Was I Surprised!

   This morning I woke up with a song on my heart that’s been with me periodically throughout the day.  It’s about waiting on God.  As I mentioned before, I’ve been reading the book The Prayer of Jabez, by Bruce Wilkinson.   Today he was encouraging readers to pray for God to provide opportunities for ministry in their everyday encounters.  I’ve been praying about ministry within my local church, but have not given too much thought to ministry in my daily walk lately.  After all, I’m retired and my day usually takes me to the gym and back home, unless I venture out to meet a friend for lunch or go on a date with my husband.    I guess you could say I haven’t been giving much thought to allowing God to use me apart from writing.  As I said earlier, my manuscript is at the publisher’s and I’ve got quite a bit of time on my hands.  I get a little antsy when I’m not working on a project.

     So today I asked God to enlarge my territory as I went about my daily activities.  First I went to the gym.  “All right, God,” I whispered, entering my local Curves center, “Here we go.  I’m available.  I wonder who needs to hear a word of encouragement here.”  The few women there, me included, talked about our weekend activities and about the severe storm we had last night.  I threw in a few details about the car show my husband and I and some friends attended downtown on Saturday, but that was the extent of ministry I experienced.  The best news my listeners got was not to buy those big, beautiful gas guzzlers I saw on display.  Oh, well. Let’s move on to the next opportunity.

     Later today I set out for a doctor’s appointment.  Surely there would be some poor soul waiting in the lobby who could use a good dose of encouragement.  Would you believe I was in my seat for two minutes and was called back for my appointment, leaving behind the same five people who were seated when I arrived? Go figure!  As it turned out, my appointment went well, except I left with yet another pill to add to my growing senior citizen medicine chest.   What’s up with that?

     Finally home, I ate dinner and decided to call a young friend who has been struggling with a life-threatening illness.  “Surely I can encourage her,” I thought.  Well, you might have already guessed.  She had a wonderful report about healing in her body and even laughed at some of the side effects she had experienced earlier in her journey to wholeness.  Before long, I was laughing along with her, forgetting about my own problems and praising God for His miraculous work in her life. 

     God used a phone call to remind me He is in control.  I set out to encourage someone else and ended up being blessed by hearing a testimony of His faithfulness.  Be blessed by this song as you wait on God.  And don’t be surprised if He enlarges your understanding of who He is as you go about your day.  He is full of surprises!  He certainly got me today!

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Enlarge My Territory!

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     Have you ever seen the movie Little Women?   On Saturday I happened to see Wynona Ryder star in an updated version of the classic story about the March family, set in New England during the Civil War.    Based upon the life of author Louisa May Alcott, the movie is the story of four very different sisters whose family faces many challenges during the Civil War.   Poverty and an absent father who goes off to fight in the war are chief among their trials. 

     The central character is Josephine, a very bold, outspoken, brave, loyal, and highly principled young lady.  Better known as Jo, this young lady dreams of a life unlike her more traditional sisters.  She sometimes finds herself frustrated by her perceived limitations of a female during that era and sometimes wishes she were a boy so she could be free to follow her dreams instead of the expectations of others.  She longs for freedom.

     At one point of frustration, she unburdens her longings with her mother.  I don’t recall the exact words but they sounded like, “Why can’t I be satisfied with the usual life that my sisters have?  Why am I so often frustrated with things that make other people happy?”

    Jo’s mother responds, “Jo, you have so many extraordinary gifts!  How do you expect to live an ordinary life?”  Wow!  What an affirmation from a mother who obviously understood her daughter’s heart! 

     Does any of this sound familiar?  Are you wondering why you are experiencing frustration when others around you seem satisfied with the status quo?  Have you ever thought you just needed to be content like everybody else and just accept your circumstances?  Do you find yourself giving thanks yet still sensing some unrest in your spirit?  Then perhaps God is nudging you, calling you out of your comfort zone, into the deep–that place of unknowing, that realm of water walking.  

    I have a yearning for more–not more material things, but more of what God wants for my life, whatever that may be.  My book, The Price of Pearls, about overcoming challenges in my life, is at the publisher’s for a first read and I’m waiting for God to give me my next assignment.  I have a desire to do something I’ve never done before.  Okay, I’m putting it out there:  write a novel.  Part of me says I’m crazy!  You’ve never done that and there are so many great novels out there now!  What makes you think you can do that?  Well, a couple of years ago I actually had a dream that I had written a novel.   Not too long ago, I accompanied a friend to her writers group and listened to a detailed explanation about outlining for a novel.  That was a little intimidating!  But I’m willing to learn more.  You see, I have this passion to write and I will not be satisfied until I follow it through!

