Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Quiet Nook on the Balcony....A moment of fear and lack of obedience.

Summer has been quite full.  And God has been very present in this season. I have felt Him guiding and protecting me continuously in these past few weeks.

Life is never dull.  I remember as a child on occasion saying, "I'm bored.  There's nothing to do".  How I wish I could have bottled those "nothing to do" moments and save them for now.  I feel like time is passing so quickly.  One minute you are kissing your babies as they are swaddled in your arms.  And the next you are kissing them good-bye as they head off to another town, city, state, and or country.  

Greg and I love the precious moments when our children are all together in on place.  Those moments are few and far between these day.  So, we have learned to cherish the moments we have.  This summer we had a dysfunctional family vacation.  We had everyone in one place if you count Facetime with the west coaster for a brief minute. We rented a house in Wildwood, NJ for a week. The house was spacious. And timing seemed perfect.  As one or two of the children were arriving one or two were preparing to leave. Like ships passing.  So we didn't have to worry much about sleeping arrangements.  There were moments of laughter, tears, frustration, joy, tranquility and exhaustion.  Greg and I spent the week serving our children and grandchildren.  And there were moments they were serving us.  This wasn't the most relaxing vacation.  However, there were many many blessings.  

During our stay at the beach I found myself  a quiet nook on the balcony early each morning.  The tranquility of that time had my heart smiling because God's voice seemed clearer in those moments.  A clarity I hadn't felt in a while.  I was able to be still, get in His word, and do something I enjoy.  Sit at His feet.  I also had time so I began reading book after book after book.  And I stumbled upon a book that I couldn't continue reading.  Not because I didn't enjoy it.  It was quite the contrary.  The author of the book asked a few questions and made a suggestion that literally stopped me in my tracks.  And out of fear, and lack of obedience in the moment, I put the book down.  But the questions he presented lingered in my head the entire day.  And the answers quite frankly made me uneasy. "What if you faced the sin in your life this very day with a period of mourning?  Genuine mourning.  What if you spent time reflecting and grieving over the sin in the world around you?  Is thinking about this going to change or transform you? " All these questions were followed by a challenge to, for seven days, go into a time of penitential mourning.

Wow, right?!?  What if?  I have to be honest.  I wasn't prepared for this.  I found myself praying and reflecting on the sermon on the mount.  And within a few weeks it was clear that I needed to be obedient.  Everywhere I turned God was gently whispering to me about this "state of mourning".  I turned on the radio and songs would play that made me think about my personal sins and the sins of this mad world. Each time I went to church the sermon nudged me again.  Ditto with my list of pod casts that I listen to daily.

So, out of obedience I am going back to the book, "The end of me" by Kyle Idleman.  I know that there will be great blessings as I seek scripture to back me up on this journey.  I pray that the Holy Spirit guides me through the process and places a hedge of protection around me in my most vulnerable moments and also on my prideful moments too.  

A few years back I had set out on a period of mourning my sins.  I had asked the Lord to allow me to see the sins of my past and present.  As memories of the horrible and dark things I had done flooded my head and heart I just sobbed.  I found myself in tears and broken.  I was overwhelmed by my sinful nature and became paralyzed over things I had done and said in my past and even in my current place.  To mourn my sins wasn't natural.  I had taken on this whole "sinner saved by grace" mentality.  I knew that if I confessed my sins before the Lord, He would be faithful to forgive me.  And as a result I became arrogant.  I stopped feeling the pain and repercussions of what I was doing.  And let me be honest I was basked in God's grace.  It became almost natural for me to point out the sins of the world and others around me.  I had become quite the Pharasee. Yes, I was a judgmental sinner.  I could see what everyone else was doing wrong.  But I gradually became complacent in grace.  I took for granted what God did for me in love.  The ultimate sacrifice wasn't as clear as it should have been. 

I praise God for giving me the memories of my sinful past.  He promises us that He will forgive our sins.  And that when we truly come to Him for that forgiveness those sins are as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12)   During that sin memory flood Jesus showed up and became real.  I was broken and He was loving.  As I remembered each thing I had done I thought about the cost of that sin.  And the repercussion that each one had and still has today.  Gossip is the crown of thorns upon His head.  Hatred, the lashes to His back.   Jealously and bitterness the splinters from the cross rubbing as He carried them too.  And ultimately our sins of murder (if you think it you've done it), robbery (taking anything that doesn't belong to you...even if it was left behind), and selfish pride nailed Him to the cross.  

What does it mean when Jesus said, " blessed are those who mourn" and "blessed are those who are poor in spirit"? 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.