Monday, January 16, 2012

Making Rough Places Smooth

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16

We are blind. Whether we like to admit it or not, that is what we are. We don't know what is going to happen in 5 years, 1 year, 1 day, or 1 minute. God does, however. He promises to the lead the blind, you and I, by ways we have not known. He promises to guide us, turning darkness into light and making rough places smooth. 

Honestly, I hate to think of myself as blind. I like to think that I know what my life is going to look like and think that I have a great plan for myself. It's a pride issue. A big one! I like to think that I can see what will turn darkness into light in my life. I like to think that I have the ability to make rough places smooth in my own strength. Well, if I'm blind to what is going to happen a minute from now, how I can I possibly know how to go about my life in a manner that I think is what God wants for me unless I'm giving over my pride and admitting that I'm blind and need Him to guide me? 

This concept of blindness is nothing new for me. It's been something God has been revealing to me over and over for the past year, yet I'm so quick to forget. I even have that verse as a sticky note on my computer and forget even still. It's not just admitting that I can't see. I can do that. The big thing is saying "I can't see and I need you to lead me, Father." Then I think to myself, "Why is it easy to ask my earthly father for direction, for guidance, for help, yet so often unwilling to ask my Heavenly Father?" It's silly. With an all-knowing, all-loving, all-gracious Father, why would I not want Him to guide my steps and make these rough places smooth? 


C.S. Lewis calls this "the great sin." My Father just wants me to know Him. He wants to give Himself to me. In order to become humble, to be joined closer to the Lord, we must admit that we are proud. That is step number one. What comes after that, I'm sure, is a glorious journey in which the Father is leading His child through this mess of life, making it smooth. Not necessarily easy by any means, but He promises He will not forsake us. Will you admit with me that you're blind and proud? Let's humble ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to guide us in life, depending on Him fully to lead us. God will not let His children out of His hand. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Writing To Change The World

Writers change the world or so I've been told. After months of not blogging, I've decided I'm going to try to be more disciplined with putting my thoughts out there. God has been doing so much in my life and my knowledge of Him and the world has been increasing greatly and I don't want to be selfish anymore. Learners are earners. Readers are leaders. Writers change the world. I want to change the world for the sake of Christ. So, if you're reading this and continue to follow my posts, I pray that the Holy Spirit would use me to minister to your life through what He is teaching me. Here goes nothing! 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Depending on my Rock

School started on Wednesday and I can already see that I am going to be overwhelmed. I'm taking 18 credits and wanting to get all A's, have responsibilities with Global Outreach, responsibilities in my hall, want to be involved at my church and in the community, want to have a lot of fun with my friends, have fitness goals, want to be a better guitar player, and most importantly want to grow in my faith. All these things are staring me in the face and it's very discouraging. I want to do it all but my body and brain say, "NO! It's too much!" 
But when I look at these things, they are all good things and all ways in which I can glorify God. I don't want to give up on these things. I want to look back after this year is over having accomplished all these things and say, "God did that! Praise Him!" My body is going to fight all these things and I know Satan is going to be on the prowl trying to steal my attention away from giving God the glory in my life, but "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped." Psalm 28:7. I want more than anything for God to receive the glory and praise He deserves and in this final year of college, I see that how I can do that is to let Him be my strength and my rock and pull me through all these things I have on my plate. He is good and He is faithful and I trust in Him. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Hiking With Dad

Your dad says he wants to take you on a hike to the top of a mountain. You've never really hiked before and don't know what to expect. Your dad has been doing this for years, and you trust him to take care of you so you agree to go with him. 
You start this hike and discover quickly that it wasn't as easy as you thought it'd be. There are lots of rocks that are hard to walk on. Rushing rivers are in your path that you must cross. You fall down. You get beat up. You're tired and just want to turn around and go back home to your simple, easy life. No more of this hiking nonsense. You don't know what you're doing so why try? 
Then you look at your dad. He's climbing the rocks with ease, the rushing water did not move him, he is not tired or weary. You were trying to climb the mountain out of your own strength, but your dad wanted to do this journey with you and be your strength. He knows there is no way you could do it on your own, that's why he came along. You realize this and cry out, "Dad, help me," and he stretches out his hand and takes hold of yours. 
You continue to climb to the top. The path turns rocky, but your dad clears the path and makes it smooth for you. You come to another rushing river and he picks you up and carries you across. Day turns into night, but he knows just where to go. He says gently, "Don't be afraid. I'm not going to leave you, just stay close to me." You slip but he catches you. You are beginning to get frustrated because you've been climbing for so long and it's not getting easier. You're seeing just how weak you are and how dependent you're having to be on your dad. You want to do it on your own. You are exhausted, but your dad tells you to rest your head on his shoulder. He reminds you of how much he loves you, tells you how proud he is of you and is so glad that you came with him on this journey. He knows it's tough. He's done it all before and can sympathize with your pain and welcomes you to tell him how you're feeling. You say, "Why is it so hard? I'm beat up, my feet hurt, and I can't keep going. It hurts too much. I thought you were going to make it easier. You're not tired at all and here I am crying because I can't seem to muster the strength to keep going." 
Your dad looks at you with his loving eyes and tells you to look down the mountain. "Look how far you've come, child," he says. "Remember what the journey was like before you cried out to me and what it was like after that." You look at your bruised body, feel the sweat pouring down your face, see your torn up shoes, and then you look at your father. He's as strong as ever, still inviting you to come to the top. He brought you up this far and there is no way you can go back now. He's been there the whole time and promised he wasn't going anywhere. He said he'll carry you when you're weak, will delight in you always, and is just so excited that you're spending this time with him. It brings him such great joy. He didn't promise that the rest of the climb is going to be easy, but he'll make a way. He's hoping that this climb becomes one of joy for you, knowing in the end you will have the most beautiful view and story of how your father brought you into glory. A story of a strong, loving father and his dearly loved child climbing this mountain together hand in hand. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Final Days

Hello readers...

