Sunday, January 22, 2017

On Peace and Pleasure


You will make known to me the path of life.
In Your presence is fullness of joy.
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.  
Psalm 16:11 (NAS)

Last Sunday I came home from a week-long trip to Florida and the Bahamas.  I thank God for the good things He has created for our pleasure:

white, sandy beaches, seagulls flying, dolphins playing in the waves, good food on the cruise ship, interesting people to meet. 

So many good gifts He delights to give us. 
And so sweet that He delights in our enjoyment!

He loves to watch us enjoying things. 
He begs us to throw ourselves onto His mercy and goodness,
to abandon ourselves to joy! 
He is so good. 

But the best blessings on this trip, besides the reality of His loving presence with me as I enjoyed the sand and sea, were my two girls.  I had so much fun being with them.  I am so proud of them--the way they think and act and speak.

It wasn't all pure delight. There were some eye-rolling moments. We don't always share the same idea of what constitutes pleasure.  Adri would not let me feed the seagulls so I could get their picture flying over us.  And I nixed her suggestion that we get matching tattoos to commemorate our trip. But we love each other, and it was pure fun for me to be with both my girls. 

I loved watching them enjoy the sand and sea and food and new friends, and in that way I was enjoying what God loves to watch.  He delights in our abandonment to healthy pleasures. 

I HATE how Satan has distorted those pleasures.  We gave him permission to do that.  Our great fruit-tasting experiment destroyed our ability to enjoy.  It bound us, instead, to fear and pain and despair.  But I praise God for solving that problem through Jesus' death and resurrection! 

I LOVE being able to connect with my Creator, through Jesus, and so to have those Eden-pleasures restored to me, even in this dark, sin-cursed world. 

On the plane ride home Adri became faint and needed some care.  The cabin crew were sweet and helpful, and the emergency room nurse and his fiance--Good Samaritan passengers on the flight--were as well.  But it was eye opening to watch them minister to her.  The young woman engaged to the nurse shared the anti-anxiety medication she carries with her on airplanes.  And when I told the flight attendant that prayer was my anti-anxiety medication he said,  "That works for some people," but he carries medication for himself too.

I remember my struggle with anxiety as a young woman,
being overwhelmed with a panic I could not control,
finding it impossible to resist being afraid of invisible evils that seemed to surround me. 

But over the years God has led me so deeply into relationship with Him that I no longer need medication. 
He has shown me that there is nothing to fear. 
He has proven, over and over, that my trust in His loving care of me is justified. 
He has anchored my joy in eternity.

The struggle against fear is more intense in today's world. The threats are now global, and our amazing technology makes sticking our heads in the sand impossible. 

But the cure for that fear is the same. 
Just as real and powerful as ever. 

I pray that those sweet people we met on the plane will find the deep peace that comes from knowing God--the peace that rests deeper, and lasts longer, than the peace medication provides.

He is so good!
I love being able to rest in that reality. 
I love being able to enjoy the good gifts He surrounds me with here on earth,
I love anticipating the pleasures that will be in His right hand, forevermore!

Thank You, Lord, for making known to us the path of life.
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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

APPOINTMENTS WITH GOD


I discovered a slightly different translation of Amos 3:3 a few weeks ago and it has revolutionized my thinking about my times with the Lord.

The NAS (New American Standard) translation says: 
"Do two [people] walk together unless they have made an appointment?"

Wow.  I'd never thought of my quiet times with God as being meetings, or appointments.
 
Previously decided upon.
Pre-arranged.
What a concept!

Since my discovery of that translation of the verse, I've made a deliberate decision to see those times we spend together as appointments, and my perception of them has changed in ways that have blessed me.

1.  It's given my quiet time focus.  Appointments are deliberate.  They're arranged for an agreed upon time, in a specific location, with at least some idea of an agenda.  There is a reason for the meeting.  And in the meeting people interact deliberately.  They don't just sit together playing on their iPhones.  They don't take each other's presence for granted.

2.  It's also made me a little embarrassed.  I have taken His presence for granted in the past.  Though I don't bring my phone (well, not usually), my mind and heart are not always fully present.  Sometimes I'm not even thinking about the fact that GOD IS THERE.

I know.  How could I?  It's horrifying when you think about it.  I mean. . .the God OF THE UNIVERSE is IN THE ROOM!

Seeing these times as deliberate meetings has made me sit up a little straighter and even scoot the pillows away from the spot beside me on the couch so there's room for Him to sit.  (I'm embarrassed about that too, but there you have it.  It's because I'm beginning to really believe that HE IS THERE.)

3.  It's improved my manners. In the past I've often just shown up in His presence whenever I felt like it.  I've plopped down on the couch, expecting He will be there waiting for me. 

And, of course, He is.  Since God does not live in a time zone, He doesn't have a schedule to keep.  And because He's not limited by space, when I come into the room for a meeting He's already there.

Waiting patiently.
Without hurry, since He has no watch to look at.
Without judgment.  He knows I'm scatterbrained and rude and impetuous. 
He loves me anyway.

He waits while I jump up in the middle of our conversation to pour myself a cup of coffee, or to answer my phone.  (Yes, it's not so far away I can't hear it ring.)  Or because I've remembered something I need to add to my "To Do" list.

And when I'm finished talking (Oh, the shame!), I sometimes get up and leave without even saying good-bye.  Or I might glance over my shoulder as I rush out the door and say, "Are you coming?"

Lately when I do that I've noticed He's not moving.
Sometimes He beckons to me.

"Come back, my precious daughter.
The meeting's not over.
I have something else to say.
Will you sit down and listen for a minute?"

That minute is always enlightening.

4.  So I'm learning to listen.  Not always.  It's a hard habit to break, that jumping and running when I'm through talking.  But we're working on it, and this new perception I have of our times together is helping. It's making my walk with the Lord more deliberate, and I'm being blessed by that.

I checked on Bible Hub and found that translators differ in their interpretation of Amos 3:3.  As is often the case with verses of Scripture, each translation reveals a different, and equally stunning truth.  God's Word is like a multi-faceted jewel.  Click here to discover how many different slants God puts on His Truth in Amos 3:3.


And have a deliberately God-blessed day.