Monday, May 31, 2010

"The reason most people fail instead of succeed, is that they trade what they want most for what they want at the moment."
~ Anonymous

Thursday, May 27, 2010

At Any Cost

AND since it is of Thy mercy,
O gracious Father, that another day is added to our lives;
We here dedicate both our souls and our bodies to Thee and Thy service,
in a sober, righteous, and Godly life:
in which resolution, do Thou, O merciful God, confirm and strengthen us;
that, as we grow in age, we may grow in grace,
and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. ~ Amen."
(1828 Book of Common Prayer, Morning Prayers)

"And since it is of Thy mercy...We here dedicate both our souls and our bodies to Thee and Thy service..."

Ever feel like God is repeating something to you no matter where you turn? In my life the past couple of weeks the theme has been sacrificing my thoughts, time, emotions, heart, desires, relationships, hopes, fears, my whole LIFE to Him. I copied the following prayer into my journal and the front cover of my Bible:

"LORD, I give up all my own plans and purposes,
all my own desires and hopes and accept Thy will for my life.
I give myself, my life, my all, utterly to Thee to be Thine forever.
Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit.
Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt,
and work out Thy whole will in my life
at any cost now
and forever.

~Betty Scott Stam~

The line in bold has me troubled: at any cost. I began reading The Cost of Discipleship by Bonhoeffer at the end of last year. He said a similar thing: if we are disciples of Christ Jesus it will cost us everything. Are we ready to pay the price? Am I ready to pay that price?

At any cost. Am I willing to root out sin in my life? Am I going to sacrifice friendships, family, even marriage? Will I offer up my hopes, dreams, and desires? Will I lay down my very life for the sake of Jesus Christ?

Well, how much do I love Jesus? Do I love Him more than my sin? Is He my desire above all others? Really? Would I give up my independence, Colorado, the familiar and the adventures in life? Do I love Him? Or do I want my own way more than His? Do I really think my choices, likes and dislikes, plans, and steps are better than His? Do I love Him enough to let go of them and find out? Do I love Him?

What price am I willing to pay? Something higher than most Christians offer? A very high price? Everything?


He doesn't ask us to follow Him at a high price. He didn't pay a high price for us. He paid the highest price. He demands the highest payment. Not because He is cruel or egocentric, but because He is just, He is worthy, He loves us. Do we love Him? Do I love Him?

Do I love Him enough to give Him everything? Enough to answer His call? Enough to be obedient to His commands? Enough to be called a disciple? Isn't it all or nothing? Why try to live somewhere between those options?

I admit, there are far too many rhetorical questions in the above lines. Far too much is assumed or open-ended.

There are many hard questions there.
I know what the answers should be.
I wonder how my life will actually answer them...

~ Johanna

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Good Ol' Summertime

Have you ever taken the time to listen to a chorus of tree frogs while watching the moon rise? Perhaps you don't live in a place that affords this luxury. In that case, you are probably missing another key element of the quintessential Summer evening: lightening bugs. Next you'll be clamoring that you don't have local outdoor ice cream stands, drive-in movies, cornfields, and you've never smelled the sweet scent of freshly mowed hay. You will tell me that the indispensable sights, sounds, and scents of summer are sunscreen, salt water, and grilling. I'll agree with the grilling one at least.

It's funny how our growing up experiences solidify in our minds what a season is or is not like. Thunder, lightening, and the fresh smell of rain are fundamental to late Spring and early Summer in the Midwest. But what if you grew up in the desert or by the sea? You would miss the wind blowing through the wheat fields illuminated by scores of fireflies. Yet what do I not know as familiar? The waves upon the shore, the moon trailing over the water, the sharp cry of gulls winging their way home at night. These are foreign to my understanding of "normal".

Isn't it wonderful that God created various landscapes? Isn't it marvelous that we have different perspectives based on how and where we were raised? Isn't it splendid that we are not all cast from the same mold? God is creative; ingenious, really. That, of course, is an understatement. God's ingenuity and imagination surpass the most vivid colours of the ocean and its inhabitants, or the wildflowers in a meadow, or persons on the streets of New York. Can you picture the grand adventure of Heaven? Perhaps there will be new sounds, tastes, colours, dimensions, and other things I cannot yet conceive.

Where are these thoughts going? Good question... I really just wanted to write about tree frogs and fireflies. I wanted to capture at least a snapshot of the Beauty I experienced on my walk this evening. Words can paint neat pictures in our minds at times, but they cannot beat being there. To be in that place in that lighting with that smell...

No, words cannot come close to touching reality. But Oh! Words can make our imaginations soar, cause our hearts to swell, and lead us to Beauty. They have a different power, another role and purpose. We need both the experience and the words to describe it. We need to communicate (even if only to ourselves) all of the things our senses perceive. One cannot replace the other, it is a necessary union.

~ Johanna

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Be All There

"Wherever you are be all there.
Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.
~ Jim Elliot

This quotation has been one that I refer back to often in life. Especially when I might not like exactly where I am...

Today finds me at my parent's house in Indiana under grey skies. I could feel miserable (and have, off and on, since arriving). I could throw a pity party. I could spiral into depression. But what will I gain from such things? What will those around me gain from that? Won't I be depleting them if I act that way? How does feeling sorry about my situation serve the LORD?
Isn't He worthy of praise in spite of my feelings? If this is where He has put me, shouldn't I choose to learn from this place?

Yesterday I began to re-read Let Me Be A Woman by Elisabeth Elliot. In chapter 10 she makes these profound statements:

"The stages of their [the Israelites] journey,
dull and eventless as most of them were,
were each a necessary part of the movement
toward the fulfillment of the promise.

Single life may be only a stage of a life's
journey, but even a stage is a gift.
God may replace it with another gift,
but the receiver accepts His gifts with
This gift for this day.

The life of faith is lived one day at a time,
and it has to be lived - not always looked
forward to as though the "real" living were
just around the corner.

It is today for which we are responsible.
God still owns tomorrow."
~ Elisabeth Elliot

Yes, God still owns tomorrow. He owns the rest of my summer. He knows why I am not working at Summit East this summer. He knows what He wants to teach me and tell me, today, and in the upcoming weeks. I need a hearing heart and listening ears. I need to remember that even if these weeks are seemingly eventless, they are still part of the journey.

My prayer comes from Psalm 37:4-5 --

"Delight yourself also in the LORD,
and He shall give you the desires [your heart should have].
Commit your way to the LORD,
trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass."

~ Johanna ~