     Have you ever asked God to enlarge your territory?  Have you ever heard of “the Jabez prayer”?  For the second time in a few years, I’m reading Bruce Wilkinson’s book on that topic as a part of a Bible study at church.  Timely, I might say.  So if you’ve been experiencing some frustration, perhaps God is prodding you. 

      Like my friend Jabez,  dare to cry out, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!  Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain (1 Chron. 4:10).  Do you know what the next phrase says? “And God granted his request.”  Click on the adjacent song title and be blessed as you listen. (PS:  I haven’t quite learned how to embed the actual video yet.  Stay tuned.)

Are You Counting Your Fears?

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     “I’m scared of motorcycles.  I’m scared of gorillas.  I’m scared of firemen and I’m afraid of policemen.”    I listened intently as my three-year old grandson sat on my sofa, counting his list of fears one by one on his fingers.

    “What are you doing, Christian?” I heard my daughter ask in disbelief.

    “I’m counting everything I’m afraid of,” Christian replied.  I waited quietly, wondering what she would say next.

     “Christian, your last name is Harris, and Harris boys are not afraid of anything,” she countered.

     “That’s right!” Christian responded confidently.  “I’m a Harris and I’m not afraid of anything!”  My spunky little grandson sat up straight and stuck his chest out proudly.  “I’m not afraid of anything,” he repeated.

     Wow!   In that one minute, I heard a powerful message.  Sometimes we don’t even know we’re rehearsing our litany of fears.   Not until the Holy Spirit shines his light upon our thoughts do we realize we’re allowing our fears to block our blessings.

     What are you believing God for today?  What would you do if you were not afraid?  Are you spending more time looking at your fears rather than what God is saying? 

    I remember an old song we used to sing in the Methodist church when I was a little girl.  It went like this:  

     “Count your blessings; name them one by one.

     Count your blessings, see what God has done!

     Count your blessings; name them one by one.

     Count your many blessings, see what God has done!”

      What song has God put in your heart to help you counter the fears which will surely come as you press into new territory?  Why not write that song down and meditate on the words throughout the day?  Better still, how about singing it while driving or working?  For some of you, consider your co-workers before raising that tune.  Better to confine your skills to the privacy of your office or cubicle!

     Romans 8:15-16 states,’ For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by Him, we cry “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.’

     So what do we do when those fears come?  1.) Tell the Father.  He already knows our fears.  He’s not surprised. 2.) Count your blessings.  Remember how He’s helped you before. 3)  Find scripture to meditate on.  There’s more than enough Word on any given topic. 4.) Get yourself a song.  God likes to sing to us.  We just need to listen.  5.) Then obey what God is telling you.  He may be talking about step one today.  That might be just enough to handle for now. 

     If you’re like me, you might be asking, “Will I ever conquer all my fears? ”  Hey, if we were totally without fear, would we ever depend upon God?  Probably not.  Okay, if you said yes, great!

       Situations come and go.  And along with them come the “What if’s.”  Sometimes we just have to do ________afraid.  Fill in the blank for yourself.  Most of my greatest victories came when I stepped out in fear.  God met me when I realized I could not do_________in my own strength.  How about you?  Will you stay in your comfort zone or step into new territory?  As Nike states, “Just do it!”

 

Are You Talking to Me?

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    A Father/Daughter Conversation:

I have chosen you.

Are you sure you have the right person?

I have called you.

Do you hear my doubts and my fears?

I have called you.

Are you sure you haven’t made a mistake this time?

I have called you.

Do you see my limp today?

I have called you.

But what about this struggle I’m having?

I have called you.

But I feel so inadequate.

I have called you.

But I may let you down.

I have called you.

But I’d rather wait until another time.

I have called you.

With all my petty cares and distractions?

I have called you.

Who will listen to me?

I have called you, daughter.  Now be still and know that I am God.  For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). 

 For you see, daughter, I knew before the beginning of time that you were the one well-suited for the task.  I made you.  I know all your weaknesses.  Nothing is a surprise to me.  Don’t let the distractions of today hinder my work through you.  I am not surprised by your struggle, for it’s in the struggle that I supply the grace for my will to be accomplished through you.  Then you will know that you have not done the work, but I.   Keep walking.  Keep moving forward.  My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).

    Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why,  for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:10).

     Wondering if you’re the only one?  Relax.  Trust me.  No, trust God.