Upheld by His Love

I sit at 34,000 feet and wonder…. Wonder how it is this heavier-than-air, vibrating metal object can fly. And all I can conclude is that it is a marvel greater than my understanding.

Flight is a miracle.

When a heart lets go and flies free.
When one chooses to say “Yes” to God.

Disobedience, fear, distrust? They keep us anchored down.

To abandon all, to trust God, yeah it’s scary sometimes.
But only in abandon is there freedom. Only in trusting Him can we fly.

I fly with wings of metal and fiberglass; upheld in air.
This heart flies on wings of trust, belief; upheld securely by His love.

He doesn’t let us crash. Oh, I could choose to alright, and sometimes (read: all too often) I do. But as long as my life is in His keeping I can rest securely in His love.

He my refuge. He the one who fights for me. And, always, underneath me are His everlasting arms.*

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*Deut 33:27

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Unshaken Confidence

He knew he would not be ashamed and so had set his face like a flint.

There would be no turning back, no turning aside. No believing anything other than what God had told him.

He was confident in this because God was near to Him. Because God had promised to help him, he knew that he would not be confounded.

He knew Truth. And Truth kept him steadfast.

And even though at times all around was confusion, he believed God and remained unswayed.

His face was set. There would be nothing else.  Nothing but God’s truth.

In this a challenge rings true.

Do I trust God this much?

Do I believe that what He has said He will do?

Is my face set like a flint, so that the confusing thoughts Satan throws at me will serve not to confuse but to strengthen Truth in my life.

God’s promises are new every morning.

They never fail, and they never run out.

And that’s because the God who made the promise never fails and never runs out.

The promises aren’t what we trust, it’s the God behind those promises.

He promises:

And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.  (John 8:32)

My grace is sufficient for you for My strength is made perfect in weakness.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I will never leave you or forsake you.  (Hebrews 13:5)

God is faithful. Isaiah knew this and he would not be dismayed.  

We can know this too.

And in this God  I, too, can find the confidence that will never be shaken.

(Isaiah 50)

Called by His Name

Isa 4:1

To be called by a name indicates belonging, possession.
And I am called by God’s name.

I belong to Him (He has bought me with His blood).
He accepts me as His child.
He has possession of me (I belong to Him).

And what’s more:
My character is associated with my name.
When someone says my name they instantly know who I am, what I am like.

To be called by His name is to take on His character…
Or else cause Him to be known by my own faulty character (and thus dishonor Him).

To be called by His name is to be transformed into His image.
To trust Him to take care of me, to feed me, to clothe me.

But far too often, like the women in Isaiah, I want to be called by His name….
To have the benefits, the protection, to be no more reproached;
But still to take care of myself. Feed myself, clothe myself….keep my own character.

But it doesn’t work that way.

To be called by His name is to be owned by Him, to belong to Him, to be transformed by Him. It is to be clothed by Him, to ditch the inadequate garments I provide for myself (my ‘righteousness’) and to be covered in His perfect righteousness. It is to be fed with His bread that satisfies completely.

It is to let Him take care of me.

I can’t be called by His name and still go through life living my life my way.
I have to live the life He calls me to live, His way.

Surrender? Abandonment? Yes, it’s scary.
Because right now I have control, I know what’s coming next.
And to let Him have control, to plan my life for me, to transform my character into His seems way beyond comfort.

But I’m learning that I need never fear.
I belong (to Him).

Him, the One who never fails.
Him, the One who is love.
Him, the One who gave so much more than I will ever be called to give.
Him, the One who gave His life for my salvation…

I belong to Him.

And He takes care of His own.

Photo Credits: Heidi Reinecke

Photo Credits: Heidi Reinecke

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)

Suffering, Part 2

If I patiently endure suffering for what is wrong, there is no glory in it.

But…

If I patiently endure suffering for what is right (for having Christ in my life), than it is acceptable with God.

This is what Christ suffered for.

He did not suffer because of what He did wrong, for He did no wrong.

He suffered because He reflected the Father.

This is what being a partaker of Christ’s suffering is:

Suffering because of Christ in us.

This is the most weighty trust and the highest honor.

(1 Pet 4:12-16; 1 Pet 3:16-18; 1 Pet 2:20-25)

Part 1: here

My Plans or God’s Plans

I had my life planned out when I was 16.

I was going to finish high school at home and then I was going to go take the lifestyle educator course from Wildwood, and then I’d go through nursing school at Southern.

Well, it didn’t happen that way. We moved from Georgia to Arizona when I was 17, and there went my plans out the window. I didn’t want to be that far away from home and besides, I had been called by God to work among the natives in Arizona. I wasn’t going anywhere.

Instead of finishing high school I skipped 11th and 12th grade and took my GED when I was 18. Instead of going to Wildwood and taking the course on campus, I enrolled in their online course (which I’m still taking, by the way). Instead of going to Southern and taking nursing, I was called to youth ministry.

So much for my plans.

None of them were happening.

Instead, I was cooking at the mission school; teaching Sabbath School: first to rowdy children under 10 and second to indifferent juniors; organizing a youth horse camp of sorts, selling hay, and taking care of foster children.

And so, I re-planned my life.

I planned to stay at home until I got married; keep directing the youth camp; finish up my online course; help at the health center in Monument Valley; and quite possibly take an EMT training course and volunteer as an EMT on the Navajo Reservation.

They were good plans, or so I thought.

