Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thanksgiving*

For days and days, I've been watching as my friends post the things for which they're thankful.  I love** every post and love this whole idea, this practice of daily seeking and speaking out those ways in which our lives are blessed. 

And yet I've not participated.  I think that I thought somehow that I'd make some kind of statement by not making any statement.  You know, "I'm grateful Every Day, dont'cha know?!"

I'm still this plain ridiculous sometimes.  Will I ever stop embarrassing myself this way?!

However, strangely, in an entirely different vein of thought - or so I thought - I recently had one of the clearest realizations of my entire life and for this - the realization and the realized thing - I am thankful.  Immeasurably thankful.

Sometimes I wonder why I do this, write these words, tell these things to ... that's just it.  Does anybody read this?  Does anybody care?

Would you believe these questions really don't matter to me?

What I really want is to make a difference, a positive difference, in other lives.  I want to share the joy and hope I've found in Jesus Christ in such a way that others will want to know Him too. 

I don't know what purpose this thing serves, who reads it, if it lights a path.  But I keep writing because I have faith.

I've been intrigued by some of the big life questions:
"Why would a loving God allow suffering?"
"Why wasn't my prayer answered?"
"What about the kid in the Amazon who's never heard the gospel?"
"What about the scientific evidence that supports ___ or ___?"

But there's never been a question to which I've required the answer in order to know that He is there.  God is alive.  He is present.  He loves me.  He loves me so much that He manifested Himself in the person of Jesus Christ to walk this planet, to suffer and die and rise again so that the penalty for my human depravity would be paid and that I might have from now into the never-ending blue of heaven to spend with Him.

I have had this faith for all of my life.  That's not to say that I haven't struggled with things or that I haven't been angry with God or that I've never tried to ignore Him.  It's that there's never, ever been a portion of my life that was not measured against Him - because I have always known Him to be there.

And oh my, God, how great a gift!  How many times have I read,

"There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have." 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (NIV)

without realizing that I have been given a very specific gift, by the Holy Spirit Himself, and for a purpose?

Now I'll be honest here and tell ya...I might have picked healing, or miracles, or prophesying*** - something that would seem immediately and obviously and magnificently powerful and world-difference-making.

But then the Amplified Bible calls it a "wonder-working" faith.

There have been moments since my epiphany that I've felt the pang of guilt.  In this very moment, for instance, I feel great sadness for those who wrestle with those same and other questions and who need to have answers.  Maybe God will someday give me wisdom or knowledge so that I can help with resolutions.  Til then, I pray that my words demonstrate the kind of peace that is attainable through communion with God.  And I have faith that this thing has a purpose, that He will somehow use these words for His own kind of wonder-working.  And that's all I need to know and for that, I am immeasurably thankful.


*so two posts are named the same.

**we water down and misuse this word but that's for another time.
***He equips and gifts as necessary and that can change but that's also for another time.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mighty

I "got saved" (a phrase still too church-y ) when I was a child but I didn’t understand what that meant, didn’t understand salvation until many years later, as an adult.

There’s this verse, Romans 5:8, that says, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Or in other words, God says, "I loved you at your darkest."

I’ve seen a lot of darkness since I was a child. I’ve had the great misfortune of having to witness my own dark side at work. And I’ve been down in a pit so deep and so dark that I’d lost all hope of ever seeing daylight again. I never could have dug myself out of such a place. But God...

God made all of this ~ everything ~ and that’s pretty powerful. And He made me too. And He loves me - in spite of everything I’ve ever done, in spite of everything I ever will do.  And, well, that’s pretty powerful too.

Left to my own devices, I would just keep digging. I would eventually cover myself over in my hole. Left to myself, I would destroy myself. But God is mightier than my will. He is stronger than my self-destructive nature. His love for me is more vast in every direction than the deepest pit of hell and He sent Jesus to raise me up out of it. All I have to do - all any of us ever have to do - is just reach up and accept His offer.

I was given a very special opportunity to speak these words into a microphone along with a couple of my very most favorite friends.  To See this message rather than just read it, click: Mighty To Save.

"The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.
And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined."

Matthew 4:16 (NLT)