name='verify-v1'/> Big God - little d: January 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What Do These Stones Mean?

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ -- Joshua 4:4-6 (NLT)

A few weeks ago, the movers arrived to pack our belongings for the trip to Dallas. The gentleman in charge, Sean, asked me to show him around the house and point out anything that needed special care. We worked our way through the house and eventually made our way to the backyard.

On the patio, near the back door, were three large river rocks; the largest weighing around 25 pounds. I pointed to the rocks and told Sean that he could pack up everything but the rocks. Then I informed him that I was going to personally haul the rocks to our new home.

He paused and gave me the oddest look. And then he spoke,"Lady, do you mean to tell me that you trust me enough to pack and move thousands of dollars worth of furniture but you won't trust me with these rocks?"

Without hesitating or cracking a smile, I said, "Exactly. Those rocks are really special to me. I couldn't bear it if anything happened to one of them."

To which he replied, "I'll wrap each one in its own moving blanket, like they were babies, and tuck them in a special spot on the truck where they won't get bumped or chipped. Now will you trust me?"

I actually paused to think about it. With some reluctance, I finally agreed. (It was the "like they were babies," part that swayed me!)

Although there were a few mishaps with some of our other belongings, the rocks arrived safe and sound. They are now in the backyard of our new home.

Why are a few rocks hauled from a dry river bed, near an obscure country road, so special?

The first and largest represents the half way point in my Sabbath Year (August '05-August '06). I had taken a year off from group Bible study and was in the middle of a year of personal study with the Lord. It was hard work and the enforced time of solitude with God was challenging me on the deepest of levels. I wanted to quit even though I knew it was not God's will. So, at the six month mark, I went looking for a river rock to remind me of God's faithfulness (I had just read Joshua 3 and 4). The second rock represents the completion of my second year of daily Bible study with the Lord. And, the third rock represents the completion of my third year.

I did not choose any of these rocks because of how they looked. In fact, each time I walked along that river bed, my only goal was to find "the rock" the Lord wanted me to choose. I recall walking with my head down, sweeping my eyes from side-to-side, as I carefully climbed over thousands of rocks. As I walked, I constantly checked with the Lord, "Is it this one? Or that one? I need some kind of sign, Lord. There are so many do I know which one I am supposed to take?" Eventually, my eyes would fall on a rock and I would know somewhere deep in my soul that I was looking at "the rock."

So, here I am in a strange land seeking the familiar. I can see my rocks as they rest near the back gate. Knowing they are there brings me comfort. And, no matter how strange Sean the Mover might think me, it seems perfectly logical to me that I chose three rocks over furniture. Those rocks are visual reminders of my God who has delivered me from sin and death and ransomed me for life eternal. Praise be to God, my Rock!

Father, I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:1-2) I will praise You as long as I have breath. In the saving name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Giants in the Promised Land

"We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country - a land flowing with milk and honey. But the people living there are powerful and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!" --Numbers 13:27-28

We made it through our first week in a new town, a new home, and new schools. Without a doubt, the hardest part has been Claire's assimilation into the high school system.

This school district uses an accelerated block schedule. Students take four classes each day for an extended class time. One semester = one full credit. In our old school system, students take seven classes each day. One semester = 1/2 credit. We're talking apples and oranges.

Claire's counselor helped her piece together four courses (none of which she was taking back in San Antonio) to get her through the first half of this semester. After we determined her paperwork was in order, it was time for me to leave. The counselor arranged for someone to walk Claire to her second period class, already in session, and I made my way to the car.

I sat in the school parking lot and had myself a good cry. And then I texted a few friends and asked them to pray.

When I picked up Claire, at the end of the school day, she did not have much to say other than, "Kids in San Antonio are a lot friendlier than they are here." It was a sobering day.

The next morning, we headed to the high school. Claire was less than enthusiastic about repeating the friends, no one to eat lunch with, nothing familiar to look forward to. I was dreading it for her.

