And Then There Was That Tree

hawaii-365799_1280
A few days ago I wrote about Extravagant Dad.  In it I remembered what it’s like to walk in nature and explore God’s amazing creation.  There is just so much to savor when you are outside.  Today I took a walk with my dog, taking advantage of a bit of warmer weather here in the northwest.  The dog ran forward and back, dashing among the standing tumbleweeds and brush, attempting to stick her nose under the neighbor’s electric fence so she could get a better look at those confounded cows.  Curious of each others presence a yearling came running close to the fence as well and they had a good long look at each other.  Had I not called Sophie back, I’m sure she would have wriggled under the wire and joined in the yearling’s frolics out there in the dairy fields.

Walking made me remember I had mentioned that our extravagant Dad gave us access to all He gave Adam and Eve.  He created us for relationship and so, in giving us our adoption papers upon salvation, we are redeemed into the inheritance of God’s wonder and grace, and Papa God wants nothing more than to spend some time with us.

I allowed my mind to take a walk in what I imagine the garden may have looked like.  I see something a bit like the photograph above.  Wandering through lush vegetation I could almost see God strolling along through masses of green, chatting with His beloved children.  Perhaps they decided to name certain bushes and trees along their walk, asking Papa what he thought of it all.  Do you suppose God, Adam and Eve might have played hide and seek together?  Now that thought makes me giggle at the fun of it.

I imagine that one evening though when, as they strolled along, they came upon a site.  There, as the brush fell away and the sun began to set on the day, they rounded a curve in the path, and came upon it.  The tree.  The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord spoke to them., “Of this tree, you shall not eat.”  Have you ever spent much time thinking about why the Lord would give such instruction in this lush place?  I didn’t, I just knew what Adam and Eve were told.  “You can eat everything here, all the fruit of the trees and bushes, but of this particular tree you cannot eat.”
tree-117582_1280

I’m no Bible scholar but I’ll tell you what I think.  I believe that the children of God were told not to eat of this tree, so that there might be a choice.  This was the defining moment between God and His creation, these two new children of His that He loved so dearly.  If He simply placed them in the garden and told them they could eat anything there, then there was no choice involved.  They would simply be His little darlings, kept in a wonderful place, provided with everything they needed to exist.

No, I believe this was the choosing point.  This was the difference between having children who would come to Him, purposefully to have a relationship with Him and those who only lived off His provision.  We, as children of God, have to make a choice in order to make this relationship work.  It must be our heart’s desire to follow after Him.  Anything else results in a dictatorship.  No, God knew He had to turn His children free in the garden and see what they would do with this freedom they possessed.  The results are self-evident.

I’ve pondered that one a few times.  While I wished in the earlier days of my life the choice were not so, so final, I have come to understand the great wisdom in His act.  I didn’t really want to come to Christ in my early twenties because I saw this relationship as one I would be required to give up a lot of things I quite frankly didn’t want to give up.  By the time I reached my late twenties, all had changed.  I had lived according to my desires, learning that I wasn’t a very good steward of my life and I cried out to Him to come and be my Lord.  As the days rolled into years, and the years into decades, I’ve come to understand the value in choosing between what I want and what He wants.  There is value in His precepts because oh my, He’s God!  What I wanted was plain and simply the lusts of my flesh.

I am so grateful to my Lord for giving me a choice.  Have you considered the results of your choices lately?  Is there something you’ve continued to choose but the results are a bit confounding?  Or perhaps you simply don’t want to budge on a certain point in your life.  All I can ask is, “how is that working out for you?”  Are you getting the results you want?  If not, it might be time to either choose or to change.  Either way, the Lord is waiting for you.  He loves you no less than He loved His original children, Adam and Eve.  He simply had to leave you to choose.

——————————–

If you’ve reached that point in your life where you are unhappy with the results of your own choosing and you want to come into relationship with God, you can make that decision here and now.  All you need do is ask Him into your life by saying this prayer:

Lord, I want to make a change today.  I realize I’m a sinner and I’ve made wrong choices.  I don’t want to walk the rest of my days without you.  I know now that you, Jesus, are my Savior.  I know you went to the cross to pay the price of my sins and you were raised again — all for me.  Lord, I ask you to come to me today, come live in my heart.  I believe in you and I need you to be the Lord of my life.  I ask this in the mighty name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Welcome friend!  I encourage you now to seek out another believer and tell them about your decision.  Don’t keep this a secret!  It’s wonderful news.  I also encourage you to find a strong, Bible-based church and join in.  It might be difficult at first, but you’ll catch on.  I pray the peace of God, which passes all understanding, to enfold you now so that you know you have made the right choice.  It’s a glorious choice you’ve made!

