May 23, 2016

Thinking in Possibiliites

It is a good Monday in warm and sunny, Phoenix. Our weather is lovely, just lovely. We are expecting "normal" temperatures, which just means low 90s for the next ten days. I cannot believe it is so pleasant outside, but it is. Thank you, El Nino!

Today is a good day, and not just because the weather is so nice outside. It is the start of a new week, and I am ready to enjoy my life. Yes, I was reading a short devotional last night in my Joyce Meyer Everyday Living Amplified Bible. Joyce shared a brief story about how, as a hard worker, she would often pass up opportunities to appreciate the work she was doing. It wasn't that she stopped doing hard work, but rather that she took time when she had finished her work, to appreciate it. The scripture reference was from Genesis 2, whereby God says that after His creation of the universe, He rested. He saw that His creation, all His work, was good. Joyce was saying that we need to stop and take time to reflect on the good in our life. Otherwise, we can easily walk through life without ever enjoying it. I liked this devotional because it reminded me of something important -- life is a gift -- every day is a gift.

Furthermore, God has granted us a number of days, a set amount to enjoy the life He has given to us. It is up to us to choose to enjoy life. This day, therefore, I am choosing to enjoy my life. Rather than complain about it, see the "lack" or the less than perfect circumstances, I am going to choose to celebrate, to thank God for His best, and to remember how blessed my life is -- day in and day out. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

God of Possibility

I woke up this morning feeling better, more rested, though not 100% refreshed. I struggled to fall asleep last night, and since I wanted to get up today to wish my brother a fond farewell, I am in less that wide-awake shape. I am tired right now, yawning tired. You know, I feel like I slept, but I am not awake yet. As I laid in bed this morning, I couldn't help but think about all the promises God has made to me, as in personally revealed through His word. I have received such confirmation, time and time again, as I pray over situations, opportunities, and options, and God has faithfully provided, delivered, and kept His word regarding His promises to me. I was thinking about God, and I was thinking of how I often see the "empty rather than the full" in life. I see the missing part, the part that has not been fulfilled yet, rather than the One who is able to doing the filling. It is like looking at a donut with a hole in it. I may say, "This donut has a hole in it, therefore, it is not best, not complete." I look at the missing part, rather than looking up to the baker who made the donut with the hole. I choose to see the result and not the possibility, the end and not the beginning. In doing so, I often see only the tangible, what is right before my eyes, and not what is in process, the unseen parts that require eyes of faith.

You see, when I do this, I often focus on all that is incomplete in my life. Instead, if I looked to the One who is able to complete all things, in His time, and with His provision, then I should see the prospect, the project as a work in progress. It is not completed YET. It hasn't been brought to fulfillment YET. It is not finished, YET. So often we see the world around us, and we know that things are not finished, but we think negatively that they will never be finished. We don't believe good things will come to pass in our life time because there are so many bad things all around us. We come to believe that just because we live in a fallen world, EVERYTHING that comes to pass must also be fallen. This is faulty thinking because it presumes that a Good God, a loving God is not able to bring goodness into His creation after the fall. It says that what has happened in eternity, will always be now. If we think this way, then we tend to always view life with hatred, with disgust, with a sense that it must be "gotten through" in order to experience the goodness that waits for us on the other side (Heaven).

I am not sure where this line of thinking came from but I think it is probably born out of the past two hundred years of fundamentalist religious belief. You see, I don't think that our ancestors believed this way. Sure, they recognized hardship, but they also recognized goodness. They saw the world differently than we do. They saw the entire creation as a gift from God. Now, we tend to see it as something awful, and many Christians, especially evangelical ones, tend to see the world as half-empty. There is no hope, no future, no good because we are living in the end times. I am not going against Scripture here, but I believe we can either live without hope, as though life is miserable and mean OR we can look to the goodness of God and see that despite the fallen nature of the world and the people who live in it, there is good to be found, hope to be held onto, and the promises of Scripture to believe in. Yes, I choose to see good. I choose to be hopeful. I choose to look up this good, good day.

Moreover, as I contemplate my life, I realize that I need to keep an open mind along with open expectations as the Lord fulfills His word to me. I need to see the places where there is filling to be added, where things are not complete yet, but where there is work being done. I need to remember that as He completes one area, He moves to the next, and begins to complete there. He is always moving, filling, and bringing fullness, completion to all the parts of my life where there is lack. This means that I am being made into the person of His choosing. I am being changed. It is not once for all, but a process of daily, of continual change as I place my faith in His abilities each and every day. As I look to Him for His grace, I receive grace for this day. As I wait on Him to provide, I receive faith to keep on waiting. As I consider the future and the empty spaces that are yet to be filled with goodness, I receive patience to wait for their filling. It is active faith that produces results. It is patience that endures that sees the outcome. It is hope in the One who is able to do all things as He promised them. I must wait. I must be patient, and I must endure whatever trial or situation or circumstance I am in this day. In the end, I will rest. I will see His goodness. Until then, I will choose to see that even in present lack, there is future goodness. It is coming to me. I must look forward to it, with eagerness and expectancy. He will not disappoint. He will provide. He will surely keep His word to me this good, good day.

