Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fall...Even the Leaves Are Losing Their Grip!

Woo wee! I don't know what it is about October, but it is always the month when I seem to run out of steam. I love fall, but always seem to hit a wall this time of year. What can I say? Even the leaves are losing their grip! I guess the excitement and energy of starting a new school year begins to give way to routine and exhaustion. Whatever it is, it wears me OUT! You, too? I was thinking today that I need a little perseverance. One of my favorite bible verses is, "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:30-31. Because I've been feeling a little faint, I decided to study a little on perseverance.

Webster defines perseverance as "the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult." That requires some endurance. "Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that He has promised." Hebrews 10:36. Receiving all He has promised--well now that sounds like a pretty good deal because Matthew 24:13 says, "But the one who endures to the end will be saved." Can't get a better promise than that. I am all for being saved. So how do we endure through hardships? How do we keep going when the going gets tough? This is what I am learning:

Keep Your Focus
Hebrews 11:27 says, "It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king's anger. He kept right on going BECAUSE HE KEPT HIS EYES ON THE ONE WHO IS INVISIBLE."  Moses had a lot of great reasons to give up and not begin, much less complete, his  journey. Anger of Pharaoh, perceived limitations in his abilities, and a rebellious people could easily cause someone to give up, but Moses didn't. He kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. (That's God, y'all.) I love the way that is phrased. We find more on that thought in 2 Corinthians 4:18, "So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." Troubles, trials, fatigue...those things we see now will soon fade so hang on!

Don't Do It Alone
"Search for the LORD and for his strength; continually seek him." 1 Chronicles 16:11.  When we seek and find God, we get to tap into his supernatural strength. I love this verse: "Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation." Psalm 91:14-16. God is just waiting to deliver us, protect us, support us, rescue us, and satisfy us. That is good stuff! We don't have to do it all alone!

Let Go
"Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you." 1 Peter 5:7. Sometimes hanging on requires letting go. I am not so good at that, but I am trying to get better. Worries and fears add up. They are like a burden upon our backs. Maybe part of our exhaustion comes from carrying around things that God is willing to bear for us. When we are worn and weary, we have to let go and let God.

Someday I want to hear God say, "I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things." Revelation 2:19. I hope that each October I get a little better at finding my strength in God. Are you feeling a little tired and worn down? Running a little short on hope because you are exhausted"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13.

Hang in there! The leaves may be falling, but that doesn't mean we have to!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Don't Be Afraid, Just Believe

When I first started running I wondered how long and far did  you have to run before you could say you were a runner. I decided, "Shoot, if I make it to the end of the block, I am a runner." So I made it to the end of the block, soon a mile, then two, then three, then four...It seemed so hard in the beginning, but the more I did it, the more natural it became. I was afraid I couldn't do it at first. I had never even liked running, but each day I put on my shoes and went. Before long I even dreamed about running. A runner I was.

When I first found out about The Nuisance (the "C" word that shall not be named, for those new to my world) I wondered, "How long until I am considered a survivor?" I decided the rules of running applied. Each minute I live, I am a survivor. I quickly got online and ordered a bracelet deeming it so. I had it stamped with the word survivor and the scripture reference Mark 5:36 which says,  "Don't be afraid, just believe." 

You know, my days are no more numbered than they were before I started this process. None of us are promised tomorrow. We just make the assumption it will be there.  I wonder, how many times do we think, I will start running tomorrow. I will start spending time with people I love tomorrow. I won't work as long tomorrow. I will start being healthier tomorrow.  And how many things do we never start because we don't really think we can do them? We are afraid...and we don't believe.

 What title have you not claimed yet? "Don't be afraid, just believe." The moment you start living  like a great parent, you are a great parent. The minute you act like a loving spouse, you are a loving spouse. As soon as you start paying off debt, you are a financial success. When you put on your tennies and start moving, you are an athlete. You are not called to do things perfectly. Just start doing them.  Each day it will become more natural and you will get better and better at it. Just make it to the end of the block. " Don't be afraid, just believe."

We are all survivors. Somedays it feels more true than others. Since we are surviving, how will we choose to live?

After my surgery, my dreams where I was running stopped. I honestly hadn't even noticed it until this week, when suddenly I awoke and realized that in my dream I was running again. Further and faster than ever before. I am a runner and I am a survivor. What will you be?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Google or God

What is the best way to get to my hotel? Google it. How do you solve this math problem? Google it. Problems with the vacuum? Google it. Best rates on insurance? Google it. Unexpected results on blood work? Google it. 

It seems that for every question, I find myself running to Google for solutions. You, too? We seek relationship advice, parenting suggestions, and answers to life's puzzling questions via the internet. We are in search of quick answers, simple solutions, sound advice that will help us overcome all our problems. I got to wondering the other day if I spend more time consulting Google than God. Who do I talk to more? Have you ever been like that? Or maybe you are not guilty of using the internet. Maybe you turn more to friends and family when problems come along. Not that it is all bad to seek council, but I would pose the same question to you --do you spend more time consulting people (your form of Google) than God? Is it possible that the awesome tools that we have at our fingertips have subtly become a substitute for seeking God for advice?

I have to confess I love searching for recipes, ideas, and cute stuff on Pinterest. I can get lost looking at websites for new ideas and research on new learning. I am a huge fan of all things technology! But I have to wonder if searching for answers to life's little problems has trained me to search for solutions to the big stuff, too? Have I let the search engines become my way of seeking solutions to the exclusion of seeking God for advice?

Through the last year of dealing with a rare cancer, I have found myself scouring the internet for information. Even my doctors don't have answers to many of my questions because there is just not much depth of information available. None of my local doctors have seen a case like me. I have felt a burden (and there has been a legitimate need) to discover answers for the things they cannot tell me. In doing so, I have sat before my computer with my heart racing  and hands trembling in fear over some of the things I have read. I have felt hopeless and powerless when I see man's statistics and survival rates. I have been sapped of my strength as I have searched for earthly answers to my questions. And then it hit me. Never once have I read the Bible and felt that way. Never once has God's word made my heart pound in fear. Never once have I read it and felt more hopeless and powerless. Never once have I been sapped of my strength when I seek His answers in prayer. In fact, I have the opposite reaction. God's word brings comfort and power. In it I find hope and strength. What I seek from Google, only God can give.  Jeremiah 33:3 says, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." All the search engines in the world can not find answers to unsearchable things. Only God can do that. Man's answers to heavenly questions are equivalent to Wikipedia as a source for a research paper-- not to be considered trustworthy unless verified, by God.

So I have some work to do. When I am seeking answers to the big life questions I have to choose between Google or God. I choose God. (But I must confess, I am still relying on Wolfram Alpha and YouTube to help me with my boy's 7th grade math!!!).

 "For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go." 
 Psalm 2:6,9
In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.
Psalm 86:7
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1