My Journey Along the Narrow Way

Archive for August, 2009

The Sovereignty of God…

Job is one of my favorite books of the Bible; mostly because it speaks a lot to the sovereignty of God. For example just read one passage where God Himself is speaking:
“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who sets its measurements? Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang
together and all the songs of God shouted for joy?
Or who enclosed the sea with doors when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
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When I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling hand,
And I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors,
And I said, Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop?’”

This is but one chapter…and Job has a lot more chapters just like it. There are not many places in the Bible that so clearly show the absolutely sovereignty of our Creator God.

When I read words such as these, I realize how very small I am. It makes me feel like the worm that I am. It also reminds me of how very trivial all these problems of life that I worry about actually are and how small and insignificant we really are. “For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. As for man, his days are like grass: As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer.” Psalm 103:14-16

In his book Future Grace, John Piper says, “The confidence that a sovereign God governs for your good all the pain and all the pleasure that you will every experience is an incomparable refuge and security and hope in power in your life.” Psalm 103:19 also says that “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.”

I agree with John Piper: What a comfort God’s sovereignty should be. And I realize that when I worry and have anxiety about the things of this world, no matter what they are, I am forgetting just who it is that I serve. This is the time that I need to go back and look at God’s own words in Job. I need to remember that God created the earth and all that is in it. How can anything I go through or any problems I have surprise Him? Or catch Him off guard? Or be too hard for Him to walk me through?

I was recently talking with a good friend and we were surprised to realize that our lives have had some very similar trials in them. One thing we both agreed on was that during these trials – trials that the world would say it was understandable to be anxious and worried about – we felt closer to God than we ever had before. He was right there…and we both knew He was caring for us during those difficult times.

This was so true that I can honestly say, when the situation was getting better, some part of me truly regretted that it was because I didn’t want to lose the closeness that I felt when I clung to God during those tough times. What that tells me is that I should cling to God during all times – the good and the bad. Again I go to Job who said, “…Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

If I believe that the indeed the Lord gives and takes away (and I do), then anything I’m going through is no surprise to our sovereign God. It all comes from His hand. And if the trials are allowed by God, then the rescue will come from God as well.

And in the end I know that I will see the ultimate sovereignty of God as I stand with Job and all the other believers through the ages and say, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me!” Job 19:25-27

The Things of This World…

I know we are called to live in the world but not be of the world. And I really try to keep my mind on spiritual things rather than temporal things. But, due to the recent downturn in the economy, that seems to be getting harder and harder.DreamOfVanillaSky1024

I know it shouldn’t be, especially at this time. I need to be clinging to Christ closer then ever. But oh how my flesh struggles. I think about things such as paychecks, groceries, and house payments rather than prayer, grace, and mercy.

Do others struggle this way? It seems like we all put on the happy face and act like everything is alright when we in reality we are all facing the same fears and struggles inside. Why don’t we lean on one another, share our fears and doubts, and strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ?

I’ve decided to be the first to say it: we are struggling. Money is tight and things are tough right now. I’m sure our family is not alone in this.

I’m clinging to the fact that when we are struggling and facing trials, God is close to us. He is watching us and guiding us every step of the way. In Job 12:15, Job declares, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” I am declaring the same thing: Though He [insert current problem], yet will I trust Him. An example: Though He lets us struggle financially, yet will I trust Him. And honestly, I do feel better once I declare this.

I think the struggle between flesh and spirit we face is summed up well in the following excerpt that I read in Pilgrim’s Progress recently: “Yet present things are so close to our fleshly appetites, and eternal things so far from our souls; we are apt to yield to our carnal desires rather than wait for the satisfaction of the eternal.”

I don’t know about you, but this puts it in perspective for me. And I’m going to remember this, cling to Christ, and “wait for the satisfaction of the eternal.”

The Big Poop…

Sometimes our family likes to play practical jokes. Not too often or the obnoxious type that no one likes and someone gets mad about, but the really funny ones where you really “get” someone else.