Praising God This Good Day

This means that I can choose to give Him praise this good day or I can choose to grumble and complain. I am choosing to praise God, to give Him all praise because I know that no matter what I am going through this good day, He has made a way for me to endure it, to triumph over it. I must simply look for the way, I must simply be open to allow Him to provide the solution to me. Often, I think I need to figure things out, to make His word come to pass, when in reality, I must simply allow Him to fulfill His promises to me. He doesn't promise me some good, and then say to me, "Now, go make this happen." No, He says to me, "I will do it. I will make it happen." Thus, the Lord is the giver of all good things, and the producer and fulfiller of all good things. He is in every part of the promise, from beginning to end. Thus, if He says to me, "You will have a full-time job" then I can rely on His word that I will indeed have a full-time job. If He says, "You will go and live here or there" then I can rely on Him to provide the place, the home, where He has said for me to go and live. He has not told me once to figure things out, to make the situation improved. He has simply said it would be, and in His time, it has come to pass.

For example, when I needed a good job, the Lord provided to me. I did have to wait until that good job was available, but it did come to pass. He said it would and His word was fulfilled. He said I would have a paper published, and here I am waiting for my paper to be published. It has taken 9 months, and by the time the paper is published, it will be 12 months of waiting. Still, He never said to me "Go get your paper published." No, He simply said "They will publish it" and His word is coming to pass. The same is true for my teaching positions. The Lord didn't say "Go find job as a teacher." He simply said "Apply here." I did, I applied, and then I waited. The job materialized. It came to pass. Often, I get impatient and I try to make His will come to pass now. I want to believe, but I want His will to come about in my way, through my efforts and my knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP says,

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart
And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,
And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].

You see how often we rely on our own insight and understanding of matters. We take His word to mean, "Go and do it, figure it out, make it happen," when He is saying to us "trust in and rely confidently in Me for I will do it." I think we get into the business mindset, that worker-bee mentality that says "The Boss has told me what to do, and I better go and do it or I might be fired." This is not how God works. No, He shares His glory with no one else. Thus, we simply must receive His promises, believe that they will come to pass based on His integrity and authority, and wait. Just wait for them to be completed, fulfilled. 

I think about how I do this -- get busy trying to make His will come to pass in my life -- when I need to rest. I need to "trust in and rely confidently" on the Lord. If I did this more often, my life would be less stressed for sure. Sigh!

I am thinking today that I am going to start practicing faith in this way. I am going to remember all the promises the Lord has made to me, and instead of trying to use my mind, my intellect or my understanding to figure it all out, I will simply accept His gift, and wait for Him to deliver it to me. It is like when we purchase something from Amazon. It is bought and paid for, but it has not arrived. We know it is coming because we ordered it ourselves. We have assurance, a guarantee from the company that it will arrive by such and such date. In a like way, we have assurance and a guarantee from God because of His word to us. He has said it, so it must be. He cannot lie. Therefore, His word is His guarantee. Do we believe what He says to us? Or do we discount His authority and integrity?

I do this often. I say I believe, but in my heart and my mind, I think "perhaps the Lord didn't really say that to me or perhaps the Lord didn't really mean it the way He said it." Oh, doesn't that just sound like my enemy, the snake in the garden, the one who put the lie into the minds of Adam and Eve. He has not changed his tactics, he doesn't have to do anything different because just like our fore-parents, we fall for the same exact line, time in and time out. I am choosing this day to believe the Word of the Lord. I am choosing this day to accord to Him all authority, integrity, and truth. After all, the Word says, "I am the way, the truth and the life" and that tells me that as the TRUTH there can be no lie in Him. Paul says that it is impossible for God to lie, and I believe this statement. He doesn't lie. He doesn't tell half-truths. It is always true, always right, always good.

He is holy.
He is righteous.
He is good.

Thus, this good day, I am choosing to give Him praise for His finished work in my life. It is not completed YET, but it is in process. My life is actively being changed, day in and day out, and I am coming to know Him progressively as I journey with Him. I am learning to abide, to rest, to trust and rely on Him for every need. I am looking to His hand of blessing, of goodness, of mercy, and of grace. I have the help I need this good day, and I can do everything He asks of me. There are many things I must wait for, be patient for His timing, but there is good work, practical and useful work that can be done today. I look to His hand, I wait upon His deliverance. I am waiting for Him. I am resting in Him. I trust Him, I abide, and I let this all go because He is good. He is so very good to me.

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