I am Invited to Live, Uncategorized

Pressing into Life

“Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.” ~Hosea 6:1-3, NKJV

I don’t feel very much alive today. I feel shriveled, like a tender seedling in the hot, dry July sun. Ironic, isn’t it? This week, my week to choose a topic–and I chose life–is the week that I crash. Huh. What should I make of that?

Reading in Hosea today, I find myself in a mix of angles. Discipline is never pleasant–and honestly, I’m not rightly sure of the reason for this particular drought–but I see in scripture that God always has an intent. It isn’t random.

I used the word shriveled–because that describes perfectly how I feel today, and yesterday, and the day before–and that isn’t fun. But as I look at this call from Hosea, an image comes to mind. My husband just got a new toy for our landscape. I call it the flame-thrower. It’s a propane fueled torch used to keep the weeds at bay in our driveway and among my many flower beds. You don’t actually burn the weeds, though. You torch them, and they wither.

There are a lot of withered weeds in my yard right now.

Perhaps there are a lot of withering weeds in my heart right now.

Good things grow best when there aren’t weeds competing for life. Things like patience and perseverance and kindness and encouragement, rather than frustration and discouragement and envy and negativity. Perhaps the shriveling I feel is the death of those weeds.

Which means that life will follow. Good life, producing good things.

I am Made New

Live New

grassAs a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1, NIV

It’s one thing to say I’m new. It’s quite another to live it.

Kind of like love. I love you doesn’t mean much without proof to back it up. And the proof is in the life that says it.

So, living new—what does that mean?

Living new rejoices with those who celebrate—even if what they’re celebrating is exactly what you had wanted and didn’t get.

Living new goes into the score of grief with one caught in its trenches, even if it means your heart is going to break.

Living new returns grace for insult, even if a snappy comeback sits ready on the tip of your tongue.

Living new does not keep an account of debt against those who have behaved badly.

Living new means living like Jesus. It is his calling I have received. His standard has become my aim. Ultimately, my life is in His hands—because I gave it to Him. I pray this new life of my will point to His.

I am Made New

I Am Made New: A Joint Post

bluebonnets“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:25-26, NASB

From Jen:

Ahh, April. Who doesn’t like April? Daffodils, tulips, pansies, and green grass. New life.

I just seeded a patch of mud with rye grass—fodder from my chicks who will soon be released to their new home. I like rye seeds. They’re big, plump droplets of hidden life. Their pale color stands out against the mud, so I can spot them readily. And yes, I check them. Daily. Because, here’s a confession about me—I am obsessed with growing things. I’m the type that talks to a tender plant when I set its roots in new soil. I know their names—common and scientific. Yep—I’m that weird plant lady. It’s okay, we all need quirks.

Seeding plants holds so many lessons, and here’s one I thought of today when I went out to check my rye grass. The seeds, when I spread them on the dirt, were hard. Very hard. I know from experience, if they don’t receive enough moisture after their initial contact with the dirt, they won’t germinate. The potential for life stays bound up in that hard barrier. They need the softening effect of water before life can break through. So, I’d watered the area, and the seeds softened. Life sprouted.

Made me think of this verse in Ezekiel. “I will remove your heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh.” Like those hard seeds, useless without life springing forth, God has sprinkled me clean, poured His spirit upon me, and given me a new heart. New life.

From Susan:

I scattered seeds for Texas bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes a while ago. When I go check on them now, I’m not looking for seeds anymore. I’m looking for flowers. A seed that is nestled in moist soil ceases to be a seed. It changes into something entirely new.

That is the kind of rebirth God offers use—total transformation into something much more beautiful than we were before. The trouble is, some days, when I focus on myself and my petty desires more than I focus on God, I start to shrivel into seediness again. That’s not God’s plan for me. Can you imagine a bluebonnet doing the same—returning to its seed-like state? It can’t. It isn’t supposed to. And neither am I.

Praise God whose mercies are new every morning. Today, I give him the hard places in my heart. Today, I give him my selfish ambitions and I ask—please God—cleanse me, and give me a new spirit. Turn my heart of stone into flesh.

Praise God for his patience with all his new creations.