Friday, December 9, 2011

for when the clarity never comes

A friend asked me to pray for wisdom and clarity for her. And so I did, and I am. But as I pray, there is a strong sense of familiarity to my words. That's because I pray for wisdom and clarity all the time.

And to be honest, I get frustrated with this prayer a lot,
because most of the time it feels unanswered.

I usually pray this prayer when I have a decision to make. I pray for wisdom and clarity because I want to know that I'm making the right choice, the choice the Lord wants me to make. But so many times, the decision has to be made and the clarity is not there. And I get a little annoyed. "God, I prayed and asked so nicely for clarity. I even begged. What's the deal??!"

At that point, I usually just move on with my life and go through the cycle again. But today, I decided to stop. And listen. I listened to the Lord's answer to my frustrated and annoyed question. And what did I hear?

Trust me.
I have already given you the tools you need to make this decision on your own.
I have a plan, I know what I'm doing, and you might not be able to see it and understand, but I do.

Several scriptures came to mind immediately. Verses that we quote all the time, but important words from the Father. Verses that I have memorized but as I began to go over them in my mind, I realized that He is spelling it all out for me.

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
He has a plan for you. And it's a good one. He tells us that right here in scripture so why do we ever question that? It's time to just trust.

And speaking of trust, Proverbs 3:5-6
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and he will make your paths straight."
We must trust Him. Even when we don't understand. He's gonna take care of us.

Romans 12:1-2 (yes, I know I JUST blogged about this verse, but it's back!)
"Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing, and perfect will."
So many times, I pray for clarity, and then I sit and wait for this magical "aha!" moment. But I'm beginning to learn that it doesn't always happen that way. How are we able to test and approve what God's will is? Worship. Sacrifice. Renewing of your mind. Sometimes God doesn't have some brand new revelation for us because He's already given us the answer in His Word. However, we have to go there to find it.

To my sweet friend- I am continuing to pray for wisdom and clarity. But if the clarity never comes, trust that He has a great plan for you. He already knows what's gonna happen. He's seen the future, in fact, He planned it out for you. Even if you don't know that you're making the right choice, He knows.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

pleasing to HIM

Isn't it great to get a new perspective on things?

I have a Bible that I love. It's maroon leather (classy, of course), not too big, not too little, it falls open and stays open just perfectly, it's NIV, and it has all my notes and underlines from the past few years. However, over Thanksgiving break, I left that Bible in my dad's truck after church. I realized it about 30 seconds after pulling away from my parent's house but considering the fact that we have a whole shelf full of Bibles at home, and I knew I would be seeing my parents soon again anyways, I knew it wasn't worth turning around for.

So, when I got home, I pulled out another Bible from the shelf. I don't use this Bible often so it won't even stay open, which is annoying because I always lose my place. It's also in the New Century Version which I've never even really heard of, and I have become quite the lover of NIV. Needless to say, I haven't been thrilled to be using this Bible but figured it could get the job done until I get mine back.

Then I actually read it. When I get my Bible back, this other one will still be going back on the shelf, but it has offered some great new perspective! I'll probably be pulling it out a little more often now to get a different view on things. Let me share with you a big one I learned the other day.

I was reading Romans 12:1-2. I have this verse memorized (in NIV of course), and we just got done studying Romans in Sunday School so I probably normally wouldn't be reading these verses AGAIN, but I was reading a devotional that my dad gave me and it was in Romans. I was blown away with the way this other Bible worded things. It was saying the same thing, of course, but I think I had read it over and over in the NIV so much that I had become numb to the message. Romans 12:2 really jumped out at me.

Here's Romans 12:2 in the NIV:
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- His good, pleasing, and perfect will."

And here it is in the NCV:
"Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect."

Doesn't the NCV offer a great new perspective?! There are so many things I could touch on but let me tell you about the biggest one for me.

In the NIV, I was always reading the end of that verse pretty selfishly. I read the end of that verse thinking God's will was good FOR ME, pleasing TO ME, and perfect FOR ME. And I do believe it is all of those things...BUT the NCV pointed out something I was missing. Did you catch it up there? It says "you will know what is good and pleasing TO HIM."

And this is one of those moments where I learn, yet again, that it's not all about me! God's will is not for me to live a life that is good and pleasing and perfect and wonderful for myself. He has transformed me into a new being, a new creation, and His will is for me to live a life that is pleasing TO HIM.

Yes, this is one of those lessons that we all know and have heard a million times... but I have shown time and time again that I need to be reminded of this often. And God is always faithful to find ways to offer a new perspective for me. Maybe I didn't leave my "favorite" Bible in Mount Pleasant on accident... :)

Monday, December 5, 2011


Today is one of those days that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I woke up early and cooked a good breakfast for Weston and Leeland and packed both of their lunches for them to take to work/school today. (I know this may be a usual occurrence for most people, but for me, that was a supermom moment.) It is cold and rainy outside and I am sitting in my nice warm house, sipping delicious hot coffee, wearing my furry boots, listening to music and blogging in the warm glow of the Christmas tree. And since Weston is at work and Leeland is at school, the rest of the house is calm.

I'm usually always going and doing. Even on a day with nothing on the agenda, I usually find somewhere to go. But I decided ahead of time that today was going to be a day at home. I'm going to finish decorating the tree and take care of some things at home that have been neglected. Also, my soul needs a day to just breathe.

As I sit, breath, and enjoy the warmth of the calm, my mind is dwelling on commitment. We talked about commitment in Sunday School yesterday- about how commitment is one way to avoid the pitfalls that the enemy puts before us. We discussed the consequences of breaking commitments (in marriage, in our relationship with the Lord) but as I dwell on it this morning, I'm realizing another pitfall- not breaking the commitment, but neglecting the commitment.

These things are similar and they both have consequences but I think they are a bit different. Most of the time, breaking your commitments is a conscious decision. But neglect tends to happen subconsciously. We don't even think about it but we let our commitment slip from the forefront of our minds, and then in turn, end up breaking our commitments without even thinking much about it.

This morning I'm thinking about my commitment to my marriage. No, I haven't done any of those big, bad things to break my commitment- I haven't cheated on my husband or lied to him or shamed him in public. But am I truly, daily, consciously committed to loving, serving, and respecting him?

I'm talking about the little things like the way I talk to him or the things I expect of him (annnd the way I treat him when those expectations are not met...). Commitment is costly, and it's not always easy. However, when my commitment is in the forefront of my mind, it is a little easier to remember the things that commitment requires of me.

I know things are busy right now. I know not all of you may be able to get your kid and husband out of your house and have a quiet morning to relax. But I encourage you to find some time (maybe while you're in the shower? If you're lucky enough to get to take one...) and let your soul breathe. And while you're breathing, think about your commitments- to your family, to the Lord, and whatever else you are committed to. You may have to search deep for some of those commitments that have been neglected. Recommit yourself to those things and those people. Remind yourself why you're committed and what that commitment means. Write it down if you have to so they don't get neglected again, because as we learned in Sunday School yesterday, "Commitment is costly, but breaking the commitment is costlier."