Sunday, July 12, 2009

Another Wedding Done and a Beautiful Marriage Begun

I really enjoy weddings. I suppose that's a good thing because there are a ton this year! God said 2009 would be a year of celebrations and that's proving itself to be true. So many weddings and so many pregnancies. It's a great time.

This weekend, my friend Justin got married. When I was in youth group, he was a leader. One of my highlights was when my best friend's brother-in-law Ken said, "Juice?" (what we call Justin). Justin said, "What's up?" And Ken said, "Nothing, I just wanted to say it because I didn't know if it would be awkward to say that after you're married." I cracked up. But, the wedding was so beautiful. It was at Burgh Historical Park in Southfield. The weather was beautiful. The park was beautiful (there was even a garden) and God brought Justin and Katie together to become one. I met Katie for the first time and she seems like the sweetest person in the world. The love that she clearly has for Justin and for her cute daughter Katie was very evident throughout the night.

The reception was great. It was the first time that so many people from my youth group had been together in 3 years. We tried to plan a reunion but those fell through. I loved seeing Jonny, being with Walter and Andrew (Ken, hehe) and my best friend Leah and her hubby Mark. Holding Heather and Josh's new baby and seeing the Nelson babies, too! I got to catch up with everyone and me and Ben stayed out at Ram's Horn until like 3 in the morning...just like the good ol' days! I blogged a while back about how all of the different weddings have a special appeal. The appeal of this one was the fact that I've known a lot of the people I was with since high school. They're some of my oldest friends and knew me when I was ... strange and hormonal. haha. Some would argue that not much has changed, but who's not at least a little bit weird in high school? haha. It's amazing to see how everyone has changed and how some things will never change.

Oh yeah...It seems to be my new habit to have awesome spiritual conversations after amazing weddings where I break a sweat on the dance floor all night.

Congratulations to Juice and Katie Ellis. May your days together be filled with love and and deeper understanding of marriage God's way!

Healer, Heal Me

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in May. When I heard the news, I was frustrated. Cancer is an ugly thing that I always feared. It seemed like a juggernaut to me. Something unstoppable. And the fact that my mom lost her leg 10 years ago and might have to lose her breast to this ugly thing...I hated that.

I prayed about it and felt nothing but distance. God felt cold to me. Not like He was hiding Himself, but that He was just...far. I never felt like He didn't love me, but He just didn't seem close at all. I don't know if I didn't believe Him to really be a healer or if I was just angry that my mom was in a position like this.

BUT God, today, showed me that He truly is a healer and He cares deeply for me.

I woke up this morning and was trying to get the shirt I wanted to wear dry before me and mom headed out to church. I suddenly got the worst pain in my stomach. It hurt to sit, to stand, to breathe, to lay down. I went to the bathroom and that provided no relief. I let some gas go and that did nothing. I laid on my bed in agony and yelled for my mom who was in her room getting ready. I told her what was up and she started rubbing my stomach. She rubbed a part of my stomach that was very tender and I asked her to stop (or maybe yelled at her). She went away (I think to get oil) and then put her hands on my stomach and prayed for me.

As she called the sickness out and the pain away, I immediately felt the pain leave my stomach. A few seconds before, I cried because it was so terrible. And the Lord showed me that He is a Healer. God showed me that He cared deeply for my healing. And I have the chance to know God as my Healer. I have the chance to know God as THE Healer. He is the ultimate. Nothing I could do at that moment was helping me. But, calling on the name of the Lord and receiving the healing that Christ came to deliver was amazing.

I can speak not simply out of faith, but out of experience: You Are a God Who Heals!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"Lord, I Give This To You"

Surrender is such an interesting thing. It is one of the most important things that a Christian can do - laying down our lives before Christ. When we do this, we can truly experience the freedom that comes from a relationship with the Lord. We can be open to receiving His blessings and to seeing His promises for us, that we find in the Word, fulfilled. It's great! I am all for it!

But, I think sometimes we miss the mark in our so-called "surrender." As I sat in church, God was dealing with my heart about an issue that I did not realize that I even had! And I prayed, "Lord, I give you my sin." That's not a bad prayer, asking the Lord to take our messy stuff. He tells us to when He asks us to cast our cares on Him, because He cares for us. It is something that He wants to do! And that is great! I sure know that I would LOVE it if Jesus could make something beautiful out of my crap, my sin.

Sometimes, I think that the "Lord, I give you my _____" prayer is not enough. We can ask God to take something from take it away, to take it out of our lives, and other prayers of this kind, and He will help us however we can. God is a redeemer. But, God is not a magician and God will not force us to stay away from our own sin. Giving it to God, while great, is not enough.

A lot of the time, we are so afraid of God knowing the details of our sin. When we mess up, we run and hide from Him like He doesn't already know. Like He wasn't there with us when we did it. But, we run...we feel like God won't love us or forgive us. We feel like we need to get as far away from Him as possible because He's holy and we have just done something bad. But, the Truth is that we cannot escape from His presence. Trying to would only prove futile.

Instead, we can ask God to meet us in our sin. Once we realize that we are fallen, we can ask God to come and rest with us. In those moments when we find ourselves lower and deeper than we hoped we could get because of bad decisions, we can either start digging more or we can ask God to come and give us perspective on this point in our lives. God came to provide the broken world salvation and beauty that had been lost with the fall of man. It is important to remember that God sent Christ for us.

When we unashamedly ask God to come to where we are first, then He can give us His perspective on whatever we're struggling with. He can also show us, without shame, what He believes of us. This way, when we give Christ our issues like He asks us to, we have His perspective on our sin. But, we also are a little more certain that we can overcome it because we know that He is there no matter what. We have the Lover of our souls there to empower us. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us. When we lay our burdens and our sin on the Lord, we will be much more prepared to actually deal with it. Our sin is not like a trash can that's full - you cannot just take it out when it gets stinky and that takes care of the issue. It takes constant work. And we don't have to do it alone. We can do it with God instead of apart from Him.