Often life is hard, but God is always good

Posts tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

Drinking Rain from Heaven

Photo Credit: Jasleen Kaur

Photo Credit: Jasleen Kaur

“But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven.  It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. ”

Deuteronomy 11:11-12

I woke to the sound of rain this morning and rejoiced.

The summer months in my native state of Pennsylvania have progressively grown drier and drier. It hurts to walk on my lawn; the grass crackles and pricks my bare feet, almost like the high desert of Colorado where I lived for a time.

Fresh water is desperately needed by every living thing upon the earth. We human beings crave it for our bodies. Even the earth cries out for rain.

Yesterday’s prayer began like this: “Lord, I am so tired and the school year hasn’t even started.” All my responsibilities rose up in my mind’s eye.

And so the soft fall of rain on my face this morning was an answer: The Lord sends us rain, both for our souls and for the works of our hands.

“He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful.” Isaiah 30:23 (NIV)

I am grateful for my strength, my abilities, and my ideas. Truly.

But what a relief to know that it is not all up to me, to do everything in my own strength.

He sends rain from heaven.

Advertisements

Am I worn out?

Photo Credit: Bo Insogno

Photo Credit: Bo Insogno

I pray you may know….”his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 1:19-20

When I asked Jesus to “come into my heart” at age fifteen, I opened up to the Holy Spirit who came in His powerful presence; He entered my life and began to transform me.

But somewhere along the line, I succumbed to my own perfectionistic tendencies and the influence of other Christians, and began trying to be good.

After many years of living from this paradigm, I was intensely “weary and heavy laden” from my own efforts. (see Matthew 11:28-30) I was dried up, tired, powerless, and guilty for not doing or being enough.

To top it off, I was attending a church with others who lived the same way, but weren’t ready to admit it and, therefore, could offer no answers for my spiritual malaise.

Long story short, my family’s journey led us to a different place of worship where believers had rediscovered the power of the Holy Spirit.

We humans, especially middle-class Americans, tend toward an independent spirit; but that spirit lies to us subtly, whispering: “You can do it all on your own. If you are having trouble, just try harder!”

But I cannot just “gut it out”. Neither can you.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians chapter 5, that many of us memorized as children in church, comes as a by-product of the dynamic working of a powerful God – not the outcome of our self-effort. “Power” shows up all over the Scripture; my favorite Bible translation (NIV) contains 135 references of the word in the New Testament.

I am definitely not making the claim that finding a new church is a magic answer for all who are spiritually heavy-laden.

The only two requirements to receive power are humility and willingness.

You are the only source of power, Lord.”

“I open my heart to the power of the Holy Spirit today to change me and bless others.”

Let ‘s pray this and see what happens:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. “ Ephesians 3:16

Do I Enjoy My Gifts?

Photo Credit: Hannah M. Covert

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! 
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house;
 you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; 
in your light we see light.” Psalm 36:7-9 NIV

So I speak a second language, with some gaps and imperfections, but enough to truly make friends. That is why I learned Spanish. The youth group at my church needed another adult to go to Mexico on the mission trip – a mother, a person who spoke some Spanish. So I went this month and now I am back and I am happy beyond measuring, overflowing with the goodness of God to open up another opportunity to go and make friends in a Spanish-speaking country.

Dylan, another leader on the trip who knows German from his missionary years in Austria, gave me the compliment of saying I expressed “Genießen” (Ge•nee•sen) a German word that means that I really really enjoyed every piece and every moment of the trip, which I did – every sweaty, tiring, stretching minute, and each fascinating person, interesting place, and real touch of the Holy Spirit.

What delights we are given every day. So small sometimes. So precious nonetheless.

My friend Carol recently wrote about her enjoyment of her surroundings: “Watching the rain roll in before supper time while sitting out in the screened-in sun room, the sound of the wind in the leaves, and soft little thunder that quickly passed over reminded me to just witness how everything shifts and changes moment by moment. Noticing these small parts of life instead of rushing around brings more ease and I feel like just being alive and awake is a treasure; nothing fancy -just paying attention with soft eyes of loving my life, as it is, in all its wonderful imperfections.”

God is called the Father of Lights in the epistle to James: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV

Savor the gifts.

Have I Had Enough to Drink?

Photo Credit: Toni Frissell

Photo Credit: Toni Frissell

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord,
 they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’” Psalm 92:13-15 (NIV)

Salt water is fun to swim in. I love oceans and grew up visiting my father’s family who lived by the Atlantic Ocean in Maine. Every summer, we dove under frigid waves and fought the entangling seaweed as we waded back out to the rocky beach.

But this salt-saturated ocean is not the living water that we need so desperately to maintain life.

Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

We need fresh drinking water.   In contrast to my ocean visits, my mother brought me every summer to a spring-fed lake in the wilds of Pennsylvania where her mother had a cottage. This body of water was more like living water, fresh, cold, pure, and such a joy to swim in. I was streamlined and fast, with no resistance.

Our Christian living is designed to be like swimming in water, and filled with refreshing water that is fresh, drinkable – coursing down our throats, brightening our eyes and tingling down our limbs.

The voice that invites us to drink of His love and presence is not one of tyrannical authority. Jesus speaks because he cares for us and knows we are made of water and need it to fulfill our life purpose. The plan is always live near the source of Life, continually drinking, and then becoming life to others.

Jesus said: “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38 (NIV)

We are also compared in Scripture to trees and plants whose leaves open and glow and whose flowers open, the buds bursting forth. Our stems stand upright, not bowed down as if with a weight. Jesus repudiated the Pharisees of his day, telling them they were laying heavy burdens on their followers, causing them to walk with difficulty or to give up, saying “this is too hard for me.”

Christian life is not rule following; it is not trying endlessly to be good, and then hiding from others because it is impossible to do.

When I feel thirsty or over-burdened, I know where to go. Jesus is the well that has tapped into purified ground water that is good for washing our minds, cleansing our sins, and strengthening us for service that is the opposite of heavy and full of self effort.

“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation7: 17 (NIV)

Give me lots to drink!

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: