Eternity Minded

Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. – Ecclesiastes 12:8
I find it interesting the more I delve into God’s Word and spend time in His presence, this has become my viewpoint on many things. My life is but a breath…a mere breath. Money? Power? Possessions? Even health, family, and friends? Vanity. Not meaningless, for each is precious in its own way, but nevertheless, each is to be held lightly as well. To put my security, my hope, and my faith in anything or anyone other than God is vanity. It’s futile and will leave me empty in the end. I’m not here long on this earth. I was born, and I will die.  This is a promise.  My life on earth will end as quickly as it began.  Do I know when exactly? No… Could be today. Could be years from now. My end is known, though: my physical body will die, yet my spirit will live on.

So as I live day by day on this earth, do I want to chase my earthly desires–desires that rise and fall like vapors in the wind, desires which will go to the grave with me? Or do I want to run hard after His desires for me–desires which will carry me into eternity?

Let my heart be steadfast, oh Lord!  Let my heart be steadfast! May the desires of my heart be desires born of Your Spirit. For Your Spirit is life–eternal life.

“…All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.” – Isaiah 40:6-8

 

 

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God Affirms Me

Affirmation.  It’s my love language for sure.   Words of affirmation from friends and family perpetuate the relationships from loose connections to 3-fold cords which cannot be broken.  Yet God has been showing me something lately: affirmation from man is like man–it is temporal, it is fleeting, and it fades.  Affirmation from man will not last.   Tell me you are proud of me today and I will float through the day and maybe even the next on a cloud of assurance and joy knowing I am loved and appreciated.  Yet then something will be said, something will be done–or something will be left unsaid or undone–which will in turn cause the fleeting feelings of man’s assurance to blow away like a vapor in the wind.  It’s vanity.  It’s not meaningless, but it’s not eternal either.

For years I craved, longed for, and even sought out man’s approval and affirmation.  To go any period of time without someone affirming me would leave me doubting, fearful, and wondering what I did wrong.  I wasn’t happy unless I knew others were happy with me.  Silence was deafening. And then to know for sure someone was unhappy with me was like a knife to my heart; I could not handle it.  It brought death to me in many ways.  Yet God has shown me living to make man proud of me left me like man:  broken.  God has shown me depending on something broken to make me whole only leaves me more broken.

So how can I be whole?  By trusting in what is eternal: God’s affirmation. His affirmation is the only affirmation able to reach the innermost places of my human heart and heal them and make them whole.  What God affirms, no man can reject.

So last night I got down on my knees and began praying to God about this need for affirmation, this desire to feel like someone is proud of me, that someone cares for me.  I asked Him to help me grasp with my heart what He wanted me to know. And He did. Oh how He faithfully did.  No sooner did the prayer “I just want to make You proud of me” leave my lips than I heard my God speak “I am proud of you.” The chains fell off. My need to hear man affirm me vanished. It’s gone. My Heavenly Father affirmed me! And His affirmation is living and eternal.

Think about it….it makes total sense to me now. I am proud of my children, not because of what they do or don’t do, but because they are mine. I am proud of them because they are mine. God is proud of me because I am His. He loves me. He chose me. He is proud of me. No human affirmation could ever compare to the life giving affirmation of my God. God’s proud of me. Not because of anything I’ve done. I can’t MAKE Him proud of me. Nothing I could ever do or say could MAKE Him proud of me. He IS proud of me. For I am His. He’s proud of me because I am His.

And so are you, my friend.  So are you.

I Will Be Held Accountable

What do I think I’ll be accountable for when I tiptoe into heaven? I believe I will be held accountable for this season. I believe He has allowed this for His good pleasure. I do not believe He necessarily caused all of it–I believe human decisions and mindsets have also played a factor–but I believe He in His sovereignty is using all of it. I know am to learn and to grow from all of it–the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am to love Him and I am to love others through it; I am to persevere. I am to hold fast to the confession. I am to seek Him, to dwell in His presence, to hope in His Word. I am to walk with faith unwavering amidst uncertainty. When my foot slips, I am to get back up and keep moving forward.

For years I’ve knowingly and unknowingly placed my security in what I did for people and what people thought about me (or what I thought they thought about me). Yet during this season God is calling me to go deeper. He’s calling me to walk the road of faith with perseverence. I may not have a specific man-named assignment during this season. I may not be labeled as “doing” anything according to Christian ministry tradition. Others may not understand why I am not jumping into “active” duty. Yet I believe I am walking in obedience to a spiritual assignment: to be me, the me God designed me to be, and to dwell, dwell at His feet. I have value, but my value is not dependent on anything I do or don’t do. Even though man may appear not to want or need me to do anything–even though there doesn’t appear to be a place for me right now–I am valuable; I am God’s child.

God has called me to serve, and I am doing that even now. I am serving in the waiting. And honestly, I’m not sure I want to label it waiting anymore. It’s more my season of dwelling, dwelling in His presence. I’m like Mary, sitting at His feet, soaking up His presence. His presence convicts, breaks, binds, restores, and rebuilds. His presence is life to me. I’m not waiting for something better; I’m dwelling in Him now. I am better because of now.

I’ve come to love this season. Yes, there are days people unknowingly do or say things that momentarily crush my hopes or shatter my sense of value. Yes, there are days I feel this season was man’s choice, not God’s.  Yes, there are days I cry out for God to rescue me, to bring the future He’s promised to pass.  Yes, there are days of doubt, of fear, of uncertainty, of asking, “Why me?” Yet it is also often with the next breath I thank Him for His steadfast love and ask Him to hold off “rescuing” me for a little while longer. Yes, with my next breath I cry out as David did, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why  are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:5). This “valley,” as some would call it, is not an easy road to walk, but it is one I am grateful for. I am thankful for the opportunity to dwell in His presence, to learn through suffering, to grow through the tears, to heal through the pain.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, for I see them even now. I see Him now, now more than ever. And I love Him. And He loves me.

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.
They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way;
They found no city to dwell in.
Hungry and thirsty,
Their soul fainted in them.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He delivered them out of their distresses.
And He led them forth by the right way,
That they might go to a city for a dwelling place.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness. – Psalm 107:1-9

As I read Psalm 107  this evening (all 43 verses, not just the 9 above), I read my story–God’s story–the source of my joy.  It’s not a joy born of everything going my way.  It is a joy birthed through labor, at times very painful labor. But oh the joy that comes when labor is complete! The new life that comes forth with fresh eyes and fresh hope.

I cannot help but lift up praises to my God, to exclaim His faithfulness to all generations. He redeemed me. He heard my cries. He saw my distress.  And He came. He came and rescued me. He satisfied my longing soul. He shined His light in my darkness. He brought His freedom to my captivity. He healed the broken pieces. He calmed the raging seas. Why? Because His steadfast love endures forever. Yes. He loves me. And I love Him. And I thank Him.

Thank You Lord for hearing my cries, and for delivering me from my distress. Thank You for your steadfast love and Your wondrous works to the children of man.