When you want the glory without the path that gets you there

I dreamed it.

And it scared me.

Scared me right into humble submission to every long, hard, fatigued, feeling-sick day. Scared me into waiting patiently.  Scared me into receiving whatever I needed to learn and do in this hard waiting process.

It has been a tough 4 1/2 months. More negative emotions, failures, despairing moments, and struggles have been faced than I would like to admit.

And ever since week six, I had been grumbling about how I was excited about the child, but how I was horribly dreading/already hating the pregnancy . I kept whining to my very patient husband, “I just wish I could go into labor tomorrow. Why can’t I just skip the 9 months of utter misery and weakness, and get the kid?! Isn’t that what we were going to do with adoption? I’d do anything, just to be on my way to the hospital, ready to deliver this baby.”

And then I dreamed that it came true.

And I went into labor, and I was at the hospital….

…and I delivered a tiny, shriveled, and underdeveloped baby.  A dead baby. And the doctors told me,

“The baby didn’t have enough time to develop and grow. There was no way for the baby to make it.”

And that morning, the emotions still washing over me of what that would have been like, the Lord impressed it on my heart.

“What I am growing within you, is far more than a baby.  

And the character, patience, long-suffering, and endurance I will develop in you takes time.

If you rush the suffering, you will rush all that I am growing in you.

You will get a truncated self, just like that truncated baby”

So in my natural, in-my-strength, and according-to-my-plan self, I’d much rather avoid the messiness, weakness, humbling, and agony of it all.  Can’t we just skip to the glory? (have a precious little person in my arms to hold and to cherish?) But God is teaching me the same thing He was teaching His followers two thousand years ago.

You see, Peter seemed to have the exact sentiments as I do. (about the glory, not necessarily the baby)

This passionate and impulsive fisherman-turned-follower-of-Jesus, had great, bold faith in the Christ. He caught glimpses of a Kingdom led by this humble yet strong Man.  He was going to follow this God-leader into VICTORY.  He knew Jesus was the path to glory, to the Kingdom, that he had been longing for.

But he forgot that death is the path to glory, the shame of the cross the window into joy, the loss of self the finding of oneself.

He wanted what death brings about, but he wanted to skip the mess, the humility, the weakness of that which brings us to the resurrection.

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”  Matthew 16: 21-23

Peter didn’t want suffering, entrapment, torture and death for Jesus.  “There is another way!” He declares. “Far be it from you, Lord, that you should ever suffer such weakness, vulnerability, and humiliation!” Poor Peter, with all his good intentions, had his mind on the things of man, not on the things of God. And I, too, deserve such a rebuke. For Jesus has predicted my death, and I try to declare “There must be another way!”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 

Matthew 16:24-25

And who, in their right mind, would voluntarily choose death. and struggle. and suffering. and denial of our hopes and dreams. Who on earth would want to be a “disciple” if that is what the requirements are for the “Jesus Club”?

No one. Unless….unless, they witnessed, this leader walking straight towards death. Riding a donkey right into the city where He would be handed over. Continuing to be friends with the very man who would sell him for thirty pieces of silver. Head straight for the suffering. Not for suffering sake, but for the sake of the Love of the Father, the love of the Father for…

ME.

For US.

For the whole messy, bumbling crew of us.

When one witnesses that kind of suffering motivated by love, we can’t help but follow.

No matter what the cost.  No matter what the cross.

And because it was LOVE that motivated our Savior’s, sacrifice and death.

We can rest in the fact that no matter what sacrifices and deaths we face,

the Lord has led us there

Because of LOVE.

May we not shortchange His love simply because it doesn’t “feel” good in the moment.  For, if you just wait three days. (or 9 months in my case) or even years and years,

Glorious, wonderful, experience-love-to-the-fullest RESURRECTION takes place.

And its worth every step on the path that gets us there.

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One Thing to Cling to When Things are Tough

Where’s this blogging girl gone?
Well, after a week spell of intense editing and rereading into the late nights, sickness has slammed the family. And slammed the door on the writing momentum.

And when your husband, and your kids, and your pregnant self are all horribly sick, violently coughing through night after sleepless night, aching and feverishly enduring day after long day,and it hurts to breath,and you can’t talk (trying clapping to the kids to communicate to them each day) and you can’t quite keep up with all this (and who needs what, when):

The many attempts at fighting this misery-inducing beast off.

The many attempts at fighting this misery-inducing beast off.

and you start fantasizing about how you might manage to get yourself hospitalized so you can at least get breathing treatments, strong pain meds and SLEEP,

you can start to lose your bearings.

You can forget whose you are, and how He works in His children’s lives.

You forget that,

Desperate situations do not necessarily mean God’s dissatisfaction.

But rather, it is in the heat and pressure, and tension and struggle of those desperate situations that somehow God is working and moving and refining and sharpening a mother who on more than one occasion through this past two weeks of weakness has found herself saying,
“I’m in way over my head. I will never have my life together. Look at this messy house. Look at these snotty, sick kids. Look at your impatient sick self trying to yell at them through a fiery throat and intense coughing spells. Who am I KIDDING trying to bring another child into the world, much less adopt another one into our family?”

But,

Desperate situations do not necessarily mean God’s dissatisfaction.

A.B Simpson writes:

“The other day, my friend and I were passing by the power plant that produces electricity for the streetcars. We heard the hum and roar of the countless wheels of the turbines, and I asked my friend, “How is the power produced?” He replied, “It simply is generated by the turning of those wheels and the friction they create. The rubbing producers the electric current.

