Posted in Wildflower Thoughts

Learning to Chew

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” -Psalm 34:8

On a day when I felt overwhelmed, I had the idea during my quiet time to search the Word I was reading for a deeper understanding of Who God Is as opposed to seeking how I should live. Both are important, but I wanted to draw closer to God—to let His bigness, His Presence assure me all is well and will be well. I wanted to intentionally put my focus on Him. To do this, I started listing the attributes I saw or remembered as I read, completing the sentence, “God is . . .”

My first list read like this:

God is—

  • bigger than all my troubles.
  • in complete control.
  • the purest, truest love.
  • always available.
  • patient.
  • merciful.
  • compassionate.
  • creative.
  • my safe place.
  • perfect, perfection.
  • here.

I made several more such lists, but they soon started to feel more like an academic exercise than devotional time with God. I told Him so.

“Emulate Me” was the thought that popped into my head, followed by the recent memory of a moment with my granddaughter.

Our family had stopped at a fast food restaurant on a day trip. Aspen isn’t eating solid food just yet, so her mother fed her while we ordered, then I held her while everyone ate. (There are more important things than food, you know.) I watched her darling face as she looked around at everyone, forehead scrunched in concentration. Slowly she opened her lips and began making chewing motions as she continued to study the moving mouths all around her. It was the cutest thing! What a proud moment for our little prodigy!

The sheer delight on her parents’ faces when they saw what she was doing was priceless, too. Grandparents get to watch as two generations grow.

The memory helped me see that our growth into a deeper relationship with God is somewhat like what I witnessed in Aspen that day. God is our heavenly Father. We can watch Him to learn His nature by reading His Word just as Aspen watched her family to learn how to chew. As we meditate on different attributes the Spirit calls to our attention, we can begin to try to emulate some of them, while letting ourselves be awed by the ones we’ll never be able to attain.

For example, I’ll never know everything like God knows everything. He’s God. Omniscience belongs to Him alone. When I think of this and realize He knows things we’re not even aware are able to be known, I am amazed by Him. This is just one of many reasons He is worthy of worship, and worship draws me closer to Him. I know wisdom is important to Him, though, so I can ask Him to provide it for me and do my part to gain it. I also know God uses His wisdom to help all people find Him and grow to know Him better. I can ask His Spirit to guide me to the wisdom I need to help the people He brings into my life draw closer to Him as well. My efforts are miniscule in the grand scheme of things, but God will use them because He loves me. This gives me even more reason to praise Him.

Through our poor attempts to imitate the God we love (for His glory and our own good), we’ll gain greater understanding of and appreciation for Who God Is and how He works in this world. We’ll be drawn to worship, to praise, to love Him more. And because God Is our Father watching us, He will delight in our baby steps to be more like Him. He’ll respond as a Father to a child He deeply loves.

Father, there is nothing academic about growing to know more of You. Pair Your Word with our experiences in order to help us see with our own eyes what You are like. We want to know You more. We want a deeper relationship. Thank You for making this possible. We love You, Lord. Amen.

Posted in Lingering with the Word

Wisdom for When the Axe Needs Attention

“If the ax is dull
    and its edge unsharpened,
more strength is needed,
    but skill will bring success.” -Ecclesiastes 10:10

My husband and I have been having a lot of fun introducing our girls to some of our favorite movies from the past. We did this with our boys when they were teens, and now we get to watch again! This time around some of our old favorite movies are movies we watched as brand new with the boys. Some of their favorite movies came out before the girls were born. Our boys might be surprised to learn our girls think those movies are old.

Our most recent introduction was to a movie that came out before any of our kids was born, Karate Kid II. In this movie, the karate kid’s mentor teaches him that he doesn’t have to be the strongest to win a fight. He only has to be the smartest. Both the karate kid and his mentor apply this lesson throughout the movie.

I kind of think that’s what the teacher in Ecclesiastes is telling us in chapter 10, verse 10, applying the wisdom to work instead of fighting. The axe might be dull and need sharpening, but a skilled worker can get the job done anyway. (Though a smart worker will find a way to sharpen the axe and simplify his task.)

But since I don’t plan to cut down any trees in the near future, I took a little time to consider how the teacher’s wisdom applies to me.

