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Slaves?

FaithDeane Watters1 Comment

dsc_0009Many of us would say that we are free people, not enslaved to anybody or anything. No one stands over us with a whip, insisting that we work, work, work! But work, work, work we do.

I would throw out an opinion that we ARE slaves, each of us. Something keeps us as attached to our securities as a tree finds itself attached to the ground. The question is, though, who or what is keeping us restrained?

Recently, as our small group finished Breathe, a study by Priscilla Shirer, I threw out the question,

In what area(s) of your life do you struggle with the fear of not having or being enough?

In other words, who or what is ruling  you?

The answers had much to tell:

  • Feeling the need to be in control
  • Anxiety that I might not have enough to eat
  • Distress that I'm not enough as a wife
  • Stressed that I 'm not enough as a mom
  • Worrying that I don't have enough time
  • Troubled that I won't have enough money

And so we work hard to assure ourselves that we have worth and somehow we can make it all work out. But we're never quite sure we really will.

Personally, time is my taskmaster. Somehow I feel enslaved by the need to "get stuff done," which leaves me feeling overwhelmed and unable to step beyond my "to do" list. There are times, at the end of the day, when I ponder why I didn't make that phone call to someone in need, or why I didn't volunteer to take that meal to one with a new baby. If it's not on my list, it doesn't get included. I love spontaneous people, and I love to be called to join in someone's immediate fun, but I can't usually break free to be the instigator of last minute escapades.

The truth is, something looms more powerful and terrifying than any on that list. What could be so formidable that we hang on tightly to control, to time, to money, to feeling good enough?

My first thought calls FEAR our intimidating foe.  It tells us that it is all up to us. If we don't get it right, then it won't get done. We fear that at the end of the day we'll be failures.

But... I think it's even more than fear.

I would venture a guess that a more powerful ruler over our hearts is a lack of BELIEF that God is who he says he is. A lack of TRUST reigns. Will He come through? Will He be enough to enable me to be the best mom or wife possible? Will He accomplish through me all that needs to be done in my day. Is it really all up to me? We continue fearful and intimidated.

Many of us know this, have known it for years, yet we are still afraid, still unable to trust God to be who He says He is. What are we to do? What is the bottom line? What will move us from being shaky in faith, fearful and untrusting into faith filled confident women of God?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Be aware of what lie tries to push you around, then be determined to stop letting it control you.
  • Pray for the ability to change.
  • Talk with someone about it. Perhaps ask them to come alongside you to encourage you in your desire to do things differently.
  • Look for a story or scripture verse to mediate on that will inspire you.
  • Practice trusting God. Find faith moment by moment.
  • When you find yourself afraid, ask for faith. Then trust God. Don't ask for faith and then allow yourself to continue in fear.

Just don't stay the same. Don't continue to be enslaved by a cruel taskmaster that makes you miserable, keeps you busy and is relentless in its high expectations.

As much as we hate the idea of being a slave, many of us are servants to the lies that laugh in the face of God and keep us from the freedom Christ came to secure for us.

In Galatians 5:1 Paul encourages us: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

What will it take for us to take our stand against the lies that enslave us?

 

 

 

 

 

You're A Good Good Father

Faith, FamilyDeane Watters2 Comments

Yesterday, the first Sunday in Advent, I felt especially thankful to have part of our family sitting with us in church.  As the worship team began to strum our next song and the lyrics went up on the screen, people started to sing and our little Lucy's eyes brightened up immediately. "We sing that song at our church!" she proclaimed as she started swaying and singing along.

You're a Good, Good Father.

It's who you are, It's who you are, It's who you are

And I'm loved by you.

It's who I am, It's who I am, It's who I am.

Her delight and my history collided in that moment and I felt the impact of God's work in my life.

My dad was a good enough man but he was not a great father to me.  It was a turning point in my healing to understand his humanity, his history. And because of him I absolutely LOVED the idea of God as Father...the only perfect Father. I have come to keep my eyes open for fathers who represent God well as dads to their children. I look around and I see guys who act lovingly toward their children, who teach carefully, who are patient and kind, who come home every night, who are available, good listeners, who accept their kids for who they are, who encourage and build them.

One father made a deep impact on me while in China. Brian and I along with Joel and Rachel were having a little picnic during one of our outings. Our grandchildren, two-year-old Lucy and one-year-old Charles, were hungry, tired and things seemed a bit stressed. At one point, Lucy reached down and found her hand full of dirt. Her eyes lit up and I saw her face brighten as she lifted her hand and proceeded to throw that fist-full straight at me. I don't think there was any malice in the act. She just decided that it was a good idea, something fun.

Now stop and think to yourself. What would most of us do? Our voices might rise a bit and the shaming words would just pop out so easily, "Lucy, you know better than that! We don't throw dirt! Say I'm sorry to Grandma!!"

But that is not what happened. Her daddy picked her up and explained to her that throwing dirt was not a good idea; her decision was a poor choice, a mistake, but it's OK to make mistakes, we just need to make them right. He held her close. He talked quietly. He told her he loved her. He waited for her. He told her again, "It's OK to make mistakes. We love you. But you need to make it right by saying I'm sorry to Grandma."

