THY WILL BE DONE

 

I lfie-change_6don’t know how old I was when I first learned the Lord’s Prayer, but I know I was young, probably four or five.  I dutifully repeated the prayer when it was a part of the worship service, but I can’t say that I said it with passion or even deep understanding.  As my church experiences continued, it seemed that there were fewer and fewer times that we said the prayer together. I remember thinking, “I wonder if this church says, ‘debts’ or ‘trespasses’?”

In all candor, there were times that I almost mindlessly repeated the prayer, and then there were other times when I thought about it, pondered it and even journaled about it. However, recently I had a light bulb, “ah ha” moment about this most important prayer. The phrases, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” took on new meaning for me.  It became very apparent to me that Jesus wanted me to pray with an attitude of total surrender because that’s what it takes to live in the Kingdom of God. My posture before the Father in this prayer should be an acknowledgement that I have been invited to be a part of replicating His Kingdom on earth. In Heaven, all things happen in obedience to the King’s will, and my prayer should be that I live with that same attitude. The magnitude of that privilege was overwhelming and exciting all at the same time.

Since that “ah ha” moment, I have frequently pondered what it looks like for me to say, “Thy will be done.” The word that keeps coming to mind is, surrender.  Surrender, my daughter, to my will. Surrender to my love, my goodness, my control.  Surrender, and let your life reflect the contentment and peace that I desire for you. Surrender to me, your good, good Father.

Truly praying, “Thy will be done. Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven,” is life-changing! It will re-orient our thoughts, our attitudes, our actions under the loving hand of God with the realization that nothing happens in Heaven that isn’t His will and that His desire for us is to live the same way now, on earth.

Take time to reflect on the privilege it is to bring Heaven to earth by the way we reveal God’s will in our lives. May His will be done!

LOVE & TRUST

I never thoughtdebs-blog I had a problem with trust because I’ve been fairly trusting in my interactions with others throughout most of my life.  However, a number of years ago I crashed into a situation with someone I deeply cared about and discovered that I had been lied to repeatedly. As I tried to process my frustration, anger and hurt, I discovered that my struggle with trust was not focused just at the individual who betrayed me, but also at God.  I found myself asking, “Are you REALLY good? Can you REALLY be trusted?”  My head knew that the answer was “yes,” but my heart kept whispering “no.”

What I learned through that situation, and have continued to believe since then, is that because God is ALWAYS love, He can ALWAYS be trusted.  Coming to grips with that reality has changed my entire outlook on life.  Love and trust go together, and start with a belief that God’s love is good and that He is always for us. Because He loves me, He will use every situation in my life to grow both my love and trust for Him.

Let me explain what I mean.  There are many circumstances in life that are hard, in fact very hard, and they can cause us to question the love and goodness of God. We tend to question God’s existence and care in the hard times, while at the same time neglecting to thank Him during the good times.  It’s interesting how easy it is to blame God, and how hard it is to thank Him for His love and care.  Our actions stem from a wrong view of love and trust. Because we believe that God’s love is conditional, our trust toward Him becomes conditional. Ultimately, that belief system taints our ability to love and trust others.

We need to remember that God can’t ‘fake love.’ His love is always real and genuine.  He is absolutely committed to our good, our growth and His glory.  The circumstances of our lives are always opportunities to grow in our love and trust of God, which in turn help us overcome mistrust in our relationships with others.

That situation that I mentioned earlier was really hard; it caused much dissonance in my life and built a wall in my relationship with that person.  I was cautious in my interactions after that point with that particular individual and asked God to give me discernment in how to discern truth.  I wanted to be smart in how I trusted.  But the bigger issue was that I was able to maintain an overall attitude and perspective of trust because my beliefs became even more deeply rooted in the truth that God is love and He can be trusted.

When situations are hard and people betray you, will you run to God, your good and perfect Father, to allow Him to renew your love and trust?

Love and Fear

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When I was 7 years old, my parents went away for the evening and left me in the care of my 16-year-old brother. Most of the time we got along, and he generally treated me well. I thought it was awesome to have an older brother! This particular night, I walked out of the family room to go upstairs to bed. I confidently walked into my bedroom, and before I could even turn on the light, my brother jumped out from a closet and yelled, “Surprise!” He thought it was funny; I was terrified! Even as I write this, I can still remember the overwhelming fear that I felt at that moment. Ironically, he really didn’t intend to do anything hurtful. He was 16; I was 7. To him it was a harmless prank; to me it was a distressing experience that planted a seed of fear inside of me. Even though my brother apologized immediately after he saw my distress, it took years for me to feel safe in my room. My brother loved me—he didn’t intend to hurt me; but that experience had a deep effect on me.

For many of us, woundedness, even unintentionally, from a person we loved and trusted can have a devastating effect on our ability to love. We were created by God with a capacity to receive and give love, but our experiences can cause us to feel unsafe and vulnerable, and we build self-protective walls so that we won’t get hurt again. The result is that our interactions and relationships are tainted by fear, and we live closed off from God and from those around us.

It took some time for me to feel safe with my brother again. Even as I struggled with my feelings toward him, I could sense my desire to trust him; but I was cautious and unsure. It took time and a conscious effort on my part to believe that my brother had my best interest at heart. Even as a child, I realized that my ability to trust my brother again was rooted in my choice to believe that God would be with me, and that he would help me love even when I didn’t feel safe.

Obviously, I’ve never forgotten that experience; but I’m so grateful for what God taught me through it. I don’t need to let fear get in the way of love. Perfect love casts out fear. God’s love for me tears down the walls that I build and helps me honestly and authentically love others.

