The Will of God and Spiritual Worship

It was probably in the early 70's that I went, along with other ladies, to a Christian women's retreat.  I don't remember where it was other than some place in Washington.  I can't even remember what the guest speaker spoke on.  But I do remember going with an anticipation of finding out, really, what the will of God was for my life.  I so wanted to do what God had for me and was afraid that I would miss the mark.  So, at this retreat, I remember standing in a long line of women waiting to be prayed for by a godly woman named Anita Berquist.  Funny that I can remember her name when I'm having a hard time recalling her face.  I knew that any happiness that I could have would be that which comes from God.  I also could sense that this woman who was going to pray for me was close to God, knew Him better than me (of course) and could direct me in a good way.  As my turn came and I poured out my heart to this woman she kindly prayed for me.  I'm sure that I cried (see my last post) as the emotions were so high.  Then she referred me to Romans 12.  Here it was ~ the great secret that I was to find out.  I was looking for specifics:  Was I to get married or stay single?  Was I to become a missionary to some foreign land working among impoverished peoples?  What direction was this scripture, this voice from God, going to take me?  So as I quickly went back to my room, threw open my Bible, this is what I read:

     "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."  (This is only vs. 1 & 2.   I encourage you to read to the end of the chapter).

Sad to say, this wasn't what I was looking for.  I was disappointed because it wasn't specific enough.  It is shaming to admit it now.  How could one be disappointed in the Word of God?  But there it was.  I didn't know where I would be next year let alone next week.  I didn't know what I was supposed to do with my life.  Its safe to have an itinerary of life so that as it happens you can check it off to make sure that all is accomplished.  This is what I wanted ~ a check list.  

Well, life happens.  And after almost 40 years of trying to live sacrificially I have come to this conclusion: it's messy and somewhat uncontrollable.  All the check lists that I have made for myself throughout the years have gone by the wayside as I have come back to bending the knee to His divine plan.  Because He does have a plan.  After all this time living a life of spiritual worship looks like sacrifice and thanksgiving in the messiness of life.

I wonder if we don't get so distracted in the "doing" of life that we miss the "being" of life.  This goes along with working hard for God and missing the relationship that we can have with God.  I had longed for a life of devotion to the Savior but, many times, had missed the closeness of just being with the Savior.  Now, looking back, I can see how the Lord has lovingly brought me through many things to work out that which my soul had longed for all along ~ Him.  Because the living and the sacrifice is always tied to the loving and gratitude for Christ.

There is a stanza in a hymn from Isaac Watts that says:   "love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."  In the years of being a "follower of the Way" I have come to realize that the sacrifice or demand of life really is an honor and a privilege because His love is so amazing.  I think that this is spiritual worship.  Not that we have it all figured out and our life is in order but that He gives to us what we need and He takes from us what He wills so that He becomes everything to us.  Hard work and sacrificial living can be a delight and a joy if done in light of God's love.

Because of God's mercies we are able to present our lives as a sacrifice, holy and acceptable.  The possibilities are limitless and the future is full of hope.  In light of what we have been and are going through, even in this last month, it could look a bit overwhelming.  But if looked at through the scope of spiritual worship it's all good.  God's mercies still shine through.

I have gone through two chemotherapy sessions so far.  The first one I had a few down days with some aches and pains but no nausea (yeah!).   Yesterday was the second session and I feel fine today but then  last time it didn't hit me until Thursday.  The doctor has said that since they only give me one of the two drugs this week that it should be better.  We shall see and I will take it as it comes knowing that the Lord will always give the grace to do what has to be done.  This brings gladness to me as I present my body as a living sacrifice in this season of life.

I have been so blessed by all of you who have come alongside to pray and give words of encouragement.  There is a feeling of great indebtedness for all the kindnesses that I have received.  This gives evidence to God's grace and mercy even in this time.  Thank you so much!

Romans 11:36


Just Having a Moment

It's the moments in a day that make up a life and each memory that we have consists of moments from the past.  Some moment/memories brings a smile and a warm feeling to our hearts.  Others bring the cloud that threatens rain.  We brace ourselves for these moments, putting on a game face and maybe holding the umbrella of survival.  And then again some moment/memories surprise us.  I remember standing in the grocery aisle picking out who knows what when I started to weep.  Right there in the grocery aisle ~ no hiding or pretending that I had something in my eye.  It had probably been ten years since my dad had passed away and yet there I was, blinded by the buckets of wetness that was coming from my eyes as I missed my dad.  This did pass and I was able to compose myself once again.  I'm sure those who saw me quickly forgot about the woman who was having a melt down.  But for me this moment turned memory had been etched into the folds of my mind.

It might have been from this memory that I started using the phrase, "just having a moment".  Because, you see, there have been many moments when the emotions just could not be contained any longer and have spilled over.  This can lead to some awkward moments when people don't know what to do with me.  So, through the tears I put up my hand and say, "No worries ~ just having a moment."  Sometimes I can even smile or laugh while crying which helps to bring the tensions down and the awkwardness of the situation to a minimum.  It used to really bother me that the emotions were always so close to the surface.  Now, it is a resignation of the fact.

Everyone has emotions and everyone will cry in their lifetime.  Jesus wept.  The apostle Paul writes as someone who has much emotion.  And why wouldn't he?  Christ appeared to him as one out of season and in a miraculous way.   For the Christian to understand and experience, even in the smallest detail, the grace and wonder of Christ's love for us should bring such emotion as to render us undone.  Nothing compares to this.  Can you imagine the apostle Paul speaking to crowds in a monotone saying this:
      "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?  Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?  For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever. Amen"

To be sure there is much to weep over in this world.  Everyone has felt the ache of sorrow and pain.  But God has promised to turn our mourning into dancing.  There is a day coming for every believer that all tears will be wiped away.   Even now our God gives grace and peace to live each day in the sunshine of His favor.  So when those rain clouds threaten to give way, go to Jesus.  He is the source of all life and He withholds nothing but lavishes us with His kindness.

It is okay to have emotions and cry.  Some of the best moments with Jesus is the crying that comes from gratitude.  And while you are crying put on some dancing shoes.  Then,  do a little singing and dancing in the rain.

As an update:  We had to be at the hospital at dark thirty in the morning today as I was scheduled to have the port put in.  I'm happy to say that all went well and we were home a bit after noon.  It's still a bit sore (understandable) but I was able to enjoy the sunshine and even get a nap.  Chemotherapy starts on the 15th.  Thank you for your prayers.  I know that He hears!