Something Missing, Something Found

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I will never forget her radiant smile. Her laughter was contagious. Joy overflowed from her heart. I will never forget her jokes. I will never forget how much she loved Jesus. I will never forget that she prayed about everything. I will never forget how much I wanted what she wanted. God gave me the opportunity to watch her very closely since we rented a house together our last two years of college. She was the real deal!

I was a believer in Jesus, but as I entered my second year in college I realized my love for Jesus had waned. Something was missing. It wasn’t really clear to me that it was waning until I met Kim.

Kim radiated joy and that joy came from Jesus. Some of our theology was a little different, but that didn’t matter. I saw her living out her Christianity in front of my eyes and it made me thirst for what she had. I thirsted for that same Jesus intimacy she had. I thirsted. I found. The best word I can think of to explain what needed to happen in my life is the word surrender. Some might view that word a little negatively, since it entails the sense of giving up. But, it’s not negative!

Surrender is a wonderful way to live because we are giving up something that isn’t good for us in order to receive the very best. It’s giving up trying to run my own life to the One who knows best how to order it. And, it’s good. Because I witnessed a transformed life modeled through the life of my friend, I decided to hand over the reins of my life to Jesus. My life has never been the same! I still mess up terribly, but He’s always there to pick me back up and get me back on the right track.

Because of Kim, I became a part of a strong faith community, thus I learned how to grow deeper in a way that brings transformation. I distinctly remember discovering what I needed to do, how I needed to grow, in order keep that intimacy alive. There are things that ensure spiritual growth, but always required is a daily, even a moment by moment surrender. Again, it’s a handing over the reins of my life to Jesus the many things that, in reality, I want to be in charge of. Including:

  • My schedule.
  • My words.
  • My attitude.
  • My actions.
  • My thoughts.
  • My money.
  • My service.
  • My relationships.

I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt Who Kim was following. The question I need to ask daily, and often frequently during the day is: Who am I following? Me or Jesus? Would you be willing to ask the same question? Our homes and our world will change when it is Him and not ourselves.

Remembering the Last Morning with my Mother

Cherry Blossoms

On my walk this morning I couldn’t help but reflect back on the morning of October 23, 2014, the last time I’d have with my mother. I’d been with my parents in Texas for 2 ½ weeks walking through the shadows of death that were accompanying the last days of Mother’s life.

I woke up that particular morning about 6:00 and thought, “Why not do my morning devotional with Mother?” So, I pulled my chair up beside her bed, a bit unsure of what I was going to read that morning. For some reason, I landed in Psalm 119. I’m not certain why I chose that particular Psalm, but as I began to read, it was evident God led me there.

I chose to read this Psalm aloud. Mother was in a semi-conscience state. In the physical realm it seemed there was no awareness, but I know in the spiritual realm, there was a deep awareness. God wanted us to pray together through this Psalm for all the Loves in our lives. At least twice, I thought, “Well, I’ve read enough, and prayed enough.” But, something or Someone urged me to keep reading. It’s 176 verses!

This probably was one of the sweetest and most powerful moments I’ve ever spent in the presence of the Lord. I read a few verses and then audibly prayed words from them for our mutual Loves, our spouses, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. We even prayed for those unborn babes that would come into the world through Mother’s grandchildren. And, isn’t it awesome that one of those babes was born just three days ago! Here are things we prayed taken from this powerful Psalm:

  • That our Loves would keep their way pure as they live according to God’s Word.
  • That they would seek God with all of their hearts.
  • That they would hide God’s Word in their hearts.
  • That they would be kept from deceitful ways.
  • That they would turn their eyes away from worthless things.
  • That they would know and understand the unfailing love of God.
  • That they would walk in obedience to God.
  • That God would give them knowledge and good judgment.
  • That they would meditate on God’s Word.
  • That they would have lips that overflow with praise.

Today I made the commitment to read and pray through this Psalm once again on the anniversary date of Mother’s sweet and gentle passing into the arms of the One who made her and loves her so.

          Heavenly Father, May this be the way I will celebrate You and my mother’s life on this

          Earth on all the future October 23rds You give me. Amen.

Thirsting For God

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Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/carsten_tb/2885878882

This morning as I was reading Psalm 42 I remembered hearing a great sermon 10 years ago while attending a conference in the beautiful mountains of New Mexico. I was at a spiritually dry time in my life. I can’t remember the reasons, but I knew something was missing in my love and passion for Christ. I knew something was lacking when I worshipped. I could see passionate worship in others, but it wasn’t in me. It was through the words of this servant of God and this particular Psalm that God spoke to me. The Psalmist wrote: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” I was thirsty and I was desperate and I wanted to be filled.

In that sermon, the pastor told a powerful story of a young man who was going into the ministry. Like most young ministers, he wanted to know the key to a powerful ministry. He knew of a godly older minister whose ministry had been amazingly powerful and fruitful. He sought him out to seek his wisdom. He had to find out the secret! The older minister asked, “Are you sure you want to know?” “Yes, I do,” the young man proclaimed! The older man then took the younger one to a horse tank full of murky slimy water. Without warning, he grabbed and plunged  the young man’s head down into the murky water. He held it there even though the young man struggled mightily. He finally released his vice-grip hold and raised him out of the water. The young man took in a huge gasp of air. It was a wonderful, deep freeing breath. The older man said, “When you’re as desperate for God as you were for that next breath, you will have the power of God.”

That night we sang a song that will always be one of my favorites that is taken from Psalm 42.

As the deer panteth for the water

So my soul longeth after thee

You alone are my heart’s desire

And I long to worship thee

You alone are my strength, my shield

To you alone may my spirit yield

You alone are my heart’s desire

And I long to worship thee.

I want you more than gold or silver,

Only You can satisfy.

You alone are the real joygiver

And the apple of my eye.

I know joy in worship returned for me that night. I was grieved that my love and worship for God had become lukewarm. I asked God to forgive me and I know He did. I expressed to Him how much I loved Him and that I wanted joy restored more than I wanted anything else. He knew my heart. He heard my cry. He responded. That’s the kind of God I know, I’ve experienced, and want to live for. Restore to me the joy of your salvation. And give me a willing spirit to obey you. Psalm 51:12