Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pictures and Prayer

For the past 8 or so years I've been involved with Gateway House of Prayer.  It's a place that is open 24/7 for prayer, worship and intercession.  Many different churches and denominations are represented there.  Because I believe God is worthy, because having a set apart place is something I appreciate, and because I like the opportunity to join with others,  (and many other reasons) I continue to be committed to at least one 2 hour period per week.

Last night while we were praying and singing; I had 2 different images come to mind.  Sometimes when I am "listening" for what God might be trying to say to me;  an image will come to mind, which most of the time I attribute to a picture given from/inspired by God.

As someone was reading from Ephesians about the height, depth, and breadth of God's love for us;  I pictured a thermometer busting out at both ends and also one  exploding from side to side.    This image came to mind and shook me with a reminder that God wants to basically blow the roof and walls off of our expectations and limits that we put on his love for us.  We think we can grasp it.  We believe we can frustrate him to the point where He gives up on us ... or we put this limit on others.  It seems like a simple thought but in that moment it was an overwhelming realization.

Later,  I was thinking about distractions in life.  I pictured a stairway cluttered with children's toys and thought about how easy it is to slip up on those little things we don't even see.   I prayed that God would help us to see even the tiny marble sized things that are easily overlooked and could become a bigger problem/cause us to stumble and fall.  I started out thinking about distractions in my own life but then ended up also seeing how this happens in marriages, churches, etc etc.  Again, it seems simple but God was speaking important truth to my heart.

God loves us enough to use the language, visuals, dreams, music, nature, stories, friends ... whatever means necessary to speak to our hearts.  I think all too often we miss those moments because we aren't creating space or acknowledging His presence. 

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Am I Stopping?

Stop, Look and listen.  Every child learns we should act in that order when planning to cross the street.    All the looking and listening is pointless if one doesn't first stop, right?  I guess that's why I was pulled over a couple of months ago for rolling through a red traffic light at the Landisville exit ramp of Rte 283 ... oops.  Thankfully the officer was gracious with me and I pulled away without a ticket.  Lesson learned, though.

Recently I wrote a blog about listening and then followed it with some thoughts about looking. A couple of weeks ago I taught the 1st and 2nd graders at church about our Sabbath day of rest.   It got me thinking about stopping and how that worked/should work in my life.  (I had not planned for this to be a series)

Our lesson plans for the kids included playing some simple games to evaluate what is work, what is rest and what is play.   What makes us tired?  Can we help someone and still worship God?    We found that for each of us different things fall into different categories.  For one of the games, as I listed different activities, we all jumped to one side of a tape line for things we thought were work and the other side for things we viewed as restful.    Not everyone agreed on what activities were work and what were rest; and that was ok. We talked about it. 

I thought about it, too.  Walking in the woods or going for a run or a long drive can be a perfect scenario for me to focus my heart on God.   I could find it restful spending the day helping out at a farm or even cleaning my room..    But can I do "x" and FOCUS on God?  I am well aware that it's when we truly stop and then rest that we remember that we belong to Him.  Our Sabbath rest reminds us that we need His strength. 

I chat with God throughout my day,  but this is something different ... this stopping.   It's making a time set apart and holy.   I have to consciously be mindful to do this.   It should involve getting out of the daily grind, unplugging, stepping away,  just being.  Worship, Rest.  Engage ... but first stop. 

I often try to switch gears from a busy day into some sort of intentional time with God ... usually I read a quick something or other from my Bible App.  Sometimes I journal.  Sometimes I just start listing off desperate cries of prayer or intercession.   Engaging with God on any level is good ... but that stopping and resting is so important and so key.  I have learned so much about the value of the secret place and that set aside time.  I know I must stop before doing the rest.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Am I Looking?

A few weeks ago at church we were challenged to set aside time in our schedule in the weeks ahead to look at people.  As in, intentionally schedule time to go to a busy place and just sit and observe,  to take notice.  We were to just watch and listen and be awakened to the people around us. Shouldn't we be doing this on a daily basis?  Well, yes, of course.  We don't, though, do we? 

Just like we can hear without listening, we can look without really seeing.    I can so often buzz in and out of stores, the gym, church, or the market  and not really take in a single thing because I'm on a mission or have that next thing on the schedule to get to.  Meanwhile,  I will have walked past a struggling mom who needs a hand with her stroller,  someone digging for that last 5 cents of change or maybe I could have noticed a glance, a tear or a smile and acknowledged it.  There are people I see every day... people whom I genuinely love and care for... that I have missed noticing when something is not quite right because I am focused on my own agenda. 

I'm not getting all guilt trippy here... but I am realizing and wanting to remember that there is so much pain, there are so many stories and so many needs.  Sometimes just a smile, nod or kleenex offered will be enough.  Aren't we all aching to be seen, heard, noticed, offered hope or even acknowledgement that we exist.  I sure need it.  God help me to be aware and to be looking.