Friday, May 27, 2011

May 2011 - Abundance

Baseball – when throwing a ball, where you look and where you point your finger is where the ball goes, regardless of where you SAY you want it to go or even where you truly WANT it to go.  Saying and wanting are not enough. It takes focus and choice of what to point at.  Keep this illustration in mind as we continue.

You can spiral up toward God or spiral down away from Him – it is your choice; you cannot remain still.

The enemy steals, kills, and destroys. He may have stolen your hope, dreams, goals, etc., or killed or caused destruction to a person or thing that you love/treasure/etc., but don’t let him continue to steal, kill and destroy as a result of you not choosing to focus on God and the good that God IS and the good that God WILL bring forth.

So here is where it gets tough...and here is where I pray that you understand my heart and what I mean, and don't get turned off by how harsh this may come across. It is not meant as harsh, and it is difficult for me to live out - so I'm certainly not asking of you anything I am not striving for myself!  Just read it all the way through with an open mind, and ask God to show you His truth.

We can focus on the “not enough” or focus on the “abundance.”  We don’t have a “right” to ANY good thing. We have longings, often placed in our hearts by God, but we do not have a RIGHT to anything.  Rather than lament the short time we had with someone, we should be aware of and thankful for the abundance we DID have. We do not have a right to tomorrow, or even to the next second of today – for our own life, or for the lives of those we love. Every moment we HAVE had is proof of God’s blessings, of His abundance, of His love toward us. Sure, it feels like much less than love to have these losses, but each loss also represents abundance. Every good thing, every good moment, every good anything is abundantly more than we deserve. Perfect life, where our every longing was fulfilled, could only have happened in the Garden of Eden. Because we are not there, perfect life cannot happen. But God chooses to still shower abundance upon us. Can we see it? Will we choose to look for it?  Will we trust that it is there? Will we look back and realize that it has been there all along? Will we look ahead and KNOW that it will be there in our every moment?

Even if the ONLY thing you can see in your life, or in a situation, is that God was/is with you – isn’t that still proof of His abundance? For as many times as we have each failed Him, disobeyed, fallen short, He still is with us…isn’t that abundance? Yet we have so much more than that! Of course loss still hurts, and it may always hurt. Of course we grieve – God also grieves. He is not the author of stealing, killing, or destroying. He is the author of life. He is the healer, the great physician, the provider, the giver of strength. 

The enemy wants us to believe that because of one loss, or even multiple losses – because of something that was stolen, killed, or destroyed, that there will never be a time of redeeming that loss, never a time of restoring, never a time when abundance is seen again. But to believe the enemy is to allow him to continue to steal from us, to continue to kill and destroy that which God has purposed in our lives. It is to choose to miss out on the abundance that is happening all around us, the abundance of now. 

This is all about perspective. This is about remembering, grieving, longing, yes – but also about remembering, hoping, SEEING. (What will we remember? For perhaps it is the stuff of remembering that is the first step of both spirals.) Oh that we may SEE the abundance all around us – in our own lives, and not just in the lives of others. For when we see, our perspective changes. And while we grieve, we also find life. For God gives life, and he has abundance waiting for you and for me.

Back to the baseball illustration.  If we focus on the stealing, killing, and destroying, if we point out all the things around us and in our lives that are lost and stolen, then our lives will head in the negative direction, spiraling downward. The more of the negative we focus on, the more negative we see, and it is overwhelming and fills us with despair. BUT if we focus on the giving, the abundance, if we point out all the things around us and in our lives that we HAVE, things we have no right to have, we will go in a positive direction, spiraling up closer and closer to God. And the beauty of this is that as we spiral up, we see more and more of His goodness, more and more of His abundance in our lives.  Spiraling up doesn’t mean an epiphany every time you open the Bible, nor does it mean that you spend half of every day having a quiet time. It just means that you are desiring Him more, leaning into His truths, seeking His face in each day. 

It’s not some super-spirituality that only a few can attain. It is a relationship in which God is inviting each of us to share life with Him.

