Thursday, January 29, 2015

These Aren't My Words


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fruit Growers

I tried to grow a strawberry plant over the summer. It took a long time, and lots of weeding and watering and pruning, but eventually it sprouted a few exciting berries! The squirrels may or may not have gotten to them before me, but that's beside the point.

The strawberry plant doesn't tell itself not to grow so many leaves so the berries can be sweeter. It doesn't hydrate itself, especially during a drought. It can't make itself to produce 20 full sized berries overnight.

It takes time, but the berries do grow.

When I'm trying to 'grow' things in my life (like, say, the fruit of the Spirit?), I tend to do a lot of striving. I correct myself a lot. I say, "Nicole, stop it. You know better." That doesn't work so well.

I can't make me good. 

But Jesus can, and does, and that's good news.

Jesus makes us more like himself as we spend time with Him. You've no idea how profound and freeing that is to me, however backwards it feels. Rather than my efforts be directly aimed at stopping sins in my life or producing Christ-likeness, I ought to attack it from the side by spending time with God.

It is through daily spiritual disciplines that bring us closer to God and closer to the image of Christ. Not through solely telling myself not to do things, not by just trying over and over again on my own. Those things have a place, but they are useless if they are all I do. If I am not spending time with God regularly, coming to know Him better and letting Him transform me, then anything I do will be futile.

"God must do everything for us. Our part is to yield and trust." A. W. Tozer.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

In the Car of my my life, God is not my Driver

If God were the driver of the car of my life I don't think I'd keep driving the wrong way. I wouldn't be able to make wrong turns, I wouldn't be racing along to get the the next destination as fast as I could, and I certainly wouldn't need so many u-turns. I wouldn't have choice, free will, if God were chauffeuring me through life.

Rather than the driver, God is more like the GPS (note, not exactly like- just more like). A GPS that picks it's own destination and doesn't always let you see all the upcoming steps. God knows the plans he has for me, and the GPS has a route - a good route-- mapped out. God has things ready and waiting for me to do, and the GPS tells me when this turn and that merge are coming up (sometimes without much warning...).

Recently, I was heading to a sandwich shop on La Grange. "Well! I know where La Grange is, so this shouldn't be a problem." So I leave the GPS off. And miss my turn by several miles.

Arriving late to a sandwich shop is small on the spectrum of messes I could get myself in, I get it. But if we attempt life without God, trying to do things in our own strength and by our own wisdom, we can work ourselves into quite a mess. Quite a disobedient, complicated mess.

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"Go ask her how you can pray for her," God says after church. "That'd be weird-- I don't even know her," I counter. But after a battle of wills (ha) that resulted in obediently approaching her by the coatrack, I realized that God gave the direction because He had everything in motion. That lady had had something on her heart, and she was so thankful. We prayed right then and there.

*

In college, I felt that God wanted me to contact some shut-ins and help them out where they needed it. After I got a short list from the church I was attending, I put off calling anyone for several weeks. And then finally I couldn't ignore the list, or God, anymore, so I dialed the first number. After I explained what was going on, the lady on the other end started crying. "You're an answer to prayer!" she said. God had already been setting everything up, already in motion.

My disobedience (because slow obedience is no obedience, as I tell my Kinders) almost kept that woman from an answered prayer.

*

God knows what he's doing. Don't turn left when he directs to turn right. Don't turn Him off or tune Him out.
"This is the way, walk in it." 

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

My Short-Lived Career as a Fortune Teller

Back in High School, I was adamant that I would not be a teacher- not if it was the last job on earth.

When I was younger, somewhere in middle school, I didn't want to go to the doctor because I was sure the pain in my feet was normal, and other people were just better at dealing with it.

All through High School and college I was sure sure I'd never beat my dad at Boggle.

Just today, I was confident that school wouldn't be called off.

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School has been called off tomorrow because of the cold.

Eventually I consented to going to the doctor for my feet. Turns out I have plantar fasciitis in both feet. (I still have bad days, but it's a lot better now, thanks for asking ;) )

I am a teacher now-- currently in a kindergarten class. And I absolutely love it! I can't imagine doing anything else. Seriously.

And Boggle? Well, I've still never beaten my dad. We've moved on to Scrabble now, and he still wins. (But there's hope, right, because all these other predictions crashed and burned?)

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Niceties like, "2015. It's going to be a good one!" are just the same. We really have no idea what this year holds. And I'm not going to try to guess- we've seen how that has turned out. The above examples are a modest sampling. But I'm not worried about this unpredictable future. Not a bit.

God made the future, and He's more than enough to get me through it. And not only to get me through it, but to prepare me for it.

"Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10