Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Above and Beyond

I have been practically bursting at the seams with excitement to tell you how God has worked in our car situation, and it has been killing me to have had to wait to write this!

So, a brief recap: 3 weeks ago I had a car accident (no one was hurt), the van (our only vehicle) was totaled. We had been renting a van for 3 weeks as we waited for the insurance to decide on the van and then send us a check for the payout.

After learning that the van was being considered a total loss, and while waiting for some decisions to be made regarding this scenario, God gave me this verse : Ephesians 3:20 - "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us." So I claimed it. In fact, God and I have this wonderful relationship full of humor and joy and challenging one another. So I said, "God, that's what your Word says, so I want to see it happen." Keep in mind that it says "abundantly beyond all that we can ask or think.

I challenged God to show me up. Now He has given me an extremely wonderful, vivid imagination and this became a true source of excitement at this point. Because I would think of some way He could work in this situation that would so awesome, and then He would bring that verse back to me and I would say, "Ok God. Out do me!" And this went on for some time. Now let me tell you, God had been building up my excitement and really I was at the point where I was just wondering what He could possibly do to do better than all the scenarios that I had come up with that would have just been incredibly awesome.

But show me up He did. Not only were we able to get a new van for less than the payout on our old one, but the insurance is also covering the taxes and best of all Josh went and looked at it and decided on it by himself!

Now some of you are wondering why that is so exciting, so let me explain. I make a lot of the decisions for our family. In fact, I make practically all of them. I am a natural leader and Josh is not. I can be very controlling and since I am very level headed, naturally I think I am always right and just take over decisions. For some time now, God has really been working on my heart about what it means to be a submissive wife. What He has shown me is that a lot of times, I make the decision, or push Josh to make the decision I want him to make, because I don't trust him to do what I think is best. But what I am really saying is that I don't trust God to do what is best, or to even lead Josh to the decision that is best.

Ouch! Yeah, let's just take it as it is, I'm trying to be the one in control. However, on the other side of this - for me to be a submissive wife in the way God wants me to be, it also means that Josh has to step up to be the leader. Now as I said earlier, this is where it gets hard, because I like to lead and he doesn't. So for me to be submissive (trusting and supportive) and for him to lead are the complete opposites of our fleshly desires.

So back to the car situation. God worked in a way abundantly above all I could ask or think because in not one of the scenarios I could come up with did Josh make the decision all on his own, while I made the decision to trust and support whatever decision he made. That was huge! And let me just say that Josh made a great decision choosing a van that really fits our needs and even negotiated the price way down to below what we were willing to spend saving us a little money; talk about stepping out of his comfort zone!!

You know what, I think I could get used to this trust thing. Thanks God!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring is coming!

Today, the sun was shining, I could see grass, and my children were talking about butterflies. All signs of the coming of Spring! It is exciting!

As we rode in the car and my children were talking about butterflies, ok so they were arguing about whether they are butterflies first or caterpillars first, but that's beside the point. Naturally, I started explaining to them the process, in children's terms, of how caterpillars become butterflies. But this time, it was a little different.

This time I realized I was describing, not just the transformation of butterflies, but the transformation we go through when we come to know Christ.

I looked up the process of metamorphosis, just to get a more in-depth view of what exactly happens. When the egg hatches, the caterpillar is barely visible. All it does is eat milkweed leaves, and soon it reaches it's full grown state. It eventually leaves the milkweed plant and distances itself about 30-40 ft. away, where it begins to pupate. At this point it creates a silk-like mat and hangs there upside down, in a J shape for a full day. It then sheds it's skin to form it's chrysalis. Inside the chrysalis, the caterpillar undergoes major changes: the mouth parts go from being parts made for chewing to straw-like for sipping nectar, and a crawling insect will become a flying one. When it emerges from the chrysalis, it's wings are limp and wet, so it clings to the shell of the chrysalis (now called the hemolyph) to fill it's body and wings with blood. For about an hour after it detaches, the butterfly still cannot fly, making it most vulnerable to prey. But once it can fly, it begins feeding off flowers and looking to begin the process all over again.

We start out just like those caterpillars, filling ourselves with all this world has to offer. At some point, God pulls us away from what we know and shows us the truth of His Son who died on the cross for us (how cool that it hangs in the shape of a J for a day!!). He then covers our sins with His blood, having taken our punishment, and begins to immediately change our hearts (the Bible calls this justification). Now spiritually transformed, we enter back into the world, still needing to cling so desperately to the blood of Christ, until it has filled every aspect of our lives. Yet, here is where we are so prone to attack, because Satan sees us as weak. As we become stronger, we go out to share with others, but still need to feed from the Word of God. We are taken from being this creature that clings to the world, just slowly getting by, and are transformed into a thing of beauty ("... the many will be made righteous." Romans 5:19). We become a new creature. One that has the freedom to fly.