But once again, God had other plans.

It wasn’t that long ago that He decided my world needed some changing. In fact, it was just over a year ago that I made the decision to move here to work at Young Disciple. It wasn’t an easy decision: in fact, it was quite possibly the hardest decision of my life (so far). I still remember the fear of the unknown… the desire to stay with my family-the only home I’d ever had…the questioning if God really knew what He was doing.

But, by the time I left home in the beginning on January, I was excited. I was happy. I wanted to work here at Young Disciple. And in the 10 months I’ve been here I’ve never once regretted that decision. I know that this is where God has called me to be. I know that this is the work He has called me to do.

So, what exactly does the future hold?

I don’t know. I don’t need to know. Of course, there are things that I’d like to do.

But this I know…

I wouldn’t trade any of the life that I have had for a different life. I wouldn’t trade the years spent on the Navajo reservation, I would trade the time I have had here at YD, I wouldn’t trade the hard times… nor the good times. Because as I look back over my life, I see the faithfulness of God. I see that the plans He had for me were infinitely better than any that I could have planned for myself.

The same God who has planned and directed my pathway up to this point is still the same God who plans the pathway that I have not yet walked.

And I know… assuredly…that He is still faithful.

And He always will be.

“We have not wisdom to plan our own lives. It is not for us to shape our future….Christ in His life on earth, made no plans for Himself. He accepted God’s plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans. So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will. As we commit our ways to Him, He will direct our steps. Too many, in planning for a brilliant future, make an utter failure. Let God plan for you. As a little child, trust to the guidance of Him who will “keep the feet of His saints.” God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him” {MH 478, 478}.

The Purpose of Suffering

Suffering. So often we view suffering as a burden to be borne, an inconvenience that must be endured, and a hardship that must be overcome. But, in reality, suffering is so much more than that. In fact, one might view suffering as a privilege. But you ask, why? Well…let me explain.

Suffering either brings us closer to God or takes us further away from God, depending on our response to that suffering. Life is about developing a character that God can take to heaven, and God uses suffering and trials to help the process of sanctification along.

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All suffering is a consequence of sin, but there are three different types of suffering. There is the suffering that is punishment for sin and can be extremely painful to the unrepentant sinner, and redemptive to observers. The punishment for sin always fits the crime. The more light we have, the more responsibility we have, and the more we are held responsible for what we could have known. When we are given great light from God, He requires great returns…and when we fail to give Him the proper return, He cannot accept it, and the punishment for sin is correspondingly increased. I remember that when I was younger and I would do something wrong that there were varying degrees of punishment. If I lied I would get my mouth washed out with soap, for other things I would have to run around the house, in others I would be sent to my room, and in rare instances I would be punished by spanking. My parents always made sure that the punishment fit the crime. I wasn’t spanked for saying something I shouldn’t; I was spanked for hitting my sister.

The second type of suffering reveals the errors we have made; it is redemptive to the sinner and also to observers, meaning that it works for both our good and others. God tries every means possible to save us before He proceeds to extreme measures. If we do not quickly realize our error and repent God will increase the suffering, or try a different method of suffering in an effort to enlighten us to truth. And when suffering does its work and we respond to it correctly and realize our errors and repent and turn from our evil ways the suffering works for our good in shaping our characters for heaven.

The third type of suffering works to purify, and sanctify us; it works to reveal the character of God and it enables us to partake of the sufferings of Christ. We are to learn from our mistakes, and God will use our mistakes to help us to grow. He brings us to something, like a trial, and if we fail the test we go full circle right back to where we started. And yet, with each repetition the trial gets more difficult. If we are not passing the test we are not growing in our sanctification experience. I know many times in my life it seemed like I kept making the same mistake over and over again, and I probably was. But the reason for the repetition was that I did not acknowledge my mistake and grow from it. We are to conquer in the strength of Christ, not carry burdens of mistakes.

Suffering is a requirement. We cannot be glorified without passing through suffering, we cannot be in heaven without suffering here on earth. Yet, the harder we hold on to self, to our fear of suffering, the tougher the suffering becomes. We need to have confidence in God; we need to give Him our whole heart, our affections, our obedience. God gave everything in giving His Son to die for sinful humanity, God gave Himself. Heaven gave their king to this little speck of dust we call earth. God will settle for nothing less than for everything we are, everything we do.

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We have the privilege of working with Christ in the work of sanctification. We have the privilege of relieving suffering humanity, of revealing God, of rejoicing in our sufferings. All who follow Christ will wear the crown of sacrifice, and followers of Christians are not to be gloomy. Even though we may not understand the meaning of many trials, even though they are not explained to us…because to explain them would be to destroy the object of them…which is to purify and sanctify…we can have perfect trust that God is ever ready to help, and that He will never fail us. God’s purpose is not merely to deliver us from suffering, but to save us from sin itself, and the pathway in which He invites us to walk would never have cost us any pain, any suffering, if we had always walked in it. It is when we stray from the path of duty, from the pathway God is ordaining for our feet, that the way becomes difficult and painful. Fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is the weightiest trust and the highest honor.

So ask yourself this question: Am I suffering for Christ today?

(DA 225; 4T 558; ME 61; Letter W-87-1895; DA 223; MB 61; 1 Peter 4:13; CH 385; 3T 369; EW 67; 1T 155; Romans 8:17; 4BC 968 (not EGW); PP 359-360)