You Will Never Walk Alone

I taught the preschool class today, and because of that I missed hearing the sermon.  However, I was sitting before the service listening to the worship team practice, and a song began to play that I couldn’t help sing along with.  It was “Jesus Paid it All”, one of my favorites when I was on the vocal team.  Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;  Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow… 

I smiled to myself and began to prepare my lesson for the morning.  The children were going to learn about Jacob, who was fleeing Esau and journeying to his Uncle Laban’s home.  I looked at the picture:  a weary Jacob, under a full moon, with a rock for a pillow and a staff at his side.  It was very dark, in the middle of the night, because Jacob had just awoken from his dream…

“So Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran.  And he came to a certain place and stayed there one night, because the sun had set.  Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep.  And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven… And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac… Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go…”  (Gen. 28:10-13, 15)

When I sat at the round wooden table on my red plastic stack-a-chair, I read that last verse to the ten eager faces around me.  They trilled it in their innocent, happy little voices:  “I am with you andwill keep you wherever you go!”  Jillian peered out from under her blond bangs and lisped, “I went on a long trip once, and God didn’t stay here, he went with me ALLLLLL the way!”  A chorus of agreement resounded around the table at Jill’s exclamation.  As they chattered excitedly, Abigail leaned on my shoulder and looked up with wide green eyes. “I love God so much,” she sighed.  “I know He loves me too.”

In that moment I knew I didn’t need a sermon.  One little lesson for a group of four-year-olds was enough.  Their wide-eyed, reckless faith in God was a testimony to Jesus’ words:

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matt. 18:4-5)

The worship team began to play at the end of the service, and I heard the old hymn being sung by a hundred voices in the sanctuary:  Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;  Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow…  It reminded me that He is with me… He has paid it all.  Joshua tugged at my shirt and I looked down into his blue eyes.  “The muthic ith playing!  The muthic ith playing!”  I picked him up and whispered in his ear. “Yes, it is.”

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Coming Home

It has been two months since I blogged here regularly, and I am going to attempt to begin again.  Before, my regular posts were a reflection of my time spent with God, my prayers, what I learned, and what I hoped others would learn with me. 

In the business of summer, something precious was lost… the priority of my job and other commitments kept me from what really mattered.  Getting up at 5:30 left me exhausted, and “too pressed for time” to read my Bible or pray.  At night I had classes, or practices, or events to go to… no time for the One who was watching me run frantically to and fro.  It saddens me now to see how I ignored Him.  It saddens me more to see the effect my ignorance has had on my character.

So often we think we can do things on our own, without God.  We are really good people… He’s just a spiritual steroid to boost our goodwill in times of dire need.  I guess that’s what I thought, perhaps unconsciously.  How quickly we can fall from where we were with our Lord!  I can’t say how much I regret losing the times I used to spend with Him every morning.  They were so precious, so wonderful — looking back,  I see I did not appreciate Him enough to make Him NUMBER ONE on my priority list. 

The Bible says that “God hates the proud, but gives grace to the humble”.  The thing is, we are not naturally humble — sometimes he has to help us get to that point.  Perhaps more often than not.  And this is what happened to me.  Through a variety of situations, people and circumstances, I have been brought to a point where I realize my pride was controlling me.  I am at a point where once again, I realize how much I need Jesus Christ.  This, my friends, is exactly  where He wants me.

The wonderful thing about our God is that once He has humbled us, He welcomes us back with open arms.  The whole point of His humbling is to bring us back to Him — like the father of the prodigal running to greet his son, He holds us and welcomes us home.  This time, He asks, Won’t you stay with Me?

And this time, I intend to.

Read a well written post on the same topic at Kaysie’s blog, Alabaster Box:

http://alabasterboxblog.com/2008/09/20/stay-with-me/

Hardened

 “I’m sorry, I’m sorry… I shouldn’t be so emotional… I — I don’t know why I cry about these things… I should just suck it up and be tough.”  Katie wiped tears from her eyes as she said these words to me beside the coffee makers and sugar packets in the back room.  She was crying over the fact that her boyfriend, whom she is living with, didn’t care enough to even tell her where he was.  “I’m silly to cry — I know… I’ll stop, really I will.” She stifled a sob as she tried to control her emotions.  She had hardened herself for years, but she could only contain her anguished heart for so long.

In our world, girls and women are taught to be tough, to be strong, to be unflappable.  They are taught to fight, bite and lash out.  Selfishness and pride are considered high self-esteem and confidence.  The people who go far are the ones that beat the rest down.  “Survival of the fittest” is the mantra of our society.  Innocence and purity, humility and love — these are left behind.  Women become brash, crass and unashamed.  Their beauty becomes physical alone as the truest source of loveliness is crushed while still in the bud.

I read once that when a girl ceases to blush, she has lost the greatest beauty she will ever have.  For some reason, I never forgot that quote.  Sometimes, when I was embarrassed, I would run to a mirror to see if I was blushing — just to make sure!  But why would blushing be a virtue?  Because when a girl blushes, it reveals innocence and humility.  Usually a girl will blush when she is flattered, excited, and in some cases, shocked.  But when a girl ceases to blush, she has become hardened.

It is easy to become hardened to the ways of the world.  They sneak up on you bit by bit, and if you compromise on the littlest sins, they soon give way to the greater.  When I began my job, my ears were ringing from all the cussing I heard during the course of the day.  While my co-workers kindly refrained from taking the Lord’s name in vain in front of me, they did not stop repeating other words that are not glorifying to God.  Over time I came to expect their language, and while I never repeated it, it didn’t shock me so much anymore.  I ceased to blush.

The same thing happened in my speech class at my local college.  My teacher, a non-Christian, would occasionally tell rather crude jokes to the class.  At first I couldn’t believe he would dare say them, but because the class thought they were funny, he continued.  Every time he read them I could feel my face flaming.  But what if I no longer felt ashamed to hear his jokes?  What if I laughed at them with everyone else?  My heart and mind would move one step closer to excusing sin.

Becoming hardened happens quickly and without warning.  The question is — how do we as godly young women keep our hearts and minds pure, walk in innocence and light, and glorify our Savior and Lord?  The world is ready at every turn to corrupt, tempt and lead astray.  Some do not intend harm, but because they are not saved they are at the ready use of the Enemy for his purposes.  The walk with God is not always in green pastures, and beside still waters.  This I am discovering now.  So we must be vigilant.  We must be strong.  The answer to the question lies in the verse below:

“The Lord God will help me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed.”  (Is. 50:7)

Do not be hardened to the sins of the world, so that you tolerate and accept them, but DO be hardened against sin.  He will help you!  Your face will be firm, and so will your heart, and you will not be ashamed to be innocent, pure and upright.  Just because the world is doing it never makes it right — and the Enemy desires nothing better than to have you follow in the path of the thousands of others who don’t want to stand out.  Instead, they harden their hearts to sin and eventually, fall into sin themselves.

“Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.  Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts.  Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your stautes.  My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.”  (Ps. 119:133-136)

When the world beats a path to your door, as it always does when it comes to sin, makes sure it is unable to get a foot across the threshold.  Keep your heart firm in faith, and your face free for blushing — because your innocence to sin is the most beautiful evidence for Christ that you possess.