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." Romans 1:20

I am always amazed when I see how intricately detailed all of Creation is to tell of Christ! As spring comes and we begin to see new life growing all around us,  I hope you are reminded that like the dead of winter, you were dead in sin, but have new life through Christ alone. The coming of spring also means the coming of Easter. Let us not forget what He has done for us, but rather look for Him everywhere!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Total Loss - Salvaged

Yesterday, I was told that due to the accident I wrote about in my last post, that my van is a total loss.

Total loss.

These are the words used to describe a vehicle that has damages above the value of the vehicle. It means, it can be salvaged, but it may not be worth it.

This is not how I would describe total loss. Total loss is what millions of people in Japan experienced just days ago as earthquakes rocked the ground and waters swept over houses, cars, businesses, everything. Entire cities were completely devastated. People lost everything they owned. They even lost people close to them who are missing or died during these tragedies!

But even worse than that, there are people who are living without true joy that comes only with knowing Christ personally. They are experiencing life - happiness and tragedies - as though that's all there is. They are missing out on real purpose and meaning. They are missing out on the promise of eternity with our Creator. And they don't even know what they are missing.

That's total loss.

I lost a van. There's just no comparison.

But just like my van, it doesn't have to be a complete loss. Christ came to die so that our lives don't have to be a total loss. When we admit that we are sinners, believe that He is the Son of God who came to save us, and give Him our lives - we are no longer considered a total loss. In fact, even better than a vehicle or the houses and buildings and cities that will need replaced in Japan, we're not just redeemed with the hopes of being worth it, we are renewed to a state that is even better than how we started! Our lives can be salvaged to a state of righteousness. God picks up the scraps left over after we have been tattered and beaten down by this world. He puts them back together, but when it is all completed, we are not just a refitting of our old pieces; nor our we a mixture of some new and some old. We are made brand new, our mileage has been reset, and we get put back on the road with a new beginning!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Yesterday morning I was in a car accident. It was my fault and thankfully I was the only involved and the only one in the car at the time. I was driving home from work when all of a sudden my van started swerving to the lane to the right of me, I pulled back into my lane (the far left lane) but hit the snow buildup in the left burm which pulled me in toward the wall. My van hit the wall on the driver side and then spun around finally stopping with the tail end of my passenger side in the divider wall facing traffic.

I know what you are thinking, "Wow, I bet that was pretty scary." To be honest, I was afraid before it even happened. I used to be deathly afraid of something like this happening to me, because I did not want to go through the fear and panic that we all assume comes with it.

However, I gave you the general story, but now I want to tell it from my experience of what happened. I was driving. Being in the car by myself, I decided it was a perfect time to practice my rap of the Psalms of Ascents, "... in my distress I cried out to the Lord..." Whoa! My mind literally blanked out as I watched my car swerve one way than the other. Then time slowed, as my car was spinning around I remember thinking, "I should be panicking right now, but I'm not. Lord, please keep me safe and tell me what to do." And then very clearly I heard, "Barbie, hit the brake." So I did. Hitting the break slowed the van enough to keep the airbags from deploying, which would have caused injuries. When I finally realized the van had stopped, I thanked God for keeping me safe, turned the car off, turned on my hazard lights, called the police and started looking for my glasses that had flown off my face.

As much as I had dreaded this very thing happening, it was not as scary as I thought it would be. Of course, I learned something incredible, that I think I could only have learned through an experience like this: When you are focused on God before trouble comes, it is easier to focus on Him through the trouble and after as well.

This coincides with something I learned just last week, and those of you who are in the Beth Moore study, Stepping Up, will know what I am talking about.

Where I look -> What I hear -> What I feel -> What I expect

I looked to God -> I heard His voice -> I felt peace -> I expected to be kept safe

You know, I can't help but relating this to my last post about dancing. I got to experience the dance of my life with my Father. Together we moved this way and that way across the asphalt dance floor leading up to a dramatically beautiful spin and finally ending in a deep dip low to the ground. Breathlessly, I stared Him in the face as He led me. I followed His steps, floating in the air as I was swept off my feet and carried in His strong arms. And when it was finally over, all I could say is, "Oh, how He loves me!"