Friday, September 25, 2015

I'm His Favorite

Favour, we all seek it. From infancy to adulthood, something inside of us cries out for favour. The favour of man is fleeting and subjective. The favour of the Father is eternal. The Bible is filled with promises of God pouring out his favor on his people.

I found myself looking for favour. I went to a conference for worship musicians. I was surrounded with people who were being drenched in His favour. I was not jealous, I was just looking for mine. To me, my favour looked like singer/songwriter. My friend was getting these songs just downloaded into her brain almost faster than she could write them out! My husband was receiving inspiration and wisdom daily. Me, I felt like I was just a sidekick. Nothing seemed to be coming in my direction. This was supposed MY time, I was the one who instigated this trip anyway!

I went to the prayer chapel one day at a time of overload. I wanted peace and time to just talk with Jesus. While I was at the chapel, sitting in the sunshine, I was getting my "download"! It didn't look at all like what I was looking for. No songs dripping with epicness dropped on my lap. Instead, I received a basic outline for our music program at church (which reminds me, I should really work on that...). It was good. It was relevant. It didn't look like what I was looking for at all.

Fast forward, skipping an epic moment or two, we returned to our normal lives. My husband had lost his job and we fully expected him to find work after we returned from our trip. Except, he didn't. About a month ago, we though we had something. It was good! It was service! It was going to be epic! Except that it crashed and burned, badly. It hurt. We were all in, sold out, willing to sacrifice everything to do what was set before us. Now what? God, what is going on? I was so certain in this path, more certain than I had ever been before, ever! I still believe that it was His plan, but all of us have choices, and others made choices that killed ours. Now what?

Amidst this heartbreak, the hubs was diagnosed with cancer. Are you serious? All this other crap isn't enough right now? What? Where does one go in all of that? I went into shock. Not medical, just a bit dead. I wasn't depressed, sad, angry, just emotionless. Thankfully, it's a "good kind of cancer to get", if there is such a thing, definitely not a death sentence.

Through all of this, I am still a worship leader. I still have to choose to get up in front of lots of people and lead them into worship. I can't do fake. They can tell if it is fake. Fake makes me vomit. Before we knew the diagnosis, we had been seeking prayer and others around us were being healed. Wow. And I'm His favorite? (seriously, I know we are all His favorites, OK? I get it, but that still means I'm His favorite!) The night before this shock broke off of me, I was praying about the worship I had to lead the next day. I had such a sense of God's favour hanging over our heads just waiting for us to reach for it (us, collectively, the church). During worship, I spoke about seeking His favour.

After the first service, I mulled over the thoughts in my head about favour. I know favour isn't fair. Favour is something that is good for us, something that the Father LOVES to give. I suddenly realized that I was looking for favour in the wrong place! I wasn't looking for favour where is was, I was looking for it where I wanted it to be. I was looking for ease of life, you know, a job, a healing or treatment, in my timeline, a brilliant song that would be song by hundreds. Instead my favour is the peace that I have had throughout what would normally be a really difficult summer. That's favour! An envelope on my car windshield jam pack with cash. That's favour! Coffee (Pumpkin Spice Latte) and muffin (Pumpkin/Cream cheese) delivered to me at work by two of my favorite people, on a Monday! Trust me, that's favour! A bunch of summer fresh veggies gifted by green thumbed friends, that's favour! Opening my wallet and finding a wad of cash with a note, "Rest in His Love". That is favour. Becoming a part of a group of friends that are becoming more and more like family, that is favour!

I can't look into someone else's life and see their favour and think that is what mine is supposed to look like. My life has my own struggles and my own glories. This valley that we are walking through is pretty deep. It seems very long. Yet, through it all, The Presence is so strong! The assurance that God's got this is overwhelming. 

This is an excerpt from The Passion Translation, Psalm 23, my new favorite.

"1God is my Fierce Protector and my Pastor. I always have more than enough.
2He provides a resting place for me in His luxury-love. His tracks take me to the quiet brooks of bliss, the oasis of peace.
3That's where He restores and revives my life. He opens before me the pathways to God's pleasure, leading me along in His footsteps of righteousness, so that I can bring honor to His name.
4Lord, even when Your path takes me through The Valley of Deepest Darkness You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way. Because You are with me. I have no fear of danger! Your authority is my strength and peace. The comfort of Your love takes away my fear. I'll never be lonely for You are near.
5You become my delicious feast Even when my enemies dare to fight. You anoint me with the fragrance of Your Holy Spirit; You give me all I can drink of You until my heart overflows.
6So why would I fear the future? For Your goodness and unfailing love will always be my companions every day; Then afterward, when my life is through, I'll return to Your glorious presence to be forever with You!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Good, Good Father

What comes to your mind when you think "God"? Do you think of a loving daddy? Do you feel comfort? Are you frightened?

I am a Christian and have been since I was a very out spoken 6 year old. It was logical that I become a Christian, I was going to a Christian school after all. There was no earth shattering redemption from the black hole of filth of my own making. How much mess could a 6 year old have made? I was too young to drink, my mother would not have let me get away with anything terrible, even by 6 year old standards!

During my teen years I had a few renewals of the heart. I wanted to make good and sure all my bases were covered. Every one was heartfelt and sincere. I never got into much trouble as a teen so even then, no radical 180° turns required.

In my 20s I had to decide if my faith was truly my own and not just the result of my upbringing. Having small children did not leave me much time to THINK DEEP THOUGHTS very often. I do remember not trusting God with my children. I thought he would take them away from me to "teach me a lesson". Surely, I had plenty to learn. I survived pretty much on my own. I was exhausted.

Until recently, the picture in my mind when I thought of God was of good ole Abe Lincoln sitting on his concrete chair, cold and distant, waiting for me to mess up again to say, "See? I told you, you never listen!" I did not see a good father, I did not see someone who loves me.  

I have a good dad. He has been a great example of a good father to me. Why did I think God would not be a good father? I am sure many would analyze my life and say that my father let me down, did not praise me enough. To that I say, Phewy! If we are going to play that game, we will do so all the way back to Adam. I am sure my dad did not do ALL THE THINGS RIGHT. None of us do. I refuse to lay blame at my dad's feet. That would mean my children can do the same thing to me! There is no way I am perfect! I have broken most of the "Good Mother" rules. This will only bring about condemnation furthering defeat. Do I have little girl memories when my daddy hurt my heart? Of course I do! Did my dad intentionally do things to hurt me, ABSOLUTELY NOT! We all work within the scope of our life experiences and hurts.

I know why I thought of God as cold and distant. I will let you in on that little secret. As long as I remained intimidated by the God I serve, I remain ineffective. I have always believed in God's existence. I have only recently believed in His goodness. How can I inspire others to embrace the goodness and love of God if I myself do not believe? If satan's desire and mission is to cripple Christians, all he has to do is convince us to believe a lie. Mission accomplished. 

The picture I now see of God is still in His big chair, but now I see Him engaged in me! Looking at me like a father would look at a child he is enjoying. I have engaged with Him and saw myself sitting on His lap, snuggled into His chest. I am learning to speak to Him. Jesus' death on the cross makes it so that I can. The difference this understanding has made in my life is noticeable, even to those who do not know Him. This difference changes my entire perspective on who I am which in true effects how I speak to others, my children, my husband and every person that I meet. 

What do you see when you think of God?

 Here's what I know, He's a Good, Good Father.