Monday, August 22, 2016

Ocean Epiphany


Our family took a little break by the ocean. It was nice to just sit there and watch the ocean in all its vastness, listen to the peaceful crashing waves, watch the seagulls soar through the air.

My husband and my daughter are very adventurous.  They swim out pretty far in the waters.  My son and I are not too adventurous and prefer to sit by the shore and just wade out a little bit.  For some reason we both have this fear of things touching us in the water and Evan has a deep fear of sharks.  He used to be obsessed with them as a child and read all kinds of books about them, so his fears aren't too unfounded.  He does know the research that shark bites are pretty rare, but the possibility still scares him.

So Alex and a friend were swimming out pretty far catching waves on their boogie boards.  Laughing and splashing and having much fun.  I sat on the shore and watched Evan holding tight to his boogie board standing with the water barely above his knees, fearful to walk out as far as they were.  Michael and I watched him for about 20 minutes as he stood paralyzed with fear to join them.

It made my heart so sad to see him afraid.  Michael finally got up and walked out to him and stood next to him with his arm around him watching the others play.  Then Michael slowly nudged Evan on his back pushing him out a little further.  He was eventually on his dad's back out as far as the others playing in the waves and having fun.  He wouldn't let Michael leave his side, and as long as his dad was with him, he was brave.

At that moment, this phrase in the Hillsong song "Oceans" came to mind: "Your grace abounds in deepest waters, Your Sovereign hand will be my guide.  Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You've never failed and You won't start now."

I then thought about how many times I've stood paralyzed with the fear of the unknown.  Standing there watching others be courageous and brave and adventurous while I stand aside too afraid to move forward.  Then my heavenly Father puts His arms around me and slowly nudges me in the direction where He intends for me to go.  He is the one who gives me courage and moves me along.  And He NEVER leaves my side.

The ocean is such a cathartic experience.  It was literally "church" for me every day we sat there.  As I thought about how God's love for me is "more than the drops in the ocean", a fabulous song by Hawk Nelson.  Every time we hit an "unknown" in our life...which seems to be a lot...I know God is right there with us.  The unknown used to scare the life out of us, but it's getting easier.  I guess that means we are growing.  God knows everything (1 John 3:20) and nothing is "unknown" to Him, so therefore, nothing is unknown to me.

What a perfect visual picture seared into my mind as we are called out onto the waters.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Permanence

When I start to struggle with something, God always gives me a word.  I will hear it once and it will grab my attention.  Then I will hear it in the most unlikely places.  It's then that I start to perk up and really start meditating on it and try to figure out what God is trying to cement in my heart.

The word recently is "Permanence". If you are a follower of my blogs, you know I struggle with not being really rooted in any one place physically.  I grew up in one house my whole childhood.  After I married Michael, that would no longer be the case.  Let me give you a snapshot here:  We were married 5 years before having our sweet Alex.  In those 5 years, we lived in 3 different places in college, then 3 more places before we had Alex.  Alex lived in 3 different places before her brother was born.  After Evan, we lived between my parents' house and Michael's training dorm for about 5 months. Then 6 more places after that.  Lost count yet?  That's 17 different domiciles in our 22 years of marriage.  5 states in all.  And seriously, we're not finished.  I thought we were finished in North Dakota and could settle down for good there, but God had other plans for us. For this is the life God has called us to, and we've surrendered.

I have always made a pun of the verse Philippians 4:11, "I have learned in whatever STATE I am in to be content." That was always my joke when we moved to another state.

PERMANENCE. It first tickled my ears in a sermon a few weeks ago in John 16. A sermon about joy and how joy is rooted in permanence...unlike happiness which can be fleeting. That took me to Colossians 2:7, "Therefore, let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him." There are so many verses about being "rooted" in Christ and letting the roots grow deep. Roots sound pretty permanent. Soon after that sermon and that word pierced my heart, it showed up again in my devotional.  The word "permanency" is not really a word that is thrown around a lot, so it grabbed me to see it again.  "Our relationship with the Lord is one of permanency..." (The Devotions of Charles Spurgeon).

The lyric in the old hymn that most grabs my heart, "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above." Another nod to permanency.

Lastly is a song I'll be singing with our choir called, "My Anchor". Anchors cause permanency...and seem to help things that try to wander. My favorite line in the song is "I hold on to You, and You hold on to me."

My permanency is in the person of Jesus Christ.  I am not of this world, so my home will never be here.  My physical address is in the heavens, and I can't wait to get home!

We have no clue where God will send us next. It may be right where we are, it may be overseas, it may be literally anywhere.  We have given Him a blank check, so it's up to Him where He needs us. But I have found permanence. Forever.