Broken Cisterns Can’t Hold Water

I’ve heard a great saying…If you don’t understand something you read in the Bible, it’s because you don’t understand it. It happens all the time! The good news is that He will always provide an explanation if we give Him a chance.

Today I read a verse in Jeremiah that sent me wandering through the Bible trying to find the deeper meaning.

My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That can hold no water.
Jeremiah 2:13

Cisterns are wells used to collect and preserve water for the summer months. They are either carved out of rock or constructed out of masonry. I wanted to write about how bad cisterns are, that using them signifies a rejection of God or a lack of faith…but the truth is they are essential for survival.

In scripture, believers are even described as a cistern! (Song of Solomon 4:12)

Here’s what I think God was saying through Jeremiah. So many of us are choosing to live broken lives – we have either carved out a life away from the spring or a leaky one that loses any of the water that flows in. Whether or not the choice is intentional, if we are content to drink muddy water, we aren’t drinking from the fountain of life.

Where are you losing joy, what area have you not allowed His peace to settle? I have watched with amazement how, as I invite these living waters to come pouring into my cistern, the leaks have been restored, and all my brokenness has been healed.

…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:17

It doesn’t mean my life is suddenly easier or full of daisies and sunshine. My cistern has a few extra niches that I carved out for myself. I have bills. I am a single mother. Life happens. But I’ve been given a new mind, a new heart.

I hope you find this as encouraging as I did!

He Loved Me First

“We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

I wish I wasn’t so self-centered. I wish I could just love Him for who He is.

I am swimming in a season of abundant blessings. There have been moments in the past few weeks I’ve felt so overwhelmed it hurt. Seriously. I’ve even caught myself doing things to numb the joy because it’s reached such an uncomfortable level.

These days, I’m constantly thanking Him for the things He is doing in my life. I want to learn to thank Him for just being in my life. I want to love Him the way He loves me…but I can’t. Even my love for Him is a gift He has given. I am only able to love because He loved me first. He IS love.

Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Ephesians 3:17-19

No matter where we are on our journey, He loves us the same. He stands beside us, unwaveringly waiting for us to see the gifts He has for us… while we reject, ignore, and even openly despise Him. While our gratitude is often dependent on the circumstances we find ourselves in, He doesn’t love us more or less because of the things we are doing. He just loves us for being in His life!

Even though I don’t get it, I am so stinkin’ thankful that He loved me first, fully and beyond comprehension. I am so thankful that I have experienced His love, and am learning to live life fully.

Coming and Going

Change is exciting, but there is nothing more difficult for me.

So walking through this time of transition with absolute peace is wonderful… but walking in absolute peace during a time of transition is a drastic CHANGE! It took me a few days to grasp the strange internal dilemma this has produced – my soul is craving the old habits of panic-borne control and wondering what is wrong with me, while my spirit is rejoicing in allowing God to drive this time. It’s absolute peace with a twist of realization. My favorite!

I was laid off on the last day of February, last Wednesday. I always keep a resume out in cyberspace, but I updated it with my latest exploits on Thursday. I am literally exhausted from the constant phone calls and emails I have received this last week. I have received offers from people who didn’t know I was out of a job. I did not submit one application for employment. I did not interview in person anywhere. I have been hired for a job where I will be working from home, doing what I love, and at a substantial increase in pay.

It is so much more fun to say that I didn’t make this happen!! I questioned putting these details out for fear that it would sound like I am bragging. Well, I AM bragging, on the goodness of my Provider! Seriously, I didn’t do anything. I will shout my testimony for all who will hear.

This morning I woke with the phrase “coming in and going out” strong in my mind. It’s a phrase used a lot by (or about) David, and can be interpreted several ways, but in general it means “everything you do”. I think of it as taking everything you do to the Lord first (coming in to His presence) before making any decision or taking any action (going out). I usually read it as a battle term, but this morning I found a new verse that brought it all together for me: “The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.” Psalm 121:8    In fact, I love the whole psalm, so here it is:

I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
The LORD himself watches over you!
The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
The LORD keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.

I’ve had a serious coming in this month, and I am excited about going out. There is nothing to fear when you are going where He leads!

Divine Appointments

Tonight I heard the voice of God.

I am an introvert by nature…meaning I “recharge” by getting quality ME-time. I love to be alone. Any time I feel like the social balance getting tipped too heavily, I have a tendency to cancel appointments. Now that my me-time is spent getting to know God better, that time is especially precious. There are times that I even resist going to church because I want to connect with God on a deeper level than can generally occur (for me) in public.

Well, I went tonight, when I wanted to be alone with God. I sat alone in a room of hundreds of single men and women…and wanted to crawl out the side door. It’s been a long time since I felt so uncomfortable. I was thankful that I had a small breakout class, already picked out and registered for, to run to. Then the announcement of a change of plans…a special event happening in one of the classes. Some of you (Inga) will appreciate that this threw me into a quagmire of indecision. I was registered for a class taught by one of my treasured people, and a person I have treasured even longer was now teaching in another. There were so many times I wanted to leave for the comfort of my own sanctuary, but I’m so thankful I stayed. God had something in store for me.