Advertisements

Like Chickens with Their Heads Cut Off

hahn-418846_1280

The last two days have felt like something I witnessed as a child at my grandmother’s farm.  We were going to have fresh fried chicken for dinner this day and so of course, the chickens had to be butchered!  I followed my grandma out to the chicken coop where she quickly grabbed a couple of those plump chickens, methodically walked over to a tree stump there for just such moments, and with one skillful blow of the hatchet, chopped off a head and slammed the now headless chicken between a table in the yard and the back of the garage.  Pinned between the table and the building, their now headless bodies wriggled and flinched, legs scrambling in a useless attempt to get away.  As a child I was grossed out but fascinated at the same time; I finally understood where the saying, “like a chicken with its head cut off,” came from as the lesson wriggled there right in front of me.  The last two days I felt like those chickens.  Flailing mercilessly at an unseen opponent, not knowing whether to turn to the right or the left and, if I actually turned, I still wouldn’t know which way to go.

What do we do as Christians, when life changes and we find ourselves thrust into a situation that is foreign and uncomfortable, perhaps even seeming almost dangerous at the first? We do what our entire lives of listening to our pastors has taught us – run to Jesus! While I’m not going to give you a specific account of what my past two days contained, I’d like to share my process in the hopes you will gain a new strategy when you next find yourself in a “headless” state.

The news hit. My initial reaction was one of total dismay and almost simultaneously, emotions. OK, I get it, I’m a woman and I was made with emotions. A man might react differently, as my husband in fact did. While he remained calm, I fell apart. My mind catastrophized the incident; I went to every single negative place my mind could imagine as a result of this news. My husband, well I can’t rightly say where his mind went because he didn’t share much with me initially. I guess he was chewing, trying to get his logical mind around the situation.

Funny thing was that in spite of what I saw as very disturbing information, I was aware that I wanted, more than anything, for Jesus to show up in the mess. “What do you want me to do Lord? Where do I begin to unravel this mess?” I pleaded with God. I heard nothing. Coincidentally (I’m only using this word because it fits the moment, but not for even one second do I truly believe that when I cry out to Jesus, the things which follow are a coincidence), this day I received two phone calls. One from a Christian brother in our body, offering a “word from the Lord” for me. The word? It was a truly uplifting and wonderful word from the Lord, a true prophetic word of encouragement. The second call was from a Christian sister, also from our body, telling much the same as the first. As uplifting as both these calls were, they almost seemed like nonsense under the weight of what my husband and I were dealing with.

The next day was about the same. Same foreboding thoughts, same emotional response. That evening, yet another message from God from a very unsuspecting and kind man, who really had no idea what his message brought in the way of encouragement and comfort. The odd thing about all three of these contacts was they literally came out of left field. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve had someone in my church come up to me with a prophetic word! It’s probably been almost eight years ago when I was dealing with cancer and loving brothers and sisters in the Lord were interceding for me in that journey. It is with this in mind that I refute the coincidental nature of these words. I have walked with the Lord too long; whatever follows any cry to my Savior, has turned out to be His divine process in action and it is all to be savored.

So, three days into this the fog has lifted. Is it still disturbing? Yes. Is it still confounding? Yes. Do I have any inkling as to the outcome? No, not yet. But here’s where I land in the midst of this thing. I am to continue walking. I cannot guarantee it will be in a straight line because I don’t know what is waiting just around the corner in this unfolding drama. What I’ve come back to is that, in part because my sweet, sweet Lord saw fit to deliver three messages to me from people who have no idea what it’s all about, there is a way through. My job is to get my wits out of the drama of it and decide what the best course of action is – at this particular moment in time. Whatever comes from walking through this, I know He’s walking with me.

