Praise Him Anyway

Around me hovers these clouds that limit my sight. His face is hard to see. His hand is hard to feel. His heart is hard to know. Storms rage. And the sun just doesn’t shine. For days.

I think. I work. I pray. I try to focus. I search for gratitude; hang on to the promise that God is still there, that He is good; struggle to believe.

I fight through thoughts I know are false, seek for Him who is truth. I search for the certainty that He is faithful. I choose to trust.

Even when I don’t understand. Because I don’t understand.

The office floods. I think of to-do lists 200+ lines long, look down at drenched carpet, think that Satan must be desperate to distract us, determine that he won’t win, and decide to give thanks anyway. It’s a good day. We work hard; to-do lists sit stagnant.

Another day dawns. The sun shines briefly, but everything comes with a million challenges, and the sun doesn’t help much. I fight against feeling overwhelmed all morning. Seek to remember that He is good. Climb up seemingly insurmountable smooth walls seeking gratitude.
And this is a fight. Trust me.

Next morning I wake, flip to Psalms. Get two verses into the chapter my Bible opened to.
“I will sing praise unto my God while I have any being.”

Any being?

Even if I’m dying? Even I can barely breathe?
Even when I can’t see His face? Even when all around is dark?

I see it now.
Surrender is sweetest when it’s been fought for.
Praise is truest when it is sacrifice. When it costs me all to give it.

God is glorified when His children praise Him anyway.

The sun shines again, and this time it stays.

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Always

No matter what you’ve been taught, no matter what you’ve learned to believe, remember this:

You are loved by the Faithful Father.
And you’ll always be loved.

Believe this. Live this. Love Him. You’ll never be the same.

(because I need reminded often)

 

 

Edges of His Ways

Time flies. Days pass, moments disappear.
Life is full.
Full of study, of ministry, of simply living, of taking time amidst the crazy busy to remember that He is God and there is none else.


The sun that rises faithfully each morning.
The rain that washes clean the earth.
The heavens that sparkle with beauty.
The power that stills the storm.

All this is but the edges of His ways.

To watch plans seem to shatter, and then to see them rebuilt by a God who’s always right.
To see the workings of Providence.
To watch a life be changed by grace.
To see God work impossibilities.

All this is but the edges of His ways.

To wake up each morning, gifted with life.
To rejoice in a God that is true.
To live for His favor, to know His smile.
To know that in His service is joy….

All this, yet sill, is but the edges of His ways.

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(See Education, page 131; and Job 26)

Life is nothing without Jesus.

It isn’t beautiful.
It isn’t worthwhile.
It isn’t joyful.

Without Christ, all is dark. All is sad and drear and colorless.

But Jesus….

He transforms everything.
He fills my days with grace.
He surrounds each hour with His presence.
His love fills and surrounds.
He gives my heart a song.

He is love, His service is life, and in His presence is everlasting joy.
He can turn ashes into beauty and pain into joy.

My heart longs for more of Him.
More of His grace, more of His love, more of His forgiveness and compassion.
I long to know Him more.

But not just to know Him:
To love Him, serve Him, follow Him, live for Him.

He gave His life for me.
He left His throne in Heaven. The majestic King of Kings stooped down to be a servant. He washed the filthy feet of His disciples, He associated with the outcasts and sinners.
Despised and rejected by man. Loved by few and hated by many.

Still He came.
Still He gave [everything].

He died for me. And because He died, because He conquered sin forever, because He lives….

I, too, can live.

Sacrifice

(December 2, 2012)

I thought I understood sacrifice.

But sitting at my desk Friday working my way through creating Bible lesson answer keys, I discovered I didn’t.

“Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hast cast more in, then all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”*

All that she had.

This was her last two coins**.
She had nothing more to give.
She had nothing more to live on.

She gave all that she had.

For by giving her last coins, she gave her life.
Where would her next meal come from?
Where would she find the means to live?

I look down the ages. I see people giving all that they had.

Jesus, who gave His life
The apostles, many of whom gave their lives a martyr’s death, were persecuted, spent their lives in and out of prison.
Moses, who was willing to die rather than see the people of Israel exterminated.
The reformers, many of whom died at the stake for the sake of the Gospel.
Those who today fight against the darkness, against the chains of another… with everything that they have and beyond.

Sacrifice is not giving out of my excess. It is not giving out of what I can live without.

But it is giving what I cannot live without.
It is giving my last hope of life.
It is giving my last breath.
It is giving away my last morsel of food (and not knowing where more will come from).
It is giving my life.
It is giving what is rightfully mine.
It is still giving when I am weak and exhausted and depleted of anything to give.

It is giving all that I have (and beyond)…

And nothing less.

*Mark 12:43,44
** Verse 42

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Gratitude

I love this time of year.

There’s just something that causes me to pause and take notice about watching snowflakes gently fall,
Smelling a steaming cup of herb tea,
Candlelight flickering,
Long evenings,
and Autumn slipping out and winter slipping in.

But what I love most of all is that for just a few short moments we give thanks.

We pause to remember the blessings God has bestowed upon us.
We pause to consider things outside ourselves.

