Thursday, July 9, 2015

The power of the insignificatly great.....

When the sorcerers of Egypt couldn't duplicate the power of the plague they said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." (Ex. 8:19)  Almost every translation uses the word 'finger,' meaning it was quite specific.  Now I wouldn't call a huge swarm of gnats a minor sign, it's the impossible made possible, but I love the picture here of the use of something that sounds small, God's 'finger'.

A plague of gnats with his finger.  Creation with His voice.  Think about the possibilities of what God can then do with His whole Being.....

It seems, however, that God often chooses to work through subtle, small things like words, choices and minor steps of faith and obedience.  And that's how great things begin.

Growth begins subtle and small:

"Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
~Romans 12:2

Being 'conformed' to this world' doesn't have to start big.  It simply requires a focus on it, a leaning into it----like a pillow leaving marks on your face.  It doesn't require active action, passive will do.  It's a consistent choice in the small stuff, a nod to the life of the road most traveled, taking the easy way out.

Transformation to become more like Christ also isn't necessarily strongly active in application, except for our focus. Transformation can happen just by consistently leaning away from the world and towards the Father---and in the quiet space left, God renews.

So many voices shout and cloud our minds making His will hard to discern.  But when the mind is renewed the other voices become silent and we can hear His 'still, small voice' speak---and that is no small thing.

I read the other day some similes told by Jesus that illustrate the power of transformation kind of stuck in between parables, so simple that it's easy to just breeze on by:

"He said therefore, "What is the kingdom of God like?  And to what shall I compare it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches." 

And again he said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God?  It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened." "
~Luke 13:18-21

The small, hidden, private things can become great in the Kingdom despite seeming insignificance or outside appearances.  Seeds WILL grow.  Yeast WILL permeate the surrounding dough.  Things 'of the kingdom' will impact and infiltrate and multiply the seemingly insignificant things that surround it.  Part of transformation is planting that simple seed, adding the yeast of His Word, allowing His Presence to be planted in our hearts to grow.

My cat adores me.  Not because of any great achievement of mine, I'm sure, but because I'm the hand that feeds her.  Right now she's sitting on a railing about a meter away whirring and purring for no other reason than because she's near me.  When it's her idea (cat owners will understand!) to sit on my lap she expects not only to curl up there, but she wants my hand to rest on her as well, hemming her in secure, protected, and comforted.

"You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me."
~Psalm 139:5

Our 'master,' our Source is holding us each moment as well.  Like a cat we may or may not choose to acknowledge Him----but He's there all the same.  Hemming us in, leaving the loving imprint of His hand (or even His finger!).  Transforming, renewing, planting seeds, adding yeast.  So lean right on in.

Feel like nothing's happening in your world?  Seeds are growing.
Think you have nothing to give?  Yeast is quietly rising.
Disappointed in yourself right now? The imprint of the Maker is transforming---just give it time.

Frustrated with someone in your life?  Give them time as well.  You have no idea what's been planted and what seemingly average material in their lives may be destined to gloriously rise.  Love them where they are NOW and give quiet transformation a chance.

Small, insignificant things grow with purpose to become great. "Do not despise these small beginnings...," (Zechariah 4:10) in our own lives----OR in the lives of others.

More photos by Anita van der Mespel because they're so amazing! 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

When healing comes slow.....

We moved to India in time to celebrate a major event in the community that we became part of, the one year celebration of sobriety for one of the women.  It was a huge victory in the life of this particular woman and included congratulations, prayer and cake for 150.  But only a few months later pain overwhelmed again and one night we heard her drunken voice causing a scene, signaling another period of time of relapse before more healing occured and she began her sobriety clock once again.

Freedom usually isn't instant.  It's a process.

This morning I read about Abraham's children finding their freedom from a life of oppression in Egypt.  While God could have instantly caused Pharoah to set them free, it was a process instead.  A process that showed His awesome and mighty power.  A process where the Children of Israel got to see first hand just what He was capable of and experience His care for them.  They had to learn persistance in the process and when they finally left Egypt, the journey had really only just begun.

It can be hard to watch people that we love struggle, it can be hard to struggle ourselves.  We want a quick and easy 'fix,' but the process of developing a holy persistance isn't one to be avoided or rushed.

 "And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves,  for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’?  I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence (other versions say 'shamless persistance, importunity, audacity) he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened."  ~Luke 11:5-10

There's something powerful about a faith that just won't quit.  It takes a backbone, it takes action, it takes the courage in the words of Winston Churchill to, "Ne-vah, ne-vah, ne-vah give up."  God invites us to approach Him with this kind of 'audacity.'  While earthly parents grow weary of a nagging child, God wants us to tenaciously cling to and ask of Him---because He's where our real strength, endurance and answers lie.  

"Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually."
~Psalms 105:4

There's someone heavy on my heart today who is on a journey towards freedom.  I want complete freedom so much for them, healing from deep, unjust wounds.  God in His mercy is bringing healing, but it's not been an instant process.  It's still miraculous in that wholeness is coming--but it's been a journey of up's and down's along the way.  I know He's been working in their life but I realize now that He's building perseverance in ME through the process as well.  Holy persistance to not give up, to not give into despair, to keep knocking at the door of Heaven today and tomorrow and the day after because deep, enduring healing is coming.  

"...for we walk by faith, not by sight"
~2 Cor. 5:7

And along the way we all get to grow through seeing Him bring victories in the process.  We get to develop audacity and endurance.  Maybe the victory wouldn't mean as much in the long run if it had been instant.  And we certainly wouldn't have had the opportunity to more deeply develop the habit to run to Him, to cling to our vine, and grow more firmly secure in the place where complete wholeness lies.

Photos today by Anita van der Mespel on her recent trip to Ireland.