March 22, 2010

Island In The Sun

Sometimes I just don't know how to start a blog. I can't even think of a clever song title to match my writing right now. So I'm just gonna title it . . . the name of the song I'm listening to currently. Anybody remember myspace and how when you blogged you could put "currently listening to" on there? Too bad you can't do that here, or on facebook. I digress.

Well, I just want to say how wonderful it is to see God continually working, renewing, transforming, redeeming and restoring our lives.

Everybody has landmarks (or hopefully should) in their lives, or milestones of where they've seen God tangibly work . . .

For me, the biggest story is from about 3 years ago when I was definitely running from God and His will for my life, chasing after what I thought I wanted, but being openly rebellious and in pursuit of self-fulfillment.

I've always looked back on that time - I consider it my Egypt that God delivered me from. He lovingly pursued me (as stubborn, blinded and rebellious as I am) through it all and delivered me from certain devastating circumstances. I was on a path headed in the wrong direction . . . God removed certain things, re-arranged the external details, and put me back on the path towards Him.

It's funny because I've always thought of it and prayed - thank you God for taking those things out of my life, and for delivering me from those circumstances. Thank you for re-arranging the external.

It's always what's around us, the physical, tangible things that we see first. It's entirely too easy to get caught up in our circumstances, as I know I've been doing lately.

But what He's been opening my eyes to lately is how it's not just the external details. What's more important is that through that time and even now, He is rescuing me and working out my salvation. He is continually working in me, delivering me, restoring me.

I see how wayward my heart was during that time. He orchestrated my circumstances and rescued me from a situation, but the more important work was what He was doing internally.

It's really amazing to have my eyes opened to the bigger picture . . . I feel that I have a better handle on what He's been doing in my life, which naturally allows me to give Him more glory. I can see that it was nothing that I did or deserved, even my faith is a gift from Him - the entire process was God's doing - and I am so thankful.

I don't think I'll ever cease to be amazed at the way our Savior pursues us and draws us back to Himself . . . and how nothing can ever separate us from the love of God through Christ. I am so thankful to have this tangible time to look back on to see a powerful example of God's grace. He was telling me - your salvation was only the beginning. I GOT you. Nothing you do can ever change that - it's you and me now. And what a beautiful, mysterious relationship that we get to have with our Savior. I can't stop thinking about it . . . how He's never going to leave my side, even in the moments where I can't see Him - even in the moments when I'm running and rejecting Him.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
[Romans 8:38-39]

Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

. . . My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."

[John 10:7-16, 27-30]

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

[Isaiah 40:11]

Again - when you ask God to reveal Himself to you, He will deliver - and then some.

God has also been reminding me that my job is to seek Him through His word, focus on my relationship with Him, His purposes and being obedient. [Matthew 6:25-34, Proverbs 3:5-6, 1 Peter 5:7] I don't need to worry so much about my circumstances - I can leave those details to His loving care. It's funny how life gets in the way sometimes and your priorities/viewpoints get totally skewed. I am so thankful for God's amazing grace, boundless love, endless faithfulness, continual sanctification and patience. It is a mystery I will never comprehend in this lifetime.

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