"Me Do It!" ~ Invoking Intimacy With God

I've been on this "using kids as examples trend" recently while illustrating or writing devotionals and NO I am not having baby fever, but kids are the best template at times to drive home a point!

In a texting thread with a friend the other day, I asked how they were doing. I like to keep things as real as possible so I'll share the thread:

ME: Morning to you too! How are you? 

THEM: In work mode

ME: Yes! 

THEM: And blessed and focused mode. Trying to humble myself before The Lord.

(pause) 

THEM: Not easy

ME: In what way is it not easy?

THEM: Being committed to a life of prayer.

ME: You ain't never lied about that.

THEM: I've strayed from the feeling of an intimate God.

ME: Yes, we often times are like the toddler that says "me do it!"

(Pause on my part as what I said began to sink in)

ME: Dang.... Sounds like a devotional... I need to write this down! 😜 

THEM: Me do it? Please expound.

ME: You know how you're trying to teach a child- let's say for example, to tie their shoes. No sooner do you give them the basics, they think they're ready to do it on their own. You reach out and try to help as you see them struggling, but you get a "I do it myself!" when you try to help them out, or as I said before "Me do it." In the teaching, learning, etc., there is intimacy with God and we (I do this all the time) often get the first bits of what He's saying as instruction and run off to "I do it myself."

Wow... Ok. There are so many things that I can attack here. But I'll focus on the "I do this all the time" portion of the thread. After all, I can only speak for me. 

I have been the kid. On SEVERAL occasions. God? Can you give me a little credit and say that I've gotten a little bit better? Somewhat? Kinda? Maybe I'll just continue... 

I openly admit that this is SO hard for me. I always want to do it myself. Peg it to my upbringing, my subsequent life experiences or past trauma that resulted in mistrust. Whatever it may be, I want to already know what to do, what to say, what to think and how to react. I also thought at times that if I wasn't the one doing it, then nobody could and if, well, when I failed, I suffered miserably.

But you know what the funny thing is? God 320Living'd ME. Yes, I just turned that into a verb. Straight up pulled me into submission and gave me a good ole whooping! In His gentle way.

I learned that while He created me as somewhat of an "independent child," He did MAKE me which ultimately means that as my manufacturer, He has my manual. And whether I like it or not, in order to live out my life's purpose to its maximum potential and be the power house He's called me to be, I have to go back to HIM for continuous instruction from THAT manual. Insert the obvious 'the Bible is the manual' here. But I'm talking about the specific one He has just for me. 

And YOU. 

Eventually, after numerous failed attempts and at times the same life lesson learned over and over, I realized that I could "Me do it!" but with Him as a guide. "He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His spirit deeply and gently within us." (Ephesians 3:20 - The Message)

When He says "I know the plans I have for you," (Jeremiah 29:11 - NIV) it wasn't a joke. It LITERALLY means, there's a plan. A specific one. For YOU.  You can always ask Him, "May I have a moment? I have a question about what I just went through. Exactly what WAS that? Are you kidding me? How does this fit in? Please explain or at least tell me what to do next."

If you're not that bold, take this approach:

"Show me how you work, God; School me in your ways. Take me by the hand; Lead me down the path of truth. You are my Savior aren't you?" Psalm 25:4-5 (The Message)

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Show me how involves humility. You have to step into His workshop and be willing to learn. Take me by the hand involves trust. You don't go around holding the hands of complete strangers do you? Lead me down the path involves complete surrender - you have to turn off your GPS and give up your map for His. 

All three invoke intimacy: Humility, trust and surrender. I know many of you have heard that word broken down as "into-me-see" or maybe you haven't but it deserves a revisit. Practicing humility, trust and surrender lets someone in. Into YOU for them to SEE. 

It simply lets Him in.

And in that intimacy you'll discover for yourself like I did, the next verses in Jeremiah 29:11-13. "....Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." 

If that's not intimacy....I truly don't know what is.

What's Eating You?

God is funny. He actually cracks me up. Or maybe I should say that my relationship with Him is funny and cracks me up. He takes the oddest experiences of my life and constantly uses them to teach me a lesson. Even if it’s the same one – He keeps doing it over and over. He’s just so cool!

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I had an experience watching my 2½ year old niece a few weekends ago. It was dinner time, and as usual, her first response was “no.” Of course we were sitting down to eat because she had previously indicated that she was hungry! I mean it’s been a long time since I’ve experienced interacting with a child that young. My son is 17, and as a baby he ate everything in sight. Now granted, he may have not wanted to feed himself, but he ATE (haha). So all of this was new to me. I really had to dig deep for ways to get this child fed. Honestly, my imagination was shot.

But kids? Kids are FULL of imagination! My niece was always talking about this imaginary bee buzzing around the room, the car or wherever we were. She would point out the imaginary bee and we would have to say “Shoo fly! Shoo bee!” and the game would continue until she was convinced it was gone.

Anyway, as she was running around the room avoiding the peanut butter and raisin sandwich (one of her favorites) I had made, I even took a small bite to show her that I was willing to eat too and the sandwich was ‘oh sooooo delicious.’ Raisins in a peanut butter sandwich are not up my alley, but I was willing to try anything at that point.

