happier than I deserve

I have previously quoted Psalm 27:4 as my life verse.

“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek,
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.”

These days I am coming to see that that verse addresses where I want to go.

But there is another one that addresses my past really really well.

I was kinda (okay, more than kinda…a lot) depressed this past January.  I had been out of work since October and no matter how much I deny it, a huge chunk of my self esteem had taken a really big hit.  All the potential job offers that I had hanging out there had fizzled (or at least I thought so at the time) and I was sitting at my home computer struggling to find a scripture to memorize for the first two weeks of January.

For those unfamiliar with me, I participate in the Siesta Scripture Memory Team every other year.  It is in an effort to point my mind and heart toward God and re-train my brain to respond to any situation with HIS words on my heart.  In order for that happen, I have to KNOW His words.  So I memorize.  But I don’t do anything like that very well on my own.  I need accountability, so I am part of an on-line community of women (and a few brave men) who commit to learning a new scripture every two weeks for a whole year.  At the end of the year we have a big get-together in Houston as a reward.  And your ticket is your ability to say all of your scriptures.  Okay, not quite all, we do allow some grace to creep in.  If you want in, just go  here and start logging your scriptures once every two weeks.

Okay, now back to my story.

I was depressed.

I was also supposed to pick a scripture.

I was floundering in a morass of self pity and getting nowhere.

My attitude was quite frankly… lousy.

So I did what I do a lot of times…..I procrastinated.

I waited to see what other scriptures some of the other ladies might pick.  Sometimes I go into the week knowing that I have my scripture for that week.  But other times I just read through the other people’s chosen scriptures and wait for something to jump out at me.

And boy did this one LEAP off of the screen and into my lap.

“The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands.
He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness.
These forty years the LORD your God has been with you and you have not lacked anything.”
Deuteronomy 2:7

Okay, the first thing that jumped at me was the age card.  I’m technically 41, but still, the number 40 tends to stand out to me these days.

So, for no better reason than that,  I picked this verse as my first verse for 2011.  I memorized it, but it wasn’t till a couple of mornings ago that I really paid attention to what it says to me.  This verse is PACKED with meaning for me.

Allow me to open it up phrase by phrase.

“The LORD your God”

I am a Christian.  My God, I have chosen to submit to your Lordship.  The word “YOUR” speaks to how personal the relationship really is.

“has blessed you in all the work of your hands”

When I really think about it, the projects that I seem to see the most blessing on in my life are the ones where I have done actually physical WORK.  Not my intellectual accomplishments, but my physical ones.

My writing, my artwork, my housework, my new job, and most especially my home and family.  Every time I pass by the dishes in the sink I feel sick, but if I just stop and do them…I feel peaceful and blessed.  For me, it is starting to become that simple – if there is a task to do I should do it.

“He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness”

Tempting as it is to blame our wilderness experiences in life on some divine plan to teach us to be better people,  I can honestly say that every wilderness that I personally have wandered through I got there on my own two feet.  My own bad choices and sinful behaviors got me into most of the dark places in my history.  I shredded my world with utter abandon.

No one forced me to make the decisions that I did. Many of them were utterly wrong-headed and sinful. Some were willful blindness, others were sheer stupidity on my part.  The miracle of my life now is that with all the stupidity and all the sin…..somehow God has given me

  • a repentant heart that turned back to Him at the same time that Martin’s did
  • a life that is largely free from some of the more dire consequences that *could* have come down on me
  • a God fearing man who leads the spiritual life of my family
  • a baby girl who amazes me everyday
  • and a few close friends who still love me in spite of the mess I diligently tried to make of my life

I am in a place now where I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that I did NOTHING to deserve the blessings I have been given.

They ALL come from God.

and for someone like me with a pride problem. This is EXACTLY where I need to be.

In this verse I also hear the ache of my heavenly father’s heart.  He had to watch me go through all that.  Have you ever watched a child do something that you KNOW is gonna hurt, but it will teach them something valuable so you let it happen?

Sure you could have reached out your hand and stopped the cookie jar from falling off the counter, but it is far better to let your toddler learn now that gravity does work, than to have to let her figure it out later in life when the consequences will be bigger….and correspondingly more painful.

It was my journey though.  I had to go through it sometime.  And it comforts me to know that while I was learning all those lessons…My Father God was actually watching me.  He didn’t just put my life on mute and turn his back.  He watched.

“these forty years the LORD your God has been with you”

There is that dang 40 number again.  I’m not gonna talk about that one right now.

I want to talk about one little word in this phrase…..

with

God not only watched over me…He was with me.

Just savor that.

I was NEVER alone.

“and you have not lacked anything”

This is a big one for my inner whinny voice.  I have a voice inside my head that tends to moan a lot.  But this phrase forces me to look honestly at my life and realize that yes.  I have never lacked.

I have always had food.  More than I need most days.

I have always had shelter.  Nice warm, well decorated shelter.

And now?

I am blessed beyond my desserts on so many many levels.

Sometimes I just have to laugh at things like this.  A verse that I picked for the most spurious of reasons turns out to be chock full of so much personal meaning that I could honestly preach a sermon on it.

How about you? Have you ever had God just bowl you over with a revelation in a verse that you had previously taken for granted?  I’d love to hear about it.

mysteries

Before you even read this I need to state that I am not a theologian.  These are just my personal musings and I welcome anyone who wants to politely discuss  or debate these concepts.

Some of my best thinking is happening on the drive to and from work these days.  I’ve been using the commute as a time of silence. A time to just let my brain have space to ramble a bit.  Don’t worry, I am paying attention to the road.  Anyway the following is a series of thoughts that I worked my way through the other day and I wanted to write down the progression.

Faith assumes that I have doubts. Questions.

Doubts are a necessary under layer to belief.

Let me explain.

If you have facts, laid out in logical progression, you can become convinced of an idea.

But that does not involve faith at all.

Faith is believing in something you can’t see.  Can’t prove.  Can’t substantiate.

And that is a struggle for me.

I am constantly tempted to think that others are more sure of their faith.  Somehow sure of God and that He really created us and that we aren’t just kidding ourselves.

But then today I thought again about the idea that Faith is what pleases God.

He is pleased by our act of believing.  Present Active Participle Believing.

Not just believe once and then you are done and everything is now certain.

But the act of believing.

Again and again and again.

And then it hit me.

If I don’t have any doubts, if I don’t have any questions – I wouldn’t be able to actively believe.

If the act of belief is a continual thing, then it follows that some doubts, some questions will ALWAYS remain.  They may change over time, but I will always have to put my faith into play.

But God, wait a minute don’t you want me to get to a point where I know it all and I am sure of everything and…

Oh wait.  That doesn’t sound right.

So hang on a minute, Lord are you really saying that you are PLEASED when I choose, each and every moment to believe in a God I can’t wrap my brain around? A story my mind can’t fully understand and a love my heart will never fully grasp?

And the answer I am hearing is

YES.

Yes Child.

And think about it – would you want to worship a God who could be comprehended, defined and plumbed by human understanding?

Nope.  I like my mysteries to be nice and inexplicable.