Independence or In Dependence…

 a picture riddle for you: which looks seamless, so right, that beautiful fireworks sounding word – what our country stands for, good grief?  Which gets more points in Scrabble, which is able to boast just by the very length of its being?  and… which one is shorter, and if one looks carefully, one can almost see that first small “n” in “In” grasping out to the “D” in “Dependence” to be a part of something bigger than it can be on its own?

In Dependence: “Lord, You are my Rock and my fortress; Therefore for Your Name’s sake , lead me and guide me.”  (Ps. 31:3)

Independence:  “The fool says, I am in need of nothing…”

In Dependence:  “Have mercy on me, O  Lord, for I am in trouble!” (Ps. 31:9)

Independence:  “Quick!  Get to the computer and google “how to get out of this trouble” and  order the book and chew  your nails until it comes, yes  help is on the way…”

In Dependence: “Has He not said, wait…wait…wait…?

Independence:  There  must be a limit to the waiting…

In Dependence:  “Lord!  Don’t forsake the work of  your Hands!  Your Mercy endures forever so I ask You to accomplish that which concerns me!” (Ps. 138:8)

In Dependence:  “On You I will wait all the day

Independence:  “I can’t just wait all day”

In Dependence:  “MAKE me know the way I should go” (Ps. 143:8)

Independence:  I must have gone the wrong way to get us here in this place…

In Dependence: “Revive me, O Lord, for Your Name’s  sake” (Ps. 143:11)

Independence:  maybe you  have everything you need…OR maybe you know you don’t have close to everything  you need, but you simply can’t buy the party line anymore that to simply cry out to Him and WAIT IS the way to go…so you’re busy; busy in your mind, busy with your actions, busy listing solutions, busy doing everything but crying out and waiting.  Or maybe you are crying out then acting as soon as you are done crying out…

I know even if I am not doing anything, I can be completely independent in my mind, wrestling with thoughts and solutions, all the while I sit and wait…Maybe it is simply a tiredness of waiting and so I stop talking to Him about the thing I have been bending His ear over for eternity, it seems…

In Dependence:  that little word “in” – O so desperately needing the Dependence to even breathe…

Independence, on the other hand, self-sufficient, prays then acts.  Or acts then prays.  But…limits its prayers, I think…Quick to determine whether prayer is  working or not based on response time from God.  Quick to move on from praying if doesn’t see results.  Takes the word “wait” and puts a time limit on its definition.  Uses the currency of minutes when defining “wait”, when God’s currency is certainly years, if not generations…

Should there be a time limit on waiting?  After all, we moderns are nothing if not realistic.  What IS a realistic amount of time to wait on God?  Wait for God?  what is a realistic number of times  to cry out to God about the very same thing you cried out to Him about yesterday??

Independence numbers,  defines, puts boundaries on, is realistic, and looks for results.  In  Dependence cries out to Him, and waits…

I don’ t know how long one is to wait before taking action…or whether you can be in  a posture of waiting while taking action… but I DO know that if  I use  Scripture as my definition of how long to wait, then I am impatient, for I have yet to wait for my entire life and then die,  still  not having realized the fulfillment of His promises to me, like He asked some to do.   How many actual children DID Abraham, the “father of many” actually have, when he died?  Nations?  no.  What about the land he was promised  as an inheritance? no.

Maybe the mistake is in thinking that the waiting is only productive if one has something to show at the end of its time?  Or maybe it is an attitude of independence that is so offensive to our Father who knows how  bad we need Him, who not only doesn’t mind being needed, loves being the One who is the  Rock and Redeemer and Deliverer…

I think maybe that long word, independence, is an  illusion…best  to stick  with what is proven to be right, whether it looks that way or not…He IS faithful – He tells us our way of measuring time is  all off, that what for us feels years is but a second, that our whole time here on earth is as short as a vapor…

Waiting is  one thing we can do…and it is good and  right, and never wrong, I don’t think…

“We are  married unto Christ; and shall our great Bridegroom permit His spouse to linger in constant grief?   Our hearts are knit unto Him: we are His members, and though for awhile we may suffer as our Head  once suffered, yet we are even now blessed with heavenly blessings in Him…There are streaks of joy to herald our eternal sun-rising…”

Wait…He is coming and all  manner of all things  will be well…

Stand firm…

La Jolla Cove, May 2012 visit to Dad’s

Romans 5:2  ...the grace in which ye  stand…

Galatians  6:1  STAND FIRM, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again...

