"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 NIV

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Presence or Presents

"In the glory of your presence, I find rest for my soul.
In the depths of your love, I find peace - makes me whole."

Traveling home from a worship night at church, belting out the lyrics to "I love your presence", I could not escape the last word: presence. After repeating it several times out loud, it struck me that most of the time when I sing that song, I am really saying, "I love your presents!"

I love your presents.

My heart is full of joy in response to the gifts you bring into my life. I feel close to you because you have blessed me so much. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with those phrases. But, it is not the point of the song, nor is it the way to find rest and peace.

Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say. “More, more.”
I have God’s more-than-enough, more joy in one ordinary day

than they get in all their shopping sprees. (Psalm 4:6-8 MSG)

Presence. What does it mean and how do I get to a place of enjoying his company more than his gifts?

First, it requires silence, yes silence in a loud world. I believe people are scared of being alone with their thoughts and fears. Tune it out and ignore, seems to be the motto of those around me. Rest = stillness. It gives my heart the opportunity to connect with the one who is outside of time.

Second, I focus on his presence when I continually think about the nature of God and remind myself that he is with me always. To bring rest and peace in a busy day, I turn to him over and over again. Once in the morning, right before bed, or for an hour on Sunday, as if he's a booster shot of love, does not allow me to find the depths of his love. Nor does it make me whole.

I love your presence.

...Me? I plan on looking you full in the face.
When I get up, I’ll see your full stature
and live heaven on earth. (Psalm 17:15 MSG)

When I enjoy his presence, peace does not depend on my circumstances, his gifts, or lack thereof. Because his presence and love never change, I do not have to worry. I can rest in the knowledge that he does not act outside of his nature, that everything he does comes from a heart full of grace and perfect unconditional love.

"If you want it, come and get it...  
This love that he has given you
was never in doubt."

God above and God right by my side, I want to sit at your feet and enjoy all you have for me. Help me resist the temptation to allow my praise to be dependent on my circumstances. Your presence is truly all I need. Amen.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Questioning Why

I do not claim to understand all the mysteries of God and the way he does things or refrains from doing things. Answers frequently elude me. I freely admit to questioning why.

Why? Why? Why?

Why do some people have to suffer so much?
Why do my prayers seem to go unanswered?
Why is it so hard to see the big picture?
Why is it difficult to trust that his hand of love is on every situation?

And why do I only question WHY when I do not agree with what is happening?

I do not question why God allowed me to be born in America. I do not ask why he gave me a loving husband and three healthy children. I never ask why I am privileged to openly study and write about him. It doesn't even occur to me to do so because it seems right that those things are as they are.

What I perceive as a positive situation only happens because he allowed it to. What I perceive as a negative situation only happens because he allowed it to, and it will one day fit into some ultimate good he is working toward in my life and the lives of others.

I am not expected to understand. My part in all this is to trust and to praise him for what he is doing, especially when I feel clueless. Do I have the courage to respond like Job?

Then {Job} fell to the ground in worship and said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." (Job 1:20-21 NIV)

So, the alternative to a string of WHY's is PRAISE. Worshiping who God is always takes my eyes off of my problems and puts them on the ultimate solution: Jesus. One simple way I like to praise him is to use each letter of the alphabet as a start for a trait of his that I adore. Long before I reach Z, I am overwhelmed by his love and peace.

A - Ageless
B - Before and Behind
C - Constant
D - Dependable
E -

And so on and so on. What a way to answer the question I was not even asking - who are you, rather than why are you. Perhaps if I ask Who more often, the Why will seem less important.

Ageless, constant, dependable one who goes before me and behind me, forgive me for doubting you have a purpose for all you do. Thank you for the blessings you have allowed in my life. Help me to focus on you and what I know to be true rather than on what I perceive to be unfair and unjust. Amen.