Friday, March 23, 2012

Hints of Rain

I usually take notes during the sermon each week, but not necessarily for the purpose of reading them later.  The writing itself helps me to process the information as it is being spoken.  However, this week I felt led to read the notes from last Sunday's sermon, not once, but three times.  And each time I was drawn to the following statements: Gideon was first a worshiper before he was a warrior, victories come when we are close to God, and what does God want to deliver into your hands?  I know that God's prodding comes with a purpose in mind, to impact our lives and direct us into His plan.  I've been sensing a lot of nudging over the last several days.

I was working on a new bulletin board for the children's Sunday School class that I teach and was cutting out letters for a verse.  When I do projects I often listen to teaching programs on the radio.  But when I turned on the radio I was shocked to hear the speaker begin to elaborate on the very verse I was working on.  Needless to say, I listened closely.  The verse was from Hebrews 12:1,2 "...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus..."

I felt so strongly that God was trying to say something to me, but couldn't quite identify it or else was not accepting it.  And so I did the same last night, turning on the radio to listen to the teachers expound the Word of God.  There was no doubt about it, God was directly addressing my need.  I've been making excuses for my behavior rather than taking full ownership of it.  I've been resisting when God asks me to surrender to his will. Often I do, in fact, know what He wants of me, I just don't always want to live by his terms.  He asks me to simply draw near to Him, for if  "I remain in Him, I will bear fruit." (John 15:5)  It is a given.  I don't have to try so hard.  

I am scheduled to teach two separate Bible studies this weekend plus Sunday School. This looms before me as a daunting task when my heart is struggling.  How can I give when I am feeling so empty?  But as I yield to the will of God I catch the scent of rain, the sense that His Spirit is so ready to gush out from my life if I will but let Him take full control of these areas where I've resisted Him.

In my study of Job this week I came across the following verses and am greatly encouraged. "If [a tree] is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.  Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant."  Given just a hint of rain, the tree that seems so lifeless, will sprout again.  How much more will even the faintest flow of the Spirit produce life bearing shoots, to nourish and shade the hearts of others that I am called to impact.  So I cry out for the Spirit to free me from sin's entanglements and to fill me, because only then will I be a bearer of life. 

I love the smell of rain in the air, but it's easy to miss if I'm not paying attention to my senses.  Even in the desert I can feel that rain is coming before it actually gets here.  I believe God's nudging of my heart this week has been this scent of rain, no accident, but the Spirit working on my heart, wooing me back to Himself, back to effectiveness in ministry.  How I need the Spirit to cause these limbs to bud and sprout again, so I might have something to offer.  How I long to be strong like an oak tree, an oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord. (Isa. 61:3)  Surely the Lord has planted me.  It is not my doing, but I must receive from and surrender to the will of my Creator.

The rain is coming.  And when it does, I "will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before me and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."  (Isa. 55:12)  It's sort of like that great cloud of witnesses spoken of in Hebrews 12.  We need the support of one another.  I cannot withdraw into my shell of isolation and depression, because someone out there needs my encouragement. 

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