“Resistance and stability are implied in the words.  One very important item in determining a man’s power of resistance, and of standing firm against whatever assaults may be hurled against him,  is the sort of footing he has...”(in my own words: at that point, whether you slip or not has less to do with you and more to do with the object you are standing on.)

Is your foot planted on Him?

“And how does a man plant his  foot on the grace of God? Simply by trusting in God, and not in himself…Jesus  Christ brings to us…stability which will check the vacillations of our own hearts.  We go up and down, we yield when pressure is brought to bear against us, we are carried off our feet often by the sudden swirl of the stream, and the fitful blast of the wind.  But His grace comes in, and will make us able (NOTE: His  GRACE makes us able, we d on’t make ourselves able) to stand against all assaults…”

What I take away from this:

1.  I am fickle (no duh).  That’s  o.k., He knew I would be this way.

2.  My feelings and moods, even perceptions, will go up and down and vacillate and I can even be carried off by a blast of the wind,  BUT

3.  He is STEADFAST and IMMOVABLE.  I will not fall as I am standing on Him, and He  doesn’t fall.  Ever.  He is the hand holding the kite string and although  I am dipping and bobbing and am completely out of control in my estimation,  He  remains firm.

He is the ice protecting me from the murky depths of suffocation underneath a frozen lake.   My safety has nothing to do with how much faith I have –  it has to do with how  thick the ice is.  All the faith in the world will not protect me from breaking through the ice and sinking to the bottom if the ice is thin.  The littlest faith in the world WILL protect me if the ice is STRONG.  If I am on strong ice, I can jump up and down,  or fret and fear and tiptoe gently and hold my breath, and it doesn’t affect my safety.  Standing firm is  trusting His  safety and sureness,  therefore I am  in a good place.

What to do if you think you’re bewitched

“Here is some great sweep of rolling country, perhaps a Highland moor: the little tarns on it are grey and cold, the vegetation is gloomy and dark, dreariness is over all the scene, because there  is a great pall of cloud drawn beneath the  blue.  BUT the sun pierces with his lances through the grey,  and crumples up the mists, and sends them flying beneath the horizon.  Then what a change in the landscape!  The tarns that looked black and wicked are now infantile in their innocent blue and sunny gladness…and all the heather burns with the  sunshine that falls on it.  

So my lonely doleful life,

if that light is from God,

the beam of  His love shines down upon it,  

rises into nobility, and flashes into beauty,

and is Calm and Fair and Great,

as Nothing Else  can make it.

                                                                                       Alexander Maclaren 

IT  IS NOT  the landscape of your life that is the problem!!  It’s NOT  the landscape of your life that is dark and dreary –  it’s  the clouds and darkness that make it look so!   You will be able to see that once again when the sun pierces  through the clouds!  The landscape is fine!! It’s just  how is  looks in the dreary no sun days … When the sun p ierces through,  you will see  that the landscape of your life right now is Delightful!

Think, beloved, THINK!!  Think on the times the sun HAS pierced through and  you have been able to see how delightful it has been.   Actually, each day  I bet at least once the sun pierces through the cloud somewhere, and a ray of light illuminates a small  piece which before looked dreary, and not  beautiful –  yet when that ray hits it, that very thing is now “infantile in its sunny blue and gladness!”