What experiences have caused you to build walls that keep you from receiving and giving love?

How is God redeeming those experiences to help you exchange fear with love?

Invitations

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Recently, I received an invitation to a dear friend’s birthday party.  The first thing I did was check the date to see if I was available that day to accept the invitation.  I wanted to be able to celebrate the day with her because her relationship matters to me.  My first thought upon receiving the invitation was that, if needed, I would willingly rearrange my schedule to be with my friend so that I could celebrate with her.

God is also sending us invitations.  Some of them are easy to accept, others more difficult because they seem counter-intuitive.  It’s exciting to accept His invitation to eternal life. But why does Jesus invite us to rest when life is so busy and we have so much to do? How do we respond to His invitation to follow, to submit, and to admit our brokenness?  What I’ve discovered in this walk of faith is that it is God’s deep and lasting love that is the source of every invitation we receive from Him.  Ultimately, His invitation to us is to experience healing and wholeness, and every invitation He extends requires our participation in that process.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I have often looked at Jesus as a coping mechanism or as a magician who could just magically fix my troubles and concerns.  Instead, God patiently invites me to participate with Him in my own healing and transformation.  He invites me to exercise faith in His work as He mends, heals and redeems.

The invitation from my friend was a welcome surprise in my mailbox and I am looking forward to celebrating with her.  May you and I view invitations from God with similar excitement and expectancy as we embrace that they have been sent from His heart of love.  May we RSVP to those invitations with anticipation and hope that the God of all creation invites us to participate with Him as He transforms our hearts and souls.

Identity Matters

One of the most basWho Am Iic questions that we all ask is, “Who am I?” This question is usually followed by another question that goes something like this: “Do I matter?”  Everyone wants and needs to feel valued and accepted. We have an innate desire to know that who we are and what we do counts for something or someone bigger than ourselves. And so we do, we strive, we work to become someone who contributes something to someone. We want to matter; I wanted to matter.

For much of my life I struggled to believe I had worth and value, and hid my struggle really well. I had loving parents, but often felt as though I couldn’t measure up. And so my identity became deeply rooted in a desire to perform and please. I needed that “A” in EVERY subject. I needed to be the captain of the basketball team and the president of the club. I needed to be the Resident Assistant in my dorm and the leader of the Youth for Christ intern team. It was more than using gifts and abilities; I needed to lead and to achieve because I placed my identity in my achievements. Graciously, God still used the talents He had given me and, graciously, He kept prompting me to face my own false thinking.

The more He prompted me, the more I became aware of the false identity I had created. I realized that I was living out of a false sense of self and that I believed the lie that God loved me more when I was good, successful, serving, and “put together.” My first real step toward a genuine understanding of identity was when I truly believed that I was loved no matter what I did or didn’t do. As I surrendered my need for approval and accepted that I already had God’s approval, I began to see myself differently. I began to believe that who I was could best be explained by seeing myself through God’s eyes, and I began to live from a deep sense of wholeness. God began to integrate every part of me into one complete person. I accepted His identity for me. I am His beloved daughter, no matter what.

Identity does matter. The Creator of the universe desires to be our Father and give us our identity, which is far greater than any identity I can create on my own.  Will you give Him permission to “poke and prod” at your thoughts and beliefs? Will you then allow Him to transform and change your very identity?  You are a new person in Christ; live that way!

How Big is Your World?

blog 2I was born and lived in central Pennsylvania until I was 22.  After getting married I ventured to the far regions of Chicago and then to Virginia before returning to central Pennsylvania to settle down and raise a family.  In that time span I traveled to Israel and then later to Russia.  Returning to Pennsylvania was different after seeing the world from a new vantage point. Admittedly, my viewpoint is still pretty small, but I recognized one thing from my travels; the world is bigger than my understanding and experience. There is a whole world out there with a limitless variety of traditions, experiences and viewpoints.

Recently, I’ve been pondering the bigness of our world and the invitation from our God to participate with Him in reaching His world for His honor. I’ve now lived in central Pennsylvania for 30 years.  I have to admit that it would be easy to become complacent as I live in my settled state, and it would also be easy for me to settle in my relationship with God as well.  When I live as a settler, my world becomes small and I miss the opportunities that God has for me to reach those around me and around the world.

Lifechange pushes me beyond my comfortable borders to a place where I am reminded of the bigness of our God. He wants me to receive His invitation to take my place in a world that is big, to expand my borders to see what He is doing here and around the world and to believe that He can use me to reach a very big world that needs Him.

What will you do to stop settling and accept God’s invitation to His big world?

Journey of Tranformation

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About 20 years ago I was deeply impacted by hearing a speaker use the words “life change.” At that time the phrase was relatively new and wasn’t being used frequently as a way to describe God’s work in a person’s life. (Today we hear that phrase often and I’m afraid that it may be losing its punch!) As I continued to ponder and reflect on the word LifeChange, I began to believe that I could truly experience transformation in my own life. And over time, I have seen God’s transformative work in many ways in my own life. God really did want to change and transform me; He was, and is, doing a work of deep heart.

We were created for LifeChange! We were designed to experience the transforming power of God in our lives. We read in the book of Philippians (1:6) “that being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Can you honestly answer that you believe you can experience LifeChange in every area of your life? Or are there areas, such as relationships, parenting skills or personality that you say, “I can’t help it; that’s just the way I am?”

LifeChange from the heart is possible! Would you take the time this week to reflect on Philippians 1:6 and ask the Spirit of God to show you one area of life where He desires to change your heart? We are on a journey of transformation. Will you give God permission to work in your heart for LifeChange?