Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Be prepared. Be sober. Hope fully.

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed."  1 Peter 1:13

How many times have I gone into things, unprepared to take action?  So many times I have floundered because of that.

Here though, Peter says to be prepared. 

How exactly?  That's what I struggled with as I meditated my scripture memory verse.  My thoughts have clarified some now and I think it is by soaking in the Word of Truth.  If I focus on scripture, not just the times I have to memorize it, or get a quick moment in it, rather have focused times of reading and studying it, I will be preparing my mind.

When I am tempted, God says that he will provide a way out of that temptation.  But how will I see the way out unless I have been soaking up his truth?

When I am faced by temptation, I have to be prepared for action.  In the King James version, it says "gird up the loins of your mind."  It seems a strange thing to us now, but back in the day, they wore long robes that hampered their movement.  When they needed to be prepared to move or run, they reached down and grabbed the bottom edge of the back of their robe, pulled it up to the front and tucked it into their belts... in effect creating crude shorts, in which they could run, move, fight more freely.

Peter is saying we need to do the same thing with the loins of our mind.  Prepare ourselves in our minds.  Gather in the loose "robes" or affections, entanglements, and bring them under control of truth, God's Truth. 

Then is says simply, be self-controlled (or sober in KJV).

How can any of us be self-controlled or sober when we have all these loose things and are unprepared in our minds?  I know from experience that my self-control is out the window.

If I am not prepared, then self control will be hard to come by in the heat of the moment, when a decision needs to be made - do I do this, or do I do what God wants me to?

Being sober (or self-controlled) also means not to be inebriated in my mind.  It means cutting out the things that would dull my senses to God, his glory and goodness, his love and faithfulness, and that would hinder my coming to Him in everything, hinder my prayer life.

Here is a quote from Matthew Henry's commentary on this verse.

"Be sober, be vigilant against all your spiritual dangers and enemies, and be temperate and modest in eating, drinking, apparel, recreation, business, and in the whole of your behavior. Be sober-mined also in opinion, as well as in practice, and humble in your judgment of yourselves."

I have found my scripture memory verse this time to be full of such meaning and depth, that I have really gained a lot from studying it.  There is such application for me, for where I am at right now.

When it seems like God has given me a "wait," that doesn't mean that I get to coast.  If I coast in my walk with him, in what I am doing for Him, in how I am pursuing him, when He gives me the "go ahead" I won't be ready.  I may never get the "go ahead" from Him!  I might miss out on the opportunities He laid before me because I wasn't tuned into Him and didn't see them!

Continuing to prepare my mind for action, and continuing to be self-controlled will keep me in tune with God.  I will be able to build and maintain a strong connection with Him so that I am ready for anything.

The final thing is that my hope isn't in the preparation and readiness for action, or in the temperance and modesty in the whole of my behavior, my hope is fully fixed on God's grace.  He already has poured out such grace on me.  To think that He will continue to pour it out on me...

How to imagine the vastness of God?
How to grasp the unending grace of God?
How to understand His willingness to pour it out on me?

There is no understanding it.  However, even with things you don't understand fully, you can still fully place your hope in them.

So, I am determined to prepare myself for action.  I am going to be ready when God tells me to "go."  Instead of trying to gather my stuff up last minute and go, I want it all packed up and set.  I am determined to be self-controlled.  I know that I won't always be perfect at that, but I can strive for it, with God's help.

And above all else, I am going to hope fully.  Not halfheartedly.  Not partially.  With all my heart, mind, soul and strength I am going to love God, I am going to set my hope on His grace.

If, rather, when I fall and fail, I am going to get back up and keep on.  I don't want to give up anymore.  I have done so much of that.  Giving up on things in the past.  But not this time.  Not with this.  I have done too much work to gain the healing and wholeness God wants for me.

I will:

Be prepared.
Be sober.
Hope fully.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Afraid to dream?

I read somewhere today about dreaming dreams. 

You know, what kind of dreams and aspirations you have.  What are you longing for, dreaming for, wanting so badly you can practically taste it?

One of the prompts at the end of the post was this:

“Lay out your dreams before the Lord, asking which are His dreams too or which might not be in His will.”

I started thinking about it and wondered, do I have any dreams to dream?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that maybe I am afraid to dream.  Does that make any sense at all?  I mean, here I am, after all these year, finally feeling really free to do the things God has called me to….


And what?

I wrote in my journal that I am afraid to dream.  I can think of a lot of reasons from my past why I would or should be afraid to dream.  There have been times where dreams have gotten squashed.  There is a varied past that the enemy would love to throw up in my face,  or use to haunt me too.

Mistakes made.
Words said.
Things done.

But that any of that would hold me back from dreaming is a lie.

I am learning to minister where I am right now in a new capacity, feeling new wings underneath me.  I am learning what it means to be a wife and mom free from my past and leading worship, being the administrator at our church, leading a women’s Bible study each semester.

To think too far ahead is scary.  I don’t know what to expect, I don’t know if I can even dream anything.  And if I dream it, can I do it?  (I know, apart from God I can’t… but you know what I mean)

I haven’t hardly spoken or thought about any dreams that I might have with anyone, much less with God.  So to lay out any dreams before God to see if they are in His will or not - that’s scary - because I feel like I would have to really commit to something then.

I feel like God still has me in this “wait” pattern yet, but at the same time, I have to be preparing myself.  How and with what, or rather for what, I don’t know.

Looking down deeper now, I an see a couple of dreams.  Some of them aren’t dependent on me, so I won’t share them here.  However, some are.  One of them is seeing my kids becoming sold out for Christ.  I want to see them really love Him and follow Him of their own will and decision, not because I do, or because I make them go to church, but because they really want to.

That’s a dream, so I guess that I’m not too afraid of dreaming.

In ANOTHER POST at A Holy Experience today I read something that also really hit me that I have to include here.  Her husband is a farmer and is in the process of planting his fields...

"This is what the Farmer is doing: he’s cutting the soil open. The sharp edge of the disk slashes the ground wide open. And Jesus, he bears scars and what is torn open in our lives, it can seem like destruction. Yet.
Out of the lancing of our fields, life will unfurl.
Out of the scars of Christ, our salvation comes.
Out of what seems to ruin our lives, our very rescue can begin.
The resurrection people know it: The tearing open can be the beginning of triumph." (Ann Voskamp)

I have had some pretty deep “tearing open” of my own these past years.  I feel light years from that now, and yet closer too.  New life is springing forth for me now, in me. 

New green shoots springing from newly turned over ground.  Tender and easily bruised, but full of such promise.  They need to be treated tenderly.  What the fruit will be that these shoots hold, I don’t yet know. 

Maybe they are the birth of new dreams for me.  These new shoots in me need to be treated tenderly, protected from the lies from the past and present that would trample over them, crushing them back into the ground.

God, help me not be afraid to let these green shoots continue to spring up and grow.  You planted the seeds in me that they have come from.  Lord, help me root them deep into the soil of Your guidance, and feed and water them with Your Word and Truth.  Help me not cave into the lies, worries of what others may think, or fear of failure.  Help me cling to You and listen for Your voice.  Help me to keep everything laid bare out before You so You can see it all, expose any lies or sins, so that I can know that I am in Your will.  Help me walk out in faith.  To put action towards those dreams in the steps that You show me from day to day.  Because I am on the road with You, Jesus.  Now I want to start WALKING on that road, not just sitting or standing on it… I want to move forward along the way You show me.  Amen.