O, wait, and wait some more!  You aren’t imagining things –  it’s just that you can’t use your eyes of sight right now…wait  and look with your  eyes of faith.   Remember the  times you have seen this same landscape  and  it was sunny blue and gladness…stand firm in His grace and wait for Him, the Son,  who WILL come and will ride on those clouds and you will laugh and laugh and the earth will explode with gladness…

Little faith…

She was five, maybe six  years old, when she said this.  And I knew at that moment  that there is a childlike interpretation of Scripture that is often closer to the right meaning than that of any grizzled old theologian.

“Mommy, how big  is a mustard seed?”

“It’s one of the littlest seeds, love.”

“(pause)We must have really REALLY little faith, then, because  we can’t even move a mountain!”

In our arrogance, we who can’t move mountains yet certainly can twist steel and build 100 story mountains…we who can’t tell a  mountain to go into the sea but with a small push of a lever can blast holes through those mountains…we in our arrogance say, “a mustard seed! Ha!  That’s all  the faith we have to have!” as  if that drop of water is nothing compared to the ocean of faith WE think WE have.  And we boast of our “mustard seed” faith and claim in the name of Jesus things that  probably not even Mary the Mother of Jesus thought to claim, and somehow we think we are already fitting into that definition and say “we only need a mustard size seed of faith to do great  things!” , forgetting that what He defined could be done with mustard seed faith, we are unable to do.

This is encouraging  to me.  I already knew I was “little faith”.  I just didn’t realize that so was everyone else.

If  Jesus’ definition of mustard  seed faith is the ability to move a mountain into the sea, I am in a very  good place when daily I whisper to Him, “O Lord, help my unbelief.  Forgive me  for my lack of faith and give  me more please, Lord – not the giant level of a mustard seed moving mountains faith, but the tiniest grain of sand plodding faith.”  It’s hard to believe that this could be pleasing to Him, but each day that I do my daily duties without a speck of good feelings or a tiny bit of something to show for it following behind them, I am truly walking by faith.  I  think.

Where did we  get this idea that we can  do anything for Him, the King of Kings and Creator of all?  He doesn’t need our  “help”.  I will not be surprised at all if when I get to heaven  I spend at  least a thousand years laughing at all my ways I thought I was “helping” God and walking “by faith”.

Faith is clinging, not doing.  Faith is asking, not telling.  Faith is plodding, not flying.

Lydia now, at 12 years old, and best  friend Gracie.  Gracie’s family are with Wycliffe.  Grace’s father Kevin, was career   military – Retired about  7 years ago and moved here to JAARS –  he works with the military in recruitment – who better than ex-military to move all over the place doing Bible translation?   Their family had us over for dinner when we stopped by here on furlough a few years ago,  when they didn’t even know us –  Lydia had met Grace just once and talked talked talked about her…and then when we suddenly “reappeared”  a  year ago Feb., unexpectedly, to live here, they had us over, pulled  up two rocking chairs, said “sit and  tell us everything”, and then listened.  Dear friends…

Elisabeth Elliot’s advice on how to prevent giving way to “hysterical fears”…

Aren’t you glad those two words “hysterical fears” were in quotes, that they were said  by Elisabeth Elliot, that woman who seemed to rise above and laugh at fear?  Apparently not.  And I am glad about this.

“When the awful picture of the thing you’re so worried about returns to your consciousness, confront that thing with  God.  Lift it up into His Presence.  Ask Him to help you see it as He sees it.  Contemplate it in the light of  your eternal destiny.  This will keep things in proportion, I find.  And it prevents my giving way to hysterical fears.

I am seeing so many of your faces as I write this: real fears about prodigals, some not yet feeding the pigs but looking that way and beginning to entertain the thought…facing the fact that in the coming week a judge  will rule how often you can see your grandchild, due to divorce for your child? others married and fearfully wondering if boredom can kill one in the late stages of marriage, terrified of being in this same position for the rest of ones life……children in early  adulthood that may not be able to EVER realize their good, good dreams of marriage and children…heartbreak for parents, fears of not being able to handle the results of that test the Dr. gave you, O fears everywhere one looks in this seemingly out of control world.