We lack gratitude too much.

Life cannot be truly lived without a thankful heart.
Life cannot be truly enjoyed without giving thanks for the storms as well as the sun.
Life cannot be what God wants it to be unless we give Him glory.

And that’s what true gratitude is really about.

Giving God glory.

Counting His glory more precious than what we want. Than what we are. Then what we think we need.

And it’s only when we are focused on bringing Him glory….
On living a life that glorifies Him….

That we can truly be grateful for the rain, for the sun, for the gifts that Heaven bestows.

And that we can give thanks even if we never receive.

It’s Thanksgiving today. I have much to be thankful for, there is much I am thankful for. But right now, I’m thankful most of all for Calvary.
For it is because of Calvary that grace is power, that love transforms, that there is life.

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Of French and Me

French stares at me from my computer screen.
InDesign panels cover my desktop.
The French Truth 4 Youth style manual rests in imposing silence on my desk.
I’ve never done anything like this before. I don’t know French. I’m not trying to learn French.

When I started this project I was supposed to be checking the French edition of Truth 4 Youth for disk errors: missing slides, English slides where there should only be French, French slides where there should only be English, slides that should play a video but don’t, etc.

But this project has intensified daily in complexity and it wasn’t long before I started noticing issues with the script and inconsistencies with the French punctuation. And then somehow, I moved from comparing to examining, and then to entering the corrections for the issues that I found.

I now know why I was told a month ago to “start mentally preparing” myself to check this DVD.

This is far outside my comfort zone.
I’m deep into conditional text and all sorts of stuff that I’m learning as I go.
If I miss one thing, if I make one wrong correction, this DVD goes to the duplicators just like that. And we’re not just printing a test run of 100. We’re printing 5,000… and they’re going straight to Africa.
I’m amazed by the trust and confidence these people here at YD have in me. I wonder why they even would give me a project of such far-reaching consequence when I’ve only been on staff here since January, and how do they know I’ll give this project the carefulness and attention that it needs.

This is butterflies-in-stomach kind of nervousness.
This is stomach-tied-in-knots kind of scary.
This is Kezzia-comes-home-at-night-and-is-so-stressed-she-doesn’t-make-much-sense-and-she-definitely-doesn’t-feel-like-eating-anything kind of stress. (My housemates can attest to the truthfulness of that statement.)

There have been days that I’ve sat there at my desk and double-checked, triple-questioned, everything I’ve done.
There have been days I’ve stared at those screens and cried out to God to please help me understand; that I can’t do this; that I’m hanging onto His strength.
And there have been days when I’ve felt like I’m being torn in two, when I’ve chosen to laugh instead of explode.

You see, I’ve been chained by my believed inadequacies.
And while my heart has screamed that I’m not good enough, will never be good enough; my brain has told me that I’ve made it through how many days and I haven’t wrecked the program yet, and it’s actually getting better. It tells me that His strength is perfect; that His grace is sufficient; that I need to trust Him.

My mind and my heart argue continually. It feels like a war.
This is war.

I know that my heart believes way too many lies to count.
And what I’ve told my brain, and what I believe intellectually, is only really believed when my heart believes it too.

I repeat it over and over again to myself:
God is faithful. His strength is perfect.
I am believed in, otherwise why would they have given me this task.
I may not know French but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what I need to know.
I can trust God.

But still, I hang on tight to my fears, my doubts, my ‘what if’s’, my lies.

I haven’t really cried in weeks months years.
But my heart cries tears my eyes cannot shed.

Because I’m afraid.
Because I want to believe that I’m not really broken.
Because I left my comfort zone behind days ago and I don’t feel safe.
I don’t want to admit that I can’t do this on my own… that I need Him.

And as a friend says on his blog, “Pride is a prison.”

I believe it.

There are many things that can keep me in prison, chained by lies.

But as the same friend says, the keys to those prisons are in my possession.
God cannot set me free unless I ask, unless I turn those keys over to Him, even though He wants to set me free.

Freedom is attainable.
I don’t have to sit here being torn in two any longer.

I learned this two days ago.
That day was the most emotionally turbulent, most stressful day yet.
I was literally sitting there at my desk, repeating over and over in my head,
“Glorify God in the fire.”
It certainly felt like a fire.

But halfway through my day the blog post referred to above was made. (I love the way God works.)

I read it on one of my breaks.
I returned later that day to read it again.
And it changed everything.

The past two days have been stressful. I’ve still been terrified.
But my heart is learning to believe, to trust in God’s faithfulness, to choose to allow God to set me free.

I’m starting to enjoy this project again.
The French punctuation makes more sense each day.
I can recognize words here and there. I won’t understand it if you speak French to me. I can’t carry on a conversation. But I can tell you if a question mark needs a space before it or not.
(They all do.)

But what I love best is knowing that my King is standing by my side, and that with Him all things are possible.

And I’m filled with gratitude to have been given the opportunity to do this work…
I only pray that I learn the lesson that God is seeking to teach me through it.
And that I let His love transform my life.

(Friday, November 16, 2012)