My time in Vienna is coming to a close. I'm very sad to leave this place, yet excited at the same time because I miss my family a lot. Over the last two weeks, it has really started to feel like home. If you would have asked me two weeks ago if I was ready to go home, I would have said yes, but since then, God has really started to shape my heart to see what He sees when He looks at this city. He has given me eyes to see a need that goes so much deeper than seeing drug adicts standing outside Karlsplatz. 
Also, in the last few weeks I have begun to see just how important this community is to me. I love the interns that I work with, Lindsay, and the Hunters so much! It has been such a gift from God to work with all of them this summer. It's going to be hard going from such a close knit community, where we have been so open and honest with each other, to a community at college where I've known those people longer, but they don't know my heart. I, as well as my whole team, have taken great risks to make the most of this summer--exposing our sins, loving deeply, and living in such close quarters--and because we loved deeply, the loss will be deep. 
Please pray that during this last week, that the God of all peace will be in our midst and we will feel Him as we say goodbye to this city and to each other. Pray that we would be able to adjust well to life back home as we go through reverse culture shock. Pray that the work that God has been doing would continue in the lives of the Austrians we have met as well as in our own lives. 

Here's my schedule for this week:
Monday: shopping for gifts, retreat time (lunch and quiet time at Schönbrunn palace), baby date with Allie, and roomie night.
Tuesday: prayer walk at International Christian School of Vienna, tourist time, date with Alli and Allie, family night. 
Wednesday: Clean the church, discipleship with Lindsay, tourist time, time with roomies.
Thursday: Clean the apartment, dessert night at our apartment for church ladies and friends.
Friday-Saturday: Debriefing 
Sunday: church activities
Monday: goodbyes, packing, and family night. 
Tuesday: leave bright and early  

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Reflections--Sonship Retreat Schladming Style

I spent 5 days in the Austrian Alps in this adorable town called Schladming with my team going through Sonship. Sonship is curriculum put out by World Harvest and I would highly recommend you look into it. The Gospel was presented in a beautiful way and I was reminded yet again that the Gospel is more than just the entryway into the Christian faith, but that it is so much more powerful than that. 

Here are some of my thoughts about Sonship: 

This life, therefore, is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness; not health, but healing;  not being, but becoming;  not rest, but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it.   The process is not yet finished, but it is going on. This is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified. --Martin Luther

We analyzed idols in our lives: things we put our trust in, desire, or fear above God and how these things blind us to God's love. Sometimes these idols can be good things that we just allow to take priority in our lives and put before God. The good news is that God never tires of forgiving us. His well never runs dry. He still calls us to Himself as His beloved children. This blows my mind and what it really did was break my heart. How can I, such a wretched sinner, be so incredibly loved and still smiled upon after all the sins that I commit on a daily basis? Still rejoiced over? (Zeph. 3:17) I thought of Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." When we present ourselves broken to God, He welcomes us with open arms as His child. The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I see my sin and my need for a Savior. Thank God that the Gospel continues to work because you cannot look at the intensity of your sin and the holiness of God unless you have a huge Jesus to bridge the gap between the two. This life is a constant process of sanctification and it is pretty messy. Sometimes it's two steps forward, three steps back. But God does not grow faint or weary and He will keep pushing us along, always looking at us with favor because we are His children and He delights in us. 

While enjoying some quiet time in the mountains, I felt what it was like to be rejoiced over. That the King of the Universe delights in me, this vapor, and a sinful vapor at that. I felt so little sitting in the middle of these giant mountains, yet felt so at peace and so loved by my creator. He loves me in spite of my sin and still wants me to draw near to Him and discover His heart. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Strength in Weakness

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.--2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

My tendency has always been to hide my weaknesses to protect my reputation, so that I may still appear to be a good Christian, a good role model. The thought never really crossed my mind that showing weakness was okay because it could point people to Christ. When I admit my weaknesses, Christ gets the glory because I show that I need Him and that I'm not self-sufficient, yet dependent on a great God. I am a weak vessel that He has chosen to be a light in this dark world. A weak vessel with a powerful God living within me. Because of this fact I can say, "Hey, I am utterly weak and without God's grace I would be nothing, but praise be to God for giving me the strength and making me a competent minister of His glorious grace. There is nothing that I could have done to become who I am today on my own. It is the work of God within me." When we admit our weaknesses, our fears, our sin and let the Spirit of God move in us, it is a beautiful, freeing thing. It allows you to delight in the Lord so much more than when you thought you could do it all on your own and when you hid your weaknesses. Admitting weakness, though at first it may seem detrimental, it strengthens you because it lets God fill you up with His strength. 

So there you have it world: I am weak. I am sinful. I am wretched. But my God is strong. He is gracious. He heals. He gives hope. He gives life. He delights in me when I cry out to Him. He saves. He loves