Then, I thought about the bee.

I asked her “Where is the bee?” She stopped and looked around the room trying to find it. “The bee is in your belly and needs to eat,” I told her. BINGO! To my surprise she ran right over and started happily eating. Even when I got distracted, forgetting to give her more, she would prompt me by saying “the bee wants another bite.” I was so happy and proud that I had, at least for this meal, cracked the code for her to finish the entire sandwich!

As I turned my thoughts toward writing another devotional later in the week, I remembered the bee.

Can you identify things that you need to shoo away? What’s buzzing around, distracting you from what you should actually be doing?

Even more, if you want to imagine that the ‘bee’ is now lodged within, what needs feeding? Are there parts of you that need nourishing? How often do you think God is like I was, sustenance in His hands waiting for us to open the door to sup…with Him?

Revelations 3:20 (let’s not even talk about the irony of 320 here!) states, “Now pay attention; I am standing at the door and knocking. If any of you hear My voice and open the door, then I will come in to visit with you and to share a meal at your table, and you will be with Me.” (The Voice)

It’s that simple. We let Him in and He will be “with us” and us with Him. It doesn’t matter where we are. He’s there. And until you open the door, you’ll continue have no idea what’s in store. After all, it could be your favorite meal! I Corinthians 2:9 (The Message) assures us that “No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—What God has arranged for those who love Him.”

His grace is sufficient in those moments that we’d rather ‘run around and not eat.’ He simply waits… on us. It’s only during this intimate time of supping with God that He can reveal, even if it's just a little, the first steps toward our purpose. What He’s preparing for you and me. He can nourish the places that are lacking and bring sustenance to the empty coves of your soul. You can be hurting beyond belief. Or your life can appear to be falling apart. As long as you let Him in, He is THERE.

He can and will replenish you…

And just like most of us after a good meal, you can REST in Him. Go ahead and let the ‘itis’ take over… He’s not going anywhere.

Posted on October 6, 2014 and filed under Devotionals.

Encouragement for Your Heart

"Just keep trying. You'll get it."

A little voice chirped from behind the book stacks at my local Barnes & Noble. I thought nothing of it at first but a few moments later, the message hit the base of my ears again....

"Just keep trying. You'll get it."

The little voice chirped louder as it got closer. Okay, I thought, who keeps pressing the buttons on an interactive book?! I'm trying to concentrate over here. I returned to exploring my calendar options. (this "elaborate" process will be explained in a later post). But like clockwork the voice came again, silencing my concentration...

"Just keep trying. You'll get it."

That's it. I put down the calendar in my hand and proceeded to get to the bottom of this. As I turned the corner, I observed a little boy, his head held high with a book in his hand, walking boldly to the children's section, his parents in tow. Their faces were blank as he repeated his mantra:

"Just keep trying. You'll get it."

I stood there puzzled. I looked around to see if anyone else had heard this little boy. Why was I the only one reacting? A few moments later I began to feel that his repetitive statement had some significance and quickly typed it in my phone to read later. 

The next few days passed in a blur and I found myself at a high point of frustration with a project at work. My multiple "To Do" lists were still full and I felt that I was failing in so many areas. I was emotionally exhausted and mentally spent. I wanted to give up. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, I heard that small voice.... 

"Just keep trying. You'll get it."

All of us have very full lives. Can we just be honest? Our lives are completely overflowing and I don't know about you, but I mostly feel like I'm trying to survive my life rather than live it. We get lost in trying to accomplish so many things with little time, rushing from one task to the next, escalating our stress and without notice, fears come in like a flood. We PANIC.

What if I fail? I'm never going to get this done. What do I face when (fill in the blank) happens?

It's at this point that we need to stop and listen. Someone is speaking. 

It's Him. 

It's encouragement for our hearts. He whispers to us "Don't panic. I'm with you. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you." (Isaiah 41:10, The Message)

It's His own way of saying, "Just keep trying. You'll get it."

Posted on November 19, 2013 and filed under Devotionals.

Hide & Go Seek

Remember that childhood game? It was one of my favorites! Most of us have long grown out of playing with our adolescent friends but what about God? Are we still playing with Him?

Who is counting with their eyes closed, trying not to "peek" out into what's going in the world around them and who is doing the running (away)?

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When God asked Adam in Genesis “Where are you?” He already knew where Adam was. “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” God questioned so Adam would recognize where he was.   And where HE was.

Right there with him.

We all hide for various reasons: sin, guilt, shame, resentment, unforgiveness, personal trials, etc. The list can go on and on. All of it separates us from God, and we choose to hide distancing ourselves even more from Him. While we re doing the "running" God is “counting with His eyes wide open" waiting for us to return where HE is. When was the last time you talked to him? Or read what he had to say? To you. 

The next time you are tempted, play an alternative Hide & Go Seek with God. HIDE and GO SEEK Him. You don't have to look far because He's right were you are. You'll find Him in your SEEKing.

Posted on October 7, 2013 and filed under Devotionals.