Where will you focus? Where will you point? Because where you look and where you point is where you will go. Want it, say it, focus on it, point toward it. Point with relentless abandon. Point even when it doesn’t make sense. Point even when everything in your natural body is screaming at the injustice of what you are experiencing. Point to God and His abundance. It is all you have. And it is everything. 

And it is enough.

April 2011 - Stepping Stones gals are back!

Hooray for repeat-sharers :)  Yes, that was probably grammatically incorrect, but you know what I mean, right?

Janet and Lynn (and Leslie in spirit) again blessed us with some of their God-given wisdom.  First, a few random thoughts I wrote down as they shared...I promise it'll get more cohesive as this post moves on.  Who knows what I was thinking at the beginning?

Hebrews 12:11 - Discipline is training in righteousness, not a punishment for sin.
Job 3:16 - the Bible recognizes stillborn babies as infants.
Isaiah 65:20 - in heaven, babies won't die before their time

A few things Janet remembers learning during her journey through infertility:
- the world is not out to get me
-those around me who are fertile are not out to get me
-couples with kids, or with a certain number of kids, are not blessed while I am not blessed (kids don't define whether or not I am blessed)
-focus on the blessings I HAVE received
         -God says, 142 times, to remember
-keep my eyes on the path God has for ME, not the path He has for others
-He has a unique purpose for each of us.

In Isaiah, it says that God does not thresh all grain the same. He knows the exact pressure for each piece of grain, for it's intended use. We have to trust that the way God is choosing to thresh us is exactly right for the purpose He has chosen for us.  (And the way He is choosing to thresh another person is exactly right for the purpose He has chosen for them as well.)

Be more honest and open with friends and family members.  Remember that if one partner is infertile, both are infertile (it's not about blame or who is at fault - you are ONE body).

Walk outside your door and find someone you can minister to.  Isaiah 58:10 - as you minister, your grief lifts.  Janet shared that at one point in her journey, she quit kicking against God's plan for her life, and invested in a ministry.  (Doesn't have to involve kids though!)  The ache in her heart remained, but a joyful ache, not a bitter ache, believing God's best for her.  You have to lay it down and let Him pick it back up if that is in His plan.  Make God the singular source of your delight.  Psalm 37:4 -He will either give you what you are currently desiring or show you something else you are desiring (or that He causes you to desire).

She remembers God asking her "will you love me if I don't give you any children/any more children?"  If you don't get what you want, how will you regard God? God's word is to give life, not to steal life. You will reap what you sow - choose now how you will respond to God's chosen gifts.

Never consider adoption as a second best option.  Adoption is God's FIRST choice - look at how we, as Christians, are considered to be part of His family!!  Sometimes God closes a womb and opens a heart.  But adoption should never be the fall-back option.

Journal - it is important to be able to look back and remember God's faithfulness.  Look back at the lessons learned...but also keep moving forward!

Make sure your hope, faith, trust, and confidence are in God - not in your doctor.  Think medical decisions through to the very end, so you are not caught off guard by a morally or ethically difficult decision that resulted from a previous choice you made.

Enjoy life - don't lose it to bitterness or wishing for kids or more kids.  Wishing for kids can become a controlling disease.

You have permission not to attend a baby shower!  For Janet, there was a time when attending a shower caused her to question God, so it was best that she not attend.  It wasn't about jealousy or anger.  And if you are hosting a shower, it can be very helpful for those struggling in this area if you include a line like: "if for any reason you can't come, know that you are loved, welcomed, and excused."

God wants to comfort us, but it's our choice whether or not to receive it.  Focus on God - the Giver, not on the gift you seek.  If you gain children but lose God, you have lost it all.  Are you wanting something more than you are wanting God's will?

If I can't have what I think is best, God must have something better.  Trust Him. Yield to God's purpose in your circumstance.  Quit kicking.

Oh, one more thing - angels are not recycled people!  When a baby dies, it is not accurate, necessary, or even helpful to say that God needed another angel.  :)