I’m challenged by Henry and Richard Blackaby’s statement: “Don’t discount the power of God as described in Scripture simply because you have not experienced it. Bring your experience up to the standard of Scripture; never reduce Scripture to the level of your experience.”
It’s a strong reminder that my experience isn’t the governing tool to determine if a thing is true or not.
When I think about the infinite treasures of Scripture and the beautiful, strengthening promises, I rise up to it. I don’t want to limit God because of what I know or experience.
I pull out an old classic, A Woman After God’s Own Heart, by Elizabeth George. 15 years ago, I underlined so many bits of wisdom for marriage, motherhood, and keeping a home. One of my favorite things she writes is in a chapter on spiritual growth and fellowship. She quotes her friend, Anne Ortlund, who explains, “There are two kinds of personalities in the world, and you are one of the two. People can tell which, as soon as you walk into a room: your attitude says either, ‘Here I am’ or ‘There you are’.”
I’m so much here I am, and I want to be there you are.
George continues to explain how we might have a “ministry of refreshment” to other people by seeking to bless others when we enter a room instead of thinking of ourselves.
There you are!
I remember that I can offer refreshment, or I can drain.
I can bless or seek to be blessed.
I can place myself in the center–Here I am!–or focus on you when I enter a room. I find myself excited to go to church and think, “There you are!” and refresh those around me.
Today we remember to ask God.
For anything. For everything.
It’s strange how we try, over and over again, to work things out, to orchestrate, to solve, to try, to cultivate–all on our own strength.
So we remember to keep the ongoing dialogue, like breathing–ask and receive, ask and receive, ask and receive–because everything is from Him and by His grace.
My youngest daughter has discovered the joy of taking a thermos of soup to school for lunch. We heat up chicken soup or noodles in the morning, put them in her soup thermos, and send her on her way with a spoon and a napkin.
It’s amazing that four hours later, she opens the thermos lid to a steaming soup, perfect for a snowy Pennsylvania school day. Each afternoon, I ask, “Was it steaming hot?”
“Yes! It was so hot! I can’t believe it! It was great soup!”
What’s amazing to her is that an ice cold beverage would stay ice cold in the very same container. What strange phenomenon is this?
We learn all about heat transfer and the wonders of science that explain her new thermos. The hot stays where it should; the cold stays where it should. Nothing transfers.
I love the concept of insulation that keeps things in place like this. I don’t want to lose the warmth of my own soul’s connection to God, so I wrap up in layers of God’s word, His people, worship, and prayer. I don’t want to lose one little bit. The cold has no access; we’re sealed all the way around.
Sometimes, when you’re all scattered and upset, you just need to leave the house, walk around the block twice, and come back a different person.
I love what a walk can do. Twice around the block is enough for me.
Today I read this comforting, empowering, and peace-giving verse in 2 Peter 1:3:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
Everything we need! We have everything we need! Right now!
To know the truth of this statement and the scope of it challenges my understanding.
Yet, I believe it. I have everything I need because Jesus is here.
I think about the little preposition “through” because the means of us having everything we need is, quite simply, our knowledge of Jesus. We call to mind all we know of what Jesus offers our souls–that peace, power, righteousness, and hope.
We know it, and it’s ours.
Today I remembered how much I loved Shepherd’s Pie at Camp Greystone. It arrived to our dining hall table as a pile of pure delight: mashed potatoes on the bottom, then ground beef, then cheese and onions–oh, we gobbled it up! It isn’t a pretty dish or even an artful one (it’s potatoes and meat!), but that mound of food became the stuff of camp legend.
I had so much fun remembering how hungry I was as an exhausted camp counselor and how steaming and fragrant those buttery potatoes were with that savory meat on top. If we were having Shepherd’s Pie, the campers went crazy with joy.
So when I’m standing in my kitchen today, I remember that leftover camp memory. I know exactly what to do with my leftover mashed potatoes and pot roast, so I get to work and layer up the potatoes and meat. I add some peas and some cheese to make a little delicious pie of it.
So we shall feast tonight!
I loved the whole concept of taking leftovers and making something entirely new that you once loved all those years ago. And who could have ever imagined, when I was eating that Shepherd’s Pie at 19 years old, that I would one day serve it to my children and husband around a table of my own over 20 years later?
I layer up what’s left of my memories of those summers, and I thank God for all He’s provided as the years rolled on.
Today on the walk to school, we wondered how the trees know when to stop growing. Why do all the trees before us stop at the same height like that? What determines how high they grow? I didn’t know the answer, so of course, I must find out.
I learn that trees want to grow high–to be the tallest, best, biggest, fullest, and the first to receive all the sunlight–but they often can’t for one reason:
According to LiveScience.com, at a certain height, it’s no longer “cost effective” for a tree to keep growing. I learn that when ” the energy the [leaves at certain heights] bring in through photosynthesis doesn’t pay for the energy it costs the tree to bring the leaves water, then the tree stops growing.”
There’s my answer. The tree stops growing when it’s too costly to do so.
I think about opportunity costs and professional and personal growth. It seems so attractive and prestigious to achieve certain things, but really, sometimes it’s not worth it. What you gain doesn’t match what you’re losing. What you bring in doesn’t make up for what it costs to replenish you.
I think about how God knows just what heights we will reach. We’re where we are because it might cost us too much otherwise.
We’re noticing the power of “repeated first words” in writing. My students implement the strategy, and they find their writing carries a new force. They find they create urgency. They find a new, weightier feel to their words. They find they have a voice.
See how I did that? I repeated “they find” to create some rhythm and intensity in those sentences. If you want to write something and invite your reader into some drama, repeat the first words.
That’s your little writing lesson for today. That’s your bit of fun. That’s your ticket to writing more powerfully.
I laughed out loud when I read this quote by Dwight Moody this morning. I’m not sure of the original source, but here’s what I read. Apparently, when people criticized Moody for his methods in evangelism, he said this:
“It is clear you don’t like my way of doing evangelism. You raise some good points. Frankly, I sometimes do not like my way of doing evangelism. But I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”
I laughed because when criticism comes our way, it’s often from people who aren’t doing the thing they so vehemently critique. You’ll always have people who criticize your art, your writing, your community service, your research, your programs, and your initiatives to bless and change the world.
The quote fortified a place in me that gets nervous to write more, speak more, and share my faith with more and more neighbors. Every public person receives criticism; it’s part of the calling. But now, maybe you’ll chuckle when you remember what Moody said to his critics. Maybe it stings a bit and needs some love to temper the thought, but it’s something smart to remember.