Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kiwi Anyone?

(The following post was written as an entry for the "She Speaks Scholarship Contest". To read more about the She Speaks Conference, click here.)

I was afraid and went out and hid [my] talent in the ground. (Matthew 25:25)

As the runner dove for home plate, the ball slammed into the catcher's mitt. With a shout of affirmation the umpire hollered, “Safe!”.

Isn't that what we all long to hear? We desire safety almost above all else. We purchase security systems, install locks, buy alarms and firewalls for home, office and computers. We pray safety for our family. We want to live safe little lives, untouched, but sadly unfulfilled.

I don't want to go through life pursuing safety, while missing the Savior.

We are held hostage and paralyzed by the things that frighten us. We need to make personal all that God has made possible, claiming His promises.

Beth Moore has said that we are eating apples and oranges when there is kiwi available. We're like little birds splashing around in a mud puddle on the sidewalk, when there's a large pond just over the hill.

Author Hilary Price writes, “It's time to step out from huddling in the security of the little pool of light at the base of the lamp post, with all of it's limitations, and go on the road with Jesus – what an adventure!”

“She Speaks” is the kiwi, the pond and the adventure!

I have attended the “She Speaks” conference twice in the past. I have chosen safe seminars, shared safe presentations, and sat safely in the back row. I have pursued safe dreams and kept the treasures of my heart locked behind doors of inadequacy, insecurity and fear. What has this pursuit of safety done for me? Left me living a life overflowing with 'should have's' and 'if only's', disappointed in myself for not fully trusting God.

Josie Bissett writes, “Dreams come a size too big so we can grow into them.” Growing isn't safe. It requires stretching and seizing opportunities. God's dreams for me are big, but I have controlled the abundance right out of my life.

Tired of self-preserved living, I'm abandoning my safety in exchange for His security. Security implies such an assurance that there is no need for apprehension. Resting and trusting with full confidence that though life isn't always safe, God always is and He will not fail.

Safety says, “Don't register for the conference. The cost is great.”

Financially that might be true, but the cost on my life if I don't attend is a greater sacrifice. Another year passes. Another regret. Another missed opportunity. I don't know how God will provide, but I know He will.

Safety says, “Don't sign up for speaker evaluation or a meeting with a publisher.”

Failure looms and threatens in both these areas. Voices echo in my head that I am foolish to even consider trying. Failure and pain won't kill me, but meaningless will. A very dear friend encouraged me with this thought: “You can't claim victory if you don't get in the fight.” Again, Beth Moore writes, “Satan is standing on your God-given ground daring you to take possession of it.”

I've existed in safety too long allowing the enemy to claim land that is not his. "She Speaks" is an invitation to occupy my land. I need to take a stand on some broken, parched ground. It's time to live. It's time to allow God to stretch me. It's time to walk in obedience and “'Get your supplies ready... go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own.' " (Joshua 1:11) Crossing the River of Fear, I'm heading to the Land of Promise.

Safety is completely over-rated. It denies and deprives us of adventures that God longs for us to experience. Adventures in faith. Adventures in living, letting go and leaning on Him.

Afraid, I have buried my talent in the ground, and along with it my dreams and desires.

The Master responds, “That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that!” (Matthew 25:26 The Message)

I'm trading my fragile dreams for God's phenomenal realities, trusting in Him to supply.

Standing on sacred ground.

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Found at Sea

"Put out into deep waters." (Luke 5:4)

Living on the shore, splashing in puddles, I've been afraid of the deep. Afraid of my feet losing footing. Afraid of the fight and effort required to keep my head above water in deeper depths. Putting out into the deep would render me helpless. What if I dove in and couldn't make it back to land before drowning in a sea of vulnerability, pain and confusion.

"The depth of the water into which we sail depends upon how completely we have cut our ties to the shore, the greatness of our need, and our anxieties about the future."

Shallow seemed safer. Deeper decisions, dangerous.

Letting loose the lines that held me to the past, I've suddenly found myself flailing in unfamiliar waters. Going under, self submerged, His grace washes over me, soaking sorrow, sin and shame. Covered by His love, I long for forgiveness, acceptance and deliverance. Grasping for breath, I struggle, terrified of being exposed, left and abandoned.

Will I drown in billows of humiliation? Can I give myself permission to stop fighting the currents pull and believe Someone will hold me...carry me across to the other side? Can I leave the familiar shore for the foreign unknown? The water seems colder. The wind unfriendly. I panic as I sense the sharks circling, waiting for the opportune moment to strike. I feel my insides torn even without their touch.

Glancing at the faraway horizon, struggling and so very much afraid, lost and lonely, giving up, a life-line is thrown. I am not alone in the ocean. God provided a friend who has charted these waters and sailed similar seas. It will be hard, but I will not be alone.

When the undertow is strong and I want to surrender to it's pull, she encourages, "Keep swimming!" When the way back beckons louder than the call to journey forward, she implores, "Keep swimming!" When the weight of the burden I'm still clenching threatens to pull me under, she helps me open tight-fisted hands and with understanding whispers in my ear, "keep swimming". When the sound of the sea confuses me and panic overtakes, she yells above the chaos, "KEEP SWIMMING". When the waves toss me relentless and I'm battered and bruised by authenticities price, she tenderly cries, "Keep swimming, dear one, keep swimming". When I call for help she holds my hand. With her touch I suddenly notice that she swims beside me as God calms the raging storm in me.

I wish at this point I could share a conversation I had with the dearest of friends Thursday morning. Incredible doesn't begin to describe the journey she took with me. Through a carefully crafted illustration the waves continued to roll, but instead of fighting, we began floating in the Hands of God. She directed my gaze to a boat ahead and the Captain who was waiting for us there. When seen through God's eyes, the waves that were threatening moments before appeared gentle. God was rocking us in the cradle of His hands. His boat was anchored, reliable and dependable. "My darling baby girl, I am not going anywhere."

As I reached to borrow her binoculars to see the boat ahead, she pointed something out to me. I had freely let go of her hand...twice...and I had stopped flailing and kicking against the waves. Why? Because my eyes were back on Jesus. She reminded me that Jesus "provides that never ending anchored strength and calm in the storms of life."

Sometimes we just have to "relax and trust the process".

Thanks Diane. Love ya tons. I discovered I was never lost at sea, but found. His eyes have never left or shifted their gaze from me...not even for a moment. His stare steadfast. Exchanging my weariness for His rest. In floating I am strangely secure.

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