My computer is in desperate need for a “clean-up” so I’ve begun going through files and deleting or archiving them off the computer. In the course of doing this, I have come across some articles, blogs, and papers that I have written. Some of them still seem to be relevant so I thought I would begin sharing them here. (I’ve tried all sorts of ways to use this blog and am on the verge of giving it up but thought I would give this thing another shot!)
As a Leader I believe that it is especially important to study Scripture both in a theological context as well as a contemporary context. (Scripture doesn’t change but the individual and circumstances do, so graciously the Lord provides fresh insight for current circumstance using past experiences with Him as a touchstone or benchmark.)
January 2012 I was dealing with difficult personal circumstances and pressures at work when I was given the news that my oldest sister, Judy was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. The lens and filter I was using to view the material I was reading changed in the blink of an eye. My sister who had just been diagnosed with cancer was required to undergo aggressive treatment. Having a sense of the battle and the ramifications caused me to view my reading and study through the lens of pain and fear. It is this filter that led me to Tozer and 1 Peter. (O, Lord, you know what my need will be for tomorrow even as I live in today’s moment!)
As my sister was in hospice I the Spirit gave me Nouwen for comfort and encouragement. But it is not about my sister that I write but the hard and difficult circumstances that come to us and the authors he sent my way to help me through them.
I am presently reading Tozer (Fiery Faith) and feel as if I am visiting an old friend but yet discovering new topics of discussion and learning. Amazing how that works.
One of my favorite quotes by Tozer: “Whatever comes into your heart and mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.” I remember that the first time I read this it stopped my mind short. When my mind turns to God, what thoughts come? I confess that I was a bit ashamed of my thoughts. You see, I discovered that the first things that came to mind were my needs, my wants, etc. — that my thoughts about God were through a selfish lens if you will…. Not that anything I thought was a bad thing, but my perspective was skewed.
My struggle with this came while we were in a difficult appointment. It was one in which my motives, my officership and my actions as a mother were constantly questioned and ridiculed. So, naturally, I was constantly “crying” to God for relief. It was all about me not about concern for the spiritual state of individuals who could behave in such hurtful and destructive ways.
God in his tender mercy–while soothing my pain–taught me to not only work through that pain but, while doing so, practice the art of Christian love — Christian love that wants and works for the best good of others no matter what they do or think about you in return. No easy task but when you begin looking at others, especially those that use and abuse you, through the eyes of Christ…..your heart begins to soften by the knowledge of just how much they are hurting themselves and that they can only hurt you if you let them. Make no mistake, others can cause you pain and disappointment, but they cannot hurt you. All they can do is drive you closer to the Lord who brings comfort, peace, courage and strength. Annie Johnson Flint reminds us that we are covered and armored with the Love of God.
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase,
To added afflictions He added His mercy,
To multiplied trials he multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limits, his grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For our of his infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
A verse of scripture that God gave to me while attending SFOT:
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:10)
In that difficult appointment (and many since) I have had to come back to this promise. No matter my circumstance, God will bring me through … and not only that, make me stronger — both personally and spiritually.
Let me finish this post with Tozer’s words:
“God is personally concerned about you. God is not too high or lofty to remember that His children are in the land where illness is prevalent. Where accidents happen every day. Where there are loss of jobs and financial worries. Where people are betrayed by their closest loved ones. Where there is separation, as for instance, when the boy who has been close to us for so many years, shakes our hand with a grin that is not quite real and walks down the sidewalk and waves at the corner on his way to report to the military service. Separations come, some never to return to us again. God knows it and says, ‘Now, I know that’s the kind of world you live in, but I have laid hold on you forever, and I know every detail of your trouble and all your problems, and I’ll anticipate every act of the enemy and every act of every enemy I will anticipate. I will go before you.’” (Tozer, Living as a Christian, pp. 206-207)