Saturday, July 16, 2011

A picture post!

A few pictures of what I've been doing with my summer

First off, right when school let out, I spent two weeks in Wisconsin for my sister's wedding. We helped out with everything imaginable, from booking an organist with only 10 days to spare before the ceremony to baking 22 dozen rolls to spreading yards and yards of mulch in the gardens at the Walkers' house. I was a bridesmaid for the first time, and quite honored to be Rosie's maid of honor. I can't believe my sister is married! She was a radiant, gorgeous, has-it-together bride, and I wish her and Mike all the best in their life together!

Then, on June 23, I became an Aunt for the first time! Jackson Stuart Scheiman entered the world and immediately became everyone's favorite person. (I borrowed these from Katherine's facebook.)

Two weeks later, I was off to another much-anticipated wedding between two friends and classmates. It was a joyous occasion and quite the Verity reunion!

THEN... dun-dun-DUN! The beach! We went to Cape Lookout National Seashore, which immediately soared to my list of BEST. PLACES. EVER! We were the only people occupying a mile-long stretch of perfectly clean, pristine beach. There was nothing around but sea and sand. Beyond "our" section of beach on both sides, it was closed because of nesting plovers, so we were literally in the middle of about 5 miles of empty beach. It was splendid.

And now I'm frantically busy getting ready for VBS at church. Happy to be in charge of crafts... but whoa! It is a lot of work. Perhaps in a future post I can post more pictures. Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Getting in a hurry on God?

Think twice before you do. 

And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering. And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. 1 Sa. 13:8-10.
 And Saul said to Ahiah, Bring hither the ark of God. For the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel. And it came to pass, while Saul talked unto the priest, that the noise that was in the host of the Philistines went on and increased: and Saul said unto the priest, Withdraw thine hand. 1 Sa. 14:18-19.

Twice, Saul got in a hurry and got ahead of God. I am faced with a similar temptation. Saul saw that the people departed from him. I see that my money departs from me. I am tempted to act out of desperation and then expect God will understand the straits I was in.

But that's not faith, is it? Faith looks at the humanly impossible situation and scoffs, "That is immaterial to the outcome. God is the only one in whom I put my trust. (Not armies. Not wealth.) He is still able, even in the face of pressing circumstances."

So it's not a matter of God understanding the straits I'm in, but rather of me understanding that God is not in any straits at all, ever.

Again, Saul faltered when the noise that was in the camp of the Philistines "went on and increased." Likewise, my circumstances tend to roar in my ears, threatening to drown out spiritual realities. "Oh, God hasn't answered yet?" I say. "Well, that's just too bad. I can't wait any longer. I've got to take care of this problem right away, or everything will fall apart."

But again, that's not faith. If God hasn't answered yet, wait on Him until He does and let the tempests blow. Nothing will be able to happen without His permission or decree anyway. He is testing my resolve, waiting to see (or reveal to me) whether I possess merely a fair-weather faith.

Oh let me look steadfastly to God for His help, guidance, and deliverance from every situation and circumstance that threatens me. Let hurry not cause me to waver or falter. Let faith cling to Him with steady grip, even when it must wait. Let me not say, "Withdraw thine hand" from seeking the counsel of the Lord, but let me gaze upon Him, heedless of the roar of desperate circumstances.

Thoughts on obedience

When my will clashes with God's will, it is pride for me to pick my way. Who am I to set myself up above God and say that my way is better? Therefore, I must obey, or I will be walking in pride.

My future is totally obscured to my vision, but God sees it perfectly. He is in charge of orchestrating all the events; the only thing I have to do is obey Him, and everything will come to pass. How restful and worry-free obedience becomes when one realizes this!

My room is a mess, I have too much to do, and I'm not getting enough sleep, but somehow I found hours this week to spend on facebook, disregarding multiple inner prompts to leave the site and do something profitable. Simple obedience would have solved this problem. Maybe my room would be clean by now if I had listened.

Obedience is both the hardest thing to do and the easiest thing to do. All it takes is--doing what God said, like, "Wash 7 times in the Jordan River" or "Open up your mouth and speak." Not impossible. In fact, the task itself is usually simple. But it flies directly in the face of pleases me, and that is what makes it hard.

Consulting the Lord for His advice is one thing, but actually obeying Him when He tells me what I don't want to hear is quite another thing. How many times have I thought God didn't answer, when really He did, but He told me what I didn't want to hear?

My track record is so bad, I cannot trust myself to obey. Next time I am faced with a command, if left to myself, I am more than likely to disobey. But Jesus achieved perfect obedience in His life on earth, and He lives in me. I can trust HIM to obey God, and I can draw on His mighty grace to work in me the obedience that I would not have displayed on my own.

What is it about two conflicting wants that makes one triumph over the other?
"I want to lose weight." vs. "I want to eat cake."
"I want to obey God." vs. "I want to please myself."
Why does the short term, more irrational, more emotional decision tend to triumph?

Therefore, my constant prayer is, "O make me obedient!"

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Praise Him in the midst of uncertainty

You know that sinking feeling you get when something goes wrong?
That stab of fear that maybe you won't be able to afford it, you won't be able to make it, you won't be able to figure it out?