Way back in the day when Bella and Joey were in elementary school, our beagle Buster was around two years old. Buster was a really hard headed dog and he was going through the dog equivalent of the “terrible twos.” Every dog we have had has gone through a period like this. I really think it is like their adolescence. They have been trained but the willfully disregard it. They get mad sometimes and act out.

Well, Buster was all about acting out. He would get so mad at us when he got into trouble. He especially would get really mad at Bud. Every time Bud would really get onto him, Buster would sneak into our bedroom and pee or poop on Bud’s side of the bed. Every single time. This understandably, made Bud furious.

One day while Bud was at work, me and the children decided to go to the mall. We ended up looking around at Spencer’s and found the best joke prop ever…a really realistic looking poop. It was great – the perfect look, shape, and size to really play a prank on Bud. So we bought the poop. That in itself was pretty crazy to think about. We actually paid money for a plastic piece of poop. But it was going to be well worth the money.

We got home and we placed the poop right smack dab in the middle of Bud’s brand-spanking-new La-Z-Boy recliner and waited…

Finally Bud got home from work. It had been long enough we all had pretty much forgotten about the fake poop in the chair. We were all sitting around watching something on TV when Bud came home.

Bud went straight for his chair; saw the poop, and starting yelling: “I know I’m not seeing what I think I’m seeing.” Of course, we all started laughing hysterically. However, Bud was furious. And yelling about “killing a dog.”

There I am laughing so hard I’m almost crying and at the same time trying to grab Bud and explain that it’s a fake poop before he kills Buster! And anyone who knows me knows once I start laughing it is really hard for me to stop. So he is getting more and more frustrated with me because he can’t understand what I’m saying and I won’t let go of him so he can kill the dog. (Just so you don’t think badly of Bud, he really wouldn’t have killed him…at least I don’t think he would have.)

We had more fun with that fake poop. We ended up using it on my in-laws and eventually on both kids. But nothing was as much fun as Bud and the fake poop!

Fresh Cut Grass…

fresh cut grassWhenever I take one of those quizzes that seem to get passed around via email or Facebook, there always seems to be a question asking what your favorite smell is. Invariably, I always have the same answer – Fresh Cut Grass. A lot of people seem perplexed by this answer and want to know the reason behind it. So here it is…

One of the earliest memories I have is of my daddy. I was around 3 years old, no older than four. I know this because we still lived in Colorado, where I was born and lived until I was four. I was in the backyard and I was swinging on the swing set. My daddy was cutting the grass in the backyard. He had told me that the only way I could be in the backyard while he was mowing was to stay on the swing.

So that’s what I did…I swung and swung and swung the whole time my daddy was cutting the grass. It was spring or summer at the time. I remember the sun shining but it wasn’t too hot or too cool. The sky was a most beautiful blue color. The breeze was blowing by as I went back and forth. The only sound was the sound of the lawnmower.

And the smell…it was wonderful: this fresh, sharp smell of the grass. It smelled clean and, I can’t describe it any other way but green. This smell is all wrapped around in my mind with memories of my daddy. If I smell fresh cut grass he is all I think about. I don’t think that there is really a way to separate the two. It’s all about the emotions of those particular moments of time.

That memory is one of the few memories I have where I can remember exactly how I felt right then. I remember the happiness of being outside with my daddy. I remember how free I felt. I had none of the weight of responsibilities, worries. I knew that there was nothing to worry about or to fear because my daddy was there and I was safe. I just was in the moment and enjoying the moment.

This is such a blessing to have this memory. I think that when my daddy is no longer here on this earth, this will be what I remember more than anything else.

I try to remember this when I think about my Heavenly Father too. I have the same innocence and sense of complete protection from God. I have no weight of responsibilities and worries because I have nothing to worry about or fear because my Father is here and I am safe. I am just in the moment and enjoying the moment. And I thank my Heavenly Father for my earthly father who first made me see these things.

The Flower is Fading…

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“All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.” Isaiah 40:6b-8

As I read this Scripture, I think back over my life. I am definitely past the bloom stage of a flower, but I’m not quite yet a dead flower either.

