Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Day Thirty Eight: Small changes, big results?

I have to confess: the courtroom scenes in today's reading bore me. They probably won't bore you; I think this is a holdover from my days as a litigation attorney, when I discovered that watching people argue all day is not nearly as fascinating as I thought it would be. And it's discouraging to see people in positions of authority screw things up.

What shook me out of this unhappy zone, though, was when Paul's nephew overheard the plot to kill Paul and essentially saved his life by reporting it. It made me wonder: where was the rest of Paul's family, spiritually-speaking? And what did they think about his change of perspective? I mean, at the beginning of Acts, Paul was the most legalistic type of Jew imaginable, arranging to have Jesus' followers killed. Then he gets a little attitude adjustment from God on the road to Damascus, and suddenly he's traveling the world singing "Jesus loves me, this I know..." ? It's not hard to imagine that his family might have been a little, well, surprised.

It's weird to be into Jesus. No other spiritual path I've walked freaks people out in quite this way. I wonder if maybe this is proof of what my friend Dave says, that God created the universe to be RELATIONAL. The only way to not be freaked out by my spiritual choices (0r anyone's, for that matter) is to get to know me. Then you can sort it out, and decide if the path I'm on is worthy of concern. Or, in the alternative, if it's a good thing bringing much-needed improvements.

Perhaps Paul's family LIKED that he was no longer a marauding legalist. I'm guessing his earlier persona made him a tough guy to be around during family dinners. They might not have known what to do with his new Jesus-ey lifestyle, but if the bottom line was that he was an easier guy to be in relationship with, that sounds like something God would set up as part of his plan.

What's my point here? Today might be a great time to check in with God about what he's doing in each of our lives as we pursue Jesus with our deepest dreams. Are we different? Better? Have any of our attitudes been supernaturally adjusted? We might not see the results we're praying for yet (as I mentioned Monday, I had no date for the celebration after my first 40 Days), but often we can see God moving in unexpected ways, changing things that we never would have thought of. We don't know what we'll need to receive the God's answer to our prayers, but he does. Ask him today to reveal how he's preparing the way inside you, and take note of the answer. Be encouraged :)

Today's song: Gone Are The Days by Nichole Nordeman. It's just so brilliant:

I had found it was easier to dance around
the edges of who I could be.
If I chose to expose what grows deep down,
would you still desire what you see?
No more self-rejection
No longer paralyzed
This holy perfection
Is me inside Your eyes...

What stuns me about this verse is that the kind of acceptance she's describing comes from God. But the promise I see in the Bible is that the husband God sends for us will see us this way, too: through Jesus' eyes, rather than his own. I think that's a mighty fine thing to pray for, actually. Trust me, it comes in handy when you put on thirty pounds right after the wedding, or when you face breaks out, or you say something impossibly hurtful to the man you love. Only God can make him see you as perfect, despite the things that happen in life. But the thing is--God can make him see you as perfect, despite the things that happen in life!

It's never to early to pray for that :)


Kim said...

Let's face it, some days are hard. Barely survivable. But we are not alone. Sometimes the darkest moments can bring you closer to God.

During the worst times, when I realized I was simply over my head, drowning, with no help insight, I threw up my hands and asked God to take over. Some of these that come to mind are: when my childhood boyfriend dumped me, or the horrible late-term miscarriage of which I had to deliver a dead baby, or when both of my boys were born with rare birth-defects. These times stripped me to the core. But it was those moments that I REALLY gave everything over to God. I couldn't handle them alone.

God is great and once you get through the dark times and later, much later, you can see WHY those bad things had to happen.

That sweet boyfriend and I reconnected and married. We were very serious and much too young early on, so God broke us apart so that we might grow-up and be better mates for each other.

The poor little boy I lost (and another I lost earlier) is with God and truthfully there was something extremely wrong with him. God knew what he was doing. And I would not have the beautiful boys I have now if events had not occurred as they did. And my sons are true miracle.

The birth defects? They are rare, and confounded the doctors for a while, but in the end made my boys even more precious. And thank God they weren't too serious.

My oldest was born with an eye-condition that was reported only 50 times in world-wide medical journals when his was diagnosed. It affects his balance, speech, and early development. As baby we worked with therapists and doctors galore, but now that he is 12 he no longer needs any help. He is not a fast runner, but you should see him in the pool. The blessings? As his Mom, I learned a bunch of fun activities to help kids and their parents improve early development skills and after compiling them, wrote my first book on the subject. I'm not here to sell it, so I won't, but if anyone is interested let me know.

And as I mentioned earlier on, my little guy had a surgery at UCLA to "fix" the ear that was not fully developed at birth. Now after a doctor-made ear canal, eardrum and relocating of the bones, he is hearing. This is a huge success and a blessing. Who knows what other children will be helped now that the doctors know this can be done?

But I am on the other side of the darkness, so it is easy to see the blessings. What I am trying to say is: have hope, or in the very least, give it all up to God. Turn over the wheel once in a while. He has a plan for you, one greater than you could have imagined. Let Him drive and see where He takes you.

