Tuesday, June 26, 2012

God in My Weakness

It's a petty thing.  I hesitate to write about it, but it's a big thing for me and I wanted to share it.

Do you ever wonder how the things you can't do could benefit someone else?  Or what you'll do with what you know?  Last week while counseling 4-6th grade girls at camp we were challenged to think along those lines.  Our week began with archery, ran into bumper boats, swimming and all the fun things that happen at camp (including lattes and frappes)!  But woven throughout was faithful teaching from God's Word.

Then, days later, I was struck between the eyes with the Bible teaching we received from Kristi Walker, who came to us from Berlin.  The point she brought up over and over is that God made each of us to show Him off, to bring Him honor and glory.  When she told the story of her colossal week as a camper, tears of laughter ran down my face.  It was epic!  Her point was that God has used her in spite of, even in areas of, personal weakness.  As she ended with Bible teaching of David and Samson, she challenged us to think of little ways we can be faithful (David caring for the sheep) and areas of struggle (Samson giving in to temptation and pride) that God might ultimately use for His glory.

That's what made me laugh with God today.  We got home from a morning in town and I realized God set me up in one of my great areas of weakness: cleaning house. 

When we got married I was a college student.  Young and inexperienced, I lived like a college student, comfortable with clutter (I still am!).  As children joined our lives, I thought it prudent to leave out Legos as burglar-prevention devices.  Toy trucks and farm machinery, too.  My husband, on the other hand, is half Dutch.  His mother still sweeps the dirt.  As she is able, she washes windows, inside and out, three times a year.  Need I go on?  You may guess that this was a source of conflict in our home.

Ultimately, through God's steadfast prompting and love for my husband, I practiced cleaning house despite my desire to spend time with people and books. I did read about how to clean and care for a home.  Bonnie's Household Organizer is one of my favorites.  I added books on clutter and how not to be a Messy (books by Sandra Felton).  I looked for help online (check out FlyLady).  And practiced.  And prayed for a willing heart and gentleness when bitterness and resentment brewed.  Little by little our home gained efficiency.  Not perfection, but improvement.

That's why I laughed this morning when three different friends asked for help with their homes.  It's evidence of God at work. 

As far as our home goes, I still pray that God will work in me "both to will and do for His good pleasure."  It takes intentional hard work to keep up with hair on the bathroom floor, laundry, decorating and updating the calendar.  And what a blessing it is when the children pitch in and follow!  God has blessed in this, my place of Samson-weakness.

You already know your area(s) of Samson weakness.  Is God there?  Is He prompting you to obedience and faithfulness?  He will use even those to glorify Himself as we lovingly submit to His working and way.  I pray you will trust Him with your weakness, that He may be strong. 

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-11)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

God Loves Angelique and Roger

Last night God showed His love for Angelique and Roger.  Our youth group meets at a community rec center once a week.  As we moved from ultimate frisbee outside on the green to Bible study inside, my husband, David, invited the kids hanging out at the entrance to join us.  Some of the kids were teens, but many were much younger.  That's when it began.

Before going in to town, I had packed a set of lessons entitled, "Do What's Right," a music cd and speaker, as well as visuals for the children's portion of our ladies' Bible study.  Remembering they were in the vehicle I said, "If you're willing to wait, I have a Bible story and songs for 5-12 year olds."  I prayed and walked quickly, amazed at God's preparation and provision. 

When I returned, only two of the 12-15 kids were interested.  They sat on a park bench outside and waited patiently while I started the music and ordered the teaching materials.  The song visual had a picture of a young boy that looked suspiciously like Roger.  His eyes locked on that figure as we sang the chorus repeatedly.  Once again, I shook my head at God's personal touch.

I shared the story of Ruth, praying earnestly.  It's been at least six years since I've taught that material and had no time to review.  But God knew.  As I showed the first scene, the other kids returned.  They delighted in reading the teacher-part over my shoulder and shared answers to the opening question: "What is the one true way to get to heaven?"  When told that Jesus Christ is the only true way to heaven they scattered, all but Angelique and Roger.

Earlier, as I walked to the vehicle, I reminded myself that God calls.  I asked Him to keep those He had in mind and took confidence in that.  And there were Angelique and Roger. Before they left, I read from Romans and visited with them about Jesus. 

Wow.  What a humbling, wonderful experience.  And to think that God loves me....

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.   No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.   And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.   If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.   And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:10-16)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Removing Dingle-Berries

Spoiler/Warning:  Farm life is rarely politically correct.  And, while the example below may seem offensive to some Bible scholars, Jesus called Himself the "good Shepherd," presenting Himself through the lowly, real objects of daily life.

Wednesday is barn-cleaning day.  While the girls shoveled cow schlpoo, I clipped dingle-berries from the back end of sheep.  Usually it doesn't need to be done, but a couple of the gals ate something they shouldn't have and the dingle-berries grew, interfering with normal functions, creating a maggot habitat.
You may wonder what this has to do with Jesus, the "Heart Quencher." Just this: Jesus is our Shepherd.  Just like a shepherd protects the flock from many things, including disease, Jesus protects us from the ill effects of sin by cleansing and restoring us.  It's up-close and personal.
Our youngest daughter helped me herd the ewes into the barn, down the alley, and into a jug (pen) that happened to be too big.  The sheep evaded me and pushed their weight around, endangering all of us while I had scissors in hand.  After shuffling them to a smaller pen, I climbed over the side and got to work, snipping matted wool that might otherwise become infected or infested.

As I walked back to the house, I thought of Jesus, our Great Shepherd.  We shared a comeraderie today as I realized: 
- Young shepherds tend to move quickly and make loud noises, frightening the sheep.  An experienced shepherd walks slowly, talks softly, and stays behind the sheep, guiding them to an exact destination. 
-  A shepherd creates order out of chaos.
-  A shepherd uses other sheep to buffer a new situation, control those who need care, and settle the unsettled. 
-  A shepherd speaks reassuringly to all the sheep while working closely and personally with each one.
-  A shepherd uses different instruments for different jobs: in this case, utility scissors vs. finely-pointed ones.  The wise shepherd uses the tool that is best suited for each situation. 

It's fair to say that all of suffer from dingle-berries that resulted from poor decisions.  But it's equally right to say that Jesus desires to free us of our sin and restore our spiritual health.  Perhaps God is trimming away sin in your life through people, circumstances, or His Word.  He is the only One who can do it with the quietness, gentleness, and sensitivity that lead to healing and restoration. 
A final word about sheep:  Not one of them said thank you.  Have you thanked your Shepherd today?