Friday, January 29, 2016

Strength Will Rise

Galatians 6:9 "And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary."

We all know the verse from Solomon in Ecclesiastes, "there is a time and place for everything under the sun." Sometimes though, time is cut short and a place is temporarily shut down, moved or disrupted. Is it a challenge in life where a choice is made: to give up, call it a day, or see it as an opportunity to grow and persevere, wait and watch what God has next, what He makes new, what we reap ourselves from the situation. 

We can just give up, get bitter, graft in resentfulness, groan, quit or we can continue to communicate, encourage, reinvigorate, strengthen and pray more!  

I am reminded of a beautiful blond young girl who loves to surf, Bethany Hamilton. Taking her sport to the next level in competitions, she excelled.  At the young age of 13, she encountered a shark in the waters of her home in Hawaii. It took her arm. She would fight to live and then regain her strength. She never for a moment thought to give up her love of her sport or think that she couldn't continue, much less compete again. Amazingly she was back on a surfboard within a month of the accident!  She would continue to heal, face her challenges and went on to win a national championship!  

To be a great surfer requires significant balance, a skill Bethany found to be her new challenge with only one arm. She'd have to carry her board into the surf, swim, haul herself up, use the rest of her body in additional ways to compensate, hold herself upright on her board while catching the swell of the wave and staying under the curl for the long ride. 

Do you think she looked out for sharks while she was doing all this?  

I think that was just it. She wouldn't let this challenge stop her from continuing on with the gift God gave her. Eventually, her story of faith and perseverance would inspire many. 

In the face of a challenge to continue to do the work of the Lord, to do good, Paul instructs us to not give up, don't get discouraged, don't lose heart. Even if it seems we are missing parts. In regrouping and considering, knowing all the resources and commitments willing to coach us back on the board, we will find  our balance again because God promises us a reaping in our faithfulness.

So let's ride the wave of challenges in our life with the hope and strength of the Lord. He'll provide for us the magnificent paddle out through perseverance, the strength through the Body of Christ to stand upright, the balance of relying on God to keep us steady despite our weakness, our feet firmly planted on the board we are familiar with, and the ride of a lifetime that breaks on the shores of Eternity, all for His Glory. 

Warning for Sharks: Our God is Bigger!  

Thank you Lord for Your promises of hope when we persevere through temporary, challenging moments. Thank you Lord, that we are not alone in this, but that we can come together and find solutions, pray together, encourage one another and even take on more responsibility for a certain time until Your will and resolutions grace us into a new season of doing Your good work. Help us Lord through our weary days, that we can be refreshed by Your Word, your supernatural appointments with us, and by others within our divine circle of like-minded "surfers." Thank you for helping us along the way to gain our balance and see the shore through Your eyes which see to an eternal perspective. Help us Lord to keep the JOY while persevering, laying it out like diamonds on the sands under our feet, for Your hope that sustains.  Amen. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Shepherd and the Sheep

Psalm 78:72 "So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands." 

I wouldn't be where I am in my journey with the Lord without people in my life who have shepherded me. I am truly humbled and in awe of the many strong mentors whose transparency and giftedness are used of the Lord to strengthen others. Their faithfulness and leadership move obstacles of uncertainty out of the way so others can get a vision of their own potential the Lord has destined. In their pursuit of the lost, the weak and wandering caught in traps, those in the wrong pastures, hungry but not feeding properly, surfaces and draws the sheep together. I for one, have been drawn back to the fold after stumbles and wanderings by the direction of the Holy Spirit through these earthly shepherds. When we know our gift and use it for His glory, many are nurtured into a greater faith. This becomes a domino-like effect. God smiles on his shepherds. 

Shepherds search and find, strengthen, guide, rescue, speak wisdom and redirect, nourish, and encourage. Little wayward sheep begin to grow, begin to trust and believe in the good of being a part of something bigger. 

As a child of God, The Good Shepherd is our example. He offered up His very life, conquered death and gave us that same power, to overcome! 

Over the last, almost 10 years, I've seen my own role gradually change to one constantly in need of shepherding by the saints, to one who shepherds, taking on a few leaderships roles amongst my own flock of fellow sheep. God is good and what I continue to learn about myself, what God is capable of changing in someone and building up in someone is truly an amazing transformation. The tangible application of serving in leadership roles guided by skilled shepherds within the Body of Christ has blessed my soul and filled me with purpose. 

I can trust in Him, that He sees the bigger picture even when we can't see to tomorrow, next week, next month or next season. 

As a "sheep," I've hung on that cliff of doubt and fear, trampled through the tumbleweeds of disappointment, "bleated"out to a point where God's voice disappeared because of my own agenda and needs. Shepherded by many skilled hands and tender hearts, given a chance by a shepherd to lead, God has shone Himself in many amazing grace moments and built-up a confidence in me, not of myself, but all that God can and has done through me. 

We come to rely on these shepherds in our life; their wisdom and strength, passion and stability, skillful hands and hearts beating to the same beat. 

Sometimes things happen. Life is fluid, moving and rushing ahead. Change is inevitable and when it is hard for both the shepherd and the sheep, we are reminded that our strength and hope is found in the Lord, our Eternal Shepherd. 

Sometimes the adjusting and change may take an earthly shepherd to a different pasture.  We have to remember always, THE SHEPHERD and that His plans are not ours. His plans are always, always good. This is a time when the enemy, like wolves on a bluff, can sneak in and ravage the flock. Our job as His sheep, is to continue to lead the lost towards His Light, to love and support each other and PRAY, for the integrity of our hearts and the use of our own skillful hands God has so richly blessed us with. Let us pray for those who so generously and faithfully have shepherded us and continue to do that in and through the things God has set before us. We are His Church, His hands and feet and I believe we are more than conquerors. 

God is our God through all of it and He remains the same. 

Lord, I write this for a burden on my heart, one You know Lord. Please guide me in Your ways, praying ever more diligently for those in leadership-shepherding places, to be encouraging and  accountable and filled with integrity. Keep the wolves at bay and the sheep from harm. May our skillful and willing hands be more than able and adaptable. We pray for all the shepherds in our lives who have guided and believed in us, sometimes when we didn't believe ourselves. Give them Your peace Lord that surpasses all understanding. We give You praise for allowing us to grow through change and serve You because of strong leadership in our lives. I pray for Your sovereign will through our efforts of leading and shepherding to make You known. We are not limited, but limitless through You Lord! Be near us Lord Jesus, our Lord and our Shepherd, Amen.