Blessings to you all.

the teacher said...

today's reading reminds me...i was raised catholic: going to mass, attending ccd, being around very devout family members, etc. after i got out of college i started to get a deep yearning for more knowledge of theology and to actually KNOW God. at one point my mom asked, "so what made you be all religious?" i would get mad thinking that she should be happy about my change. my friends had a tough time with my transition also. i was now "that church girl".

now, i realize that i am a role model for my friends and someone my parents are very proud of. it was tough going through that life change, but i am sooo much of a better person...that is what they see.

through the 40 days, i have realized that i am not embarrassed to speak of God and prayer with friends. it took a while for me to get there, but i don't care if they think i am "churchy". it has given me strength and confidence.

trish...that cracks me up where you said that a man won't look at you different when you gain 30 lbs or don't look so hot at times. not so long ago i asked my mom what happens when men lose their hair. i asked, "what if you don't find them attractive anymore?" i now realize that you won't even care when you love someone that much. thank God for that!!! no telling what i will look like after having children. :)
have a great day!!!

Liza said...

I've enjoyed my prayer time more than ever over teh 40 Days of Faith. I started out just asking for a husband and to make me ready to be the wife I need to be for that husband. Now I spend a great deal of time just talking to God and thanking him for all the blessings in my life so far. I have the most wonderful friends, family, and church. I never would have found my church had God not pointed my friend to that direction. I knew the first day I was there that I had finally found my church after many years of searching.

himmiefan said...

Okay, so here's my deal. How can you know if the desires of your heart are truly part of God's will for your life? I ask this and I'm not even a beginner Christian! I've had no problem believing for the obvious things like God's help getting me through grad school or money for some unexpected expense. I'm having a harder time, though, believing for my heart's desires: husband, babies, book deals, new job (I had to laugh; it's just like on the top of this blog). I've had these desires forever and a day, and I believe that my motives for wanting them are pure. I know Psalm 37 and others say that if we delight in God that he will give us the desires of our hearts, but...but, but, but! So, that's where I am. Any advice?

Breeza said...

In 2 days I'll be driving to LA--the place God has called me to live. I'm not sure why and I'm pretty freaked out but I'm also excited. I found a roommate and I also have a job interview next week. So those are definitely answers to prayers. I know He is guiding me and listening, and I'm happy to do His will, but I still don't understand why He's called me to LA. I guess I'll see! So I'm not expecting a husband in 2 days or anything when the 40 days are up, but I've definitely seen some answers while this has been going on. Thanks Trish! I'm excited to see what else God does in everyone else's life on here!

Larramie said...

Everyday miracles are happening here!

heiress said...

I like the idea that God can make my future husband see me as perfect!

This experience has truly been life changing for me. I am getting a little teary eyed because I feel like even though we have never met each other, I feel this friendship connection has been built.

My prayer today is that we all receive the desires of our hearts.

Suzanne said...

The posts of the last two days have been really terrific, or should I say that they've really spoken to what I've been thinking and feeling...thank you.

I also want to mention Acts...for some reason I've had some resistance to reading it, funny thing is, my local women's Bible study offered it this year and I declined...and here it is again. I've been reading along, not as diligently as I should...but what really strikes me is the incredible faith of these men and women....they literally sacrificed their lives, even though in many cases they'd never even met Jesus. How amazing is that? And how much 'littler' does God ask of us? No one, at least not in the US is going to kill us for our beliefs...and yet, faith is still a challenge I deal with each day.

I pray, "Jesus, show me your presence in my life, show me what you want me to do, where to go, it's not working with me doing it on my own." I'm still waiting for the answer...and I hope through this 40 day journey, I'm a step closer to feeling His presence and sensing His direction for my life.

Thanks again for two days of posts that really spoke to me.

ForstRose said...

I like the verse of the song you posted today. I feel what Nichole is saying about skirting the edges, being afraid of others seeing the real me, rejecting myself (in my case because I expect it to come so if I do it to myself first then others don't have a chance to reject me like I fear they will).

Ok so this sounds totally illogical once its down but it is also how I've operated and "handled" things when I think someone is going to reject me - I push them away first because of my fears and lack of confidence.

I hope that I am better about that now than I used to be but I think it is still very easy to fall back to those patterns and sabotage things before my fears have a chance to materialize or not on their own.


himmiefan said...

This is a follow-up to what I posted earlier today. I just have to share. For the past two days, I've been asking God if my desire for a husband and baby (or babies) is really from him. Now, I felt pretty confident that he would answer since he has said that he will give us wisdom when we ask for it. So, a little while ago, I stumbled across an article on the Spirit Led Woman website (I know, I know, I was supposed to be working). A sentence in the article specifically said that there is a way to know if your desires are from God or from you (thank you God!). The article said to examine your motives (I already knew that one) to see if they're Godly or not, be accountable to God and give the desire over to him to see if he leads you to pursue it, to be diligent about seeking God and God's wisdom about the desire, and to continue to hope. My conclusion from this is that God will confirm your desires or will shape them to his will. Now, if I can just get over wanting everything yesterday....

Sarakastic said...

Breeza good luck on your journey!