I am at the point in my life where I’m that dreaded phrase “middle age”. My children are grown and about to fly out of the nest. I’m not starting anything new. I’m not starting a job, starting a family, starting a marriage.

All in all, it’s a pretty good place to be. Of course, there is sadness over the end of some things. I’m feeling the empty nest creeping up on me even now. And there is sadness over my children not being right here, a part of my life every moment of every day.

However, I do feel like there are some parts of my life that would be considered “late bloomers”. I think about my marriage. It’s been a routine for many years now. Kind of on hold…not fading but not blooming more, kind of like baby’s breath flowers. They never change.

I’m not saying this has been a bad thing about my marriage. I just think that is how it is when you are raising children. You get into the routine of what needs to be done, taken care of, washed, cooked, cleaned, etc. It doesn’t mean you love each other any less, it just means that your marriage isn’t always the most immediate thing that needs to be tended to at that moment.

But now I am seeing that as the nest empties, the flower of marriage is set to really start blooming. There will be more time for each other. Not near as many interruptions. More resources to spend on each other.

I think God gives us this time after our children move on to renew and refresh our marriage. To fertilize it and water it and make it bloom. That way when we people begin to fade as do flowers, we have a companion fading right along side of us.  Someone to love us despite the bloom having faded, the hair turning gray, the skin getting wrinkled.

What a gift from God this is!  To me it is such a picture of God’s never-changing, never-failing love for us as well.

I may be fading, my bloom is sagging some, but the flower of life is even more beautiful.  The love of God is even more nourishing.

“Lord, have mercy on us in our frail and fallible condition.  You are very powerful, and we are but grass.  We flourish and are gone.  Grant us grace to trust that You are good in all Your works and all Your ways.  May we never doubt Your sovereignty, even in the most painful times.  Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.  Though You cause grief, have compoassion on us according to Your steadfast love.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”  John Piper, Life as a Vapor

The Big Trip….

A couple of weeks ago I was simultaneously loading the dishwasher, putting clean dishes up, and wiping off the counter while Bud, Joey, and his friend Will were in the den talking and, in the case of Will and Joey, playing video games.

Bud was rushing me to hurry up with the dishes because he was ready to run to the grocery store and get groceries.

As is usually the case in our house, there were a couple of dogs thrown into the mix.

Our dogs believe that our dishwasher is an all-you-can-eat buffet that I’m too mean to let them partake in. They get so put out with me because while they are trying to lick off the plates, I find their long, long basset hound ears very convenient tools for getting them to move.

Because I’m such a mean person and won’t let them lick the plates, they think they have to race over to the dishwasher and get as much licked as possible before I start grabbing and pulling.

me n beauSo there I am…in a hurry as usual, trying to get a multitude of tasks done at once, and not paying attention. I opened the dishwasher to put a plate in and Beau the basset hound comes flying up behind me to get a lick in.

This actually was a great strategy for Beau since he usually isn’t one of the ones I have to yank out of the dishwasher. Therefore, I didn’t have a clue he was lurking around. I turned around to wipe the counter and he was right there….between my feet. Down I go as only a big girl can!

And there was no recovery of my footing, no flailing arms, just down to the ground.

I landed flat on my back. Straight onto the tile floor. And it was loud too. Beau sauntered by me and didn’t even miss a beat. He didn’t even bother to pause or check to see why I was on the floor…he just walked on by.

Bud came running around the breakfast bar and I’ll have to hand it to him, he was doing a pretty good job of looking concerned and not laughing. I, however, was hysterically laughing as I laid there. As were Will and Joey. Of course, Bud couldn’t hold out for long and starting laughing as well.

Bud got me up and we went ahead and went grocery shopping. I will have to admit that on the way home I got stiffer and stiffer. I was what the old people call “stove up” for a few days but not worse for wear.

I really hope the next time I take a Big Trip I’ll actually go somewhere else besides the kitchen floor.