Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What's In A Word?

Do you ever have times when you hear something, and it just sticks in your head? It’s usually some ridiculous car insurance jingle or something on that level. But sometimes it’s something that causes you to stop and really think.  A single word that stirs your soul.

That word for me this week is

Yeah, I know…doesn’t seem very soul-stirring, does it? It’s not even a very pretty word. There are no romantic images that immediately pop into my head when I see it or speak it.

But when I put that word in the context of “cultivating” my heart, it’s stunning.

Let me back up just a little, without getting into too much detail. My life lately has been an emotional roller coaster. I attribute this to the fact that I have been trying for far too long to do things MY way, rather than to lean in to God and take his lead. When things didn’t go the way I wanted, I got discouraged; I numbed myself emotionally; and I allowed my heart to become hardened. Needless to say, there has been very little joy present in my life recently.

Fast forward a little now…

A precious friend of mine directed me to a podcast of a sermon from her church and as I listened, there was talk of becoming broken. Wait a minute…you’re probably wondering why someone would want to be broken, right? I mean, being broken HURTS. Being broken means you’re laying in a heap on the ground and you can’t do anything for yourself.

Ohhhh, BINGO!

This kind of broken is Holy and Sacred. {GOD – Break Me So You Can Make Me!!!!} This kind of broken is the beginning toward a “cultivation” of one’s heart.

The dictionary definition(s) of cultivate are:

  • to prepare and work on (as in tilling the land)
  • to promote or improve the growth of
  • to care for, attend to

I love the analogy that was used in the sermon: how when the ground becomes so hard, it will not readily soak in life-giving water. Hard, dry, cracked earth resists that which it so desperately needs.

And so it is with us. We harden our hearts to God and in so doing we become resistant to the “water from Heaven” that He so desperately wants to shower down on us.

But, He knows what it will take in order to get us to start soaking it in. He knows that, like the earth, our hearts must be worked, must be broken, must be tilled up from the depths of our darkness. And at that moment is when we can begin our process of cultivation.

Our hearts begin to be alive again. The life-giving water seeps into every broken piece and softens it. The broken, jagged edges begin to shift and move together to form fertile soil.

And the result? Nothing less than miraculous…

We grow
We experience unsurpassed joy
We know Love – not fleeting love – “Capital L” L-O-V-E!

If you’re feeling crumpled and laying on the ground; if you’re in a place where you don’t have the ability to get back up; REJOICE! Yes, I said rejoice…praise God, because you are in the exact place you need to be in order for him to MAKE YOU!!!

Open your arms wide in praise. Open your mouth in song to Him. Allow Him to rain down on you and refresh you to the depths of your soul.

Isaiah 55:10-13

As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn bush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear?

In our busy world, we are inundated with noise. Hundreds of noises constantly move through our lives and we’ve become so used to it all we hardly notice it.

Cars, airplanes, computers, telephones, the background buzz and whir of a multitude of electronics and appliances.

Not to mention all the inner noise running through our heads - the self conversations of to do lists, of what-ifs, the should-haves and the broken dreams that we re-live over and over.

It’s no wonder so many in this world are lost and not able to hear the voice of God, including many Christians. We often don’t stop long enough to even wonder if any of what we are hearing is from God.

Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine what it must have been like before God breathed our world into existence. My imagination hears the soft swish of wind as He moves about. And I imagine after each day of the creation perhaps a little more sound, but still all very gentle. 

The soft and flowing sound of running streams; the hushed breezes blowing through the trees; and when He created man, the soft padding of their bare feet as they meandered through the garden.

How beautifully serene it all must have been. So pure and unpolluted and melodic. Nothing to numb the senses to the gifts that God had bestowed. He didn’t have to be sought out among a thousand other things. His miraculous beauty was in and on and around everything.

Today, when we do find Him – truly sit with Him, listen, learn, love and give thanksgiving – it’s rarely (if ever) among the noise and busy-ness of our days. To truly love Him and give him thanks requires us to stop (even if it’s only for a few seconds). It requires us to slow down, to rest. And that’s when we are able to see the good of it all.

Think about it…even God himself did not create the world in just a few seconds with the snap of his majestic fingers – He could have, but He did not. The Bible tells us each day He created…he stopped…he looked…he saw that it was good…and He rested. He took time to enjoy each step of the process. (Genesis 1:1-31)

I believe that is how He also intended us to enjoy what He so carefully created for us. To stop, to look, to see that it is good, and to rest in Him with praise and thanksgiving. When we do not, we miss out on the miracles He has set in our path. We lose out on the joy of the moment because we are trying so hard to get to the next step – often before we even consider if that step is from Him or if it’s “man-made”.

I recently read a book (One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp) that introduced me to the word Eucharisteo. It is Greek in origin, and means to be grateful, feel thankful or to give thanks. The author states a simple and profound truth:

"Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle."

But to get to Eucharisteo, we must slow down. This is the only way we will see all the beauty in our lives. Even the things that don’t SEEM beautiful (laundry, fighting kids, lovers who break our hearts), to stop and look at those things and offer thanksgiving to Him…that is the only way to get to the miracle.

Thank you, Father, for water and soap to clean our clothes so we are comfortable.
Thank you, Father, for these children with healthy minds and bodies.
Thank you, Father, for the opportunity to have loved.

And when you see these things as blessings, when you hear His “still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12) as you stop to give your thanksgiving, even for the very breath you are now breathing…

He will speak to you. 
He will fill you.
He will show you real love. 

His words will block out all the other noise of the world in that moment. And you will know the miracle of hearing the Living God.


In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength. Isaiah 30:15

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. –Isaiah 26:3
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