Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What is Joy?

One morning recently as I watched steam curl upward from my pumpkin spice coffee, I queried the Lord.  "What is joy?"  I wondered.  He whispered,

Joy is what you were made for--
Joy is where I AM, joy is who I AM.
It lifts you to where you belong
   in front of My shining face, My glorious smile.

Joy is movement bursting forth,
Joy is the song of the stars,
   pulsing My presence to the world.

Joy is beyond--
   the feeling of My lifegiving fountain
   pouring out your fingertips,
   effervescing fizz, bubbling over.

Joy is being fully satisfied--
   a quiet, solid rest
   that slows the restlessness, leaving all that is quaking  . . . still.
A knowing deep in the soul
that I have made all things right.

Joy is the dance You and I do together
  anywhere . . . anytime,
  lost in love.

"Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower--
Like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom,
a symphony of song and color. . . .
God's resplendent glory, fully on display.  God awesome.  God majestic.

Energize the limp hands, strengthen rubbery knees.  Tell fearful souls,
'Courage!  Take heart!  God is here, right here, on his way to put things right
And redress all wrongs.  He's on his way! He'll save you!"  Isaiah 35:1-4 (MSG)

I would love to know how you define joy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

                 Gathering Prayer

Give me a candle of the Spirit, O God
as I go down into the deep of my own being.

Show me the hidden things.  Take me down
into the spring of my life, and
tell me my nature and my name.

Give me freedom to grow so that I
may become my true self--
the fulfillment of the seed which
You planted in me at my making.

Out of the Deep I cry unto Thee, O God.  Amen.

George Appleton

Rock On Sister!

Have you ever waited on God for something so long that you've wanted to give up? Are there places in your life where you've boxed up your hope like last year's christmas decorations? A good friend once told me, "you've had arrows in your heart so long, you've decorated them." She was right. Glitter is my friend.

I'm always amazed at my ability to pretend. Pretend the heartache isn't real, the longing doesn't matter, the weariness is normal. John Eldredge asks, "Does the king in exile pretend he is happy there?"

I love what God showed Linda Dillow about waiting in Satisfy My Thirsty Soul. She wondered with me what God meant in the verse,"I will watch expectantly for the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation" (Micah 7:7). It seemed contradictory to her. "Watch expectantly" creates the image of standing on tiptoes, peering through the window anticipating daddy's return from war. Yet "wait patiently" seems slow, unending, twirling your thumbs. She asked Jesus how do these two go together? He whispered to her heart: "Rock" and showed her a picture of a rocking chair.

As we rock forward, we lean looking ahead in to the future. Expecting. We confidently anticipate God is working and will show His power.  Knowing He will.  Then we rock backward.  Resting.  Remembering how Abba has been faithful in the past.  Patient. Together, these two rhythms of life soothe and comfort my anxious, doubtful heart.   Hmmm, maybe I need to pull that old glider out of storage . . . .

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

May I take Your order, Lord?

I've done some more reflecting on what it means to wait on God.  Have you ever thought about the fact that "wait" has two meanings?  We can wait patiently or we can wait on a customer in a restaurant.  So "wait" also connotates ministering or serving another.  Bob Sorge explains in Secrets of the Secret Place that one of the greatest incentives for waiting on God is found in Psalm 104:4, "who makes His ministers . . . a flame of fire."

He writes, "the original word for ministers (Hebrew, sharat) speaks of someone who waits on, who serves, ministers, attends.  So sharat hints of intimacy, referring to those servants who serve in closest proximity to the king.  And here's what God does with His ministers who wait on Him:  He makes them a flame of fire!  He ignites them with the passions of His heart and enflames them with zeal for His face and for His kingdom.  God's enflaming zeal empowers us to wait on Him."  Abba so desires us to be with Him and to minister to Him especially when our hearts are squeezed.   

 If I marry the two meanings of the word "wait," then attending to the Lord would mean serving Him what I'm waiting for--.  "Here's your stagnant water with a side of weary fries, Sir."  Can I really enter Abba's throneroom with all my questions? my resignation? all my-WHERE ARE YOU LORD?!"  Really? How does that minister to You?  Can THAT stink be the perfume I pour at your feet?  I thought that it should at least smell holy.  Aren't I supposed to leave all my distractions at the door?  Will You actually set this stained polyester uniform on fire? 

Moses marched into God's throneroom, waiting on an answer.  Moses wanted to know who would go with him into the promised land.  He couldn't imagine going without the I AM.  By himself, he wasn't enough.  Amazingly, Yahweh's verbal reassurance wasn't enough either.  Moses wanted to see God's glory.  Moses cried, "HOW will anyone know You are pleased with me? . . .NOW show me Your glory" and You responded, "there is a place NEAR ME where you may stand on a Rock" Exodus 33: 16,18,21 (emphasis mine).  Moses desperately needed to know God was with him in the middle of an overwhelming rebellion (the golden calf nightmare), and the subsequent call to the promised land.  He needed reassurance that he wouldn't fall out of God's favor.  Real, present, experiential reassurance.   He refused to take a step unless someone was with him.  And he wasn't satisfied with angelic hosts.  So Abba says, "come over here. Yes you.  under My arm, right near me, you bold rascal.  I will do the very thing you have asked.  I will show you who I AM and when My goodness gets too intense, I've got that covered too.  I AM pleased with you  and I know you by name" Ex. 33:17, 21-22 (emphasis and paraphrase mine). 

Wow.  I know there is so much more in this entire passage that is beyond my scope, but I am struck at God's intimate response.  A paragraph ago He told Moses He might destroy the people for their idolatry.  Like when as a parent you tell your kids, "if Mommy doesn't leave the room now, she's going to do something she regrets!"  God's ready to foster the whole lot and start over with Moses.  Several times the Lord calls them"your people Moses that you brought up from Egypt," (Ex. 32:7, 33:1) and Moses very pointedly reminds Him, "no these insolent teenagers are Your people" (Ex. 32:11, 33:13b, 15-16).  Much like a game of hot potato, they seem to toss the Israelites back and forth:  "you take them, they're yours; no, they're not, you deal with them, I'm done!"  After this tug-of-war, Yahweh responds to Moses and promises His presence with him (and them?).  Moses declares, "NOW show me Your glory."  And God says,"Yes" and pulls him close to a "place near (Him)."

Wrestle and "wait" on Him in His throneroom.  Tell Him your feelings, your fears, the "very things" you desire.  Serve Him your longings.  Pull out that dust-covered dream out from under your bed.  I wish I could pass you a steaming cup of coffee and hear your heart on my back porch.  I believe that in the process of pouring out your aching heart, you are ministering to the Lord.  He longs to speak with you face-to-face, as He speaks with a friend (Ex. 33:11).  The enemy would have you believe that you're selfish for declaring your needs, wants and desires.  That's a lie.  If it matters to you, it matters to God.  He leans in very close when He hears us say, "now DO something God!"  After all, you're coming to Him, not Oprah, the TV, or the refrigerator.

I believe our questions will become consumed in His holy fire.  Our tears become "liquid prayers," and are set on fire in the face of His Presence.  Polyester does burn!   Sometimes we get answers; other times we majestically get---Him.