So, the line of defense is this:

1) Cry out to Jesus. Don’t wait. Don’t try to be strong. Just go to Him and tell Him what’s on your heart.
2) Allow yourself to settle in the process. Waiting two days was a torture of sorts, but I truly didn’t know what to do. So I went on with life as usual and continued praying about the situation.
3) Look for the Lord in the midst of the problem. In this case, it was the delivery of three distinct messages, sent from people in my life. I wasn’t absolutely sure of their meaning, so I continued on.
4) Determine the next logical step. For my husband and I, the next step was to go to our covering (our pastor) for his input.
5) Get into the Bible. We are searching through the Word for His truths. Our pastor gave us some really good advice on what to look for. Sometimes the relevance of the Word might look difficult to grasp but it really does address our needs in all areas of our lives. If you need help with this aspect, do not hesitate to go to your pastor or someone who is well versed in the Word for help.
6) Walk. We recognize this one is going to be a journey; it cannot be resolved today. So, we must continue on with our life as usual and we must trust that He is guiding us to what we need in this situation. We will continue to touch base with our pastor as we go.

If need be, go back to step one and start all over again!

I hope this might help you in your walk with Jesus. I may need to come back to this in a few days and remind myself of what I just said. But here’s the good news: I don’t feel like the headless chicken anymore. My peace is back. God wants me to have victory through this because He’s on my side. Hallelujah, His victories are coming!

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27 (NKJV)

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

The Wonder of Listening at His Gates

sea-shell-525853_1280

I’ve had some conversations with friends lately that ultimately had to do with listening.  “Listen for the clue of what is really going on here,” I advised one friend.  “What is the underlying thing?  We’re not talking about what is happening, but what’s behind all this behavior?” I asked.  It all had to do with high school girls and their erratic behavior.  So much drama.  I loved that my friend ultimately decided to do nothing for the time, that she would wait on God rather than jump into the fracas of her daughter’s social issues at school.

As I ponder this, I’m reminded of a time as a little girl, going to the beach and looking for shells.  I wanted so much to find one of those shells you could hold up to your ear and hear the ocean within.  I was disappointed that day not to find one and unfortunately, in the area I grew up in, such shells were not to be found.  But I remember hearing one once.  How could it be, such a wondrous thing, listening to the ocean in a shell?  I could have listened all day…

Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at the posts of my doors.”  Proverbs 8:34 (NKJV)

I wish listening for God was so mesmerizing!  He desires that we sit quietly at His feet to listen for His voice.  He desires that we sit and just talk with Him, like we do so easily with our friends.  We are told that God walked in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  I don’t think they just walked.  I think they talked at great length about all that was within the Garden, about how the day had gone, about their plans.  Why else would God call out to Adam, when one day they weren’t to be found?  He had created them (and us) for fellowship, for relationship.  Relationship requires talking and listening.

The hard part of listening for God’s voice is that he doesn’t usually talk to me like I talk with friends.  There is no back and forth.  It is usually more to do with waiting and then wondering if I’m hearing correctly.  That makes me laugh for some reason!

I was reading recently about how God talks with us.  I came across a lovely explanation from Graham Cooke in his book, “Approaching the Heart of Prophecy”.  He said, “An impression is a finger touch from God.  It is an inkling, a notion, a tiny idea in the back of our mind or the forefront of our heart.  It is a rabbit trail that leads to a goat track which becomes a pathway leading to a street, then a road which develops into a highway which becomes a freeway and the interstate right into His throne room.”

I loved this although at first I didn’t get it.  But the more I re-read this part, I got the ah-ha!  Yes, God speaks to us differently than our human experience.  And it is my job to take time to be able to feel the delicate touch of His voice that is barely perceptible.  It’s so easy to miss it at this point of the transmission.  But if I will take the time to notice and ponder it, waiting to see if it’s truly Him, it often develops into that beautiful conversation that has come straight from His throne room right into my heart.  Listening to God is a progression of thought as I notice the nuances of His voice and where it is He wants to take me.  It is seldom a straight line and it seldom ends where I thought it would.  Pure loveliness.  Heavenly.  Full of wisdom and grace.  Nothing like me.  But oh so like this magnificent God we serve.  And I know it is He.

Let’s spend some time at His gate today, shall we?