PLEASANT PLACES

By Lisa Huddleston

10384744_10203953636347975_5879070697872684370_nHave you noticed that when people tell you they’ve heard a message from God that more often than not it is the message they are actively hoping to hear? Call me a cynic–it would be an apt description–but the odds of this happening so frequently seem a little distorted to me. And, yes, it is true that I am noticing this common occurrence, because it is a trait I see when I look at my own reflection, especially the one I see in the rear view mirror.

Oh boy! I could make quite a list of epiphanies I have received. Thankfully I was spared from some of them by good old common sense, others just didn’t manage to work out (maybe God protected me from myself), and then there are those that truly did manifest into God-given gifts.

Interestingly, in pondering this tendency, there is at least one characteristic these false revelations all share; they all play to my ego. God notices how unique and truly gifted I am, and He finally is going to shine His ray of light from heaven to illuminate my genius for the whole world to see. Okay, still being cynical, but there is a lot of truth in this concept. And I fear that we tend to pick up a least a smattering of this idea from the things we learn at church. You are special. You are called. You are gifted. You have a unique purpose. You know, all those ideas that make my writer’s mouth salivate for recognition and acknowledgement of my creativity.

11227401_10207349081111972_7173172355244987238_oHonestly, there is nothing wrong with those messages. God does knit each one of us together with unique talents and spiritual gifts. We do have a purpose in this world, and we have been called to walk in a way worthy of that calling. The only problem with some of this teaching is that we think we are doing it to fulfill our purpose, to gain recognition for ourselves. This life is not about us, and our calling is to follow Him. We are created to bring Him glory–but it is a difficult balance to walk that line between gracefully using our gifts for Him and seeking applause or God-speak that leads us to our own recognition.

And maybe that’s why some of my “epiphanies” have succeeded while others have not. When I only perceive God telling me the things I want to hear, then it’s really no wonder that those messages turn out to be false prophesies. God is God, I am His creation, and He is in charge of how, when, and where He wants to use me. As I sit here typing on my back porch while the birds sing and the breezes blow through the trees, I am thankful. Some days I am lonely in this isolated place and feel lacking in direction, but I am where He has placed me and that has always proved to be good. Today, the boundaries have fallen for me in pleasant places, and I say amen.

OH, SO THAT’S WHY

wild-sage-homestead-aha-momentBy Lisa Huddleston

My pastor preaches verse by verse through one book of the Bible at a time, and last week he began the Old Testament book of Judges. Being an eager beaver type I like to read ahead, so this morning I was pondering Chapter 2. Yesterday I had penciled in the margin of Chapter 1, “Why couldn’t they [the Israelites] manage to drive out all the other people? Surely, God could manage.” And then today I read 2:23–“That’s why God let those nations remain. He didn’t drive them out or let Joshua get rid of them.”

Okay, you have to read back a little further to get the “that’s why.” You see, Chapter 2 tells us that after all of Joshua’s generation died out, there was no one left who knew anything about God or who followed Him. (What? How did that happen?!)

Well, anyway, that ignorant generation started worshiping other gods and so God left all those other nations there in His Promised Land in order to test Israel and see whether they would stay on His path or not.

Whew! That is so sad on so many levels.

First, how did a whole generation not know about God? Didn’t their parents teach them? What happened to cause them to forget? Is that same thing happening today?

Second, I can’t help wondering what God is leaving in my life to keep me on track–you know, to test me and keep me honest. Ugh. I wrote out a little list and stuck it in my Bible right there on that page so it will be there when Pastor Jim preaches these words. I hope to hear more that day.

Maybe then I’ll be able to say, “Oh, so that’s why!”