My phone buzzed to indicate that I had received a text.

(As a side note: In Flower Mound it is against the law to use a hand held cell phone in a school zone. The police are diligent in enforcing speed limits and ticketing cell phone usage. Just in case you ever come to visit!)

As has become part of our routine, Claire reached over and opened my phone to read the message to me.

"It's from Miss Vicki." Silence followed as Claire read the words to herself.

"What does it say?" I asked.

"It's a bible verse."

It was odd that she didn't read the words aloud. But we were nearing the school and it wasn't the kind of day to push her. We had reached our destination. With a heavy heart, I watched my daughter gather courage around herself like a shield. She reluctantly got out of the car and walked towards the school. My prayers followed behind her in a desperate plea to God.

When I pulled into the garage, I remembered the text. I opened my phone and read the following words:

This is a new day.
Stand and See.
I am with u & ur children.
There r no giants in this land.
Says the Lord.

It wasn't a Bible verse but it was definitely a word from the Lord. Two things immediately struck me about the message: First, gratitude. I was grateful that God made sure that Claire read the words first. He ministered to my child with words from someone she knows and respects. Second, was the Lord's reminder to me that I was focused on the wrong thing.

My job as Claire's mom was to claim the Promised Land for her no matter how scary the giants might appear to both of us. I had lost sight of that in the midst of the challenges of the day before. It was time to refocus my prayers which had slipped into: "Lord, help Claire to walk amongst the giants." to "Lord, help Claire claim all the goodness of the Promised land You have prepared for her."

Abba, You alone are God. You have ordained each day of my life and the lives of my loved ones. Forgive me for focusing on giants when there is a Promised Land to claim. Thank You for the beautiful friends You have placed in my life that remind me to keep my eyes on You. And, thank You for the blood of Jesus which covers us, the work of the Cross that seals us, and the light of Christ that surrounds us...this day and always. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, Amen.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Goodness of God

"Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." -- Psalm 37:3-6

My husband, Marty, is a God fearing man. He loves his family and his God. He works harder than anyone I know. He has never been a "keeping up with the Jones's" kind of guy. He is content with life with one exception...

In all our time in San Antonio (13-1/2 years) there was one thing Marty consistently longed for: a backyard with some land, trees and privacy. For the past several years, I have been petitioning the Lord on his behalf. My prayer has been that the Lord would lead us to a home with a backyard that would be a sanctuary for Marty.

A few weeks ago, I read in Genesis 13:14-17, where God shows Abraham all of the land that He has chosen for him and his descendants. Afterward, God commands Abraham, "Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you." (v. 17) I wrote in the margins, "Get to know the land."

Those words came back to me, this weekend, as Marty and I started unpacking boxes in our new home. Every few hours, Marty would disappear into the backyard. I watched through the windows as he and the dog explored every inch of the property. I remember thinking, He's getting to know the land.

As I look past the unopened boxes and the move-in chaos that surrounds me, I can see the evidence of God's magnificent provision...

Through the family room patio doors I see a pool with water that sparkles in the sunlight. Looking past the pool, there is a wrought iron fence that encloses a portion of the backyard. In the middle of the fence is a gate covered in an arch of climbing roses. Beyond the gate a large span of flat lawn big enough for a game of touch football or wiffle ball beckons. And beyond that the property is edged by a dry creek and woods with lots of mature trees. Truly God is good.

In all those years of lifting up that prayer, it never occurred to me that I might have to move 250 miles for it to be answered. And perhaps it is good that I didn't know. For if I had known the sacrifice it would require of our family, I am not sure I would have been brave enough to utter the words and trust God with the results.

Father, You have blessed our family in ways big and small. Thank You for the things You let me know ahead of time and for those things You keep hidden from me until the proper time. Help me to always make my requests known to You and to trust You with the results. Your ways are always best...even when they require a sacrifice. Thank You for the blessing of this new home and Your provision for all of the details that come with making a new life in a new land. Lead the way. In Jesus' name, Amen.