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Monday, February 12, 2018

That Long Stretch of Silence

My parents were teasing me not long ago for my use of “Lola.” She’s my GPS. I have traveled back and forth across the country with her guidance. But my parents were right, if I had to use a paper map, I would've been in some serious trouble!

Thankfully, we live in the age of technology, where I venture to say, just about everyone reading this has had some experience with using a GPS. The concept is just wild when you really think about it. A global positioning system that knows exactly where you are on God’s green planet at all times! It really is amazing.

You type in your destination and set out on the journey. Lola (or whatever name you’ve given to your GPS) is happy to give directions to get you out of town and on the highway. Once you are on course, she goes quiet until it is time to give you the next instruction.  Living in the middle of nowhere, it is quite normal to drive 100+ miles in the exact same direction without ever making a turn. I know some of you can’t comprehend that, but out west, it’s a thing! It’s long. It’s flat. It’s boring.

On that long stretch of highway, you get lost singing to the steering wheel or conversing with your loved one as you drive off into the horizon. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a voice enters your vehicle telling you to "Exit right in one mile." It startles me every time! I forgot the GPS was on! 

God’s voice is kind of like a GPS. It has been for me lately. At one point I could hear His voice so clearly. He was guiding, giving direction, providing insight and helping me understand. Then it went quiet.

For the last six months I have grown quite frustrated by God’s silence in my life. Is He mad at me? Did I do something wrong? Why isn’t He answering me like He has before? Maybe you have wondered the same things. 

The answer is no. No, He’s not mad at you. No, you did nothing wrong. 

He’s not talking because you are right where you need to be.

You are on the straight and narrow highway that goes on for what seems like an eternity. The long stretch of silence seems to never end. Life seems dull and autopilot kicks in, much like it would on a west Texas highway. 

But, never does the GPS quit tracking your movements. Never does it turn itself off. It's with you the whole way. It talks to you when it needs to give you directions.

Have confidence that you have listened to His voice and obeyed. If He is quiet in this season, trust the words He has spoken to you previously. Trust that you are on the long highway for a while. He has not left you. He is not punishing you with silence. He is watching your every move and will chime in when it comes time for you to exit or to make a turn. 

If you are in the middle of  a desert highway with 74 miles to go, would it really be helpful for your GPS to tell you how to navigate the big city and reach your destination? NO! The timing would not be appropriate. Likely, it would just confuse you all the more. What you want is for the GPS to give you step-by-step instructions when you need them. 

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

If God gave you the rest of the instructions you were looking for right this second, it would only cause confusion, panic, and unnecessary stress; besides, it wouldn't make any sense. Trust His words. Trust His timing. If you're on that long stretch of silence highway, sing praises to His name. Jam out to the knowledge of who He is! When it is time to get your attention and prepare you for the new road ahead, He will do it. It will be the same tender voice that got you started on the journey. Until then, enjoy the scenery, you won't pass down this road again! 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Positioned for Praise

Have you ever felt rejected? Unloved? Undesired? Looked over, passed by, ignored… If you have lived any length of time, I am sure you've felt that way at one point or another. Maybe you are deep in the throws of it right now. 

In Genesis 29, we meet a young girl named Leah. She wasn't the prettiest or the most talented. Leah was the girl no one wanted. Felt like that before? Of course, like any young lady, she had dreams of romance and a happily ever after. She'd even imagined her wedding a few times. But, she got caught in a plot that her crafty father devised. It was so messy, you couldn't even call it an arranged marriage. It is every bride's nightmare to wake up on your honeymoon to your new husband throwing a fit because he married YOU. Talk about rejection! Let's add a little fuel to the fire and learn that the girl he really loves is actually your perfect little sister… 

Genesis 29:31, "When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb." 
Friend! If you are feeling as unlovely as Leah, I have something to point out to you. 

The Lord SEES you. 

He knows the grief of your heart. He has caught your tears. He is aware of your situation. He knows the depth and darkness of your pit. He has compassion for you. You, darling, are never overlooked or unloved by the God of this universe. Allow Him to bless you through the hurt. 

Leah began to conceive and bore sons to her husband, Jacob. After she had her firstborn,  Reuben, she thought that her husband would love her. Nothing really changed. She named her second son Simeon thinking her man would now be more attached to her than before. Didn't happen. She cradled baby Levi having the exact same thought. Three sons couldn't buy his love for her. Imagine the pain and defeat. 

But son number four… Judah. (The name means "praise.") Rather than desire her husband's devoted love, she recognized that she had God's all along. "This time, I will praise the Lord," she confidently declared. The purpose of her heart had shifted. I imagine her praises continued to ring out even in the face of being rejected and picked over. Every time she called his name, she would be reminded of her decision to rejoice in the Lord. Should we even begin to talk about the obvious tension that would have remained between she and her sister for years and years? No doubt the hurts remained, yet regardless, Leah positioned herself for praise. 

Thank GOD she did! Matthew1:2 begins the genealogy of Jesus. "Jacob, the father of JUDAH, JUDAH the father of Perez. 

Judah is a direct defendant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Leah… that was her son written in to the very heritage of the Lord and Savior. It wasn't her sister's child. It was HERS. It wasn't her firstborn either; it was the son with whom she had purposed to praise through the pain. 

I wish somehow I could have shown her how the story would end. If she could have seen Judah's name right there in the list! I wonder if she would have been able to more easily endure the sting of rejection and deception. I wonder if she would have cried tears of joy and insisted on no other way than the painful road she was on. 

Leah's praises made way for her son, which made way for Jesus. 

What do your praises make a way for? Are you willing to praise through the pain? Are you willing to trust the the end of the story makes where you are today seem like no big deal? 

Praise my friend! This is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Regardless of how you feel. PRAISE - it is your pathway to peace. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 states, "Rejoice always,  pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

So if you are beginning this year feeling a bit down and dejected; tired by life's curveballs, I encourage you to remain in God's will for your life. We make the will of God a complicated thing. It's really not. Rejoice always. Never stop praying. Give thanks in all things. That's it! When you became a Christian, you gave up your right to moan and complain, to live in worry and to act like the victim. The exchange was Christ's life for yours. His sorrow brings your joy, His pain brings your healing. You are no longer living for you, you are living for eternity. 

Adjust your perspective. Trust the end of the story. Know that whatever you are walking through right now will be more than worth it when you get to the other side. Determine in your heart to quit striving and exchange your sorrow for a song. Praise is the pathway to peace!