Sunday, January 24, 2010

Let Him Lead

Blessings, Princess Warriors! The New Year is well underway and already there's so much to share. First, I must acknowledge the tragedy in Haiti. I trust your prayers are with the precious people of that broken country. Miraculously, as with any tragic event, God is bringing light into a very dark situation. I'm not going to debate the "why it happened" questions, but, only say: God loves people. God can and does use horrendous circumstances to change lives, families, even nations. I will continue to pray for His provision and purpose in Haiti. I'd like to play a more personal role in the aftermath, unfortunately, that is simply not feasible unless God does some major rearranging and providing in my own life.

As for my own personal life, it was suggested that a dog might prove to be the perfect companion pet for my daughter. So, we are now the proud owners of a 10-month-old American Eskimo Dog. His name is Stryder and he looks like a fluffy, white, mini-husky. Too cute! All puppy. We've been watching dog training videos and my daughter is reading books from the library. The whole household is working to teach this precious pup how to be obedient. Well, let's just say, this process is not as simple as those video's make it seem. In fact, I feel like we have a toddler that moves really fast and barks. And although he's semi-house broken, he still has little "accidents." Despite these doggy challenges, we love our new baby. When he gazes up with those big dark eyes, you fall in love all over again.

However, one thing I've noticed is that he has great difficulty allowing us to lead him on a walk. If you're a dog owner, I'm sure you've experienced this at some point in your doggy- owning-career. Some dogs tug on the leash attempting to force their will on you. They don't want to follow, but would prefer to lead! If the dog is strong enough, it can drag you all over the place.

As I was observing this struggle between my daughter and her pup, I was reminded of how I react to God's directions at times. I, too, tug and pull, fighting to go the direction I want. Granted, our Heavenly King has power that we don't wield as human pet owners, but I think the similarities can serve our purpose of discussion.

God certainly doesn't drag us around with a leash, instead he extends his hand and asks us to follow him. He is the leader, we are His followers. He knows the best way to travel. He understands how far we can walk without overtiring. He is aware of dangers that we have no clue about. He cares for us and wants us to stay on the right path doing the right things, the things He has purposed and planned specifically for us individually, and as a body of believers.

Unfortunately, like Stryder (cute name, huh?) I have many ideas about what I think I should be doing. I want to go one way and God is leading me another. When I fail to follow his expert advise and guidance, I often end up face down in a puddle of muck. I waste time, energy, even money, and wish I'd adhered to my Master's leadership to start with. Ahhhhh ....! Can anyone relate?

Have you even seen one of those professional dog walkers? I'm amazed they manage to walk so many dogs at once. Good "walkers" actually keep their charges all going the same direction with minimal difficulties. They obey and heed their walker's direction. Imagine all the people God is leading, the major difference is that He doesn't leash us to lead us.

He offers His hand.

It's up to us to connect with Him and follow.

One of my ongoing challenges is to stop being like Stryder. Stop tugging, fighting, and attempting to do my "own thing" when it doesn't line up with God's best. God does know best -- always. My own best ideas have gotten me in a world of trouble of the years. When I slow down and listen to God through His Word, wise council, and prayer, I find the going a whole lot easier.

I suspect that when a dog struggles against its master's wishes, it can end up sore from its misguided efforts. I know when I choose to struggle against God's guidance, I can end up "sore" emotionally, spiritually, and possibly even physically. Taking the wrong trail can lead us places better left untraveled.

So, what do you say that we, as God's priceless princess warriors, spend less time on what we want and more time on what our All-knowing Father desires for our lives? We can truly trust His intentions and directions. Amen!?! Won't you take His hand? He's waiting.

His Word Says:

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3 ESV

He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor. Proverbs 21:21 NIV

Come and follow me, Jesus said ... Mark 1:17a NIV

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year: A New Work

Happy New Year, Princess Warriors. I know. I know. I’ve fallen behind (again) on my blogging. And God has given me ample ideas to expound on.

So, staying true to the new format, my personal update is quite simple on the surface. We had a wonderful Christmas. I watched the glittery ball drop on New Year’s Eve, while screaming well-wishers and New York party-goers looked on with animated glee. I didn’t have the same level of enthusiasm as the revelers in Times Square, but with drooping eyelids, I was still able to muster a “Happy New Year” to my family, and felt the nostalgia of yet another year and another decade passing. More importantly, I felt that familiar expectancy and hope that comes with any new beginning.

I took note of the many things I’m grateful for, and set my sights on running the race before me.

Okay, so that’s partly true, but there’s more to the story. I am bombarded by worries, concerns, fears, and more often than I care to admit feel my relationship with Christ could be far deeper. I beat on myself mentally over the many areas I fall short in, forgetting the extent of God’s grace and love for me.

Thankfully, as always, God knows exactly what we need. He certainly knew what exactly this princess warrior needed: a major reminder of the most basic truths: God’s Grace is enough. His work accomplished it all. If I believe in Him, I will not perish but will have eternal life. Good stuff to remember all the time. Unfortunately, we too often read the words of John 3:16 and don’t allow the amazing, life-saving message to sink into our souls.

My friend gave me a gift basket for Christmas. It was filled with all sorts of goodies. One of those goodies was a copy of Max Lucado’s book, 3:16 The Numbers of Hope. I would recommend this book to anyone. Granted, I love Max. He has a way with words that get to the heart of the matter, making God’s grace evident to readers like me who need a fresh reminder of what’s real and what’s not.

John 3:16, the universal verse that many people, both Christian and non-Christian can recite. Shall we?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

As Max explains:

He loves.
He gave.
We believe.
We live.Bold

That’s REALLY, REALLY good news for those who believe. Unfortunately, we, like so many before us, tend to complicate what God’s saying. We want to add rules and regulations like the Pharisees of old. We don’t admit it, but we somehow believe that something more is required. How could God possibly love us that much?

When we sin, He so generously provides a way out. We don’t have walk barefooted across hot coals, or scourge our own bodies. We confess and trust that His sacrifice was enough if we will but believe and be born again.

We have, as Pastor Lucado so rightly points out, written our very own Bible verse: “God helps those who help themselves” (Popular Opinion 1:1) He goes on to say: “We’ll fix ourselves, thank you. We’ll make up for our mistakes with contributions, our guilt with busyness. We’ll overcome our failures with hard work. We’ll find salvation the old-fashioned way: we’ll earn it … Christ, in contrast, says to us … ‘Your part is to trust. Trust me to do what you can’t.’”

Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I have spent time, way too much time and effort, trying to be “good enough” for God, when the Only One good enough is Jesus Christ. He did all the work that needs doing. We simply need to be believing.

This year, this new decade, is wide open before us. As daughters of the King we have yet another opportunity to reign real, brining hope to an often hopeless world, and love to people who feel unlovable. Unfortunately, if we are unable to except God’s gift of grace, and the new life it brings, we will be unable to share His Good News with those around us. When we waste time trying to “work off” sins that have already been forgiven, we discount God’s mercy and call Him a liar.
Strong words? Yes. True? You decide.

Maybe you, too, need a refresher course on God’s amazing grace. It’s so easy to get caught up in “being a good Christian.” We are busy, busy, busy, but are we busy for the right reasons?
Why not take a few hours and read this book. I know it reminded me why we need to celebrate. We really are free from sin and death. We truly have a hope and a future. We are children of a God who loves His family and was willing to sacrifice everything to gain our love.
So, if your Holiday Season wasn’t everything you hoped it would be, please, remember God is everything He promised to be. And that is something (Someone) you can place your trust in.