has given me abundant life, not a perfect life, but one overflowing … filled with new things that He is doing in me and around me. He is my source and my companion, my comforter and my friend.
Take time to appreciate God and His good gifts this Easter. Remember His goodness and His faithfulness. Easter is just the beginning of a brand new season.. embrace it . Watch for what God is doing and join in.. you will not be disappointed!
“Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
This time of year brings up lots of memories.. It’s the holiday season that seems to be the trigger. We all have memories of the past..some more difficult than others. The past is part of us..we cannot change it.
I am reading a great book called “A Grace Revealed” by Gerald Sittser. I found a book written by him 13 years ago when I was widowed and drowning in a sea of grief. the book was called ” A Grief Disguised.” In this first book he shared about his journey through grief after losing his mother,wife, and daughter in a car accident. He and three other children survived. My loss seemed insignificant compared to what happened to him.
It has been over 20 years since that accident and he recently remarried. His children are grown now and he is able to look at what happened from a greater distance. There is a chapter in this new book called Redemptive memory. I want to share a quote with you..it is powerful.
“It starts with redemptive memory, which enables us to remember the past differently..not as an ideal to which we would like to return or as a regret we would like to reverse, but as one chapter in a larger redemptive story we can continue to live out in the present moment. God is in the past however ideal or horrible: He rules over the past, as it is, to work redemption. He makes all things serve His redemptive purpose. There is no Golden Age to which we must return, no hellish experience that consigns us to a lesser life. There is only one God writing His story, a story of redemption…Nothing is beyond the reach of God’s grace and power. We can therefore trust that God will use the past to work redemption in our lives, which frees us to trust Him and obey Him in the current circumstances of our lives.”
So take heart..your life story is part of God’s work on the earth. He is at work in your life today no matter what has happened in the past. He has written a larger story that is more wonderful than anything we can imagine..no one is left out.
The love that God has for us is “true love.” We often refer to it as unconditional love. But do we really know how to receive it? Growing up in a family where there were unspoken conditions and God’s love was never mentioned.. I have struggled to embrace this love that He offers. Without realizing how deep it has gone, I have always performed for Him.
In some way.. I am re-creating the same dynamics that existed in my childhood. My parents were very successful, both held doctorates and earned quite a bit of money. They were intelligent intellectuals.. thinkers. I was not and knew I could never be what they were. So.. I was the “perfect” daughter.. the one that excelled in school and tried never to bring them any pain.
Once I began to follow God and nurture a relationship with Him, the same pattern emerged. I worked in ministry, tried to be a perfect mom and wife, keep the house just right and basically performed for Him. The ministry experiences were messy and so was our home. I married an addict and was far from the perfect Mom.
God’s love was such a mystery to me.. I think deep down I felt that I had to keep performing or He would soon give up on me. I raised the bar higher and higher until I almost collapsed..
God has me in a healing season..helping me to receive the “true love” that only He can deliver. I can’t perform the way I once did.. I am beginning to realize that this is a blessing for me. I know now that I may never “do” some of the things I dreamed I would do. God is OK with that.. in fact He is behind that whole idea. I can almost hear Him saying ” I love you with an everlasting love.. I created you and my love for you is not based on anything you ever say or do”
“God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!”