Monday, March 24, 2014

Level Ground

I called it the boot of shame.  If you ever watched Up and remember the collar of shame, you get it.  A dog doesn't do anything particular to get the collar.  For whatever reason, I had several friends endure the boot in the past year.  I foolishly tried to amp up my exercise routine mid-December, only to have my foot tighten up.  Like if you walked up a ladder to get out of a pool and your foot tighten?

But this wasn't just a tight muscle, it was a strained ligament and fallen arch.  In the process of stretching my foot, I injured the nerve that runs to the big toe.  So after many doctor visits, x-rays, I endured the boot of shame for a month.  It is very hard to walk in.  My hips were aching more.  Uneven ground was my pitfall, gravel too hard to balance, ice and snow - no thank you.

I thought of Scripture to speaks to making the path level for Jesus: Isaiah 26:7, Isaiah 40, Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3,   
God make the ground level for his righteous: Jeremiah 31:9.

In that boot I needed a level ground.  In my walk on earth level ground is 'easier.'  It may not be the road the world chooses, but I'm walking where the Spirit leads.  Just as God sent John the Baptist to make a path to Jesus level for those who believed, He is sending messengers to make level paths in my heart to draw nearer to Him and be in His will.  John B, as I like to call him, didn't have an easy life to the world standards.  He wasn't concerned with things of this world.  He wasn't successful in reaching everyone, but the ones he did reach were never to same. 

How do I go about making my heart level so God can do the most work?  The bumps are my self-willed desires to rule in the my kingdom.  The stubborn disobedience as I cling to the world.  The arrogant belief that I know how to fix me better than God can fix me.  I choose the time, the way and the method, even the end result (insert crazy laugh here cause it can't happen!)

Proverbs 4:20-27 speak the truth on how to do this:

20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Make level the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.

Be aware of what God says, keep His word in my sight and heart for they bring health.  Guard my heart above all things.  Keep my speech pure.  Fix my eyes on Jesus.  Follow the level path God lays before me, trusting Him.  Keep taking each step to draw nearer to Him, avoiding turning to the left or right, which will take my eyes off Jesus and my feet from His path.   

I often ask where am I making the path uneven?  Where is God leading me through this maze of the world to get to Him?  Am I obeying?

Are you?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Not my call

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
I felt the need to step out of a ministry position I held for over a year, yet I felt to many were relying on me.  See, the leader I helped announced she was leaving her position.  That left a part time person to handle things until a new leader was in place.  I couldn't just leave her.  Our prior leader said I was one of the reasons she knew now was the time to leave for a new ministry because of all the key people she had the could run things until a new leader was in place. 

All that to say I felt the demands to leave the service, yet I didn't.  I learned a lot in the process.  I was in the tough part of my classes to be a counselor and starting to write my exam.  I had cut things down - including this blog - so I could devote my time to what God said to devote my time to.  Yet, with this position I didn't.

But I learned grace to help the one who isn't confident in making decisions.  It's not possible to overcommunicate during the times when things need to get done and very few workers. 

Rely on God to fill the gap.  He sent teens to help do  some office work.  He stretched supplies so that we had what we needed.  He worked creativity of those involved so make what should have been a disaster into beauty.  He grew a love within my heart in place of annoyance. 

Then I sprained my foot.  I knew I couldn't do the job with a hurt foot.  With everything prepared I knew I should leave the service - yet I didn't.  I continued along doing a little.  Then it came time where they needed someone to do the work I did so I went back, foolishly thinking I was healed enough.  But I hadn't.  This time, I had to leave the position and I was quickly replaced.

Found out the one who replaced me prayed 6 months for a ministry!  He was so very happy to have the opportunity to serve in this way.  Happier about it than I think I ever was doing the work.

It made me wonder why I held on so tight to the position.  All the times I wanted to give it up before I thought I was being selfish or...the list of lies goes on.  God used my clinging to sanctify me.  Perhaps He used it to help my replacement be willing to serve - I don't know the what ifs. 

So what service might you be holding to tightly to?  Has God asked you to move on and you've refused?  What service has God called you to that you have refused to obey?  We all have gifts, gifts meant for service.
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