That happened to me when I went to start Matilda and nothing happened. No lights, no sound, no action. I couldn't work the windows or the trunk or the lock button, and when I turned the key in the ignition, not the least bit of life was to be found.

"Aaaah! Matilda! You can't die on me!"  I thought. There was no reason for it. She was working perfectly the last time I drove her.

I had to drive my parents' car that day, and as I drove away, I was consumed with worry and uncertainty. "How much is this going to cost me?" I wondered. "How am I going to afford it?" These worries are very new to me, because I've never worried about money, even though I've never been rich.

"Praise me anyway," the Lord whispered.

So I did. I praised the Lord for His provision. I praised Him that He was enough. I praised him for His mercy, for the many blessings He has given me, and yes, even for the fact that my car was broken down. I thanked him for other difficult and undesirable situations in my life. I recognized that what He allows must be good, and therefore thanked Him for the good things He has given me.

That day, the worry lifted.

And then, later, I found out it was only a dead battery, which my dear expert dad kindly fixed by recharging it and cleaning the terminals. Matilda has life again--and I'm not a penny poorer. Indeed, I am richer. What the Lord taught me was more valuable than any car repair bill.

Thank you, God. Thank you that I can praise you even when life throws me for a loop. Help me to continue to be grateful for the easy as well as the hard times.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Radical Decision

When I was 18, 20, 22 years old, I had this radical idea.

I believed God could lead me in the course of my life. I believed He knew where I should be headed, and that He could direct me into the exact niche in the world that He had created me to occupy.

I even believed that he would do this.

And lo and behold, things started happening. When I was 18, I was asked to take a job with a Bible publishing company. It was a "real job," in a nice office, with normal hours, and a great salary.

When I was 20, my project at that job was complete, and I went off to college. The two years I had worked allowed me to complete college debt-free, which I considered to be a significant achievement.

After college, I got asked to come back and teach some of the courses I had just learned. (It was a young college that was just getting started, so there were opportunities like this available for people like me who would otherwise have been underqualified.)

I was happy, had just enough of a challenge to keep me interested and on my toes, and couldn't see one step ahead of where I was on the road of life.

Then, somewhere along the way, I figured out how the world worked. "Ohhhhh, Rebekah! You had better get with the picture! What? You don't have a 5-year plan? Well, you'd better get busy. The way to get ahead in life is to envision your future, make plans, and then work toward the completion of those plans. I can't believe you're just now getting the memo! You've never even thought of looking ahead! What's up with that?" So I started trying to envision, plan, and act accordingly.

Suddenly, it seemed I had done everything all wrong. I had chosen a major without looking ahead to see what career path that would lead to, and now I didn't want to work in Communications. I had blithely ridden in the wagon of life while God held the reins, and I had merely gone where the wagon took me. Now I decided to jump off the wagon and make my own way in the world. This time, I would pay more attention to what was coming down the road.

Curiously, everything started to fall apart. None of my pursuits amounted to anything. I cleaned houses, taught piano students, spent a few months smothering in boredom as a cashier, and worked in a preschool. Life just wasn't going the way I wanted it to go. I was pushing on doors, especially doors to the mission field, but I couldn't open them. Nothing was working out.

Then I hit on the answer! What I needed was a Master's degree. That would solve all my problems and lift me out of the dead-end jobs I had been working in. Teaching was the highlight of my life (especially the piano students), so I decided a Master's in Education would be just the thing. I took the GRE and started calling for more information about different schools. Monday I went to an informational meeting at a local college and talked with the faculty about what would be involved in the Master's program.

I left the meeting feeling discouraged and thwarted again. There was no way I could pay for a Master's program. I didn't have $18,000, and at the rate I was going, it would take me more than 5 years to save up that much money. Sure, I could qualify for a loan, but I was absolutely unwilling to go into debt. Then I would really be stuck. I wouldn't have a chance to get back to the mission field until all that debt was paid off, and who knows when that would be. Besides, with all the cuts in education, I wasn't even sure I could get a job.

Then a simple, but radical idea dawned on me. Why not trust God for my future?

"Oh my goodness!" I thought. "He's the only one who can see it anyway. And look how much better things were going for me when I was actively trusting Him for the way I should go. I think I'll get back up in His wagon. I think I'll stop hunting, stop weaving my little webs, stop pushing, stop manipulating. I resolve to prove God. Can God direct my life without my help? And will He? I will try Him. I will stop trying to figure it out on my own. I will depend wholly and completely on Him to lead me in the way I should go."

A verse I had read that morning came back to my mind:

“And now Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” Dt. 10:12-13 (See also Micah 6:8)

What does God require of me? Not education. Not a fancy career. Not dazzling missionary activity. No.

He simply wants me to fear Him, obey Him, love Him, and serve Him.

"How about this?" I thought. "I will occupy myself with that, and let all the other things go. I will just do that one thing. And while I'm doing that, I will be content with wherever God places me. If He wants me to stay in the place where I'm at, with the amount of money I'm making, I will be content with that. My part will be simply to walk with God. His part will be to envision the future, make plans, and give me commands to carry out His will."

It seems so simple. It worked for me before. Now it will be interesting to see where He takes me from here. I don't know where the wagon's going, but I trust Him to know, and to direct my way perfectly to the destination where He wants to take me.