God speaks to us wherever we are. Of course He would have spoken to me at home. But by staying, I was led by a fellow believer to hear His voice from a different perspective. To ask God specific questions I wouldn’t have thought of. To listen to a song that had to have been written for ME in that moment. To hear things spoken to my heart and then spoken out loud by another. These were experiences not possible in solitude and isolation. More and more I am learning to give thanks for my brothers and sisters.

Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another,
just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Thank you for ministering to me, friends.

The song shared tonight is “I Knew What I Was Getting Into” by Misty Edwards. I hope you like it too! 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWa_YYOF3fs

Hosanna! (Please Save Us Now)

hosanna

The Triumphal Entry
The large crowd took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him… (John 12:12-13)
And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields.
Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting:
“Hosanna! (Mark 11:8-9)
Hosanna to the Son of David;
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)

Three of the gospels tell the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem for the Passover feast. This was at the climax of His ministry, two months after He had raised Lazarus from the dead, making them both must-see celebrities. It was on a Sunday that a large crowd (some estimate about a million people were in Jerusalem for the feast) welcomed Jesus into the city this way. That next Friday, he was denounced and crucified by the same crowd.

I read these accounts and, as always, find it unsettling that human hearts can be so fickle, so easily swayed. I’ve always found it disturbing that in a matter of five days an entire population shifted from praise and adoration to bloodlust.

Today the word “hosanna” jumped out at me and I looked up the meaning. While it is used as a term of praise, it literally means “save now”, or “please deliver”. This crowd was looking for a strong leader to bring radical political freedom from Roman oppression. They had heard of His miracles and knew His claims of authority. Their shouts of “Hosanna!” were cheers of expectant deliverance…but of deliverance from an external circumstance, not the internal freedom that Jesus came to bring. When He failed to live up to their expectations, they experienced profound disappointment.

Isn’t it so easy to see these issues in other people’s lives?

I find it a very powerful reminder to be mindful of the way I praise Him, and what I am praising Him for. Am I pleased with Him because, at this particular moment, He seems to be answering my prayers the way I want Him to? Because the kind of blessings I like are being poured out all over and around me? Am I still praising Him when He leads me out of my comfort zone, and when His path turns out to be harder than I expected?

I am thankful to find myself in a season where I can see the transformative work He has done in my life; that embracing this internal freedom has wiped out all worries about external circumstances. He is LORD. He is Provider. He loves my family more than I do. One year ago I shouted “HOSANNA!” and He delivered me from the pit. He walks hand-in-hand with me along my path – sometimes pulling me along, sometimes encouraging me to slow down. He is a constant hosanna to me.

 

Peace That Passes Understanding

Yesterday I was listening to an old favorite album written around a heartbreak. The words were cleverly painful; the tune was edgy, flat, and sorrowful. It worked. I instantly remembered that feeling – the loneliness with another person, the loneliness without. The longing to be loved. The sadness of loss. Feeling hopelessly unable to help another soul.

I watched these moments settle on me and depart. Then I realized some people think I am still there, in that sad lonely place of regret and loss. I wondered if I should feel some inkling of sadness, some longing for the past. I even wondered if it is ok to be so at peace with my life as it is – or if I am just numb. I realized I am so thankful to be free, there is no room for anything else. Look at these words:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Two hours later I got a call that normally would have sent my world reeling. The financial rug has been temporarily pulled out from under my feet, yet there is no sense of impending doom. There is no overwhelming panic going on in my mind. Instead, I feel something that does not make sense in this world…extreme peace. There is nothing to be afraid of, only an excitement to see where this will lead me.

I’ve watched others walk through this and I have felt and given the right words. Still, I always wondered if it was “real” for me in my heart, not just my head. Last night I heard a classic story of Peter in a new way. He saw Jesus walking on water and, in the midst of fear and panic, asked Jesus to call him out onto the stormy sea. So He did! Peter, in faith and obedience, stepped out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. Then he looked around at the waves and the strong winds, became frightened, and started sinking. He moved his eyes back to Jesus, cried out for help, and it says in Matthew 14:31-32:

Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.

Yesterday I was in the same boat. I asked Him to test my faith so I could see if it was real. This may be the time for me to take a new direction in life. It may be a very easy transition into the same thing I was already doing. But, like Peter, I wasn’t comfortable stepping out on my own. I needed Him to call me onto the waves with Him. The winds are howling, and the waves are tempting me to look down, but I am keeping my eyes on Jesus. I am on the water, but grounded. Miracles are happening, and it’s so exciting to be in this place! At some point, we will step back into the boat and this storm will be over. But this peace guarding my heart and my mind… there are no words to adequately express it. I feel melodies of intense gratitude and joy.