This little formula of E.E’s works.  I have tried it..  Here  it is, simple really.  Aren’t you GLAD it doesn’t include simply “just don’t fear”?

Steps when fear begins to take over:

1) Name it.  Take that exact picture of what you’re worried about to God.  Dump on Him all your fears about this.

2)  Ask God to help you see it as He sees it.  Listen to what He says.  Write out what He says.  Read it when you find  yourself back to near hysterical about it. (you will, you know – so do write it out, really –  an index card carried  in your pocket works great).  In fact, if any of you want to send me your fear verses that help you see this as God sees it,  I will compile them from everyone and send them back.

3) Contemplate it in the light of your eternal destiny.  I have to say that this one is always where the relief comes in for me – and  makes heaven so much  nearer, which is Biblical, by the way…

spiritual heaviness is not sin…

Image

MAKE ALLOWANCE for infirmities of the flesh, which are purely physical.  To be fatigued, body and soul, is not sin; to be in heaviness is not sin. Christian life is not a feeling; it is a principle: when hearts  will not fly, let them go, and if they will neither “fly nor go”, be sorry for them and patient with them, and take them to Christ as you would carry your little lame child to a tender-hearted, skillful surgeon.

Does the surgeon, in such a case, upbraid the child for being lame?

– Elizabeth Prentiss

sticking to it in the flat times…

BECAUSE you had a good time spiritually before Christmas and enjoyed devotion,  yet you are now having a flat time.  But sticking to it in the flat times is of far more value both as service and as discipline than luxuriating in religious emotion.  It’s what strengthens the spiritual muscles.  Even the best people, even the saints, have always had to bear  it., sometimes even  for years.   It’s  a natural condition in the spiritual life.  I know it’s perfectly horrid when it happens and I do not mean to be unsympathetic, but you must get enough grip to go on trusting in the dark.  All the prayer in the world will not get you into a state in which you will always have nice times.  You must make a rule of life and go on with it steadily…

Gentle attempts, gently to wilt whatever suffering God may kindly send us, the grand practice of at once meeting suffering with joy – God alone can help us to succeed in this, the practice of meeting suffering with joy.  But what is Christianity, if it not be something like this?”

-Evelyn Underhill

I keep wanting  it to be perpetual Christmas and I am always, always, always surprised when the presents stop.  And when I get the presents of a pair of socks or new underwear, that I know to be necessary and useful,  I can’t help thinking that the fault lies partly in me – that I did not communicate well enough with the  Giver to make Him understand that I really don’t care at all for these kind of gifts, and in fact, they ruin Christmas for me, and thank you, I have enough socks  for now.

The Giver, who loves me more than I will ever be close to imagining, doesn’t sway from  His intentional giving.   He knows what He is doing.  He knows this is loving, and not only will my fragrance be better, those around  me will benefit as well from these practical and NEEDFUL gifts.

The enemy seems to always be  present as well.   He is quiet when the gift is obviously a good one…after all, what can he say?  But he is quick  to speak when the  practical gift is opened.  “If you had asked Him differently, you could have gotten a better gift”, or “This is because you have been bad this  year, and this really is simply a lump of coal”, or “This isn’t even your gift!  You are picking this one up by choice and totally missing His call to you in this one,“or “If you  had more faith and were a bit more mature, you would  rejoice with joy when you opened this pack of socks, because you  trusted Him and knew it was good.  What is the matter with your faith?

God will not be turned into my personal  santa –  God  forbid  I would ask Him to do so.  I  will receive the socks and even wear them.  And by telling you about this unexpected gift, I am sharing its fragrance as well.  That  is redeeming this gift.

It isn’t Christmas  yet.  Not f or reals.  We can’t “luxuriate in Christian emotion always”.  But we can still make most days Christmas  Eve, or the eve  of the eve of Christmas Eve  (right, T?), and can stick to it in the flat times, by anticipating what IS coming.  This is trusting in the dark…