  1. If I am feeling too weak or unskilled for a task I need to accomplish, I need more strength. This may mean I need to practice or study or get some rest. This is how I, in my own power, can sharpen my axe, so to speak.
  2. Since my own power isn’t always enough, and even if I think it might be, I need to ask God for an edge, a power boost! He can and wants to provide the strength and skill and any other resource I might need. In fact, though I believe God wants us to do what we can do in order to develop our own strength and skill while trusting Him for help, I also think that I think the skill that brings success is learning how to access the resources God is offering to us every day. He promises to give us everything we need. When our axes are dull, we’re smart to go to Him.

Father, we know You have all the strength and wisdom and other resources we need to succeed at any task You give. Please provide. When You want us to work to develop our skills or build our strength, show us how to do this most effectively and where to go for help. When our axes are too dull, add Your strength. We need You, Lord . . . every day. Thank You for working alongside us as we work to serve You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Posted in Lingering with the Word, On My Mind Meditations

Responding Like Jesus

“He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.” -Isaiah 53:3NLT

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” -Hebrews 5:7NIV

The Sadducees and Pharisees harassed and heckled and challenged Jesus everywhere He went. Yet He always responded with patience and wise teaching. Most of his tormentors rejected this, slinking away silenced. But others who witnessed these encounters, including some of the Sadducees and Pharisees, noted and learned from Jesus’ response. Our amazing Lord turned His challenges into teachable moments for others instead of letting His enemies put Him on the defense. Later, when He was alone, He prayed for those enemies—and most likely for Himself—for needed strength to face them again and again.

Father, please help me to remember Jesus’ example in this. Teach me how to respond to challenges and insults with patience and wisdom and sound teaching. Then remind me to bring and release the pain from such encounters to You. Help me forgive those who hurt me and pray for them as well. In Jesus’ name, I pray. I choose to follow His ways. Amen.

Posted in On My Mind Meditations

Psalm 51:6 on My Mind

NewOMM“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” -Psalm 51:6, ESV

In his sermon yesterday, my husband mentioned that marriage counseling, articles, and books are more popular than ever in today’s society–and yet divorce rates continue to stay high. I immediately knew why. I’m reading a book about nutrition right now. As the author makes suggestions, I often think, “That’s a great idea, but it won’t work for me.” I’m guessing that’s what a lot of people are saying as they go to marriage counseling or read the articles and books. I’m absolutely certain it happens in other areas, too. We seek wisdom then reject it by telling ourselves lies that stop us from implementing good ideas. And then we suffer for it.

(Note: I’m not saying we should implement every piece of advice we hear from a counselor or read in a book. Some of this advice really is just, plain wrong. We need to ask God to help us discern truth and implement it as He leads.)

New SpiralThis week’s On My Mind verse deals with that. It comes from Psalm 51–David’s prayer of confession after his affair with Bathsheba, murder of her husband, and confrontation by the prophet Nathan. Evidentally, David realized he’d been telling himself a lot of lies. You can read the rest of the Psalm to see what he did about it. It’s one of my favorites–a beautiful example of how to approach God when you realize you’ve done wrong or if you feel you need a check-up to be sure your heart is right.

Psalm 51:6 reminds us that God wants us to tell ourselves the truth. He wants us not only to acknowledge that it’s a good idea, but also to incorporate it into the deepest layers of our lives. Some versions use the word womb instead of inward being. Imagine that! God wants truth to begin growing inside of us from our earliest moments of existence! He wants to work His wisdom deeply into our lives.

Psalm 51-6As we memorize this verse this week, let’s pray that God will help us to recognize and implement truth in every aspect of life. Let’s pray He’ll reveal the lies we tell ourselves, so we can replace these with His truth in order to live healthier and happier, God-glorifying lives.

Thank You, Lord for delighting in truth in our inward beings. Teach us wisdom that we’ll live to honor You. Amen. 

Note: The pictures in this post are of my brand new spiral set of index cards. Beth Moore gave me this idea several years ago through her blog. Each week, I write out my new verse and place it by my computer where I’ll see it often. When I finish a spiral, I toss it in my purse, so I can flip through the verses to refresh my memory whenever I find myself in a waiting place on the go.