In a similar way, when God desires to create more power in your life, He creates more friction. He uses this pressure to generate spiritual power. Some people cannot handle it, and run from the pressure instead of receiving the power and using it to rise above the painful experiences that produced it.

Opposition is essential to maintaining true balance between forces. It is the centripetal and centrifugal forces acting in opposition to each other that keep our planet in the proper orbit. The propelling action coupled with the repelling counteraction keeps the earth in orbit around the sun instead of flinging it into space and a path of certain destruction.

God guides our lives in the same way. It is not enough to have only a propelling force. We need an equal repelling force, so that He holds us back through the testing ordeals of life. The pressures of temptations and trials and all the things that seem to be against us further our progress and strengthen our foundation.

Let us thank Him for both the weights and the wings He produces. And realizing we are divinely propelled, let us press on with faith and patience in our high and heavenly calling. ” (Taken from Streams in the Desert, by L.B. Cowman

So, those desperate situations do not necessarily mean God’s dissatisfaction…

They might actually mean His favor.

Follow the Cloud

“…the Lord your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.”

 Deuteronomy 1:33

He did this very thing.

My husband had been telling me to write a book for the past three years.

I just laughed at him.

“About what?!?”

“What do I possibly know enough about to actually write a whole book about?”

Well, as my plans to return to Newark, faded into the upcoming move to Atlanta last spring, Danny kept saying,

“I really think this might be the season for you to write a book.”

Still, I had no idea how that would play out.

Then late May of 2013, my friend who was living in Swaziland, contacted me:

“I know this sounds crazy, but as I continue to pray for you, I can’t help the feeling that we are suppose to embark on some sort of writing project together.”

Ok, Lord, I get it,

And the cloud started moving.

So after we moved and got settled in Norcross, GA we started scheduling time to sit and listen to the Lord and ask Him what sort of writing project we were to embark on and what it was suppose to be about.

Mind you, we were in different countries, different continents, different time zones, different hemispheres. And the same cloud that moved in my heart, moved in hers, and we started piecing together what this book might be about, what it might be called, how it might be formatted.

And little by little, piece by piece, a book began to be formed. Lots of listening, and journaling, and scribbling on little notecards was engaged in. We recruited prayer warriors.  We spent time on our faces.  We spent time listening to Jesus on the cracking phone line because making phone calls from Swaziland isn’t the easiest experience.

I popped in another Veggie Tales movie, when I should have been homeschooling my 4 year old and monitoring my 3 and 1 year old, and I typed.

And I stayed up until 3 and 4 am at least once a week typing away, studying away. The Cloud was saying “move!” push forward, write every spare minute, move forward. And I did.

And it came together, our book called,

Radical Tabernacle

God came to dwell among us. That He might dwell in us. That we might dwell among them.

A discourse on the elements of the Old Testament Tabernacle, the ways they were fulfilled in Christ, and how they continue to be fulfilled in and through us, as Christ lives in and through us.

In January,  we had gotten 90% of the book done, when a literary agent asked for a book proposal. We scrambled to even figure out how to write one, then put it together to present.  That’s when we got our first rejection letter, due to too small of a platform.

And now, due to a very challenging pregnancy, it has taken the past three months to finish this last 10% of the rough draft.  The Cloud has said , “camp” simply through a body and foggy brain that can hardly get three meals a day ready for five children, much less stay up late to write a book. I am so thankful that the Cloud said move hard, move fast last fall, and that I followed, for at this point, and this pace, this book would NEVER have been written.  But God, in a certain window of intense availability and energy, He prompted us into this adventure.  May I never miss another prompting, simply for the the miracle I have seen Him bringing about in this process.

~~~~~~~~

But here we are now, ready to enter into the heavy editing phase, and the Lord has kept bringing us to Scripture about the consecration of the Tabernacle and the rededication of the Temple (the permanent Tabernacle).

Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy. Then anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils; consecrate the altar, and it will be most holy. Anoint the basin and its stand and consecrate them. Exodus 40:9-11

and then in 2 Chronicles 29:15-17, after a long rebellion of the Lord, the people reconsecrate, clean out, and anoint the elements of worship in the (now permanent) tabernacle

When they had assembled their fellow Levites and consecrated themselves, they went in to purify the temple of the Lord, as the king had ordered, following the word of the Lord.  The priests went into the sanctuary of the Lord to purify it. They brought out to the courtyard of the Lord’s temple everything unclean that they found in the temple of the Lord. The Levites took it and carried it out to the Kidron Valley.  They began the consecration on the first day of the first month, and by the eighth day of the month they reached the portico of theLord. For eight more days they consecrated the temple of the Lord itself, finishing on the sixteenth day of the first month.  2 Chronicles 29:15-17

And now we clean up, we reconsecrate our manuscript, we listen long, and sort through and we ask the Lord, “What stays?” “What goes?” and “What is still needed?” We pray over and ask for the anointing of the Spirit of God over each element of this manuscript. And we would ask for prayer as we enter into this task.

Nicole, my co-author, has blogged about prayer requests as we enter into this phase, if anyone is interested in helping pray us through this process. And for all of you who have been praying, and cheering us on,

Thank you.

And may each of you continue to follow the Cloud of the Presence of God as He leads you and prompts you, the thrilling adventure that awaits is never a dull one….and never an easy one.