Two Sides of the Same Coin

08062014 slide

Sometimes my daughter gets scared to go down the slide.  She climbs all the way to the top, looks down and suddenly starts her descent down the stairs.  “Let’s go together,” she’ll say, and one of always obliges.

When we get back up to the top, she’ll look down and then up at my face.  “Let mama go with me.”  She’ll start climbing on my lap, and squeal with glee as we make our way down the slide.

What’s scary and seems unsafe suddenly doesn’t seem as bad when plopped on her mama’s lap.

And so it is with us sometimes and our Heavenly Father.

I love this quote from Perry Noble’s book, Overwhelmed:

Well-intentioned people all too often try to reduce Christianity to little sayings and formulas that are absoutely ridiculous.  Most of the “Christian” bumper stickers out there are pretty off base.  The one that bothers me most, however, is the one that says, “The safest place to be is in the will of God.”

Doesn’t that sound so beautiful?

So poetic?

So inspirational?

But SO WRONG!

If the safest place to be is in the will of God, then what do we do with Jesus?  No one on the planet has ever been more in the will of God than He was, and He wound up beaten, mocked and crucified.

God’s will is good, but it’s anything but safe.

~Perry Noble, Overhwhelmed (p. 214)

Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den– ultimately an extremely dangerous place to be!  But God.  BUT GOD!!!  But God closed those lion’s mouths and revealed His glory, His power, His purpose.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a blazing FIRE so hot it killed the men throwing them in!  I’d say that’s slightly unsafe. 😉 But God shows up again, literally in the fire with them, and His purpose prevails as always like He says it will.

Job lost everything.  EVERYTHING.  His house, his job, his family, his health.  But God again shows up and blesses him even more in the second half of his life than in the first.

Don’t even get me started with the Israelites and Moses…  Stuck between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s vast army?  NOT SAFE!  Death seemed imminent!   But God swoops in with his ever abounding love and performs an incredible miracle in their lives.

Pretty much we can expect to experience trials of many kinds.  James 1:2-4 says: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

On one side, we can be sure that the life God calls us to is anything but mediocre, boring, or even safe.  Yet on the other side of the coin, we know that the same God does not sleep in his watching over us (Psalm 121).  Ultimately, everything that has been committed to Him truly is safe because it is under His control and His perfect purpose.

What’s hard for me to grasp is that the God who did these amazing things in the bible is the same God working in my life, too.

He is the same God in that fiery furnace, in the lion’s den, at the red sea…  If He did it for them, He can surely do it for me, amen?!  Even so, I have to be in a place where– with reckless abandon– I trust and give and allow God to come in and do His miracle.

Had Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego caved and obeyed the king, God never would have had the same opportunity to walk with them in a blazing fire.  Had the Israelites not trusted God to lead them out of Egypt, they never would have seen the parting of the red sea!  Had Job followed his wife’s advice and just killed himself after all his “bad luck,” God never would have been able to bless him so much more in the second half of his life than the first.  We’ve got to get to a place where we give Him a chance to do His miracle.

Just as my little girl fears the slide at times, knowing she is with her parent gives her the courage to take that plunge and experience something so wonderful.

Yes, I’d agree with Perry Noble on this one.

We’re not safe, yet we’re so, so, sooooo safe.  You get me?

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A Reminder For Those Weary Days

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I look up to the mountains

Does my help come from there?

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;

the one who watches over you will not slumber.

Indeed, he who watches over Israel

never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!

The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. 

The sun will not harm you by day

nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm

and watches over your life.

The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,

both now and forever.

~Psalm 121 (NLT)

I read this yesterday and was instantly reminded of A.W. Tozer’s glorious words that always provide me perspective on even the weariest of days:  “We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety; this is especially true when those treasures are loved relatives and friends.  Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed.” (Tozer, p. 19-20, The Pursuit of God)

We are safe, friends.  Everything.  Everyone.  Commit it to the Lord and it will succeed (prov 16:3) and rest in the knowledge that he does not even sleep in his care for us.   Tozer says again “God is here.  Wherever we are, God is here.  There is no place, there can be no place, where He is not.” (p. 36)  Can I get a hallelujah?!

May we be reminded, even on the weariest of days, that he keeps watch over us as we come and go, both now and forever. (Psalm 121:8)

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All Things

One of our favorite nearby parks.

One of our favorite nearby parks.

The past couple of weeks have been odd.

We had a difficult conversation with someone we love very much.  There were tears and emotions were high, as passions and convictions collided.  The very next day, the same conversation with a different person.  Oh Lord why can’t we just smile and nod?!  Why must we talk about the uncomfortable?

A week later, sobering news about someone we love dearly.  The same day, shocking news about another loved one.  And then the news that’s not really news at all– unchanging conditions of yet another deeply loved one who’s sick.  We wait.  We pray.

06272013 collageThere were joys, though, too.  Pizza from one of the area’s most renowned pizzerias.  A visit from Grandma and Bev!  Weather that calls for a crisp, cold glass of chardonnay.  Summer salads.  Cold water.  Date night (albeit at home) with my man.  A sermon that lifts up my husband who’s had a weary couple days.  Dinner with new friends!  Walks around the park.  Life group with new friends who edify and sincerely ask and pray and share food and genuinely welcome.  06272013 pizzaThe best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tasted (I promise, I will give you the recipe.  Soon.  I feel like I’m holding out on the world by hoarding this recipe to myself.  It is literally the best recipe on earth!).  And finally… My mama comes to visit today!  Hallelujah!

A girl always needs her mama!

A girl always needs her mama!

How can we reconcile the sobering news and difficult conversations with the beauty of summer’s bounty, new friends, and the sweetness of chocolate chip cookies? 🙂  It would seem every fiber in my being would say evil is at work in the bad, and God is at work in the good.  Perhaps it is that way.  Or maybe I have yet to fully understand.

Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you. ~Psalm 119:91

All things serve Him.

All things.

Everything!

Isn’t this what Urban Hallelujah is all about?!  All things serve Him.  All the time.  Every day.  In every circumstance.  For His glory, His purpose, His praise.  The good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful– all of it transcends us and can reveal Him.

A breakup can birth new life.

A difficult conversation can cultivate truth.

Surprising news can breed a multitude of blessings.

Sober news can open hearts.

Family visits, warm friendships and yummy food can build  a spirit of thanksgiving.

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. ~Psalm 145:3

I cannot fathom His greatness.  I have yet to understand!  I must hold fast to the truth that all things serve Him.  Even the unthinkable can bring Him glory.  His greatness is beyond my comprehension, but I can know with certainty because his word declares that all. things. serve. HIM.  For greatness that no one can fathom here on earth, but for greatness nonetheless.

Holding fast to these truths this morning.  Thanks for reading!

***The following song has ministered to my heart recently.  I hope it speaks to you too!

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