I could see her little eyes working, stubbornness hovering just an inch above all that love. Then, when the time seemed right, she decided, yes, "I'm sorry Grandma."

Relieved, I responded, "I forgive you, Lucy, Grandma loves you!" followed by a big hug and a kiss. All was forgiven. I never heard it brought up again. She had made it right and learned a few good lessons in the process.

That is what came to my mind as Lucy delighted in the recognition of You're a Good Good Father. 

As the Advent season starts I can't help but go back to this song and breathe in the truth of the goodness of God. Long before Jesus was born, God had the plan to send a Savior to Israel. In Isaiah he wrote: A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD - and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

For this season we, of the Christian faith, will focus on Jesus. We will remember how a baby came to earth to save us from our sins. We will recall the story of his birth, his amazing life, death and resurrection as a triumph over sin and death. We'll hear it over and over in Christmas readings and carols, church services and in cards that have already started arriving.

But today I savor our good, good Father who had a plan and carried out his promise. He does not shame or call us to task for our humanity. He loves. He is patient. He made a way for Jesus to make it right. Our self-will hovers above and within us but he patiently waits for his goodness to be recognized and embraced, so that roots can form and a shoot of faith can grow up in our hearts. Wisdom and understanding form a deep-inside-knowing that we are loved and lovable.

That is what I call a good, good Father. 2016-01-18_0020

soaking up the light

FaithDeane Watters2 Comments

2016-01-20_0005 I have some little green guys.  Lucy got them out of my "bag of tricks" on the weekend and I found them lounging on my desk today. They're rather ordinary fellows but I know that in order for them to do what they were designed to do, they have to spend time in the light. When packed away, they are just standard green aliens. But in the sunshine, they fill up with light and then...when they find themselves in a dark place? Well, they just shine like vibrant little light bulbs.

Lucy and I like to position them in a sunbeam for a minute or two, then gather them up in her chubby little hands and run, giggling, into the nearest closet. Once the door is completely closed, she opens her hands and we "oooh" and "ahh" about the little greenish lights until they eventually fade. Out we go again, let them soak up  more light and then back into the dark room for more "glowing".

Of course there are all kinds of analogies we can put together about "staying in the light" and "shining in the dark" and I wonder what that might look like for me. How do I soak up the light so that when darkness comes there is a shining that comes from within, with no effort on my part.

I've got a few ideas. (You knew I would.)

  • Don't let yesterday take up too much of today.
  • Rest in the pure love of God for you. No striving. No getting good-enough. Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD. Psalm 4:6
  • Pay attention to your feelings. There is a reason for them. If you notice them, they won't go into hiding and cause all kinds of havoc.
  • Be oh-so-careful about self-talk. I don't have to believe everything that comes into my mind. I can tell myself "no" when I find myself dwelling in negativity or self pity.
  • Talk with God as often as possible. He is so near and wants to carry all my burdens. This openness keeps me in touch with this loving One and it lets him touch, heal, encourage and love on me.
  • My favorite way to soak up the light is to open my Bible. Oh my gosh! It is full of ideas on how to take in the light. It started when God said, "Light up the darkness!" and our lives filled with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful." 2 Corinthians 4:6 msg

2016-01-20_0004 There are many other ways to remain in the light so Christ can shine when it gets dark. Perhaps you could make your own list so the next time you find yourself in a dark place you will have reserves that will shine you into tomorrow, fill you with hope and encourage you to keep hanging on.

 

Resplendent with Light

FaithDeane Watters2 Comments

Smoky incense permeated the temple. The musky overpowering odor filled our lungs and clouded the view. People were bowing dutifully to the gods of Buddha. Unsure of what was happening, I could see worship: incense sticks smoldering, candles being lit, flowers laid down with men and women bowing, reverent and serious.2016-01-20_0033

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On this hot August day with hundreds of people, I came to observe, to respect, to learn, to feel and to find my God.  The words, "Your Name is higher," kept forming in my heart and I felt the calm assurance that I need not fear anything. My God was there and He is higher. More than any hand made thing, He is alive.

Beautifully carved buildings filled with many silent statues surrounded us. The prayer wheels,  chanting monks, tingling bells, reverent attitudes and ancient smells engulfed us as we watched, mesmerized by the intensity of it all.

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Unfamiliar with the Buddhist beliefs I did not know what or who the people were worshiping but I knew it was not God Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth.

Our group of college-aged people gathered around at one point and started quietly and respectfully singing. The melody was gentle and bright and honoring to the God it was lifting up.

Holy Spirit you are welcome here.

Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.

Your glory God is what our hearts long for

to be overcome by your Presence, Lord... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

God is resplendent with light and no amount of darkness can overcome Him.

Questions remain for me after this visit. I want to know more about this ancient religion that binds its people to incense and sacrifice and the desire to be good enough, acceptable. On that day, though,  I once again stepped into the warmth of my Father God with full assurance that he already sacrificed all that was needed, is alive still, and continues to guard and woo hearts around the world toward himself.