When we say "God with us", we are speaking of the present at all times. We are not concerned with the "ought tos" of the past or the "what ifs" of the future.
For a moment I silence myself to listen to the sounds around me. I focus on what I can hear even in the silence.
Last night I had a real hard time sleeping likely due to the great hunger from eating less and less these days on a diet, but I believe it was equally a spiritual hunger from less and less experience of God's presence these days. When I could not sleep, I chose to listen to that spiritual hunger. God spoke to my listening heart last night, and it was to say, "Save room for me."
Over and over God spoke these words to my heart last night. "Save room for me." I laid in my bed hearing those words over and over until the word "enough" was added to the phrase. God spoke to my heart and said, "Save enough room for me."
In a time of spiritual hunger and wilderness, God has made clear to me I need to begin setting aside and saving time for Him. Also, that time needs to be enough for Him to fit. I am not to save time for my God in the forced margins of time I concoct.
With no job, I have been surprised how little time it seems I have now. I am walking a wilderness. D.T. Olson said, "When one is forced to endure the wilderness for a time, it may be experienced either as a place of maturing and learning or as a place of disintegration and death." At this point, I feel more pressed than I did when I was employed in full time ministry, and right now has been a difficult wilderness season for me.
I have been challenged to begin asking WHAT instead of WHY. "O my God, what are you doing in my heart and life while I am waiting?" I do not need to ask WHY God is doing anything, because most likely is a question to which I will never get the answer.
Right now, though, I am to save enough time for my God, my Abba, and my Jesus. I am to save time that is enough for Him to fill rather than cram tightly within.
2 Timothy 1:7"For God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and discipline."
Here is a verse so many Christians love to misuse for the courage to face daunting moments in life. We are reminded in quoting this verse you ought to not be fearful because God has placed within you power. We will quote this verse and challenge one another to live in the power God has given to you instead of neglecting it by living in fear.
But there is a misuse here, and it is entirely grammatical. We are placing a period where there are commas. We read and quote this passage as though all we need to do is not be afraid, but be powerful, PERIOD! We have removed the commas and cut off the rest of the passage.
No! You are not given a spirit of fear. Yes! You have been given a spirit of power, COMMA, AND love, COMMA, AND discipline. In the moments most daunting, you are given a spirit of power, and love, and discipline. In the most difficult and "fearful" moments of life how often have you ever been challenged to draw upon love and discipline as much as power? Could the spirit of power only be found in the compound of love and discipline? In the daunting moments of life when you are tempted to fear, will you discipline yourself to love God and people; because there is power in that!
More and more, I am reminded that prayer is my relationship with God. It is not an element or part of my relationship. It is the largest challenge to my heart right now. I need prayer to be a much larger priority than it is.
Prayer is when my heart, mind, and soul are all focused on God instead of all the things of life I do not control anyway. Because of that focus, prayer is when I truly know and love God. Prayer is when I can be close to God, my Abba and my Lord. Prayer is when and where I can be the beloved one of God.
I realize when I choose to make little time for prayer, I am saying to God I am not truly committed to this relationship. I also realize every life that is greatly used by God throughout all of history and present have a common denominator of a dynamic, fervent, prayer life, and I really want my life to be used greatly by God to bring Him glory and bring more people to know His love and His hope.
Satan fears the power of a praying person (2 Cor. 10:3-5, 7; Eph. 6:10-17), but my flesh is weak and resists the fervent discipline (Matt. 26:40-41; Rom. 7:14-18). There is power in a fervent daily prayer life that is very different from our world's idea of power.
My God, my Abba, help me make our relationship the greatest priority in my life. Help my heart, mind, and soul paint a stark picture of how absolutely ridiculous it is to pursue anything else more. Help me place nothing, even good things, above you and our relationship. Fill me with desire to be devoted to prayer. Help me entangle with you so that Jesus may live His life through me all the more each day. Grant me a hunger for you. I do not want to neglect our relationship. I need it so desperately.
We have begun the wonderful discipline called 'timeout'in our home with our toddler. Certainly, you recognize some variant of timeout from your growing up. I certainly do. Mine (and my daughter's) took place in the corner. It is discipline which makes you stop for a second, step away from that poor choice, and 'think about what you have done'.
I do not want to see my girls keep getting hurt by their bad choices. So I discipline them for the bad choices in HOPES they will not continue to be harmed by them.
"For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines...but if you are without discipline, then you are illegitimate children and not sons/daughters...For we are disciplined for a short time as is best for us and our good. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful; but sorrowful; yet to THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN TRAINED BY IT afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." (Heb. 12.6, 8, 10-11)
God will let others fall under the weight of their sin, but not his children. Children without a Father are illegitimate. Children without a Heavenly Father are eternally illegitimate.
But to those who belong to God will be disciplined for our poor choices in HOPES we will not continue to be harmed by them. We are disciplined in hopes we will learn from those things which keep harming us.
"I'm gonna sacrifice everything to raise this child who will one day hate me," said one of my pregnant friends in a joking manner. But what was only a small joke I happened to overhear last weekend has, at one time and every once in a while again, been a legit fear of mine.
There have been a series of fears I have had to expose, face, and overcome to even imagine the possibility of being a father some day; one of them being the image of my offspring several years from now pulling me on to an episode of Dr. Phil to reveal all the flaws in my parenting when I thought I was on a "Father's Day Father of the Year" episode.
In the age of Celebrity Rehab and Intervention we know how to blame our parents for all of our issues. Granted, I am fully aware of the valid disorders and addictive personalities which take root in our upbringing. I am not discounting those realities.
I mean to shed light on how easy it has become to blame our parents for things which are our own shortcomings, but what's worse, we can blame our parents for our own disobedience and poor choices.
This is what drives my Dr. Phil fear.
I am afraid I will try my best to love the hell out of my son or daughter; to raise them with love, grace, discipline, and love only to be blamed, hated, and despised by this person I sacrificed so much for.
I am reminded of how frequently I have assumed he does not love me if he disciplines the way he does or withholds things I think I want or deserve. I am reminded of how frequently I have been angry with him and still found that he has loved me through my accusations.
So when my child grows up to hate me, I hope to be reminded of this sort of love that has been given to me.
LISTENING TO: "The Old Prince" by Shad